Edward Walsh (1805-51)


Life
b. Derry, son of an army sargeant [presum. from Cork]; returned to Cork; became a hedge-school teacher and later national teacher in Co. Waterford, 1837-43; became Tithe War activist, imprisoned; dismissed at Glounthane for Nation article in support of Repeal (“What is Repeal, Papa?”); post as sub-editor on Dublin Monitor secured by Charles Gavan Duffy; moved to Dublin, 1844;
 
contrib. to Dublin Journal of Temperance, Science, and Literature, The Irish Penny Journal, and The Nation; met John O’Daly, publisher, and assisted him in issuing issued Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry (1844), with metrical translations by Walsh; charged Thomas Davis with bigotry [PI]; issued his translation-collection, Irish Popular Songs (1847);
 
became schoolmaster to young convicts at Spike Island, and was dismissed for greeting John Mitchel en route for deportation, whose hand he kissed with the words, ‘Ah, you are now the man in all Ireland the most to be envied’ (see Jail Journal); he was schoolmaster to the Cork Workhouse at the time of his death; his changeling poem was quoted in full by Yeats in a Leisure Hour article of Oct. 1890. CAB ODNB JMC PI DIB DIW DIL DBIV MKA RAF FDA OCIL

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Works
  • Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry; with biographical sketches of the authors, interlineal literal translations and historical illustrative notes by John O’Daly; together with metrical versions by E. Walsh (Dublin: S. Machan 1844; 2nd edn. Gill 1883);
  • Irish Popular Songs; with English metrical translations and introductory remarks and notes by E. Walsh (Dublin: J. McGlashan; London: W. S. Orr 1847).
Miscellaneous
  • “Meelan; a Legend of the South” [poetry], in Pic Nics from the “Dublin Penny Journal”, […]., ed. Philip Dixon Hardy (Dublin: Philip Dixon Hardy [… et al.] 1836), pp.[78]87.

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Criticism
  • Charles J. Kickham, ‘E[dward] Walsh: A Memoir’, in The Celt (5 Dec. 1857), p.306; rep. in J. Maher, ed., The Valley near Slievanamon: A Kickham Anthology (Kilkenny People, 1942), Pt. 7.;
  • Robert Welch, A History of Verse Translation from Irish 1789-1897 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1987), Chap. 9 [pp.120-32];
  • Anne MacCarthy, James Clarence Mangan, Edward Walsh and Nineteenth-century Irish Literature in English (NY: Edwin Mellen 2000), 306pp.
  • Anne MacCarthy, ‘Edward Walsh and Nineteenth-Century Translation’, in Writing Irishness in Nineteenth-Century British Culture (Aldershot: Ashgate 2004), pp.81-93.
 

See also reference in W. B. Yeats, The Book of Irish Verse [Preface], and Robert Farren, The Course of Irish Verse in English (London: Sheed & Ward 1948).

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Commentary
John Mitchel, Jail Journal: Five Years in British Prisons (1854) - memoir of a meeting with Edward Walsh on Spike Island in Aug.: ‘30th [Aug. 1848]. My turnkey, who is desired never to leave me, I find to be a good, quiet sort of creature. He is some kind of Dissenter, hums psalm-tunes almost under his breath, and usually stays as far away from me as our boimds will allow him. There is a door in the high wall leading into another inclosure, and as I was taking a turn through my territory to-day, the turnkey was near that door, and he said to me in a low voice “This way, sir, if you please”; he held the door open, I passed through, and immediately a tall, gentleman-like person, in black but rather over-worn clothes, came up to me and grasped both my hands with svery demonstration of reverence. I knew his face, but could not at first remember who he was ; he was Edward Walsh, author of “Mo Chraoibhín Chnó,” and other sweet songs, and of some very musical translations from old Irish ballads. Tears stood in his eyes as he told me he had contrived to get an opportunity of seeing and shaking hands with me before I should leave Ireland. I asked him what he was doing at Spike Island, and he told me he had accepted the office of teacher to a school they keep here for small convicts - a very wretched office, indeed, and, to a shy, sensitive creature, like Walsh, it must be daily torture. He stooped down and kissed my hands. “Ah!” he said, “you are now the man in all Ireland most to be envied.” answered that I thought there might be room for difference of opinion about that; and then, after another kind word or two, being [11] warned by my turnkey, I bade him farewell and retreated to my own den. Poor Walsh! He has a family of young children; he seems broken in health and spirits. Ruin has been on his traces for years, and I think has him in the wind at last. There are more contented galley-slaves moiling at Spike than the schoolmaster. Perhaps this man does really envy me; and most assuredly I do not envy him.’ (Jail Journal, 1913 Edn., pp.11-12; also given in Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature, 1904, as infra.)

