M. J. MacManus (1888-1951)


Life
[Michael Joseph MacManus;] b. Co. Leitrim; educ. London Univ., taught in Lancashire, 1907; freelance journalist on Fleet Street; returned Ireland 1916; lit. ed., Irish Press from 1931 to his death; So This is Dublin! (1927), a title parodied in Finnegans Wake; light verse, A Green Jackdaw (1939);
 
also issued Irish Cavalcade, 1550-1850 (1939); Rackrent Hall (1941); and a biography, Eamon de Valera (1944), hagiographical in tone, ending with an epilogue documenting de Valera’s riposte to Churchill’s ‘hour of need’ speech; issued Double Diversions (1928), fiction;
 
also Rackrent Hall and Other Poems (1941), squibs and broadsides; compiled bibliographies of J. M. Synge, Tom Moore, Wolfe Tone and others for Dublin Magazine; Pres. of Bibliographical Soc. of Ireland, and Book Assoc. of Ireland; d. Co. Donegal. DIW DIL

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Works
Poetry
  • Connacht Songs (Dublin: Talbot Press 1927), 35pp., [1]pp. [ill. by Seán O'Sullivan];
  • Five Ballades ([Dublin?]: priv. [1932]);
  • Rackrent Hall and Other Poems (Dublin: Talbot 1941).
Anecdotes & Satires
  • A Jackdaw in Dublin: A Collection of Parodies and Imitations of Irish Contemporaries (Dublin & Cork: Talbot Press Ltd. [1925]), 48pp. [ [being parodies of W. B. Yeats, Bernard Shaw, James Stephens, AE, James Joyce, &c.; dedicated to Susan Mitchell - and cf. A Green Jackdaw (1939)].
  • So This Is Dublin! (Dublin; Cork: Talbot 1927);
  • Dublin Diversions [with] embellishments by Victor Brown (Dublin;Cork: Talbot 1928), 80pp., ill. [copy in TCD Lib.]
Biography
  • Eamon de Valera: A Biography (London: Victor Gollancz 1944; reps. to 1947, &c.), 378pp, index, ded. to Seán Ó Sullivan; and Do. [rev. edn.; with additional chapters by David O’Neill] (Dublin: Talbot 1957);
  • ed. Thomas Davis and Young Ireland (Dublin: Stationery Office 1945);
  • ed. F[rancis] MacManus, Adventures of an Irish Bookman (Dublin: Talbot 1952) [infra].
Anthology
  • ed., Irish Cavalcade, 1550-1850 (London: Macmillan 1939);
Bibliographies
  • A Bibliography of Books Written by John Millington Synge [Bibliographies of Irish Authors, No. 4] (Dublin: Talbot Press 1930) [rep. from Dublin Magazine, n.s., V (Oct.-Dec. 1930, pp.47-51];
  • A Bibliographical Hand-list of the First Editions of Thomas Moore (Dublin: Alex. Thom 1934);
  • A Bibliography of Theobald Wolfe Tone (Dublin: Alex. Thom 1940).

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Bibliographical details
Adventures of an Irish Bookman, by Francis MacManus, ed. by M. J. MacManus (Dublin: Talbot Press 1952), 192pp. Preface, v-xiv; CONTENTS: Part I - Men of Action: The Forty-Eight Men in Exile [3]; John MacHale - Maynooth Man [13]; The Wandering Hawk (i.e., James Stephens) [24]; The Master Spy (Henri Le Caron) [29]; In Chatham Jail (Clarke and others in prison) [34]; The Man of Fire and Ice (Parnell) [39]; The Glen of the Silver Birches (‘the tragedy of Glenveagh’) [44]; The Sussex Squire (Wilfrid Scawen Blunt) [50]; Wolfe Tone in the Dock [55]; Moore of Corunna (Charles Wolfe and Sir John Moore) [60]; ’Twas a Famous Victory (Tithe War massacre of 1834); The Great Debate (Dáil Éireann debates Anglo-Irish treaty) [72]. Part II - Men of Letters: Shaw’s Irish Boyhood [85]; GBS Makes a Correction [107]; The Last Stage Irishman (St John Ervine’s book on Edward Carson) [112]; How the Irish Literary Revival Began [117]; The Playboy of the Literary Revival (George Moore) [122]; The Big House at Coole [127]; The Man Who was A.E. [132]; Man in the Cloak (James Clarence Mangan) [137]; Tom Kettle [142]. Part III - Easter Week: The Meaning of Easter Week [149]; The Leaders [153-175]: Padraig Pearse; MacDonagh; Clarke; Plunkett; Daly; O’Hanrahan; Willie Pearse; Major John MacBride; Con Colbert; Eamonn Ceannt; Micheal Mallin; Sean Heuston; Thomas Kent; James Connolly; Sean MacDermot [173]; The Republic from Tone to Pearse [176]; After the Firing Came the Voice of the Poet [186].

