SHEIL, RICHARD L•LOR (1791-1851), Irish political orator, was the eldest son of Edward Sheil, an Irishman who had acquired considerable wealth in Spain, and after the passing of the Act permitting Catholics in Ireland to purchase and transmit property in fee had returned to Ireland, where he purchased the estate of Bellevue, Tipperary. The son was born 17th August 1791, at Drumdowney, Tipperary. He received instruction in French and Latin from the Abbe de Grimeau, a French refugee, and afterwards at Kensington House school, London, presided over by a French. nobleman, the Prince de Broglie. In October 1804 he was removed to the college at Stoneyhurst, Lancashire, and in November 1807 entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he specially distinguished himself in the debates of the Historical Society. He graduated B.A. in July 1811, and on 13th November of the same year entered Lincoln's Inn, preparatory to being called to the Irish bar. He was admitted a member of the Irish bar at the Hilary term 1814, and meanwhile resolved to support himself by writing plays. His play of Adelaide, or the Emigrants, was played at the Crow Street theatre, Dublin, 19th February 1814, with complete success, and on the 23d May 1816 was performed at Covent Garden. The Apostate, produced at the latter theatre on 3d May 1817, firmly established his reputation, and encouraged him to continue his dramatic efforts till his legal and political duties absorbed the greater part of his leisure. His principal other plays are Bellamira (written in 1818), Evadne (1819), Huguenot, (1819), and Montini (1820). In 1822 he began, along with W. H. Curran, to contribute to the New Monthly Magazine a series of papers entitled Sketches of the Irish Bar, which attracted considerable attention by their raciness and graphic vigour. Those written by Sheil were published in 1855 in two volumes, with a sketch of his life. Shed was one of the principal founders of the Catholic Association in 1823, and drew up the petition for inquiry into the mode of administering the laws in Ireland, which was presented in the same year to both Houses of Parliament. After the defeat of the Catholic Relief Bill in 1825 he suggested the formation of the New Catholic Association, and, along with O'Connell, was the principal leader of the agitation persistently carried on till Catholic emancipation was granted in 1829. In the same year he was returned to parliament for Melbourne Port, and in 1831 for Louth. He took a prominent part in all the debates relating to Ireland, and his brilliant eloquence gradually captivated the admiration of the House. In August 1839 he became vice-president of the board of trade in Lord Melbourne's ministry. After the accession of Lord John Russell to power in 1846 he was appointed master of the mint. Being desirous, on account of his wife's health, to obtain diplomatic employment abroad, he was in 1850 appointed minister at the court of Tuscany. He died somewhat suddenly of gout at Florence on May 23, 1851.
See Memoirs of Richard Lalor Shell, by W. Torrens M'Cullagh (2 vols., 1850.