Daniel Corkery (1878-1964)

crit


Life
[occas. pseuds. “Lee”, “Le Pinson”, “Richard Mulqueany”, and “Neuilin Suibhlac”;] b. 14 Feb., Cork, the son of carpenter and active trade-unionist, and grandson of ship’s captain on his mother’s side; suffered polio; ed. Presentation Brothers; enabled by scholarship to enter St. Patrick’s Drumcondra Training College, Dublin; school teacher at St Patrick’s National School (CBS) for twenty years, teaching up to 50 pupils in a class; initially regarded Gaelic League as foolish but later joined under influence of Moran’s Leader; with MacSwiney and others founded Cork Dramatic Society and the theatre ‘An Dun’ in the Gaelic League Hall, 1908, staging among others his own plays The Embers; The Eternal Longing; The Woman of Three Cows; and The Hermit and the King (1909), set in early Christian Ireland;
 
reg. contrib. to The Leader [c.1908-1917], as “Lee” [pseud.]; also to other journals, incl. stories in The Irish Review, under var. pseuds.; combined Gaelic League philosophy with Ruskinite cultural criticism; wrote a play, The Yellow Bittern (1917), concerning Cathal Bui na Giolla Ghunna (1680-1756); another, The Labour Leader, in which the central character David Lombar (‘Danvo’) is modelled on James Larkin and somewhat on Patrick Pearse, produced at the Abbey in 1919, and pub. in 1920 with two others; Corkery was not privy to plans for the Rising, 1916 but wrote Leader editorials in during that period; issued A Munster Twilight (1916) and The Threshold of Quiet (1917), short stories written during 1913-15; also The Hounds of Banba (1920), and The Stormy Hills (1920), written in 1918-19;
 
he ceased to contrib. to The Leader in 1920; wrote Clan Falvey, a play performed in Cork in 1920; issued I Bhreasail (1921), poetry; fnd. The Irish Tribune (March-Dec. 1926), a weekly paper set up in opposition to the Irish Statesman, and published in Cork; acted as literary editor; elected a TD in the 2nd Dail, 1921-22; opposed the Treaty and supported Republican forces in the Civil War; published a denunciation of the reprisal executions of 72 Repubican prisoners; served as clerical assistant to the Inspector of Irish for Co. Cork, 1923-28; issued The Hidden Ireland (1924), developed from a title of a lecture of 1914; received an honorary doctorate from University College, Cork, though he held no primary degree; issued Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature (1931), with an introduction identifying religion, nationality and land as the chief qualities of Irish consciousness - a formula adopted from Augustus Stopford Brooke - and vigorously contesting the Irishness of the W. B. Yeats and other ‘tribeless’ writers of the Literary Revival with the sole exception of J. M. Synge; appt. Professor of English, in competition with Seán O’Faoláin, 1931, receiving 15 votes to Seán O’Faoláin’s 2 in the crucial Governors’ poll for the post; worked under presidency of P. J. Merriman and was succeeded by B. G. McCarthy, 1947;
 
issued The Wager and Other Stories (1950), a selection of prev. published stories; also The Fortunes of the Irish Language (1954), criticism; persistently advancing the view that the choice was either ‘to express Ireland or to exploit her’; he taught Sean Ó Faoláin and Frank O’Connor, but later regarded them as part of ‘the Literature of Collapse’; also encouraged Seamus Murphy (sculptor and author of Stone Mad), among others but despised the plays of Sean O’Casey; appt. Irish Senator, 1951-54, on de Valera’s nomination; served on the Arts Council, 1952; contrib. to Irish Press and Sunday Press in later days; d. 31 Dec. 1964; his papers are held in Cork Univ. Library (Boole); there is a bronze bust of Corkery (1909). NCBE IF DIB DIW DIH RAF OCIL FDA

