William Larminie

Life
[?]1849-1900; poet and folklorist; b. Castlebar, Co. Mayo, of Huguenot family; ed. Kingstown and TCD; India Office civil servant up to 1892 [var. retired 1872, FDA]; conducted folklore fieldwork in Donegal, Mayo, and Galway; contributed in 1899 to controversy between Yeats and George Russell (AE), on the one side, and John Eglinton on the other; d. Bray, 19 Jan.; the notice in Brooke and Rolleston’s Treasury (1900) is by George Russell (“AE”). PI JMC DBIV IF TAY NCBE DIW DIB DIH FDA OCIL

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Works
Fand and Other Poems
(Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1892), 149pp., 8o.; Glanlua and Other Poems (London: Kegan Paul & Co 1889), iv., 85pp., 8o.; Legends as Material for Literature [no details; shelf no. 11852.e.43];West Irish Folk-Tales and Romances collected and translated by W. Larminie, with introduction and notes, etc. [The Camden Library No. 3]) (London: Elliot Stock 1893; 2nd edn. 1898; facs. rep. IUP 1972), xxviii, 258pp., 8o.; West Irish Folk-tales and Romances, collected and translated by William Larminie [1893] (Shannon: Irish University Press [1972]), 3, xxviii, 258pp.

Miscellaneous, ‘The Development of English Metres’, in The Contemporary Review, 66 (Nov. 1894), pp.717-36; ‘Johannes Scotus Eriugena’, Contemporary Review, 71 (April 1897), pp.557-72.

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Criticism
John Eglinton, ‘William Larminie’, in Dublin Magazine [New Series], XIX (AprilJune 1944), pp.12-16; P. L. Marcus, Yeats and the Beginning of the Renaissance (Cornell UP 1970), pp.207-21. See also ‘Larminie Collection’, Irish Book Lover 6.

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Commentary
W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival (1894), William Larminie, West-Irish Folk Tales ... helps to do for outer what the Doctor [Hyde] did for inner Connaught ... Glanlua and Fand [Irish legend] ... he was in a government office in London for some years but retired on a pension and now lives in Bray, Co Wicklow [144-45].

Douglas Hyde (“Diary”): ‘I called on Larminie at Blackrock and had a very long talk with him and his mother (who is as crotchety a woman as ever I met), I got a couple of books from him’ (17 Oct 1887). [94] Larminie, a pioneer, published Glanlua (1889), Fand and Motura (1892), and West Irish Folk-Tales (1894); adopted Irish assonance, and hoped to see the practice adopted by writers of English verse; had original ideas on Gaelic spelling.’ (See Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde, 1974, n., p.208]

Lady Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men (1904), “Notes: II: The Age and Origin of the Stories of the Fianna”, makes reference to Alfred Nutt, in Ossian and Ossianic Literature, espec. Pamph. 3 in the series Popular Studies in Mythology, Romance, and Folklore: ‘In a later part of the pamphlet Mr Nutt discusses such questions as whether we may look for examples of third-century customs in the stories, what part of the stories first found their way into writing, whether the Oisin and Patrick dialogues, were written under the influence of actual Pagan feeling persisting from Pagan times, or whether “a change came over the feeling of Gaeldom during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,” when the Oisin and Patrick dialogues in their present form began to be written. His final summing-up is that “well-nigh same stories that were told of Finn and his warrior braves by the Gael the eleventh century are told in well-nigh the same way by his descendant to-day.” Mr Nutt does not enquire how long the stories may have been told before the story was written down. Larminie, however, whose early death was the first great loss of our intellectual movement, pushes them backward for untold ages in the introduction to his West Irish Folk Tales and Romances. He builds up a detailed and careful argument, for which I must refer readers to his book, to prove that Scottish Highlands and Ireland have received their folk-lore both from “Aryan and Non-Aryan sources,” and that in the Highlands there is more non-Aryan influence and more non-Aryan blood than in Ireland. He argues that nothing, more improbable than that all folk-tales are Aryan, as has sometimes been posed, and sums up as follows: “The bear the stamp of the genius of more than one race [...;’ &c., as infra; and see full text of Gregory’s “Notes”, in Ricorso Library, infra )]’

