O'Heyne, John (c.1648–1713), Dominican priest and historian, was born near Athenry; his writings, curiously, do not mention his own parentage. He was the great-nephew on his father's side of Dominic Burke (qv) OP (d. 1649), who for much of his life strenuously opposed the papal nuncio GianBattista Rinuccini (qv); on his mother's side he was the great-nephew of John Bourke (qv), bishop of Clonfert (1642–7) and archbishop of Tuam (1647–67), and of Hugh Burke, OFM, bishop of Kilmacduagh. His family background was both Gaelic and Anglo-Irish. O'Heyne received the Dominican habit at Athenry on 4 August 1666 and left Galway for Spain in 1667. He studied at the Spanish studia generalia of Burgos and San Esteban Protomártir, Salamanca. After completing his studies in Spain in 1675 he was ordered to proceed to Louvain in the Low Countries via Bilbao, but went instead to Caen in France, where he lectured in theology until his departure for Ireland.
Soon after reaching Ireland in the late 1670s O'Heyne became a preacher and master of novices at Drogheda, where he met the primate Oliver Plunkett (qv). He taught at the Dominican school of Coillascail (or Brosk) near Athenry until the outbreak of persecution (c.1679). Forced into exile, he went first to Italy and then back to Louvain (November 1682), where he was appointed lector of theology and master of students. In 1684 he was postulated for the dioceses of Clonfert, and Kilmacduagh. He stayed at Louvain, filling the offices of second and first regent of studies (1685–8). As the Dominican college, Holy Cross, had been incorporated into Louvain university in 1659, he was allowed by the master general to be conferred with the university's baccalaureate and licence in theology.
O'Heyne returned to Ireland early in 1689 and was appointed prior of the remote convent of Urlár near Kilmovee, Co. Mayo. He was in the Athenry area in 1695–6, and in 1698 (April to June) was at Galway attending to the contemplative Dominican nuns on the eve of the enforcement by the government of a general exile of the most important elements of the Irish catholic clergy. In 1698 he arrived again at Louvain, where he resumed teaching. He was appointed historiographer of the province by the provincial Ambrose O'Connor, and in 1706 published at Louvain his compilation of Irish Dominican history entitled Epilogus chronologicus. He died 11 December 1713 of fever at Holy Cross College, Louvain.
As the first printed history of the Irish Dominican world that had collapsed and passed away in the 1690s, the Epilogus is unique; it provides intriguing and invaluable information concerning personnel and their houses throughout Ireland and abroad, which, if not always reliable and perfectly accurate, is nowhere else to be found. At the time when he painfully undertook his work of pietas, O'Heyne was already ‘full of years’ and his memory was already seriously failing, but his lapses are more than compensated for by his intimate knowledge of the Irish Dominican tradition and heritage. The work was edited and translated for publication by Ambrose Coleman as The Irish Dominicans of the seventeenth century (1902).