Robert Dwyer Joyce


1830-1883 [pseud. “Feardana”]; physician and poet and br. of PW Joyce [supra], b. Glenosheen, Co. Limerick, educ. Queen’s College, Cork; trained as teacher [National Commission of Education]; succeeded his br. P. W. Joyce as principal of Clonmel Model School; his ballad “The Boys of Wexford” appeared in the first issue of The Irish People in 1863; later studied medicine at Queen’s College, Cork [UCC], grad. in Science and Medicine [MD], 1865; moved to Boston, USA, 1866; appt. Professor of English in Catholic University, and MRIA; issued Ballads, Romances and Songs (1861), containing pieces which had appeared in The Nation and other papers over the name “Feardana”, followed by other lyrical collections incl. Ballads of Irish Chivalry (Boston 1872);

Joyce family: Garret and Elizabeth (née O'Dwyer) Joyce, living in the northern foothills of the Ballyhoura Mountains, west of Ballyorgan; claimed descent from one Seán Mór Seoighe (fl.1680), a stonemason from Connemara, Co. Galway. The four sons of the family were Patrick, Robert, Michael, and John.
wrote the ballad, “The Boys of Wexford”; trans. Piaras Mac Gearailt’s “Rosc Catha na Mumhan”; issued longer poems such as Deirdre (1876), an epic, and Blanid (1879), retelling stories from the Ulster cycle; also Legends of the Wars in Ireland (1868) and Irish Fireside Tales (1871), collections of historical short stories; composed his epics in his carriage on the way to visit patients; lived at 73. Merrion Square, Dublin, while still in Ireland (currently the premises of the ITMA)d. at his brother’s house in Dublin, 24 Sept. 1883; his sons were . CAB PI JMC DBIV IF IF2 DIB DIW DIH MKA FDA OCIL

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Ballads, Romances and Songs (Dublin: James Duffy 1861), xii, 10-304pp. [17cm]; Legends and Wars (Boston 1868), and Do. [reiss.] with annotations by P. W. Joyce (London: Longmans & Co. 1908), x, 212pp.; Irish Fireside Tales (Boston 1871); Deirdre [var. Deidrè] (Boston 1876); Blanid [A poem] (Boston [Mass.]: Roberts Brothers 1879), pp.249 [8°].

See also Anatomy of the Ear in Henry Macnaughton Jones, ed., The Practitioner's Handbook of Diseases of the Ear, &c. (1902) - prob. by his nephew and namesake. [See COPAC - online.]

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W. B. Yeats, ‘The Poetry of R. D. Joyce’, in Irish Fireside (27 Nov. & 4 Dec. 1886; rep. in Frayne, ed., Uncollected Prose of W B Yeats Vol. 1, 1970, pp.104-14); Mannix Joyce, ‘The Joyce Brothers of Glenosheen’, in Capuchin Annual (1969), [q.pp.]; David James O’Donoghue, ‘The Literature of ‘67’, in Shamrock, 30 (1893). D. J. O’Donoghue has a memoir of him in Irish Book Lover [q.d.]

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The Blacksmith of Limerick”: ‘... He shod the steed of Sarsfield, but o’er it sang no song, ‘Ochon! my boys are dead’, e cried; ‘their loss I’ll long depolore / But comfort’s in my heart - their graves are red with foreign gore.’

The Blacksmith of Limerick
by Robert Dwyer Joyce

HE grasped his ponderous hammer, he could not stand it more,
To hear the bombshells bursting, and thundering battle’s roar;
He said, “The breach they ’re mounting, the Dutchman’s murdering crew,—
I ’ll try my hammer on their heads, and see what that can do!

“Now, swarthy Ned and Moran, make up that iron well;
’T is Sarsfield’s horse that wants the shoes, so mind not shot
          or shell.”
“Ah, sure,” cried both, “the horse can wait, for Sarsfield ’s on
           the wall,
And where you go, we ’ll follow, with you to stand or fall!”

The blacksmith raised his hammer, and rushed into the street,
His ’prentice boys behind him, the ruthless foe to meet;
High on the breach of Limerick, with dauntless hearts they stood,
Where bombshells burst, and shot fell thick, and redly ran the blood.

