W.P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival (1894)

The Irish Literary Revival, Its History, Pioneers and Possibilities, with portraits (Published by the Author at 1 Constance Road, East Dulwich, London S.E. (London 1894) [printed by Paternoster Steam Press]; rep. Lemma Publishing Corp. (NY 1970), v-vi+184pp. [Note that the pages with plates are not numbered but not omitted from the numeration series.]

[...] a record of Irish literary awakenings and endeavours during the past ten years … in the stress and tension of Irish political interests … unnoted in the background … litterateurs of our time … I find them for the most part a merry and a Celtic company … &c. [v-vi].

‘The revival which is known in a general way as the Irish literary movement (though it is really something more) has gone on and prospered in a manner which is surprising even to the Irish students and thinkers who, a decade ago, were dreaming what to others seeemd the vain dream of an Irish Renaissance.’ [1]

No study as yet has surveyed the movement as a whole, has taken cognisance of the several schools within it, has recognised how much wider it is than the rallying grounds of the existing literary societies, how really racy of the soil it is, how typical of certain Irish qualities, and how gradually its roots have grown from various elements of Celtic Ireland … I believe that within there are men with missions which ought to be memorable … [2]

… generous national and social ideals before them, as well as their essentially intellectual ones … the striking way in which life, love or culture, literature, and scholastic enthusiasm are bound up in the Gaelic nature at its best. Perhaps with the expansion and succsess of this revival - always remembering the education and social, as well as the purely literary aims of it - the destinies of things Irish are more closely identified than many political students imagine. It is the visible evidence of that critical, studious Ireland which has been gathering itself to itself, and finding its strength behind the social changes and the political scene-shifting of the past few years. [3]

Stopford Brooke dealt with one important side of its intellectual mission [2]

Hyde’s lecture of ‘The necessity of De-Anglicising the Irish Nation’ [Dublin Nat Lit. Soc., 25 Nov 1892] was a startling revelation of the extent to which we had aped foreign fashions, of a nature the least suited to our character and requirements. It was a diagnosis of one of our worst diseases, one which we would make either literary or national revolutions impossible. [4]

Realising this inborn love of the Celt for knowledge and lore of so many kinds, it is no wonder that there should be to-day a band of Irishmen whose first purpose is to convince their brethern that devotion to those scholastic [5] and literary ideals is the surest sign of their being true to themselves; that Ireland has need of men who would be apostles of study and culture, as essentially Father Mathew was an apostle of temperance.

Another section of the movement … is one of literary enthusiasts, pure and simple; some whose natures and intellects are Celtic to a fault; who would have Ireland’s literature really expressive of herself; a literature through which an Irish would sound as truly as through the Irish melodies themselves … others who plan a literature which will have no land as its home, will be as wide as humanity, leaving us like Love in Mr Yeats’ poem, [INDENT] ‘To pace upon the mountains far above,/And hide his head amid a crowd of stars.’ [6]

[NOTE: Ryan is here distinguishing between those who have a politico-cultural agenda, those who have a literary-national agenda, and those who have the notion of using Irish material as the springboard for a world-class literature]

[Quotes George Eliot’s “Many Theresas” passage in Middlemarch] Has it not been so with the Celt? His story, right studied, shows his years to be long yearning for that epic life; but the battle-field, the scaffold, the famine grave, or the emigrant coffin-ship, have too often been the rude results, the end, the burial places of his spiritual grandeur. But a glorious rvenge were his if, in an era when peace and the fruition of his national hopes had found him, gifted children should arise and interpret that epic soul to the world. [PARA] Such interpreters we have now to meet. &c. [7]

II: The Southwark Departure
Rose Kavanaghfurnished studies of a simple, idyllic Ulster life of the kind certain political utterances would never lead us to expect in the northern province [8]

Rosa Mullholland: in the Wild Birds of Killeevy Miss Rosa Mulholland gave us a memorable idyll [8]

Sir Charles Duffy came prominently before a new generation as the historian of Davis and Young Ireland [8]

Richard Dowling had written a story of Western Ireland whose power had suggestions not unworthy of Hugo [8]

Richard Ashe King: in Wearing of the Green the Land League found its illustration in fiction. [8]

T. D. Sullivan: a sunnyhearted minnesinger finding his way by troublous paths and stormy political windings. I doubt if any Irish singer is more popular than he by the Irish peasant’s chimney corner. Epics have died while ‘Deep in Canadian Woods’ is as popular as ever. [10]

John Boyle O’Reilly, a true poet; the sensitive lyrists, the idealst, the rebel, the eager-hearted lover of humanity, the Christian, Bohemian, socialist, the poet always [10-11]

Francis A Fahy: a young civil servant, born in Kinvara, Co. Galway, and author at a tender age of an Irish drama [The Last of the O’Leary’s], here began in conjunction with a few enthusiastic friends, an Irish revivalwhich led to many such awakenings in Great Britain [11] … Francis Fahy himself, and his young friends, were, I must admit, as ardent politicians as any. But they had far-reaching literary and educational projects as well [12] Founded Southwark Junior Irish Literary Club, c.1880, Surrey Rooms, Blackfriars Road. [14] wrote child’s rhyming Irish history [14]

Southwark Irish Literary Club, c.1883 [15], with the motto Sgar an solus, ‘Spread the Light’ [16], and with Francis Fahy as President and John T Kelly as secretary [17]

Peter O’Leary:’a son of the people, belonging to an earlier generation, and deep in ideas upon ancient Ireland [24]

John Redmond address the Society on ‘Wexford in ‘98’ in 1885. [24]

a members notebook records: ‘1886, January 17th; fits appearance at the Club of the renowned DJ O’D and brother [Griffin O’Donoghue]. So awe-stricken at the learned looks of the members, that they did not dare to venture inside.’ Mr O’Donoghue, though at first so retiring, was soon a force in Southwark. [25]

