Seumus MacManus (?1870-1960)

Criticism


Life
[var Seamas; b. James]; 31 Dec.? at Inver [aka Mountcharles], Co. Donegal, son of a small-farmer; ed. Glencoagh [or Glencoe] Nat. School, and Enniskillen Teacher Training College; at 18, he began teaching at Glencoe, and afterwards at the Enniskillen Model School and Kinawley National School, Co. Fermanagh, before becoming principal of Glencoe Nat. School in 1888; told stories in class as young teacher;
 
contrib. his first written fiction to Donegal Vindicator; issued story-collections incl. Shuilers from Healthy Hills (1893) and The Humours of Donegal (1898); resigned from teaching in 1898 and went to America in 1899, contrib. to Harpur's and Century, and found acceptance as an Irish writer; introduced to President Roosevelt at the White House; returned to Ireland, contributed to Shan Van Vocht (Belfast, ed. Ethna Carbery, et al.);
 
m. Anna Johnston [pseud. “Ethna Carbery”], 1901; returned to America at her early death in 1902, returning frequently to Donegal over the next fifty years; contributed to Weekly Irish Times; plays incl. The Townland of Tamney (INTS, Jan 1904); also The Hard-Hearted Man (1905); m. Catalina Paex, a Venezuelan, 1911; lived in Argentina before returning to New York;
 
fiercely critical of Synge’s Playboy on Abbey’s first tour in America in 1911, and styled ‘Shame-Us MacManus’ by Lady Gregory; received LL.D., from Notre Dame University, 1917; issued The Rocky Road to Dublin (1938), third-person autobiography concerning the life of Gasúr with chars. such as chars. Patrick McGroarty, the Thrasher; Paddy macCalliog, the ballad singer (an amadán);
 
Tom, gentleman and millionaire; d. NY, following a fall from a hospital window; suspicions of suicide since he was a depressive; his short-story “The Weaver’s Grave” considered by some the perfect Irish short story; called ‘the last of the shanachies’ by Padraic Colum; his papers are held in the National Library of Ireland [NLI]; there was an obituary by A. M. Sullivan. PI JMC DBIV IF2 DIB DIW DIH DIL KUN SUTH DUB OCIL DIL

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Works

Poetry
  • Ballads of a Country Boy (Dublin: Gill 1905); MacManus [ed.,], with poems by Ethna Carbery and Alice Milligan, We Sang for Ireland (NY: Devin-Adair 1950).
 