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Works
Poetry
  • I Bhreasail/A Book of Lyrics (Dublin: Talbot; London: Mathews & Marrot 1921);
  • Rebel Songs [pseud Reithin Siubhlach’] (Cork: Lee Press [Provinces Publ. Co.] 1922).
Drama
  • The Labour Leader [Abbey 1919] (Dublin: Talbot; London: Unwin 1920);
  • The Yellow Bittern and Other Plays (Dublin: Talbot; London: Unwin 1920), 93pp. [1-act plays: King and Hermit”; “The Onus of Ownership” and “Fohnam the Sculptor”];
  • “Resurrection”, in Theatre Arts Monthly (April 1924), rep. as Resurrection (Dublin & Cork: Talbot Press [1942]);
  • An Doras Dunta [by Dónal Ó Corcora] (Baile Atha Cliath: Oifig an tSolathair 1953), 46pp.; Fohnam the Sculptor (Delaware: Proscenium 1973).
Fiction
  • A Munster Twilight (Dublin: Talbot; NY: F. A. Stokes 1916; London: Unwin 1917), 150pp., Do. [rep. edn.] (Cork: Mercier 1963);
  • The Threshold of Quiet (Dublin: Talbot; London: Unwin 1917), 308pp.; another edn. (F.A. Stokes 1918), 310pp.;
  • The Hounds of Banba (Dublin: Talbot 1920), 222pp, [see contents]; and Do. (NY: Huebsch 1922); : The Ember, 11; On the Heights, 37; Cowards, 55; Seamus [I + II], 71; The Aherns, 105; Colonel Mac Gillacuddy Goes Home, 125; An Unfinished Symphony, 153; A Bye-Product, 169; The Price, 197.]
  • The Stormy Hills (Dublin: Talbot; London: Jonathan Cape 1929);
  • Earth Out of Earth (Dublin & Cork: Talbot 1929);
  • The Wager and Other Stories (NY: Devin-Adair 1950) [rep. of previously collected stories];
  • Nightfall and Other Stories, ed., Francis Doherty (Belfast: Blackstaff 1988) [var. 1989], 224pp.
Reprints (incl.)

“Rock-of-the-Mass”, in Modern Irish Short Stories, ed. Ben Forkner (NY: Penguin Books 1980), [q.pp.]

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Criticism
  • What’s This About the Gaelic League? (Dublin: Connradh na Gaedhilge [1941]);
  • The Hidden Ireland: A Study of Gaelic Munster in the Eighteenth Century (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1924); Do. [2nd imp.] (1925; fourth impression, 1956; rep. edns. 1967, 1970), 321pp.; Do. [rep. edn.] (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1967; second impression 1970 [Cahill & Co., Dublin]; rep. 1975, 1979); and Do. [another edn.] ([Redwood Burn: Trowbridge UK 1977);
  • Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature: A Study (Cork UP; London & NY: Longmans, Green 1931) [extracts and full-text];
  • Do. (NY: Russell & Russell 1965), and Do. (Cork: Mercier Press 1966);
  • The Philosophy of the Gaelic League (Dublin: [Conradh na Gaeilge] 1948), pamphlet;
  • The Fortunes of the Irish Language (Dublin: Fallon 1954).
Selected Critical Writings
  • Heather Laird, ed., Daniel Corkery’s Cultural Criticism: Selected Writings (Cork UP 2012), 292pp.
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Journalism (Selected)
  • ‘The Gaelic Leaguer and Politics’ (The Leader, 3 April 1909);
  • ‘The Athlete and Politics’ (The Leader, 10 April 1909);
  • ‘The Trade Unionist and Politics’ (The Leader, 17 April 1909);
  • ‘The Professional Man in Politics’ (The Leader, 1 May 1909);
  • ‘Continental Cork’ (The Leader, 22 May 1909);
  • ‘The Trades Congress and Ireland a Nation’ (The Leader, 12 June 1909);
  • ‘Jim Larkin’ (The Leader, 2 July 1910);
  • Is Moral Force Dead?’ (The Leader, 17 June 1908);
  • ‘A Moral Force Movement’ (The Leader, 4 July 1908);
  • ‘A Moral Force Movement – The Idea of Empire’ (The Leader, 11 July 1908);
  • (‘The Kink of Nationality’ (The Leader, 18 March 1916);
  • ‘The Three Rs’, in The Irish School Weekly (The Leader, 27 May 1916);
  • ‘Juggernaut in Education’ (The Leader, 26 Feb. 1916);
  • ‘Irish National Tradition’ (The Leader, 22 Sept. 1917, p.155.);
  • ‘Ourselves and the Literary Market, 1: The Bookshop’ (The [Catholic] Standard, Nov. 22 1930);
  • ‘Glimpses of the Gaeltacht’ (An Gaedhael, Dec. 1937, p.6
  • review of ‘Cré na Cille le Mairtin Ó Cadhain’ (Feasta, Bealtaine, 1950);
  • ‘Tocsin from the Trades’ (The Sunday Press, 28 June 1953);
  • ‘They Look to London’ (The Sunday Press, 2 Aug. 1953) ;
  • ‘The Struggle between Native and Colonist’ (The Sunday Press, 30 Aug. 1953) [reviews of R. B. McDowell, Irish Public Opinion 1750-1800 and Public Opinion in Ireland 1801-1846].
Miscellaneous
  • Preface to John Caball, The Singing Swordsman (1954).

