[Editor: This obituary for P. I. O’Leary was published in The Advocate (Melbourne, Vic.), 26 July 1944.]
“The Advocate” mourns the death of Patrick Ignatius O’Leary, who died after a long, intermittent illness on Friday last, July 21, 1944. For nearly a quarter of a century he was associated with this journal as assistant-editor, news editor, literary critic and special writer.
A native of South Australia (born in 1888), he spent his youth and early manhood at Broken Hill, where he received his first training in journalism on the staff of the “Barrier Miner.”
He was gifted with rare literary genius, and over the famous signature of “P.I.O’L.”, he established a reputation, which spread throughout the Commonwealth and overseas. He was a self-educated man, and the range of his knowledge was truly Catholic. During the twenties and thirties, he used his brilliant and tireless pen in these pages in the cause of social justice, Catholic education, Australian nationalism and Irish freedom. His special interest was the promotion of Australian literature, of which he was at once an original voice and a realistic, but encouraging, critic. During the twenties he frequently contributed to the “Red Page” of the Sydney “Bulletin,” a journal which in its earlier phase had a profound influence on his mind and newspaper style. He was also a contributor over the years to many short-lived Australian literary periodicals.
With him dies one who deserves a high place in Australian letters. Unhappily, most of his work, save for a slender volume of verse, lies hidden in newspaper files, mostly in “The Advocate.”
As a Catholic journalist, he brought to his task a simple faith, a full mind and a facile pen, which could pierce like a poignard when occasion demanded. It is impossible to measure the colossal work he accomplished in the cause of Catholic truth during his long years with “The Advocate.” The Catholic Church in Victoria — and, indeed, in all Australia — has been well served by P.I.O’L, and not only those who knew him well, but the thousands to whom he was a legend and an oracle, will offer their prayers for the eternal repose of his soul.
The Advocate (Melbourne, Vic.), 26 July 1944, p. 6 (column 3)
poignard = (French, derived from “poing”, meaning “fist”) a long lightweight dagger with a thin tapering blade, and with a crossguard; any small thin dagger; the act of stabbing with a dagger (also spelt: poniard)
R.I.P. = an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “requiescat in pace” (or, in the plural, “requiescant in pace”), meaning “rest in peace”; used in funeral notices, on gravestones, and with other items relating to death
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]