Thomas Furlong


Life
1794-1827; b. Ballylough, between Enniscorthy and Ferns, Co. Wexford; son of ‘respectable farmer’ [Hardiman]; family moved early c. 1803 to Clovass, nr. Scarawalsh Bridge in barony of that name, the ruins of the home at Brogue-maker’s Hill being extant; travelled to Dublin with his father, a small farmer and carman, and there made acquaintance of Dublin grocer called Hart of Bolton St., who provided him with an apprenticeship and supported his education in Dublin from the age of 15; later given position in [Jamieson] Jameson’s distillery on publication of elegy for Hart (d. 1821, eliciting Furlong’s poem ‘The Burial’, Gentleman’s Magazine) which attracted the distiller’s notice; became a literary and political journalist;
 
contrib. “The Ruined Village” to The Irish Magazine or Asylum of Neglected Biography, ed. Watty Cox, 1814; submitted a lengthy poem in the style of Wordsworth’s  “Excursion” to Thomas Moore during the latter's Dublin visit of 1815 and received a kindly letter (discouraging hope of selling blank verse, however); issued The Misanthrope (Colburn 1819), printed for the author and withdrawn due to ‘errors entirely attributable to the printer’ (Intro., 2nd edn., 1821); likewise received letter from Lady Morgan for ‘Lines written in a blank page of Lady Morgan’s Italy’, March 1822; contr. The New Monthly Magazine (London); founding member and contrib. to The New Irish Magazine and Monthly National Advocate, ed., 1822;
 
contrib. to the Robins-published Dublin and London Magazine, ed., M. J. Whitty (1824-28), often as “The Hermit of Ireland” (pseud.), pieces incl. “The Leader”, ridiculing Daniel O’Connell (who formerly praised him as ‘a thorn in the side of his enemy’); trans. Irish poetry, and wrote much verse for Irish and English journals; issued The Plagues of Ireland (1824), a self-published satire on opponents of Catholic Emancipation and national independence; wrote and presented an address to Moore at a dinner held in Dublin in honour of the poet; and The Doom of Derenzie (1829), a romantic narrative in blank verse, incorporating literary advice supplied by C. R. Maturin, posthumously published by by M. J. Whitty with Hardiman’s printer Robins;
 
contrib. 42 translations in Hardiman’s Minstrelsy (1831), being most of the translations in the first volume, incl. ‘Eileen a Roon’, ‘The Coolin’, ‘Molly A Store’, ‘Mary Maguire’, ‘Planxty Stafford’, ‘Carolan’s Monody on the Death of his Wife Mary Maguire’, et al., incl. many translations of songs of Carolan [Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin] and the song ‘Roisín Dubh’ whose Jacobite significance Ferguson so vigorously contested in his Dublin Univ. Mag. review of Hardiman’s volumes; wrote sketches for Morning Star, ed. Michael Staunton; a late production,“The Spirit of Irish Song”, praising the ‘unborrowed loveliness’ of Irish-language poets, was printed in conclusion of Hardiman’s “Memoir of James Furlong”, in Irish Minstrelsy (1831);
 
d. 25 July, of consumption, in Dublin, where he worked on a paper; deeply lamented by Jamieson and others; bur. in Drumcondra Graveyard [behind Cat and Cage], nr. Grose; obituary notices by Michael James Whitty appeared in the Literary Gazette, Dublin and London Magazine, &c.; a ‘Memoir of Thomas Furlong’ appeared in Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy with an engraved portrait. ODNB PI JMC DBIV GBI IF DIW MKA RAF OCIL FDA

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[ The development of this page is largely due to the research and generosity of Sean Mythen, author of a doctoral dissertation on Furlong awarded by The University of Ulster in 1997, and subsequently a related study published as Thomas Furlong: The Forgotten Wexford Poet (1998). ]

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Works
  • The Misanthrope with Other Poems [1st edn.] (Dublin: Cumming 1819) [withdrawn]; Do., rep. (London: H. Colburn 1819; Dublin: W. Underwood, 19, St. Andrew St. 1821);
  • The Plagues of Ireland (Dublin: for the Author 1824) [see details]; long poem, Doom of Derenzie, A Poem, by the Late Thomas Furlong (London: Joseph Robins, Bride, Bridge St. 1829) [aepigraph, ‘To wit, reviving from its author’s dust,/Be kind, ye judges, or, at least, be just.] [same printer as Hardiman]. A Poem, ‘The Drunkard’, first printed in Dublin and London Magazine, is rep. in G. G. Duffy, ed., The Ballad Poetry of Ireland (1845).

