The Irish-American periodicals in Special Collections give rise to many questions:
Who produced these publications? What demand were they satisfying? Who were the readers? What aims did the editors and publishers have? How did these publications fit into the larger periodical literature of their time?
Surprisingly little has been written about these Irish-American publications. A deep exploration of Hesburgh Library’s Irish-American periodical collection would be rewarding for many reasons, including an increased understanding of networks of Irish in America, of the emerging culture of Irish-Americans, and of the ways in which Irish-Americans connected with Ireland.
Our ‘Spotlight’ exhibit currently displays five publications selected from over a dozen titles held by the Library to demonstrate the range and types of these periodicals.
O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial began its existence as the Irish Miscellany, launched in February 1858 by Jackson, Foynes and Company of Boston. According to the prospectus which was printed in the early issues, the magazine is “dedicated to the diffusion of a more intimate knowledge of the literary and political history of Ireland, and to the mental, moral and political elevation of the Celtic race on the continent.”
Within months, the magazine was listed under a different printer’s name, and by July, it credited Thomas O’Neill as publisher. The transfer was unpleasant, to say the least, and the editorial for May 8, 1858 includes allegations of mismanagement and foul play by the former owners. According to this editorial, the way the paper managed initially was unsustainable.
The following year it was renamed O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial, and it is this volume of issues from 1859 that Special Collections holds. It was subsequently named The Irish Pictorial and Irish Illustrated Weekly. In all, the magazine lasted from 1858 to 1861.
The illustration of Irish poverty displayed in this issue is a recurring theme in American publications, sometimes accompanied by an exhortation to provide aid to Ireland. An example found in an issue of McGee’s Illustrated Weekly calls on Irish-Americans to forego the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day as long as Irish people are starving.
A common theme in these magazines is also that of encouraging Irish immigrants to travel west rather than remain in the cities, and in fact McGee’s Illustrated Weekly maintains a sustained argument for traveling to the midwestern states. The issue in our display includes a picture of a flier advertising Bishop Ireland’s Irish-American Colonisation Company’s scheme to assist Irish to settle in Minnesota.
McGee’s Illustrated Weekly was a Catholic weekly that included stories and news of Ireland, and appears to have been directed largely towards an Irish readership. For some time it was edited by Maurice Francis Egan, later a professor of literature here at the University of Notre Dame.
The Irish Freeman describes McGee’s as follows:
McGee’s Weekly is the Catholic illustrated paper in bodily presence and mechanical form, like Harper’s Weekly, but in essence and spirit as opposite as it is possible to imagine. It is chaste, choice and chatty; interesting, independent, ingenious; pithy, pointed and pungent. Its illustrations are beautifully engraved and surprisingly various. It whacks small abuses in social and religious customs with the neatness of a black-thorn wielder, and the taste and delicacy of a French dancing master. No Catholic family that can afford it should be without the lively, literary, lightsome publication of McGee.
In 1880, McGee’s published a series of illustrations and commentary on “The Distress in Ireland.” McGee’s also reported on the funeral of Daniel O’Connell and on Irish political and social affairs. Additionally, small snippets to be found in the Personal Column include items such as the following:
Miss Cusack, the Nun of Kenmare, is at present engaged on a history of Irish literature . . . the proceeds to be devoted to the foundation and endowment of a home and school combined, where girls could spend some time, from a few weeks to a year, and learn plain sewing, cutting out, plain washing and cooking, housework, etc., and in some cases even fancy work and a few of the higher branches of education, sufficient to fit them for governesses.
Among the other periodicals displayed is An Gaodhal (The Gael) a magazine founded in New York in 1881 by Michael Logan (Mícheál Ó Lócháin), an Irish-speaker who emigrated in 1871. Logan was principal of a Brooklyn school and led an effort to promote the Irish language, teaching language classes in New York. The issue on display is edited by Geraldine Haverty, who became editor after Logan’s death.
Special Collections’ holdings of An Gaodhal was part of the gift received from Francis O’Neill, the Chicago police chief remembered for his collections of Irish dance music. His volumes of An Gaodhal are bound with extra pages inserted for a hand-written contents list.
A number of our periodicals were acquired from Rolf and Magda Loeber in a large collection of Irish periodicals of the nineteenth century. Special Collections holds at least a dozen titles, with runs varying from two issues to many years.
