Narratives about the Corby Statues—at Gettysburg and on Campus

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

The story behind the statues is well known: a young CSC priest, William Corby, offered a general absolution to members of the Irish Brigade, part of the Second Corps of the Union’s Army of the Potomac, minutes before the soldiers engaged in fierce fighting late on the second day of the battle at Gettysburg (July 2, 1863).

Corby served as chaplain to the 88th New York Infantry, which was part of the famous Irish Brigade. This group of soldiers were mostly Irish and Irish-American Catholics from New York and Philadelphia who were formed from five regiments: three from New York (the 69th Infantry, 63rd Infantry, and 88th Infantry), the 28th Massachusetts Infantry, and the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry. After the war Corby returned to the University of Notre Dame where resumed his teaching position; he later became the school’s president.

The priest had given general absolution to his flock of mostly Irish Catholic soldiers before, most notably at Antietam in September 1862, just before the brigade suffered heavy casualties. But this time, as fighting raged around the soldiers at Gettysburg, when Corby climbed up on a boulder and spoke, not just the Irish Brigade but the whole Second Corps fell silent. It was a moment that many officers and soldiers remembered later. For many Catholics it came to mean recognition, if not full acceptance, by their non-Catholic fellow Americans.

Less well known is how the statues materialized. The Catholic Alumni Sodality of Philadelphia spearheaded the project and reported it in this pamphlet. The sodality had been formed in 1902 to promote faith and collegiality among Catholic men who were college graduates. The sodality implemented the statues’ financing and creation, but it acted on an idea of St. Clair Mulholland, commander of the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment and witness to Corby’s actions at Gettysburg.

The Irish-born Mulholland was just 23 years old when he began serving as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry in 1862. He fought in some of the war’s major battles, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and of course, Gettysburg.

After the war Mulholland dedicated himself to commemorating Civil War soldiers, particularly the Irish Brigade. In 1888 he led the initiative to raise a monument to the brigade at Gettysburg. The Alumni Sodality of Philadelphia embraced the idea of creating a memorial to Corby only after a member heard Mulholland speak movingly about the incident. It was a speech the old soldier had given countless times over the years.

The sodality hired sculptor Samuel Murray to create the monument. It was placed at Gettysburg, amid an extensive program of speeches and dignitaries, on October 29, 1910. A replica, created by the artist, was mounted on Notre Dame’s campus on Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day), 1911.

Mulholland and the sodality were not unique in remembering those who served. Between the end of the war and the 1930s thousands of Civil War monuments rose around the nation. As we have seen in recent disputes over monuments in the United States, public statues have multiple uses and their meanings change over time. Monuments evoke the past even as they convey contemporary expectations about class, race, gender, and religion.

As this pamphlet reminds us, Corby’s memorialization was about more than the priest’s service. It created a narrative of Catholic loyalty and patriotism at a time when American nativism was again on the rise, sparked by large immigration from southern and eastern Europe. By focusing on a priest rather than on Catholic soldiers, the statue’s creators deemphasized the larger Irish Catholic experience of the war, fueled as it was by a mix of American patriotism, Irish Republicanism, and economic need. The image reinforced instead a message of cleric-led, middle-class Irish American respectability. [1]

 

 

[1] Randall M. Miller, “Catholic Religion, Irish Ethnicity, and the Civil War,” in Religion and the American Civil War, Randall M. Miller, Harry S. Stout, and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 285-86.


A happy Memorial Day to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

2016 post: Memorial Day: Stories of War by a Civil War Veteran
2017 post: “Memorial Day” poem by Joyce Kilmer
2018 post: “Decoration Day” poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
2019 post: Myths and Memorials


During June and July the blog will shift to a summer posting schedule, with posts every other Monday rather than every week. We will resume weekly publication August 10th.

The O’Neill Collection – A Digital Selection

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

While the Irish Studies collection in the Hesburgh Libraries has grown considerably in recent decades, one of the enduring treasures, and the collection most often inquired about, is the O’Neill Collection. This is the personal library of Francis O’Neill, the famous collector of Irish music who was once Chicago’s Chief of Police.

