Alan Bell, policeman and resident magistrate, is tasked by British Intelligence to track down Michael Collins’s war chest. By March 26, 1920, he has successfully confiscated over £71,000 from Sinn Féin‘s headquarters and by investigating banks throughout the country and is set to seize much more. On that day he is pulled off a tram in South Dublin and shot three times in the head.
After almost twenty years’ police service, Bell becomes a resident magistrate on November 12, 1898, a civil service post under the Constabulary Act, 1836. His districts included Athenry, Claremorris, Armagh, Belfast, and Portadown. With many years’ experience in criminal intelligence, he is transferred to Dublin Castle early in the Irish War of Independence as a special investigator and intelligence gatherer. In December 1919 he questions suspects for the attempted Irish Republican Army (IRA) assassination of the viceroy, Lord French, and place suspect premises under surveillance. His vulnerability is made evident by the shooting in January 1920 of Dublin Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner William C. Redmond, one of his informants. He remains in Dublin to investigate the “republican loan” raised by Michael Collins and Sinn Féin, believed to be hidden in suspect bank accounts. Refusing protective accommodation in Dublin Castle where other officials have already retreated, he opts to live with his wife at a private suburban residence, 19 Belgrave Square, Monkstown, County Dublin. He summons bank managers to his office in early March 1920 and progresses sufficiently to force Collins into taking action.
Carrying a pocket revolver for protection, Bell travels to work daily by tram until the morning of March 26, 1920. At the busy junction of Simmonscourt Road, Sandymount Avenue, and Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, a group of men immobilise the crowded vehicle and surround their target, declaring, “Come on, Mr. Bell, your time has come.” Bundling him on to the street, they shoot him dead in public view and run from the scene. In spite of vivid eyewitness accounts in the press, no killer is identified. His death comes amid almost daily violence and barely a week after the shooting of the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Tomás Mac Curtain, allegedly by police assassins. He acts fearlessly, perhaps expecting a violent death as the outcome of his mission.
Berkeley is the eldest son of William Berkeley, a cadet of the noble family of Berkeley whose ancestry can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon period and who had served as feudal lords and landowners in Gloucester, England. Little is known of his mother. He is educated at Kilkenny College and attends Trinity College Dublin, where he is elected a Scholar in 1702, being awarded BA in 1704 and MA and a Fellowship in 1707. He remains at Trinity College after completion of his degree as a tutor and Greek lecturer.
Berkeley’s earliest publication is on mathematics, but the first that brings him notice is his An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision, first published in 1709. In the essay, he examines visual distance, magnitude, position and problems of sight and touch. While this work raises much controversy at the time, its conclusions are now accepted as an established part of the theory of optics.
For this theory, the Principles gives the exposition and the Dialogues the defence. One of his main objectives is to combat the prevailing materialism of his time. The theory is largely received with ridicule, while even those such as Samuel Clarke and William Whiston, who do acknowledge his “extraordinary genius,” are nevertheless convinced that his first principles are false.
Shortly afterwards, Berkeley visits England and is received into the circle of Joseph Addison, Alexander Pope and Richard Steele. In the period between 1714 and 1720, he intersperses his academic endeavours with periods of extensive travel in Europe, including one of the most extensive Grand Tours of the length and breadth of Italy ever undertaken. In 1721, he takes holy orders in the Church of Ireland, earning his doctorate in divinity, and once again chooses to remain at Trinity College Dublin, lecturing this time in Divinity and in Hebrew. In 1721-22 he is made Dean of Dromore and, in 1724, Dean of Derry.
In 1723, following her violent quarrel with Jonathan Swift, who had been her intimate friend for many years, Esther Vanhomrigh names Berkeley her co-heir along with the barrister Robert Marshall. Her choice of legatees causes a good deal of surprise since she does not know either of them well, although Berkeley as a very young man had known her father. Swift says generously that he does not grudge Berkeley his inheritance, much of which vanishes in a lawsuit in any event. A story that Berkeley and Marshall disregarded a condition of the inheritance that they must publish the correspondence between Swift and Vanhomrigh is probably untrue.
