Liam Miller

Life
1924-1987; trained as architect; founder of Dolmen Press in 1951 [var. 1953], using single Caslon font and hand press which he acquired from the Salkelds; Dolmen Press first located at 8 Herbert Place, Dublin, afterwards at later still from Silchester Park, Glenageary, to 1957, and at Upper Mount Street from 1958, and gave vital impetus to career of Thomas Kinsella, commissioning the Táin translation, with illustrations by Louis le Brocquy (1969), in 1954; published Padraic Colum, Donagh McDonagh, David Marcus, Donald Davie, Valentin Iremonger, Austin Clarke, Richard Murphy, John Montague, Tom Kinsella, James Liddy, et al. - but not Patrick Kavanagh, who counted him an enemy; d. Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, 17 May 1987; bur. St. Fintan’s, Clonenagh; survived by his wife Jo; the Press, which used equipment from the Dun Emer (later Cuala) Press of the Yeats sisters, fell into financial disarray at the time of his death after which its stock acquired by the Irish-studies and general publisher Colin Smythe (Gerrards Cross, Bucks.); the Miller archive is held at Wake Forest University.

The Dolmen Press Collection is held in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library of Wake Forest University (N. Carolina) - online; accessed 09.10.2010 - notified by Ronan Crowley (Buffalo U.) The collection includes extensive numbers of litho-plates used in the printing of images by Harry Clarke, Sean O’Sullivan, Thomas Ryan, Louis le Brocquy, Elizabeth Rivers, et al.

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Works
Bibliographies
[Note: this is not a listing of Dolmen publications]
  • The Dun Emer Press, Later Cuala Press, with a List of the Books, Broadsides, and other pieces printed at the press, pref. by Michael Yeats (Dublin: Cuala Press 1973) [ltd. signed edn. 250], listing 77 titles published by Dun Emer and Cuala presses, excluding later works published by the revived Cuala from 1969, and the Broadside series as well as occasional publications;
  • Dolmen XXV: An Illustrated Bibliography of The Dolmen Press 1951-1976 (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1976);
  • ills. for Drawings and Portraits since 1939 [Exhibition of Feb.-March 1972] (Dublin: Project Arts Centre 1972), 28pp., ill. [cover by Michael Kane; ills. within by Liam Miller; 22cm.].
Miscellaneous
  • contrib. ‘Publishing in Ireland Today’, in Ireland and the Arts, ed. T. P. Coogan [A Special Issue of Literary Review] (London: Namara Press 1984), pp.236-40 [see full-text version - attached].

See notice on the Cuala Press in Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (London: Macmillan 1979), pp.181-83.

Also compiled ‘George Fitzmaurice: A Bibliographical Note’, in Irish Writing, 15 (June 1951), pp.47-48; ‘Fitzmaurice Country’, in Journal of Irish Literature, 1 (May 1972), pp. 77-89.

See also: Two unpublished lectures by Miller, dated 1958 and c.1985, were due to appear in An Sionnach (Creighton Univ.), in 2006.

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Criticism
  • John Unterecker, ‘Interview with Liam Miller’, in Modern Irish Literature: Essays in Honor of William York Tindall, ed. by Raymond J. Porter and James D. Brophy (New York: Iona College Press / Twayne Publishers, 1972) [c.p.27].
  • Sebastian Barry, “The History and Topography of Nowhere” [Introduction,] The Inherited Boundaries: Younger Poets of the Republic of Ireland (Dolmen 1986) [see extract];
  • Olivia Fitzpatrick, The Dolmen Press 1951-1987: A Library Exhibition (Univ. of Ulster 1991), 29pp.;
  • David Krause, ‘Remembering Liam, an epiphany of friendship’, in Irish Literary Supplement (Fall, 1992), pp.26-30 [see extract];
  • Maurice Harmon, ed., The Dolmen Press: A Celebration (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2001), 160pp. [see contents];
  • Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ‘The Noble Labor of Liam Miller: Making The Yeats Papers, 1959-1979’, in South Carolina Review, 34, 2 (Spring 2002) [q.pp.];
  • Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ‘Printing a Second Revival: Liam Miller’s Dolmen Editions, 1966’, in South Carolina Review, 34, 2 (Spring 2002) [q.pp.]
  • Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ‘“The Dolmen Poets”: Liam Miller and Poetry Publishing in Ireland, 1951-1961’, in Irish University Review: A Journal of Irish Studies (March 2012) [q.pp.; available at The Free Library - online; see extract - infra].
 

See also Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, ‘Le Livre d’Artiste: Louis le Brocquy and The Tain (1969)’, in New Hibernia Review/Irish Éireannach Nua, 5, 1 (Spring 2001), pp.68-82.