Short fiction
  • Shuilers from the Heathy Hills, by ‘Mac’ ([Donegal] Mountcharles: G. Kirke 1893);
  • Barney Brean and the Other Boys (Dublin: ‘Irish Nights’ Office [n.d.]);
  • The Leadin’ Road to Donegal and Other Stories by “Mac” (London: Digby, Long [1896]; NY: Pratt, 2nd ed. 1908, et eds.);
  • Twas in Dhroll Donegal, by “Mac” (London: Downey 1896; 2nd & 3rd eds. 1897);
  • The Bend of the Road, by James MacManus, “Mac” (Dublin: Gill, Duffy; NY: Pratt 1897; London: Downey 1898);
  • The Humours of Donegal by James MacManus (”Mac”) (London: Unwin; NY: Pratt 1898);
  • Through the Turf Smoke by “Mac” (NY: Doubleday; Toronto: Morang 1899; London: Unwin 1901);
  • In Chimney Corners (NY: Harper 1899) [ill. Pamela Colman Smith] [var. NY: Doubleday & McClure 1899 & edns. up to NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1935: DIL];
  • The Bewitched Fiddle and Other Irish Tales (NY: Doubleday & McClure 1900);
  • Donegal Fairy Stories (NY: McClure, Phillips 1900; London: Isbister 1902; NY Garden City: Doubleday 1943);
  • The Red Poocher (NY: Funk & Wagnells 1903) [frontispiece; 4 stories];
  • A Lad of the O’Friels (Gill, Duffy [1903]; NY: McClure, Phillips 1903, 1906 [3rd edn.]; further edns. incl. NY: Devin-Adair , 1945, 1947);
  • Doctor Kilgannon (Dublin: Gill 1907);
  • Yourself and the Neighbours (NY: Devin-Adair [1914]) [ill. T Fogarty];
  • Ireland’s Curse (NY: Irish Publishing Co. [1917]);
  • Lo and Behold Ye (NY: Frederick A. Stokes [1919]) [IF 1919];
  • Tales that Were Told (Dublin: Talbot 1919/London: Unwin [1920]); Top o’ the Mornin’ (NY: Frederick A. Stokes [1920]) [IF2 1921];
  • The Donegal Wonder Book (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1926);
  • O, Do You Remember (Dublin: Duffy 1926);
  • Bold Blades of Donegal (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1935; London: Sampson, Low 1937) [DIL Marston [1937]; The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY: Macmillan 1938) [MOR], and Do., intro. Irvin S. Cobb (NY: Devin-Adair Co. 1947); Dark Patrick (NY: Macmillan 1939);
  • The Well at the World’s End (NY: Macmillan 1939; NY: Devin-Adair 1945, 1949);
  • Tales from Ireland (London: Evans [1949]);
  • Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (NY: Macmillan 1950; Dublin: Talbot [1951]) [IF NY & Dub 1931 ?err], being with 92 short tales and an unconnected seanfhocal];
  • The Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Irish Folk-Tales (NY: Ariel Bks. [1951]; Pelligrini & Cudahy 1951; London: Dent [1952]) [IF London: Cape 1952];
  • The Little Mistress of Eskar Mór (Dublin: Gill 1960); Hibernian Nights (Ny: Macmillan 1963).
 
Plays
  • The Townland of Tawney (Abbey 1904), The Hard Hearted Man (Dublin: Gill 1905), both Abbey; Woman of Seven Sorrows [1905] (Dublin: Gill 1945), play.
 
Other plays [individually undated] were issued from 1905 by D. O’Molloy, Mount Charles, Co. Donegal, The Leading road to Donegal; The Resurrection of Dinny O’Down; The Lad from Largeymore; The Townland of Tamney [1904] [rep. Chicago: De Paul Univ., Irish Drama Series, 1972]; Orange and Green [1906]; Nabby’s Heron’s Matching; Bong Tong Comes to Balruddery; Rory Wins; Mrs Connolly’s Cashmere; The Miracle of Father Peter [1906]; The Rale True Doctor; The Bachelors of Braggy.
 
Reprints
  • The Dream Physician: A Five-act Comedy, by Edward Martyn [with] The Townland of Tamney: A One-Act Comedy by Seumas MacManus [Irish Drama Series, 7] (Chicago: De Paul UP 1972), [1], 73p.
 
Autobiography
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY: Macmillan 1938/NY: Devin-Adair 1947).
 