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Bibliographical details
The Plagues of Ireland: An Epistle by Thomas Furlong
(Dublin: Printed for the Author 1824) [epigraphs from Churchill: ‘When justice draws the dart / E’en tho’ ’tis doom to pierce a --’s heart, / I know it duty, and I feel it fame’; and Pope: ‘Nay! while I live, no rich or noble knave / Shall walk the world in credit to his grave.’]

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Criticism
  • James Hardiman, ‘Memoir of Thomas Furlong’, in Irish Minstrelsy (1831), Vol. 1, pp.lxix-lxxx [engraved port.];
  • Matthew Russell, ‘Thomas Furlong’ in ‘Our Poets’, No. 17, in Irish Monthly 18 (1888), pp.421-26 [being an unacknowledged transcription of an article in The Nation, 1842];
  • Aodh de Blacam, Two Poets who Discovered Their Country’, in Irish Monthly, 74 (1946), pp.357-65;
  • P. C. Power, The Story of Anglo-Irish Poetry 1800-1922 (Cork: Mercier Press 1967) [q.p.];
  • Cathal Ó Háinle, ‘Towards the Revival: Some Translations of Irish Poetry, 1789-1897’, in Literature and the Changing Ireland, ed. Peter Connolly (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1982), pp.37-57;
  • Sean Mythen, ed., Thomas Furlong, the Forgotten Wexford Poet: the Life and Work of Thomas Furlong 1794-1827, foreword by Bruce Stewart (Ferns, Co. Wexford: Clone Publications 1998), 247pp.

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Commentary
James Hardiman, “Memoir of Thomas Furlong”, in Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (1831), pp.lxviv-lxxx: largely derives from Whitty’s tribute, ‘which appeared soon after Mr. Furlong’s death, in several publications’ [Hardiman, lxviv]. Notes that a ‘monument’ to Furlong was raised by friends, and supplies a copy of a letter from Lady Morgan (dated Kildare St, 29th March 1822) [Hardiman, lxxiv]. Furlong wrote the ‘inimitable parodies’ which gave to the Morning Register - started on the Catholic interest - ‘a decided character’ [idem], and were subsequently copied to American journals. Furlong issued “The Leader”, a piece ridiculing Daniel O’Connell, in Robins’s London and Dublin Magazine [ed. Whitty]. Hardiman [after Whitty] quotes Furlong on his reasons: ‘O’Connell is of too much value to Ireland to let him spoil himself: he must sometimes feel the rod.’ [Ibid., lxxv]. His portrait was published with those of O’Connell, Shiel, Steele, Barrett, Wyse, et al., at the success of Catholic Emancipation. Whitty identifies the ‘hero’ of Doom of Derenzie as an ‘Irish fairyman’ [lxxvi].

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James Hardiman [cont.]: ‘Mr. Furlong’s last poetical efforts were the translations of CAROLAN’S REMAINS, and other ancient poems and songs contained in this collection. When his aid was first solicited, the writer has the same difficulty with him, as with others, to prove that any productions of value were extant in the Irish language. Acquainted only with the English words associated with our native airs [ftn], he smiled incredulously at the asserted poetical excellence of the original lyrics, and even questioned their existence. [lxxvii] It was true, he admitted, that he had often heard them spoken of, and sometimes praised, but that he considered as the mere boasting of national prejudice. “If,” said he, “they possess any merit, I cannot conceive how they could have remained so long unknown.” After several explanations, however, and an examination of some of these neglected originals, his opinions began to change. He at length confessed that he discovered beauties of which, until then, he had been wholly unconscious; and finally entered on the undertaking, with an ardour and perseverance which continued to the hour of his death. In his translations he endeavored to express himself as he conceived the bard would have done, had he composed in English. He was “true to his sense, but truer to his fame.” But as the public will now have to judge of the merit of his labors, it is not intended here to anticipate its opinions, by any premature expression of our own. On the principle, that none but a poet should attempt to translate a poet, his translations may be entitled to attention; and on them his friends are not unwilling to rest his poetical character. [lxxvii-iii; ftn. on ‘vulgar ballads’; see under Thomas Moore, infra.]

