Haly, James (1764?–1850), catholic printer, publisher, bookseller, and educator, was born in Cork city, son of Simon O'Grady Haly of Ballyhaly, Co. Cork, and Anne Haly (née Barry) of Leamlara in the same county. His brother John was later knighted for his achievements in medicine. Indeed, in spite of the sectarian penal laws the Haly family had remained prominent locally for generations, having connections through marriage with leading Anglo-Irish families, including the Quins and Pettys. James Haly (O'Haly; occasionally named ‘Hely’) lived most if not all of his life in Cork. An enterprising and scholarly man, he combined a prolific career in printing, publishing, and bookselling with the education of the poor and the gentlemanly pursuit of philanthropy in a city where wealth and destitution lived closely together. He was a pacesetter for Cork's aspirant catholic middle class of ‘merchant princes’ and intellectuals who challenged sectarianism and confronted economic depression after the Napoleonic wars to reach greater social equality under catholic emancipation (1829).
Haly's business, in constant demand and thus a mirror of the age, was less vulnerable than commodity-based enterprises to the misfortunes of the marketplace. It was flexible and wide-ranging. From the 1780s Haly printed and published titles of increasingly, but not exclusively, catholic interest. In 1789, for example, he published The primer; or, Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Richard Verstegan, as well as A dissertation on comets by John Donovan and material of similar scientific interest. About 1790 he published the Cork Coal Co.'s business literature, and by 1792 had produced titles as diverse as Book-keeping, in the true Italian form by William Jackson and An teagusg Creesdeegh (Christian instruction), a translation into Irish of the catechism of Archbishop James Butler (qv). In the same year he printed A Christian directory, guiding men to their eternal salvation by Robert Parsons, SJ. From this time onwards, Haly's output became noticeably more religious and even patriotic, in the territorial rather than the republican sense. The 1790s saw bitter and sometimes extreme reaction towards publishers linked with seditious opinion, no doubt prompting Haly to be selective in the acceptance of contracts that would bear his imprint. As respectable Irish society contained pro-catholic, and subsequently anti-union, liberals as highly placed as Henry Grattan (qv), it was with this company that Haly and the aspirant catholic élite preferred to associate themselves, as is evident in the tenor of certain titles published up to 1800.
Among Haly's religious undertakings were A funeral sermon preached at a solemn high mass celebrated in Cork, by Florence MacCarthy (1793), The devout communicant, by Pacificus Baker, and The life of Nano Nagle, by W. Coppinger (qv) (1794). Others included such episcopal addresses as Pastoral instruction to the Roman Catholics of Cork (1798) and Doctor Francis Moylan, to the lower order of the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Cork (1799). Political titles, reflecting the growth of tension and troubles leading to the act of union (1800) followed an assertive though unthreatening line of opinion: Some thoughts on the present politics of Ireland, by Theobald McKenna (qv) (1792), The debates at large on the present catholic bill (1795), No union!, by Matthew Weld, and Thoughts on a union, by Joshua Spencer (both 1798). In 1800 Henry Grattan himself, in An answer to a pamphlet entitled ‘The speech of the earl of Clare’, was published by Haly.
Simultaneously, as if to deflect establishment disapproval, Haly continued to print and publish titles such as Corfe Castle, by Anna Milliken (1793), Report of the city of Cork committee (1797), A catalogue of kitchen-garden, grass and flower seeds . . ., by James and Patrick Casey (1798?), An address to the inhabitants of the city of Cork . . . on dwelling together in unity, by Thomas Dix Hincks (qv) (1799), and foreign literary works including Das Kind der Liebe, by August von Kotzebue (1799), and Les aventures de Télémaque, by François de Sali Fénelon (1800).
After 1800, with the union a reality and the few parliamentary champions of catholic emancipation transferred to London, Haly continued to supply religious literature and publish works in favour of catholic reform. The pocket missal, by the catholic church authorities (1804), A Christian directory, by Robert Parsons (1805), Saint Augustine of Hippo's Confessions (1809), and The life of St Francis of Assisi (1815), apparently written by James Haly himself, were among these. An address on the subject of catholic emancipation, to the protestant gentlemen of the county of Cork (1809), by Thomas Newenham (qv), was a typical example of the literature of the reform campaign. Although his business was located at the King's Arms, Exchange (North Main St.) from 1793, previous Cork business addresses used by James Haly included 59 South Main St. and 109 North Main St. He also published a newspaper, the Cork Mercantile Chronicle, from premises at 12 Patrick St. His enterprise extended beyond the printed word: at the Exchange he sold stationery for the armed forces but also health supplies for travellers to the colonies, preparations such as tincture of bark and balsam of Gilead.
