John Thomas Troy (1739–1823), Roman Catholic archbishop of Dublin, was born on 12 July 1739 near Dublin. In 1755 he joined the Dominican Order, leaving Ireland to pursue his studies at Rome. Troy remained in Rome and served as prior of San Clemente from 1772 until his appointment as bishop of Ossory in 1776.
Troy's return to Ireland coincided with the start of the dismantling of the penal laws in 1778, and the bishop was to play a pivotal role in the revival of Irish Catholicism. From the outset he enjoyed the confidence of the Holy See, and he led the attempt to bring the Irish church into line with Roman discipline and practice. In this way he initiated the process that is often erroneously attributed to Paul Cullen in the following century. In Kilkenny first, and subsequently in Dublin, where he served as archbishop from 1786, Troy advanced this renewal through diocesan visitations, regular clerical conferences, catechesis, the publication of comprehensive pastoral instructions, chapel building, and education. He was instrumental in the establishment of an episcopal conference, which began to meet regularly in the context of the foundation of Maynooth College in 1795.
Politically Troy has been represented as a reactionary at odds with the aspirations of his people. Such characterizations are without nuance. Certainly Troy excommunicated all the radical organizations of his time (including the Whiteboys, Rightboys, Defenders, and United Irishmen), but there is no evidence that he did not support the legitimate demands of Irish Catholics for emancipation. Troy followed the advice of Edmund Burke, political mentor of the episcopate, when he counseled the hierarchy to show themselves to be dutiful subjects of the Crown and to meddle as little as possible in politics. Troy supported the Act of Union in the belief that Pitt's promised emancipation, barred by the Protestant Ascendancy, would follow. Troy died in May 1823 and was interred in the vault of Saint Mary's Pro-Cathedral, the great neoclassical monument to his achievement.
SEE ALSO Roman Catholic Church: 1690 to 1829
Keogh, Dáire. The French Disease: The Catholic Church and Radicalism in Ireland, 1790–1800. 1993.
McNally, V. J. Reform, Revolution and Reaction: Archbishop John Thomas Troy and the Catholic Church in Ireland, 1787–1818. 1995.