James H[enthorn] Todd (1805-69)


Life
b. Dublin; ed. TCD, BA 1825; TCD fellow and tutor, 1831; ord. 1832; ed. Christian Examiner; MRIA 1833; Member of RIA Council, 1837; Donnellan lecturer, 1838-39; fnd. Irish Archaeological Society, 1840 [err. 1841 DIH]; Discourses on the Prophecies (1840); DD 1840; found employment for Mangan in the TCD Library, 1841-46; with Lord Adare, Dr. Sewell and others, est. St. Columba’s College, Rathfarnham, 1843; RIA Secretary, 1847-55; Regius Professor of Hebrew, 1849 [ODNB var. Greek]; catalogued Irish with O’Curry and O’Donovan, from 1852; TCD Librarian, 1852; classified MSS and added many books, compiled a catalogue; RIA President, 1856-1862 [DIH err. 1861]; treasurer and precentor St. Patrick’s Dublin, 1864;
 
he quadrupled stock of same and procured transcriptions from European libraries; assisted O’Donovan in preparing Edward O’Reilly’s Irish-English Dictionary (1864); works incl. edition of John Wyclyffe, The Last Age of the Church, now first printed from a Manuscript in the University Library, Dublin (Dublin 1840), civ[104]pp.; published Life of St Patrick, Apostle of Ireland (1864), arguing that the Apostle did not receive his mission from Rome and thus establishing the existence of two pre-Reformation Irish churches, the one Gaelic and the other Norman; ed., The Book of Vaudois (1865); An Apology for Lollard Doctrines (1842); ed., The Irish Version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius (1848);
 
ed., The Book of Hymns of the Ancient Church of Ireland (1855); ed., with William Reeves, The Martyrology of Donegal (1864); trans. The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill (1867); d. 28 June, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin; the Todd Lectures were founded in his memory at the RIA, where an oil portrait of him can be seen in the foyer (19, Dawson St.); notebooks of his entered Marsh’s Library through Dean C. A. Webster of Ross’s donation in 1941; he was described in an obituary as ‘one of the best known Irishmen of his day, consulted by statesmen and theologians’ (ODNB). CAB ODNB PI DIB DIW DIH

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Works
  • Fianaigecht [RIA Lect. Ser.] (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1910), xxxii, 144pp.;
  • Life of Saint Patrick: Apostle of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Smith & Co. [printed by Spottiswoode, London] 1864), 538pp., with index p.516ff. [See quotations see under St. Patrick, “Commentary”, supra.]

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Bibliographical details
Leabhar Brethach Annso Sis/The Irish Version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius, ed. with trans. James Henthorn Todd, DD, MRIA (Dublin Arch. Soc. MDCCCXLVIII) [with society crest of Sir James Ware], intro. and add. notes by Hon. Algernon Herbert; Pref. v-xiv; Intro. 1-23; Text, div. in 13 pts. under heading Liber Britannicus, 25-168; Appendix, [170]-220, contains 1] Of the Miracle of Cairneach ?Here], pp.178-220 of l/r bilingual text; 2] Duan Eireannach, pp.221-287 l/r bilingual text; pp.iii-cxxx, invl. index; material relating to Arch. Soc. meetings, policy, membership, and business, 35pp. [END]

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Criticism
W. B. Yeats, ‘Plays by an Irish Poet’, review of A Sicilian Idyll and The Poison Flower, in Untied Ireland (11 July 1891); rep. in Frayne, ed., Uncollected Prose of W. B. Yeats, Vol. 1 (Macmillan 1970), p.191-94.

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Commentary
J. B. Bury, Life of St Patrick and His Place in History (London & NY: Macmillan & Co. 1905.) Of Todd, ‘The radical vice of the book is that the indispensable substructure is lacking. The preliminary task of criticising the sources methodically was never performed. Todd showed his scholarship and historical insight in dealing with this particular passage or that particular statement, but such sporadic criticism was no substitute for methodical Quellenkritik. Hence his results might be right or wrong but they could not be convincing. [vi]

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P. W. Joyce, A Small History of Gaelic Ireland (1906), ‘Dr. Todd tested the statement in the Annals regarding the full tide at the start of the battle of Clontarf by calculating with Rev. Samuel Haughton [on the calendar].’ [Also Under P. W. Joyce.] See also recurrent references to his works in A Short History of Ireland (Longmans 1893.)

See also A Primer / of / The Irish Language / with Copious Reading Lessons; for the use of the students / in / The College of St. Columba (Dublin: Hodges & Smith 1845), with a Preface signed R. C. Singleton, thanking Mr. [John] O’Donovan, and Dr. Todd of TCD, for reading the proofs. [See further under John O’Donovan, supra.

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Alannah Hopkin, The Living Legend of St Patrick (NY: St Martin’s Press 1989): ‘Todd’s book [St Patrick: Apostle of Ireland, 1864] naturally caused outrage among the Catholic community. He argued that contemporary Irish Catholicism had nothing at all to do wth Saint Patrick’s conversion of Ireland, but was a foreign import, the original Irish Catholic church having died out furing the period between the Viking invasions and the Reformation. Catholics anted to refute Todd’s assertions, but were unable to produce from their midst a scholar of Todd’s stature with the necessary knowledge to carry out the task. […&c.; p.155; see also under O’Growney, RX.]