“Now look you, brown-haired Moran, and mark you, swarthy Ned,
This day we ’ll prove the thickness of many a Dutchman’s head!
Hurrah! upon their bloody path they’re mounting gallantly;
And now the first that tops the breach, leave him to this and me!”

The first that gained the rampart, he was a captain brave,—
A captain of the grenadiers, with blood-stained dirk and glaive;
He pointed, and he parried, but it was all in vain,
For fast through skull and helmet the hammer found his brain!

The next that topped the rampart, he was a colonel bold,
Bright, through the dust of battle, his helmet flashed with gold.
“Gold is no match for iron,” the doughty blacksmith said,
As with that ponderous hammer he cracked his foeman’s head.

“Hurrah for gallant Limerick!” black Ned and Moran cried,
As on the Dutchmen’s leaden heads their hammers well they plied.
A bombshell burst between them, — one fell without a groan,
One leaped into the lurid air and down the breach was thrown.

“Brave smith! brave smith!” cried Sarsfield, “beware the treacherous mine!
Brave smith! brave smith! fall backward, or surely death is thine!”
The smith sprang up the rampart, and leaped the blood-stained wall,
As high into the shuddering air went foemen, breach, and all!

Up, like a red volcano, they thundered wild and high,
Spear, gun, and shattered standard, and foemen through the sky;
And dark and bloody was the shower that round the blacksmith fell;
He thought upon his ’prentice boys, — they were avengéd well.

On foemen and defenders a silence gathered down;
’T was broken by a triumph-shout that shook the ancient town,
As out its heroes sallied, and bravely charged and slew,
And taught King William and his men what Irish hearts could do!

Down rushed the swarthy blacksmith unto the river side;
He hammered on the foe’s pontoon to sink it in the tide;
The timber it was tough and strong, it took no crack or strain;
“Mavrone! ’t won’t break,” the blacksmith roared; “I’ll try their
          heads again!”

He rushed upon the flying ranks, his hammer ne’er was slack,
For in through blood and bone it crashed, through helmet and
          through jack;—
He ’s ta’en a Holland captain, beside the red pontoon,
And “Wait you here,’ he boldly cries; “I ’ll send you back full soon!

“Dost see this gory hammer? It cracked some skulls to-day,
And yours ’t will crack if you don’t stand and list to what I say:
Here! take it to your curséd king, and tell him softly too,
’T would be acquainted with his skull if he were here, not you!’

The blacksmith sought his smithy, and blew his bellows strong;
He shod the steed of Sarsfield, but o’er it sang no song.
“Ochone! my boys are dead,” he cried; “their loss I’ll long deplore,
But comfort’s in my heart,—their graves are red with foreign gore!”

—Given in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed., Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes: .
, Vol. V.  (1876–79); available at Bartleby - online; accessed 02.12.2016.

Fineen the Rover”: ‘‘Fineen O’Driscoll the free ... The Saxons of Cork and Mayallo / They harried his lands with their powers ... The men of Clan London brought over / Their strong fleet to make him a slave; / They met him by Mizen’s wild highland, / And the sharks crunch their bones ‘neath the waves!’

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Crossing the Blackwater, AD 1603”: ‘We stood so steady, / All under fire / We stood so stead / Our long spears ready / To vent our ire: / To dash on the Saxon, / Our mortal foe / And lay him low / In thebloody mire ... Till the flight began ... Our dead freres we buried ...’

The Wind that Shakes the Barley”: ‘I sat within the valley greeen, / I sat me with my true love ... the new [love] made me thin on Ireland dear / While soft the wind blew down the glade, / And shook the golden barley ... But blood for blood without remorse / I’ve ta’en at Oulart Hollow / I’ve placed my true love’s clay-cold corse / Where I full soon will follows; / And round her grave I wander drear, / noon, night, and morning early / With breaking heart where’er I hear / the wind that shakes the barley!’

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Naisi Receives his Sword” (from Deirdre): ‘No in the lonely hour when with her ray / The moon o’er te ocean trailed a shaimmering way ... A voice struck Naisi’s ear and bade him wake.’

