Carbery, James Joseph (1820–87), Dominican priest and bishop, was born 2 May 1820 in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, son of Christopher Carbery, small farmer, and Catherine Carbery (née Dodwell or Dowdall). Making preparatory studies in the catholic seminary at Navan, Co. Meath, he travelled to Rome (1839) to study for the priesthood. In November 1842 he entered the Dominican order at La Quercia, Viterbo, making his solemn profession the following year. On being ordained (June 1845) he initially worked in San Clemente, Rome. Four years later he was sent to St Mary's, Cork, where he soon became known for his work with the young people of that city. He was made prior of the order's house in Limerick (1860) and elected as provincial of the Dominican Fathers in Ireland (1876). While working in Limerick he published A chronological and historical account of some of the principal events connected with the Dominican convent, Limerick, from its origin, 1227, to our own time (1866). Turning his meticulous mind to reorganizing the order's records, he was the first provincial to keep a proper register of members of the community. He was summoned to Rome in August 1880, only two months after being elected as prior of Cork, to work as an assistant to the father general of the Dominicans, Joseph Larocca, and made many friends among the members of the Congregation of the Propaganda. When the see of Galway fell vacant in 1883 he was seen as one of the most likely candidates for the position. The ‘Roman circular’ (11 May 1883), condemning the Parnell testimonial fund, effectively destroyed his chances of gaining it. The Irish hierarchy, disapproving of this direct intervention from Rome in Irish affairs, actively worked against his appointment, and Thomas Carr, vice-president of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, became bishop of Galway. By way of consolation Carbery was appointed (September 1883) bishop of Hamilton, Ontario, and took possession of that see in 1884. He embarked on a series of improvements in his diocese, initiating the construction of several new schools and churches. Shocked at the disarray he found in the diocesan archive, he set about reorganising the system totally. In September 1885 he organised a diocesan synod of priests in Hamilton to discuss pastoral matters, the first such synod of its kind in the diocese. Despite the shortness of his time in Canada, he was a popular figure in the community.
He became ill while travelling to Rome in November 1887 and it was realised that he was suffering from heart disease. Cutting short his journey, he landed at Cork and took up residence at St Mary's priory. He died 17 December 1887 and his requiem mass at St Mary's church, Pope's Quay, Cork, was attended by a large crowd. His remains were then transferred to Limerick and buried in the vault of St Saviour's church. The Sacred Heart chapel in Limerick was erected (1898) as a memorial to him. There are Bishop Carbery papers in the Dominican archives in Cork and in the Hamilton diocesan archives.