James Hardiman, Irish Minstrelsy (London: Robins 1831), Vol. 1, notes on “Carolan’s Monody on the Death of His Wife Mary”, p.131f: ‘This affecting Elegy, was published in Walker’s Memoirs, with a paraphrase which made some atonement to the shade of Carolan, for the versions of “Planxty Stafford” and “Gracey Nugent”, given in the same publication. The Irish and English readers are now enabled to form a judgement of the relative merits of the paraphrase and the present translation [viz., by Furlong]’ (p.131). And later, in a note to “Mac Cabe’s Elegy on the Death of Carolan”: ‘The composition of Carolan for this work being now concluded, it may be seen that in the few observations I thought it necessary to make, I have altogether avoided any allusion [pleasing duty?]’; ‘[...] For myself I shall ever esteem it a source of pride and satisfaction to have been instrumental in associating the talents of Turlogh O’Carolan and Thomas Furlong, men whose names will be remembered while taste and genius shall be respected in the land of their birth.’ (Ibid., p.134.)

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Eadhmonn an Cnoic/Emon a Knock”: ‘Although Emon a Knock is thus stated to have been a real personage, and even the place of his interment pointed out, yet there is reason to think, that the name is fictitious, and that it was intended to represent, generally, the disappointed followers of the Stuart race. Miss Brooke has translated this as an “Elegiac Song”. I do not intend here to make any comparison between her version and that of Mr. Furlong. On their merits the reader will, however, exercise his own judgment, and whatever may be the result, we can never fail to respect the name of our excellent and talented countrywoman.’ (Note on “Eadhmonn an Cnoic/Emon a Knock”, Irish Minstrelsy, p.358.)

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Samuel Ferguson, review of Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy, in Dublin University Magazine (Vol. 4, No. 22, October 1834, pp.444-67): ‘Mr. Furlong was a man of strong poetic feeling, but of slender poetic art. He had but little fancy, less imagination and we had almost said no judgement. In raciness, in naiveté, in quaint characteristic expression, his versions fall immeasurably short of the original; and were not there mawkish poverty in this respect relieved by the genuine glow of sentiment with which his good feeling often redeems his bad taste, would deservedly fall under unmitigated censure. Mr. Furlong is now no more and as he left behind him nothing worthy to live, so must his name also soon pass from the precincts of an obscure fame, to which it has been fondly elevated by the admiration of sanguine but incompetent admirers. It is cruel to his memory, although, doubtless, well intended, in Mr Hardiman, to make the obscure efforts of his mistaken genius the subject of a long memoir. Equally unfortunate for both is the dull detail; for, alas! if Mr. Furlong was a sorry poet, Mr Hardiman is still a sorrier critic. It is, indeed, deeply to be lamented, that Mr. Hardiman’s devotion to a labour so pious as the rescue of our native minstrelsy, has not been accompanied by adequate good taste in his selection of the pieces, or a worthy spirit of liberality in their illustration.’ (For following - and contrasting - remarks, see under William Drummond, infra.)

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M. J. Whitty: ‘[R]ational manly sense prevail[s] in all his writings, and gives an additional attraction to those of his works which belong more immediately to the regions of fancy; his imagination never runs riot; his Pegasus bounds, indeed, from the three-forked hill, but he is nevertheless under the judicious restraint of his rider; he drinks of the water of Helicon, but not to intoxication; he owns the influence of the muses, but not their uncontrolled dominion. He wrote for men and hence men must be pleased with his writing.’ Further, ‘This sleepless boy who perished in his pride had no claims to notice but those which genius furnished; but these were of an order which gives an immortality to his name despite the neglect of his countrymen. He was, in the words of Ferguson, one of God Almighty’s nobility.’ (O’Sullivan Bear [pseud. for M. J. Whitty], ‘Irish Literature - Thomas Furlong’ [O’Sullivan’s Letters from Dublin, Letter II], in Captain Rock in London, or the Chieftain’s Gazette, 1827, pp.36-43).

