James Hardiman (1790-1855)


Life
[Séamas Ó hArgadáin] b. Westport, Mayo, son of a shop-keeper; native Irish-speaker; prepared for priesthood but prevented from proceeding due to blindness in one eye (acc. John O’Donovan); moved to Dublin and worked as sub-commissioner in Public Records Office, 1811-1830; purchased land in Mayo, c.1818, having previously received a small farm in Co. Mayo from his mother; issued History of the County and Town of Galway (1820); returned to Galway, 1830;
 
issued Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (2 vols., 1831), with translations by Thomas Furlong, H. G. Curran, W. H. Drummond, et al., and annotations by Hardiman; suffered a severe review by Samuel Ferguson in successive issues of the Dublin University Magazine (April-Nov. 1834) underscored by religious and political objections to the Jacobite tendency of the interpretative material; the translations later called by Thomas Davis ‘slavish and despairing’; made charitable contributions during the Famine and donated books to local libraries; made a grant of 10-acres from his land at Errew for the fondation of a Franciscan school;
 
refused the Chair of Irish at Queen’s College, Galway, and became the first Librarian shortly after its foundation [1845], 1848; d. Galway; a section of the Book of Fermoy consisting in at least 32 folios, separated from the main volume, came into his possession, and was subsequently passed to the British Museum (Egerton 92); the present library at University College, Galway (NUI) is named after him; Hardiman appears to have originated the comparison of Irish poets with the sentiment of Psalm 137. ODNB DIB DIW DIH RAF FDA OCIL

[ top ]

Works
  • History of the Town and County of Galway, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time: Embellished with Several Engravings (Dublin: W Folds 1820), xvi, 317, lxpp. [see details]; Do. [facs. rep. of 1820 edn.] (Galway: Kennys Bookshops and Art Galleries 1975), 320pp.; Do. [electronic edn.] (Archive CD Books Ireland/TCD 2005) [online; accessed 02.02.2005];
  • Ancient Irish Deeds […] chiefly relating to Landed Property, from the 12th to the 17th century (Dublin: Folds 1826);
  • Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland with English Poetical Translations, 2 vols. (London: Joseph Robins 1831), 8° [21cm.], and Do. [facs. rep.], introduced by Máire Mac an tSaoi (Shannon: IUP 1971), 379pp. [see details & reprints];
  • An Account of Two Irish Wills (1843); and The Statutes of Kilkenny (1843);
  • ed., Roderick O’Flaherty, A Chorographical [viz., Chronological] Description of West or H-Iar Connaught [orig. 1685; for Irish Archaeological Society] (Dublin: M. H. Gill / Irish Archael. Soc. 1846).

Irish Minstrelsy (1831) is available in Google Books [online; accessed 22.06.2010]

[ top ]

Bibliographical details

Town and County of The Town of Galway, from the earliest period to the present time, embellished with several engravings to which is added a copious appendix containing the principal charters and other original documents, by James Hardiman Esq member of the RIA and Sub commissioner of the Public Records [historiae placeant nostrates] (Dublin: W, Folds & Co. Gt. Strand-street 1820. 320pp. The book includes a large fold-out map of town [p.30 facing] with 50 references by number; also town and suburb map 279 facing; appendix, lvi pp. appendix contains charter and lists, and directory of house-owners [proprietors] at dates 1640 [Irish papists] and 1657 [English protestants]; 4-page by 2-column A-Z index.

[ top ]

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland with English poetical translations, 2 vols. (London: Joseph Robins, 1831), Vol. I: lxxx, 376pp.; Vol. II: 436pp. Epigraphs: 1. Bíonn grádh agam ar dhantaigh is ar ceoltaigh. 2. “I will give thee a book - it containeth the Songs of the bards of Erin, the bards of the days that are gone.” John Philpot Curran. Ded. to The Right Honorable Thomas Spring Rice / Representative in Parliament for the City of Limerick [… &c.] Sept. 1st 1831. VOLUME I - Contents: Introduction [i]; ‘Memoir of Carolan’ [xli-lxviii]; ‘Memoir of Thomas Furlong’ [lxix-lxxx]. Part I: ‘Remains of Carolan’ [5]; Addenda [141]; Part II: ‘Sentimental Song’ [205-315]; ‘Notes to Sentimental Song’ [319-76]. VOLUME II - Contents: ‘Jacobite Relics’ [Introduction, pp.3-9]; ‘Notes to the Jacobite Relics’ [117-69]; Part IV: ‘Odes, Elegies, &c.’ [171-339; Introduction, 173-81]; ‘Notes to the Odes, Elegies, &c.’ [343-435] (See various passages from the Introduction under Quotations, infra; see also full text of the Introduction in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, via index, or direct.].) [Note: half t.p. Irish Minstrelsy / or/ Bardic Remains of Ireland. leaf. Front: Portrait of ‘Carolan, The Celebrated Irish Bard’ engraved by J. Rogers from an Original Painting. Published by Joseph Robins, London 1831; 2 lfs. t.p..

