O'Clery, (Patrick) Keyes (1845?–1913), soldier, barrister, politician, and author, was born, probably in May 1845, at Darragh house, Kilfinnane, Co. Limerick, the only son of John Walsh O'Clery (The O'Clery ) and Elisa O'Clery (née O'Donoghue Keyes); some sources record his birth in 1846 or 1849. He was educated at St Munchin's college, Limerick city, and at TCD, but there is no record of his having graduated. He served with distinction in the papal zouaves, seeing action in the 1867 campaign that repulsed Garibaldi's invasion of the papal territories; during the defence of Rome in 1870 he fought at the Porta Pia, where Italian troops breached the Aurelian walls and entered the city. For these services he was made a knight of the papal orders of Pius IX and of St Gregory the Great (military cross), the latter conferring the title of chevalier. He was called to the English bar at the Middle Temple, London, in 1874. Enjoying the energetic support of catholic clergy, he defeated the nominee of the local farmers' club to be selected as one of two home rule candidates to contest Wexford County in the 1874 general election; securing 2,784 votes, he won the second seat (1874–80). A maverick contributor to parliamentary debate, initially he inclined to support the tactic of obstructing parliamentary business as pioneered by Joseph Biggar (qv). He sponsored a bill providing for establishment of a volunteer corps in Ireland along the lines of those functioning in Britain and the colonies; the bill passed a third reading in the house of commons, but was defeated by the lords (1879). Accused of seeking to facilitate the progress of the bill by reneging on a pledge to support the concerted policy of parliamentary obstruction being led by Biggar and Charles Stewart Parnell (qv), O'Clery was repudiated by his constituency home rule association in favour of two Parnellite candidates, John Barry (qv) and Garret Byrne, in the 1880 general election, resulting in a bitterly fought campaign. At a turbulent public meeting in Enniscorthy on Easter Sunday (28 March), a group of O'Clery's supporters attacked opponents, stormed the platform, and subjected Parnell to a hail of verbal and physical abuse. The ensuing furore working to his disadvantage, O'Clery was thrashed at the polls, his vote collapsing to a mere 457, some six per cent of the total.
O'Clery wrote two controversial books on the unification of Italy, The history of the Italian revolution: first period: the revolution of the barricades (1796–1849) (1875), and The making of Italy (1892), dealing with the period from 1856 to 1870. Both are unabashedly reactionary, anti-republican treatments, condemning the establishment of the centralised, unified Italian state, and extolling the salutary role of the temporal power of the papacy in Italian and European history. A contemporary critic in the Saturday Review said of the former: ‘We see no reason to think that Mr O'Clery wilfully misrepresents facts: he writes in the strength of a fanaticism that disdains such ordinary means’ (quoted in Allibone). O'Clery was awarded the grand cross of the Spanish order of Isabella the Catholic, and was a royal lieutenant for the city of London. A private chamberlain at the Vatican court for many years, he was created an hereditary count of Rome by Pope Leo XIII during the visit of King Edward VII to the Vatican (1903). He resided at 1 Hare Ct., Temple, London, in rooms formerly occupied by Henry Grattan (qv). His clubs were the Devonshire, and the East Sussex, St Leonards. Though described as unmarried during his tenure in parliament, he was survived by a wife, Katherine (d. 1919). As they had no children, he was the last person to be recognised as The O'Clery. He died 23 May 1913 at the Alexian Brothers' convalescent home, Twyford Abbey, Brent, London.