Robert Farren, The Course of Irish Verse in English (1948), which cites his essay, ‘The Development of English metres,’ in The Contemporary Review (Nov. 1894). Farren writes, ‘It was not so much what Larminie composed as what he proposed that makes him notable. He made his proposition in an essay, and followed it in verse; but neither affected other poets’ work until Larminie was dead close on forty years. // Not that the essay was forgotten. The long-remembering AE who took out his spiritual seed-bag whenever a new poet appeared, discoursed of Larminie’s essay to three generations of versemen. [Farren told a certain poet of the essay, which he assumed by his performance he had read and] He told an elder of this strange act, and his friend, to mark the occasion, enticed John Eglinton, who once knew Larminie, to publish it in The Dublin Magazine. [n.d.]. ... The part which concerns us is his advocacy of assonance as a metrical device. The idea was good and bold one; and merely to have had it and proposed it would have marked out Larminie as a man of exceptional quality. But one is struck as well by the extent of his information and by the signs he gives of having considered very calmly.’ (pp.57-58; cont. to 61).

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Quotations
West Irish [ &c.], Introduction: ‘Ireland, though an island of modest extent, is yet sufficiently large to contain districts far enough apart ot isolate in some degreee their representative peasant populations; while it is also admitted that the homogeneity of the Gaelic tongue does not indicate a correspond-ing homogeneity of race. It may turn out, in fact, ultimately, that we have in Ireland not one, but several bodies of folklore; ... somewhat sophisticated little faery tales of Crofton Croker. Also mentions Curtin (Munster), Hyde (Connaught); theory of non-Aryan Fenian tales; each tale indexed [eg King Mananann, narrator, P M’Grale, Achill, also Renvyle, Malinmore, Glencolm-kille; and topics, Gobaun Seer, Morraha]; both folk and mythical tales; collected Renvyle and Achill [preserving] style of original narrators, inc. Jack Gillespie, John M’Ginty, Michael Faherty, Terence Davis, and Pat Minahan (the narrator of the majority).

Literary Ideals in Ireland, ed. John Eglinton (1899): ‘[Yeats] seems to me to incline more than is quite safe to the theories of the French schools.’ (p.58); For it is plain that at the end of the nineteeenth cenury there are few or none of those ideas in the air whch rouse the emotions into vigorous action’ (p.60); ‘Nothing, they say, should be maked; everyting should be suggested. No this is, of course, what is done by “magic”’ (p.61); ‘Mr Yeats has given us the good work we already owe to him, either before be embraced his present theory or in spite of it’ (p.164); [The problem is that] ‘Art is a language, and it consists of physical signs’ (p.164). [All cited in Chris Corr, ‘English Literary Culture and Irish Literary Revival’, PhD Thesis, UUC 1995].

Aryan folk-tales? ‘They [folk tales] bear the stamp of the genius of more than one race. The pure and placid but often cold imagination of the Aryan has been at work on some. In others we trace the more picturesque fancy, the fierceness and sensuality, the greater sense of artistic elegance belonging to races whom the Aryan, in spite of his occasional faults of hardness and coarseness, has, on the whole, left behind him. But as the greatest results in the realm of the highest art have always been achieved in the case of certain blends of Aryan with other blood, I should hardly deem it extravagant if it were asserted that in the humbler regions of the folk-tale we might trace the working of the same law. The process which has gone on may in part have been as follows: Every race which has acquired very definite characteristics must have been for a long time isolated. The Aryans during their period of isolation probably developed many of their folk-germs into their larger myths, owing to the greater constructiveness of their imagination, and thus, in a way, they used up part of their material. Afterwards, when they became blended with other races less advanced, they acquired fresh material to work on. We have in Ireland an instance to hand, of which a brief discussion may help to illustrate the whole race theory.’ (Quoted in Lady Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men [end-notes - e.g., “Notes”]; quoted by Ed Hagan on Irish Studies List [email], Oct. 1996; see further under “Commentary , supra.)