See also Liam Prút, eag. [ed.], Athbheochan an Léinn nó Dúchas na Gaeilge: iomarbhá idir Pádraig de Brún agus Domhnall Ó Corcora [Daniel Corkery], Humanitas 1930-31 (Coiscéim 2005), 61pp. contribs. to The Irish Tribune, cited in Patrick Walsh, “Daniel Corkery” (UUC PhD Diss. 1993) [infra].

Internet editions: See works incl. Hounds of Banba, The Threshold of Quiet, The Stormy Hills, The Wager, et al., at Google Books - online.

The Hounds of Banba (Dublin: Talbot 1920), 222pp. CONTENTS: The Ember [11]; On the Heights [37]; Cowards [55]; Seamus, I + II [71]; The Aherns [105]; Colonel Mac Gillacuddy Goes Home [125]; An Unfinished Symphony [153]; A Bye-Product [169]; The Price [197].

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Criticism
  • Stephen Gwynn, Irish Literature and Drama (London: Nelson 1936), p.225.
  • Seán O’Faolain, ‘Daniel Corkery’, in Dublin Magazine, 11 (April-June 1936), pp.49-61 [erron. as Dublin University Mag. in John A. Murphy, ‘O’Faolain and U.C.C.’, in The Irish Review, 26 (Autumn 2000), p.50.
  • Frank O’Connor, ‘The Gaelic Tradition in Literature’, Ireland Today, Vol. 1, Nos. 1 & 2.
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘Chronicle by Rushlight: Daniel Corkery’s Quiet Desperation’, The Irish Bookman (January 1948), rep. in ‘A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp.156-60.
  • Patricia Hutchins, ‘Daniel Corkery, Poet of Weather and Place’, Irish Writing 15 (Dec. 1953), pp.42-49.
  • Louis M. Cullen, ‘The Hidden Ireland, re-assessment of a concept’, in Studia Hibernica, 9 (1969), pp.7-47; and Do. [as pamphlet] (Mullingar: Lilliput Press 1988).
  • G. Brandon Saul, Daniel Corkery [Irish Writers Ser.] (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1973).
  • Lawrence J McCaffrey, ‘Daniel Corkery and the Irish Cultural Nationalism’, in Éire-Ireland 8.1 (Spring 1973), pp.35-41.
  • Emmet Larkin, ‘A Reconsideration, Daniel Corkery and his Ideas of Cultural Nationalism’, Eire-Ireland 8.1 (Spring 1973), pp.42-51.
  • Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal: The Irish Revolution in Literature from Parnell to the Death of W. B. Yeats, 1891-1939 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
  • NJ: Rowman & Littlefield 1977), pp.130ff..
  • Sean Lucy, ‘Place and People in the Short Stories of Daniel Corkery’, in The Irish Short Story, eds., Patrick Rafroidi and Terence Brown (NJ: Atlantic Highlands: Humanities 1979).
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, ‘A Re-evaluation of Daniel Corkery’s Fiction’, in Irish University Review, 14 (1984), pp.191-201.
  • Richard Bonaccorso, ‘Tales from the Cork Lanes: Another Daniel Corkery’, in Eire-Ireland, 21, 4 (1986), pp.29-35.
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, ‘A Re-Evaluation of Daniel Corkery’s Fiction’, in Irish University Review 14 (Autumn, 1984), pp.191-201.
  • Richard Bonoccorso, ‘Tales from the Cork Lanes, Another Daniel Corkery’, Eire-Ireland 21.4 (Winter 1986), pp.29-35.
  • Sean Ó Tuama, ‘Daniel Corkery, Cultural Philosopher, Literary Critic: A Memoir’, in Anglo-Irish and Irish Literature, ed. Birgit Bramsback & Martin Croghan (Gerards Cross: Colin Smythe 1988), [q.pp.], and Do. rep. in Seán Ó Tuama, Repossessions: Selected Essays on Irish Literary Heritage (Cork UP 1995), pp.234-47.
  • Conor Carville, ‘Becoming Minor: Daniel Corkery and the Expatriated Nation’, in Irish Studies Review, Vol. 6, No. 2 (August 1988), pp.139-48.