[ top ]

Reprints, Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland with English poetical translations, 2 vols. [Facs. reprint edn. as], Irish Minstrelsy [… &c.], 2 vols. [1831], introduced by Máire Mac an tSaoi (Shannon: IUP 1971) [see extract]; The History of the Town and County of Galway (1820] (Archive CD Books Ireland/TCD 2005) [www.archivecdbooks.ie].

[ top ]

Commentary
Samuel Ferguson, review articles on ‘Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy’, in Dublin University Magazine in April-Nov. 1834 (Parts I-IV): While regarding Hardiman as a kind of literary Ribbonman [see FDA infra], Ferguson balances an outspoken contempt for his political opinions with gratitude for the literary labour undertaken: ‘These are the songs before us - songs such as the speakers of [37] the English language at large have never heard before, and which they could not see and hear now but for the pious labours of a man who, however politically malignant and religiously fanatical, has yet done such good service to his country in their collection and preservation, that for her sake we half forgive him our own quarrel, and consent to forego a great part of its vindication.’ (DUM, IV, XX, Aug. 1834; rep. in Mark Story, ed., Poetry and Ireland Since 1800: A Sourcebook, Routledge 1988, p.38.) Further: ‘He [Hardiman] certainly holds out no very alluring prospect of reconciliation. We do not think we should bathe our feet in butter if he kept the keys of the dairy.’ ([Pt. II,] DUM, IV, XX, Aug. 1834, p.152; quoted in Robert Welch, A History of Verse Translation from the Irish 1789-1897, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1988; also in Welch, Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980, p.125.)

[ top ]

Samuel Ferguson (review of Irish Minstrelsy, in Dublin University Magazine, April-Nov. 1834) - on Hardiman’s interpretation of “Roisín Dubh” as a Jacobite allegory - a reading which he sees as clearly ‘fictitious’: ‘[…] This says Mr. Hardiman, is an allegorical political ballad - it seems to be the song of a priest in love, of a priest in love too who has broken his vow, of a priest in love who was expecting a dispensation for his paramour, of a priest in love who was willing to turn ploughman for his love’s sake - nay, to practice the very calling of a priest to support her. And why, in the name of holy nature, should the priest not be in love? and why, in the name of sacred humanity, should the priest not long to enjoy his love? and why in the name of divine reason, do the Roman Catholic priesthood of the present day submit to a prohibition so unnatural, monstrous, anti-scriptural, and innovatory as that which gives the will of some old man seven centuries ago, as the only reason why he should not love?’ [… &c.].’ Ferguson adds: ‘We sympathise with the priest’s passion, we pity his predicament; but we despise his dispensatory expedients, and give him one parting advice, to pitch his vows to the Pope, the Pope to purgatory, marry his black rose-bud, and take a curacy from the next Protestant rector.’ ([Pt. II], DUM, Vol. 4, Aug. 1834, pp.158-59; see more extensively under Ferguson, Quotations, supra).

[ top ]

Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde (1974), In Love Songs of Connacht, Preface, Hyde refers to Hardiman’s ‘gems of lyric song’ and says, ‘It is to them the student should first look for the very highest expression of the lyric genius of our race.’ [35] In Mise agus Connradh, he wrote, ‘This book has not yet been excelled as a rich treasury of the poetry of Ireland.’ (p.11) [n., 198]. On the source of the Twisting of the Rope [“Casadh na Shugan”], Daly comments that a version is included in Hyde’s Love Songs of Connacht, with a note directing the reader to the matter of a poet-suitor tricked with a rope Red Hanrahan in a poem in Hardiman’s collection. (See Lady Gregory, Our Irish Theatre, p.75; here p.134; n.216.)

