Mooney, Canice (1911–63) Franciscan priest, historian, and Irish language scholar, was born 13 February 1911 in Drumshambo, Co. Leitrim, one of eight children of publican, auctioneer and public representative Andrew Mooney and his wife Josephine Gaffney. He was christened Albert James. After receiving his primary education in Drumshambo, he attended the Franciscan College, Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath. He entered the Franciscan order in 1928 and studied philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain between 1929 and 1931. He was awarded a B.Ph. degree ‘avec grande distinction’ in 1931. Subsequently he studied theology in St Anthony's College and St Isidore's College in Rome and was ordained a priest there in 1934. On his return to Ireland in 1935, he continued his studies in UCD where he was awarded a first class honours MA in Celtic studies in 1941 for his edition and commentary of Tomás Ó Bruacháin's version of Meditationes vitae Christi (Smaointe beatha Chríost). His thesis was published in 1944. From 1942–6 and again from 1950–9 he was extern research worker to the School of Celtic Studies in the DIAS. He was appointed assistant professor in 1946 and that same year delivered a statutory public lecture for the School of Celtic Studies entitled ‘Sgríbhneoirí Gaeilge d'Órd San Froinsias’, published in Catholic Survey 1 (1951–3), 54–75.
Mooney was competent in a wide number of languages: Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, German and Spanish. Initially his interest was in linguistic matters but from around 1950 onwards the focus of his studies changed to historical matters, in particular the history of the Franciscans in Ireland and overseas.
He published a number of books: Boehius MacEgan of Ross (1950); Irish Franciscan relations with France, 1224–1850 (1951); Devotional writings of the Irish Franciscans, 1224–1950 (1952); The friars and friary of Donegal, 1474–1840 (1952); and an edition of Aodh Mac Aingil's Scathán shacramuinte na haithridhe (1952) which formed the first volume of the Scríbhinní Gaeilge na mbráithre mionúr series. He also edited a second volume, Seanmónta chúige Uladh (1965), which was the sixth in the series, and an edition of Pádraig Ó Súilleabháin's Rialachas San Froinsias (1953). In addition, he published Short guide to the material of interest for the student of Irish church history in the Franciscan order (1954); The first impact of the reformation (1967) and The church in Gaelic Ireland: thirteenth to fifteenth centuries (1969). Together with Myles Dillon (qv) and Pádraig de Brún he was involved in compiling a catalogue of manuscripts in the possession of the Franciscan order in Ireland, published in 1969. He was also involved in continuing the project of Luke Wadding (qv) Annales ordinis minorum. He published a wide range of articles in Irish journals including Seanchas Ard Mhacha, Éigse, Celtica, The Irish Book Lover, The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Catholic Survey and Measgra Mhichíl Uí Chléirigh and also contributed to journals abroad.
Mooney had a number of posts within the Franciscan order, such as librarian and archivist in the Franciscan friary, Merchant's Quay, Dublin (1936–43) and subsequently in the Franciscan house of studies, Dún Mhuire, Killiney, Co. Dublin (1945–9). He was chronicler of the Irish province of the order from 1939 onwards. He spent a period as president of Dún Mhuire and afterwards was elected a provincial definitor (1951–4, 1963–6).
He resigned his position in the School of Celtic Studies in 1950 and returned to Louvain to study history where he was awarded the degree of Licence en Sciences Historiques, ‘avec la plus grande distinction’ in 1952 for his study of racialism within the order of St Francis in Ireland from 1224 to 1700. At the request of the NLI, he spent time researching in the Spanish archives in Simancas along with Professor Joseph Healy of UCC. He was elected to the RIA on 15 March 1959.
Mooney died 19 December 1963 and is interred in Glasnevin cemetery.