  • John Cronin, ‘Daniel Corkery, The Threshold of Quiet’, in The Anglo-Irish Novel: 1900-1940 [Vol II] (Belfast: Appletree Press 1990), pp.87-99.
  • Ruth Sherry, ‘Fathers and Sons: O’Connor among the Irish Writers: Corkery, AE, Years, in Twentieth-Century Literature, 36 (1990), pp.275-302.
  • Sophia Hillan King, ‘“Quiet Desperation”: Variations on a Theme in the Writing of Daniel Corkery, Michael McLaverty, and John McGahern’, in Myrtle Hill & Sarah Barber, eds., Aspects of Irish Studies (Belfast Institute of Irish Studies 1990) [q.p.]
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, ‘A Context for Joyce: Seamus O’Kelly, Daniel Corkery and the Nationalist View of the Irish Expatriate’, in Études Irlandaises, 16, 2 (1991), pp.33-41.
  • Ruth Fleischmann, ‘Catholicism in the Culutre of the New Ireland: Canon Sheehan and Daniel Corkery’, in Irish Writers and Religion, ed. by Robert Welch (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), pp.89-100.
  • Patrick Maume, Life that is Exile: Daniel Corkery and the Search for Irish Ireland (Belfast: QUB/IIS 1993), 174pp. [orig. doctoral thesis, UCC];
  • Patrick Walsh, Strangers: Reflections on a Correspondence between Daniel Corkery and John Hewitt [Ulster Editions and Monographs, Pamph. Ser. 1] (1996), 9pp.
  • Patrick Maume, The Rise and Fall of Irish Ireland: D. P. Moran and Daniel Corkery [Ulster Editions and Monographs Pamph. Ser. 1] (1996), 10pp.
  • Paul Delaney, ‘Becoming National: Daniel Corkery and the Reterritorialized Subject’, in Critical Ireland: New Essays in Literature and Culture, ed. Aaron Kelly & Alan Gillis (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2001), pp.41-47.
  • Paul Delaney, ‘“A Lack of Invention”: Corkery, Criticism and Minor Fatigue’, in The Irish Review, 33, 1 (June 2005), pp.96-109.
  • Bryan Fanning & Tom Garvin, ‘Daniel Corkery, The Hidden Ireland: A Study of Gaelic Munster in the Eighteenth Century (1924)’, in Books That Define Ireland (Sallins: Merrion 2014), Chap. 12.
 

See also Seán O’Faoláin, ‘The New Peasantry’ [Chap. 8], The Irish (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1969); Tom Dunne [essay on Corkery], in History and the Public Sphere: Essays in Honour of John A Murphy, ed. Dunne & Lawrence Geary (Cork UP 2005), [q.pp.].

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Commentary
See separate file [infra]

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Quotations
See separate file [infra]

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References
Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919); lists A Munster Twilight [1916]; The Threshold of Quiet (1917). IF1 on Threshold of Quiet, This remarkable book does not deal in incident nor in sentiment, in descriptions, nor in pictures of Irish ways. Its interest is centred on the inner lives of a few persons [...] The writer does not work by detailed character analysis but by quiet suggestion and delicate touches [...] shows us pathos, poetry, heroism, deep religious feeling hidden in these commonplace lives. Finbarr Bresnan, after a momentary belief in his vocation to the priesthood, sets out for America, and Lily Bresnan, after a conflict between love and duty and the call of God, enters the peace of Kilvina convent. The scene is laid in the suburbs of Cork City. The book leaves an impression of simple sincerity.’ Fr Brown chooses not to mention the suicide of Martin Cloyne.

