Carney (Kearney, O'Carney), James (d. 1648), Jesuit priest and rector, was born in Cashel, Co. Tipperary. As a youth in Cashel, he studied classics before being sent to Spain, because of legal restrictions, to complete his education. He read philosophy at the Irish college of Santiago de Compostella, in Galicia, before studying theology at Salamanca. He is mentioned in some accounts as a priest at the college of Salamanca in the early 1610s. He left Salamanca in 1612 to assist Theobald Stapleton (qv) with the formation of an Irish college at Seville, of which Carney and Maurice Regan became the first superiors. The Jesuit order took over the college in 1619, and it later became attached to the college at Salamanca. Carney followed this example and joined the Jesuits himself in 1620. Possessing extreme modesty throughout his life, Carney insisted that he wanted to join the Jesuits to allow more intelligent and talented men to concentrate on important duties, leaving the menial work to him. Nevertheless he was considered the most outstanding student of his generation, and when called upon to defend his theological theses he impressed the doctors of the University of Salamanca with his intelligence, his arguing ability (especially the fact that he never lost his temper), and most of all his modesty. He was extremely talented and pious; his fellow students respected his holiness, noting that he never disobeyed a rule of the order. He professed his four vows in 1634.
As his fame spread throughout Spain, he won the respect of the bishops of Spain with his learning and piety. Appointed president and rector of the Irish college at Santiago, alongside Fr Richard Conway (qv), he was credited with maintaining its existence, and enhancing its reputation, through his extensive work in raising money and by his prayers. His reputation ensured a steady stream of pilgrims from all classes, and he was always willing to give his blessing. He would also engage, in any spare time, on religious missions throughout Spain. He engaged in long fasts and passages of penance, including self-mortification, and sometimes would pray throughout the night. His superiors in the order were regularly forced to intervene for the sake of his health and urge moderation. During an illness in 1643 he made a number of prophecies, one (apparently correctly) predicting the time and nature of his death; because of this he was credited with the gift of prophetic sight. He died 10 June 1648 at Santiago. There were scenes of mass grief at his funeral, which was attended by the dignitaries of the town, and large crowds paid their respects outside.