|DR. FRANCIS O'HEARN.|
|When O'Connell was at school at Louvain, which was for a very brief
period only, sent thither with a view to the priesthood by one uncle, old "Hunting Cap," at the request of
another, General Count O'Connell, he had as master a rather remarkable fellow-countryman named Francis
O'Hearn. A paper by M. Edward van Ryan giving an account of this Irish exile was read some little time since
at a meeting of the Royal Flemish Academy, and was afterwards published as a pamphlet. O'Hearn was born
at Lismore in the year 1763. Being destined for the Church, he was sent to the Irish College at Louvain,
where his talents were speedily recognised. When his seminary course was finished he did not return to
Ireland, but remained in Louvain, and having acquired a solid reputation for learning, rose rapidly to positions
of importance in the town of his adoption. Already, previous to his ordination, he bad held a professorship ;
at the age of 23 he was made a member of the Council of the Faculty of Arts of the University ; he was
subsequently appointed to a chair in that famous seat of learning, was nominated Canon of the Cathedral
of Bruges, and became Rector of the Irish College of Louvain. To his theological attainments for
which his appointment to the positions just named sufficiently speaks he added excellence in many
other subjects, but more especially in the study of languages. He knew thoroughly in addition, of
course, to the classical languages and his own native Irish and EnglishFrench, Italian, Spanish,
German, and Flemish. It is owing to his proficiency in the last named that he has merited the posthumous
honour of being lately held up for praise before a learned body of Flemings. The University of Louvain was,
in accordance with the old prevailing custom, divided into nations, and when O'Hearn entered he attached
himself to the Flemish nation, of which he was subsequently appointed Dean by his admiring colleagues.
He not only learned Flemish thoroughly, carefully studying the best models, but also made strenuous efforts
to bring the language, then much neglected, into greater favour with the Flemings themselves. Nor was he
satisfied with confining himself to prosehe became a Flemish poet as well, and many specimens of
his verse are given, with evident appreciation, by M. van Evan.
Of one of his pieces, "Koddig gedicht," he appears to have had the faculty of composing both grave and gay the learned Bollandist, Father de Buck, remarked that few Flemings of that day could produce so good a poem. As a man Dr. O'Hearn was most amiable, and among his pupils he enjoyed great popularity. He had a strong passion for travelling, which mated well with, or perhaps grew out of, his love of his study of languages, and when vacation time would come round, he would set off on distant journeys, always made on foot, knapsack on back. At one time, says his panegyrist, he was to be found in Rome or Madrid, at another on the banks of the Rhine, or again by the shores of the Bosphorus, studying the Koran. "Slight luck or grace attends your boaters down the Bosphorus," says a modern Irish poet, Clarence Mangan. Dr. O'Hearn must have made himself in some way very obnoxious in Turkey, for we hear that he was suspected of stirring up a rebellion against the Sultan. To evade arrest he took flight to Russia, and, after some wandering, found himself in Siberia as a bona fide traveller, let me add, bearing in mind the horrors which the mention of that country's name is wont to conjure up. He finally made his way home to Belgium via Norway.
When the Revolution broke out in Joseph II's Belgian provinces, Dr. O'Hearn took sides with the popular leader, Van Vonck, but, finding him too advanced in his views, he allied himself with the moderate but equally popular patriot, Vander Noot. It was part of the latter's policy to enlist the sympathies of the English, German, and Dutch Courts on the side of the Belgians, and when the Brabant manifesto was published by the popular leaders, special commissioners were despatched with it to these three Powers. It was the Irishman, Dr. O'Hearn, that was sent as envoy to the Hague. He was also entrusted with other business of importance by Vander Noot, whose intimate friendship he enjoyed, and whose counsels he had a share in guiding. When the French became masters of Belgium, O'Hearn saw, with sorrow, his college turned into a powder magazine, and he, its Rector, was forced to become an exile in Germany. Shortly after this change in his fortunes he returned to Ireland, and was parish priest of St. Thomas's, in Waterford, in which city he ended his life in 1801 the year after that in which the joy bells rang for the passing of the Union.Exchange.
|O'Hern, John, native of Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, aged 70 yrs. Funeral from resid., of Mrs. Hynes, 253 S. Jefferson st. to St. Patrick's Church to Calvary.|
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