[ top ]

Máire Mac an tSaoi, Introduction to Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy (Shannon: IUP 1971), pp.v-xii: quotes Donal O’Sullivan in calling the anthology ‘the most important of our primary sources for Irish song’ [ftn., letter to Mac an tSaoi]; ‘Like Geoffrey Keating, Hardiman unquestioningly accepts the entire corpus of matieral available to him, including much synthetic pseudo-history fabricated by medieval ingenuity of rht pagan past. His own contribution here is of no value except as an index of this acceptance, a demonstration of the survival from remote ages of a special type of mind and of its admjsutment to immeasurably changed conditions - in fact a worthy subject of study in itself. One hesitates to adduce the Ossian of Mac Pherson [sic], and yet it is part of the same phenomenon, the reappearance of the indestructible submerged cultures of Europe. It must be stressed that, like all Irish men of learning before the advent of modern linguistic science, he was largely ignorant of Old and Middle Irish and both unaware of the extent of this ignorance and reluctant to admit its effects. / As for the poems themselves, many of them of course, stand on their own. […] The irregularities of spelling, the peculiar and beautiful type-face, the idiosyncratic editorship, all lend a poignancy adn, as it were, immediacy to the presentation of these songs. We are barely at one remove from the scribe and [xi] the seanchaí. Irish Minstrelsy, for all its short-comings, marks a triumphant watershed […]’ (pp.xi-xii; see also under Samuel Ferguson, supra.)

[ top ]

Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986) [on the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Dublin, 1808]: ‘The society had a rule stipulating that “no religious or political Debates whatever shall be permitted, such being foreign to the Object and Principles of the Society” (p.xvii). An almost identical rule was included in the articles of the Iberno-Celtic Society’s Transactions (p.vii), of which society the “chronological account of the Irish writers, and descriptive catalogue of such of their works as are still extant in verse or prose” by Edward O’Reilly formed the bulk. The president of the society was the duke of Leinster, joined by 8 peers, 6 baronets, 2 MPs and 2 Catholic bishops, while George Petrie and James Hardiman were also members.’ (p.435.) Note further: ‘James Henthorn Todd founded the Irish Archaeological Society (to replace the defunct Iberno-Celtic Society), with the Duke of Leinster and many RIA members, notably O’Curry, O’Donovan, Petrie, Hardiman; but also Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Moore, Smith O’Brien, and Archb. John McHale; amalgamated in 1853 with the Celtic Society (fnd 1845) to form Irish Arch. and Celtic Society. Ossianic Society formed in 1853.’ (p.438.)

[ top ]

Robert Welch, ‘Language and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century’, in Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (London: Routledge 1993) [Chap. 2]: ‘Hardiman’s cultural analysis showed that Irish literature had long and distinguished history and aimed to present that literature in a way which would emphasize its archaic nature and civilized qualities. He stressed the integrity and dignity of Irish tradition and pulled no punches in accusing the English of, at first, blind indifference to that tradition; at worst, outright hostility. He is a supremely confident spokesman for Gaelic literature and knows full well that a great deal had been lost. However, when it came to presenting the poetry of that culture to an audience lacking Gaelic he handed over the responsibility for translation to men such as John D’Alton and Thomas Furlong, who were non-poets, whose models were Moore’s Melodies, and {25} whose language entirely lacks emotional bite or any sting of reality or gravity.’ (p.26.)

[ top ]

Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland (1995), writes of the politico-allegorical tendency in Irish poets: ‘Native poets writing in Irish show a penchant for covert statements. They praise the beauty of Cathleen Ni Houlihan when they really meant to celebrate Ireland. In what seemed like harmless love songs they besought girls to shelter gallants from the storm, gallants who turned out on inspection to be rebels on the run from English guns.’ (p.16; and cf. remarks by Hardiman on “Emon a Knock”: ‘The song is purely allegorical, Ireland being designated by the beautiful female addressed; but the allegory being now forgotten, the composition is known only as a love effusion, and has been therefore included in the present part of this work.’ [Given at greater length, under Quotations, infra.)