21st Sept 1887, Justin McCarthy lectured on ‘The Literature of ‘48’ [with] Sir Charles Gavan Duffy in the chair … it almost seemed as if the dead had arisen to study the present. For Sir Charles was essentially a figure of a dead generation. The Irish Phoenix had arisen many times from its ashes since, on his turning in despair from Ireland, he had used the most imaginative phrase of his life, telling of a national corpse on the dissecting table. to the young students his later life was all but unknown - he was to them the colleague of Thomas Davis, who had worked for ideals like their own in bouyant days before the Great Famine had buried a whole Irish world of hope, pride, and pleasantry; or [26] before the remnants of a broken race went down to the sea in coffin ships. He had stepped into a little world that would have charmed Thomas Davis - though, curiously enough, amongst those who were there to greet him was the representative of a movement with which Young ireland could have had no sympathy; - the very head centre of aestheticisim himself - more curious still, that this same representative should be the son of Speranza. [28].

Edmund Downey (FM Allen) … to read some Irish humorous sketches from that volume which began his run of real literary luck - Through Green Glasses. It had just been published, receiving an almost embarrassing amount of critical benediction, Mr Gladstone leading off the chorus. Mr. Downey was too modest and retiring to take a prominent part in the work at Southwark … in succeeding years, in the midst of a busy literary career, he was always ready to give a helping hand to Irish work or a national or literary character, no matter how local it might be. [28]

~Yeats first made his way to the Club in March 1888, when Daniel Crilly MP was lecturing on Fanny Parnell; lectured shortly thereafter, bringing with him Dr. John Todhunter [29] … Yeats’s lecture … of course it was on the good people - was something of a revelation to us - in fact he spoke as one who took his information firsthand. [30]

Miss Katherine [sic] Tynan … on a visit the English capital [30]

~Michael MacDonagh lectures on Irish graves in England; John T Kelly writes to appeal that something be done for the grave of John Francis O’Donnell at Kensal Green, resuling also in the publication of his poems, issued at Christmas 1890, a volume which ‘stand unquestionable as one of the most creditable additions made to Irish literature in the latter half of our century’. [31]

This event prompted Gavan Duffy to write from Villa Marguerite, Nice, saying ‘I have often thought of forming a small Limited Liability Company for this purpose [of ‘publishing the verse and prose of men and women who have helped the national cause for the last generation’] [32-33]

Removed to Clapham, 1890; changed name from club to Society, early 1891 [33]

.. Sir Charles did not, however, move as fast as we did, and towards the end of 1891 we saw little prospect of a new Irish Library unless it could be started upon our own independent lines [35]

In December came a new development … unless we devoted ourselves to original work rather than mere re-publication, ad organised a wide and thorough popular programme, our intellectual usefulness would be next to an unknown quantity. Mr WB Yeats … discussed various questions … with Mr DJ O’Donoghue … Yeats was decidedly of the opinion, too, that the work might be attempted upon a more ambitious scale. He offered to enduce Mr TW Rollleston and other to throw themselves into the Irish literary movement … the meeting … came off at Mr Yeats’s house in Chiswick on the 28th December, 1891. &c.

III: Pan-Celtic
Mr Gerald C Pelly inspired to form what became the Pan-Celtic Society, in 1888 by Gavan Duffy’s exhortation in the Nation that young Irish writers should study to history of their country in order that their works might “treasure her legends, eternalise her traditions, and people her scenery”. [39]

~With him, Dr. Downey, another Blackrock College man, who believed that the Irish educational and publishing systems were ruined by a process of ‘whiggification’ and could only be saved by ‘Celticism’ [41-42]

PJ McCall, Catholic University man, intimate knoweldge of Old Dublin, of Wexford and Wicklow, command over metres and versification almost equal to [43] Mangan; ‘his mind stored with the drollest of old songs of the people, with their idioms, superstitions, and fancies … it is no exaggeration to say tht his sketches called Fenian Nights’ Entertainments, contributed in after years to the Shamrock, are amongst the happiest illustrations afford in our days of how the Irish peasant at his best can tell a story. He lives in a house in Old Dublin that teems with strange memories, and there has every-day opportunities of studying Celts both quaint and queer. No phase, flash, idiosyncrasy, or idiom escapes his observant Celtic nature.’ [44]

Rose Kavanagh: ‘with a weak frame, a pale and beautiful face, whose light was alas! to be quenched by an untimely death, a simple and joyous nature, she embodied to her associates some of the tenderest and worthiest traits of Irish womanhood. She was the conducting a children’s department in the Weekly Freeman (.. ‘Uncle Remus’) … Jacobite bards would have called her Rosaleen; Shakespeare would have set her side by side with Imogen. [45-46].

Lays and Lyrics of the Pan-Celtic Society, published autumn 1889, ed. Mr AR Stritch, a private undertaking of his, ‘can[not] fairly be considered representative [as being marred by inferior matter, by a good deal of which, the editor’s statement notwithstanding, is not stamped with the individuality of the Celt [But isn’t this a contradiction, Mr Ryan?] [48-49]

On Rolleston, after the publication of his anthology, Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland, ded. John O’Leary and the YIrel. Societies: ‘The Poems and Ballads had just appeared, and were taken as indicating a new inspiration in Ireland. Mr Rolleston was in the “black books’ just then, on account of a pamphlet on boycotting, and certain strictures on some aspects of the national movement. Of his lofty ideals, national spirit, and staunch integrity there was no question, but I scarcely think that he had grapsed the full nature of the difficulties and harassing circumstances surrounding a less fortunate peasantry.’ [50; Rolleston’s bebearded photo appears on p.53].

