Byrne, Patrick (1740/41–1814), printer, bookseller, and United Irishman, had a flourishing business in Dublin, at 35 College Green (1779–85) and 108 Grafton Street (1785–99). Byrne's business was probably the largest of its kind in Ireland in the eighteenth century. One indication of its scale is that after the loss of his stock owing to a fire he obtained £1,000 from the Hibernian Insurance Co. (1793–4). At least 292 titles with a Dublin imprint are credited to Byrne by R. C. Cole. He also sold books, stationery, and lottery tickets. In July 1793 he was one of the first catholics to be admitted to the stationers’ guild after the Catholic Relief Act of that year.
He joined the Dublin Society of United Irishmen (January 1792) and was a delegate to the Catholic Convention (December 1792). Byrne was the printer of three books by Theobald Wolfe Tone (qv): his novel, Belmont castle (1790), his whig pamphlet, A review of the conduct of administration (1790), and the first edition of An argument on behalf of the catholics (1791). Many other pamphlets of a democratic or catholic tendency bear Byrne's imprint, though he produced a wide range of printed work (including fiction) and tried to put business before politics. In spite of this he unwittingly caused the arrest of the brothers Henry Sheares (qv) and John Sheares (qv), and was arrested himself on 21 May 1798 for high treason and imprisoned for two years without trial. By November 1800 he was in Philadelphia, the base of another former Dublin printer, Mathew Carey (qv), to whom he had been sending books since 1788. In Philadelphia he resumed business, specialising in law, and producing, according to Cole, another seventy-eight titles.
Patrick Byrne married (August 1789) a Mrs Abernathy; she must have been his second wife (and was presumably the one who died in October 1798) as Byrne's son William went to Boston in 1795 to work with William Spotswood, another printer from Dublin. William died in 1805 at Philadelphia. Another son, Patrick, was in the book trade at Baltimore, Maryland. A daughter, Maria Bridget, married a United Irishman, Edward Hudson (qv), who, after detention at Fort George, went to Philadelphia, worked with Byrne, and then went into dentistry, achieving the distinction of a place in the Dictionary of American biography. Patrick Byrne died 20 February 1814 at Philadelphia aged seventy-three.