In 1725, Berkeley begins the project of founding a college in Bermuda for training ministers and missionaries in the colony, in pursuit of which he gives up his deanery with its income of £1100.
In 1728, Berkeley marries Anne Forster, daughter of John Forster, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, and his first wife Rebecca Monck. He then goes to America on a salary of £100 per annum. He lands near Newport, Rhode Island, where he buys a plantation at Middletown – the famous “Whitehall.” He purchases several enslaved Africans to work on the plantation. He also brings John Smibert to New England, the Scottish artist he “discovered” in Italy, who is generally regarded as the founding father of American portrait painting. Meanwhile, he draws up plans for the ideal city he plans to build on Bermuda. He lives at the plantation while he waits for funds for his college to arrive. The funds, however, are not forthcoming and he leaves America and returns to London in 1732.
Berkeley and his wife have four children who survive infancy: Henry, George, William and Julia, and at least two other children who die in infancy. William’s death in 1751 is a great cause of grief to his father.
Berkeley is nominated to be the Bishop of Cloyne in the Church of Ireland on January 18, 1734. He is consecrated as such on May 19, 1734. He is the Bishop of Cloyne until his death on January 14, 1753, although he dies at Oxford.
While living in London’s Saville Street, Berkeley takes part in efforts to create a home for the city’s abandoned children. The Foundling Hospital is founded by royal charter in 1739, and Berkeley is listed as one of its original governors.
Berkeley’s last two publications are Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tarwater, And divers other Subjects connected together and arising one from another (1744) and Further Thoughts on Tar-water (1752). Pine tar is an effective antiseptic and disinfectant when applied to cuts on the skin, but he argues for the use of pine tar as a broad panacea for diseases. His 1744 work on tar-water sells more copies than any of his other books during Berkeley’s lifetime.
Berkeley remains at Cloyne until 1752, when he retires. With his wife and daughter Julia, he goes to Oxford to live with his son George and supervise his education. He dies soon afterwards and is buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. His affectionate disposition and genial manners make him much loved and held in warm regard by many of his contemporaries. Anne outlives her husband by many years, dying in 1786.
(Pictured: “Bishop George Berkeley,” oil on canvas portrait by John Smibert, c. 1727)
Luce is the fourth son of the Reverend John James Luce and Alice Luce (née Stubbs). He is educated at Lindley Lodge School and Eastbourne College. He enters Trinity College, Dublin in 1901. He obtains his BA in 1905, BD in 1908 and MA in 1911.
Luce’s earlier work focuses largely on theological matters within Christianity. His academic career is interrupted by World War I, in which he serves with the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. He is awarded the Military Cross in 1917. After the war, he publishes “Monophysitism Past and Present” (1921) which deals with the nature of Jesus and his relationship to the world. The following year, he publishes his Donnellan Lectures on Henri Bergson where he examines issues in psychology and evolution as well as religion.
From the 1930s, Luce becomes interested in the Irish philosopher George Berkeley. He feels many of the previous studies of Berkeley are in many ways inadequate and sometimes wrong. His unearthing of new sources on Berkeley as well as better ways of interpreting existing sources guide his work in this direction. He stresses the role of the French monk Nicolas Malebranche on influencing the thought of the young Berkeley. Prior to his Berkeley and Malebranche (1934), Berkeley had been seen almost solely in the patrimony of John Locke and empiricism.
Berkeley’s mature philosophy is given lucid exposition by Luce in his 1945 work “Berkeley’s Immaterialism”. Along with Thomas Edmund Jessop, he edits The Works of George Berkeley (in nine volumes, 1948–1957).
