[Fr] Matthew Russell (1834-1912)

b. 13 July, Ballybot, nr. Newry, Co. Down; nephew of Dr. Charles Wm. Russell, president of Maynooth, 1857-80; ed. Vincentian school at Castleknock; briefly entered Maynooth; joined Society of Jesus [S.J.], 1857, immediately prior to presidency of his uncle Charles; studied at St. Beuno’s, N. Wales, 1863-64 - and had his first experience of journal-editing; ord. 1864; connected with St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Upr. Gardiner St.; fnd. Catholic Ireland, 1873 - motivated by the consecration of Ireland to the Sacred Heart in 1873 - and soon renamed The Irish Monthly - a Magazine of General Literature; Yeats called it a ‘kind of college of bards’;
ed. The Irish Monthly, under the aegis of Irish Jesuit Province up to 1954 when it merged with Studies, and published early works of Wilde and Yeats, and serialised M. E. Francis, Clara Mulholland, et al.; published the English and Irish versions of George Moore’s The Untilled Field; br. of [Lord] Charles Russell, Ind. Liberal MP and Home Ruler, and the first Catholic Lord Chief Justice of England since the Reformation in 1894; Clara and Rosa Mulholland were thus his sisters-in-law; Russell wrote biography of his sister, a nun, and issued numerous volumes of poetry; he figures in George Moore’s Hail and Farewell. PI DBIV MKA JMC OCIL

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Obit. in The Irish Times (17 Sept. 1912), p.10; Matthew Russell, ‘The Origin of the Irish Monthly’, in Irish Jesuit Archives, J27/175, [pp.]2-8; O’Neill, ‘In Memoriam’, in Irish Monthly, No. 472 (1912), p.542.

James H. Murphy, Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 [Contribs. to Study of World Lit. No. 76] (Conn: Greenwood Press 1997), Part I: Upper Middle-Class Fiction 1873-1890, passim; Declan O’Keefe, ‘A Beacon in the Twilight: Matthew Russell, S.J. and the Irish Monthly’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 99, 394 [“Clergy, Writers and Intellectuals” Iss.] (Summer 2010), pp.169-79 [see extract].

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[q.auth.], Irish Book Lover, IV, 3 (1912), p.42, Obit., ‘grateful remembrance of all interested in Anglo-Irish literature’, incl. Wilde, Yeats, M. E. Francis, Tynan, Julia Kavanagh, Dora Sigerson Shorter; old hands Rosa Mulholland, &c. His short comic verse-autobiography includes the lines ‘Xavier’s Holy Dublin hive ... at 55’.

McKenna (Irish Literature, 1978), cites Russell’s articles identifying the anon. authors in Duffy’s Fireside Magazine (Irish Monthly, 20, 1892), and in The Irishman (Irish Monthly, 17, 1889). His articles on Irish writers, incl. a series on ‘Poets I have Known’, covers a wide range of contemporary and earlier authors. Viz., Sir Charles Gavin Duffy, whom he appraises frankly as ‘inspired journalism’. Also Sir Samuel Ferguson, ‘In Memoriam’, Irish Monthly 14 (1886), Ellen Mary Downing, Denis Florence McCarthy, Thomas O’Neill et. al. See also Irish Book Lover 2, 3, 4. Justin McCarthy, Irish Literature, gives ‘Monotony and the Lark’.

W. B. Yeats, quoted in Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde (1974), Irish Monthly, popular semi-religious semi-literary magazine. Yeats advised an aspiring writer thus, ‘You should send these poems to the Irish Monthly. the Editor is the Rev. Matthew Russell, St. Francis Xavier’s Upr. Gardiner St., Dublin. The Monthly is the only literary magazine in Ireland and there is quite a [bev] of poets gathered about it. The Editor is a Catholic priest of the most courteous kindly and liberal mind ... Of course the Monthly does not pay for its verse. How few magazines do. But if you send these you will be in good company - all Irish writers of poetry, no matter what persuasion, sooner or later seem to find their way thither.’ To Russell he wrote, ‘I dare say you ill not thank me for sending another writer of verse to knock at your gate. But then, you know, you keep a kind of college for the bards.’ (Letters, Wade, pp.104, 105.) [n., 214]

Declan O'Keeffe, Irish Studies (Summer 2010)

Declan O’Keefe, ‘A Beacon in the Twilight: Matthew Russell, S.J. and the Irish Monthly’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 99, 394 [“Clergy, Writers and Intellectuals” Iss.] (Summer 2010), pp.169-79; p.176.

