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John Whalley

First extract from chapter V in J.T.Gilbert's book, A History of the City of Dublin.

"The most notorious of the residents in this street in the last century was Dr. John Whalley, the chief quack and astrologer of his time in the city. This strange character, born on the 29th of April, 1653, was originally a shoemaker, and came, in 1682, to Dublin, where, having established himself as a compiler of prophetic almanacs, and compounder of medicines to cure all diseases, he gained such a reputation for necromancy, that he was constantly consulted by the credulous people of the city, as noticed by a rhymer of the day:-

"Whalley bred up to end and awl,
To work in garret or in stall,
Who had more skill in cutting leather,
Than in foretelling wind or weather,
Forsook the trade of mending shoes,
To deal in politicks and news,
Commenc'd astrologer and quack,
To raise the Devil in a crack,
Told fortunes, and could cure all ills,
By his Elixir and his pills,
Poor petty servants to their cost,
Flock'd to him for all things they lost,
He pump'd out all they had to say,
And getting all they had to pay,
The thief he shew'd them in a glass;
And if she were a pretty lass,
He told her fortune must be great;
If ugly, ah! how hard her fate,
A hundred pretty tales invented,
To send the wenches off contented."

In 1688 he was placed in the pillory for some political offence, and while there received from the mob a plentiful unction of antique eggs and other unsavoury missiles. Having rendered himself eminently obnoxious to the native Irish, by his perpetual fanatical railings against them and the Roman Catholic religion, he deemed it prudent to withdraw to England during the Jacobite regime in Dublin, about which period Ferdoragli O'Daly composed a satire of 21 stanzas upon him, in retaliation for his having caused the bard's brother to be prosecuted and hanged. In this, which is one of the bitterest satires in the Irish language, the poet first describes the wicked practices of the astrologer, whom he declares to be in league with the Devil, and who, since he began to view the moon and planets, had, with his basilisk eye, so destroyed their benign influence that the corn fields, the fruit trees, and the grass, had ceased to grow; the birds had forgotten their songs, except the ominous birds of night; and the young of animals were destroyed in the womb. He then commences to wither the astrologer with imprecations, prays that various violent diseases may attack him, and calls down upon Whalley the curses of God, the angels, the saints, and of all good men."