Desmond Ryan

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1893-1964; b. London, son of W. P. Ryan [q.v.], ed. at Christian Brothers, Westland Row, and St. Enda’s, Pearse’s School, after his father moved to Dublin; acted as Pearse’s secretary before the Rising, living at St Enda’s while he attended UCD; fought in the GPO, 1916; released from internment, 1917; worked on Freeman’s Journal; moved to London after the Treaty, which he supported; returned to Dublin and established a poultry farm in Swords;
 
he edited The Collected Works of Patrick Pearse (1917-22), though his name appears on one volume only; also the works of James Connolly (1924) together with a life of Connolly (1924); issued numerous nationalist and socialist works incl. lives of Pearse (1919), Michael Collins (1932), Eamon de Valera (1936), John Devoy(1937), and Sean Treacy (1945); also issued The Sword of Light: From the Four Masters to Douglas Hyde 1638-1938 (1939) and The Rising (1949). DIB DIW DIH

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Works
  • The Man Called Pearse (1919);
  • ed. Collected Works of James Connolly (1924) [var. as James Connolly, His Life, Work and Writings (1924);
  • The Invisible Army (1932) [on Michael Collins];
  • Remembering Sion (London 1934) [with epigraph from Joyce’s Ulysses];
  • Unique Dictator (1936) [on Eamon de Valera];
  • The Phoenix Flame (1937) [John Devoy];
  • The Sword of Light: From the Four Masters to Douglas Hyde 1638-1938 (1939);
  • Sean Treacy and the 3rd Tipperary Brigade (1945);
  • co-ed., with William O’Brien, John Devoy’s Postbag (1948-53);
  • The Rising: The Complete Story of Easter Week (1949);

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Criticism
Oliver Snoddy, ‘Notes on Literature in Irish Dealing with the Fight for Freedom’, Éire-Ireland, 3, 2 (Summer 1968), pp. 138-48.

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Quotations
The Story of a Success’ [giving an account of the founding of St. Enda’s], ‘We introduce Irish on the first day, but always in homoepathic doses, and so pleasantly presented as to appear always a pastime, and never as a task to be learned.’ ‘The words and phrases of the language are always to some extent revelations of the mind of the race that has moulded the language. How often does an Irish vocable light up as with a lantern, some immemorial Irish attitude, some whole phase of Irish thought?’ ‘You need not praise the Irish language - simply speak it. You need not denounce English games - play Irish ones.’ ‘An Irish school need no more be a purely Irish-speaking school than an Irish nation need be a purely Irish-speaking nation; but an Irish school like an Irish nation must be permeated through and through with Irish culture, the repository of which is the Irish language.’ (Quoted by Evan Boland in Dublin Magazine, Spring 1966.)

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References
University of Ulster Library
holds Desmond Ryan, ed. and intro., The 1916 poets (1963; 1979); ed., with William O'Brien, Devoy's post bag: 1871-1928 (1948; 1979); The Fenian chief: A Biography of James Stephens (1967); The invisible army: a story of Michael Collins (1932); ed., Labour and Easter Week (1949); The man called Pearse (1919; 1968); Michael Collins and the invisible army (1968); The phoenix flame: A Study of Fenianism and John Devoy (1937); Remembering Sion: A Chronicle of Storm and Quiet (1934); The Rising: The Complete Story of Easter Week (1949, 1957); Sean Treacy and the 3rd. Tipperary Brigade (1945); ed., The Story of a Success: The story of a success: being a record of St. Enda's College September 1908 (1918); Unique dictator: a study of Eamon de Valera (1936).

Belfast Public Library holds Invisible Army (1932); A Man Called Pearse (1919, 1923); James Connolly (1924) The Phoenix Flame (1937); Remembering Sion (1934); The Rising (1949); The Sword of Light (1939), and other titles.

Hyland Books (Cat. 224) lists Sean Tracy and the 3rd Tipperary Brigade (1945) as ‘unusual’.

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Notes
Glorious soldier?: Ryan’s stories of 1916 are quoted in Monk Gibbon’s Inglorious Soldier (1968). See also under John O’Mahoney [q.v.].

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