Maguire, Thomas (1792–1847), catholic priest, preacher, and polemicist, was born in February 1792 in the townland of Tiroogan in the part of the parish of Kinawley that lies in Co. Fermanagh, a son of Thomas Maguire, a local farmer. His mother, Judith, was a sister of a Franciscan priest, Patrick Maguire (1761–1826), who was parish priest of Templeport (Bawnboy), Co. Cavan, from 1796 and co-adjutor bishop of Kilmore from 1818 until his death. Thomas Maguire was educated at a classical school at Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan, before entering Maynooth (1813) to study for the priesthood. He was ordained (September 1816) in his uncle's parish, where he was curate until promoted parish priest of Drumreilly Lower, Co. Leitrim (September 1818). Seven years later he was moved to the parish of Innismagrath (Drumkeerin) and it was there he came to national attention as a preacher and polemicist. In April 1827, in Dublin, he debated for six days before a paying audience with a protestant clergyman, Richard Pope (1799–1859), on ‘the doctrines of the Church of Rome’. This he did despite the disapproval of the catholic archbishop of Armagh, Patrick Curtis (qv).
Eight months later (13–14 December) he was the successful defendant in a civil action in the court of the exchequer brought by a Drumkeerin innkeeper, Bartholomew McGarahan, for the seduction of his daughter Anne. Maguire had as counsel Daniel O'Connell (qv), Richard Sheil (qv) and Michael O'Loghlen (qv). Though the jury awarded Maguire merely token costs of 6d., its verdict was acclaimed by catholics as a great victory and resulted in rioting in Dublin which dragoons were called out to suppress. There were repercussions in Co. Leitrim: local protestants were threatened, ostracised and even attacked. Maguire repaid his obligation to O'Connell by canvassing for him at the Clare election (1828). He also persisted in his polemicism. In a riposte to a Protestant minister in an adjacent county he wrote a pamphlet, False weights and measures of the protestant curate of Cavan examined and exposed (1833). It was published by his close friend Richard Coyne (qv). In May and June 1838, again before a paying audience in Dublin, Maguire debated for nine days with another protestant minister, Tresham Dames Gregg (qv), the motion that the established protestant church was ‘the Church of Christ, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, in these kingdoms’.
From 1829 until 1842 Maguire regularly gave theological lectures, as well as preaching special sermons, in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland and also in Britain, which drew large audiences. From the lectures he derived an income for himself, while his sermons benefited charities and building funds. Maguire was an active member of the Catholic Association and its successor political organisations. Speaking on 30 June 1841 at a political meeting at Castlebar, Co. Mayo, from the same platform as O'Connell and Archbishop John MacHale (qv), he declared that ‘Repeal was the consideration next in importance to eternity itself for the Irish people’. During the Great Famine he seems to have taken no interest in public affairs but spent his spare time on country sports and breeding greyhounds, pointers and spaniels. He died 2 December 1847 at his residence, Monroe Lodge, Ardrum, near Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, where he had been parish priest since August 1835. He was buried at Templeport in the presence of a large number of mourners. But five weeks later his body was exhumed. His brother Terence and sister-in-law Anna, who lived with him, had died in suspicious circumstances. Arsenic was found in the stomachs of all three. A coroner's inquest found that Thomas Maguire's housekeeper, Mary Reynolds, had murdered him. At the ensuing Leitrim assizes, however, she was acquitted.