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Anon, ‘Many readers we fear will ask who is Thomas Furlong. it is the reproach of Ireland to have been careless and forgetful of those who serve her; and we do not wonder but only grieve, to think that the name of such a man still needs an introduction to the bulk of his countrymen. [...] More than half the counties were without a book seller’s shop, and where one chanced to exist, it was only as a branch of some other business - probably a huxtery and prayer books or school books the sole stock in trade. The great, growing and substantial strength of the country, to whom popular writers now look for support - the middle classes - were then wholly deficient in the love and knowledge of books that has since miraculously grown up among them.’ Further, ‘The works he left behind are few and immature, but they bear the distinct evidence of original genius; and the critic who reads them in a spirit of sympathy will recognise in their occasional roughness only a proof of a strength wholly unsubdued by discipline’ (‘National Gallery, No. 3’, in The Nation, Vol. 1, No. 22, Sat. 11 March 1843; rep. as ‘Thomas Furlong’ [Our Poets, No. 17], in Irish Monthly, Vol. XVI [q.d.], pp.431-36).

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Charles Gavan Duffy, ‘He made his way from sordid obscurity to a wide reputation and recognised position in literature.’ ‘In public life his course was earnest and independent; in political literature he was an able but somewhat unscrupulous writer. But no man is entitled to a more charitable judgement, for his youth was undisciplined and unguided, and he died in his thirty-third year.’ ([Preface to] Ballad Poetry of Ireland, 1845.)

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J. McCall: ‘In his manners he was mild polished and unaffected, possessing a gentle playfulness of humour, but little expressive of the penetrative research of his comprehensive and reflective mind. In conversation he was fluent but not loquacious; quick yet pleasing; and ever precise when speaking to avoid touching on any irrelevant matter. In stature he was somewhat below the ordinary size, and of an attenuated forms which bore indication of his inadequacy to sustain the amount of toil requisite for the discharge of arduous duties; particularly when combined with a close and persevering application to study.’ (‘JMC’, memoir of Furlong, in The Dublin Journal of Temperance, Science and Literature, 25 June 1845; prob. John McCall.)

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J. McCall: ‘[he was] truly honourable and sincere; warm and affectionate; spirited and determined; yet open and candid in resisting tyranny and oppression; but ever anxious to implant the sacred seeds of friendship, unity, and peace, wheresoever he found a soil worthy of cultivation. His society was courted by characters of various literary attainments; and many of his surviving friends reflect with melancholy pleasure on the gaiety and hilarity which his presence always excited in that social circle, of which he was the ornament and idol’. (Idem.; all the foregoing in Sean Mythen, UU, diss. [draft] 1997.)

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Quotations
Our country: ‘The name of our country, and the story of her wrongs, have, at length, forced themselves upon the attention of the world. The people of Britain; the free inhabitants of America; and even the crowned slave owners of the continent have given, through different mediums, an indication of the growing interest which they take in all that concerns us as a nation. To those who may have heard of our wrongs - to those who know that we have been injured - to those who are aware of our past sufferings, but who know not the nature or character of those under which we still labour - to such, in the absence of a more formal statement, I shall venture to offer the following little sketch.’ (Introduction, The Plagues of Ireland, 1824.)

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Thralldom: Could they but think that thraldom’s galling chains, Sit sorest in that soil where freedom reigns; Could they be brought to rule with steady hand, Or spread one even system o’er the land; Could they let watch words pass, and factions fall, And try in time to legislate for all; Soon might the dreams of danger be dispelltd, Soon might sedition in its course be quell’d; Soon should the marks that rival ruffians bear, Pass, and be number’d with the things that were; Soon would the tales that teaze and agitate, The drones who first enact and then debate; Soon might the Plagues - the curses of our time, The midnight works of carnage and of crime; Yield to the good man’s zeal - the statesman’s toil, And grow at length even foreign to the soil. (Conclusion, Plagues of Ireland, 1824.)