[ top ]

Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Transations, Languages, Cultures (Cork UP 1996): quotes, ‘it was resolved to reduce the poor Catholics to a state of mental darkness, in order to convert them into enlightened Protestants.’ (Irish Minstrelsy, 1831 [Vol. 1] p.xxxii; here p.103.); ‘[Hardiman’s] characterisation of Irish literature is avowedly Classical’ (p.103.) Cronin quotes: ‘They do not possess any of the wild, barbarous fervour of the Scandinavian Scalds; nor yet the effeminate softness of the professors of the “gay science”, the Troubadours and lady-bards of the period to which were are now arrived. The simplicity of expression, the dignity of thought, which charactise Greek and Roman writers of the purest period, pervade the production of our bards.’ (Irish Minstrelsy, p.xvi.) Hardiman reacts against the Celticist portrait of literature in Irish as the product of a wild, extavagant people possessed of natural Ossianic eloquence. Cronin quotes Hardiman on Macpherson regretting that the work of Irish bards ‘should be consigned to obscurity at home, while a neighbouring nation derived so much literary fame from a few of those remains, boldly claimed and published as its own.’ (Ibid., p.xxxviii); remarks as striking the analogy in Hardiman’s preface between Irish and Oriental culture (p.104.) Quotes further: ‘What, it may be asked, is there in the Irish language to make worse men or worse subjects of those who speak it than are the Welch [sic] and the Highlanders, whose native dialects are cultivated and encouraged?’ (Irish Minstrelsy, xxxii); Hardiman renounces the plan of providing ‘literal English translations’ because of the ‘widely different idioms of both languages.’ (Ibid., p.xxxix; here p.107).

[ top ]

Quotations

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (London: Robins 1831), Vol. 1, “Introduction” - see full text in RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics” [attached].
 
 See also his remarks on Edmund Spenser, q.v. [viz., ‘When Spenser - the poetic, the gentle Spenser, was guilty of these oppressive and unjust proceedings […]’,&c., as infra] - and sundry Irish writers in the website, incl. Thomas Moore [infra], et al. (To locate those references, open the search engine in the left-hand frame of this website and enter <James Hardiman> selecting “Authors A-Z” to limit the search to writers.)


Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland (London: Robins 1831), Vol. I, “Introduction”: ‘After ages of neglect and decay, the ancient literature of Ireland seems destined to emerge from obscurity. Those memorials which have hitherto lain so long unexplored, now appear to awaken the attention of the learned and the curiosity of the public; and thus, the literary remains of a people once so distinguished in the annals of learning, may be rescued from the oblivion to which they have been so undeservedly consigned. That the ancient Irish possessed ample stores in their native language, capable of captivating the fancy, enlarging [i] the understanding, and improving the heart, is well known to those acquainted with the mouldering membranes which have survived to our times. The historical importance of our annals has been acknowledged by the most learned men of Europe for the last three centuries. They are written in the language of the first inhabitants of Europe; and, with a simplicity of detail which truth only can confer, they record the primæval state of this island, the origin of its early inhabitants, their history, religion, and laws, and the arts known amongst them for several generations.’ (pp.i-ii.)

[ top ]

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland (1831), “Introduction” - cont.: ‘[…] The music of Ireland is better known to the world, at the present day, than its poetry. In the sweetest [x] strains of natural feeling, the former found its ready way to every heart, and became endenizened in every clime, while the latter, wrapped in an ancient and expressive but proscribed and insulated language, has been generally neglected, particularly since the spread of the English tongue amongst us, and the downfall of the Milesians. Men there were, no doubt, who, knowing and valuing its beauties, have protected and cherished it amidst every vicissitude, as a precious depository of the genius of former times. But these generations have passed away. The few who inherit their spirit are gradually disappearing, and thus Irish poetry, with all its charms, may be left to linger awhile, and then sink into oblivion, unless rescued by the timely interposition of those who still retain some respect for the ancient honour of their country.’ [Cont.]

