Margaret Stokes

Life
1832-1900 [Margaret M’Nair Stokes; frew. Miss Stokes]; Irish archaeologist; dg. William Stokes; The Cromlech on Howth (1861) is an illuminated edition of Ferguson’s poem; author of Early Christian Art In Ireland (London 1887; Dublin edn. 1911); ed. and illustrated Dunraven’s Notes on Irish Architecture, 1875-77; her High Crosses of Ireland (1898) published unfinished at her death; MRIA and mbr. of Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland; papers held in TCD. CAB ODNB JMC

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Commentary
Oscar Wilde, review of Early Christian Art, in Pall Mall Gazette (17 Dec. 1887): ‘The want of a good series of popular handbooks on Irish art has long been felt, the works of Sir William Wilde, Petrie, and others being somewhat too elaborate for the ordinary student; so we are glad to notice the appearance, under the auspices of the Committee of the Council on Education, of Miss Margaret Stokes’s useful little volume on the early Christian art of her country. There is, of course, nothing particular original in Miss Stokes’s book, nor can she said to be an very attractive or pleasing writer, but it is unfair to look for original[ity] in primers, and the charm of the illustrations fully atones for the somewhat heavy and pedantic character of the style. [//... &c.]. See Wilde About Wilde Newsletter, ed. Margaret McCaffrey, No.17 (16 Oct. 1994), pp.15-16.

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References
Irish Literature
, ed. Justin McCarthy (Washington: University of America 1904); 1832-1900; dg. Dr. William Stokes; Early Christian Architecture in Ireland; ed. Christian Inscriptions in the Irish Language; illuminated ed. of Samuel Ferguson’s The Cromlech on Howth; contrib., drawings to Earl of Dunraven’s Notes on Irish Archaeology; unfinished book on High Crosses of Ireland; JMC selects ‘The Northmen in Ireland’ form Early Christian Architecture, from Early Christian Ireland, ‘When the group of humble dwellings which formed the monasteries and schools of Ireland is seen at the foot of the lofty tower whose masonry rarely seems to correspond in date with the buildings that surround it, and which does not, as elsewhere, seem a component and accessory part of the whole pile that formed the feudal abbey, we cannot but feel that some new condition in the history of the Irish Church must have arisen to account for the apparition of these bold and lofty structures. ... In the beginning of the ninth century a new state of things was ushered in, and a change took place in the hitherto unmolested condition of the Church. Ireland became the battlefield of the first struggle between paganism and Christianity in Western Europe; and the result of the effort then made in defence of her faith is marked in the ecclesiastical architecture of the country by the apparently simultaneous erection of a number of lofty towers, rising in strength of “defence and faithfulness of watch” before the doorways of those churches most liable to be attacked. For seven centuries Christianity had steadily advanced in Western Europe. At first silent and unseen, we feel how wondrously it grew, until, in the reign of Charlemagne, it became an instrument in the hands of one whose mission was to strengthen his borders against the heathen, and to establish a Christian monarchy. [In the ensuing paragraphs, she attributes the impetus of the Viking invasion to the pressure exerted by the Carolingian order in Northern Europe following the invasion of Saxony in 772 AD]; gives extract on ‘Northmen in Ireland’ from Early Christian Architecture.

Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast, holds Early Christian Art in Ireland (London 1887), another edn. (Dublin 1911); Three Months in The Forest of France (London 1895).

Art Readings for 1880 (Alexandra College Literary Soc.), Nos. 1-5 [23 up to 34pp. each]; also Readings on Archaeology and Art (1883), 71pp., full leather [Hyland 219; 1995].

Belfast Public Library holds Early Christian Art in Ireland (1887).

University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection, holds Six Months in the Apennines ... in search of the vestiges of Irish saints in France (1892) 313p; Three Months in the Forests of France ... in search of the vestiges of Irish saints in France (1895) 291p.

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Notes
Portrait, Margaret Stokes by Walter Osborne, chalk NGI; see Anne Crookshank, Irish Portraits Exhibition, Ulster Mus. 1965, & LIBRARY ARTI.

‘The provenance of the Church of St Michael de le Pole’, in Dublin Historical Record, 12, 1 (Feb. 1951), pp.2-13, contains adverse remarks on the antiquarianism of Miss Stokes regarding her grouping of St Kevin’s of Glendalough with towers bonded to churches in design, a view supported by her inclusion of a sketch by Bèranger in Early Christian Architecture in Ireland; in fact as P J O’Reilly has pointed out the ‘church’ was a schoolhouse added by a certain Jones in 1707; likewise in her edition of Dunraven’s Notes on Irish Architecture, she placed St Michael de la Pole’s among that group; Little considers that the conditions governing her term ‘joined’ in the list in the latter work are unsure (p.3); Little ascribes Bèranger’s drawing to about the year 1778 on the basis of evidence in his note appended to the undated sketch in the RIA collection, to the effect that he had mislaid it when he ought have published it, and that the church was directly afterwards demolished. [&c.]

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