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Oh, England!: ‘Among all the nations of the earth, there is not a race whom we would, for a moment, put in comparison with the people of England; all that is deserving of admiration in the character of free states, in ancient or modern history, appears happily in the temper of England. [...] The history of our country for the last six hundred years will show the effects of English legislation; from age to age, its influence can be traced in character that are legible, even to the eye of ignorance; for centuries we had continued to writhe under the control of a foreign Parliament, that enacted laws, only for degradation.’ (The Dublin and London Magazine, 1822.)

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Irish fairies: ‘The Irish fairies are a diminutive little people, dressed in round caps and red jackets, much given to hurling, inclined to be polite and civil, but extremely irritable, and capable of effecting much mischief, when disposed ot be unruly. Like the Persona Peri, they belong to a better world, could they gain admittance in it, and are very anxious to ascertain whether the golden bolts of Paradise will revolve for them at the great judgement day. On this question, they have, as yet, in vain interrogated many a godly priest; but from the rage for polemics in Ireland, it is to be hoped the progress of theology will enable some sound divine to give them an answer. Their chief places of abode are raths and motes; and some people are unkind enough to accuse them of stealing children - and this, in a country so prolific as ireland, might be pardoned, did they not also carry off the mothers to suckle them. But the charge stands in need of support - it is not a fairy offence. (Note 19 to “The Doom of Derenzie”, in The Works of Thomas Furlong, ed. Sean Mythen [typescript], n.p.)

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Irish fairies - cont: Although they are all known, like the Tartars, by their family features, they are of different speices, or have a least different pursuits. [Furlong goes on to describe at some length the Bansee, the Luprechaun [sic], the Cluricaune, the Phooka, the Lenauntshee.] Such are the sub-divisions of the fairy land; for the Fetch does not belong to it; and the interference of one or all of these tiny chieftains in human concerns, constitutes the fairy lore of Ireland. It might be supposed tha a peole with active fancies would have among them innumerable tales connected with these genii; but the fact is otherwise. They have modified oriental traditions, without adding to them; and the different stroies of the peasantry do not really exceed a dozen, with all of which the public have recently been made familiar [in] Dublin and London Magazine.’ (Idem; Mythen, op. cit., idem.)

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Thomas Moore: ‘What a glorious contrast does he offer to the spiritless, slavish race that have preceded him. We have our poets ... distinguished and celebrated in their days; but these, Irishmen as they were, scorned even to name the ill-fated land of their birth. It remained for Moore to tread the unbeaten path, and believe it, his example will not be lost upon others./The fine mind of the nation is already unfolding itself. Irish literature is no longer unfashionable; the demand increases, and the supply is uncertain.’ (Furlong’s address on Moore; London banquet.) [All cited in Sean Mython, PhD Diss., UUC 1997.]

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The Misanthrope: ‘The person to whom the Misanthrope was addressed, has died but a few months ago in London: he dwelt there secluded from all society: reviling and abusing his species and shunning their company and conversation ... . the little piece which follows, was written in the hope of reclaiming him.’ (Furlong’s Introduction to The Misanthrope.) [Above quotations supplied by Sean Mythen, UUC DPHil Diss. 2002.)

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References
Henry Riddell Montgomery, ed., Specimens of the Early Native Poetry of Ireland, in English Metrical translations, with hist. and biog. notices (Dublin McGlashan, 1846).

Dictionary of National Biography: 1794-1827; Plagues of Ireland (1824) and English metrical versions of Irish poets; his Doom of Derenzie appeared posthumously in 1829.

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D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912); cites the papers with which he was connected: contrib. to The Morning Register, a Dublin Catholic paper; Dublin and London Magazine (London 1825-27), ed. by M. J. Whitty, in which he appeared as he was ‘The Hermit in Ireland’; wrote political and other verse over his own name in Ulster Register, ed., John Lawless, 1816-17; a poem by him in Watty Cox’s Magazine [sic]; The New Irish Magazine, founded by him, 1822; PI also provides a list of biographical notices of him and lists works, The Misanthrope, poems (London 1819, Dub. 1821); Lines Written on the Blank Pages of Lady Morgan’s ‘Italy’ (1821); The Plagues of Ireland (London 1824)[?1834]; The Doom of Derenzie (1829); ‘Hermit of Ireland’ in The Dublin and London Magazine. cites a notice and a number of translations in Hardiman, and a biog. sketch in The Dublin Journal of Temperance [... &c.]. According to O’Donoghue Hardiman arranged his MSS, which were part of Edward Evans’s library.