[ top ]

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland (1831), “Introduction” - cont.: ‘Such were the principal bards of Ireland down to the Anglo-Norman invasion. Not imaginary personages, like many, called into fabulous existence by the zeal of some neighbouring nations, in asserting claims to early civilization and literature, but men long celebrated [xv] in the annals of their country, and whose works, still extant, are pointed out with as much perspicuity as the limits of these pages would allow. The nature and character of these works are deserving of peculiar attention. They do not possess any of the wild barbarous fervor of the Scandinavian Scalds; nor yet the effeminate softness of the professors of the “gay science,” the Troubadours and lady-bards of the period to which we are now arrived. The simplicity of expression, and dignity of thought, which characterize the Greek and Roman writers of the purest period, pervade the productions of our bards: and, at the present day, they are particularly valuable for the important aids which they furnish, towards elucidating the ancient state of this early peopled and interesting island.’ [n.13]. (p.xvi.) For Ferguson’s remarks on “vulgar ballads”, see under Thomas Moore, Commentary, infra - who is of course excepted. [Cont.]

Hardiman compares of the plight of the Irish bards after the Norman Invasion with that expressed in Psalm 137 [see note]:

‘For two centuries after the invasion of Henry II the voice of the muse was but feebly heard in Ireland. The genius of the nation withered at the approach of slavery. […] The limits here prescribed preclude the possibility of particularizing the poets of the two succeeding centuries. If they evinced less talent, let it be remembered that they were more oppressed than their predecessors. They fell with their country; and like the captive Israelites, hung their untuned harps on the willows. Well might they exclaim, with the royal psalmist:

“Now while our harpes were hanged soe,
The men, whose captives then we lay,
Did on our griefs insulting goe,
And more to grieve us thus did say:
You that of musique make such show,
Come sing us now a Sion lay;
O no, we have nor voice nor hand,
For such a song, in such a land.”

But, lest the charge of national partiality may be alleged against the character here given, let us hear the description of a writer, who cannot lie under that imputation. […]’

 
Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains, 1831, Introduction [Vol. I], p.xxiii-v.

Note: An earlier use is made of the psalm in Evan Evans’ Paraphrase of the 137th Psalm, Alluding to the Captivity and Treatment of the Welsh Bards by King Edward I. The text is given in Kate Trumpener’s Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (Princeton UP 1997), where it figures as a pre-text to the Introduction (“Harps Hung Upon the Willow”) - viz., ‘Sad near the willowy Thames we stood, / and curs’d the inhospitable flood; / Tears such as patients weep, ’gan flow, / the silent eloquence of wood, When Cambria rushed into our mind" - ending, "'Ruin seize thee, King’”[p.2] There is no entry for Hardiman in the index of her book.

[ top ]

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (London: Robins 1831), Vol. 1 - cont.: Notes to “Cean Dub[h] Dilis”: ‘Lovely maid with the raven locks - This song is an instance of the superiority of our language for lyrical poetry. Miss Brooke states, that she gave up many a sweet Irish stanza in despair, find herself unequal to the translation, “I wished among others” says she, “to have translated the following lines of a favorite song, ( Cean dubh deelish ) but it presented ideas of which my pen could draw no resemblance that pleased me.” After quoting the first four lines, she adds, “I need [352] not give any comment upon those lines, the English reader would not understand it, and the Irish reader could not want it, for it is impossible to peruse them without being sensible of their beauty.” The tender effect of the repetition of the word deelish, lovely or amiable, in the first line, cannot fail to attract the attention of the reader. / The air of the present song presented so many temptations to the taste and nationality of our northern neighbours, that, Robert Burns in a letter to his publisher, boldly assigns it to Scotland. “They have,” says this fine genius, “lately in Ireland published an Irish air, as they say, called Caun du dilish. The fact is, in a publication of Corri’s, a great while ago, you will find the same air called a Highland one, with a Gaelic song set to it. Its name there, I think, is Oran Gaoil, and a fine air it is.” In opposition to this fact, I may be permitted to adduce another. I have myself, seen and known old people who were acquainted with the air, and words as given in the text, of Cean Dubh Dilish , long before Corri’s publication, alluded to by Burns, appeared. At that time, however, the literary outposts of Ireland lay undefended. It was customary to appropriate without acknowledgment, and unfashionable even to notice us, except either to censure or condemn.’