Francis O’Neill (1848-1936) left Ireland in his teens, travelled the world as a sailor, settled in America and after first qualifying as a teacher in Missouri, moved to Chicago where he joined the police force in 1873. By all accounts a larger-than-life figure, he was well-known both as a police officer and as one of the major experts on Irish traditional music.

In A Harvest Saved: Francis O’Neill and Irish Music in Chicago, Nicholas Carolan tells us how O’Neill’s music collecting began.

Sometime in the later 1880s… Francis O’Neill began to realize that there was yet much Irish traditional music to be collected and preserved that had escaped earlier collectors. He recruited James O’Neill to the project of collection and started to visit him regularly … so that the tunes remembered from Francis’ childhood in Cork could be noted down from his dictation in a private manuscript collection… [i]

As months and years passed and word of their enterprise spread others contributed tunes to the collection and James O’Neill began visiting musicians in their homes to note their music.

Carolan, 11

Nicholas Carolan goes on to describe how O’Neill’s project developed, his publication of O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903) and his other books, and of the enduring legacy of these books.

For generations of musicians who play Irish traditional music, O’Neill’s books are perceived as essential. Carolan aptly named his book ‘A Harvest Saved’ as O’Neill collected at a time and place where people had left the communities in which the music had thrived. The 75,000 Irish immigrants in Chicago carried with them the music of many parts of Ireland, and O’Neill was able to tap into the rich repository of their tunes and record them for posterity.

O’Neill was following in the footsteps of important collectors such as Edward Bunting and George Petrie, many of whose books are in O’Neill’s collection and bear pencilled annotations indicating his careful study of the contents.

From New edition of a general Collection of the ancient Irish music. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .B868 G4 1796

This book is one of the most important works in the history of Irish music collecting. Edward Bunting began his life-long interest in the collection of Irish harp-music in 1792. He notated the music of performers at the Belfast Harp Festival that year, and this inspired him to continue for many years in his collection and study of Irish harp music.

This Dublin edition in O’Neill’s possession was printed some years after the first edition of 1797 which was published in London. For more information on the publication, see ‘Edward Bunting’s First Published Collection of Irish Music, 1797’ on the ITMA website.

The O’Neill Collection includes also Bunting’s two later collections, published in 1809 and 1840. O’Neill’s pencilled notes can be seen in the margins of these books.

Page detail from New edition of a general Collection of the ancient Irish music. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .B868 G4 1796

The O’Neill Collection includes important works from Scotland including Orpheus Caledonius by William Thompson, one of the earliest published collections of Scottish songs. First published in two volumes in 1725, our O’Neill copy is volume I only of the 1733 edition. This copy has pencil annotations either by O’Neill or by an earlier reader. It also includes a subscribers list, which is not included in the facsimile edition published in 1962.

When Chief O’Neill offered his library to the University in 1931, he described it as having a ‘Hiberniana’ collection and a music collection. In each case, his library was exceptional. Our O’Neill Collection includes a valuable selection of books on Irish history and antiquities, and in the music section, a collection of many well-known collections of Irish music, along with lesser-known books of dance music, and books on the music and instruments of Ireland, England and Scotland in particular.

From A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish Foreign Airs. Properly Adapted for the German Flute, Violin or Fife. (1792) Rare Books Small M 5 .S4

Hoping to bring the O’Neill Collection to enthusiasts who cannot visit the Hesburgh, we selected thirty of the rarest books from the collection for digitization. We plan to share these digital collections in a number of ways — the Internet Archive being one — making it possible to study the books anywhere in the world.

The books currently digitized on the Internet Archive, found within the University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries Collection, are as follows:

Alexander’s Select Beauties for the Flute. 3rd ed. London: Alexander. Rare Books Large M60 .A4

The Ancient Music of Ireland, Arranged for the Piano Forte; To Which is Prefixed a Dissertation on the Irish Harp and Harpers, Including an Account of the Old Melodies of Ireland. Edward Bunting. Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1840. Rare Books Large M 1744 .B868 G4 1840

Calliope, or, The Musical Miscellany: A Select Collection of the Most Approved English, Scots & Irish Songs Set to Music. London: C. Elliot, 1788. Rare Books Medium M 1738 .C3

A Collection of Irish Airs for the Flute, Violin or Flageolet, with New Symphonies, Arranged as Duetts or Solos. Dublin: McCullagh, c.1820. Rare Books Small M1 .C6

A Companion to the Ball Room, Containing a Choice Collection of the Most Original and Admired Country Dances, Reels, Hornpipes, Waltzes, and Quadrills… The Etiquette; And a Dissertation on the State of the Ball Room. London: D. Mackay, [1816]. Rare Books Small GV 1751 .B4 C6 1816.

