Born in London of Cork parents. Educated at local elementary schools, and having read widely in the British Museum, he became a self-taught scholar of enormous industry and great learning. In 1896 he went to Dublin as a bookseller and publisher and in 1909 became librarian to University College. His best known work is ‘Poets of Ireland’. He also produced ‘Humour of Ireland’, biographies of Carleton, Mangan and Emmett and a number of reference books.