Halpin, Nicholas John (1790–1850), clergyman and writer, was born 18 October 1790 at Portarlington, Queen's Co. (Laois), son of William Halpin, gentleman. He entered TCD in 1810 and, in a distinguished career there, showed a talent for literary composition. He won several vice-chancellor prizes, as well as a series of medals for verse at the Historical Society. One such offering was published (1811) as An university prize poem on his majesty King George III having completed the fiftieth year of his reign. He graduated BA (1815), and then (1816) took orders in the Irish church. Appointed to the curacy at Oldcastle, Co. Meath, in that year, he remained there for two decades.
Writing, rather than religion, dominated his life, however, and he was the editor of the Evening Mail in Dublin for many years. This, as the chief protestant newspaper in the city, was, under his direction, noted for the ferocity of its attacks on Daniel O'Connell (qv) and for its opposition to any government measure that threatened the position of the established church. A member of the council of the RIA, he also served on its committee of polite literature for two years and read a number of papers at its meetings. In his miscellaneous publications, religion and Shakespeare were the principal themes. Among these were Tithes no tax (1823), Authentic report of the speeches and meeting held at Cavan 26 January 1827 for the purpose of forming a society for promoting the Reformation (1827), The impossibility of transubstantiation (n.d.), No chimaera, or the lay reformation in Ireland (1828), Oberon's vision in the ‘Midsummer's night dream’ illustrated by a comparison with Lylie's Endymion (1843), Bridal runaway, an essay on Juliet's soliloquy (1845) and Observations on certain passages in the life of Edmund Spenser (1850). It appears that the closing years of his life were lived in relative poverty, and he died in Dublin 22 November 1850.
He married (1817) Anne Grehan; they had three sons and four daughters, including Charles Graham Halpin (qv).