Transcending it all: ‘It is clear that just as the meaning and seriousness of life shrink to nothing in the absence of transcendentalism, so does the value of the art shrink which deals with a life from which transcendental belief has been disappeared. The life becomes aimless, corrupt, or both, the only point of interest being the pathos of the spectacle of a soul robbed of its heritage.’ (Cited in J. W. Foster, Fictions of the Irish Literary Revival: a Changeling Art, Syracuse UP 1987, p.155; quoted in W. J. McCormack, ‘Irish Gothic and After’ [ed. intro.], in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, 1991, vol. 2, p.845.)

More transcendalism: ‘When however, we have agreed that transcendental faith or sentiment is a necessary condition for the health of the soul, we have by no means settled that the substance of art should be transcendentalism, pure and simple. We are living on the physical plane; we are embodied spirits, and we must accept the conditions’ (Larminie’s essay contribution to the Dublin Daily Express controversy with Eglinton, Yeats and AE, in 1889; quoted in Louis McNeice’s The Poetry of W. B. Yeats, 1944).

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912), lists Glanlua and Other Poems (Lon 1889); Fand and Other Poems (Dublin 1892); cites West Irish Folk-tales [ ... &c.] without date; b. Mayo 1849, d. Bray 19 Jan. 1900; anthologised in Brooke and Rolleston, A Treasury of Irish Poetry (1900).

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919) lists West of Ireland Folk-Tales and Romances (London: Elliot Stock 1898), xxvi, 258pp. [sic], and remarks that these were ‘taken down by the editor, between 1884 and 1898, word for word in Renvyle, Achill, Glencolumcille and Malinmore; incls. remarks on phonetics and orthography; gives notice of a large, as yet unpublished collection.

Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), cites West Irish Folk-tales and Romances (1898) [sic], stories recorded in Donegal, Mayo and Galway; trans. Johannes Scotus Eriugena’s De Divisione Naturae (unpublished).

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, selects from Fand and Other Poems, ‘The Nameless Doon’, Consolation’ [730-31];; see ‘The Development of English Metres’ in The Contemporary Review 66, Nov. 1894; Fand and Other Poems (1892) dominated by the title poem and another long narrative poem, ‘Moytura’, but contains ‘The Nameless Doon’ and ‘Consolation’ [730-31]; also Glanlua and Other Poems (1899). W. J. McCormack quotes a passage written in 1899 [as infra.], clearly taken from Dublin Daily Express, 1898, see infra and Rx Larminie [Louis McNeice]), 845; a late contributor to the controversy in the columns of the Dublin Daily Express, rep. as Literary Ideals in Ireland, ed. John Eglinton (1899), 956; 779, BIOG, b. Castlebar, Co May, 1849 or 1850; ed. TCD; espoused Gaelic assonance in English poetry; worked in India Office, London, retired 1887, returned to Ireland; Revival figure; contrib. The Contemporary Review; collected folklore material; d. Bray; calls Larminie a verse theoretician. [WORKS & CRIT as supra]. FDA Vol. 3 incls. remark that ‘Yeats [is] embarrassingly near to Larminie’ (W. J. McCormack).

Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives extract from West Irish Folk Tales [1893]; also epilogue to Fand, and two other pieces.

Ulster Libraries: BELFAST CENTRAL PUBLIC LIBRARY holds Fand (1892); West Irish Folk-tales and Romances (1898); UNIV. of ULSTER LIBRARY (Morris Collection) holds West Irish Folk Tales and Romances [1893].

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Notes
Variants: Note discrepancy in dating of Glanlua between PI and FDA, while DIB dates his poems Glanlua (1889) and Fand (1890) [sic]; note also that W. P. Ryan, writing in 1894, seems to feel that Glanlua is the earlier. FDA remarks that ‘practically nothing of his other volume, Glanlua (1899), survives’ - perhaps implying that it comes after, but perhaps also that it has not been looked at. NOTE also vars.: IF gives the date 1898 for an edition of his West of Ireland Folk-Tales and Romances, but FDA cites 1893 with 1972 rep.

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