Archdekin (Ardsdekin, MacGiolla Cuddy), Richard (1619–93), Jesuit priest and scholar, was born 16 March 1619 in Kilkenny city, son of Nicholas Archdekin and his wife Ann (née Sherlock). After being educated at the classical school in Kilkenny, he travelled to Antwerp (1637) to study theology at the Jesuit college there before moving to Louvain (1640), where he studied philosophy. Already proficient in Irish, English, and Latin, he became fluent in Flemish. On 20 September 1642 he entered the Society of Jesus at Malines (Mechelen) before returning to Louvain (1644) to resume his study of philosophy. He was ordained a priest on 28 March 1648 and, after completing his tertianship, returned to Ireland in summer 1649 to join the Jesuit mission there. Presumably he would have been a member of the teaching staff of a college that the Jesuits intended to establish in Kilkenny, but these plans were dashed by the invasion of Ireland by a militantly anti-catholic English protestant army under the generalship of Oliver Cromwell (qv). Archdekin was soon obliged to flee to Galway, which held out until 1652, after which he managed to slip away and (after a period in hiding) eventually found a ship bound for the Continent. He landed in the Spanish Netherlands on 26 March 1653.
Thereafter he pursued a successful academic career on the Continent, being first appointed to teach humanities at Malines and Alost (Aalst). In 1657 he became professor of philosophy at the Jesuit college in Antwerp and continued as such until 1662, when he began teaching scripture and Hebrew. He moved (1665) to the Jesuit college at Louvain, where he taught scripture, Hebrew, and moral theology before serving as professor of scripture and moral theology at Antwerp from 1664 until his retirement in 1690.
He also wrote a number of works, and his first publication, A treatise of miracles (1667), was printed in both Irish and English. When writing in Irish he used the pseudonym MacGiolla Cuddy. In 1671 he published Vita et miraculorum sancti Patritii Hiberniae, which included a life of St Patrick (qv) and also elaborated on prophecies attributed to St Malachy (qv). The same year he published Praecipuae controversiae fidei, a practical guide for missionary priests in Ireland. It included material on theology, philosophy, the catholic rite, secular and ecclesiastical history, sermons, and religious instruction. In particular it incorporated many references to Irish affairs. The first edition of 1,000 copies was sold out within months and it went through eleven editions in his lifetime. The 1686 edition was retitled Theologia tripartite universa and expanded on the preexisting material to include lives of the martyred archbishop of Armagh, Oliver Plunkett (qv) and of Peter Talbot (qv), archbishop of Dublin. In 1700 an error was uncovered in his teaching on philosophical sin, and as a result the book was placed on the prohibited index. This error was corrected in subsequent editions. He died at Antwerp 31 August 1693 and was buried in the Jesuit graveyard there.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).