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Bibliographical details
The Dolmen Press: A Celebration
, ed. Maurice Harmon (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2001), 160pp., incls. contribs. by Rory Brennan, Terence Brown, Liam Browne, John Calder, Raymond & Nuala Gunn, Maurice Harmon, Jarlath Hayes, John V. Kelleher, Thomas Kinsella, Louis le Brocquy, John Montague, Thomas Dillon Redshaw, Bernard Share together with interviews with Liam Miller by Kevin Casey and Andy O’Mahony

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Commentary
Sebastian Barry, “The History and Topography of Nowhere” [Introduction,] The Inherited Boundaries: Younger Poets of the Republic of Ireland (Dolmen 1986) [ded. to Liam Millar]: ‘In 1962 The Dolmen Press published a miscellany of Irish writing, called handily The Dolmen, meant as the initial issue of a magazine, and in the upshot the first and last of it. But it still managed, under the editorships of John Montague and Thomas Kinsella, to be a remarkable gauge to that generation. As well as prose writers, it presented seven poets: Pearse Hutchinson, Valentin Iremonger, Thomas Kinsella. James Liddy, John Montague, Richard Murphy, and Richard Weber, and claimed them as a proper group, bar the second poet, who was older. Apart from the exclusion of, say, Desmond O’Grady, it stands as a percipient choice. / All of the poets were connected one way or another with The Dolmen Press, which was single-mindedly and single-handedly creating the means to a literature of the Republic, at least in poetry. The generator of this condition was Liam Miller, running on unusual belief and an extraordinary relationship with the stuff and apparel of books. / This present volume then is the first anthology of younger poets from The Dolmen Press in twenty-three years.’ (p.13; for full text version, see RICORSO Library, “Bibliography > Anthologies”, infra. )

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David Krause, ‘Remembering Liam, an epiphany of friendship’, in Irish Literary Supplement (Fall, 1992), pp.26-30, citing Liam Miller, The Noble Drama of W. B. Yeats (1976), a comprehensive approach to Yeats’ poetic and theatrical concepts of mythic and heroic drama, with stylised emphasis on speech, acting, stagecraft and visual design. See also Miller’s preface to Blackstaff rep. of John Derricke, The Image of Ireland (Belfast 1984).

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Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ‘“The Dolmen Poets”: Liam Miller and Poetry Publishing in Ireland, 1951-1961’, in Irish University Review: A Journal of Irish Studies (March 2012): ‘With the publication of The Dolmen Miscellany (1962) and the inception of Poetry Ireland the same year, Liam Miller’s Dolmen Press came to represent artistically and commercially Irish poets and their works within the Republic of Ireland and abroad. In Miller’s publishing practice, the liberal notion of “Poetry Ireland” had come to supplant a narrower one: the idea of the ‘Dolmen Poets.’ As the nineteen fifties drew to a close, the Dolmen Poets were Padraic Colum and Austin Clarke (but not Patrick Kavanagh), Richard Murphy, John Montague, and especially Thomas Kinsella. In Dolmen’s earliest years, however, the notion of the “Dolmen Poets” had entailed other figures - David Marcus, Donald Davie, Valentin Iremonger - as well as a “group” editorial method and small, economical print format suited to Dolmen’s elementary technical facilities. When, in the “Dolmen Poets” format Miller printed the programme for the famous, three-way reading by Murphy, Montague, and Kinsella at the Royal Hibernian Hotel on 3 February 1961, both the occasion and the souvenir programme signalled Miller’s embracing of the concept of “Poetry Ireland”.’ (Q.p; available at The Free Library - online; see also copy in RICORSO Library, “Criticism” - attached].

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Quotations
‘A training at architecture and a first love for the theatre, combined with a voracious and undisciplined appetite for reading, were poor equipment for what we set about. Uncritical of writing and ignorant of the printer’s craft, I set about making a tiny wooden implement (it could hardly be called a press) and, with a card fount of type set up a verse, inked it and pulled an impression or two.’ (Dolmen, XXV; quoted in Thomas Reedshaw Dillon, ‘“The Dolmen Poets”: Liam Miller and Poetry Publishing in Ireland, 1951-1961’, in Irish University Review: A Journal of Irish Studies, March 2012, [q.p.]

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Notes
Robin Skelton, Celtic Contraries (Syracuse UP 1990) [272pp], ded. ‘For Liam Miller / Ireland’s greatest publisher / in tribute to / his life’s work and his vision.’

Pre-Táin: the first issue of Kinsella’s commissioned translation of the Tain Bo Cuailgne appeared as The Exile of the Sons of Uisliu in an edn. of 25 copies, ill. Mia Cranwell, Nov. 1954 - to be followed by the Kinsella-le Brocquy collaboration 15 years later.

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The Táin: Thomas Kinsella makes acknowledgement of Liam Miller [inter alia] in connection with the translation of Tain Bo Cuailgne, and in particular for his in particular for his ‘endless patience and forbearance and enthusiasm’. (See Tain Bo Cuailgne, OUP 1970, p.viii.)

Afterlives: the hand-printing equipment of Dolmen Press continued in use at Hawthorne Press run by Stan Phelan who formerly worked with Miller; concentrated on posters and stationary; afterwards purchased by Dominique Lieb, a Swiss-born publisher and owner of Puca Press of Dingle, which produced Allagar na gCloch/Stone Chat, by Dommhnaill Mac Sithig in 2013. (See Irish Times, Weekend Review, 31 Aug. 2013.)

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