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W. B. Yeats, “Irish Fairies” in Leisure Hour (Oct. 1890):
 

‘There are a number of Gaelic songs and ballads about them [i.e., the ‘fabled robberies’ of children and the substitution of ‘a miserable goblin’ - called changlings]. Some modern Irishmen have also written beautifully on the same matter. An Irish schoolmaster, named Walsh, wrote the following. It is supposed to be sun by a fairy over a child she has stolen:

 
Sweet babe! a golden cradle holds thee,
And soft the snow-white fleece enfolds thee;
In airy bower I’ll watch thy sleeping,
Where branchy trees to the breeze are sweeping.
Shuheen, sho, lulu, lo! ...
[ See full version - as quoted by Yeats - under Quotations, infra. ]
 
The poor schoolmaster has perfectly given the fascination of the mysterious kingdom where the faires live - a kingdon that has been imagined and endowed with all they know of splendour and riches by a poor peasantry amid their rags. As heavean is the home of their spiritual desires, so fairyland has been for ages the refuge of their eartly ideals. [...&c.]’
 

Rep. in Robert Welch, ed., W. B. Yeats - Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth, London: Penguin 1993, pp.60-[64]; 61-62.)

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Colm O’Lochlainn, Anglo-Irish Song Writers [abstract], b. Derry of Cork parents; schoolmaster at Millstreet and Tooreen; contrib. Dublin Journ. of Temperance, Science and Lit (1832-3) and Irish Penny Journal (1840), and The Nation (1843-48); metrical translations in John O’Daly’s Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry (1844) and Irish Pop. Songs (1847); dismissed from school for his connection with the Nation, he taught at Spike Island; dismissed again for bidding farewell to John Mitchel in his cell awaiting transportation, 1848, and d. as a schoolmaster at the Cork Workhouse. His songs are very faithful translations, incl. ‘Mo Chreeveen Eeven’, ‘O Amber-haired Nora’, ‘Have you been at Carrick?’, ‘The Dawning of the Day’, &c. &c.

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Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde (1974), Yeats wrote on Edward Walsh in The Leisure Hour, Nov. 1889, and The Bookman, July 1895. [n., 199] In The Cutting of the Agate, 1912, he wrote, ‘I took from Allingham and Walsh their passion for country spiritism, and from Ferguson his pleasure in heroic legend ..’ (rep. in Essays and Introductions, Macmillan 1961, p.248.) [Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde, 1974, n., p.199]. Further: Edward Walsh notes, in the introduction to his Irish Popular Songs, ‘the beautiful adaptation of the subject of the words to the song measure […] which seems the natural gait of the subject, whatever that may be, from which it cannot be forced, in a translation, without at once destroying the graceful correspondence which gives its most attractive grace to the original. […] The Irish scholar will perceive that I have embodied the meaning and spirit of each Irish stanza within the compass of the same number of lines, each for each; and that I have also preserved, in many of the songs, the caesural and demi-caesural rhymes, the use of which produces such harmonious effect in Irish verse.’ [119]

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Robert Welch, Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats (1980), citing Irish Jacobite Poetry published by John O’Daly, who followed his success with Walsh by inviting Mangan to translate, and producing unfortunately his most laborious and uninspired work. (p.114.)

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Anne MacCarthy, James Clarence Mangan, Edward Walsh and Nineteenth-century Irish Literature in English (Edward Mellen 2000) - noticed in Études Irlandaises, 28, 1 (Printemps 2003): ‘Anne MacCarthy is not ingenuously claiming in this book that Walsh and Mangan should be considered as major figures in the history of Irish literature. she is rather demanding their recognition as writers who helped to establish a new identity and a repertoire for future Irish writing in English and […] demonstrates a critic’s mature understanding of the degrees and effects of the manipulation of power and ideology in the history of Irish literature.’ (p.204). See also William A. Wilson, reviewing in Irish Studies Review (April 2002): ‘Readers interested in early nineteenth-century Irish literature in English will find some things of interest in this study, but few will find much. / One glaring omission in MacCarthy’s argument is a substantive discussion of why a re-evaluation of these two writers will yield such a cultural dividend […] Her contributions are mostly useful summaries of […] Robert Welch and David Lloyd […] James Clarence Mangan should be taken in small doses […] prolonged exposure may cause readers to levitate with irritation.’ (pp.96-97.)

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Quotations
The Dawning of the Day”: ‘At early dawn I once had been / Where Lene’s blue waters flow, / When summer bid the groves he green, / The lamp of light to glow. / As on by bower, and town, and tower, / And widespread fields I stray, / I meet a maid in the greenwood shade / At the dawning of the day. / Her feet and beauteous head were bare, / No mantle fair she wore; / But down her waist fell golden hair, / That swept the tall grass o’er. / With milking-pail she sought the vale, / And bright her charms’ display; / Outshining far the morning star / At the dawning of the day. / Beside me sat that maid divine / Where grassy banks outspread. / “Oh, let me call thee ever mine, Dear maid,’ I sportive said. / “False man, for shame, why bring me blame. / She cried, and burst away - / The sun’s first light pursued her flight / At the dawning of the day.’ (Printed in Brendan Kenneally, ed., Penguin Book of Irish Verse, 1970.)

