James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room: The Irish Historical Novel (Syracuse UP/Gill & Macmillan 1983), 240pp.

In his ‘General Preface to the Waverley Novels’, Scott recalled that he had completed Waverley impelled by ‘the extended and well-merited fame of Miss Edgeworth, whose Irish characters have gone so far to make the English familiar with the character of their gay and kind-hearted neighbours of Ireland, that she may be truly said to have done more towards completing the Union than perhaps all the legislative enactments by which it has been followed up.’ (1.xxi). Having read Castle Rackrent, he felt that ‘something might be attempted for my own country, of the same kind with that which Miss Edgeworth so fortunately achieved for Ireland—something which might introduce her natives to those of the sister kingdom in a more favorable light than they had been placed hitherto, and tend to procure sympathy for their virtues and indulgence for their foibles.’ (xxii).

D. J. O’Donoghue, Sir Walter Scott’s Tour of Ireland in 1825, Now First Fully Described (Dublin:O’Donoghue & Gill 1905), a slim volume complete with frontispiece of Scott kissing the Blarney Stone. O’Donoghue notes that ‘naturally, some of the great novelist’s views will hardly appeal to the majority of Irishmen, but they are worthy of consideration as coming from one who has a good friend of Ireland and the Irish people.’ Scott laments the ‘bigotry of the Catholic religion’, and observes the exitability of the Irish natives (‘they will murther you on slight suspicion, and find out next day tht it was all a mistake, and that it was not yourself they meant to kill at all, at all’, 93). Scott betrays a bias in favour of the Scots-Irish of the North, whom he regards as ‘a very fine race’ (74). He notes the general difference: ‘It is rare to see the Catholic rise above the position he is born in. The Protestant part of the [?] is as highly improved as many parts of England’ (74). He visits the field of the Boyne Battle, and comments on the tenacity of the Orange principal in Ireland. O’Donoghue draws largely on Scott’s biography Lockhart, but also uses Scott’s correspondence with Thomas Moore. O’Donoghue also documents the circumstance of Scott’s hearing the stories of the Irish outlaw Redmond O’Hanlon, and seeking material for a novel about him, but finding the information available too scanty; and William Carleton’s later attempt to make the legendary raparee a character in a novel:’Carleton did eventually write a novel, called Count Redmond O’Hanlon, the Irish Rapparee, but it does not really treat of the historical personage of that name, the nero being a creature of his own imagination.’ (10-11). Further details of the background of Carleton’s novel—including the chapbook on the topic by J Cosgrave called ‘The Lives and Actions of the Most Notorious Irish Highwayman &’ are given in Kiely, The Poor Scholar, p.178.

Scott’s Gothicism was an organic Gothicism [7]

Cahalan’s thesis is applied Coleridge: ‘Scott’s great merit, and, at the same time, his felicity, and the true solution of the long-sustained interest novel after novel excited lie in the nature of the subject … that the contest between the loyalists and their opponents can never be obsolete, for it is the contest between the two great moving principles of social humanity; religious adherence to the past and the ancient, the desire and the admiration of permanence, on the one hand; and the passion for increase of knowledge, for truth, as the offspring of reason—in short, the mighty instincts of progression and free agency, on the other. In all subjects of deep and lasting interest, you will detext a struggle between two opposites, two polar forces, both of which are alike necessary to our human well-being, and necessary each to the continued existence of the other.’ Coleridge, letter to Thomas Allsop,, Apr. 8 1820, rep. in Scott:The Critical Heritage, ed. John Ó Hayden (Barnes & Noble 1970), p.180.

Irish historical novels began by imposing Scott’s moderate hero on Irish history, but later novelists presented a more partisan, distinctively Irish hero. [11]

In contrast [with Scott], Irish writers generally denounced the Union in the strongest terms. Yet the nineteenth century writers such as O’Grady persisted in ending their historical novels happily, imposing Scott’s romance of property on Irish history. They seemed unable to face Irish history for what it was: an unresolved mess. Only in the twentieth century did Irish historical novelists depart from Scott and achieve a new vision of Irish history. [15]

Roger McHugh, ‘The Famine in Oral Tradition’, in The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History 1845-52, ed. R Dudley Edwards and T Desmond Williams, (Dublin 1956).

James McHenry, author of The Insurgent Chief (1824), about the northern risings of 1798, and The Hearts of Steel (1825), about the Steelboys of the late eighteenth century, has the honour of the first Irish historical novelist, preceding Banim by some years.~[45]

In The Boyne Water (1826), John Banim makes Evelyn write to Edmund: ‘In the great country of England, there must also arise a feeling to right the present wrong to which it has just lent itself. For, without her affirmation, the wrong could not have been committed. The descendants of the men who have sanctioned, and by that means caused the deliberate breach of their own treaty, made in the field, will awake to vindicate, as fas ass in the lies, the name of their ancestors. A son, jealous of his father’s honour, pays his father’s debts, even to the common creditor. Englishmen will yet pay their fathers’ debt of faith in Ireland. The treaty of Limerick will yet be kept. (Garland rep. 12979, vol 3; 552-53). [54]

Banim wrote to his brother Michael: Englishmen of almost every party, who may honour our book with a perusal, are now prepared to recognize the truth of the historical portraits we sketch and allude to’ (xi).

Banim dedicated his preface of The Denounced (1829), on the Penal Days, to ‘Sir Arthur, Duke of Wellington’, requesting him ‘only to point out a passage hostile to peace among all men, and that passage shall be expunged’, but suggested—in the shadow of the Emancipation Bill—that the only emotion of the part of ‘the Lately-Made-Free’ would be ‘gratitude to God and to Man for his escape from the shackles worn by his forefathers’. [56]

Samuel Lover’s He Would be A Gentleman (1844), a romance narrating adventures of a member of the 18th c. Irish Brigade in France and Scotland; Lever’s Maurice Tiernay (1852) recounts the adventures of a young Irish jacobite exile in several foreign countries during the years following the Treaty of Limerick [69]

Le Fanu contributed a ballad on Fitzgerald to the Dublin University Magazine in 1839: ‘That day that traitors sould him and inimies bought him,/The day that the red gold and red blood was paid -/Then the green turned pale and thrembled like the dead leaves in Autumn,/And the heart an’ hope iv Ireland in the could grave was laid.’ Cahalan notes le Fanu’s mother’s great admiration of Lord Edward, adding that she had even stolen his sword from the offier who captured him. [71] The the more accurate version in his brother’s book, Seventy Years of Irish Life, is that she held the dagger with which he stabbed Cpt. Ryan. It is apparent from the form of Cahalan’s footnote that he has read Browne’s study, but not the work by WR Le Fanu—whose title he names without a date—upon which the story is based.

bibl.: Browne, Nelson, Sheridan Le Fanu (London:Arthur Barker 1951).

