17 August-Richard Lalor Sheil

Richard Lalor Sheil was a native of County Kilkenny, Ireland. His father was a successful merchant who had become wealthy trading with Spain. During his lifetime Sheil became known both as a dramatist and politician. He wrote plays which were produced both in Dublin and London. He served as an MP for constituencies in Ireland and England.

Richard Lalor Sheil was born near Slieverue, Co Kilkenny 1791. When Sheil was a child his family moved to their newly built mansion at Bellevue near Waterford City. In his early years he was educated at home. At the age of eleven in 1802, he was transferred to a school at Kensington, London. Two years later he was sent to Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and entered Trinity College Dublin in 1807. He took an active part in student politics in TCD and graduated with a BA degree in 1811. Sheil then went to London to study law and was admitted to the Irish bar in 1814.

Sheil became active in politics in Ireland and was a leading figure in the campaign for Catholic Emancipation. He initially disagreed with policies of Daniel O’Connell. However he and O’Connell cooperated in founding the Catholic Association in 1823. They campaigned vigorously on the issue and Sheil was O’Connell’s agent when O’Connell was successfully elected MP for Co Clare in the by-election of 1828. Catholic Emancipation was granted in the following year. In the election of 1830 Sheil was himself elected for Milborne Port in Somerset, England.

In 1833 Sheil was elected as MP for Co Tipperary and in 1841 for Dungarvan Co Waterford. He worked initially with O’Connell for the repeal of the Act of Union but in later years he distanced himself from the issue. He was appointed Vice-President of the Board of Trade in 1838 and between 1846 and 1850 served as Master of the Mint. During his time at the Mint he was accused of sectarianism when ‘Defensatrix Fidei: Dei gratia’ was omitted from a new silver florin.

Sheil was appointed ambassador to the court of Tuscany at Florence in November 1850. He paid a brief visit to Ireland before departing for Italy. Sheil died in Florence just six months after his arrival there on May 25th 1851 at the age of 59. His body was conveyed to Ireland on a British warship. He was buried at Long Orchard, Templetuohy, Co Tipperary.

Richard Lalor Sheil, politician and dramatist, was born in the year 1791 On This Day.

Image from page 7 of “Treasury of Irish eloquence, being a compendium of Irish oratory and literature” (1882) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1882-01-01 00:00:00

Image from page 452 of “Treasury of Irish eloquence, being a compendium of Irish oratory and literature” (1882) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1882-01-01 00:00:00


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