Ársaitheoir, ball tábhachtach d’Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann, sagart d’Eaglais na hÉireann, agus aighneasóir ba ea é agus i dTeampall Doire i gContae Thiobraid Árann a rugadh é. Tá cuntas air in Dictionary of National Biography, in Cabinet of Irish literature, in Dublin University Magazine, Deireadh Fómhair 1839, agus cuntas iarbháis san iris chéanna in Aibreán 1842. Loftus b’ainm dá athair. Chuaigh sé isteach i gColáiste na Tríonóide in aois a sé bliana déag dó agus bhain BA amach in 1801. Tar éis a oirnithe chaith sé 17 bliain i bparóiste faoin tuaith. Ansin ceapadh é ina shéiplíneach cúnta san Magdalen Chapel i Sráid Líosáin i mBaile Átha Cliath agus bhain sé cáil amach mar sheanmóirí. Bhí sé páirteach le George Petrie sa chéad imleabhar de Dublin Penny Journal, 1823 agus scríobhadh ann faoin ainm ‘Terence O’Toole’. Sholáthraíodh sé do Dublin University Magazine freisin. Bhí sé claonta in aghaidh na hEaglaise Caitlicí, ach claonta in aghaidh Sasana chomh maith. Scríobh sé A Letter to the Roman Catholic Priests of Ireland, 1814. Deir Benedict Kiely faoi seo in The Bell, Eanáir 1948 (‘Otway’s Magic Mountain’): ‘There was clarity in it, and force, and a colourful tendency to drag in the poor scarlet woman by the hair of her head. There was also in it a great deal of inaccuracy, for what Caesar Otway really needed was a mountain high enough to show him three hundred years of European history. He never found that mountain; and in 1823, when he published his A lecture on miracles..., or when he replied to an attack that the Catholic bishop J.K.L. had made on Lord Farnham, he was foaming and floundering in the dirtiest bog of religious controversy that ever splattered the history of this country.’

I gcomhar le Joseph Henderson Singer bhunaigh sé an Christian Examiner in 1825, an chéad iris a bhain le cúrsaí Eaglais na hÉireann a foilsíodh in Éirinn, agus scríobh a lán alt inti. San iris sin a thosaigh William Carleton ag scríobh agus is inti a foilsíodh ‘The Lough Derg pilgrim’ ar dtús; tá de cháil ar Otway ó shin gurbh é a ‘d’fhionn’ Carleton agus is dóigh go raibh baint aige lena iompú ina Phrotastúnach.

Foilsíodh Sketches in Ireland: descriptive and interesting in 1827 faoin ainm ‘O.C.’ Scríobh sé Tour in Connaught, 1839 agus Sketches in Erris and Tyrawly,1841. Deir Alfred Webb in Compendium Of Irish biography gur dhírigh na leabhair sin aird ar ‘many beautiful localities previously almost unvisited’. Foilsíodh cuid dá ailt i bhfoilseacháin Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann. ‘Otway’s prolific writings are part of an initiative on the part of a group of Irish Protestants in the period who were attempting to reclaim the Irish past’, dar leis an Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, 1996. Le Betham agus Petrie bhí sé ar an gcoiste a bunaíodh in Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann in 1833 chun ‘Sanas Chormaic’ a fhoilsiú.

Deir Kiely: ‘He had a taste for gathering stories, a quick eye for a character, a memory not easily overburdened with historical and antiquarian detail. Had he lived in a peaceful, happy country he still might, with all those gifts, have been a peaceful and happy man. But he was, above all, a controversialist living in a country where the air was torn twenty different ways with twenty different controversies. The controversies are dead now, and even Caesar Otway’s part in the arguments, when it has survived in print, can make dull reading, but because a controversy brought him for a while into contact with a young countryman called William Carleton, Caesar Otway is still worth remembering.’ B’fhéidir gurbh fhearr leis féin mar fheartlaoi abairt eile ag Kiely: ‘Looking back at the story of the poverty-stricken island on which he made his journeys he preferred, very decidedly, the memory of Saint Colmcille to the memory of Oliver Cromwell.’

Bhí beartaithe aige stair na hÉireann a scríobh agus eagar a chur ar scríbhinní an staraí James Ware (1594-1666) ach theip ar a shláinte. Fiabhras daitheacha ba chúis lena bhás i mBaile Átha Cliath ar 16 Márta 1842.

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Diarmuid Breathnach

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