Luce is not only a Berkeley scholar but comes to be a believer in Berkelianism itself. In “Sense without Matter” (1954) he attempts to bring Berkeley up to date by modernising the philosophers vocabulary and putting the issues Berkeley faced in today’s terms.
Berkeley’s personal reputation among historians and the public is also an area which Luce feels needs correcting and updating. Some studies of Berkeley had contributed to his reputation as a dreamer or a loner who often hid his real views. Luce’s “Life of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne” (1949) takes aim at this picture of Berkeley and, by careful use of often new sources, paints a more grounded picture of the man.
In 1918, Luce marries Lilian Mary Thomson, with whom he has three children. Tragically, his wife and young daughter drown in 1940. His elder son, Professor John Victor Luce (1920–2011), is also an academic at Trinity and also serves as vice-provost.
Luce dies in Dublin on June 28, 1977 shortly after an assault by a man who has an antipathy towards clergymen.
By 1326 FitzGerald’s influence is such that there are rumours of a conspiracy to make him King of Ireland. Modern historians tend to dismiss the story, on the ground that the alleged conspirators were other magnates who were more interested in increasing their own power than aggrandising FitzGerald.
FitzGerald is created Earl of Desmond by Letters Patent dated at Gloucester, England, August 27, 1329, by which patent also the county palatine of Kerry is confirmed to him and his heirs male, to hold of the Crown by the service of one knight’s fee. This is part of a Crown policy of attempting to win the support of the magnates by conferring earldoms on them.
In January 1330 FitzGerald is summoned by Sir John Darcy, Lord Justice of Ireland, to fight armed Irish rebels, with a promise of the King’s pay. It is FitzGerald who introduces the practice of Coigne and Livery, the quartering of troops on the inhabitants of the district they are sent to protect.
Accepting the King’s proposal, in addition to dealing with Munster and Leinster, FitzGerald routs the O’Nolans and O’Murroughs and burns their lands in County Wicklow and forces them to give hostages. He recovers the castle of Ley from the O’Dempsies, and has a liberate of £100 sterling dated at Drogheda August 24, 1335, in return for the expense he has incurred in bringing his men-at-arms, hobelars, and foot-soldiers, from various parts of Munster to Drogheda, and there, with Lord Justice Darcy, disperses the King’s enemies.
In 1331 there are further rumours of an attempt to make him King. Although there seems to be no foundation for them, the Crown takes them seriously enough to imprison FitzGerald for several months. He is released when a number of fellow nobles stand surety for his good behaviour.
In 1339 FitzGerald is engaged against Irish rebels in County Kerry where it is said he slays 1,400 men, and takes Nicholas, Lord of Kerry, prisoner, keeping him confined until he dies as punishment for siding with the rebels against the Crown.
The same year FitzGerald is present in the parliament held in Dublin. He is summoned by Writ dated at Westminster July 10, 1344, with Maurice, Earl of Kildare, and others, to attend the King at Portsmouth “on the octaves of the nativity of the Virgin Mary,” with twenty men-at-arms and fifty hobelars, at his own expense, to assist in the war against Philip V of France.
FitzGerald, who has long been acting “with a certain disregard for the niceties of the law” now decides on open rebellion. In 1345 he presides at an assembly of Anglo-Irish magnates at Callan, County Kilkenny, ignores a summons to attend the Irish Parliament and attacks Nenagh. He is a formidable opponent, and for the next two years his defeat is the main preoccupation of the Crown. He surrenders on a promise that his life will be spared. He is imprisoned and his lands forfeited. He is allowed to go under guard to England to answer the charges against him.
By no means for the last time, the Crown evidently decides that it can not govern Ireland without the magnates’ support. In 1348 FitzGerald is released, and pardoned in 1349. His loyalty does not seem to have been in question during the last years of his life.
In July 1355 FitzGerald is appointed Lord Justice of Ireland for life, dying, however, the following January in Dublin Castle. He is interred in the Church of the Friars-Preachers in Tralee.