William Buckley

Quotations

Life
fl.1905; b. Cork and ed. St. Vincent’s Seminary and Queen’s College; issued Croppies Lie Down (1903), a novel; “King Diarmuid”, a story, appears in Dana, Aug. 1904, above Joyce’s “Song”, also Cambia Carty and Other Stories (1907), in which the title story deals realistically and explicitly with sexual jealousy; noted by Stephen Brown for ‘relentless realism’. PI JMC OCIL

 

Commentary
James Joyce [discussing George Gissing]: ‘Like William Buckley, the Irish novelist, who writes in Sinn Féin, he makes “nature” very tiresome. (Letter to Stanislaus Joyce, in Richard Ellmann, ed., Selected Letters, Faber 1975, pp.133; see further under Joyce, Quotations.)

James Calahan, The Irish Novel: A Critical History (Boston: Twayne Publishers 1988), cites Croppies Lie Down (1903), ‘the best historical novels of the period by one William Buckley,’ abandoned the escapist romantic formula [...] in favour of a bleak realistic story of the 1798 bloodbath in Wexford, thereby representing a significant turning point in the Irish historical novel’ [88].

James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room, The Irish Historical Novel (Syracuse UP/Gill & Macmillan 1983) , offers a more extended discussion, viz.: The best historical novel published on any subject during this period [the Literary Revival] was William Buckley’s Croppies Lie Down, A Tale of Ireland in ‘98 (1903). The novel is [...] typical in that it is just one of scores of such novels by little-known authors, but outstanding in its thoroughness and realism. [...] Buckley seemed to sense, for the first time in the course of the Irish historical novel, that romance was not a prerequisite of good, readable historical fiction. He develops realistic characters, characters shaded by some measure of ambiguity and complexity [...] In Croppies Lie Down, realism is born in the Irish historical novel, a realism that subsequently dominated the genre. Very little is known about [his] life ... Ernest Boyd praises Croppies Lie Down as ‘an isolated volume of ... literary quality [and a] powerful and well written study of the Irish rebellion of 1798’ but tells us nothing else about the book or its author. [...] Fr Brown notes that Croppies Lie Down is ‘equally realistic and even more conscientious in its fidelity to the facts of history [than Michael Banim’s The Croppy ...]; Little additional information available besides a 1913 article on Cork writers by John Gilbert, who wrote, ‘born at Sunday’s Well; an artist of ability; an art critic; contributes articles to Macmillan’s, Temple Bar, and the better class weeklies; the critic of current literature for the Irish Times; and reviews ‘Cambria Carty’ as ‘a series of stories racy of the soil, and aglow with local colour.’ [John Gilbert, Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Journal, 19 (1913), p.449; with acknowledgement to Alf MacLochlainn, Nat. Lib.] [103-04]. Further, Croppies Lie Down is a cumbersome, often melodramatic novel, but it was a first attempt since The Boyne Water to portray an Irish revolution as it really was ... Buckley managed to move out of romance into realism. [107] . See plot summary, Notes [infra].

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Quotations
Croppies Lie Down (1903): Irene Neville, a Protestant, marries the evil government schemer Gash who has bought out the Neville estate; her father is shot dead at the window of her home while trying to pacify the rebellious peasantry; Irene, Devereux - the Catholic hero and the rejected lover - Gash, and good Kitty Creagh, who counterspies against the devilish agent Harrigan are all dead by the end of the novel. Irene loves Devereux, who is a friend of Tone and has travelled in France, but doesn’t want to lose her position in society, ‘She felt a thrill of satisfaction in the thought that she belonged to this privileged class which could control the destinies of a nation’ (p.28); she is impressed however by Devereux’s United Irishman officer’s regalia; in his absence in the campaign she is wooed by Major Heathcote, but marries Gash after her father’s death to retain connexion with the estate; ‘she did not think once of any possible duty she might owe the man at her side ... her own disillusionment swallowed up all else, nothing mattered - only Malplaquet should be saved if possible, for it had been her mother’s. (pp.467-68) Devereux reappears and the lovers reach a reconciliation; he and Gash duel, and Irene is accidentally killed by Gash, who genuinely loved her, and commits suicide. The novel is narrated largely from the standpoint of the British officer Heathcote, who displays a sympathetic impartiality towards the rebels, ‘They will be goaded into doing something for which they are not prepared ... they will be cut to pieces - and I shall probably be one of the slayers.’ The battle-scenes are realist, ‘a dying peasant was hoarsely repeating the Lord’s Prayer in Irish, the blood bubbles breaking on his lips’ (pp.199-200). The note of ‘chaos’, ‘turmoil’, ‘ confusion’, ‘indiscriminate firing’ etc. prevails, and Heathcote is beaten and nearly tortured by the degenerate government forces. (Summary given in James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room, The Irish Historical Novel (Syracuse UP/Gill & Macmillan 1983, p106-07.)

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References
Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin McCarthy (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives ‘Inniscarra’, but Buckley was precluded from the revised edn. of Ernest Boyd’s The Irish Literary Revival (1922).

Belfast Central Public Library holds Camra Carty [sic] and Other Stories (1907).

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Notes
Publisher's advertisement for Cambria Carty and Other Stories (1907) appeared on title verso of George A. Birmingham, The Northern Iron [new edn.] (Dublin: Maunsel 1909), being the second title in the Maunsel ‘Popular Irish Books’ series, with Stephen Gwynn, M.P., The Glade in the Forest [1907].

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