Sir William O'Kelly


Sir William O’Kelly was born in Aughrim, Co. Galway about 1670. He studied humanities at Louvain University (present Belgium), and philosophy at Paris. He settled in Vienna in 1698 and was soon a friend and adviser to Emperor Leopold. He usually signed his name in Latin Guillermo (or Giulo) O'Kelly, Hibernia, ex familia O'Kelliorum ab Aghrim. and sometimes William O’Kelly of Aughrim, chevalier of the Holy Roman Empire, hereditary Lord of Culagh and Ballinahown, Count Palatine Imperial and Inspector of Arms of His Imperial Royal Majesty. In 1701 he published his great work dealing with Logic, Ethics, Physics and Metaphysics. In the preliminaries there are a number of neo-Latin poems by O’Kelly giving some autobiographical and family information which confirmed his love for Ireland and his ancestors who were kings of Hy-Many, covering East Galway and South Roscommon. He died about 1744. [For further information see Ware page 287, also 1698 (1), and 1699 (1).].

Sir James Ware wrote in 1745 in his 'The Works of Sir James Ware' concerning Ireland page 287 Volume 2 wrote “William O’Kelly was born in the County of Galway and the parish of Aughrim and was descended of the O’Kellys of Aughrim. He quit his native country very young some years before the Revolution and applied himself to the Study of Humanity in the College of Louvain in Flanders and of Philosophy and Law in that of Paris. He afterwards visited and was very conversant in several other Universities of Europe, particularly those of Germany. About the year 1699 he settled in Vienna, where the Emperor Leopold gave him the chair of Philosophy, History and Heraldry at the Imperial Court, in which Faculties he was also chosen by the States of Austria for the Academy founded at Vienna by the said States for the noble Youths of that Province. About that time he published the following Treatises. 

A Compendius System of Philosophy entitled, Philosophia Aulica, Vindebonae 1700 written for the use of young Gentlemen of the Province of Austria.

Historia Bipartita Hibernia is written in Prose and Verse and grounded on O’Flaherty’s Ogygia. He tells me himself in a modest letter from Vienna, dated the 12th of February 1741 written in answer to one of mine to him “that he could not expect any applause from this piece, since he was well persuaded of his then insufficiency on that subject.”From that letter I have formed my account of his Education, Writings and Preferments. He wrote An Abridgement of History, Chronological and Geographical under the title of: Institutiones Academica , intended both for Public use and for the Halls when he was obliged to lecture on those matters.

Speculum Imperiale Historica-Chronologicum.
Speculum Heraldicum
All these tracts were published in Latin. 

The three last Emperors (besides very decent Emoluments for his Profession of Sciences and inspection of Arms in the respective Chanceries throughout the greater part of Hereditary Dominions) conferred on him the honourable titles of Consiliarius Imperialis, Comes Palatinus, Sacri Romani Imperii Eques, and King of Arms. Though men are for the most part fond of their own children, yet he had little regard for the issue of his own brain; since it is manifest from the forgoing account that he did not keep by him even copies of his own works, so that I have not been able to set down the times when they were printed. I am informed that he is lately dead and that he has left behind him the Character of a good Latin Poet, and a facetious Companion, and a trusty friend. It was his genius in Poetry that brought him first into notice. For his Panegyricks upon some great Families in that Country met with such a general Approbation, that they procured him Recommendations to the Imperial Family, which were the foundations of his Preferments.

[The above has been written down by me in the archaic writing and the use of capitals as in Ware’s Works.]