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Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985) lists The Tricolour [rebel songs] (1920); The Hounds of Banba (1930); The Stormy Hills (1930); Earth out of Earth (1938 [?1939; Walsh, UUC MA Diss. 1993]), and The Wager (1938). ‘All of them depict the life of humble fold in Munster viewed by one in thorough sympathy with them, flesh of their flesh [...] In nearly all of them there is some queer shiftless character whom the author delights to observe and depict [...] he does not moralise [...] leaves the story to speak for itself’ [IF2].

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Alexander G. Gonzalez, ed., Short Stories form the Irish Renaissance: An Anthology (Whitston 1993), includes “Vanity”, the tale of Jeremiah Cotter of Lyrenascaul, aetat. 93, who desperately wants to read his obituary, and “The Cobbler’s Den”, six interrelated stories of Maggie Maw, the Blind Man, and local inhabitants, and [margels], told against the background of John Ahern’s shop, among them “The Heiress” (reviewed ILS, Spring 1994).

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writings (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3: powerful if narrowly intense studies [...] gave intellectual sanction to [...] strident xenophobia or a bigoted social triumphalism [Terence Brown, ed., 90]; [extensive refs. to Corkery in Frank O’Connor’s autobiography (An Only Child, 1961), e.g., ‘… Corkery was changing, too, and the man I loved was turning into someone I should not even be able to understand. I was merely puzzled and hurt when one might he said, “You must remember there are more important things in life than literature”. I knew there weren’t [...].’ [472-79]. [Bibl. Louis Cullen’s reassessment (see extract), 561n.] Corkery’s bête noire, the historian W. E. H .Lecky [562]; Pearse’s and Corkery’s belief in an enduring spiritual nation [568]; O’Faoláin contra Corkery [ed., 569]; O’Faoláin, ‘So far, then, the Gaelic Nation as a political theory has no pedigree [here mentions Corkery’s ‘Hidden Ireland’ idea; ...] Maybe the inarticulate people held to it in secret. They did not. [... &c.’; 570]. Cruise O’Brien ironically reinstates notion of Catholic nationalist Ireland [ed., 595]. Thomas Kinsella: ‘the death of a language [...] is a calamity. [...] Daniel Corkery has written very well about this in his book Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature. We know that he has some special convictions about nationality and literature - a strident pessimism that frequently amounts to distortion - but this passage his emotions seem very much in place [quotes the passage on the education of the Irish child from Synge &c., 1931, n.p.], [626-27]. Kinsella [further]: ‘his stomach, unlike Yeats’s is not turned by what he sees shaping the new Ireland, the shamrock lumpen-proletariat, the eloquent and conniving mean-spirited tribe of Dan’ [628-29]. David Lloyd: though in later writings, Corkery vehemently espouses the gaelicisation of Irish culture, in Synge & Anglo-Irish Literature the problem of the predominant anglicization of Irish culture is largley elided [bibl., see Declan Kiberd, ‘“The Writer in Quarantine”: The Case for Irish Studies’, in Crane Bag 3.1 (1979), p.348; here 634-35, 912n, 1389n.] For David Lloyd quotations from Corkery’s account of colonial literature, &c. [see Quotations, infra]. Bibl., Sean Ó Faoláin, ‘Daniel Corkery’, in Dublin Magazine 11 (April-June 1936), pp.46-61.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writings (Derry: Field Day 1991) - selects The Hidden Ireland [99-101]. Corkery described by Seamus Deane as ‘Pearse’s one disciple in literary criticism’ (Celtic Revivals, p.66). FDA2 selects Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature (1931) [1008-13]; from The Hounds of Banba, ‘On the Heights’ [1100-04]; REFS & REMS, Gavan Duffy’s preface to Spirit of the Nation (1843) looks forward to Corkery [ed., 5]; [bibl., T. Garvin, Nationalist Revolutionaries in Ireland 1858-1928 (Clarendon 1987), pp.91-102, includes remarks on Munster poets and Corkery, 40]; the classic use of Synge as example of a ‘national literature’ in Corkery, 1931 [ed., 847n]; the view from the Big House challenged by Corkery’s Hidden Ireland (1924); according to de Blacam, showed ‘as little sympathy for the Anglo-Irish as Lecky shewed for the Gael’ [ed., 954-55]; Eglinton’s appeal to universal rather than local themes (in ‘De-Davisisation &c’) precisely the viewpoint attacked by Corkery [ed., 995]; [exponent of exclusively nationalism, ed., 1007]; [ed. allusion to Corkery’s hero cyclist in ‘On the Heights’, 1175]. Also, The Hounds of Banba (1920) [...] virtually a contribution to the War of Independence; the first writer ‘to respond to the armed struggle in fictitional terms’ (Augustine Martin, FDA2, 1023-24).

