Clinch, James Bernard (1770–1834), scholar and pamphleteer, was born 16 July 1770 in James's St., Dublin, fifth son of Joseph Clinch, a merchant originally from Ratoath, Co. Meath, and Mary Clinch (née Higgins) from Knockmane, Co. Roscommon. Educated at the Rev. Beragh's academy and later in Rome, having taught for some time in Dublin, on the recommendation of Edmund Burke (qv) he was appointed as the first professor of humanity to the newly established Maynooth College (1795). He was promoted to the chair of rhetoric in 1798, but resigned his post in 1802. He entered the Middle Temple in 1805, graduated (LLB 1807), and was subsequently called to the Irish bar. As a writer he produced verses in Greek and Latin, some of which appeared in the Anthologia Hibernica (1792–3). He also translated poetry from the Gaelic, most noticeably a version of the ‘Coulin’, which was published in the Sentimental and Masonic Magazine of November 1792. Clinch also wrote on political issues. He wrote anonymously for several periodicals, appearing in the Evening Herald as the ‘Detector’, and produced an influential pamphlet in defence of the catholics against the veto, written possibly on the advice of Dr John Thomas Troy, with whom he was friendly. He was publicly thanked by the Irish catholic hierarchy for his Letters on church government (1812), which came in for particular praise from the leading English catholic bishop, John Milner (1752–1826). Before his death Clinch published a pamphlet entitled Repeal agitation. He died 25 October 1834.
Middle Temple admissions register (3 vols, 1949), ii, 422; Cork Hist. Soc. Jn., lxxiv (1969), 50; O'Donoghue, 70–71; Brian Macdermott (ed.), Scully papers: the Irish catholic petition of 1805 (1992); P. J. Corish, Maynooth College, 1795–1995 (1995)