D'alton, Edward Alfred
D'ALTON, EDWARD ALFRED
Irish historian; b. Lavallyroe, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, Nov. 5?, 1859; d. Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, Jan. 25, 1941. His parents, John and Ellen (Reynolds) D'Alton, were farmers. He studied at St. Jarlath's College, Tuam, and then at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, where he matriculated in 1881 without receiving a degree. He was ordained in 1887. He applied unsuccessfully for the chairs of history in Cork and in University College, Dublin (1909). After serving as a curate in five parishes, he became, in 1911, pastor in Ballinrobe, cathedral canon, and vicar forane; and in 1912, a domestic prelate. In 1930 he became dean and vicar-general of the Archdiocese of tuam. D'Alton's writings on Irish history include articles on the Cromwellian and Restoration periods that appeared in the Dublin Review (1904–05) and several articles in the Catholic Encyclopedia. His best-known work was his History of Ireland, the first edition of which, in three volumes (1903–10), went to 1908; and the third edition, in eight half-volumes (1920–25), to 1925. He published also a History of the Archdiocese of Tuam (2 v.,1928). D'Alton's earlier writings were marked by open-mindedness, sober and objective judgments, and avoidance of dogmatism on controversial issues. His later publications, however, tended to take sides in disputed matters. His views approximated those of the "faith and fatherland" school that succeeded the "loyal Catholic" school of the preceding generation. Thus D'Alton was uncritical in his acceptance of writers of the Young Ireland movement against Cardinal Paul Cullen and in his treatment of the period subsequent to Parnell's condemnation. D'Alton's histories also lacked precision, originality, and familiarity with original sources.
Bibliography: For critiques of his History of Ireland, see The Irish Eccesiastical Record, 4th series, 15 (1904) 91–93; 28 (1910) 557–559. For a review of his History of the Archdiocese of Tuam, see Studies 18 (1929) 152–157.
[r. d. edwards]