Miscellaneous
  • , Sliagh Liagh, A Pamphlet for Workers, Our Line of Advance: Some Thoughts on the Gaelic Movement (Cork: Corcoran 1917);
  • ‘Picture of Donegal’, in New York World Telegram, (20 April 1938); Also, William Rooney (1909) [a biog. tribute];
  • The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland (NY: Irish Publishing Co. 1921/NY Devin-Adair 1945, 1955) [infra; incl. contrib. by Miss. L. MacManus].
Note, A Short History of the Irish Race (Dublin: Browne & Nolan (1928).
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Criticism
  • [N.a.], ‘Chronicle and Comment’, The Bookman (March 1899), pp. 14-15;
  • Wilbur Macey Stone, ‘Letter to Editor’, in New York Times (21 Aug. 1907);
  • F. Marion Gallagher, ‘Seumas MacManus, the Man’, in Overland Monthly, 1, 6 (June 1908), pp.493-95;
  • Br. Leo, ‘S. MacManus: Poet, Author, and Dramatist’, in “Catholic Writers of Today” [ser.],
  • The Youth Catholic Messenger, LV, 7 (21 Oct. 1938), p.59;
  • [n.a.], ‘Son of Donegal: Autobiography of Seumas MacManus’, in St. Louis Post-Dispatch (20 April 1938) [review];
  • Harry Hansen, ‘Good Old Stories Told by Irishmen Live Again in The Rocky Road to Dublin, in New World Telegram (20 April 1938);
  • Horace Reynolds, ‘Seumas MacManus Vividly Recalls an Earlier Ireland’, in New York Times Review of Books, (1 May 1938); [n.a.],
  • ‘A Poet’s “Rocky Road to Dublin” is the Fairest Way to Ireland’, in Kansas City Star (17 March 1939);
  • Matthew Koehn, ed., Catholic Authors: Contemporary Biographical Sketches, 1930-1947 (NY: St. Mary’s Abbey 1948), “Seamus MacManus”;
  • James Stern, ‘Tales from Irish Firesides’, in New York Herald Tribune (7 May 1950);
  • Raymond Piper, ‘The Last of the Shanchaís’, in The Countryman Magazine (Fall 1958), pp.420-21;
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘A Gift of Donegal, 2: A Fine View and a Funeral’, in The Irish Times (21, May 1971);
  • Helen Meehan, ‘Ethna Carberry/Anna Johnston McManus’, in Donegal Annual (1993), pp.55-65;
  • Helen Meehan, ‘The McManus Brothers: Patrick (1864-1929) & Seumas (1868-1960)’, in Donegal Annual (1994), pp.5-18;
  • Helen Meehan, ‘Shan Van Vocht’, in Ulster Local Studies, 19, 1 (Summer 1997), pp.80-90.
 
 

 

See also Brenda O’Hanrahan, Donegal Authors: A Bibliography (n.d.); Tadhg Gavin, ‘Profile from the Past’, in Ireland ‘s Own [q.d.], p.5; Cathal G. O’Hainle, ‘“The Inalienable Right of Trifles”: Tradition and Modernity in Gaelic Writing Since the Revival’, in Éire-Ireland (Winter 1984), pp. 59-77 [on Pearse].

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Quotations
The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland, by Seamus MacManus, assisted by several Irish scholars (NY: Irish Publishing Co. [2nd edn.] 1921 [PO Box 1300]), 719pp. [incls. An Honor Roll-call, pp.715-19, naming those whose&145;big aid’ enabled him to give up work for three years to complete the book.] Epigraph, verses from Ethna Carbery:&145;O wind-drifted Branch, lift your head to the sun,/For the sap of new life in your veins has begun,/And a little young bud of the tenderest green/Mine eyes through the snow and the sorrow has seen!// O little green bud, break and blow into flower,/Break and blow though th ewelcome of sunshine and shower; / ’Twas a long night and dreary you hid there forlorn,/But now the cold hills wear the radiance of morn!’ This book is inscribed / To the haloed memory of one who, pondering the heroic records of her race, dedicated her life to Ireland’s holy cause, and in undying strains sang the glories[,] the sorrows and radiant hopes of her land beloved - Eire’s Queen of Song / ETHNA CARBERY. Text:&145;[] The writer was impelled to the compilation of this story of our race by the woeful lack of knowledge on the subject which he found in the four corners of America, among all classes of people, alike the intelligent and the ordinary. With the vast majority of America’s intellectual ones he found Ireland’s past as obscure as the past of Borneo. On three occasions he was asked by educated women who were pillars of their Societies, Has Ireland got a history? / To a large extent the blame for American ignorance of Ireland’s story rests upon the ignorance of our own exiles, and the children of those exiles. Were these possessed of a general knowledge of Ireland’s past, and the proper pride that most come of that knowledge, the good Americans around them would catch information by contagion. The writer hopes that even this crude compendium may put some fothe necessary knowledge and pride in the minds and hearts of his people - and also the incentive to seek out and study the history of the country that endorwed them with the rare riches, spiritual and mental, that characterises the far-wandered children, and children’s children, of the Gael. [ &c.]’ Remarks: MacManus as&145;compiler’ acknowledges that L. McManus, auth. of The Silk of the Kine, supplied the&145;chronicle of Ireland during the Wars of Elizabeth, and during those of William of Orange’; Helen O’Concannon supplied&145;the bright chapter on the Wilde Geese’, while Rev. Toomas O’Kelly&145;tells the story of the Parnell period’. Sean-Ghall gives the period of Shane Buide to Shane O’Neill, Dr. Joseph Dunn contributes a chapter on the Danish period’ Thomas Arthur O’Shaughnessy of Chicago,&145;striving to make Gaelic art living again here’, is accredited with the illustrations and cover. (pp.xii-xiii.) Note also a cutting in edn. held in Morris Collection, UUC Library: “Seumas MacManus, poet, humorist, Shanachie;&145;this brilliant spokesman of a wonderful people now comes to enthrall us with his delightful intellectual diversions’ (san Francisco Bulletin; MacManus, p. Box 13000, New York City [cutting in edn. of The Story of the Irish Race, in ).” See further under Robert Emmet [supra].