Also on display through the end of April:
From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections
On display are three whaling manuscripts dating from the golden age of the American whaling industry in the first half of the nineteenth century. These include two ship’s logbooks, from the whaling vessels Meridian and Corvo, and a letter written aboard the whaler Columbus.
The main exhibit this spring is In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru. This exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus and draws on strengths of Rare Books and Special Collections’ José E. Durand Peruvian History collection. Together these items offer diverse perspectives on Peruvian political events and cultural and religious practices and preferences from the colonial era, through the country’s birth in 1825, and beyond the turn of the twentieth century.
The spotlight exhibits during early April are From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections and Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, both curated by George Rugg. The baseball exhibit will end mid-month, with the exhibit Chaste, Choice and Chatty: Irish-American Periodicals of the Nineteenth Century, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, opening for the second half of the month and continuing through the summer.
This lithograph was printed in Philadelphia at a time when the general impression of Irish immigrants was that of an impoverished people, unfavorably viewed by native-born Americans. Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1830s and 1840s was becoming dominated by poor, unskilled rural Catholics, and in the decades following the Great Famine, American cities were inundated by waves of impoverished Irish peasants.
“St. Patrick’s Day in America. Commemorative of Ireland’s unswerving fidelity to her ancient religion and the devotion of her exiled children to the sacred principles of her freedom and redemption as a nation.” Washington: John Reid, 1872. Lithograph by Hunter and Duval. [i]
Hence, according to historian Kerby Miller, all Irish immigrants were viewed negatively, including those who arrived with education, skills, or capital. He states that “in the eyes of native-born Protestants, middle-class Irish Catholic immigrants were by religion and association not ‘good Americans’, but in the opinion of many of their own transplanted countrymen, they were not ‘good Irishmen’ either.” [ii]
Considering this attitude to Irish immigrants, then, the lithograph doubles as an effective piece of propaganda and a heartwarming picture of family life. The mother and children are respectably dressed, and the sewing machine suggests an industrious household. Symbols of Ireland include the statue of St. Patrick while the portrait on the wall, of an American soldier, suggests a relative, perhaps even the absent father, fought in the American Civil War.
The mother is pinning a shamrock on the boy’s lapel. The shamrock, emblematic of St. Patrick, is a popular symbol of Irish identity. The family is clearly preparing to take part in the celebration of their Irish identity, while at the same time the image proclaims American middle-class orderliness and industry.
To read about St. Patrick’s Day, see the following books in the Hesburgh Library:
Cronin, Mike and Daryl Adair. The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day. Routledge, 2002. Hesburgh Library GT 4995 .P3 C76 2002
Skinner, Jonathan and Dominic Bryan (eds.) Consuming St. Patrick’s Day. Cambridge Scholars, 2015.
Hesburgh Library GT 4995 .Pe S556 2015
Fogarty, William L. The Days We’ve Celebrated. St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. Printcraft Press, 1980. GT 4995 .P3 F63.
Dupey, Ana María (ed.) San Patricio en Buenos Aires: Celebracionse y rituales en su dimensión narrativa. Buenos Aires: Editorial Dunken, 2006. GT 4995 .P3 S25 2006.
[i] To learn more about the lithographers of Philadelphia, see Erika Piola (ed.) Philadelphia on Stone: Commercial Lithography in Philadelphia 1828-1878, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012.
[ii] Kerby A. Miller. Ireland and Irish America: Culture, Class, and Transatlantic Migration. Dublin: Field Day, 2008, p. 260.
Ronald Wells, emeritus professor at Calvin College, Michigan, is author of a number of books and articles on peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. In the course of over two decades of research, he gathered together a collection of material on the work of groups, particularly religious groups, working towards peace and reconciliation. Many of the materials are ephemeral—newsletters and communications on the activities of those groups—and the collection is a valuable source for understanding the work of those groups, the environment in which they worked, and the obstacles they faced.
In 2017, Dr. Wells donated his research materials to the Hesburgh Libraries. The collection is arranged mainly according to organization and accompanied by Dr. Wells’ notes on each group, and it extends to five boxes of papers, mainly print ephemera, and a number of pamphlets and books.
The materials on the Clonard-Fitzroy Fellowship, one of the groups represented, provide insight into the relationship between a Catholic monastery and a Presbyterian congregation, which came about because of the friendship between the Rev. Dr. Ken Newell of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church and Fr. Gerry Reynolds of Clonard Monastery. Included are sermon texts, press releases, programs, newsletters, letters, and newspaper clippings.