Thomas Davis implored: ‘I wish to heaven someone would attempt Irish historical fiction’ (quoted in Malcolm Brown, The Politics of Irish Literature: From Thomas Davis to WB Yeats (Allen & Unwin 1972), p.65.

George Walker, the chief villain of The Boyne Water, is form le Fanu in The Fortunes of Colonel Torlogh O’Brien: A Tale of the Wars of King James (M’Glashen 1847), ‘that holy man of Bible and bullet’. [75]

Yeats compiled an edition of Stories from Carleton (1889), celebrating in his introduction Carleton’s ‘clay-cold melancholy’ and hailing him as ‘a great Irish historian’ and ‘the great novelist of Ireland by right of the most Celtic eyes that ever gazed from under the brows of a story-teller.’ (Quoted in Robert Lee Wolff, William Carleton: Irish Peasant Novelist: A Preface to His Fiction, Garland 1980, p.3.) In 1826 Carleton had written a letter, since discovered among the papers of Sir Robert Peel, to his friend William Sisson, volunteering himself to peel as one who could demonstrate a connexion between the Emancipation Movement and terrorism; there is no evidence that Peel responded. (Cited in Wolff, op. cit. p.21. Carleton wrote publically on Emancipation: ‘The question of Emancipation is singularly mixed up with the immediate and personal interests of its most violent and outrageous supporters … a few lawyers and priests who make it the means … of raising themselves to popularity … whilst they are also stimulated by the prospect of unlimited ascendancy [conjuring] images of imaginary oppression … Oh! let not the guardian of the British Constitution give these men power!’ (21). Cahalan resuscitates the passage from autobiography cited in Flanagan (Irish Novelists, 273) which shows Carleton standing at the gates of Maynooth, rejected, saying to himself: ‘What communication could a nameless wanderer like me expect with such an establishment?’, and reminds us—after Wolff—of Carleton’s expression of the creed of conformity:’there is nothing more valuable in life than a respectable connection.’ (Wolff, 17) [79] Generally, Cahalan makes much use of Wolff’s commentary on the darker side of Carleton’s vis-a-vis with his native tradition: ‘From the mid-1820s to the mid-1830s the evidence shows, Carlton was himself a militant anti-Catholic, echoing the extreme Evangelical arguments of the time.’ (5). Carleton perversely exclaimed to Gavan Duffy in 1852, ‘may the curse of God alight doubly on Ireland and may all she has suffered be only like the entrance to paradise compared to what she may suffer (118). Carleton quarreled with the editors of the Dublin University Magazine, and began writing instead for The Nation, but never joined the new movement. Charles Gavan Duffy wrote afterwards: ‘with all his splendid equipment of brains, he was incapable of comprehending the principles and aspirations of Young Ireland.’ (Quoted in Flanagan, op. cit., p.312) [79-80]

William Carleton, ‘The Late John Banim’, The Nation (Dublin, 23 Sept 1843, pp.794-95. ‘Banim has written the best historical novels which this country has yet produced … Banim’s works, published and read in England as they wre, unquestionably produced a powerful influence over the English mind … [He] did as much to vindicate our country from falsehood and caumny as any that ever bore a pen in her defense.’ [Yet he would have done better] ‘had he been acquainted with the antiquarian and legendary lore of our country [and] fallen back upon the grander events and more glorious names’. Of Banim’s proximity to Scott’s method, he wrote, ‘there is something painful in beholding one original genius striving to tread in another’s footsteps’. [80].

Carleton celebrates the rapparees of the older period in a way that he could not celebrate the ribbonmen of his own: ‘The three great principles of their lawless existence were such as would reflect honour upon the most refined associations, and the most intellectual institutions of modern civilisation. These were, first, sobriety; secondly, a resolution to avoid the shedding of human blood; and, thirdly, a solemn promise never to insult or offer outrage to woman, but in every instance to protect her.’ (Count Redmond O’Hanlon, Duffy, 1886, pp.84-85. [83-84]

Carleton predicts in 1863: ‘Banim and Griffin are gone, and I will soon follow them—ultimus Romanorum, and after that will come a lull, an obscurity of perhaps half a century, when a new condition of civil society and new phase of manners and habits among the people … may introduce new fields and new tastes for other writers.’ (Wolff op. cit. 127) [84].

Stephen J Brown, ‘Irish Historical Fiction’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review &c., 5 (1916): ‘There are many sad lessions lurking for us in every corner of our history had we but manful courage to face them. Now, I would urge again that one of the best mediums for conveying this lesson, especially to the younger generations and to those whose studies cease with their boyhood, is historical fiction … If there be any truth in these considerations why not see to it that among the works of fiction put into the hands of Irish boys and girls there shall be found some that will imprint in their imagination what of Irish history is best worth remembering, and that will help to fix their affections upon the country whose children they are? How many even to-day are growing among us well-educated in other respects, but knowing nothing about their country. (p.95) [87]

Yeats, looking for a progenitor in the late 1890s, claimed that O’Grady’s History of Ireland (1878) had ‘started us all’. George Russell (AE) wrote in a eulogy: ‘In O’Grady’s writings the submerged river of national culture rose up again, a shining torrent, and I realised as I bathed in that stream that the greatest spiritual evil one nation could inflict on another was to cut off from it the story of the national soul.’ (Quoted in Hugh [Art] O’Grady Standish James O’Grady, The Mand and the Writer: A Memoir, Talbot 1929, pp.64-65.)

Note that Cahalan draws upon O’Grady’s letters held the Boston College Special Irish Collection, being copies of originals in the Healy Collection at Colby College, Waterville, Maine. [88]

George Moore remarks, in Hail & Farewell: ‘He is very little read, but we all admire him. He is our past.’ (83).

Yeats wrote an enthusiastic appraisal of O’Grady in ‘Battles Long Ago’, for The Bookman (London Feb. 1895, p.153), ending with the assertion that O’Grady’s romantic scenes from the life of Cuchullin ‘belong in nothing to our labouring noontide, but wholly to the shadowy morning twilight of time.’

William Irwin Thompson, The Imagination of an Insurrection, Dublin, Easter 1916: A Study of an Ideological Movement (NY:Harper Colophon 1967), takes as its departure point George Russell’s remark that O’Grady’s books ‘contributed the first spark of ignition to the rising’. [92].