IV: Remarkable Movement
The Meeting at Yeats’s Chiswick house, 28th Dec. 1891. Fahy and Thomas Boyd prevented from attending by insufficient notice. [52] Rolleston, ed. of Dublin University Review, present: ‘to Yeats, unmistakable Irish mystic, he was a curious contrast’. Rolleston takes umbrage at someone’s disparagement of Whitman, whom he has translated into German with Dr. Knortz. [54] ‘Rolleston proved himself an enthusiast and a capable orgaiser. It was frequently remarked that he had at length found his proper Irish sphere.’ [56]

Sir Charles Gavan Duffy made president, but Yeats and company subsequently publish independent books which ‘to put it mildly, challenge comparison with the best in the old Library of Ireland’. [59]

Charles Gavan Duffy arrives in London, June 1892; much aged; his pamphlet, A Fair Constitution for Ireland, not warmly received; [62]; his paper mostly concerned with ‘the old idea of helping on the industrial and national life of Ireland’; he could name, he said, few writers worthy to succeed the men of ‘43 … he preferred to say that if there were not one man of genius left of the Irish race, there were already materials sufficient to furnish useful and delightful books for half-a-dozen [63] years. Duffy orated: ‘In that mystic clime on the verge of the Western horizon, where the more debased current of European civilization only visit at high tide, there is place for a great experiment for humanity.’ Ryan avers: This was a high key to strike, but the Irish Literary Society regarded it as the right one. [64]

Edmund Downey, co-founder of Downey and Ward, assists Gavan Duffy [66] In Dublin, Duffy find that ‘a section in its councils (including WB Yeats, who had gone over) was more disposed to criticise Sir Charles scheme and its proposed working than their brethern in London. They were representative of a new Irish generation, [66] keenly conscious of intellectual wants and wishes of its own, with pronoucned ideas … they wanted more control … Rolleston and Downey laboured with the old zeal … A Dublin element still remained irreconcilable. [67] Mr Yeats opened a correspondence in the Freeman’s Journal in which exception was taken to.. the one-man management of CG Duffy. Some hard words were said on both sides … Sir CG Duffy decided to postpone [68] … Early in 1893 it became known that the plan of a Publishing Company had been definitely abandoned; that Sir Charles was in treaty with a London publisher for the issue of his long-promised series of Irish books for the people. … Sir Charles lectured to the Irish Literary Society in June, on ‘The Prospects of Irish Literature for the People’ … the first volume appeared in September [69]

A list of publications planned: Davis, The Patriot Parliament; Standish O’Grady, The Bog of Star; Martin MacDermott, ed., The New Spirit of the Nation; TW Rolleston, What Small Nations have Done for Humanity; Sigerson, Irish Missionaries; JF Taylor, Owen Roe O’Neill; Michael Macdonagh, Dr. Doyle, JKL; Hyde, A Guide to Gaelic Literature; WB Yeats, latter-day Irish Poetry; John McGrath, Ulster and Ireland; a new poem, and a life of Sarsfield, Todhunter; Irish Songs and Airs, AP Graves; biogs. by DJ O’Donoghue, a volume on technical education by Graves, and some others. [70]

Inaugural ILS ‘masterly lecture’ by Rev Stopford Brooke, March 1893 [OK], impressing on the audience need of ‘getting Irish literature into the English tongue’ he showed how they might prove their distinctive national feeling, and the continuity of their national being by showing that there has been a continuous literature existing in Ireland … :”Translation, then’, said Mr Brooke, ‘is our business. We wish to get the ancient Irish literature well and statelily afloat on the world-wide ocean of the English language, so that it may be known and loved wherever the English language goes”; “the duty of taking pains that this coming Ireland has ready to her hand all the material for such a literature out of her own fresher and more individual life, but new literary ought be linked back to the old; and the beautiful work of our country in the past will kindle her into the creation of beauty in the present” When we had got the old Gaelic stories into fine prose and verse, we may send, he said, another imaginative force on earth, which may (like Arthur’s Tale) create poetry for another thousand years. Noble words like these from a critic of Mr Brooke’s reputation could not fail to produce a lasting effect upon the young Society. Dr. Douglas Hyde had a word to say for Gaelic literature through the medium of the Irish language [a speech] accredited with being the force which led to the formation later on of an Irish class [conducted by TJ Flannery]. [73]

SEARCH NOTES: The meeting at the Mr Yeats’s house on he night of 28th of December 1891 &c [54]; … the election of officers and committee at the inaugural general meeting at the Caledonian Hotel, Adelphi, May 12 1892 [60] … in its newly found home at Bloomsbury Mansion, the long deferred inaugural lecture was delivered at the beginning of March 1893, by the Rev. Stopford Brooke [72]

The Society in the beginning of ‘94 had a force of nearly 400 members. [75]

Chap. V: Litterateurs
Charles Gavan Duffy: ‘in truth he is rather a figure from an old movement, who has been fascinated by and drawn to the present one. In Irish literary matters he is still essentially a Young Irelander; and the present movement, as we shall see, is by no means a later edition of Young Ireland.’ The ensuring pages [77-83] are a potted life of Charles Gavan Duffy, largely composed in mitigation of his failure to comprehend the spirit of the new Ireland, and excusing the narrowness of his own outlook, as an autodidact and a strictly nationalist litterateur of the Nation type. ‘Though in some respects a stranger to the New Irleand, his long years’ social and administrative experience in other lands gives his views a wieght and an authority that are seldom called in question. [PARA] The dream of an Irish revival has haunted him for years. His idea of that revival is one whose effects would be largely industrial and social [81] … works of history and literature, tending to clear up the difficulties of the past and sharpen and train man’s energies in the present, would also be part of the scheme.’ Ryan quotes Duffy: “It is to begin another deliberate attempt to make of our Celtic people all they are fit to become - to increase knowledge among them, and lay its foundations deep and sure; to strengthen their convictions and enlarge their horizon; and to tend the flame of national pride, which with sincerity of purpose and fervour of soul, constitute the motive power of great enterprises.” [83]