The Edinburgh Musical Miscellany: A Collection of the Most Approved Scotch, English, and Irish Songs, Set to Music. David Sime. Edinburgh: Printed for W. Gordon… et al., 1792. Volume I. Rare Books Small M 1738 .S5 E3 1792
• Volume II has also been digitized and will be available soon.

Hail to the Shamrock. From the Songs of the Emerald Isle. This music collection lacks a title page. The title is assumed to be the title of the first page of music. Bound within the same volume: My Duet Book, nos. 1-3, June to August 1843; The Piano-Bijou, nos. 1-5, April to August 1843; National Melodist, no. 1; Musical Cabinet. Rare Books Small M1 .H3

A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland: Arranged for the Piano Forte; some of the Most Admired Melodies are Adapted for the Voice, to Poetry Chiefly Translated from the Original Irish Songs. Edward Bunting. London: Clementi, 1809. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .B868 G4 1809

The Irish Song Book, with Original Irish Airs. Edited, with an introduction and notes by Alfred Perceval Graves. 2nd ed. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1895. Rare Books Small M 1744 .G783 I7 1895

Musicians Omnibus Complete: Contains 1500 Pieces of Music for the Violin. Boston: Elias Howe. Rare Books Medium M 40 MB

Orpheus Caledonius, or, a Collection of Scots Songs Set to Musick. William Thompson. London: Printed for the Author, 1733. Rare Books Medium M 1746 .T5 O7 1733

The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Arranged for the Piano-Forte. Edited by George Petrie. Society for the Preservation and Publication of the Melodies of Ireland, 1855. Volume I. Rare Books XLarge M 1744 .P448 1855

Repository of Scots & Irish Airs Strathspeys, Reels &c. Vols. I [& II]. Two volumes bound together; the second volume lacks title information. Glasgow: McGoun, c. 1796. Rare Books Small M1 .R4

The Royalty Songster: And, Convivial Companion; A Collection of All the Most Esteemed English, Scotch and Irish Songs, &c. Sung with the Highest Applause at the Royalty Theatre, and Every Other Place of Public Entertainment. By Mr. Bannister … et al. To Which is Added, A Collection of Toasts and Sentiments, Hippesley’s Drunken-Man and Other Comic Pieces. London: Cleugh, Stalker, 1788. Rare Books Small M 1738

A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish & Foreign Airs, Properly Adapted for the German Flute, Violin or Fife. 2 volumes bound together. This lacks a title page or publication information.
Rare Books Small M5 .S4

 

 

[i] The Hesburgh Library’s O’Neill Collection has only two music manuscripts. It would be wonderful if O’Neill’s own manuscripts were still in existence and could be found.

St. Patrick’s Day Postcards

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

To mark St. Patrick’s Day, this year we are featuring a small selection from our recently-acquired collection of Irish postcards.

Picture postcards, commercially produced in Ireland by the beginning of the twentieth century, became enormously popular as a means of communication. From a wide range of postcard types, we have selected a small sampling of the type of cards used as St. Patrick’s Day greetings.

MSE/IR 1403-165A

Postmarked in 1912, this postcard shows a boy wearing a large cross for St. Patrick’s Day, a custom no longer practiced now, but recorded in various sources. According to Cronin and Adair, crosses made by paper or card were commonly worn by children on St. Patrick’s day until early in the twentieth century. [i]

Searching the wonderful online source of Irish National Folklore Collection, Dúchas.ie, for references to St. Patrick’s Day crosses, we find some good primary sources. From 1937 to 1938, Irish schoolchildren interviewed older people in their homes and communities about folklore. In some of these accounts, people describe the ornate colored crosses they made as children for St. Patrick’s Day. The following is from a woman in County Kerry:

I used to make a beautiful cross for that day. The first thing I got was two pieces of stiff card-board, one piece longer than the other, then covered these pieces with some nice pieces of silk and I sewed them together in the shape of a cross.