The Wells Collection includes also materials from The Gospel in Conflict Program of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, The Hard Gospel Project of the Church of Ireland, the Columbanus Community of Reconciliation, Healing Through Remembering, the Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland (ECONI), and The Consultative Group on the Past.
The print materials of these groups provide a documentary glimpse into their work and the issues they faced. The well-produced publications of the Healing Through Remembering project trace the ideas and work of this organization from the initial event that led to its founding, the 1999 visit to Northern Ireland of Dr. Alex Boraine, Deputy Chairman of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
Included in the collection are pamphlets and reports. Many are on peace and reconciliation, and some are publications of a more propagandistic nature, such as Ian Paisley’s address, ‘The Ulster Problem’, delivered at Bob Jones University in South Carolina in 1972.
Books in the collection include books on Northern Ireland and also on peacebuilding in general, as in the example shown here.
In this book’s preface Dr. Scott Appleby describes the project directed by John Darby, professor at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies until his death in 2012, to study peace accords and their implementation. The project mentioned in the book, the Peace Accords Matrix database, is now available online at https://peaceaccords.nd.edu.
Oscar Wilde’s book for children, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, published in 1888, has attracted many artists and printers over the years. The stories have also been adapted for stage performances including, as I discovered recently, a ballet which will be performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2018.
Wilde’s stories, in the tradition of literary fairy tales such as those of Hans Christian Andersen, depict poverty, suffering, cruelty and arrogance, with sacrifice or martyrdom occurring more than once. In the title story, the statue of a prince who had been sheltered in luxury while he lived, could now view from his pedestal the poverty and suffering in his city, and so he convinced a swallow to carry each of the statue’s jewels to someone in need. The Happy Prince and Other Tales consists of the following five stories: ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.
Wilde published a second collection of fairy tales, The House of Pomegranates in 1891. These stories are generally more complex and dark, but over the following century many books have included a selection drawn from both books. Out of the four stories in this book, ‘The Star Child’ and ‘The Young King’ are more likely to be included in selections intended for children. ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’ and ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’ are rarely considered suitable for child readers.
A glance at the editions in our collection, with their range of illustrations and book production styles, demonstrate ambivalence in terms of identifying the appropriate audience for Wilde’s stories. Illustrators Walter Crane and P. J. Lynch both illustrated the book for a child audience, while many editions produced in the intervening century are more appropriately seen as gift books for adults.
The Happy Prince and Other Tales was first published in 1888 by Alfred Nutt and is illustrated throughout. The frontispiece is by Walter Crane, as are a plate illustrating ‘The Selfish Giant’ (shown below) and one illustrating ‘The Remarkable Rocket’. Crane (1845-1915) is frequently cited along with Randoph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway as one of the premier illustrators of children’s books in Victorian Britain.
Small illustrations by illustrator and engraver Jacomb Hood decorate the head of each story. The stories are also richly decorated with vignettes or small decorations.
Another early edition was illustrated by Charles Robinson (1870-1937), one of three brothers who were all prolific book illustrators. This 1913 edition includes eleven color plate illustrations in addition to the frontispiece. As these plates are tipped-in, or attached to pages of the book, it is rare to find an original copy with all plates intact.
With over fifty pages decorated by Robinson, this is what booksellers would call a ‘lavishly-illustrated book’, and these illustrations are reproduced in many later editions and adaptations.
The Overbrook Press produced a limited edition of The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde with wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. This 1936 edition is part of the Hesburgh’s collection of 135 books from the Overbrook Press of Stamford, Connecticut.
Another fine printing, clearly not intended for the hands of children, is the silk-bound edition published by Kurt Volk, New York, in 1955. This book includes the title story, a short essay on ‘Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wilde’, and a slightly abbreviated version of W. B. Yeats’ introduction to a 1923 edition of The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales. [i]
One of the most recent editions is illustrated by leading Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch, also known for the award-winning book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and his recent book The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower. This edition of Wilde’s Stories for Children, published in 1990, includes ‘The Young King’ in addition to all five stories from The Happy Prince. Lynch has not placed ‘The Happy Prince’ in first place—rather, the book begins with ‘The Selfish Giant’.
Authors of introductions range from W. B. Yeats, who knew Oscar Wilde, to Stephen Fry, the actor who played Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde.
The bibliography below lists the editions held in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections.
