Annie Keary


Life
1825-1879 [Anna Maria]; b. Bilton Rectory, nr. Wetherby, Yorkshire (where her father was Anglican rector); or poss. Bath; dg. of William Keary, former soldier and churchman orig. from Co. Galway; ed. at home; wrote successful children’s stories incl. Mia and Charles (1856) and Sidney Grey (1856), a school story; cared for children of her widowed br., and suffered nervous breakdown when he remarried; experienced religious enthusiasms;
 
collaborated with a sister on Heroes of Asgard (1857); travelled to Egypt and experienced religious crisis, 1858; Janet’s Home (1863), on religious theme; lived as semi-invalid on the French Riviera; Oldbury (1869) portrays the small town where she was raised; other works incl. Early Egyptian History; The Nations Around; issued Castle Daly: The Story of an Irish Home Thirty Years Ago (1875 & 12 edns.), set in Famine times and the Young Irelanders’ rising, and first pub. in Macmillan’s Magazine, to be greet by high praise from John O’Leary in a Cork lecture;
 
sympathetic to Home Rule and shows strengths and weaknesses of Irish and English character, though ultimately favouring the latter; also issued Father Phim (q.d.), which opens in England and moves to Ireland where agrarian troubles are examined; wrote A Doubting Heart (1879), finished by Mrs. MacQuoid; she purportedly had no personal affection for Ireland. CAB ODNB JMC IF NCBE SUTH

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Works
  • Castle Daly: The Story of an Irish Home Thirty Years Ago (London: Macmillan 1875) [see details], and Do. [rep. edn.], intro. Virginia Crossman [Vol. 5 of Irish Women’s Writing, 1839-1888] (London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press ?1998)
[British Library lists 15 titles].

Bibliographical details
Castle Daly / The Story of an Irish House Thirty Years Ago, by Annie Keary, author of “Oldbury”, Etc./ “Whereas to the composition of novels nothing is necessary but paper, pens, and ink, with the manual capacity of using them.” - Fielding / London: Macmillan and Co. and New York / 1889 / The right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved. [titlepage facing:] 1st edn., 3 vols., June 1875; 2nd edn., 2 vols. Aug. 1875; 3rd edn., 1 vol. 1876; rep. 1879, 1882, 1884, 1886; new edn. 1889. C

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Criticism
Memoir of Annie Keary, by Her Sister (London: Macmillan & Co 1883), 252pp. Margaret Kelleher, The Feminisation of the Famine, Expression of the Inexpressible?: Representations of Women in Famine Narratives (Cork UP 1997), contains remarks on Castle Daly as dealing with the need for Famine relief.

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Commentary
Margaret Kelleher, ‘Irish Famine in Literature’, in The Great Irish Famine, ed. Cáthal Portéir [Thomas Davis Lectures Series] (Dublin: RTÉ/Mercier, 1995), writes: ‘Annie Keary was the English daughter of an Irish-born clergyman; her novel [Castle Daly] deemed by John O’Leary, Rosa Mulholland and others to be the best Irish novel of its time, was based on memories of conversations with her father, and a total of two [235] weeks spent in Ireland!’ (p.235.)

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Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11]: ‘Keary’s novel [Castle Daly: The Story of an Irish Home Thirty Years Ago (1875) … first serialised in Macmillan’s Magazine …] looks back to the 1840s, with a direct account of the Great Famine and of the 1848 rebellion; in her novel, this period is presented as a crucial time of transition, between new systems of reform and an older, more feudal order fated to decline. The novel’s dynamism comes from its lengthy, and well-sustained, dialogues between Irish and English characters, a structure that facilitates the close scrutiny of potentially abstract economic and social policies, as well as the acknowledgement of alternative perspectives. The future, however, is clearly in the hands of the English reforming and modernising agent, John Thornley English reviewers of the novel welcomed the story as an illumination of current political problems, and the novel also enjoyed a large degree of popularity in Irish intellectual circles. The Monthly recorded in April 1886 that Keary’s novel “was singled out by so un-English an Irishman as Mr John O’Leary, in a lecture at Cork, as singularly and almost solely worthy of high praise out of the hosts of so-called Irish novels written of late” (Irish Monthly, 14, 1886), p.201), and The Cabinet of Irish Literature (1879-80) judged it the best story of the current generation. Yet its Yorkshire-born author had spent a total of two weeks in Ireland, and the novel was based largely on her readings in Irish history, together with the recollections of her Irish-born clergyman father.’