TW Rolleston: the reading ten years ago of Standish O’Grady’s Heroic Ireland was a turning point in his intellectual career … came under the spell of Thomas Davis … some characteristics of the National movement a few years ago alarmed and disturbed him … certain traits of popular revolution could not fail to excite not perhaps his aversion but his deep regret … his claim for more tolerance, more education, more Celtic idealism … in fact, he has made Tone the study of his life … inspired confidence in all comers … [involvement in] Irish Industries’ Association … his culture, insight, finely-balanced mind … [tend to make him] more critical than creative … [85-86]

William O’Brien, sketched [86-88]; his When We Were Boys ‘no work that can bve compared with it as an Irish national novel - not so much for its brilliant and poetical descriptions of Irish scenes, or even its delineation of admirable types of Irish character, but for the crystalisation in the conversations and discourses of the poetry of the national struggle. It is the revelation of the mission and the gospel which the sentiment of nationality has been to our Celtic people.’ [88]

‘Edmund Downey has immortalised the humour of the Waterford peasant.’ Sketch [88-89].

John Augustus O’Shea, sketch [90-91]; Catholic University grad.; memories of Newman; journalistic stroke in interviewing Pope Pius IX.

Richard Dowling: ‘mystery, weirdness and morbidness he has made attractive half an hundred times.’; no Irish novel since The Mystery of Killard [sic]. [91-92]

Rev Stopford Greene: gave up his Church of England living; became unitarian minister; authority on early English literature [93-94]

Lionel Johnson: introduced by Yeats; always ready for hard work at the Society; English born of Dublin family; became a Catholic. [95-96]

Todhunter: ‘he leads us round a world of dreams, legends, forest-songs, old tragedies and mysteries; through a world sometimes antique, often haunting, often idyllic.’ [98]

AP Graves: simplehearted; has written so lovingly and happily of the irish peasantry … The work is not of uniform good; a man who had so many business and official burdens as Mr Graves could not always be himself and strike his true note … careful to keep in touch with rural Ireland, and not many men are able to make as much as he of an Irish holiday. [98-100]

Francis Fahy ‘not quite continued upon his Southwark lines … The sooner he is tempted to leave his poetic ‘Castle of Indolence; the better for the racy element in our native literature. [102]

DJ O’Donoghue: Dictionary of Irish Poets, Pt. I; the work was, in truth, a history in effect of Anglo-Irish literature - literature not only of the book and the anthology, but of the magazine, the periodical and the newspaper. … When the third part appeared in 1893, several thousand Irish poets had found the light again … has indeed made marvellous use of his years … master of self-study of half the languages and literatures of Europe … anything but merely bookish … thoroughly Irish and possessed of a strong sense of humour … now and then he affects a delicate cynicism and is master of a happy art of characterisation [103-05]

Michael MacDonagh: special Freeman commission to inquire into Western Islands; How Things are in the West gave graphic and pathetic pictures and led to fund; other articles include The Aran Island; his Life in Achill and Aran, in Westminster Review, Aug. 1890. ‘full knowledge and a bright style carry him a long way’.

R Barry O’Brien: acting ed. of The Speaker; a lawyer; ‘devotion to rigid fact and an aversion to the play of fancy are among his strong points [111] Mr O’Brien would choke up the sparkling, leaping mountain rill of Celtic fancy with forbidding boulders and skeletons which he calls the materials of history He would crush Celtic Ireland under a cairn of law-books, and then go forth in good faith to tell the outside world of an Irish literary revival’ [112]; wrote a column on ‘The Best Hundred Irish Books’, in Freeman’s Journal. [112]

Thomas Boyd: constant attender; ‘To the Lianhaun Shee’ reprinted here. [113-14]

Martin MacDermott: an architect, he rebuilt in Alexandria, working for the Khedive, after the bombardment; one of the last survivors of the Young Ireland era; seems to the young a gentle old bard of bygone time; ed. The New Spirit of the Nation.

Frank mathew: a life of his grand-uncle, the Irish apostle of temperance; At the Rising of the Moon, racy, observant, good story-teller; recently abandoned law for literature, and set himself to write a novel of Wexford in the days of ‘98. [115]

Miss Elsa D’Esterre-Keeling [115]; Miss EH Hickey [116]; Miss Charlott O’Conor-Eccles [116]; Miss Eleanor Hull [116], on the staff of the Literary World, to which she contributes Irish matter; ranks as a lectuer.

Katharine Tynan, Mrs. Hinkson; Louise de la Valiere, Shamrocks, at later works; ‘her power is unquestioned, her nature is Irish, but her art and standpoint are sometimes English, strange to say. This is even evident in her Gaelic excursions … Some of her religious poetry expresses the calm and the fervour of Irish faith. [117]

Miss Blundell … Her novel Whither?, published over her pseudonym of ME Francis, made a stir of no transient kind a couple of years ago. [117]

Miss Charlotte Grace O’Brien; Light and Shade [118]; Miss Alice Milligan of Belfast [118]

F Norreys Connell, psued. of Conal Holmes O’Connell O’Riordan, contributor to Westminister Review and The Stage, and suggested the name The Speaker for the Liberal magazine; played Jacvob Engshand in Ibsen’s Ghosts for the Independent Theatre; In the Green Park: Half-Pay Deities, and engaged on a novel; ‘a merry wit and much power of satire and humour’. [119]

Wilde[s], Frederick H Trench, et al. among members. [120]; also Justin McCarthy, Michael Davitt, thomas Sexton, John Redmond, TD sullivan, TP O’Connor, Alfred Webb, et al.