For about a month before St. Patrick’s day I used to be gathering the nicest bits of silk or satin I could find to cut them into narrow strips to make nice, neat, fluffy little bundles of them. I then sewed one bundle on each of the four ends and one on the centre of the cross.

Then my cross was complete and ready to wear on my left arm on St. Patrick’s day and for a whole week after going to school. There wasn’t any “meas” [ii] on any little girl that had not a cross for St Patrick’s day. [iii]

Many postcards suggest nostalgia and homesickness for Ireland, and may have been produced with emigrants in mind. They feature stereotypically Irish decorations such as shillelaghs, Celtic crosses, harps, and of course, the shamrock, which is specifically associated with St. Patrick.

The shamrock has become the most popular symbol for St. Patrick’s Day, referring to the legend which tells that Patrick illustrated the concept of the Trinity by plucking a three-leaved shamrock from the ground. Thus, many cards include the shamrock, and in some it is the main feature.

MSE/IR 1403-89A

‘The Dear Little Shamrock’ song was composed by Limerick-born Andrew Cherry, an actor, playwright and theatre manager who was active from the 1770s until 1812. At the time of this postcard, the song must have been well known, being part of the repertoire of John McCormack, whose performances of Irish songs were very popular on his concert tours of the United States.

A 1904 recording, digitized by the Ward Archives in Wisconsin, allows us to hear McCormack’s voice. [iv]

This card was posted in September 1911 from Dublin to Middlesex, England.

MSE/IR 1403-109B

The Green Isle of Erin, posted in England, is a German-produced card full of standard references, i.e., the green isle, harp, emerald and shamrocks. Ann Wilson’s informative article on Irish picture postcards of the Edwardian Age tells us that Germany was the location of much of the early picture postcard production. [v]

MSE/IR 1403-109A

Though this card celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, it was posted in November 1904 from County Cork to South Africa.

When postcards first began to be used, a message was written on the front of the postcard and the address written on the back. It took time, after the development of picture postcards, for postal administrations to allow for a message written on the same side as the address. Though the British Post Office allowed a message on the left and address on the right from 1902, this was not generally accepted in other countries at the time this card was posted, hence the writing on the picture side of this card.

MSE/IR 1403-108B

Posted from Adrian, Michigan to Brooklyn, New York on March 15th, 1909, the cluster of items on this card suggest a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and an American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

MSE/IR 1403-136B

St. Patrick’s Day Souvenir. Meeting of the Waters Killarney, sent from Shakopee, Minnesota to St. Paul, Minnesota. The Lakes of Killarney were among the most celebrated beauty spots for tourists to Ireland, and so this postcard imparts a romantic view of Ireland.

MSE/IR 1403-14A

The Crescent Embossing Company in New Jersey published many American patriotic cards such as Independence Day greeting cards. The signature on this card, as on other cards by Crescent, are of the owner, Fred C. Lounsbury, rather than of the artist.

As these cards suggest, celebrating St. Patrick’s day in the golden age of the postcard veered from a celebration of early Gaelic Ireland, with the symbols of Christianity such as the cross and round tower in this last postcard, to wistful nostalgia such as that depicted in the ‘Dear Little Shamrock’.

The postcard collection is currently being cataloged so that in time, it will be possible to locate each postcard from our online finding aid.

 

 

[i] Cronin, Mike, and Daryl Adair. The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day. Routledge, 2002.

[ii] Meas is the Irish word for ‘respect’.

[iii] Transcribed from the account of Mrs. J. D. Riordan of Barna Co. Kerry. The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0448, Page 198. https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/4706359/4706107

[iv] McCormack, John. Dear Little Shamrock. Record Label and Issue Number: Edison Bell 6442 (1904). Ward Irish Music Archive: Collection: Irish Fest Collection. WIMA ID: IF CYL 00-026 https://wardirishmusicarchives.com/Exhibits/Irish-Music-on-Cylinder-Recordings/Dear-Little-Shamrock-John-McCormack.htm

[v] Wilson, Ann. ‘Image Wars: the Edwardian Picture Postcard and the Construction of Irish Identity in the Early 1900s’, Media History 24:3-4 (2018), pp. 320-384.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, January 30 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “The Artist and the Police: Decameron 8.3″ by Justin Steinberg (Chicago).