[i] The full text of this introduction is online in The W. B. Yeats Collection (a Chadwyck-Healey subscription database) which includes the following source information: Introduction to Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1923). According to catalog records such as in the Hathi Trust, this appears to be volume 3 of a multi-volume collection of the works of Oscar Wilde.
… on Sunday, the 29th March, at 8½ A.M., we cast off from the Yard, with a fine breeze at the N. W., and clear cold weather, the steam Tug, “R. B. Forbes,” in company, with some of the members of the Committee, on board. In about one hour we parted from them, with hearty cheers, and made sail on our course.
A remarkable voyage to bring relief to the Irish in the Great Famine is the subject of Captain R. B. Forbes’ report, The Voyage of the Jamestown on Her Errand of Mercy, published in Boston in 1847. His report for the “Committee of Distribution” combines his account with a substantial appendix of correspondence and other documentation.
After the Irish potato crop failed due to blight in 1845 and again in 1846, knowing that the potato provided most of the subsistence for a large part of the Irish population, concern for this famine grew throughout the world, but especially in places such as Boston where there was a considerable population of Irish birth or descent. Those who provided assistance in early 1847 expected that the harvest later that year would bring an end to famine, but in fact the blight persisted and the Great Irish Famine lasted until 1852. [i]
The Weekly Freeman Cartoons contains 48 full-page cartoons bound into a single volume. The cartoons cover the period from December 1886 to December 1887 and were published on Saturdays as weekly supplements to the Freeman’s Journal.
The Freeman’s Journal, the major Irish nationalist newspaper, was published in Dublin from 1763 to 1924. During the 1880s the newspaper was owned by Edmund Dwyer Gray, who was a Home Rule MP. During his ownership, circulation went up to over 30,000 copies per day.
“IN THE HOUSE” (12 February 1887) shows Charles Stewart Parnell, MP, leader of the Irish Party and of the Irish National Land League (founded by 1879), addressing Prime Minister Salisbury, who sits uncomfortably beside a woman representing the evicted tenants of Glenbeigh. Like most cartoons in this volume, this one comments on relations between Britain and Ireland, and in this case refers to the Land War and to the infamous evictions at Glenbeigh, County Kerry.
While the eviction of tenants for nonpayment of rent was relatively frequent, the Land War brought new attention to the Irish and British public about individual evictions through the use of images and descriptions. The Glenbeigh Evictions were much reported at the time and dramatically illustrated in the Illustrated London News. Glenbeigh, County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland was the scene of these evictions. An economic recession and poor harvests had increased agitation among tenant farmers faced with eviction. The landowner received very little rent on the many smallholdings on his land that he inherited, and with high arrears owed in rent, a court ordered 70 of the 300 tenants to pay one year’s rent. However, Father Thomas Quilter, the tenants’ parish priest, and J. D. Sheehan, their MP, advised the tenants to reject this offer.
And so the evictions began on 11 January 1887. Bailiffs burned down cabins and broke down walls to ensure that the evicted families could not return. These evictions received widespread attention, and by the end of January forty families had been evicted. The Detroit Free Press of 22 January 1887 reported on the evictions with the following headline: “POVERTY-STRICKEN PEOPLE. Father Quilter, of Glenbeigh, Says His are too Poor to Pay Rent. THEY ARE LARGELY DEPENDENT ON THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHERS.” Newspaper reporting fluctuates widely between sympathy for the tenants in the face of barbarity such as in the Chicago Daily Tribune and consistent condemnation of the tenants and their leaders from the Irish Times.
The caption for “IN THE HOUSE” in the Weekly Freeman from 12 February 1887 reads:
Parnell to Salisbury. — You thought to force this poor creature into the Poorhouse, and shut her up there, but I have brought her into your own House, where she shall be seen and heard too.
Accompanying the cartoon is a ballad, “Parnell to Salisbury” that expands upon this theme. In the second verse, the victim, represented by the woman in the cartoon, also represents the many stories and illustrations of this eviction. The Roe mentioned here is Lanford Roe, the landlord’s agent who directed each eviction in Glenbeigh.
The truth is out! your victim stands
And tells her tale of confiscation,
Of burning cots, evicting bands,
Famine, and widespread desolation!
You little thought Roe’s brutal brands
Would raise so fierce a conflagration!
This volume of cartoons and accompanying ballads and verses appears to have belonged to nationalist archbishop Thomas William Croke (1823-1902). On its flyleaf appears the following inscription:
To His Grace, The Most Revd. Dr. Croke, Archbishop of Cashel.
