Luke Gernon

Life
fl. 1620; Bencher of the King’s Inns, 1620s; Second Justice of Munster; author of A Discourse on Ireland, written in 1620, and characterising Ireland as a ‘nymph’ awaiting conquest.

[ top ]

Works
A Discourse of Ireland, Anno 1620, rep. in C. L. Falkiner, Illustrations of Irish History (1904); also [in extract] in Andrew Hadfield & John McVeagh, Strangers to that Land. (1994) [q.pp.]

[ top ]

Commentary
Ann Rosalind & Peter Stallybrass, ‘Dismantling Irena: The Sexualising of Ireland in Early Modern England’, in Andrew Parker, et al., eds., Nationalism and Sexualities (London 1992), pp.157-171: ‘Gernon probably means the bogs and forests that darken the predominantly meadow-green of the country’, further remarking that ‘this problematises the figures as a colonial representation’ since bogs and forests are usually taken as hiding places for armed men, thus spotting the ‘hymenal fantasy of territory awaiting its master’, which now ‘threatens to be a more anxious experience than anticipated.’ (p.164; quoted in Andrew Hadfield, ‘The Trial of Jove: Spenser’s Allegory and the Mastery of the Irish’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 2, 2, Spring/Summer 1996, p.41.)

[ top ]

Quotations
This Nymph of Ireland, is at all points like a yong wenche that hath greene sicknes from want of occupying. She is very fayre of visage, and hath a smoot skinn of tender grasse. Indeed she is somewhat freckled (as the Irish are) some partes darker than other … Her brests are round hillocks of milk-yeelding grasse, and that so fertile, that they contend with the vallyes. And betwixt her leggs (for Ireland is full of havens), she hath an open harbour, but not much frequented … It is nowe since she was drawne out of the wombe of rebellion about sixteen yeares, by’r lady nineteen, and yet she wants a husband, she is not embraced, she is not hedged and diched, there is noo quicksett putt into her.’ (‘Discourse of Ireland’, rep. in Andrew Hadfield and John McVeagh, eds., Strangers to that Land: British Perceptions of Ireland from the Reformation to the Famine, Colin Smythe, 1994, p.66; quoted in Hadfield, ‘The Trial of Jove: Spenser’s Allegory and the Mastery of the Irish’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 2, 2, Spring/Summer 1996), pp.40-41.)

The Irishman is no Caniball to eate you up nor loqsy Jack to offend you’. (Discourse of Ireland, c.1620; cited in Andrew Hadfield, ‘Rethinking Early-Modern Colonialism: The Anomalous State of Ireland’, in Irish Studies Review, April 1999, p.15.)

[ top ]

References
Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994), gives extract from Discourse of Ireland. See also Ferocious Irish Women (1991).

Notes
No entry in Dictionary of National Biography.

[ top ]