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, curated by Erika Hosselkuss and Julie Tanaka, will open in January and run through the summer.

The current spotlight exhibit is: Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020). The semester spotlight exhibit, featuring materials relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February, will be installed prior to the conference.


If you would like to bring a class or other group to Special Collections, schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, or schedule another event, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

Upcoming Events: December and early January

There are no events scheduled to be hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections in December 2019 or early January 2020.

Rare Books and Special Collections will remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is open for just under three more weeks, closing December 19.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019), a display of selected materials from the University Archives, and Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020) in conjunction with the Snite Museum’s exhibit “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame.

RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Christmas & New Year’s Break (December 21, 2019 – January 1, 2020) and will resume regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

Finnegans Wake and Other Books: James Joyce in the Special Collections

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Visiting scholar Enrico Terrinoni will contribute to a round table discussion here in our reading room. On this occasion, he will present the Library with a valuable addition to our James Joyce collection, the six-volume Italian translation of Finnegans Wake, which he, along with Fabio Pedone, completed and which was published on May 4 this year.

The event, ‘Finnegans Wake: On Infinite Translation’, will be held at 4:30 on Monday, November 18, and is sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Center for Italian Studies. It is open to the public. Beginning at 3:30, we plan to host a ‘pop-up display’ of books from our Joyce collection, so those who come early may enjoy seeing rare and interesting items from our special collections.

A decade ago, a professor enquired about the sixty-three volume James Joyce Archive, a major publication containing facsimiles of manuscripts by Joyce, edited and annotated by Joyce scholars. As this was published before the establishment of Irish studies at Notre Dame, the Hesburgh is not one of the libraries that had purchased the expensive collection in 1978, and it was next to impossible to find a set on the market at this stage.

Having followed a number of online bookseller descriptions advertising expensive publications described as the James Joyce Archive, only to find that the publisher’s prospectus alone was the usual item for sale (and highly priced), eventually a phone call to Ohio resulted in a conversation with bookseller Daniel Wenzel. Not only did Mr. Wenzel have a large number of these volumes for sale, he had been collecting books related to Joyce and particularly to Finnegans Wake for many years, and was ready to part with his collection. So a purchase was made, greatly enriching the Hesburgh Library’s collection of Joyce, with critical works, editions of Joyce, translations, and adaptations.

Translations acquired at that time include Finnegans Wake in Japanese, Korean and German, and a Czech translation of Anna Livia Plurabella.  There are also creative works based on Joyce’s books, including musical arrangements, drawings, and fine press productions.

1922 first edition of Ulysses with original slipcase (Special Collections Vault PR 6019 .O9 U4 1922).

The collection acquired from Daniel Wenzel complemented the Joyce collection already in existence. Highlights of this collection are the first edition of Ulysses, the limited edition of Joyce’s Mangan, and a Limited Editions Club printing of Ulysses with illustrations by Henri Matisse. This book was a gift of Donald and Marilyn Keough at the time the Keough Institute (now the Keough-Naughton Institute) was founded, and it currently features in the Snite Museum’s Irish art exhibition, Looking at the Stars: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame. 

The Italian translation will be a very welcome addition to this collection, and we expect this collection to add to the enjoyment and inspiration of many scholars in the coming years.

Upcoming Events: September and early October

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, September 5 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “‘Gli occhi della fantasia.’ Mental Images and Poetic Imagery in Leopardi” by Sabrina Ferri (Notre Dame).

Thursday, September 19 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “Parabola in Boccaccio (I.1; X.10)” by Ambrogio Camozzi Pistoja (Harvard).

Thursday, October 3 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “Reading the Medieval Mediterranean: Navigation, Maps, and Literary Geographies. Questions, Approaches, and Methods” by Roberta Morosini (Wake Forest).

The Italian Research Seminar is sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

 

The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana (June – August 2019) and Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album (August – September 2019).

RBSC is closed Monday, September 2nd,
for Labor Day.

