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Born in Thomastown House-His Family --His Infancy--- His singular
Gentleness and Goodness as a Child-Hiding the Spoons -His In-
fluence over his Brothers-His Love of Order The silk Stockings-
Taste for Engineering-The Gentleman with the Tail-Is to be a
Priest-His Walk from School-Enters and quits Maynooth-Is
ordained His first Sermon-His first Mission in Kilkenny-The
Regular Orders-Cause of his leaving Kilkenny.

SOME five miles west of Cashel, the ancient capital of the County of Tipperary, and at the head of a fertile plain, running westward between the Kilmanagh and Galtee range of mountains, locally well known as the 'Golden Vale,' there stands a noble mansion in the midst of a still nobler demesne. Its name is Thomastown. And here, on the 10th of October 1790, THEOBALD MATHEW was born. Thomastown was for many generations the property of a high county family, famous for its wealth and extravagance, and notable in the records of both Houses of the Irish Parliament, but now utterly extinct. The park, two thousand acres in extent, is still in high repute, in a county in which timber is not over abundant, for its long beech avenues, its venerable oaks, and its massive chestnuts, which rival those of Bushy. Pleasure grounds, pieces of ornamental water, and long formal terraces in the old style, lic around Thomastown House— an immense, long-winged castellated pile, not more than two hundred years old. An interesting account of its builder, and of the mode of life he adopted, can be found in Sheridan's 'Life of Swift,' together with a circumstantial narrative of the Dean's visit to Thomastown, and his entertainment there. It is now the property of the Viscount de Chabot, the representative of an illustrious French line, to whom,


as the nearest surviving relative, the estate was directly bequeathed by the Lady Elizabeth, or Ellisha (as she is styled in the old peerages) Mathew, daughter of the first and sister of the second and last Earl Llandaff, an eccentric but kind-hearted spinster, of whom further mention must be made hereafter.

With the trunk line of the Mathew family, traced back to Rader, in Glamorgan, by Mervyn Archdale, and other geneaology-compilers after him, this biography has nought to do. Such authentic particulars as can be procured at this time of Father Mathew's immediate family, one of the branch lines, and the only one with any representatives now left, are scanty in the extreme. We know this much for certain that some time in the second half of the last century, the date of which event cannot be given with accuracy, John Mathew of Thurles married a Miss O'Rahill, a member of a respectable family; that this couple died shortly after their marriage, leaving two daughters* and a son, James Mathew; and that George Mathew of Thomastown, afterwards Baron and first Earl of Llandaff, adopted and educated the orphan boy. In due time James grew to manhood, when he found himself in a very little better position than that of a dependent upon the bounty of his patron; but it is clear that his protector did not neglect the charge he voluntarily assumed, for James Mathew remained constantly at Thomastown, and during the long absences of the owner of that grand old place was entrusted with the management of the household and establishment.

While still resident here, he married Anne, daughter of George Whyte, Esq., of Cappa Whyte, she being then in her sixteenth year, and endowed with considerable personal beauty. Even this important step did not sever his connection with Thomastown, for he continued to dwell there for several years afterwards. Children were rapidly born to James and Anne Mathew. The fourth son, named Theobald, was the future founder of the Temperance movement in Ireland. So was it that Thomastown was the place of his birth and infancy.

About the year 1795, James Mathew, finding a young family quickly springing up, and wishing, no doubt, to secure for himself some more permanent footing in the world than his position in Thomastown promised, took a large farm, with a commodious dwelling-house upon it, called Rathcloheen, in the immediate vicinity of Thomastown House; transported thither his wife and children, and so set up for himself. This change he effected without any cessation of kindness and good-will on the part of the now ennobled master of

* Both of the daughters were married,-one to Francis Kearney, Esq., whose grandson, the Rev. Dr. Kearney, is Military Chaplain at Ballincollig, and Rector of Carrigrohan, Co. Cork: the other to John Hunt, Esq.-Protestant gentlemen of good position.



the soil. Lands were let to James Mathew upon easy terms; his flocks and cattle grazed gratuitously upon the rich pastures of the demesne; and things going on well with him, he soon became prosperous and even wealthy, in those halcyon days for farmers of the war time. As years rolled on, no less than twelve children, nine boys and three girls, were born to him. Of these-one having died in her childhood-but one brother and two sisters are now left; and from them, as they were much younger than their priest-brother, but little can be gathered of Theobald Mathew's earlier years.

Theobald was, from his infancy, the favourite child of his mother. There was something singularly sweet and engaging in the boy, which drew the mother's heart towards him; and his own love for her, which was evidenced in a hundred child-like ways, strengthened the mutual attachment. By his mother's side he preferred passing the hours the others spent in play; and he was consequently somewhat scornfully designated the Pet' by his brothers and sisters. At Thomastown House, too, before and after his father's quitting it for Rathcloheen, he was in higher estimation than the rest of the young people. The Earl's daughter, Lady Elizabeth, some fifteen or twenty years the boy's senior, formed an affection for him which never waned during her life.

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It does not always happen that the characteristics of the future man are to be traced in the impulses of the child; but in the impulses as well as the habits of the fine sturdy handsome boy, the joy and pride of his fond mother, one may behold, though in modified form, the same remarkable characteristics of the man who for many years occupied a prominent position in the world, and who owed his singular power over his fellow-men more to the influence of a loving and beneficent nature than to intellectual superiority or preeminence. In one respect especially the child and the man were identical. From his earliest years, the desire to afford pleasure to others, to be the means of conferring happiness on some one human creature, was his most marked characteristic. Even at this period of his life, this desire had assumed the form of a confirmed habit, which, as years rolled on, became almost as uncontrollable as a passion. Young Theobald, or Toby, as he was familiarly styled, had rather an aversion to the rude sports of his brothers and their young friends and playfellows, although he was gay and cheerful as boys usually are. But while the hardy young fellows were engaged in play, or were absent on some expedition through the woods of Thomastown, Theobald was certain to be found in close attendance on his mother, expressing his love for that fond and indulgent parent in artless prattle, or satisfying his affection by clinging to the skirt of her robe, and looking up into her face, with his sweet innocent glance, beaming from the loveliest

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