[Canon] Joseph Guinan

Life
1870-1932 [Fr. Guinan; Canon Guinan]; b. Co. Offaly; ed. Maynooth; ordained in diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise; served as curate in Liverpool, returning to the diocese; appt. parish priest at Dromod, Co. Longford; Priests and People in Doon (1903); The Saggarth Aroon (1906) [var. 1905], telling of Fr. Carroll’s life in a backward rural parish; ran to four reprints in the first year; also The Island Parish (1908), The Moores of Glynn (1915), Donal Kenny (1910), The Curate of Kilcloon (1913). DIW IF2

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Works
Fiction
  • Scenes and Sketches in An Irish Parish, or Priests and People in Doon (Dublin: Talbot 1903): and Do. [4th edn.] (M. H. Gill 1906), and Do. [6th edn.] (Dublin: Gill 1925);
  • The Saggarth Aroon (NY: Benizer 1906; Dublin: [n.pub.] 1925), Do. (Dublin: Talbot 1945) [var. 1944];
  • The Moores of Glynn (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne; NY: Benizer 1907);
  • The Island Parish (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1908);
  • Donal Kenny (Dublin: [n. pub.] 1910);
  • The Curate of Kilcloon (Dublin: Talbot 1912) [see extracts];
  • Annamore, or The Tenant at Will (London: Burns & Oates 1924);
  • The Patriots (NY: Benizer 1928).
Miscellaneous
  • The Will and the Way, by Irish Priests (Dublin: Gill 1915) [infra];
  • Months and Days: Their Silent Lessons (Dublin: CTS [1920]), and Do., rev. & enl. 2nd edn. (Dublin: CTS 1925).

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Bibliographical details
The Will and the Way
, by Irish Priests (Dublin: Gill 1915), essays incl. two by Joseph Guinan, ‘Priests and People of Ireland’, and ‘Apostles of the Press’ [see short quotation, infra].

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Criticism
Catherine Candy, Priestly Fictions, popular Irish Novelists of the Early 20th Century (Dublin: Wolfhound 1995), 224pp. [studies of Fr. Guinan, Canon Sheehan and Gerald O’Donovan]; James H. Murphy, ‘Guinan and Sheehan: “False Standard of Modern Progress”’, Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 (Conn: Greenwood Press 1997), pp.115-26, espec. 116-19.

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Commentary
J. J. Lee remarks on ‘the gentle Fr Guinan’, in ‘Woman and the Church Since the Famine’, Women in Irish History, eds. Margaret MacCurtain and Donnchadh Ó Corrain, pp.37-45 (p.43.).

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Quotations

Sagarth aroon ...
‘Non-Catholics in Ireland … are sorely puzzled for the wonderful hold the priest has over his people … Some attribute it to the tyranny and domineering spirit of the clergy, others to the ignorance of the peasantry … But let bigotry say what it will against us, the priest is loved, revered, and honoured as no other man in the parish is. ... the place which the priest holds in the hearts of the people has not been won by tyranny or domineering … but by honest services, the unselfish sacrifices, the high character and personal holiness of the Soggarth aroon - the fondest title in any language for the Lord’s Anointed.’ (The Curate of Kildoon, 1912, p.71.)


The Curate of Kilcloon (Dublin: Talbot 1912): ‘[The glories of Christian Ireland, which won for itself in the dark ages of the world the most honourable title ever given to a nation, the “Island of Saints and Scholar,” a name that deserves to be written across the pages of history in letters of light. [195.] from the sixth century until the beginning of the penal times Ireland was studded over from sea to sea with churches, nunneries and monastic schools [196.] Clonmacnoise, with its crOsses, towers, and ruined churches – that have weathered the storms of a thousand years – is a place of which Ireland is as proud as Rome is of her Coliseum, or Athens of her Parthenon.’ [Cont.]

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The Curate of Kilcloon (1912) - cont.: ‘Ireland is pre-eminently the country of religious vocations [...] within the wide domain of the Church’s territory there is no more fruitful recruiting ground for the arm of the King of Kings than ‘our own old Catholic land.’ [...] the Irish have been ever a religiousn-minded, supernatural people, the prevailing trend of whose thoughts is to ‘seek the things that are above.’ [199] Irish peasant’s trusting, child-like faith in the goodness of Providence [198] pure spring of Irish faith [199] [Cont.]

The Curate of Kilcloon (1912) - cont.: I shall touch but lightly on the seven hundred years’ war against English rule as a source of national pride. [200] For 350 years before the so-called Reformation the Irish were fighting for their country against the English invaders; for 300 years after it they had to fight for their faith [202] But if our forefathers were doomed to failure in their efforts to regain their national independence, they were singularily favoured by Providence in their fight for their religion, a fight against desperate odds.’ [203; see longer extracts in RICORSO Library, “Sundry Literary Texts”, via index, or direct].

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Priests and People in Ireland’ (The Catholic Book Bulletin, 1, Feb. 1911): ‘Even those who have honestly attempted to expound this tempting feature [the bond between priests and people] of Irish life have not unfrequently failed utterly through being alien to the peasantry in creed, nationality or social station. Indeed, its true inwardness and sacredness can only be known by a sort of esoteric knowledge, from which the non-Catholic writer is hopelessly shut out and which the Catholic litérateur who is ignorant of country life in Ireland can scarcely appreciate. Hence the need of an authorised and sympathetic interpreter of the tenderest and most fascinating aspect of the inner or parochial life of Catholic Ireland, a terra incognita to very, very many.’ (p.62; quoted in James H. Murphy, ‘Guinan and Sheehan: “False Standard of Modern Progress“’, in Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922, Conn: Greenwood Press 1997, pp.116-26; p.116.)

The Will and the Way (Gill 1915): ‘The union of priests and people in Ireland is a marriage made in heaven.’ (p.30).

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References
Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers [rev. 1 vol. edn.] (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1985), gives bio-details: b. c.1879, d. unknown [but see supra, IF2]; Liverpool priest and PP in Co. Longford; Scenes and Sketches ... (1904); The Soggarth Aroon (1907) [sic. err.], pop. novel about priest; The Island Parish (1908); The Curate of Kilcloon (1913), &c.

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), remarks: ‘his themes are the life of the poor in Irish Midlands, and the life of priests, for both of which he has unbounded admiration’; concedes that he is possibly ‘wanting in artistic restraint ... free rein to emotion ... atoned by obvious sincerity’; describes scenes of grinding landlordism; further: Soggarth Aroon shows how the peasants’ faith makes their lives supernaturally beautiful; Moores of Glynn, fortunes of a mother and her four children against background of landlordism [1907 sic]; The Island Pariah, peasants’ quiet happiness in grinding poverty through eyes of ideal young priest of Ballyvora, pictures not plot (1908); Donal Kenny, family autobiog. of mother’s death and father’s drinking, love and happy ending (NY 1910).

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Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), adds two novels, both enthusiastically nationalist and Gaelic, Annamore, or The Tenant at Will (London: Burnes Oates & Washbourne 1924), 323pp., et in 1870s; also The Patriots (NY: Benziger 1928), 332pp. [strongly against ‘Irregular’ campaign to destroy the Treaty, 1922-23, with lurid account of Black and Tans].

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