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Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986), p.438: James Henthorn Todd founded the Irish Archaeological Society (o replace the defunct Iberno-Celtic Society), with the Duke of Leinster and many RIA members, notably O’Curry, O’Donovan, Petrie, Hardiman; but also Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Moore, Smith O’Brien, and archb. John McHale; amalgamated in 1853 with the Celtic Society (fnd 1845) to form Irish Arch. and Celtic Society. Ossianic Society formed in 1853. [438] Another society of note was the Kilkenny Archaeological Society (est. 1849), later called the Royal Historical and Arch. Assoc. of Ireland (1872-92) and Royal Antiquaries of Ireland (from 1892). It had a rule stating that all matters ‘connected with the religious and political differences which exist in our country’ are not only ‘foreign to the objects of this Society’ but also ‘calculated to disturb the harmony which is essential to its success.’ [ftn.466] Leerssen remarks that the official nationalist policy of the date was equally unwilling to draw on cultural revivalism, viz O’Connell and Butt. Also, Douglas Hyde’s Gaelic League professed apolitical intentions, as did its immediate predecessors, the Gaelic Unin and the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. Note that Leerssen refers the reader to Breandán O’Buachalla for further information about Irish language societies. [439]

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Quotations

See quotations from his Life of Saint Patrick: Apostle of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Smith & Co. 1864) - under St. Patrick, “Commentary”, supra.]


Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill (1867): Preface , includes this passage of reasoning on the identity of Milbrico of the Helmskringla Saga of Snorre Sturlason, with Melbricus in Saxo Grammaticus and the Maelbhrighte of the Irish Annals, a king of Conaille captured by the Norse in a.d. 831. By extension of the kinship between the Irish and the Danish accounts, Todd infers that Turgéis in one is in fact the Ragnar Lodbrok who commanded the Norse expedition in the other. ‘This year 831 was therefore the date of his appearance in Ireland; but 832, as we have seen, was the year in which Turgesius invaded the north of Ireland, and plundered Armagh three times in one month. Here then is a coincidence which, as far as it goes, would seem to identify the tyrant, Turgesius, with Regnar Lodbrok. It is true there are discrepancies in the narrative which shake the certainty of the conclusion. there is no mention of Dublin in the Irish accounts, and the first occupation of Dublin was some six or seven years later. Saxo says that Melbricus was killed, whereas the Annals speak only of his having been made prisoner. But he may have been made prisoner, and afterwards put to death (his name does not apper at subsequent dates in the Irish Annals.) there is therefore no real contradiction; and so also Turgesius, although he did not take Dublin in 831, did certainly occupy it as a garrison a few years afterwards.’ (p.liv) Charles Haliday endorses Todd’s opinion in Scandanavian Kingdom of Dublin, 1881, p.28. (Cited in George A. Little, op. cit., Dublin Before the Vikings, pp.152-53]

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Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill (1867): ‘He (Brian Borumha) sent professors and masters to teach wisdom and knowledge and to buy books beyond the sea and great ocean, because their (the Irish) writings and their books were burned or thrown into the water by the plunderers, from the beginning (of the Scand. period) to the end.’ (Ed. Todd, p.139.) ‘The name Boroimhe means - and is translated as “cattle tribute”: “eleven cantreds hath Leinster / And twenty of teeming wealth; / From Dublin Bay (Inbher Duibhlinne) hither / Unto the Pass of the Cattle Tribute.”’ (Ibid., p.7.) ‘There came after that [the first action against Dublin] a very great fleet into the south of Ath Cliath and the greater part of Eire was plundered by them’ (Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, p.17; Todd p.143; quoted in Little, op. cit., p.82ff.

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References
Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: University of America 1904); gives ‘St. Patrick’s Success’ from St. Patrick: Apostle of Ireland (Dublin Hodges, Smith 1864) [cited also Torchiana, 1986].

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919) notes that Fianaigecht [RIA Lect. Ser.] (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1910), xxxii, 144pp., is based on Todd’s RIA lecture series relating to Finn and his Fiana [sic], with Eng. trans., incl a list of all “acccessible tales, poems, and references bearing upon the cycle known to me”, and proceeding century by century from the 8th to the 14th; Tale 2 is the quarrel of Finn with Oisin, and Tale 6 the Chase of Sid na mBan Finn. Scholarly apparatus.’ (Brown, 1919, p.212.)

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D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912), gives bio-details: b. 1805, Dublin, d. 1869, Rathfarnham; works incl. Life of St. Patrick (1864), and The Book of the Vaudois (1865); translated poems from the Irish, rep. in Connolly; notes that he was an ‘antiquarian parson’ to Thomas Carlyle.

REF An Apology for Lollard Doctrines, Attributable to Wycliffe; Now first Printed from a Manuscript in ... TCD [Camden Soc.] (1st Edn. 1842) [Hyland 219; 1995].

Belfast Public Library holds The Book of Hymns of the Ancient Church of Ireland, 2 vols. (1855-59).

University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection, holds The Book of Hymns of the Ancient Church of Ireland, 2 vols. (1855-59), taken from Liber Hymnorum [TCD MS]; Antiphonarium Benchorense [Ambrosian Lib., Milan], et al.

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Notes
Boss Todd: On Todd’s employment of James Clarence Mangan in TCD Library. (See Robert Welch, Irish Poetry, Gerards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980, p.103.)

John Cornelius O’Callaghan, The Green Book, or Gleanings from the Writing-desk of A Literary Agitator (1841), refers to Todd as ‘setting on foot on a principle similar to the Oriental Translation Fund Society in London, to give the world the benefit of the valuable and curious collections of native Irish literature in the archives of the University [TCD] - each work issued by the society to contain both the original text, and an exactin translation of it in English.’ (p.xxxiii.)

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