O’Grady’s controversial introduction to Red Hugh’s Captivity: ‘The history of Ireland during the sixteenth century is the history of a revolution, of the successive steps by which a radical and organic reconstitution of society was effected. [PARA] The Elizabethan conquest was, in my opinion, as inevitable as salutary, and the terrors and horrors which accompanied it, to a considerable extent, a necessary condition of its achievement. These petty kings and princes had to be broken once for all. In blood and flame and horror of great darkness it was fated that Ireland should pass from barbarism to civilisation, from the wild rule of ‘monocracis’ to the reign of universal law. If it was England that presided over that death and new birth, the fact, I think was to Ireland’s gain and not loss. It would certainly ill become an author, whois now enabled to address an audience so vast, to regret ethe events which have made it possible. … Wheter our future be one of greater self-government, or of a closer and more vital union with England, we are and will remain part of the vast world-subdividing race that speaks the English tongue … Between Ireland and her incorporation for ever with this mighty English-speaking race stood the Irish chiefs of the sixteenth century. The expanding genius of civilisation found such independent captains and princes, here as elsewhere over Europe, an intolerable bar to progress. Their extermination or subjugation was not only necessary but inevitable. And yet the men themselves have strong claims upon the sympathy of generous minds, more especially when their rebellions and their ruinous overthrown alike lie so far behind us in the quiet depths of the past … their wild lives not untouched with the medieval spirit of chivalry and romance. (RHC, 1, 3-5).

It was O’Grady’s habit to produce his books in tandem, a novel and a history; in the preface to Red Hugh’s Captivity, he makes the point that historians need imagination to enliven their narrative, while the superfluity of historical information immediately pours itself into the form of a narrative. His underlying preference for history as a form of writing was challenged in an incident reported by his son, Hugh Art O’Grady, as retaled by David Marcus: ‘Browsing one day in the library of the University Club he discovered the club’s copy of George Petrie’s seminal archaeological study of the round towers of Ireland was uncut; this experience, his son relates, “opened his eyes to the mistake he had made. The public were not attracted by a sober treatise. Fiction and romance were the intellectual delicacies. … Accordingly, he wrote the Celtic legends in the guise of a novel.’ (Philip Marcus, Standish O’Grady, Bucknell 1970, p.36) [97].

The Flight of the Eagle (1897) is a thorough revision of Red Hugh’s Captivity with the footnotes removed to an appendix, the story stylistically enlivened, and a more optimistically heroic ending.~[97]

Cahalan points out that the text of Ulrick the Ready includes a slap at the scheme of land nationalisation proposed by Michael Davitt: ‘Government by chieftains had its good side too. Order was strongly preserved by a man whose power and wealth, nay, whose existence depended on the maintenance of order … The lord of the soil was resident, and rents were consumed on the spot. Whatever advantages may accrue from the “nationalization of the land” accrued under the rule of the chieftain, for he was the State and owned the land, he as head and representative of the clan. The servile population had no shre in the consumption of these rents, as they had no rights in the soil; but so far as the clan regnant was concerned, there was perfect land nationalization. (UR 140) [101].

William Buckley: The best historical novel published on any subject during this period [the Literary Revival] was William Buckley’s Croppies Lie Down: A Tale of Ireland in ‘98 (1903). The novel is … typical in that it is just one of scores of such novels by little-known authors, but outstanding in its thoroughness and realism. … Buckley seemed to sense, for the first time in the course of the Irish historical novel, that romance was not a prerequisite of good, readable historical fiction. He develops realistic characters, characters shaded by some measure of ambiguity and complexity … In Croppies Lie Down, realism is born in the Irish historical novel, a realism that subsequently dominated the genre. Very little is known about [his] life … Ernest Boyd praises Croppies Lie Down as ‘an isolated volume of … literary quality [and a] powerful and well written study of the Irish rebellion of 1798’ but tells us nothing else about the book or its author. … Fr Brown notes that Croppies Lie Down is ‘equally realistic and even more conscientious in its fidelity to the facts of history [than Michael Banim’s The Croppy ..]. [Brown adds of Cambia Carty and Other Stories, 1907, that it contains ‘close descriptions of lower and middle classes in modern Youghal. In places will be unpleasant reading for the people of Youghal. Pictures of Cork snobber decidely unfavourable to Cork people and on the whole disagreeable and sordid.’] Little additional information; only a 1913 article on Cork writers by John Gilbert, who wrote: ‘born at Sunday’s Well; an artist of ability; an art critic; contributes articles to MacMillan’s, Temple Bar, and the better class weeklies; the critic of current literature for the Irish Times; and reviews ‘Cambria Carty’ as ‘a series of stories racy of the soil, and aglow with local colour.’ [John Gilbert, Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Journal 19 (1913), p.449., unearthed by Alf MacLochlainn for Cahalan, with thanks).] [[103-04] Croppies Lie Down is a cumbersome, often melodramatic novel, but it was a first attempt since The Boyne Water to protray an Irish revolution as it really was … Buckley managed to move out of romance into realism. [107]

Irene Neville, a Protestant, marries the evil government schemer Gash who has bought out the Neville estate; her father is shot dead at the window of her home while trying to pacify the rebellious peasantry; Irene, Devereux—the Catholic hero and the rejected lover—Gash, and good Kitty Creagh, who counterspies against the devilish agent Harrigan are all dead by the end of the novel. Irene loves Devereux, who is a friend of Tone and has travelled in France, but doesn’t want to lose her position in society: ‘She felt a thrill of satisfaction in the thought that she belonged to this privileged class which could control the destinies of a nation’ (28); she is impressed however by Devereux’s United Irishman officer’s regalia; in his absence in the campaign she is wooed by Major Heathcote, but marries Gash after her father’s death to retain connexion with the estate; ‘she did not think once of any possible duty she might owe the man at her side … her own disillusionment swallowed up all else, nothing mattered—only malplaquet should be saved if possible, for it had been her mother’s. (467-68) [106] Devereux reappears and the lovers reach a reconciliation; he and Gash duel, and Irene is accidentally killed by Gash, who genuinely loved her, and commits suicide. The novel is narrated largely from the standpoint of the British officer Heathcote, who displays a sympathetic impartiality towards the rebels: ‘They will be goaded into doing something for which they are not prepared … they will be cut to pieces—and I shall probably be one of the slayers.’ The battle-scenes are realist: ‘a dying peasant was hoarsely repeating the Lord’s Prayer in Irish, the blood bubbles breaking on his lips’ (199-200). The note of ‘chaos’, ‘turmoil’, ‘ confusion’, ‘indiscriminate firing’ etc. prevails, and Heathcote is beaten and nearly tortured by the degenerate government forces. [107]James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room: The Irish Historical Novel (Syracuse UP/Gill & Macmillan 1983), 240pp. [COPY 2, pp.108- ]

Fr Brown’s Ireland in Fiction (1916) destroyed in fire behind the GPO.