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Rocky Road to Dublin (1938) [of Marg’et O’Gorman:] ‘So, after she had for nearly two years enriched his mother’s house and lives of all in it - with riches that would seldom be reached and never surpassed in their lives again - she, rare young shanachie, to her weeping regret and theirs, took her departure for America. In announcing her going, she used the words which so often she had used in her tales - words that had always started the boy’s dreams - said she was “going off to push her fortune”. And though in the fabled land she went to she was to meet with romantic fortune far and away beyond her rainbow hopes, she carried away with her, and there lost, greater, richer, fortune, far.’ (pp.169-70; quoted in Emer Campbell, UU Diss., UUC, 2001.)

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Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain ([1931]), Introduction: ‘A three-week holiday through the enchanted hills and glens of the same magic mountains that made a new man of me; through our folklore land: land of kings and queens, poets, prophets, and saints, wizards, witty women and witless men, fairies too, and ghosts maybe, and birds and beasts that talk (but talk less foolish far than the half-humans you’ve had to hearken to for all the tiresome day you’ve just, than God, put behind you.’ (p.14; quoted in Emer Campbell, UU Diss., UUC, 2001.) Note: the title is from verses included in it: ‘Heavy, heavy hangs its head, and longtime has been calling, calling, plaintive calling, to me to come and gather.’ (ibid., p.10.) Further, ‘Right wise it was of our Colm when founding in Iona his famous sixth century school and colony of monks and scholars, he forbade the bringing in of a cow. “Where comes a cow”, the wise man laid down, “there follows a woman; and where comes a woman follows trouble.’ (Heavy, p.24?.)

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References
Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985) lists novels, The Miracle of Father Peter (1906) [recte play]; Orange and Green (1906) [recte play] Lo and Behold Ye! (1919); Top of the Morning (1920). Plays, The Townland of Tawney (1904), The Hard Hearted Man (1905), both Abbey; The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY 1938), autobiog. Maxwell (Mod. Irish Drama, 1984) cites only The Townland of Tamney.

Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), gives bio-notes: b. Mount Charles [sic], Co. Donegal; visited America in 1898; subsequently contributed to leading American magazines; lived in America most of the time; visiting lecturer to US universities; many novels and other books; adds Lo and Behold Ye (NY: Stokes 1919); The Donegal Wonder Book (NY: Stokes 1926), 282pp.; O, Do You Remember (Dublin: Duffy 1926), 156pp.; Tales that Were Told (Dublin: Talbot 1919), 280pp.; Top o’ the Mornin’ (NY: Stokes 1921); Bold Blades of Donegal (London: Sampson Low/NY: Stokes 1935); The Well of the World’s end (NY: Macmillan 1939); The Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Irish Folk-Tales (London: Cape 1952); Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (NY: Macmillan/Dublin: Talbot 1931 [sic]), 224pp., a misc. of ninety-two short pieces.