Haly's social activities involved him in the Cork Charitable Society, established in 1791 to provide education and employment for male and female children of the catholic poor. In that year he became the sole catholic member of the enlarged Sunday and Daily Schools committee, first formed on 16 July 1789 to instruct and civilise the lower orders, whose revolutionary counterparts simultaneously overran the streets of Paris. In 1796–7 (and probably earlier, although records are lacking), Haly served on the committee of the Roman Catholic Poor Schools in Cork (established 1791). As in politics, he promoted a middle-class civility for all denominations, which, in the close-knit, volatile demography of Cork, meant catholic progress through peaceful coexistence with influential protestant neighbours.
The family's own social influence continued to the next generation through Haly's marriage (1788) to Elizabeth, daughter of William Flynn, a leading printer. She was a gentle and religious woman, with whom he had six sons and three daughters. Their sons, nursed privately at home, were educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, in the absence as yet of a suitable Irish catholic public school. Most of Haly's children prospered abroad, although Francis, a merchant ship's captain, died at sea and William, a lawyer, was killed in Philadelphia while attempting to save property from a fire. James Haly himself died 4 January 1850 after a sudden illness at his Coburg St. residence in Cork, aged 86, and was buried in the habit of the Carmelite order. His serene death was attributable to his great piety, according to his son Robert.
Robert Haly (1796–1882), Jesuit priest, rector of Clongowes Wood College, and missioner, was born 11 April 1796 in Cork city and baptised at SS Peter and Paul's, Cork, on 16 April. Educated at Stonyhurst, he entered the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1814 at Hodder, where he spent his noviciate, being professed of his first vows in 1816. He studied and also taught at Clongowes Wood College (established in 1814 as an Irish counterpart to Stonyhurst), before travelling (1825) to Fribourg, Switzerland, to study theology. Ordained on 29 September 1828, he undertook mission work in Geneva before returning in September 1829 to Ireland, where he joined the Jesuit community in Hardwicke St., Dublin.
Professed of his final vows in February 1833, he undertook his first parish mission in Ireland at Celbridge, and soon established a reputation as a preacher of some eloquence. In 1830 he was appointed as minister of his community while still working as a missioner, and in 1836 was appointed rector of Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare. Returning to Dublin in 1841, he worked as rector of the college and community in Dublin, before being appointed as procurator of the Irish province in Rome. A second term as rector at Clongowes began in 1842, a position he held until 1850. He served as the superior of St Francis Xavier's church, Dublin (1851–6), before moving to Galway as superior of the Jesuit community there in 1859. Alongside this appointment as superior in Galway (1859–65), he also served as superior of the newly established province mission staff (1859–76), restarting his career as a parish missioner.
During the next seventeen years he toured the parishes of Ireland and also travelled to England, where he supervised parish missions. By the end of his missionary career he had preached in almost every parish in Ireland and enjoyed a great public following. On one occasion in 1849, while he was engaged in mission work in Waterford city, a group of bacon factory workers kidnapped him. They could not attend his meetings due to their long work hours, and after he had preached a sermon and confessed the workers, he was released unhurt. In July 1857 he was appointed vicar general of the diocese of Killaloe. He was also involved in the erection of commemorative mission crosses in the parishes he visited, over fifty of these being erected during his term as mission superior.
In 1877 he suffered a severe stroke and, moving to the Gardiner St. community in Dublin, confined himself to light duties for the rest of his life. He died in Gardiner St. on 1 September 1882 and was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin cemetery. He has left a substantial collection of papers in the Jesuit archives in Dublin, giving details of his missionary work and parish life in Ireland in the nineteenth century. Kevin A. Laheen, SJ, published a study of this collection in Collectanea Hibernica (1997–2000).