Patrick Henchy


1913-2001; b. Corofin, Co. Clare; ed. St. Mary’s College and UCG (grad. Irish and history with Double First); taught in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal; appt. Asst. Librarian, NLI, under R. J. Hayes, July 1941; asst. to Miss R. N. Elmes in Dept. of Prints and Drawings assisting, working on Catalogue of Irish Topographical Prints and Drawings (1942); appt. Director of NLI, 1967, in succession to Hayes; opened both institutions on Saturdays to improve public access; responsible for accession of important papers incl. Joseph Holloway, Bulmer Hobson and others the Yeats Papers, donated by Sen. Michael Yeats; also, the papers of the O’Conor Dons (Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon), appt. Dir. Chester Beatty, 1976-83 at death of R. J. Hayes; d. May 2001; bur. Deansgrange.

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The National Library of Ireland, 1941-1976 - A Look Back by Patrick Henchy: A Paper Read to the National Library of Ireland Society (Tues. 22 Oct. 1985), foreword by Seán Ó Lúing (Arna Fhoilsiú ag Cumann Leabharlann Náisúinta na hEireann 1986), 28pp. [foreword, pp.3-4; [incls. acknowledgements To Michael Yeats for reproductions of W. B. Yeats MSS.]. For extracts from the foregoing, see in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Monographs”, infra.

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William York Tindall, A Reader's Guide to James Joyce (1959) makes acknowledgements to Patrick Henchy of Dublin, along with others including Robert Ryf, Virginia Moseley, Kevin Sullivan, Marvin Magalaner, Nathan Halper [on Finnegans Wake], and also Chester Anderson, Lawrence Thompson, and Fritz Senn of Zurich for details (pref. signed June 16, 1959; Columbia University). In his commentary on the Dubliners, he remarks of Eveline that her ‘father is as worthless as her fatherland’ while ‘[h]er mother, who, like Father Flynn, goes mad before dying, enigmatically exclaims, “Derevaun Seraun!”’ In a footnote he adds: ‘Patrick Henchy of the National Library in Kildare Street thinks this mad and puzzling ejaculation corrupt Gaelic for “the end of pleasure is pain.”’ (p.23.) In further remarks on “Ivy Day in the Committee Room”, Tindall writes: ‘The day is October 6 when Parnell is brought to mind by a sprig of ivy in the buttonhole. For some of Joyce’s generation Parnell, who almost led Ireland and Parliament out of confusion (“He was the only man that could keep that bag of cats in order” says Mr. Henchy) [...]’. (p.34.)

William York Tindall, The Joyce Country (Pennsylvania UP 1960): “[...] I was but a tourist, one of hundreds of academic Americans who with monograph in mind, notebook in hand, follow Bloom’s way scrupulously. Dublin regards such visitors with genial amusement; but maybe Dublin learned something of Joyce from them. As Paddy Henchy ambiguously observed: “Joyce is America’s gift to Ireland.”’ (p.[4]). Later remarks in acknowledgement, ‘Mr. Henchy, one of my two favourite Irishmen, not only introduced me to Glendalough but introduced me to Library and [Martello] tower.’ (Ibid., p.[8].)

William York Tindall, A Reader's Guide to James Joyce (London: Thames & Hudson 1959; rep. Syracuse UP 1995) - In discussing the words ‘Derevaun Seraun!’ which the title-character’s mother cried out as she descended into madness in the story “Eveline”, Tindall writes in a footnote: ‘Patrick Henchy of the National Library in Kildare Street thinks this mad and puzzling ejaculation corrupt Gaelic for “the end of pleasure is pain.”’ ( 1963 Edn., p.22.)

James Joyce: In his capacity as Keeper of Books, Mr. Patrick Henchy is accredited with making a search of the National Library for the letter written to The Irish Times by James Joyce in Sept. 1903 which appears under the title “Empire Building” in Critical Writings, ed. Ellsworth Mason & Richard Ellmann (Viking Press 1966), pp.113-14.

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