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Curran

irish, eloquence and wit

CURRAN, John Philpot, Irish orator: b. Newmarket, near Cork, 24 July 1750; d. Lon don, 14 Oct 1817. He was designed for the Church and educated at Trinity College, Dub lin, after which he went to London and studied at one of the inns of court. His youth was rollicking and dissipated. He was called to the Irish bar in 1775, and in 1783 was chosen a member of the Irish House of Commons. Slow in gaining a practice, partly because of the known hostility of some of the judges to the young barrister, he attained lasting celebrity by his skilful conduct as defending counsel in a great series of state trials in the last decade of the 18th century, associated with political troubles. For this work he was singularly well adapted, his knowledge of the Irish peasantry lending a peculiar relish to his cross-examina tions. His wit and virulence made him ene mies if they gained him friends, and as a con sequence he was a party to no fewer than five duels, none of them with serious results. A

Protestant himself, he fought strenuously for the removal of Catholic disabilities and opposed. with all the eloquence at his command, the Act of Union. On the accession of Fox to power in 1806, he was appointed master of the rolls in Ireland, retiring on pension in 1814. The attachment of the Irish patriot Emmet for his daughter Sarah is commemorated in Moore's poem, ((She is far from the land where her young. Hero sleeps)) Curran possessed tal ents of the highest order: his wit, his drollery, his eloquence, his pathos, were irresistible; and the splendid and daring style of his oratory formed a striking contrast with his personal ap pearance, which was mean and diminutive. Consult Davis, (Life of Curran' (1846) ; Phil lips, and His Contemporaries' (1850).