‘J Fitzgerald Molloy gave us A Modern Magician, and is a very modern magician himself in the way of sensationalism’ [122]

Major McGuinness, the treasurer.

VI: The Movement in Dublin
Dublin might be called a city of temporary Irish literary societies. They rise and die with perplexing regularity. The National Literary Society fortunately possessed the materials of endurance that were absent in too many others. … The originators of the movement - in the summer of 1892 - were WB Yeats and John T Kelly. [127]

United Ireland had done much to prepare the way … principally due to its new its new sub-editor, Mr John McGrath. To the whole movement United Ireland has lent a helping hand and - a fact unique in Irish journalism - it has thereby attracted some loyal contributors, and many readers, who have been entirely opposed to its political beliefs. [127]

The first informal meeting called to resume the work in Dublin was held at Mr John O’Leary’s house, in Mountjoy Square. Messrs O’Leary, WB Yeats, John T Kelly, PJ McCall and JP Quinn were among this opening muster. There was a long discussion about the project with some members of the Young Ireland League - a political and literary organisation founded in 1891 - but it was decided to have the new organisation altogether separate, and quite apart from politics. [127]

A meeting was held at the Rotundo in June, 1892, to formally inaugurate the National Literary Society. Dr George Sigerson … was in the chair. Miss Maud Gonne, WB Yeats, the Chairman, the Rev TA Finlay SJ, John O’Leary and John T Kelly explained and urged the new departure. … Dane, Norman and Celt were here represented, and difficult it were to tell which was the most Irish. [127]

John T Kelly was appointed provisional secretary [127]

‘In recent years,’ began an appeal issued by the provisional committee, ‘we have heard much of the material needs of Ireland, and little or nothing of her intellectual or literary … [sic] Without an intellectual life of some kind we cannot long preserve [127] our nationality. Every Irish national movement of recent years has drawn a great portion of its power from the literary movement started by Davis, but that movement is over, and it is not possible to live for ever upon the past. A living Ireland must have a living literature.’ [128]

In August, 1892, the inaugural lecture was delivered by Dr Sigerson at the Ancient Concert Rooms, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, then on his visit to Ireland (already noticed) being in the chair. The origin, environment and influence of Irish literature formed the subject of the Doctor’s address - in all respects worthy to be taken as indicative of the studies and lines to be pursued by the new association in the metropolis. [129]

The opening series [of lectures] delivered at the Leinster Lecture Hall in the first year of the Society’s existence … [were given by] Hyde (Necessity &c), George Coffey, Father Finlay, Standish O’Grady, Count Plunkett, and WB Yeats. [129]

[Society rooms at 4, College Green] [129-130]

PJ McCall, In the Shadow of St Patrick’s (Sealy, Bryers & Walker, Mid. Abbey St.), on Mangan, Father Meehan, O’Connell, Emmet, Major Sirr, Zozimus, etc. etc.; 6d. [130+ftn]

Dr Sigerson may well have the first place [among society litterateurs] … He is the strong right hand of the movement in Dublin today, but his labours for our national lore have extended over some four decades. ‘Erionnach’ is an honoured name with those who have followed the Irish muse through our periodical literature since the fifties. The Poets of Munster (second series) which say the light in 1860, exhibited Dr Signerson’s powers as a Gaelic translator … contributing to the Harp in 1855 [at sixteen] … [The] NationThe IrishmanDuffy’s Hibernian Magazine … [191] … anthologies … The fine poem signed ‘Patrick Henry’ in Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland was from him. His prose works deal with Irish land questions, political prisoners, and other home subjects … he has driven home of late the influence for good of which the Danes, their thought and literature exerted upon [Irish literature] in early stages … the Danes … an elevating force in Irish life. Most Irish readers are inclined to question this at first, but the Doctor’s facts are not to be lightly thrust aside. The Danish strain is strong in him, and he is proud of it. We could well make room for many such Danes in Ireland. [132]

WB Yeats is one of our youngest writers [photo portrait facing p.132] … When he was about twenty years old his name began to grow familiar to readers of the Irish Fireside and one or two other Dublin publications. Critical essays of a [134] novel nature, and dreamy and fanciful poems were his contributions. He had a triumph in 188, when his Wanderings of Oisin was published … a new poetical personality … new world of poetical materials … ranked henceforth as the most imaginative of Irish poets; but his imagination had often the simple air of reality. Occasional extravagance there was, but it was in keeping with that faery of vision and phatasy where the young poet was most at home … Countess Kathleen … meant to be as expressive of Christian Ireland as the earlier work was of Pagan Ireland … not as successful … Presumably modern, the best part of the drama was that wherein the author lapsed back to the mystical and elfin [where instead] there was scope for grimmest tragedy [in the Famine topic] … Mr Yeats could never awe us: his Mephistopheles would dream dreams, and speak the fairy tongue … returned to his old ground [with] The Celtic Twilight … [quotes] ‘I would go down and dwell among the Sidhe’. The Sidhe, I think, have come to dwell with him. They are as real to him as the green grass … That he will be a great poet depends to a large extent on the possibility of his developing other characteristics ot the same degree as that already attained by his imaginative faculty and power of vision. He must shake himself free from the passing craze of occultism and symbolism, and realise that the universe is not tenanted solely by souths and sheogues. [135]

[Irish Fireside: Ftn. An Irish literary weekly, started in the early eighties, by the proprietor of the Freeman’s Journal. James Murphy, the novelist, was its first editor. It did much to encourage Irish writers, and for a long time was really racy of the soil. 132]