Skeffington’s novel of ‘98 (1916). [109]

Eimar O’Duffy’s The Wasted Land (1919) an attack on Pearse. [110]

Louis D’Alton’s Death is So Fair (1938) and McLaverty’s Call My Brother Back (1939), events of 1916 and 1923.

Brinsley MacNamara, The Clanking of the Chains (1920) not a novel at all but a series of nationalist episodes or historical sketches from Robert Emmet to Sinn Fein. [110]

O’Duffy’s The Lion and the Fox (1922) [was] coached in romantic, remote mould of Standish O’Gray. O’Grady’s influence on O’Duffy reflected both in subject and style: The Lion and the Fox is a turgid account of the era of Hugh O’Neill in which O’duffy adopts with a straight face the romantic approach to history, curiously enough, that he himself subsequently lampooned … in King Goshawk and the Birds.[110]

In Wind from the North (1934) O’Neill emulated O’Grady’s romantic view of ancient Ireland, writing a first person account, in the style of a memoir, about the coming of the Danes. [110]

Francis MacManus in The Years of the Great Test, 1926-39 (Cork 1967): ‘In the ten or fifteen years after the establishment of the Irish Free State, the unhealed wounds of the civil war seemed beyond even the slow medicine of time. Time was at work, however. The conflict of black and white idealisms, the inhuman war of the angels, was becoming blurred by the everyday business of living ..rebuilding [and] making money. … There was reaction against the idealism that led to war and civil war. Denis Johnston’s play … belongs to the new mood. What he was saying is that patriotism isn’t enough and he said it with all the weirdness and baroque elaboration of a dream. (‘The Literature of the Period’, op. cit. p.116).

In ‘The Literature of the Period’ chapter The Years of the Great Test MacManus recalls Yeats at a banquet bequeathing the mantel of the laureate—in Hone’s phrase—to Ó Faolain and O’Flaherty and ‘stating to the stupefaction of his listeners [that] the future of Irish literature was with the realistic novel.’ MacManus continues, ‘the ageing poet must have genuinely believed that the realistic novel … would dominate Irish literature. After all, Joyce’s Ulysses was then first being recognised as the novel of the age.’ (123) [111]

In his article ‘Who Now Reads Scott?’, Aodh de Blacam complained that among younfg graduates there ‘hardly any who have read Scott at all’, and argued that all that was genius in him came from the Gael, pointing in particular to Scott’s Irish visit: ‘Did he not declare that County Cork alone had more material for romance within its borders than all broad Scotland?’ De Blacam felt that a return to Scott would help counterbalance the ‘vulgarities of the cinematograph culture, that chief enemy of all that we are striving to rebuild in Ireland to-day.’ (Irish Monthly, 65, 1937, pp.486-99.

At the end of the century, though Standish O’Grady was still pursuing the mirage of “an Irish Scott” the influence that proved fruitful through George Moore’s The Untilled Field was that of Turgenev’. (The Heyday of Sir Walter Scott (Routledge 1961), p.100 [113]

O Faolain spurred on by Turgenev’s A Nest of Gentlefolk, which MacManus was influence by Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter. [113].

In The Irish, O’Faolain sketched the overcoming of the influence of Scott in Irish writing, after the nineteenth century, when ‘each novelist is a kind of undiluted Walter Scott, never really sure of the absolute interest of his material … It was an entirely new thing for men to realise the full and complete dignity of the simplest life of the simplest people. Once they had acknowledged that then they were free to do anything they liked with it in literature—treat it naturalistically, fantastically, romantically, see it in any light they chose. They had conquered their material by accepting it.’ (162-64). In the interstices of this passage, he says: ‘Without the national thing … an Irish writer was always in danger of becoming a provincial by becoming an imitator. … The national thing gave Irish writers the necessary resolution … to find in Ireland the stuff of their work … The original Abbey Theatre would have been inconceivable without the nationalist movement. (162)

Sean O’Faolain, served as director of publicity for the IRA in the civil war, and re-entered UUC in Jan. 1924; married Ellen Gould, June 1928 in Boston. [115]

A Nest of Simple Folk, a historical novel-cum-bildungsroman, 1854-1916: O’Faolain wrote that it ‘gave me so much satisfaction. It was an historical novel, or family chronicle, based on everything I had known, or directly observed in the countryside, of my mother’s people, and the city life of my mother and father away back, some twenty years ago, in Cork City.’ (Vive Moi! 1964, p.371). [116] When Denis Hussey rejects his father;s reactionary respectability at the end of the novel, in favour of Leo’s rebellious stance, he reflects Ó Faolain’s own youthful rebellion, although the fictional Denis responds to the additional knowledge that his father informed on Leo.[121]

The young Denis Hussey, son of the policeman who gives information against Leo Donnel, but who falls under his influence, serves to focus O’Faolain’s own youthful experience—the chief protagonist Leo having shifted to the background. [116]. Leo is repeatedly called ‘a desperate character’; he is an energetic and destructive misfit. In The Irish, O’Faolain discusses 7the Leo Donnel, rebel-type: ‘The Rebel probably never cared. He was devoted to failure. He was a professional or vocational failure. … There was only one thing at which the Rebel wished to be a success and that was at rebelling. Death did not mean failure so long as the Spirit of Revolt lives.’ (p.120-21)~[117]

Admiring comments on A Nest of Simple Folk in MacManus, ‘Literature of the Period’: ‘a massive novel in human terms about the humus, the roots, of Irish patriotism, as manifested by the Fenians, the Parnellites and the mend of Easter Rising … This is the kind of historical borrowing which O’Connor never attempted.’ (The Years of the Great Test 1926-39, 1967, p.122). [121]

Corkery championed Synge as the first greast Irish lyrical realist in Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature (1931). [122]