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Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin McCarthy (Washington: University of America 1904); gives a substantial biography and translations from O’Carolan and O’Neachtan; b. near Ferns, given sinecure by the distiller Jameson on reading his elegy on the death of his master, a grocer; The Misanthrope (1819) gained him the friendship of Thomas Moore and Lady Morgan; contrib. New Monthly Magazine; assisted in founding The New Irish Magazine in 1821; His Plagues (1824) is levelled against the state of parties in the country at the time; member of Catholic Association, and strenuous emancipist; friend of O’Connell; translations in the Remains of O’Carolan; also, translations in Hardiman.’ McCarthy cites Doom of Derenzi [sic]; cites also ‘Tales of Low Life’, true, simple, powerful; assisted O’Connell with his cool and observant judgement; translation of O’Carolan’s Remains [in Hardiman]; wrote a few songs for Hardiman; died 25 July after a few months illness; low stature, eyes of remarkable brilliancy; biography in The Nation, ‘He was powerful, quick, impulsive, and impetuous, while he had a judgement cool and discriminating’; Charles Gavan Duffy, ‘In public life his course was earnest and independent; in political literature he was an able but somewhat unscrupulous writer. But no man is more entitled to a charitable judgement, for his youth was undisciplined and unguided, and he died in his thirty-fourth year.’

Irish Literature (1904) selects “Bridget Cruise”, from O’Carolan [‘Young bud of beauty forever bright/the proudest must bow before thee ... &c.’, 2nd of four varying stanzas’]; “Margaret Maguire”, from O’Carolan [‘O! that my love and I / From life’s crowded haunts could fly ...’]; ‘Roisin Dubh’, where the editor quotes Hardiman’s explanatory note on the long-forgotten allegorical sense, below; viz., ‘written to celebrate our Irish hero, Hugh Ruadh O’Donnell of Tirconnell; by Roisin Dubh, supposed to be a beloved female, is meant Ireland’]; “John O’Dwyer of the Glen” [‘War and confiscation / Curse the fallen nation; / Gloom and desolation / Shade the lost land o’er / Chill the winds are blowing, / Death aloft is going / Peace or hope seem growing / For our race no more / Hark! the foe is calling, / Fast the woods are falling / Scenes and sights appalling / Throng our blood-stained shore’ (refrain with var.)]; “Magy Laidir, from Irish of John O’Neachtan”; “Eileen Aroon” [ftn. called the old “Eileen Arron” in Hardiman]; “Peggy Browne, from Irish of O’Carolan”; ”O’More’s Fair Daughter, from O’Carolan” [‘.. Bright daughter of the princely Gael/What words thy beauty can declare?’]

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. I; Furlong, friend of Maturin, contributed to Hardiman poems incl. ‘The Spirit of Irish Song’, ‘Fling, fling, the form of art aside,/Dull is the ear that these forms enthral; / Let the simple songs of our sires be tried, / They go to the heart - and the heart is all./Give me the full responsive sign, / The glowing cheek and moisten’d eye ..’ (Irish Minstrelsy, Vol. I, pp.lxxx). H. B. Code, a particularly detested character, spy and informer was placed by Furlong among the sores that give The Plagues of Ireland its name; author of an official ode to George IV on his Irish visit of 1812, to music by Sir John Stevenson [27]. Further: Thomas Furlong’s address at dinner in honour of Moore, ‘What a glorious contrast does he offer to the spiritless, slavish race that have preceded him. We have had our poets ... distinguished and celebrated in their days; but these, Irishmen, as they were, scorned even to name the ill-fated land of their birth. It remained to Moore to tread the unbeaten path, and believe it, his example will not be lost upon others. The fine mind of the nation is already unfolding itself. Irish literature is no longer unfashionable; the demand increases, the supply is certain. (‘Memoir of Thomas Furlong’, in J. Hardiman, Irish Minstrelsy, p.lxxviii.) [117]. Thomas Furlong, passable poet, did version of O’Carolan’s “To Grace Nugget”, following Charlotte Brooke’s prose, then verse versions of the original supplied by JC Walker [175]. Furlong’s version begins, ‘Oh! the [?] to the blossom of white-bosom’d maids,/To the girl whose young glance is endearing,/Whose smile, like enchantment, each circle pervades,/She who makes even loneliness cheering.’ (See Hardiman, pp.57-9.) [177]. (Cont.)