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Eggeling Books (Cat.) lists Munster Twilight (London: Unwin 1917), viii, [1]-150pp., rep.

University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds The Hidden Ireland, a study of Gaelic Munster in the Eighteenth Century (Dublin: Gill 1925).

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Notes
Frank O’Connor, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught (?1945), describes the new master at his National School - being Corkery - as ‘a small man with a limp’ and ‘[a] small, round, rosy face, a small black moustache and a slight, harsh, staccato voice’ who writes on the board two Gaelic words which, in answer to the question by a poor boy with a ‘clever, eager face’ [O’Connor himself], he translates as “Waken your courage, Ireland!”’ (Cited in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, p.169.)

Back to school: Corkery’s Irish in a review of ‘Cré na Cille le Mairtin Ó Cadhain’ for Feasta (Bealtaine, 1950) was corrected by Tomas Ó Muircheartaigh, ed., and President of the Gaelic League. Corkery gave an account of his limited proficiency in Irish verse-reading in The Leader (13 Jan. 1917). [Both facts cited in Patrick Walsh, UUC MA thesis, 1993.]

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Benedict Kiely, Modern Irish Fiction-A Critique (1950), ‘It is hard to know how to meet the illogicality of a man who writes well in English about Ireland and is then, apparently, prepared to maintain that only writing in Irish can properly express the soul of the Irish people.’ (p.65; but note a generally sympathetic account of Corkery in the work quoted.)

Seán O’Ríordáin, letter to Con Prior, Nov. 1949, from Heatherside Sanatorium, nr. Doneraile: ‘Of course Dan [Corkery] is a dote and speaks like an angel and should be bathed movingly by perfumed virgins on their way to Solomon to be raped.’ (Information supplied by Robert Welsh.)

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Colin Smythe 1980), Vol 1, 1980, comments in connection with Daniel Corkery’s remark in The Hidden Ireland (Chap. XIV), about ‘every Romantic movement [being] a national effort to discover for present need forms other than the Classical form’ that Thomas MacDonagh’s term ‘the Irish mode’ is, though not so named, an equivalent of the organic form of the romantics. (p.37, & n.6.)

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Givenchy/Ginchy: Note that the action at Givenchy-en-Gohelle, which is echoed in Daniel Corkery’s story “Seamus - I” in The Hounds of Banba (1920, p.87), occurred during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 1915 where that the protagonists on the Allied side were the Canadians who successfully took the village of that name. Corkery writes: ‘We knew it was true - what she said about the poor “Munster” being in danger. That very morning we had read of their being in the operations around Givenchy [sic]’ (p.87.) In the same story, the older woman of the two in the house which the nationalist students shelter from the police after their demonstration says to her visitors: ‘you may be sure, young man, ’tisn’t for the love of them - whisht - she’s coming - speak to her, young man.’ In the Wikipedia account of Vimy, the Irish played no part in the action at Givenchy [see online]. It is therefore probable that the author was confusing it with the action at Ginchy on 9 Sept. 1915 when the Royal Munsters took the village of that name with heavy losses. Thomas Kettle, serving in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, died at Ginchy. In the second part of the story (“Seamus - II”), Corkery makes Monica O’Sullivan the narrator, who writes of her acquaintance with the late Seamus O’Donovan - he having died of consumption: ‘I was swept into the Rebellion Movement by the events of Easter Week; it was not possible to resist them’ (p.90) - a chronological reference which seems to confirm that Corkery, writing in 1919 or 1920, has mistaken Ginchy for the earlier and more generally well-known action at Givenchy in which the Irish brigades did not play a part.

Desperate Epigraph?: Thoreau’s phrase about ‘the mass of men lead[ing] lives of quiet desperation’ serves as an epigraph and part-title of Threshold of Quiet, being echoed several times in the stories themselves. The phrase is also echoed in poetry of Brendan Kennelly and figures in The Seals, by Monk Gibbon.

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