NOTE: MacManus’s fiction is unashamedly Catholic; he follows the lead of the woman writer, Sigrid Undset, convert to Catholicism in 1924, who repudiates all the modern forces which deny the intrinsic worth of the free human soul. He advanced such arguments in articles such as ‘Communism: The Monstrous Parody’ The Irish Monthly, 63 (1935), 79-85; ‘The Conflict and the Hidden Enemy’ do. (1936), 216-23; and ‘The Shape of Nonsense to Come’, do. 65 (1937), 181-85. His literary opinions were expressed in another group: in ‘Arrows for the Target’, for The Irish Monthly 62 (1934), 542, MacManus declared that Zola’s ‘cult of realism’ was ‘a straight-jacket’ because ‘[he] percieved but observed little more, that men sin. It is true that mankind leans towards evel by reason of the Fall, but that truth must be regarded in the great network of truths woven about the Incarnation and the Redemption. Zola, however, stressed the degeneracy of men without counterbalancing that stress.’ In ‘The Novelist of Vast Landscapes: A Note on Sigrid Undset’, in The Irish Monthly 62 (1934), 366, he criticised the ‘eroticism’ of his favourite writer, adding:’the points I make are aesthetic as well as moral. He condemned Lawrence:’by sex he interpreted the world, and by the dark gods of the blood he promised a redemption. I could multiply these examples from Joyce, Proust, or from the dreary horde who harry the world with eroticism.’ On the other hand, he recommended the example of Undset: ‘If Ireland is ever to possess an historical novelists who will adequately express the life of her people, that novelist must at least be of the power and calibre of Sigrid Undset, the Norwegian. Her historical writings have an immediacey for our country that is twofold; she writes of a past age that is closely akin to Gaelic Ireland in religion and somewhat in customs; and she offers an example, with reservations, of what might be done by our native writers in respect of method and achievement.’ (361). In ‘The Background of the Catholic Novel’, in The Irish Monthly 62 (1934), 437, he propounded the connexion between Catholicism and realism in fiction:’The highest compliment that you can pay to a novel … is that is is true to life … The novel can be true to life only when the author’s conceptions conform with reality … Behind and infusing all this seeming tumult and turmoil, the apparent aimlessness and quivering pain, there is spiritual reality, the background of Being whereby things are thrown into significant relief. There is God, and life mirrors Him.’ (See Cahalan, pp.123-25.)

Summary of the controversy surrounding The Tailor and Ansty,, see Cahalan, Tailor, ‘Tim Buckley, Folklore, Literature, and Seanchas an Táilliúra’, in Eire-Ireland: A Journal of Irish Studies, 14 no.2 (1979), 116-18.

Benedict Kiely, Modern Irish fiction—A Critique (Dublin 1950): Steady and continuous contemplation of a degraded people is the best possible discipline for the emotions. One result of that discipline, as far as an irish writer is concerned, is that it becomes possible to accept Ireland … there is less softness of feeling in the acceptance displayed by Francis Macmanus than in the rejection made classical by James Joyce and so subtly analysed and sensed like a burning in the bowels, in Sean Ó Faolain’s Come Back to Erin. (p.83). [124]

MacManus’s character Donnacha Ruadh MacConmara is derived from Corkery’s The Hidden Ireland (1941), pp.262-264. Donnacha is progressively Odysseus, Job, and Lear. In Stand and Deliver he is an arrogant young rebel; in Candle for the Proud, he is poor, oppressed, long-suffering; and in Men Withering he rages against the neglect of his grandchildren. MacManus’s version of the story includes some verses in English expressing Donnacha’s feelings and resolves.~[127]. Set in Co Waterford; Donnacha first returns from the Continent to be schoolteacher in Slieve Gua; lives with his daughter in Kilmacthomas and seres as Rev. Grimshaw’s sexton; finally, having reconverted, he joins his son in Knockanee before spending his last days at his daughters. Corkery had notes his Duain na hAithrighe (Song of Repentance), suggesting that the author fo Eachtra Ghiolla an Amaráin (Advertures of a Luckless Fellow) may not have been so unlucky after all. [127]. MacManus provided his character with a wife (Maire), a daugher (Maire Og), and a son (Donnacha Og). In the preface to Stand and Give Challenge—which ends with the his dying wife speaking those words—he wrote: ‘This book may send shivers of pedantic disapproval up and down the spines of historians and biographers. It is not an essay in hisotry of which I have been very sparing; still less an essay in biography … It is an attempt to present the lives of a few people, as I have conceived them, of the hidden Ireland. You and I, had we been alive and Irish and troubled with song, might have been such a persona as the chief character who lived when a dark nightmare was on the nation.’ (SGC, 1964, p.5) Donnacha’s crime is to be a Catholic schoolteacher in the days of the Penal Laws. The heroism of the trilogy is a Catholic heroism, but MacManus is not anti-Protestant polemicist. [131]

Jim Phelan’s And Blackthorns (Nicholson & Watson 1944), about episodes during the 1920s, ‘when the fanatic rifles, revolvers, shot-guns, old swords, and Blackthorns’ (p.7) [133].

Philip Rooney returned to the romantic world of Redmond O’Hanlon in North Road (1940) and dramatized the late-19th c. Land War in Captain Boycott (1946), but these books were … popular documentaries rather than novels. [133]

O’Flaherty began but did not finish a novel in Irish, Coirp agus Anim (Body and Soul). [133]

O’Flaherty b. Gort na gCapall, nr. Kilmurphy, Inis Mór, Aran. Several details of his life appear in his brother Tom’s book, Aranmen All (1934). His father was an early Sinn Feiner, and harrassed the island land-grabers; his mother an inverterate story-teller.~[133]. Ed. Rockwell College, Cashel, 1908-13; organised the student corp of the Republican Volunterrs at Blackrock College; schol, UCD 1914; joined Irish Guards, served in France and Belgium, and suffered injury in shell-blast, 1917; told Doyle that his reasons for joining the Army were disillusionment with the Republican movement, fear of losing his scholarship, and desire for excitement; recieved BA from UCD in 1918 on the basis of special provisions for ex-servicemen; travelled 1918-20 on shipping; returned from S. America on hearing of the Sinn Fein Republic, declared in 1918, but soon drifted off on a ship to the Mediterranean; involved in obscure arms deal in Smyrna; sailed to Canada via Gibraltar; hoboed, lumberjacked; engaged in trade union activity (Industrial Workers of the World); visited siblings in Boston; inhabited New York Bowery; returned to Aran, poor and ill, 1921; joined Republicans in Dublin, 1922, and siezed the Rotunda with a small force of unemployeds; raised the Red Flag; driven out in four days, fled to Cork, then London; in London 1922-24 he encountered his literary mentor Edward Garnett; returned to Ireland & obtained patronage of George Russell, 1924; travelled to Rusia, 1930.