“The Fairy Nurse”

Sweet babe! a golden cradle holds thee,
And soft the snow-white fleece enfolds thee;
In airy bower I’ll watch thy sleeping,
Where branchy trees to the breeze are sweeping.
Shuheen, sho, lulu, lo! ...

When mothers languish, broken-hearted,
When young wives are from husbands parted,
Ah, little think the keeners lonely,
They weep some time-worn fairy only.
Shuheen, sho, lulo, lo!

Within our magic halls of brightness
Trips many a foot of snowy whiteness;
Stolen maidens, queens of fairy,
And kings and chiefs a sluagh shee airy.
Shuheen, sho, lulo, lo!

Rest thee, babe! I love thee dearly,
And as thy mortal mother, nearly;
Ours is the swiftest steed and proudest,
That moves where the tramp of the host is loudest.
Shuheen, sho, lulo, lo! [61]

Rest thee, babe! for soon thy slumbers
Shall flee at the magic keol shee’s numbers;
In airy bower I’ll watch thy sleeping,
When branchy trees to the breeze are sweeping.
Shuheen, sho, lulo, lo!

 
Quoted by W. B. Yeats, in “Irish Fairies”, Leisure Hour (Oct. 1890); rep. in Robert Welch, ed., W. B. Yeats - Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth, London: Penguin 1993, pp.61-62.) Welsh observes that the poem appeared as “The Fairy Nurse” in Denis Florence McCarthy’s Book of Irish Ballads (1869).

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References
Brian McKenna, Irish Literature (Gale Pub. 1978), notes that ODNB entry is by Martin MacDermott; other comms. by Charles Kickham (Celt 1857); Eugene Davis (Shamrock 1877); anon. (Emerald 1868), and others.

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John Cooke, The Dublin Book of Irish Verse (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1909), bio-dates, 1805-1850; “Mairgréad ni Chealleadh” [‘At the dance in the village / Thy white foot was the fleetest / Thy voice ’mid the concert / Of maidens was sweetest …’]; “A Munster Keen”; “Mo Craoibhin Cno”; “O’Donovan’s Daughter”; “Song of the Penal Days, 1720” [‘She’s bound and bleeding ’neath the oppressor […] My love had riches once and beauty …’]. And see comments in Robert Farren, Course of Irish Verse (1948), pp.28-29.

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Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), his father a small farmer of Cork, joined army under pressure of poverty, and was stationed at Londonderry; ed. in Cork, spending a good deal of time and attention on ‘the ancient tongue’; briefly occupied sub-ed. post on The Dublin Monitor procured by CG Duffy; On Spike Island occurred the interview with John Mitchel of which the latter gives a touching account in Jail Journal [see Commentary, supra]. The meeting occurred in Aug. 1850. Died as schoolmaster in Cork workhouse. A monument raised to him by a number of workingmen in Cork. JMC selects ‘Brighidin Ban Mo Store’; ‘Mairgréad bni Chealleadh’; ‘Mo Craoibhín Cno’; ‘Have you Been at Carrick’; ‘The Dawning of the Day’; ‘Lament of the Mangaire Sugach’ [Andrew Magrath, an attempted convert to Protestantism].

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, Vol 2 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry, with biog. sketches of the authors, interlineal literal translations and historical illustrative notes by John Daly [sic], together with metrical versions by E. Walsh (Dublin: Daly 1844); Irish Popular Songs, with metrical translations and introductory remarks and notes by E. Walsh (Dublin: M’Glashan 1847, and (London: W. S. Orr 1847).

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, selects from Reliques of Jacobite Poetry, ‘An Bonnaire Fiadha-Phuic’ (‘The Cruel Base-Born Tyrant’), and from Irish Popular Songs ‘Owen Roe O’Sullivan’s Drinking Song’, ‘Mairgréad ní Chealleadh’, ‘Mo Chraoibhín Cnó’ [40-43], ‘An Raibh Tú Ag gCarraig’, Casadh an tSugáin’, ‘Táim Sínte ar Do Thuama [From the Cold Sod that’s O’er You]’; ‘An Clár Bog Déil [The Soft Deal Board]’, printed with translations and commentary by Walsh in Irish Popular Songs [79-82; 83]. Remarks and refs.: unhappy at Spike Island, 2; faithful translation of ‘Maidin chiuin dham cois bruach na trag’ in Irish Popular Songs, 33; [Irish Pop. Songs, 1847, 76]; [‘Poetry and Song’, bibl., 98]. Works, 112 [as listed under Works, supra].

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