Art in an Irish Country Home: The Edgeworth Family Album

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Last year, Hesburgh Library acquired an album of drawings of the famous Edgeworth family of County Longford, Ireland. The album, showing the artistic endeavors of the family, shows a different side to a family best known to us for Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849), a leading writer of her time. It is Maria’s step-mother, Frances Edgeworth, and some of the children of Richard Lovell’s third wife, Elizabeth Sneyd, who are the artists of this album.

On August 17, 2019, Notre Dame’s Snite Museum opens a major exhibition of Irish art, “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame. This exhibition includes items from Special Collections. To complement this exhibition, we are featuring an example of Irish art from our collection in our September 2019 Spotlight Exhibit, Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album. This spotlight exhibit runs through September 2019.

The Artists

Frances Beaufort (1769-1864) was born in Navan, County Meath, where her father, Rev. Daniel Augustus Beaufort, was Rector. Having attended Mrs. Terson’s school in Portarlington, she had lessons in art from a number of artists including Frances Robert West, Master of the Dublin Society’s School of Figure Drawing.

The Edgeworth and Beaufort families were acquainted. When Frances was asked to provide sketches for a proposed illustrated edition of Maria Edgeworth’s The Parent’s Assistant, her relationship with Richard Lovell Edgeworth developed and soon they were married. In spite of being younger than her oldest step-daughter, renowned writer Maria Edgeworth, the women became close friends.

Both families were intensely interested in learning. Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817) was an inventor, writer and landowner, and was particularly interested in the education of children. In the Edgeworth household, children were instructed by other family members, and their reading and activities covered a broad and ambitious range. Emphasis on education is apparent in Maria Edgeworth’s books. Her opinions on education are clear not only in her books for children and parents, but in novels such as Belinda and The Absentee, which have examples of appropriate education—in one case, the scientific education of a family in the upper class, and in the other, the practical education that Edgeworth considered appropriate for the children of tenants.

Frances encouraged her children and step-children to draw. The subject matter of the drawings shows a marked interest in working people who might have been tenants, servants or estate-workers.

Most of the drawings in the album are by Frances and her step-daughter Charlotte, though other family members—Honora (1791-1857), William (1794-1829), Harriet (1801-1889), Lucy Jane (1805-1897), and Michael Pakenham (1812-1881)—may also have contributed.

Charlotte Edgeworth (1783-1807) was exceptionally talented, and though she died at twenty-four years of age, she was known for technical expertise, drawing, and poetry.

Many drawings in the album are illustrations for stories by Maria Edgeworth. The Parent’s Assistant includes the tale “Waste Not, Want Not”, in which a lazy and greedy boy is compared to his more virtuous cousin. The picture shown below illustrates the following passage from the story.

Hal came out of Mr. Millar’s, the confectioner’s, shop with a hatful of cakes in his hand. Mr. Millar’s dog was sitting on the flags before the door; and he looked up, with a wistful, begging eye, at Hal, who was eating a queen-cake. Hal, who was wasteful even in his good-nature, threw a whole queen-cake to the dog, who swallowed it for a single mouthful.


The Edgeworth Family Album is on display in Special Collections through August and September 2019.

Upcoming Events: August and early September

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, September 5 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – “‘Gli occhi della fantasia.’ Mental Images and Poetic Imagery in Leopardi” by Sabrina Ferri (Notre Dame).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

 

The exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance will open mid-August and run through the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana (June – August 2019) and Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album (August – September 2019).

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 2nd,
for Labor Day.

St Patrick and the Nun of Kenmare

Cusack’s Life of Saint Patrick
with Hennessy’s Tripartite Life of St. Patrick

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Visitors to the Special Collections usually notice our stained glass picture of Saint Patrick. However, this is far from the only reference to Ireland’s patron saint in the Special Collections. Among the many books, pamphlets and prints relating to Patrick, we have this Life of Saint Patrick, written by a woman known variously as the Nun of Kenmare, Margaret Anna Cusack, or Sister Mary Francis Cusack.

Sister Mary Francis Cusack, a prolific writer on Ireland and on the Catholic faith, was born in 1829. She grew up in County Dublin and also in England where she joined an Anglican religious order. In 1858 she converted to Catholicism and joined the Poor Clare order. [1]

In 1861, Cusack was among the founders of a new community of Poor Clares in Kenmare, County Kerry. In Kenmare,  Cusack began to publish her writings, and became a well-known writer among Irish Catholics. Her writings found a market among Irish-American Catholics, contributed greatly to the convent’s income. She remained in Kenmare until 1880, and traveled to Knock, County Mayo, the site of an apparition in 1879. There she attempted to found a convent and industrial school. This endeavor failed, and she left for England.

