Quinn, Joseph Patrick (1854–1916), nationalist, was baptised 3 February 1854 in Claremorris, Co. Mayo, son of John Quinn, gardener, and Rose Quinn (née Corley). He came from an Irish-speaking family. After leaving school he worked for several years as a schoolteacher in his home town. An amateur athlete, he was for a time the handball champion of Connacht. During the mid 1870s, together with his younger brother Thomas (1860–1934), he joined the IRB, and later that decade attempted to win its support for the Land League. A supporter and friend of Michael Davitt (qv), he helped to organise the Irishtown meeting (20 April 1879) and to establish the Land League in Co. Mayo. In February 1880 he moved to Dublin and on 1 March was put in charge of the clerical staff at the Land League headquarters. On 3 February 1881, following the arrest of Davitt and Thomas Brennan (qv), he was appointed acting secretary of the Land League. In this capacity he helped Anna Parnell (qv) to establish the Ladies’ Land League and attended more meetings of the central branch of the Land League than any other member.
On 14 October 1881, the day after the arrest of C. S. Parnell (qv), Quinn was arrested and sent to Kilmainham and subsequently to Enniskillen jail, where he remained until 21 June 1882. In October 1882 he was appointed assistant secretary of the Irish National League. Two months later he was put on trial alongside Davitt and T. M. Healy (qv) and was charged with making seditious speeches. In February 1883 all three men were sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, which they served in Kilmainham and Richmond jails. On his release Quinn resumed his work as assistant secretary of the National League and performed his duties diligently. During the Parnell split he supported Parnell and accompanied him to and from his last political meeting at Creggs, Galway on 27 September 1891. In the same year he was appointed secretary of the central branch of the reconstituted, Parnellite Irish National League.
A founder member of the National Literary Society (established 16 August 1892), he played a leading role in its attempt to establish reading rooms and public libraries across the country. During the early 1890s he studied medicine at the Mater Misericordiae hospital in Dublin. Throughout the 1890s he was a close friend of the poets W. B. Yeats (qv) and Lionel Johnson (qv), and for a couple of years they shared lodgings at 56 North Circular Road, Dublin. An active member of the Gaelic League, he helped to organise the first Feis Ceoil in Dublin (17–22 May 1897). The following year he supported the establishment of the Irish Literary Theatre in Dublin. Shortly afterwards he became a medical officer for the South Dublin Union and worked in this position for several years until ill health forced him to retire. A friend of Maud Gonne MacBride (qv), in 1905 he supported her during her divorce proceedings against John MacBride (qv).
In his later years he worked occasionally as a freelance journalist and also became a supporter of the United Irish League. He died in Dublin 1 March 1916, survived by two sons, John and Joseph, both of whom held commissions in the British army during the first world war; Joseph was also an Irish rugby international. His wife (née Kennedy; Christian name unknown) and his youngest son, Michael Davitt Quinn, died sometime during the early 1890s. His brother Thomas emigrated to the US during the early 1880s, became involved in the gold mining business in south-west Colorado, joined Clan na Gael, and held republican sympathies for the rest of his life. In late 1928 he returned to Ireland and settled in his home town, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. He died 12 September 1934.