[ top ]

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (London: Robins 1831), Vol. 1: ‘Repeated aggressions sometimes provoked angry retaliation. An anonymous author, has severely, but justly censured Doctor Burney, the well known English writer on Music. “Doctor Burney,” says our author, “has been extensive in his research, and elaborate in his detail of the anecdotes of music, as to dilate his history of them into several thousand quarto pages! Is it from the want of candour, or can it be from the want of information, that he has taken little or no notice of Irish music? He has been at much pains to ascertain the first song that ever was set in score, and after having, as he thinks, succeeded, he has exhibited the result of his research. Had he no means of knowing to what country the song really belonged. It remains with ourselves to do that [353] justice which others deny, and reclaim for ourselves those gems of genius which enrich our count[ry] with a negligent profusion. It is to our countryman, Dr. Young, the late lamented bishop of Clonfert, that we are indebted for the restitution of our property in a sweet and touching melody. He proved that this very ancient tune of Burney, is no other than our Samhre teacht, or “Summer is coming”. It had been handed down among the traditional melodies of the Irish harpers, rescued at the meeting in Belfast, and secured in the permanent character of music in Bunting’s Collection; its name imports its origin. The susceptible sensibilities of the Irish, always felt in a high degree those beauties of hature, which the features of their lovely country in happier times presented. This sweet hymn was a tribute of grateful melody, offered up by our ancestors to the opening year, and has been sung from time immemorial by them at the approach of spring. To those who have resided among the peasantry of the Southern and Western parts of Ireland, where the national manners are most unadulterated, this melody is at this day perfectly familiar. […, &c.; goes on to cite in full “My fair or flaxen-haired darling” (p.354-56); cont.]

[ top ]

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (London: Robins 1831), Vol. 1 - cont.: Notes on “Eadhmonn an Cnoic/Emon a Knock”: ‘Edmond Ryan, better known by the name of Emon a Knock, or, Ned of the Bills, is said to have been one of those numerous adherents of James the Second, who, on the defeat of that monarch, were outlawed, and had their estates confiscated. After a roving predatory life, pregnant with romantic adventure, our hero was interred in the church of Doon, near Lough Gurr, in the county of Limerick. The song is purely allegorical, Ireland being designated by the beautiful female addressed; but the allegory being now forgotten, the composition is known only as a love effusion, and has been therefore included in the present part of this work. / 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. The following additional stanza of this song is sometimes sung, particularly in Conaught: ‘Goirim th[ú] a shiur, goirim thú a rúin / Goirim thú nói n-auire, / Goirim do chúl tá fighe go dlúth, / A’s goirim do chum uasal; // [358] Goirim no ghrádh, m’anam ad’ lár, / Táair-si trá agus Fhuasguil, / A’s leíheas o’n mbás me-si gan spás, / A ainnfhis n-géag n-uasal.’ The air is exwuisite, but mournful, “dying in every note.” Our distinguished Irish Patriot, Thomas Steele, Esq. whom I have the honor to call my friend, speaking of this melody, says, “It is not excelled by any with which I am acquainted of any country. I think it without an equal: it is a song whose symphonies, to be in unison with its spirit of wild pathos and sweetness, ought to be played on the Aeolian harp, and by no other instrument.’ - Practical Suggestions, London, 1828. / In the third stanza, the passage “say must I droop like him - whose star set dark and dim” - seems to allude to James the Second.’ (pp.358-59.) [Cont.]

[ top ]

Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (London: Robins 1831), Vol. 1 - continued: Notes “Roisin Dubh”: “Roisin Dubh, Little Black Rose, is an allegorical ballad, in which strong political feelings are conveyed, as a personal address from a lover to his fair one. The allegorical meaning has been long since forgotten, and the verses are now remembered, and sung as a plaintive love ditty. It was composed in the reign of Elizabeth of England, to celebrate our Irish hero, Hugh Ruadh O’Donnell, of Tyrconnell. By Roisin Dubh, supposed to be a beloved female, is meant Ireland. The toils and sufferings of the patriot soldier, are throughout described as the cares and feelings of an anxious lover addressing the object of his affection. The song concludes with a bold declaration of the dreadful struggle which would be made before the country should be surrendered to the embraces of our hero’s hated and implacable rival. The air is a good specimen of the characteristic melancholy which pervades Irish music. / “No nation,” says General Vallancey, (Col[lectanea], vol. v. p. 363), is more fond of allegory than the Irish. Their ancient poets were celebrated for their Meimeadh or allegorical poems. No other language than the Arabic has a word of this signification, viz. Mamma, a verse of occult mysterious meaning.” - In the third part of this collection will be found, some fine specimens of this species of Irish composition [viz., Jacobite Relics] (p.351.) [Note: it is to this note that Samuel Ferguson took strongest exception, arguing that the subject of the poem was a priest’s love for his mistress; see under Ferguson, infra.] (For the full text of this Introduction, see RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics” [infra].)