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English [... &c.] (1980), Vol. I - Biog.: b. Scarawalsh, Co. Wexford, son of farmer, apprenticed in Dublin at 14; corresponds with Moore, friends with Maturin and Lady Morgan; contrib. New Monthly Magazine, New Irish Magazine, Morning Register, and Dublin and London Mag.; fought for Catholic Emancipation; later concentrated on Gaelic literature, producing English versions Hardiman, which were disparaged by Ferguson (‘Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy,’ No. 3, Dublin University Magazine, Oct. 1834). See ‘Remains of Carolan’ and other Gaelic [Bards] trans. in Irish Minstrelsy, pp.lxix-lxxx; also translations in The Dublin Penny Journal, which includes a ‘Memoir’ (Vol. 1, No. 6, Aug. 1832, p.43); though aware of O’Connell’s failings, fought for Catholic Emancipation.

Bibliography: Rafroidi lists The Misanthrope & Other Poems (London: H. Colborn 1819; Dublin: Underwood 1821), 4, 40pp., 2nd edn.; [Lines Written in a Blank Page of Lady Morgan’s Italy (?) 1821]; The Plagues of Ireland [printed for the author] (Dub, 1824), 6, 38pp.; Poems and Miscellania ‘by the author of The Plagues of Ireland’, in Dublin and London Magazine, London: Robins [cf. I. March 1825, p.46; April p.68, 79 (review of Fairy Legends by Croker); May, p.138 (‘Fancy’); July p.240 (‘Stanzas’); Oct., p.371 (‘Tales of Low Life’; Nov., p.398. The Doom of Derenzie, a poem (London: J. Robins, 1829 xii, 155pp.), 1829, xii, 155pp; A translation of the ‘Remains of Carolan’ and of a certain number of Gaelic poems in, Irish Minstrelsy, pp.lxix-lxxx), [with] ‘Memoir of Thomas Furlong’, by Hardiman (1831); also other translations in The Dublin Penny Journal, and article on the author, ‘Memoir of Thomas Furlong, 1794-1827, Vol. I, No.6 (4 Aug. 1832), p.43.

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Brian Cleeve & Anne Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), cites Plagues &c. (1834) [err.] - hence ‘last two posthumously’, a strenuous inference from a copying error, where ODNB has 1824, and not in the final place; note FDA &c., also 1824.

Robert Hogan, Dictionary of Irish Literature, 1979; Doom of Derenzie (1829) tells a powerful Wordsworthian tale, with fluent blank verse; born Scarawalsh [sic] co. Wexford; friend and confident of O’Connell following appearance of Plagues of Ireland; graceful translation of remains of Carolan. d. 25 July, 1827 [sic].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; selects ‘The Spirit of Irish Song’ [see RAF, supra], ‘Roisin Dubh’ [‘Oh, sweet little rose, cease to pine for the past’]; and quotes Ferguson’s review, ‘Mr Furlong was a man of strong poetic feeling, but slender poetic art. He had but little fancy, less imagination, and, we had almost said, no judgement. In raciness, naiveté, in quaint characteristic expression, his versions fall immeasurably short of the original; and were not their mawkish poverty in this respect relieved by the genuine flow of sentiment with which his good feeling often redeems his bad taste, would deservedly call under unmitigated censure. Furlong is now no more, and as he left behind him nothing worthy to live, so must his name also soon pass from the precincts of an obscure fame, to which it has been fondly elevated to the admiration of sanguine but incompetent admirers.’ The anonymous introduction to The Misanthrope (2nd edn., n.d.) the writer gives a brief account of Furlong’s withdrawal from the world, he lived in London from about 1819, ‘excluded from all society, reviling and abusing his species and shunning their company and conversation; he never stirred out but when he went to the office of a Newspaper, of which he was assistant editor, he admitted neither man nor woman servant into his apartments; he would listen to no physician in his illness; nor would he allow any minister of religion to come near him - and to sum up his character, he died as he had lived! Yet this man was once cheerful and open-hearted, but early disappointments had soured his temper and altered his disposition.’ Deane comments, Furlong is an exemplary case of a writer entrapped within a dark and inexpressible subjectivity. One of the chief translators of Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy [ed., Seamus Deane; 16-17]; Furlong was 33 when he died of consumption, 2; Furlong’s version in Hardiman was one of the sources, together with Ferguson’s literal translation, of Mangan’s Roisin Dubh (1849) and Dark Rosaleen (1946) [ital. sic], 26; Ferguson’s ‘Lament over the Ruins of ... Timoleague’ anticipated by Furlong translation, 45; Furlong gives a six stanza version of ‘An Chúilfhionn [The Coolun]’ in Hardiman, p.96. FDA2 BIOG & COMM, 111-112, 1794-1827 [as supra].