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Criticism
Karen Harvey, The Bellows of Mount Bellew: A Catholic Gentry Family in Eighteenth-century Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press 1998), 218pp. See also [q.a.,] Christopher Bellew and his Galway Estate, 1763-1826 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2003), 64pp.

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Commentary
Michael Sadleir, XX Century Fiction: A Bibliographical Record based on his own collection, 2 vols. (NY: Cooper Sq. Publishing Inc. 1969), Vol. I, ‘The second major event of this period … was the discovery in the West of Ireland of the fabulous board-and-label library at Mount Bellow. My friend M. J. MacManus of Dublin, whose adventure the discovery was, will some day tell the whole amazing story. My record shall therefore begin when in May 1933 the first MacManus catalogue of Bellow Books reached this country. In the course of the present volume will be found descriptions of a Scottish Chiefs, by Jane Porter, tow or three Maturins, and other novels from Mount Bellew. All are in pristine condition which has to be seem to be believed. I had many other books from the Bellew Library which, because the are of too early a dates o because they are none fiction, have no place in this catalogue; they too were in the same miraculous condition. The Library, formed between 100 and 1830, was a very large one and with certain exceptions of earlier date, consisting mainly of books published between 1778 and 1830. There was a sensational sale at Sotheby’s of certain high-spot titles which every collector and dealer will recall, including two Jane Austens, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Essays of Elia, several plate books in parts and other notabilia. Then came three or four more MacManus catalogues, while parcels of numerous books were not only in wrappers and boards as issued (occasionally in full morocco of publishers’ origin, cf. Harrison’s Novelists magazine, Sect. III below), but as clean and new as the day they first appeared. / I shall never forget the arrival by post of the first slim Bellew catalogue. After tearing through the catalogue’s eight pages, I felt so breathless that I had to sit for minutes before I was … capable of going through the whole thing item by item. … Here are some sentences from a preface which MacManus included in his third or fourth Bellew selection: “At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century there lived in an old mansion in a remote part of the western Irish seaboard a man whose hobby was book collecting. Disdaining the fox-hunting tradition of his family and class, he devoted his days to literary pursuits and the acquisition of a library. He stored his books in a specially constructed cupboards, dust-proof and damp proof, many of them he did not live to read but even those he read suffered nothing in the process. When he died, the fox-hunting tradition prevailed once more and the books, safe behind locked doors, were forgotten for a century./ Here is a wide range of uncommonly and attractive volumes, offered in a condition so dazzlingly fine that by their very appearance they will lend distinction to the bookshelves of the most fastidious collector”.’ Sadleir goes on to say of the books that ‘all - literally all - were crisp and radiant’ with ‘white labels dead white and perfect’, with spines sound and round and flawless at the hinge, with strawboards clear cut and fore-edges sensuous and sharp.’ He concludes that the opening up of the Bellow Library was surely one of the greatest moments in the history of modern book collecting. ‘It was a privilege to have been alive when it happened, and another to have enjoyed the friendship of the man most concerned and therefore to have been among the first to hear the news.’ Sadleir’s narrative covers his visits to Dublin in which he finds himself ensconced in MacManus’s book repository above a furniture warehouse, with books of the Bellows Library stacked on every side. MacManus presented him with a copy of one of the catalogues that the collector of the Library, Christopher Bellew, had had printed.’ (p.xx.)

So This is Dublin! (1927): ‘[H]ere is the litterateur and minor poet M. J. McManus [sic], in his semi-humorous 1927 compilation So This is Dublin: “Mr. James Joyce has been paying a visit to Dublin in search of local colour for the new book whic he has planned, to be called An Irish Odyssey. He spent considerable time visiting the Corporation Sewage Farm, the Wicklow manure factory, and the sloblands at Fairview. Before returning to Paris he stated that he had derived keen satisfaction from is visit to his native city.” Joyce, of course, never one to miss an opportunity, used the title of McManus’s book in Finnegans Wake - “So This is Dyoublong?”.’ (p.63; quoted in Terence Killeen, in ‘Ireland must be Important ...’, in Joyce Studies Annual, 2003, pp.24-25.)

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References
British Library holds Adventures of an Irish Bookman, ed. F[rancis] MacManus (1952); see also See Karen Harvey, The Bellows of Mount Bellew: A Catholic Gentry Family in Eighteenth-century Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts PrEss 1998), 218pp.

Belfast Central Public Library holds 10 works incl. Eamon de Valera (1944); Adventures of an Irish Bookman (1952), So This is Dublin (1927); Jackdaw in Dublin (n.d.), Irish Cavalcade (1939), and Green Jackdaw (n.d.). MacManus was the agent in the Mountbellow Library sale (see Michael Sadlier).

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