The Exploits of Curoi” (from Blanid): ‘There man a man’s dim closing eye was cast / In wonder at the strange Knight’s glittering form ... Mid showers of bolts and darts, like Crom the God / Of Thunder, towards the magic wheel he trod ... Raised high the spear that form his right hand sped / Down crashing through the monster’s burnished head ... Twin Dragons ... From the bright Mount of Monad ... No minstrel’s tongue ... could tell ... How ... amid the heaps of slain the old King fell ... the Bloom-bright One forlorn / And her fair maids were brought froth from the hold / With all the treasures of bright gems and gold.’

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Anon, The Green and the Red or Historical Tales and Legends of Ireland (Glasgow 1870), contains R. D. Joyce’s stories, ‘Galloping O’Hogans’, ‘Whitehorn Tree’, ‘Rose of Drinnagh’, ‘A Fair Maid of Killarney’ [IF2, under anon].

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), gives bio-data: br. of Patrick Weston; Legends of the Wars in Ireland (1868); Irish Fireside Tales (1871); lived in US as a doctor, works publ. in Boston; b. Limerick 1830, d. Dublin 1883. See also FDA3, 625.

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Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), Joyce, Robert Dwyer, Galloping O’Hogan, or the Rapparee Captains (Dublin, Gill, n.d.), apparently a reprinted of the four Joyce stories in the Glasgow collection.

John Cooke, ed., Dublin Book of Irish Verse 1728-1909 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1909), gives bio-dates 1830-1883; selects ‘Finneen O’Driscoll the Rover’; ‘The Drynán Dhun’; ‘Margréad Bán’; ‘Song of the Forest’.

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Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: University of America 1904), gives six pieces, incl. extracts from Deirdre, and Blanid; biog. notice: b. Glenosheen [village], Co. Limerick; entered service of Commissioners of national Education, then became student at Queen’s College, Cork; grad. Sci., Hons; MD, 1865; emig. US 1866, settled in Boston, practised medicine; freq. contrib to The Nation, also articles on Irish literature in other periodicals; Ballads, Romances, and Songs (Dublin 1861); Legends of the Wars in Ireland (1868), prose stories founded on traditions of peasantry in northern counties; Irish Fireside Tales (1871), same sort; Ballads of Irish Chivalry (1872); Deirdre (1876), free poetical version in rhyming heroic verse [of Longes mac nUislenn]; Blanid (1879), also tragedy of real life in ancient days, period of Red Branch Knights, 1st century of the Christian era, and death of the champion Curoi, King of S. Munster, and his captive, ‘the bloom-bright Blanid’; notes resemblance to Tennyson’s Princess; d. Oct. 1883 [sic]; selects ‘The Blacksmith of Limerick’, ‘Crossing the Blackwater, AD 1603’, ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’, ‘Naisi Receives his Sword’, from Deirdre; ‘The Exploits of Curoi’, from Blanid, in terza rima [all as supra].

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Ulster Libraries: Belfast Public Library holds Ballads of Irish Chivalry (1908); Blanid (1879. University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection, holds Ballads of Irish Chivalry (1908); Blanid (1879).

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Fr. Charles Meehan administered religious consolation to Robert Dwyer Joyce on his deathbed in the house of his brother P. W. Joyce, who speaks of his ‘intense love for of Ireland and Ireland’s lore / [...] as well as the ‘vigorous nationality [and] simple and transparent style’ of his poems.

W. B. Yeats: John Frayne writes: ‘In spite of writing on him at considerable length, Yeats did not rate Joyce highly, holding him to be a “bard”: ‘he was like a great orator, who only when he feels all hearts beat in unison with his, rises to his best, and becomes alone with the universe and his own voice. Therefore the bardic work ever human and living [...] the poet of all external things [...] in no way a singer.’ (Frayne, ed., Uncollected Prose of W. B. Yeats, 1970, Vol. 1, p.114). Note that Yeats did not include P. W. Joyce in his lists of essential Irish books.

Longer poems: Deirdre (1876) a free poetical translation of The Fate of the Children of Usna, and and Blanid (1879), set in the first era of the Red Branch Knights and dealing with the deaths of Curoi, champion and king of S. Munster, and his captive the ‘bloom-bright Blanid’. The poem bears some resemblance in its construction to Tennyson’s Princess: and the short lyrics interspersed contain, like those in the great work of the poet-laureate, beautiful fancies in exquisitely melodies verse. (See Cabinet of Irish Literature, Vol. 4; cited LibraryIreland, ed. T. P. O'Connor - online; accessed 21.11.2018.)

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