Standish O’Grady … The History of Ireland: The Heroic Period [1878], that fascinating and graphic work, the reading of which made a turning-point in the intellectual history of more than one leader in the present movement. That book alone, in a thinking and reading Ireland, should have made Mr O’Grady famous at once … his unrewarded labours went on in the fields of irish romance and history. Red Hugh’s Captivity appeared in 1889, and, barring a preface with unfortunate passages, which Mr O’Grady sincerely regrets, and a little West-British bias and colour, is a volume to be cherished … gradually gave himself up more and more to his favourite persuit, and to the kindred one of journalism, relinquishing the Bar … one volume of a History of Ireland, critical and philosophical … felicitous writing included afterwards The Bog of Stars, first published in special numbers of the Dublin Daily Express, with which paper he has long been connected … His Story of Ireland, issued at the beginning of the present year, caused some disagreeable, some just, and some pointless controversy. Mr O’Grady is more the romanticist than the historian. When he leaves the poetry of the heroic ages for modern periods, with the trail of political passions and class prejudices across them, he, a politician and a man of the classes, is not a sure-footed historian at all times. Even in The Bog of the Stars, he looked at things too often from the Pale standpoint. In the Story of Ireland he wrote much that is wholly unjustifiable. [PARA] Mr O’Grady deserved some hard knocks for this Story, but it was not easy to look on with patience whenever the punishment was administered by people who were completely ignorant of his higher work, and who were adverse to giving him credit for anything. To understand him we must remember that he has been trained amidst associations both Protestant and anti-popular. (His father was rector of Castletown Berehaven, and he is connected with the family of Lord [138] Guillamore). He is a Daily Express leader-writer and has some English ideas that are alien, to say the least, to Celtic Ireland. He has other peculiar aversions and prejudices. But all these things should not be emphasised over-much. A member of the Society has compared him to a stately tree with some knots and twists, which, however, do not mar either its grace or its stateliness. … His politics and peculiarities we cannot help; against much in his modern history young readers have to be set on their guard; but his real literature - masterly, graphic, and so strangely rare in our Irish world - a product to win and hold enthusiasm. His kinsman Standish Hayes O’Grady, though not identified with the movement, is a first figure now in the Irish literary world. His Silva Gadelica is one of the best additions made to our Gaelic legendary store since the days of O’Curry. [138]

Douglas Hyde 139-142. From Trinity we may sayDr Hyde went to the people. We all know the result - the quaint, racy, lovesome, pathetic Gaelic world he has preserved and vivified for us. He shows us the older Ireland in all her mmods, by hearth, by home, and field, ere yet she made way for the new. [140] … Kilmactranny, Co Sligo is his birthplace, but he lives chiefly at Frenck Park, Co Roscommon [141] [photo portrait of Hyde, facing p.139]

[Francis Fahy’s poetical rendering of Irish hospitality: ‘The cream of kindly welcome and the core of cordiality’; quoted incidentally in WP Ryan, Irish Literary Revival, 1894, p.141.]

Hyde … essentially a worker. … His literary work represents, after all, but a fragment of his Irish services. He does not reserve his strength nor bottle up his Irish propagandism for an occasional book, lecure, or full-dress assembly. With him the desire to induce Irish people to be themselfves - to cherish their own literature, [141] music, fames, associations, traditions - to be a people with nerve, dignity, initiative, - towear the native garb that suits them, not the cast-off clothes of the nation they profess to despise - all this is with him a matter of every-day effort and durty. He is a tireless organiser - we might say an organiser of victory. [142]

[Photo portrait of John O’Leary facing p.142].

William Larminie: West-Irish Folk Tales … helps to do for outer what the Doctor [Hyde] did for inner Connaught … Glanlua and Fand [Irish legend] … he was in a government office in London for some years [144] but retired on a pension and now lives in Bray, Co Wicklow.

John O’Leary: the editor of the Irish People passed as a ‘felon’ from the Irish stage in 1865, passed with a simple dignity and a ready acceptance of suffering for duty’s sake, regarding the whole tragedy as something obvious and commonplace, disdaining the idea of seeing heroism or the epic touch in it. All this is characteristic of the man. Returning after twenty years of suffering and exile, he found the old order changed, and could not take kindly to the new. The literary movement won, however, his early adhesion [esp. the Dublin Society] … stand out in keen contract to some of the leaders … the hapy witchery of illusions (using the word in its highest sense) are foreign to him. The faery light … the ariel music that enable the true Celt to cheat Time of so much of his dreariness do not shine or sing for him. … Sober vision and rigid reality are more in his esteem. [144] … The glamour of the Gael is unknown to him. His consequent cold, clear sight differentiates him from the majority of his comrades. His memoirs, now complete, will prove in all likelihood to be one of the most candid and striking works of our time. &c. [145]

Edmund Leamy has not fared further in that world of delicate and delightful imaginings which he opened some years ago with his Irish Fairy Tales. A real poet and a real gael it was who sommoned back those charming fairy presences to Irish haunts. When superior people talk about the Irish intellectual poverty of the last decade, or wonder where the new literature is to come from, this is one of the works to show and silence them [!]. As editor of United Ireland, Mr Leamy in days of painful politics kept many a corner bright for Irish litterateurs. [145].

