Mary Catharine Ferguson

Life
1823-1905 [Lady Ferguson, née Guinness; called Catharine]; m. Samuel Ferguson, 16 Aug. 1848; issued The Irish Before the Conquest (1868 & Edns.); also Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of His Day, 2 vols. (1896). ODNB DIW

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Works
The Story of the Irish Before the Conquest: From the Mythical Period to the Invasion under Strongbow (Sealy, Bryers & Walker 1868); [see details]; Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of His Day, 2 vols in 1 ( Edinburgh & London: W. Blackwood & Sons 1896), ports. [Bibl. Vol. 2, pp.369-74]; Life of the Right Rev. William Reeves, DD [Bishop of Down & Connor] ( Dublin: Hodges, Figgis; London: Longmans, Green 1893), vi, 210pp., front. [Bibl. pp.196-210].

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Bibliographical details
The Story of the Irish Before the Conquest : From the Mythical Period to the Invasion under Strongbow (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker 1868); Do. [2nd edn.; rev. & enl.] (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker; London: Bell & Sons 1890), xvi, 377 [6]pp., maps [20cm], and Do. [3rd edn.] (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker [&c.] 1903), xvi, 377pp. [&c.]. See under Quotations, infra.

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Commentary
R. F. Foster, The Story of Ireland [Inaugural lecture ... Univ. of Oxford, 1 Dec. 1994] (Clarendon Press 1995): ‘[...] I think of major importance is a book, not now much remembered, which appeared in 1868, the year after [A. M.] Sullivan's Story of Ireland. This was The Story of the Irish before the Conquest, by Lady Mary Ferguson - whose husband, Sir Samuel, was well known for his bardic sequences and Irish translations. Her volume owed much to such effusions, and was profusely illustrated with poems by Aubrey de Vere, Darcy McGee, and Ferguson himself, lending it a distinctly present-minded tone. Also, like her husband's work, Mary Ferguson's moral was in the end distinctly unionist. [Quotes as infra.] But the important thing was that her accessible, effective treatment made popular not only the stories of mythic heroes and heroines like Cuchulain and Deirdre, but also the division of early Irish history into "The Mythic Period", "The Heroic Period", and other categories which (taken with Sullivan) helped create a powerful sense of national destiny and nationalist amour-propre.’ [Cf. excerpted version of same as ‘The Magic of Its Lovely Dawn, Reading Irish History as Story’, [being] The Carroll Inaugural Lecture, in The Times Literary Supplement (16 Dec. 1994).]

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Quotations
The Story of the Irish Before the Conquest (1868): ‘The historian of the Conquest, and of the ages which have since elapsed, may have to regret the rough and tedious process of transition through which the country was now destined to begin its passage; but it will always be a satisfactory reflection that amongst its results has been our admission to a larger sphere of civilisation, to a share in many peaceful as well as warlike glories, and to the general use of that noble language in which all the gains of science and all the highest utterances of modern poetry and philosophy have found a worthy expression.’ (p.293; quoted in Foster, The Story of Ireland [Inaugural lecture ... Univ. of Oxford, 1 Dec. 1994] (Clarendon Press 1995, p.13, n.; as supra).

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References
University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds Sir Samuel Ferguson [... &c.] 2 vols. (1896).

Hyland Books (Cat. 219; 1995) lists Life of the Right Rev. William Reeves, DD (1893) [a bibliography of his works including unpub. RIA papers].

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