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Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives extract from Humours of Donegal, and also ‘A Stor, Gra Geal Mochree’; Weaver’s Grave is frequently anthologised (Irish Short Story, OUP; David Marcus ed., Irish Short Stories). Note: ‘The Weaver’s Grave’ illustrated by Jack Yeats in pen and ink (?Cuala edn), copy of ltd. edition held in Sligo Library.

John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longmans 1988; rep. 1989), b. Donegal, son of peasant farmer, ‘By the time I was seven I could tell a hundred of the old tales’; national School teacher, then journalism; US tours in later life; folkloric tales immensely popular in America; Notre Dame hon. doct., 1917; comic and idyllic stereotypes of Irish peasant life, incl. The Leadin’ Road to Donegal (1896); ’Twas in Dhroll Donegal (1896); The Bend of the Road (1897); The Humours of Donegal (1898). d. New York; considered too Irish for reading comfort. BL 21.

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Books in Print (1994), The Bewitched Fiddle and Other Irish Tales (NY: Doubleday & McClure 1900); Donegal Fairy Stories (NY: McClure, Phillips 1900; Doubleday 1943; Dover Publications 1976) [0 48621 971 2]; The Red Poacher (NY: Funk & Wagnells 1903); A Lad of the O’Friels (NY: McClure, Phillips 1903, 1906, &c.; Devin-Adair 1947); Doctor Kilgannon (Dublin: MH Gill 1907); Yourself and the Neighbours (NY: Devin-Adair 1914); Ireland’s Curse (NY: Irish Publishing Co. 1917); Lo and Behold Ye (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1919); Top o’ the Mornin’ (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1920); The Donegal Wonder Book (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1926); O, Do You Remember (Dublin: Duffy 1926); Bold Blades of Donegal (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1935; London: Sampson, Low 1937); The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY: Macmillan 1938/NY: Devin-Adair 1947; Dublin: Moytura Press 1988) [1 871 305 00 4]; Dark Patrick (NY: Macmillan 1939); The Well at the World’s End (NY: Macmillan 1939; NY: Devin-Adair 1945); Tales from Ireland (London: Evans 1949); Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (NY: Macmillan 1950; Dublin: Talbot 1951); The Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Irish Folk-Tales (NY: Ariel Bks. 1951; London: J. Cape 1952); The Little Mistress of Eskar Mór (Dublin: MH Gill 1960); Hibernian Nights (NY: Macmillan 1963; NY: Barnes & Noble 1994) [1 56619 361 3] NB, BML also holds Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Folk Tales.

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Hyland Books (Cat. 220) lists Donegal Fairy Stories (1st ed. 1902), called ‘one of the scarcest of MacManus’s books’ [prob. err., since evidently the first US edition] [Hyland Cat. 214; 220]; Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (1st edn. 1951); Chimney Corners , Vol. 1, Nos. 3-11 & 13, Aug. to Oct. 1838. [

Belfast Public Library hold 15 titles incl. Ballads of a Country Boy (1905); Irish Nights (n.d.); Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (1950); The Rocky Road to Dublin (1947); The Story of the Irish Race (1921); Through the Turf Smoke (1901). MORRIS holds The Lad of the O’Friel’s [sic] (c.1930); The Rocky Road to Dublin (1930); The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland (1921); Woman of Seven Sorrows (1905).

Ireland History website reprints his Story of the Irish Race [online; accessed 22.06.02].

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Notes
Lad of the O’Friels: orphan Nuala Gildea arrives in Knockagar and falls in riciprocal but unconfessed love with Dinny O’Friel; courting of Ellen Burns; villain and leader of the wren-boys, The Vagabone, turns narrator of the epilogue. (Emer Campbell, UG Diss., UUC 2007.)

NLI Papers: “Memoirs of [A] Political Activitist” [NLI MS; c.1959] recounts meetings with Maud Gonne, W. B. Yeats, John O’Leary, Douglas Hyde, George Sigerson and P. J. McCall. ‘Dublin days’ [MS] recounts his arrival in Dublin in the 1890s as ‘star of the Donegal Vindicator’; (Emer Campbell, op. cit.)