Jane Barlow’s Irish Idylls are a luminous indextoyoung Irish authors of that world of appealing humanity which is still to be found by observant eyes in Irish local life. … When Rolleston was editing the Dublin University Review her first poem came to him anonymously. He was at once struck with its power, but the ‘brogue’ did not wholly pass muster. Several such pieces were afterwards given to the world in Bogland Studies (1892). Irish writers whose early attempts are scorned of some critics may take courage from the example and fate of this first offering. United Ireland welcomed it, and saw its promise; but several critics could make nothing of it. They shrugged their shoulders over the ‘brogue’ and the whole form, confessed their inability to read it, and cast it away. Afterwards when Irish Idylls made a stir, and the ‘studies’ were brought up again on the strength of it they found less frosty audience. Miss Barlow now finds herself amongst our foremost writers, with every encouragement to go on and prosper. She lives at Raheny, Co Dublin, where her father (a TCD man) is vicar. [146]

Dora Sigerson: her verses is an unequal book, with fibre, philosphy, fretful introspect, storm-and-doubt unrest, and much which is plainly poetry. Moods not common with the Irish muse are represented, also modds which are common, though Miss Sigerson does not make then as poetical as the others. her sister, Miss Hester Sigerson, is a fugitive contributer to poetical corners of the Irishand American Press, and fills Rose Kavanagh’s place on the Weekly Freeman. [148]

Mises Furlong work for the Society but only write occasionally [148]

Miss Teresa Rooney published several stories over the pseudonym of ‘Eblana’ [148]

Mr Aubrey de Vere has justly said that poetry refused to take up more philosophy than it can hold in solution … 148]

Miss Nesta Higginson (Moira O’Neill) another young Irish authoress - though outside the Society - has become familiar to a circle of readers through pretty poems and sketches in Blackwood’s Magazine. Antrim is her ground of inspiration. An Elf Errant, an Irish fairy tale from her pen, is promised for early publication. [148]

Richard Ashe King: he is intensely Celtic, but too candid to overlook the Celt’s failings, as the Society is well aware. Since he gave up his living in the Church of England some years ago, he has devoted his powers to criticism and fiction. Truth has had keen critical studies from his pen, and a couple of years since he wrote Irish literary papers for the Freeman’s Journal over the signature of ‘Fergus’. As ‘Basil’ in Cornhill he became famous with The Wearing of the Green, a story of the Land League. Readers will not forget its clever characterisation, or the animated conversations wherein the ‘case of Ireland; is stated anew, and with bracing effect. Irish and other novels have followed this success, though at long intervals. Mr King, we feel sure, is no more than in the midst of his best period. [149]

John MacGrath [then lately joined the paper, at twenty-seven] proposed to Edmund Leamy, the editor [of United Ireland] that they should make it literary [149]. The previous four years were spent on the staff of the Freeman’s Journal and still earlier his poems (signed ‘Cuan’) were … in Young Ireland. With Patrick MacManus, he was from Portaferry. the latter appeared as ‘Slieve donard; and ‘Innisowen’, a favorite with Dublin paper readers; he was a carpenter; tried his luck in America, but died in 1886. [150; John McGrath’s portrait, facing p.150]

Count Plunkett writes as ‘Killeen’ in the Irish Monthly - ‘that medium through which we have received not a little that ought to be permanent in our literature’. Other contributions in Irish and American newspapers; also in Hibernia, which he edited; only one volume, God’s Chosen Festival (1877) [152]

Father Finlay, Rev JF Hogan, Rev Eugene O’Growney ‘whose name is now a household word with Irish scholars’, Rev Edmund Hogan (in the Month), Fr O’Donoghue (Ardfert), Fr Fahey (a Western study), Fr White (Co. Clare history and the Dalcassians), Fr Healy (Kilkenny), [152] Fr O’Laverty (antiquarian), Most Rev Dr Healy and Most Rev Dr Sheehan [both] leading the way in archaeological labours. [153]

JF Taylor, QC, the Dublin correspondent of the Manchester Guardian, has been prominent now and then in councils of the Society, but is regarded as a strong but independent personality, and will deal with the stronger personality of Owen Roe O’Neill for the New Irish Library. [153]

VII: At Home and Abroad
Belfast Young Ireland Society … a virile Celtic centre in the northern capital … certain young men, some of them connected with the Morning News, opened the propaganda towards the end of 1883 … on Mr William McGarath, the first secretary (now the Dublin Correspondent of the Daily News) fell the lion’s share of the organising. [155]. Early members incl. JP Gaynor (now Freeman’s Journal), John McGrath (United Ireland), Simon O’Leary, and TJ Hanna (Irish News) [156] … Mr Jeremiah MacVeagh, sec. in 1887; [158] presidents included [Thomas] Sexton MP, William Redmond, Michael McCartan, MP (six years to present) … not least of its actions was the erection of a Celtic Cross over the grave of Francis Davis, ‘The Belfast Man’. [158].

Rev Canon Sheehna, vicar of SS Peter and Paul Chruch, in the city of Cork, since elevated to the episcopacy as Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, fnd. Waterford and South-Eastern Counties Archaeol. Soc. with an address at the Waterford City hall, 24th Jan 1894 [159f]

Denny Lane, MA, one of the few survivors of the original Nation writers, and one who has identified himself with every movement calculated to benefit his native city [Cork], particularly in a literary or social direction [161] [there is a small engraving of Lane in leftwards profile, facing p.162]

Liverpool: [the Celtic brethern] first of all started an Irish Literary Institute, which was formally inaugurated by Mr Charles Dawson, MP, in Feb 1884. John Denvir was practically the founder of this body, and his son JM Denvir, a capable journalist, was its first secretary. John Denvir’s name is writ large through the hisotry of the Irish in Liverpool, and indeed of Britain. He has taken part in the work of various Liverpool Irish literary clubs since 1850. He was connected at one time with the Catholic Times, and subsequently [163] with the United Irishman [sic], to both of which he contributed Irish verse and stories. In the eighties he conducted a paper, The Nationalist, for which members of the Southwark Club wrote largely. In earlier years he ran Denvir’s Penny Irish Library - little volumes of Irish song, story, history, and drama (mainly original) which received regular enconiums [sic] from the popular press. [Contributors: Dr Commins MP, D Crilly MP, FJ Fox, John Hand, Hugh Heinrick, J Lysaght Finegan MP, and self & son]. … writings [include] Rosaleen Dhu, The Gormans of Glenmore, two Irish plays, The Reaper of Kilbride, The Brandons, two Irish serial tales. His chief work is, however, The Irish in Britain, published two years ago; a careful and sincere history, the labour of a man who knew every step of his ground. [164]