White Abbey Bazaar 1888
With Father Staples Prayers and Best Wishes.
Felix M, Larkin’s essay, “‘A Great Daily Organ’: The Freeman’s Journal,” History Ireland 14 (2006): 44-49 is an excellent introduction to the newspaper. For information on the Glenbeigh Evictions, see L. Perry Curtis, Jr., The Depiction of Eviction in Ireland 1845-1910, University College Dublin Press, 2011.
Standing beside oversized reproductions of two issues of The Cork Examiner from May 8-9, 1916, Aedín Clements commented how delighted she is that Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) has such an extensive collection of historical newspapers from Ireland. She explained that these newspapers are important sources for understanding Irish society and, thus, must be preserved and made discoverable and freely accessible to researchers here and worldwide. This has become one of her many projects as Irish Studies librarian.
Aedín, a native of Dublin, studied Irish literature, language, and folklore at University College Dublin from which she earned her bachelor’s and library degrees. She also earned a master’s degree in English literature from Western Michigan University. In 2005, Aedin joined the Library as Irish Studies librarian. She was attracted to this job because of Hesburgh Library’s extensive 20th-century Irish language collection, one that covers a broad range of disciplines and includes children’s literature, Irish language and literature, traditional songs and ballads, and more. She admits a special place in her heart for the O’Neill Collection, which has a little something for everyone. In December 2015, Aedin also became Interim Head of the Area Studies and Global Affairs unit within the Hesburgh Libraries. Her expertise and work in Irish Studies are evident in many ways including invitations to speak at conferences and events and the multiple exhibits she has curated for RBSC. Her scholarship and service to the profession have been recognized by Notre Dame: Aedín was awarded the 2013 Rev. Paul J. Foik, C.S.C., Award by Hesburgh Libraries and was elected in September 2015 as a Faculty Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.
Aedín has a list of to-dos that is perpetually growing because she is always on the lookout for enhancing existing areas of collecting strengths—18th- and 19th-century literature and history—and keeping up with all of the new or evolving research interests of faculty and students on campus. She is always thinking about how to make Hesburgh’s collections more accessible and, equally important, how to educate people about these collections. Recently, she partnered with a newly established network of librarians, the Libraries and Archives Group of the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS), to develop innovative ways for better developing collections. The network will take up this very issue at the upcoming roundtable discussion during the ACIS conference at Notre Dame, March 30-April 3, 2016.
After discovering that Hesburgh Libraries holds a wealth of sources documenting the Irish American perspective, Aedín developed an interest in Irish American history. When asked if there was a particular item that caught her attention, she smiled and said, “Yes, McGee’s Illustrated Weekly!” This was a newspaper founded by an American, James Redpath, who gave Americans a glimpse into Irish life, spattered with a bit of Irish and American humor, the latest fashion trends, and portraits of prominent Irishmen. Yet, Aedín’s love of the Irish language always draws her back. She is currently immersed in reading Visions of Ireland: Gael Linn’s Amharc Éireann Film Series, 1956-1964 by B. Mairéad Pratschke.
Aedín can often be found digging through the Irish collections in RBSC. None of her colleagues is ever surprised when she comes skipping down the hall with the biggest smile you can imagine, as she did when she discovered that we have a large collection of yet-to-be processed historical Irish newspapers. It turned out that this is where she unearthed the copies of the Cork Examiner. Aedín’s wide-ranging knowledge of and curiosity about all things Irish can be seen in her current exhibit, Easter, 1916: The Irish Rebellion, which is on display in Rare Books Special Collections through April 28, 2016.
This year marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, the rebellion that led to the eventual establishment of an Irish Free State. The University of Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute is at the forefront of the impetus to re-examine the events of 1916, with Professor Bríona Nic Dhiarmada’s three-part documentary, 1916 The Irish Rebellion which will be shown on public television in Ireland, the U.S. and at screenings throughout the world.
In Hesburgh Libraries Rare Books and Special Collections, a special exhibit to mark this centenary is on display from February 12th until April 28th.
The exhibit draws from the Hesburgh Special Collections and includes books written by people involved in the events as well as contemporary accounts of the rebellion. Letters on display include one from Roger Casement. An extremely rare first edition of W. B. Yeats’s poem Easter, 1916 is part of the exhibit.
From the University Archives, a book recording the subscriptions of South Bend residents to an Irish government bond will be on display.
The exhibit is open to the public from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.