Thomas Nulty

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The Most Reverend Dr. Thomas Nulty, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath from 1864-1898

The Most Reverend Dr. Thomas Nulty or Thomas McNulty (1818-1898) was born to a farming family in Fennor, Oldcastle, Co. Meath,[1][2] on July 7, 1818, and died in office as the Irish Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath[3] on Christmas Eve, 1898.


Nulty was educated at Gilson School, Oldcastle, County Meath, St. Finians, Navan Seminary and Maynooth College. He was ordained in 1846. Nulty was a cleric during the Irish Potato Famine. During the course of his first pastoral appointment, he officiated at an average 11 funerals of famine victims (most children or the aged) a day, and in 1848 he described a large-scale eviction of 700 tenants in the diocese.[4]

Nulty rose to become the Most Reverend Bishop of Meath and was known as a fierce defender of the tenant rights of Irish tenant farmers throughout the 34 years that he served in that office, from 1864 to 1898.[5][6] Nulty was in agreement with the economic ideas of the progressive reformer Henry George. Nulty read George's book Progress and Poverty multiple times and agreed with every word.[7] Henry George even said that 'Georgism' could just as well be known as 'Nultyism'.[8]

Thomas Nulty is famed for his 1881 tract Back to the Land, wherein he makes the case for land reform of the Irish land tenure system.[9] Nulty was a friend and supporter of the Irish nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell until Parnell's divorce crisis in 1889.[10][11]

Dr. Thomas Nulty, who had attended the First Vatican Council in 1870, said his last mass on December 21, 1898.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Cantwell
Bishop of Meath
Succeeded by
Mathew Gaffney


  1. ^ The Tablet (December 31, 1898). "Obituary. The Most Rev.Dr.Nulty, Bishop of Meath". Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  2. ^ Navan & District Historical Society. "Nulty, Bishop Thomas". Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  3. ^ Conrad Eubel Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi, Volume 8, Page 195, and Page 382 Published: Monasterii Sumptibus et typis librariae Regensbergianae (1913, in Latin) digitized, University of Toronto
  4. ^ The Tablet. "Ireland (From our Correspondent)". Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  5. ^ D. Bank & A. Esposito, British Biographical Index, London, K.G. Saur, 1990, Vol. 3 J-O (ISBN 0-86291-393-4), p. 1380 (referencing article on corresponding microfiche 824, 206, and which article cites the London Times for December 26, 1898 at page 4 and Brady's 1877 The Episcopal Succession, ii 361, as its sources)
  6. ^ "Navan Historical Society - Nulty, Bishop Thomas". Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  7. ^ Louis F. Post and Fred C. Leubusher, Henry George’s 1886 Campaign: An Account of the George-Hewitt Campaign in the New York Municipal Election of 1886 (New York: John W. Lovell Company, 1887).
  8. ^ George, Henry (June 18, 1887). "Bishop, Archbishop and Guest". The Standard. 1: 1. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  9. ^ "'Back to the Land' (1881) by Dr. Thomas Nulty, Bishop of Meath | Lux Occulta". 2011-05-29. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  10. ^ Lawlor, David (2010). "Political priests: the Parnell split in Meath". Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  11. ^ O'Beirne Ranelagh, John (2012). A Short History of Ireland (3 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 300. ISBN 1139789260. Retrieved 8 June 2014.

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