In England, she established a new order, St. Joseph’s Sisters of Peace, with convents in Nottingham and Grimsby. She later moved to the United States and opened an American mother-house of the order, but this met with little success. Having had difficulty in her dealings with bishops, Cusack resigned from the order and left her convent. She left the Catholic Church and was a Methodist until her death in 1899.

The Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland was written while she was Sister Mary Francis Cusack, published in 1871, and clearly intended for a wide readership as the title page lists publishers in London, Dublin, Boston and Australia. The first edition had apparently been published in Kenmare, County Kerry in 1869, with an American Catholic publishing house listed also on the title page. [2]

The saint’s life, as explained by Cusack, who argues that Patrick was a Catholic, and emphasizes his miracles, takes up the first 368 pages of this book and includes many illustrations. Each page is framed in a decorative border. In fact, the book would be a handsome addition to any home library.

‘The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland’, pages 369 to 502 of this book, is, according to the title page of this section, translated from the original Irish by W. M. Hennessy.

While nowadays we expect a scholarly translation of old manuscripts to include introductory information outlining the sources used and the language of those sources, this information is difficult to glean from Hennessy’s translation. William Maunsel Hennessy (c. 1829-1899), was a highly-regarded scholar of Celtic studies and of Irish manuscript literature.

Hennessy’s text here is an edition translated from manuscript sources dating from about one thousand years earlier, and therefore in Old Irish, quite different from the language spoken in the nineteenth century. While Hennessy does not specify his sources, Cusack, in her introductory chapters, describes the various accounts of St. Patrick’s life found in the Book of Armagh, of which she states that the Tripartite Life is the most important. She also mentions that it is regrettable that the Book of Armagh is now in a Protestant institution, Trinity College, but on balance, it is a good thing that it is safe and well cared-for.

In Hennessy’s text, he occasionally alludes to his manuscript sources, for example, following the story of Patrick and his sisters being sold as slaves in Ireland, the author states that a leaf is missing from both the Bodleian and British Museum MSS. of the Tripartite Life.

The text describes many miracles carried out by Patrick, from boyhood on. The following passage describes the event where Patrick is said to have lit a fire in defiance of the king.

As the people of Tara were thus, they saw the consecrated Easter fire at a distance, which Patrick had lighted. It illuminated all Magh-Bregh. Then the king said, “That is a violation of my prohibition and law; and do you ascertain who did it.” “We see the fire,” said the druids, “and we know the night in which it is made. If it is not extinguished before morning,” added they, “it will never be extinguished. The man who lighted it will surpass the kings and princes, unless he is prevented.” When the king heard this thing, he was much infuriated. Then the king siad, “That is not how it shall be; but we will go,” said he, “until we slay the man who lighted the fire.”

…..

The druid Luchat Mael put a drop of poison into the goblet which was beside Patrick, that he might see what Patrick would do in regard to it. Patrick observed this act, and he blessed the goblet, and the ale adhered to it, and he turned the goblet upside-down afterwards, and the poison which the druid put into it fell out of it. Patrick blessed the goblet again, and the ale changed into its natural state. [3]

This Life of Saint Patrick calls out to be examined and researched. This lavishly-produced book invites questions about the readership and intended audience, the sources used, and many other questions. In fact, writing this blogpost was challenging because exploring the book raised more questions than answers. Where did the illustrations come from? Did W. M. Hennessy publish this translation anywhere else, and what were his manuscript sources? Who purchased copies of this book? As is the case with many of our books, a visit to the Rare Books and Special Collections to view this book up close would be very rewarding.

 

 

[1] Patrick Maume. “Cusack, Margaret Anna (‘The nun of Kenmare’)”. Dictionary of Irish Biography. James McGuire, James Quinn. (ed.) Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

[2] The 1869 edition may be viewed in Hathi Trust.

[3] Hennessy, M. F. ‘The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick’, in Cusack, p. 385-388.