CAHSS Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Sir William Johnson

Sir William Johnson

Book Title

Dictionary of Irish Biography



Document Type

Book Chapter



Publication Date



James McGuire, James Quinn


British empire, Ireland, Sir William Johnson


Where do saints rub shoulders with sinners, and eccentrics brush up against pillars of the community? In the monumental Dictionary of Irish Biography, just published by Cambridge University Press with the Royal Irish Academy and edited by James McGuire and James Quinn. At over 8 million words, it is the biggest work ever published on the lives of the Irish. The Dictionary is made up of 9,700 biographies written by over 700 contributors, and spans over two thousand years of Ireland's history. It includes the entries on those who made a significant contribution in both Ireland and abroad-from St. Patrick to Brian Boru, Grainne O'Malley to Maureen O'Sullivan, The Clancy Brothers to Jack Dempsey, Arthur Guinness to Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Samuel Beckett to Christy Brown and Michael Collins to Bobby Sands. The biographies are arranged alphabetically from Jacques Abbadie (d. 1727), a Huguenot refugee who became dean of Killaloe, through to Zozimus (aka Michael Moran) d. 1846), the Liberties-born balladeer. St Brigit is the earliest woman featured and the earliest man was Palladius, an envoy sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine. The most recent biographical subject is Dorothy Walker, writer and critic, who died in December 2002. Approximately 1,000 of the 9,700 people featured were born outside of Ireland. The shortest-lived person in the Dictionary is Nellie Organ (1903-08), a pious child from Co. Waterford, whose cause for beatification received widespread popular support after her death The most common surnames in the Dictionary are: O'Connor, Butler, O'Brien, Mac/McCarthy and Murphy. Amongst the least well known figures are: Vere Goold, the only Wimbledon finalist to have been convicted of murder, and Percy Ludgate from Skibbereen, Co Cork who was a pioneer in digital computing. This nine-volume work has recently been awarded the 2009 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) for Best Multivolume Reference work in the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Cambridge University Press


Cambridge, UK


Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature


Sir William Johnson
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