O’Flaherty started To-morrow, a radical alternative to The Irish Statesman. He wrote to The Statesman that he ‘consider[ed] the whole policy of passive resistance to be ghostly, associated with philosophy and death and not withthe creative vitality of a living people’. He compared Ireland to England in Shakespeare’s day: ‘His race was emerging, with bloodshot eyes, lean, hungry, virile, savage, from the savagery of feuldaism into the struggle for Europe … Ours is the wild tumult of the unchained storm, the tumult of the army on the march, clashing cymbals, rioting with excess of energy’ (Quoted in John Zneimer, The Literary Vision of Liam O’Flaherty, Syracuse UP 1970, p.8) [138]

Zneimer also quotes O’Flaherty’s correspondence from Dublin to Edward Garnett, viz., ‘I pat myself on the back. I licked all these swine into a cocked hat. When I came here nobody would speak to me. Everybody hated me. I wound them all round my fingers. I got AE to give me a thundering review. I got the old women to praise me. Now that I have fooled them I am telling these damned intellectuals what I think of them in choice scurrilous language. (op. cit. p.6)

O’Flaherty admired O’Casey because ‘he is an artist, unlike the other bastard writers I met here’. he criticised The Plough and the Stars because he though that O’Casey abused Pearse and Connolly, himself believing 1916 to be the most glorious gesture in the history of Ireland; neverthless, the play greatly influences the opening street scenes in Insurrection. O’Casey records O’Flaherty’s attempts to draw him into his radical circle, and his own refusal, on the grounds that O’Flaherty appeared to have Yeats’s arrogance without Yeats’s genius. [138]

O’Flaherty’s ideal for the novel, expressed in a review of 1925: ‘In order to be a work of genius, a novel must offer something more than a perfect style, the imprint of a cultured mind, and gentleness of soul. … It must be a relentless picture of life, as lashing in its cruelty as the whip of Christ when there were moneychangers to be beaten from the Temple, as remorseless as the questions of a jealous lover. It must have the power to invoke great beauty or great horror in the same breath as it calls forth laughter from the lips. (Zneimer, p.9). [139]

Sean O’Faolain called him an ‘inverted romantic’. In Shame the Devil, he gives this account of himself: ‘A godless hermit, I began my communion with the cliffs, the birds, the wild animals, and the sea of my native land.’ (p.38). His reflections on the occupation of the Rotunda:’Ever since then, I have remained, in the eyes of the vast majority of Irish men and women, a public menace to faith, morals and property, a Communist, an atheist, a schoudnrel of the worst type … Crave forgiveness? Clip the wings of my fancies, in order to win the favour of the mob? to have the property and be esteemed? Better to be devoured by the darkness than to be haunted by dolts into an inferior light.’ (21-22, 23.)

O’Flaherty’s Famine deals centrally with the Kilmartin family, only maring, Mary and their baby of whom survive to sail to America. O’Flaherty’s knowledge of Famine lore reinforced by his reading of Rev. J O’Rourke’s The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 with notices of Earlier Irish Famines (1875), the which was most concerned of all early histories of the event with the plight of the ordinary people. (Sheeran, 1976, p.205). In Famine, Daniel O’Connell’s constitutional politics are lampooned in the figure of O’Connellite politician McCarthy Lalor, whom the parish priest inwardly repudiates (‘the demagogue O’Connell had professed himself a pacificist and a loyal subject … now … starved bodies … would pay for the craven sin of pacificism’, 328). The novel is interspersed with sardonic socialist polemics~, and contains an extreme representation of the landlord’s agent, Chadwick, who seduces and ruins Ellie Kilmartin, and exclaims against the peasants, ‘I’m going to root them out like a nest of rats’ (172). When Brian Kilmartin dies, his dog dies with hiim, ‘nestled against the old man’s shoulder’ (448) [142].

O’Flaherty gives Davitt a brief appearance in Land, where he orates from a platform: ‘To confiscate the land of a subjugated people’, Davitt cried passionately, as he gesticulated with his solitary arm, ‘and bestow it on adventurers is the first act of unrighteous conquest, the preliminary step to the extermination of servitude of an opponent race [sic]. The landlord garrison that England established in this country centuries ago is today as true to the object of its foundation as when it first cursed our soil.’ (Random House ed. 1946, p.175-76). [145]

Stephen Brown on the Land League novels:’We may omit consideration of the novels that deal with the last named period. They belong to politics rather than to history.’ (‘Irish Historical Fiction’, Studies 4, 1915, p.447.)

O’Flaherty admired Theodore Dreiser [153].

Macken conveys the Irishness of his characters’ speech mostly through individual words rather than through Anglo-Irish syntax, as with O’Flaherty, Ó Faoláin, or MacManus. Why Macken chose to write in his particular metropolitan idiom we do not know because due to lack of scholarly attention very little is known about Macken in general. He was born 3 May 1915, son of Agnes Brady Macken and Walter Machen, a carpenter, who died early; ed. Patrician Brothers’ Primary and High Schools, Galway; clerk on the county council, became involved in Taibhdhearc at sixteen or seventeen; eloped to London with the daughter of a local newspaper editor; sold insurance there for two years; returned, and stayed acting, producing, and writing plays in Irish—which went unpublished—for nine years. His English play Twilight of the Warriors (1956) was concerned with the Troubles; he collaborated with O’Flaherty on a dramatic adaptation of The Informer, which was completed in 1952 but not produced. Of eleven novels, three are historical: Seek the Fair Land (1959), The Silent People (1962), and The Scorching Wind (1964), dealing respectively with Ireland in the 1650s, the period 1822-1847, and the period 1915-22. Though not a trilogy, the novels do share characters’ names, Dualta and Dominick, and other general features in common. Each is introduced by a ‘Historical Note’, informing the reader of the key facts and preparing for a nationalist interpretation. These notes are both mechanical and emphatic in their stress upon the repressive role of Britain in Irish history. The stories are romances in that the characters do not have specified livelihoods, and achievement feats of physical stamina, engage in relationships of pure love, or—where the villains are concerned—pure hatred (such as Col. Coote’s)—and live by the light of self-conscious racial bravery. The series of their patriotic adventures leading from the Cromwell repressions to the War of Independence and the Civil War possesses the force of an ideological argument. At the same time, Macken inculcates a spiritual lesson, beyond politics. This is exemplified by the history of the priest, Sebastian, in Seek the Fair Land, who travels with Dominick but is eventually captured and burnt at the stake. In dying, he appears to transfer his voice to Dominick’s mute son, a miracle which persuades Dominick that the ‘fair land’ exists within: ‘that would be the real fair land, deep down in yourself.’(299). This psychological and spiritual discover is in harmony with the countryside itself:’Not that this physical one wasn’t fair too. The mountains were all purple-tinged and they ranged allaround him protectingly, and below him was the white sand of the shore, and the heaving sea was stained with many colours.’ (299). The characters all engage in a journey—an odyssey of racial self-discovery. Each novel begins with an event registering the extremity of oppression under which the Irish people labours. Dualta Dane in The Silent People is struck in the face with a horsewhip by the landlord’s son whom he turns from his saddle, and so has to flee; he becomes an agrarian rebel. He joins Cuan McCarthy and the Whiteboys in the 1820s before being convinced of pacificism, by Daniel O’Connell in person. He then settles in Co Clare down to farming and school-teaching. In The Scorching Wind, Dominic, called the reluctant rebel’ by his brother, is ‘convinced’ of the necessity for armed struggle by the experience of torture at the hands of the Black and Tans, and later becomes transformed into a die-hard Republican in the Civil War while his brother accepts the Treaty and the Free State. Macken’s pivotal figure is often a school-teacher, or at least bookish. Irish politicians and priests tend to be unambiguously avatars of freedom. In The Silent People, O’Connell has the attributes of a demagogue and a demigod: ‘There has been too much blood spilled, without need. Listen, I have called a nation into existence, all of them, not a few her and a few there with pikes in the thatch, but a whole people. I will imbue them like a years in a cake so that they will rise and swell, and become so peacefully big and cohesive, so morally strong, that they will have to be handed what they want.’ (123). Dualta helps him in is successful campaign against Vesey-Fitzgerald in the Clare election of 1828. At the end, Dualta visits O’Connell, whom he finds dying, the voice going out of him. Soon the land will be silent. It is a sympathetic and a tragic portrait. [157-64].

