Also writes as: Historicus ; M ; Francis Davitt ; P I O L ; Ignatius Davitt ; P. I. O'L.
Born: Established: 1888 Adelaide ; Died: 1944 Melbourne
P. I. (Patrick Ignatius) O'Leary was the son of Daniel O'Leary and Susan nee Kinnear. He was a journalist, editor and writer. O'Leary was self-educated. His youth and early manhood were spent as an organiser for the South Australian labour movement. He became a journalist and worked on newspapers in Broken Hill, Adelaide and Melbourne including the Barrier Miner. O'Leary was assistant editor, literary critic and special writer on the Catholic Advocate (Melbourne), between 1920 and 1944.
O'Leary's special interest lay in Australian literature and in cultivating a healthy Australian nationalism. His many literary and cultural involvements reflect this. Between 1920 and 1930 he was a frequent contributor to the 'Red Page' of the Sydney Bulletin and edited the Literary Page of the Catholic Advocate from 1920 until his death. Joseph O'Dwer, (q.v.), editor of Bard in Bondage (1954), claimed that 'the initials P. I. O'L. were almost an institution in Australian literary criticism' and 'In his day, O'Leary was one of the best informed and most influential of Australian critics.' He used pseudonyms, including 'M', 'Historicus', 'Francis Davitt', and 'P.I.O.L.' A member of the Bread and Cheese Club, O'Leary's work was published in its monthly magazine, Bohemia, and he compiled an anthology, The Bread and Cheese Book (1939), which included verse by Roderic Quinn, John Shaw Neilson, (qq.v.) and others. He also published Daniel O'Connell (1929) and edited a quarterly, Design : an Australian Review of Critical Thought (1940).
O'Leary's work gained him recognition in Australia and overseas. Paul Grano (q.v.) judges as 'incalculable' the value of his contribution to Australian culture, including Catholic culture. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (1994): 592 comments: 'Although O'Leary tends to be prolix and even declamatory when his Irish nationalism is aroused, as in 'The Heroes of Easter Week', his judgements are often sound.'
(Sources : Paul L. Grano (ed.) Witness to the Stars (1946) and The Oxford Companion To Australian Literature, (1994): 592).