Mulchrone, Kathleen (‘Kate’) (Ó Maolchroín, Ní Maolchroín, Caitlín) (1895–1973), Celticist, was born 22 November 1895 in Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath, youngest among four daughters of Patrick Mulchrone, RIC sergeant, originally from Co. Mayo, and Mary Mulchrone (née Spain), a native of Co. Tipperary. After primary school in Fore, Co. Westmeath, she was educated at Loreto Convent in Mullingar. Awarded a scholarship for her performance in the leaving certificate examination (1913), she registered as a student at UCD, graduating BA (1916), H.Dip.Ed. (1917), and MA (1918), after which she was awarded a travelling studentship to study for a D.Phil. under the supervision of Professor Rudolf Thurneysen (qv) in Bonn, Germany. They quickly developed a great mutual respect; ‘according to her German contemporaries, she was his favourite pupil. His Gramma was her “Bíobla na Sean-Ghaeilge” [‘bible of Old Irish'] (Irish Times, 28 June 1973). Her postgraduate work on St Patrick appeared first in Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie (1926–7), before publication in book form as Bethu Phátraic: the tripartite life of St Patrick (1939). She taught at UCD and then worked with the Irish Manuscripts Commission in the RIA (1928–38). She was the author or co-author of 14 of the 27 fascicles of the Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the RIA, published between 1926 and 1970. In 1938 she was appointed professor of Old and Middle Irish and Celtic philology at UCG, when a new chair was created. She remained in this post until her retirement (1965). She did not marry or have children, and died 13 June 1973 in Mullingar. She is buried in Ballyglass.
Mulchrone was as prolific in her writings as she was rigorous in her research. She contributed essays to a number of volumes, including Measgra i gcuimhne Mhichíl Uí Chléirigh (1944) and Studies in early Irish law (1936), in addition to publishing an important edition, The Book of Lecan: Leabhar Mór Mhic Fhir Bhisigh Leacain (1937). She also published many articles in scholarly journals such as the Journal of the Galway Historical and Archaeological Society, Celtica, Irish Ecclesiastical Record, and Studia Hibernica. Contemporaries were generous in their praise of her personality and her work. Commenting on her volume on St Patrick, Osborn Bergin (qv) wrote that it was ‘the best of its kind that has appeared for many years’ (Beathaisnéis, iii, 125). Similarly, Robin Flower (qv) remarked that The Book of Lecan was a ‘model of its kind’ (ibid.), while the Catholic Bulletin made reference to ‘the unequalled claims of Dr Kathleen Mulchrone to the new and separate chair provided at Galway’ (ibid.). In her posthumous appraisal in the Irish Times, Próinséas Ní Chatháin alluded affectionately to Mulchrone's ready wit and ‘infectious . . . chuckle’ (Irish Times, 28 June 1973), and to her influential and inspiring lectures on her subject, all delivered in proficient Modern Irish. A collection of her academic papers (‘Mulchrone papers’) is held in the RIA.