Coneys, Thomas de Vere (1804?–51), Church of Ireland clergyman and first professor of Irish at TCD, was born in Galway, the first son of John Coneys, barrister, of Streamstown, Co. Galway. He was educated at the school of a Mr Whiteley and in October 1819 (aged fifteen) entered TCD as a pensioner. In 1822 he was made a scholar of the college and graduated BA (1824) and MA (1841).
Having decided on a clerical career, he was accepted by Archbishop Power Le Poer Trench (qv) of Tuam as an ordinand in his archdiocese. He was an associate of the Rev. Henry Hamilton Beamish (1795?–1872), a scholar of Irish who probably encouraged Coneys to learn the language. Ordained in October 1830, Coneys served as curate at Kileran, Co. Galway, and gained a reputation for delivering powerful sermons in Irish. He became a leading member of the Home Mission Society and an enthusiastic proselytiser of Irish-speaking catholics. He concentrated on preaching along the western seaboard, and spent a period on Achill Island. In 1832 he travelled to London and assisted his old mentor Beamish in working among the Irish community at St. Giles. After Beamish's resignation, Coneys became acting rector in 1835. He returned to Ireland around 1837 and was appointed rector of Foxford, Co. Mayo.
With Archbishop Trench, Coneys was involved in attempting to establish a special college for Irish-language ordinands but, despite the enthusiasm of both men, nothing came of their efforts. Many were of the opinion, however, that TCD should endow a chair of Irish to train clerical students in the language. After a long campaign a chair was founded in 1840 and, largely owing to the influence of Trench, Coneys was appointed the college's first professor of Irish. The appointment was not a well paid one and, in 1843, he accepted the curacy of St. Anne's at Sixtowns in Co. Derry to supplement his income. When a new church was opened for worship in Sixtowns in October 1843 he preached a sermon in Irish to a congregation of eighty people, and the service ended with a hymn sung in Irish. In the subsequent years Coneys continued his prosletyising activities in the west and in 1846 founded a missionary school in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.
In 1849 he published Foclóir Gaoidhilge–sacs–Béarla or An Irish–English dictionary, intended for the use of students and teachers in Irish. It was primarily intended as an aid for protestant preachers using Irish, but contained useful material collated from earlier Irish-English dictionaries and was used by later Irish lexicographers such as Patrick Dinneen (qv). Coneys was also involved in publishing an edition in Irish of the Book of common prayer (1851).
Coneys was rector of Ballinakill, Co. Galway, when he died 28 December 1851 in his rooms in TCD after a long illness.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).