—available at JSTOR - online; [x]accessed 28.07.2015.

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W. J. Paul, Modern Irish Poetry (1894; 1897) , incl. biog. Sketch of Matthew Russell (Vol. II; 1897): Charles was his only brother [untrue]; Dr. C. W. Russell, an uncle, was President of Maynooth for 23 years, and chief support of the Dublin Review, of whom Newman wrote in his Apologia, ‘He had, perhaps, more to do with my conversion than anyone else. he was always gentle, mild, unobstrusive, uncontroversial. He left me alone.’ Russell worked in Limerick up to 1873 when he beagn the Irish Monthly in Dublin; called ‘a central figure among contemporary Irish poets’; comments on the ingenious levity of an eleven stanza poem on the Yarrra-Yarra, ending: ‘There is not unity of theme, / I grant it, in these stanzas; / The subjects as far sundered as far sundered as / Kensington and Kansas. / Twire better if in graceful round / My thoughts could move - but arrah! / What can a poet do, who’s bound / To close each verse with Yarra?’ Refers to visit of his br. to US and Canada, and the ‘message of peace brought over from England’ by him, with a extended attendant citation in eulogy of Matthew in the San Francisco Call. (Paul, pp.86-88.)

D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912); b. Newry 1834, started The Irish Monthly under the name of Catholic Ireland; first poem appr’d in Duffy’s Fireside Mag.; lists Emmanuel, A Book of Eucharistic Verses (Dublin 1880), eight eds.; Madonna, Verse of Our Lady and the Saints (Dublin [?2nd edn.] 1883), three eds.; Erin, verses Irish and Catholic (Dublin 1881), two eds.; The Harp of Jesus, a Prayer Book in Verse (Dublin 1890); Idylls of Killowen (London 1898); Altar Flowers, a book of Prayer in verses (Dublin 1899); A Soggarth’s Last Verses (1911); ed. Sonnets on the Sonnet (London 1898), and St Joseph’s Anthology (Dublin 1898). Note, a major source of biog. and bibliog. information for Poets of Ireland, and hence merits entry here; related to Lord Russell of Killowen, first Cath. Attorney-General of England since Sir Thomas More.

John Cooke, Dublin Book of Irish Verse 1728-1909 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1909); no bio-dates; ‘The Little Flower Strewers’ [‘Dear children, kiss your flowers, and fling them at His feet;/He comes, the Lord of flowers, of all things faire and sweet ... With lips unstained and rosy, kiss all the roses fair - /But thorns lurk mid the roses, and life is full of care. ... we, too, like flowers must die,/But in the heavenly springtime shall bloom again on high ...’].

Hyland Books (Cat. 219; 1995) lists Idyls [sic] of Killowen: A Soggarth’s Secular Verses (1905) [with presentation inscript. from author to Dom. Bede Camm.

British Library holds All Day Long, Ejaculations and Prayers in Verse (London: CTS 1896); Idylls of Killowen, A Soggarth’s Secular Verses (London: J. Bowden 1899), viii+139pp.; Vespers and Compline, A Soggarth’s Sacred Verses (Burns & Oates 1900), viii+155pp.; A Soggarth’s Last Verses (Burnes & Oates 1911).

Belfast Public Library holds Emmanuel, Book of Eucharistic Verses (1878); Idyls [sic] of Killowen (1899); Life of Mother Mary Baptist Russell, Sister of Mercy (1902); The Matchmakers (1898); Sonnets on the sonnet (1898); Three Sisters of Lord Russell of Killowen and their Convent Life (1912).

University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection), holds Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (1909).

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J. M. Synge: Russell had the distinction of being the first to refuse a manuscript submitted by Synge [see Synge Letters in TCD]. The Irish Monthly is constantly cited in McKenna’s bibliography of Irish Literature (1978).

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