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Quotations
Castle Daly: The Story of an Irish House Thirty Years Ago (1875; new edn. 1889): Chapter I [ ‘Pack, clouds, away, and welcome day,/With night we banish sorrow’ [epigraph from Heywood]. A bright sunny spring morning after a night of rain. Heavy clouds, like a dispersed but not beaten army, hung ill threatening masses on the brows of a range of dark, slate-coloured mountains that shut in the landscape to the west, while the sun climbing the summit of a lower range of grass-clothed hills on the east made the waters of Lake Corrib dance in its light, and turned the rain-drenched trees that surrounded Castle Daly into a forest of diamonds. The house, a solid grey stone, many-windowed mansion, with a turreted roof, and four dilapidated towers ornamenting its sides, stood on a slope between two grassy hills and fronted the head of the lake just where its waters, after narrowing into a river-like channel through a pass in the hills, spread out again into a second shimmering sheet of silver where emerald slopes and purple heads saw themselves reflected./The front door stood wide open that morning, as it generally did in all but the very worst weather, and from the top of its high stone steps a wide view was commanded. Frowning mountain heads and delicate purple distances, soft green levels shading into the blue of river and lake, the near ground being variegated with every gradation of tint, from black bog land to bright ferny hollows and cultivated fields.’ [2].

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Castle Daly: The Story of an Irish House Thirty Years Ago (1875; new edn. 1889) - [ending:] ‘“Well,” interrupted the lady quickly, “we won’t drift into an argument this first morning; and, after all, Connor dear, it’s not yourself that ought to have a word to say against the emigration; for what are you doing, but giving up the old home for the new one you have made for yourself out in the far West, and for the clever little American wife that is in it? I want to hear more about her. Do you really mean to tell us that she is as pretty as Lesbia besides being so wonderfully clever? Let us move on. Our mother and Bride are waiting at the bottom of the hill with the children, whom you scarcely saw this morning; and I want you to satisfy my mind at once, as to whether your Dermot or mine has most of the true Daly about him.”’ Includes version of Roisin Dubh [viz., Mangan’s My Dark Rosaleen], with remarks: ‘A strangely fierce love-song! What does it mean?’ It is the ‘Roisin Dhu’, the black little Rose; and the black little Rose is Ireland, of course. The man singing it down there is Murdock Malachy, Anne O’Flaherty’s servant; so you won’t suspect him of being a sworn rebel. Cousin Anne has great influence, and dies not allow her people to belong to secret societies, but she can’t keep them from singing. You see, the Young Irelanders are not far wrong in thinking that the old love of country is strong still, and might any day burst into a blaze.’ [Thornley:] ‘So much the more careful should they be not to put a light to explosive forces that have power certainly to blow them and all who trust them to destruction, but can do nothing else.’ [304] [Ellen:] ‘If you knew how I hate to hear you making such cold-blooded prophecies!’ [… 305; End].

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References
Dictionary of National Biography holds that ‘she had very little personal knowledge of Ireland, and her success can only be attributed to her inheritance of Irish blood’.

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919); f. was a Galway man, and rector at Bilton [Yorkshire]; novels, and works including Early Egyptian History; The Nations Around; Heroes of Asgard, &c. [deriv. ODNB]. Castle Daly: The Story of an Irish House [sic err.] Thirty Years Ago [1875], 4th edn. (London: Macmillan; Philadelphia: Porter 1889); set in Famine and 1867, concerning the rising of William Smith Smith O’Brien; Irish and English characters compared to advantage of latter, young Ireland Movement viewed form both sides, and some sympathy with Home Rule, to which a character is converted.

Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), adds Father Phim (London: Warne n.d.) [opens in England, and moves to Ireland, where agrarian troubles are examined; the title is the family name of the heroine, for a supposed resemblance to the priest in Castle Connell, who is engagingly portrayed].

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Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: University of America 1904) gives a famine scene from Castle Daly.

De Burca (Cat. 44; 1997) lists Castle Daly: The Story of an Irish Home Thirty Years Ago. London, Macmillan, 1879. New edition. Pages, iv, 576, 39 (list). New endpapers. Fine. [£50].

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Notes
Richard D’Alton Williams: Williams’s poem “Kyrie Eleison”, a lay of the Famine which appeared in Duffy’s Irish Catholic Magazine was ‘enshrined by Miss Annie Keary in one of the most affecting passages in her famous novel, Castle Daly, in which she makes her heroine, Ellen Daly, read it “with a face wet with tears.”’ (acc. P. A. Sillard; see further under Williams, infra.)

Fr. James Daly: The Prefect of Studies figured by James Joyce as Fr. Dolan in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) was a scion of the Daly family of Castle Daly and a progressive educationalist at Jesuit establishments of Tullybeg and Clongowes. (See Peter Costello, The Years of Growth, 1992, pp.76-77.)

 

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