Irish Murdoch, Red and Green

O’Tuairisc, L’Attaque (1961), a novel of the French landing in the West in 1798: Cahalan’s account includes quotations from an interview with Ó Tuairisc. Viz., on influences: ‘the epic style of the Classics, of Anglo-Saxon, and particularly the ‘historical’ sagas of the Old Irish and Medieval period, as seen in such fictionalised history as Táin Bó Cuailgne, Cath Rois na Rí for Bóinn, and even in the would-be historical Leabhar Gabhála [and] a second and more powerful influence [Tolstoy’s War and Peace]’. Ó Tuairisc notes: ‘all these writers (the ‘synthetic’ historians) had no compunction about weaving the actual facts of history into a myth or a poetic fiction: such poiesis [sic], of course, included prose as well as verse.’ He further testified to the overwhelming influence of Tolstoy’s realism as ‘the [171] human quality which … is invariably absent in the Irish epic. Tolstoy’s soldiers are not the half-divine heroes of the Táin bu the down-to-earth haymaking, hungry, bored and humoursome soldiers I had known in the Army of Ireland.’ Ó Tuairisc noted that he was ‘attracted by the thme of theimpact of a dynamic, revolutionary, atheistic force upon a static peasant population who by sheer tribulation and passive resistance had survived a hundred years of penal colonial regime coldly calculated to keep them socially, politically, and intellectually poor and impotent. Violence was rare amongst them, and their language had nothing of the shapr impact of the French word attaque.’ [173]. His source was Richard Hayes, The Last Invasion of Ireland (1937), in whose introduction it is noted that the story is ‘one of high adventure with not a few epic qualities’ (p. xv) [172].

The novel opens with Máirtín Caomháhach, a peasant who bears the ancestral name of the kings of Leinster, reluctantly joining into the rising; he has just happily married Saidhbhín, the daughter of a wealthy man when ‘the big world outside break[s] in on him’ (trans., 18). The Protestant leader, Robert Craigie, is unpopular with him, and the men maintain a lively pessimism. Ó Tuairisc strategically ends with the Republican victory at Castlebar. O’Tuairisc uses the Táin with its cattle-driving motif for ironic purposes. The high-flown patriotic rhetoric of Craigie, writing to his wife, is contrasted with the earthy, humble messaye that the peastand Pádraig Ó Flannagáin sends to his mother. As for the action, Caomhánach is no Cuchulainn-type: “Ionsaí eile. Ní hea, a chailleach, ach eirleach eile.’ [Another attack. No, old hag, another slaughter]” 113). Ó Tuairisc ends his novel with the sentence: ‘Tá an Táin déanta [the raid has been completed]’ (139). Ó Tuairisc explained: ‘”The ancient Táin, long lost, has been recovered, and now written,” That’s just the way I felt when I put down the last full stop’ [172-73].

James Plunkett, Strumpet City (1969), successfully filmed by RTE with Peter O’Toole and Cyril Cusack

Jack Yeats’s paintings illustrated the jackets of Across the Bitter Sea (1973) and Blood Relations (1977), by Eilis Dillon. She commented:’Every writer dimly envisages his audience … I am aware that my novels do indeed help to educate the youth of the nation but the audience I had in mind was one that I am much better pleased to have satisfied. These are highly educated, sophisticated men and women, some of them historians, and if I had not succeeded with them, I would have regarded my efforts as having been a failure.’ [Letter to Cahalan, 11 May 1981] [178]

Ed. Synge St., were Francis MacManus was his teacher; Plunkett joins Workers’ Union of Ireland in 1938, while a clerk; branch and staff secretary in 1947; knew Jim Larkin in his later days; visited USSR as part of a delegation of Irish writers, January 1955; Trusting and the Maimed (1955), and also the radion play Big Jim (1955); among those who attacked Plunkett in reviews were Anthony Cronin, who drew attention to his Russian visit; an unsuccessful call was issued from the Catholic Standard for Plunkett to resign his secretaryship; he resigned voluntarily in Aug. 1955; became one of the first two producers at Telefís Eireann in 1960. [179]

Other historical works include Farewell Harper (1956), radio play; ‘The Plain People’ short story about the labour union world; When did You Die, Friend? (1966), radion play about 1798, using William Farrell’s journal as a guidebook. [219, n4.]. Stories of working class sympathy are ‘Janey Mary’ and ‘The Plain People’.

When Big Jim was rewritten as The Risen People (1958),a play influenced by O’Casey (as Larkin acknowledges), and produced at the Abbey, the publisher Hutchinson suggested to Larkin that he write a novel on a similar historical subject. A documentary account of the strike was published by the Workers’ Union; 1913: Jim Larkin and the Dublin Lockout (1964), while Plunkett was working on Strumpet City. Form Big Jim to Strumpet City, the presence of Jim Larkin retreat from the surface. In The Risen People he is ‘more a presence, a chorus, than a flesh and blood character’ according to the character description. Plunkett told Eavan Boland in interview that he had realised, ‘you either write a biography or else you don’t write about the person, but you write about their influence.’ [‘Dublin’s Advocate’, in This Week (12 Oct. 1972, p.40).] In an essay for the book Leaders and Workers, ed. JW Boyle (Mercier, n.d.), Plunkett wrote: ‘James Joyce spoke of Dublin as the centre of paralysis, blinding conscience and soul. It remained to Jim Larkin to see the slum dweller as a human being—degraded, yet capable of nobility, perceptive, yet capable of living with dignity; capable, even, of music and literature—Jim Larkin’s great task was to create a new social conscience.’ (in Boyle, op. cit. p.40.)

