Brownrigg, Abraham (1836–1928), catholic bishop of Ossory, was born 23 December 1836 at Ballypierce, Clonegall, Co. Carlow, son of Isaac Brownrigg and his wife, Elizabeth (née Roche), who were said to have been ‘members of old and most respectable Wexford families’ (Carrigan). There were Brownriggs living in the parish of Clonegall from the middle of the eighteenth century. The local belief is that Isaac Brownrigg was a convert to catholicism, and there is evidence that a person named Brownrigg living at Clonegall converted in 1826. Isaac's brother, also Abraham (d. 1859), was parish priest of Cloughbawn, Co. Wexford, and Elizabeth Brownrigg had three brothers who were also priests in the Ferns diocese: James Roche (1801–82), Thomas Roche (d. 1896), and John J. Roche (1825–1924). Elizabeth Brownrigg died at her son's birth.
Brownrigg attended school locally. When he was about eight his father moved to Dublin. It may have been around this time that he attended the school of the Patrician Brothers at Tullow, Co. Carlow. Later he attended the CBS in Richmond Street, Dublin. His father died in January 1849, after which Abraham was adopted by his mother's relatives, taken to Wexford, and sent to the Ferns diocesan college there, St Peter's. In 1856 he entered St Patrick's College, Maynooth, and on 21 April 1861 was ordained priest for Ferns (not for his native Kildare and Leighlin diocese). From then until January 1863 he was principal of St Aidan's Academy, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, set up ‘to neutralise the Model School just established there’ (Kilkenny People). Then he returned to St Peter's as a professor. In October 1866 he began pastoral work, not as a curate but as a member of a newly created body of Ferns priests giving missions throughout the diocese in the manner of regulars. Based at the House of Missions, Enniscorthy, they had as their superior Michael Warren (1827–84). When Warren became bishop of Ferns in 1876 Brownrigg succeeded him as superior.
Eight years later the diocese of Ossory became vacant when its bishop, Patrick Francis Moran (qv), was translated to Sydney. The parish priests met (24 April 1884) and elected three local clergy to the terna from which the pope was expected to nominate a successor. Instead he nominated Abraham Brownrigg (brief dated 28 October), who was duly consecrated bishop (14 December). Three years later he was described by Ignatius Persico, a papal envoy touring Ireland, as ‘a man of sound conscience and moderate in political matters’. A stern pastor, he promoted temperance and enforced observance of holy days. One of his achievements as bishop was the completion, renovation, and rededication of St Mary's cathedral, Kilkenny (1899). Another was the publication of a definitive history of the diocese of Ossory (1905), the scholarly work of a local priest, William Carrigan (qv), which Brownrigg authorised and facilitated. His political views were fairly conventional for a catholic bishop: he opposed the Parnellites after the split (notably at the North Kilkenny by-election in December 1890); he encouraged catholics to join the army in the early stages of the first world war but denounced the conscription bill of 1918; and he objected to Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy. Abraham Brownrigg died 1 October 1928, having been a bishop for almost forty-four years, longer than any other Irish bishop except for John MacHale (qv). He was buried, and a monument to him erected, in the vault of St Patrick's church, Kilkenny.