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Brian McKenna, Irish Literature (1978) cites ‘Memoir of Thomas Furlong’ in James Hardiman, Irish Minstrelsy (1831), 1, lxix-lxxx. See among others, Matthew Russell, ‘Our Poets , No. 17, in Irish Monthly 16 (1888), and Aodh de Blacam, ‘Two Poets Who Discovered their Country’, Irish Monthly, 74 (1946) [argues that Furlong is the first translator to catch a truly Gaelic effect]. Works, Plagues of Ireland, printed for the author (1824) 6, 38pp.; The Misanthrope and other Poems (1819); The Doom of Derenzie ... (1829).

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P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland (1994), comments on Furlong, Mangan, and Ferguson’s versions of Seán Ó Coileáin’s ‘Musings of a Melancholy Man’, rendered by Mangan as ‘Lament over the Ruins of the Abbey of Teach Molaga’, given by Ferguson as ‘... Timoleague’ (p.170).

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Notes
Birth-place of Furlong: Several biographical notices state or reiterate that his birthplace was Scarawash, where Dictionary of Irish Literature (Hogan, 1979) IL has Scarawalsh; Cf. Scarawalsh Bridge, from Ir. ‘Scair Sholais’ (Shallow of Light), is located by Shell Guide (1965) in Co. Wexford. FDA and JMC state his birthplace as being nr. Ferns only. Cf. PI: ’b. Wexford 1794’.

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Scott on Furlong: ‘Not long since’, said Sir Walter, in a feeling tone, ‘you might have numbered poor Maturin among your resident literati, but he is gone to that bourne from whence no traveller returns. The mention of his name reminds me of a particular friend of his, Mr. Furlong. He lives in Dublin, I believe.’ ‘He does, Sir Walter’, replied Harstonge. ‘Then I must see him’ said Sir Walter ‘before I leave it. I admire some specimens of his poetry sent me by Maturin, and, as a “brother poet” I shall pay him a visit.’ ‘He writes for the Dublin and London’, said Lockhart. ‘It is so reported,’ returned the host, ‘at least some of the poetry is his; and though I dislike the political turn of Furlong’s muse, I cannot but admire his talents. “The Love of Life” beginning ‘Oh life thou art as the broken dreams’ is particularly beautiful.’ Sir Walter requested to see this poem and after perusing it declared his admiration for it. ‘Byron’ said he, ‘is right; the Irish mind is peculiarly poetical. The common conversation of your peasantry abounds with imagery and metaphor.’ (Whitty, ed, Dublin and London Magazine, Aug. 1825; reporting a conversation at the dinner given by a Mr. Harstronge and commented on by D. J. O’Donoghue in Sir Walter Scott’s Tour of Ireland, 1905, Chap., 4, and there called apocryphal though expressing views characteristic of the novelist; copied in Sean Mythen, PhD Diss. UUC 1997.]

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Abraham J. Johnston glosses ‘the plagues of Ireland’ as priests, politicians, pawnbrokers and publicans. (Quoted in Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction, Maunsel 1919; as infra.)

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