Plunkett influenced in writing Strumpet City by O’Flaherty’s Famine, which he considered ‘page by page … a badly written book but in its totality … extraordinary.’ [Letter to Cahalan, 17 Jan 1981.]

Plunkett commented on Strumpet City in interview with The Times, 6 Dec 1968: ‘[the novel] is a picture of Dublin in the seven years 1907-1914. Against the backcloth of social agitation, it is about the attitudes of various strata of society—from Dublin Castle and people of property down to the destitute poor and the outcasts. Joyce wrote about the moderately middle class, and O’Casey about the slums of the period. I was concerned with finding a form in which all the element could fit.’ [cited in Godeleine Carpentier, ‘Dublin and the Drama of Larkinism: James Plunkett’s Strumpet City’, in The Irish Novel in Our Time, ed. Maurice Harmon and Patrick Rafoidi, Lille UP 176, p.213] [182]

Accuracy in depiction of mentality of the employers in Strumpet City derives from Arnold Wright’s Disturbed Dublin: the Story of the Great Strike of 1913 (1914), which was commissioned by William Martin Murphy’s Chamber of Commerce. In an address to the Irish Management Institute, Plunkett quoted from it Wright’s remarks about the effect lowering effect on the productive value of Irish labour of a low standard of living, and his conclusion: [therefore one] ‘should be chary of playing the role of critic to employers who have to utilise this damaged material.’ Plunkett’s commentary was:’In other words, huger reduces stamina, so you scale down the wages. An employee was not a human being, he was an instrument. If he was sick or physically sick or debilitated, he was a damaged instrument. As to the man who failed to find any employment whatever, it was God’s, not society’s business to provide.’ In the same address, Plunkett goes on the speak of the beneficial effects arising from the Commissions of Inquiry concerning wages, house, &c., which followed the strike, drawing liberals on the side of the workers, beside drawing Pearse and Connolly together. ‘As against all that, its socialist colouring, minimal though it was in reality, so frightened Irish conservatism in State and Church that for more than long enough social change of any kind was regarded with deep suspicion and doggedly resisted.’ [‘Yours Respectfully, in New Realities (Dublin 1972), p.31] [183]

The cast of Strumpet City includes: Fitz and Maryy; Pat, his socialist-philosopher mate; Hennessy, the scrounging displaced gentleman; Mulhall, a Larkinite faithful; Keever, a stool pigeon; Rashers Tierney; and, at the other end of the scale, Yearling and Father O’Connor; Mr and Mrs Bradshaw; as well as Father Giffley. Plunkett avoids mid-middle class figures. [182] Plunkett has said that Rasher’s was based on Johnny Forty Coats, and that Mulhall is based on Barney Conway, Larkin’s hardfisted righthand man. The novel has an episodic structure, chapters tending to conclude as short stories do, on a downbeat. Godeleine Carpentier talks of ‘the contrapuntal structure of the novel, in which all episodes are skillfully dovetailed [in] a network of symmetries and contrasts’ such as that between Rasher’s and King Edward rising in the morning to their different lots. [188] Plunkett uses collage effectively, as in the scene after Rasher’s release by the unaccustomedly kind policeman, while in another quarter of the city a litle boy dies of consumption on a hostpital bed. [189]. At the novel’s end, Ftiz and Mary are leaving Ireland; Fr Giffley is in an asylum; and Yearling too is leaving because ‘nothing would ever happen in Ireland again.’ [189].

Eilís Dillon: historical novel as family chronicle; Across the Bitter Sea covers the same period as O’Faoláin’s A Nest of Simple Folk (1851-1916), and likewise deals with a Fenian who lives to see the Easter Rising. For plot, a love triangle: Alice MacDonagh marries Samuel Flaherty but her first love is Morgan Connolly, who she marries after Samuel’s death. Her mother mary had lived with George Flaherty, Samuel’s father but had married Thomas Macdonagh. In Blood Relations, the sequel, Molly Gould loves Sam Flaherty (grandson of the elder Samuel) but when he runs off to fight in Easter 1916, makes love with Peter Morrow and then marries Nicholas de Lacy, bearing Peter’s son which everyone imagines to be Sam’s. [191-192] Blood Relations, though limited to the period 1916-1924, skips out the Civil War altogether. In the narration of these novels, Alice MacDonagh dominates the former, and Molly Gould the latter, giving them a feminine perspective. Her masculine characters are flat creations [Cahalan, 195].

Thomas James Bonner Flanagan, b. Greenwich, Connecticut, Nov. 5 1923; The Year of the French, ded. ‘In memory as always of Ellen Treacy of Fermanagh and Thomas Bonner of the Fenian Brotherhood’. The Irish Novelists 1800-1850, first published 1958 [sic]; first taught at Columbia; appt. professor and chairman of English dept. Univ. of California at Berkeley; later Chair of English at State Univ. of New York at Stonybrook.

The Year of the French takes as its primary model Bishop Joseph Stock of Killala’s A Narrative of What Passed at Killal, in the County of Mayo, and the Parts Adjacent, During the French Invasion in the Summer of 1798 (1800), mimicked by Flanagan as ‘An Impartial Narrative of What Passed at Killala in the Summer of 1798’ by Arthur Vincent Broome—yet the style of the narration more resembles that of Barrington at most points; and cf. John Barth, The Sot Weed Factor. [~197-98]. Flanagan’s theme is despair, and his narrative focuses on the devastating defeats after the temporary success at Castlebar. He ends in showing a scornful French departure from Mayo and Humbert’s cynical chat with the British General Cornwallis, expressing his determination never to return to ‘this most unhealthy country’. George Moore, appointed President of the Republican by Humbert, and his more circumspect brother John Moore (whose hatred of violence is only equalled by his hatred of the arrogance of the ascendancy). The narrative is conducted in different first person voices, but the central character or hero, is clearly Owen McCarthy, a schoolteacher and Gaelic poet, named after the protagonist of William Carletons ‘Tubber Derg’. He ; a reluctant rebel, and he is hanged after the rising, having ‘burnt’ the ears of the priest to whom he confessed his lively sins. According to his more pious friend Sean McKenna, his sin is too great love: ‘it is perhaps because of it that his is so fine a poet.’ His fate expresses the hopelessness of the ill-equipped and untrained Irish peasants against superior forces, and represents a further stage in the humiliation of Irish culture in the advancing line of British society and culture. The novel ends with his successor, Sean McKenna’s deflatingly merchantile thought: the linen whichI brought back with me from Kilal is badly bleached and I will think carefully before having further dealings with Johnson of Sligo.’ [197-200].

[ back ]
[ top ]