[ top ]

References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day Co. 1991), Vol. 1, incls. refs at 1055 [He claiming that authenticity was a peculiarly Catholic business though the translations he provided […] were woefully lacking in any of the characteristics usually associated with the quality; quotes Ferguson’s distinction between merus Hibernicus and modern Irish gentleman, ‘we will look in vain for the chasteness, the appositeness, the antithetical and epigrammatic point, and the measured propriety of prosody […] among the rude rhymes which accompanied the same notes two centuries ago’; translation an act of profound political implications, metaphor for translation of Catholic into Protestant .., Deane, ed., under Thomas Moore)]; 1174 [remarks by W. J. McCormack on Ferguson’s attempt to liberate the songs from Catholic piety, and further comment to the effect that the turning towards the songs by Catholics in this decade of ‘enquiry, unease, and experiment’ was countered by a colonizing of them by the same intelligentsia, with European inspired national ideals]; 1268 [Hardiman distinguished from Vallancey’s school of imaginary antiquarians, in University Magazine, quoted by Anonymous in ‘Our Periodical Literature’ (1840s)]; 1297 [cited under Ferguson biog. review in Dublin University Magazine, April-Nov. 1834.)

[ top ]

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field CDay co. 1992), Vol. 2 incls. refs at 5 [among translators anxious to preserve in English as much of the spirit as possible]; 16 [Furlong one of the chief translators]; 17 [Furlong’s version of “Roisín Dubh” in Hardiman]; 26 [Hardiman and Furlong’s version prob. source for Mangan]; 28 [Ferguson translated “O’Hussey’s Ode to the Maguire” in review of Hardiman]; 35 [Donogh Mac Conmara’s “Fair Hills of Ireland O!”, trans. by Ferguson in review of Hardiman]; 40 [Walsh’s Reliques printed since John O’Daly thought that Hardiman was out of reach of those for whom ‘such a work should be intended […] the Irish peasantry’]; 41 [Walsh objects to forcing of words away from tunes to which they are naturally allied]; 45 [“Lament over the Ruins of Timaoleague”, version by Furlong in Hardiman]; 80 [quotes Walsh’s note in Irish Popular Songs, stating that the version of the Irish song [in Irish] “Casadh an tSúgain” which he gives is out of Hardiman’s Minstrelsy, Vol. I, where it is left untranslated]; 97 [“An chúilfhionn / The Coolun”, Thomas Furlong’s 6-stanza version in Hardiman, Hardiman attributing it to Carolan under the title “Molly St George’; but cf. Read, Cabinet, Vol. 1, gicing attribution to Maurice Dugan, with notes from Hardiman and Reilly to that effect].

[ top ]

Ulster University Library (Central) holds Irish Record Commission: Inquisitionum in Officio Rotulorum Cancellariae Hiberniae Asservatarum Refer., Vol. I: Leinster (London: His Majesty’s Printers 1826; Do., Vol. II. Ulster, [oversize] HD624.I6B; Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy [RIA], Vol. 14, 1821-1825 (Dublin RIA 1821 [sic]); [Hardiman, ed.,] John Dymmok, A Treatice [sic] on Ireland, with notes by Richard Butler, Annalles de Mante Fern [Irish Archaeological Tracts Vol. 2] (Dublin: Irish Arch. Soc. 1942). Morris Collection holds Irish Minstrelsy [vol. 2] (1831).

Belfast Central Library holds Irish Minstrelsy, 2 vols (1831).

Hyland Books (Cat. 220; 1996), lists History of Galway form the Earliest Period to the Present Time (1936 [?err]).

[ top ]

Notes
National schools, national lit.?: It can hardly be regarded as pure coincidence that issued Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (1831) appeared in the year when the national school system was first established by Act of Parliament in Ireland or that Hardiman accepted the post of Librarian at NUI/Galway, or that the Library there was eventually named after him in the post-Independence period. [BS].

[ top ]