Dr. Cummins: foremost Irish figure in Liverpool, a clever lawyer and a literary man of culture and acumen. For the Nation and United Irishman some years ago he wrote lively verse, in which he satirised the ‘squireens’ and the ‘crowbar brigades’ of the time. He has translated continental poets, amongst them Freiligrarth, whose sympathy with Irish aspiration was intense and constant. [164]

Michael O’Mahony, 165; portrait facing 166.

Bradford Irish Literary Society, 166. Manchester, 169. Bootle (Mr Henry Taaffe, 169-70]. Mr Taaffe;s Irish literary training began years ago with John Denvir’s Irish Library [170]. Newcastle [170]. Dundee Catholic Literary Society, June 1893 [171], founded by James J Moran (contrib. a dram. serial, ‘Pat O’Neill’s vow, to Young Ireland; a dramatised version for the stage; also ‘The Dunferry Risin’: a tale of the IRB’, ran in Irish Emerald; a novel, A Deformed Idol, 1893, and humorous stories incl. ‘Irish Stew’; managing ed. of Dundee Catholic Herald). [171-72] Glasgow Catholic Literary Association, adopts the word Irish in its title, Oct. 1890. [173]. Sunderland Irish Literary Society, Sept. 1892 (Fr Smith and Fr Murphy, officers) [173] Irish Society of East Anglia (Aug 1890) [174], founded by Mr A Maunsell Atthill (Eastern Daily Press, Norwich), has for members col. HHA Stewart, the Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh, The marquis of Dufferin and Ava, Mr Justin McCarthy, Lord Ashbourne, Sir William McCormac, CG Duffy, and Lord Roberts. [174] Southampton Irish Literary and Social Club (Oct. 1893), produces a monthly magazine called The Leprechaun.

VIII: Needs and Possibilities
The first workers were of that cultured and studious force in the Land League who saw in the agitation at first a real national upheaval, a picturesuqe popular revolution, and who hoped to make it such, but who, as time went on, were somewhat disillusioned. Others came who had taken their lessons from Young Ireland, others who had looked deep into Celtic legend, others yet who had drunk at the old founts of Gaelic bardic poetry. Later still, the advisings of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy made an impression without as well as within the movement. the political strife of the past few years, which some believed would check or kill the revival, became in reality a strong source of help. thoughful sections [177], aloof before, now pasued and rallied to it. Here was a national path, apart from the odium and obloquy, along which those who believed in Ireland could trvel with safety and with hope. [177] … A weakness at present is that there is little chesion amongst its different bodies. They have hardly a common programme; they have not a common organ.

[some remarks about young idlers standing at street-corners while foreign savants are pouring enthusiastically over our ancient mansucripts, 177]; notes the lack of a ‘missionary spirit’ in comparison with Young Ireland, 178]

[...] As Ireland grows more herself, more alive, more intellectual, the more will these misplaced children of song and story [working in London, Boston, New York and Melbourne] be drawn to her shores and her ideals. [178]

[...] Sir Gavan Duffy’s wise purpose and desire of bringing technical lore to our peasants, showing them the riches of the soil, the homely world about them. They will learn that true nationhood presupposes a people thoroughly conversant with their own characteristics and powers, keenly conscious of their industrial and other resources, proud of their rights and their home institutions, many, dignified, self-supporting, but in sympathy with the human and spiritual interests of out humanity; loving their own artistic and intellectual creations, and finding in them soemthing spiritually noble to rally to; distinctive but not insular. As yet, the unfortunate truth is that truth is that three-fourths of our people are as strangers in their own land; strngers to her capacities, strangers to her traditions and her proudest associations. [Tells the story of the old Fenian heroes lying asleep ‘awaiting the day of ireland’s successful uprising for independence in a cave under Aileach, 179]

In fine, the lore of that western world is almost an epic in itelsef, and one which in these days, when so much materialism invades us from the East, it were well [180] we studied somewhat more than we do. Immortal itself, as the old bards deemed, it might be also the instrument of immortality to many an Irish writer. We must try to make it familiar by Irish firesides. [181]

The real Irish drama is a thing unknown. Why it is so to me something of a marvel; for in our tastes, ideas, and lives we are essentially dramatic. And surely the materials for the national drama are wasting in profusion before us. We may see in our day in Dublin dozens of genuine Irish plays, of truth and talent, written for the people, prized by the people, moving and moulding the people. Otherwise I fear the city will not half deserve to be the capital of a nation. [181]

Leaving England, where so much of latter-day thought and song is suggestive of decay, decrepitude and dying impulse, and landing on Celtic shores, is like passing from a worn old world to the rich vistas and the exultant life of a new [sic], to feel [INDENT] ‘Like stout Cortez … Darien.’ [182]

Such then is the movement - literary in essence, social and national in some of its purposes and effects. Its aim is to teach Ireland to see herslef, to be herself, to set her in her true place, realising her nature and her mission. It is an effort to bring knowledge, books, brave hopes, Celtic idealism as her ministering spirits. Its pioneers have it in their power to touch, to thrill, to weld together for the noblest national purposes all that is thoughtful, strenuous, and original in their own land. [183]

.. keener interpretation … of Ireland’s life … brighter developments of Ireland’s genius … the gain … not only hers but humanity’s.

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