Treasures from the Butler Collection of Maps of Ireland

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Central to our Irish map collection is the David J. Butler Collection of Maps of Ireland, given to the Hesburgh Libraries thirty years ago by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. McGrath. The collection is named for Betty McGrath’s father, ‘a native Irishman who loved this school’, and the maps were collected over many years by Thomas C. McGrath during his eventful career as a naval officer, a businessman, a lawyer and a congressman. The David J. Butler Collection consists of seventy-two maps of Ireland, printed in the sixteenth, seventeen and eighteenth centuries.

We are fortunate in having a transcript of the lecture given by Mr. McGrath, ‘The Joy of the Chase’ which describes his hobby of collecting maps and sea charts. His interest in sea charts arose naturally from his time in the U.S. Navy, and he gave these to the Hesburgh Libraries separately, this collection named for his parents, Thomas and Helen McGrath, whose sacrifices, he says, permitted him to study briefly at Notre Dame. (He was enrolled for one year prior to joining the U.S. Navy during World War II.)

Many of the maps were published in atlases, and were removed from those books a long time ago. The Butler collection includes maps by Mercator, Speed and other European map makers and atlas publishers.

This small sample provides a tantalising glimpse (we hope) of the range and richness of the collection. In our incomplete information on these maps, the reader will note that there is much scope for continued research to provide accurate catalog information on each map.

MAI 1612-01-F1

This map, for example, is one where our information is quite incomplete. It appears to be from an edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in many editions from 1570. We have seen a similar map on the website of the Library of Congress, dated 1598, but we have not seen any copy with the image of Queen Elizabeth I illustrating the cartouche. Our map has a page describing Ireland (Hibernia) in Latin on the verso.

As in a number of earlier maps, the orientation has the west uppermost on the page, rather than the now accepted convention of north being at the top of the page.

Printed at the top of the map, that is, on the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Ireland, is a peculiar selection from the Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales.

A translation of the original text reads,

There is an island called Aren, situated in the western part of Connaught, and consecrated, as it is said, to St. Brendan, where human corpses are neither buried nor decay, but, deposited in the open air, remain uncorrupted. Here men can behold, and recognise with wonder, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and great-great-grandfathers, and the long series of their ancestors to a remote period of past time.

There is another thing remarkable in this island. Although mice swarm in vast numbers in other parts of Ireland, here not a single one is found. No mouse is bred here, nor does it live if it be introduced; when brought over, it runs immediately away and leaps into the sea. If it be stopped, it instantly dies.

Giraldus Cambrensis, 64

Another note on the map mentions Sir Thomas Smith, an English colonist who received a royal grant of the Ards peninsula and Clandeboye in Co. Down in 1571.

It would be interesting to learn more about the publication of this map, and if it was, in fact, part of an Ortelius collection.

John Speed’s map of Leinster is one of the four province maps included in the section on Ireland in Speed’s The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, the first atlas with detailed maps of the provinces of Ireland, published in London in 1611. This map was engraved by Jodocus Hondius, who engraved the plates for Speed’s atlas from 1607 on, and bears the date 1610. This does not mean, however, that the map is from the 1611 edition as the same engravings were used in subsequent editions. It does, however, appear to match the 1611 edition of the Theatre of the Empire, which we can examine in digital form.

Map of Dublin, inset from MAI 1611-01-F2

Speed’s maps of the Irish provinces include insets, for Leinster, the inset is a map of Dublin, possibly the earliest printed map of Dublin still in existence. Maps of Cork and Limerick are inset in his map of Munster.

MAI 1676-01-F2 (upper left quarter of map)

Like many maps of the time, Speed’s maps are embellished with ships and sea creatures. Did the engraver foresee the spread of Irish music across the Atlantic when he added a fanciful image of a harpist riding a winged fish west from the Kerry coastline?

We hope, over time, to make some of our map collection available in digital form on our new platform Marble, so that more people can enjoy and learn from this remarkable collection.

References

Giraldus, Cambrensis, 1146?-1223?, Thomas Forester, Richard Colt Hoare, and Thomas Wright. The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis: Containing the Topography of Ireland, And the History of the Conquest of Ireland. London: G. Bell & sons, 1913.

Further reading on Irish maps

Ireland in maps : an introduction J. H. Andrews. Dublin: Dolmen Press, 1961

Shapes of Ireland : maps and their makers 1564-1839 / J. H. Andrews. Dublin : Geography Publications, 1997

John Speed: Maps of Ireland / Andrew Bonar Law. c. 1979.

The printed maps of Ireland to 1612 / andrew Bonar Law. Morristown, N. J. : Eagle Press, c1983

The printed maps of Ireland 1612-1850 / Andrew Bonar Law. Dublin : Neptune Gallery, 1997


Fáinne an Lae — Advertising to the Irish

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

New to our collection is a very nice bound volume Fáinne an Lae , A Weekly Bilingual Newspaper for the Advancement of the Irish Language. Páipéar Seachtmhaine Dá Theanga chum Gaedhilge do Chur ar Aghaidh. Vol. 1, no. 1,  January 8th, 1898 to the last volume, Vol. 5, no. 134, July 28th, 1900.

This pioneering work was taken on by printer Bernard Doyle (Brian Ó Dubhghaill), who owned and edited the newspaper, in cooperation with Conradh na Gaeilge (the Gaelic League).

Differences between the owner and Conradh na Gaeilge developed, and eventually Conradh na Gaeilge founded their own paper, An Claidheamh Soluis, which replaced Fáinne an Lae in 1900. Further information on the intertwined history of the two newspapers may be read in Fáinne an Lae agus an Athbheochan, 1898-1900, by Caoilfhionn Nic Pháidín (1998)

When this handsome volume arrived, we began to explore it, examining the content of the first issue (editorial on the need to revive the Irish language, summaries of Irish and overseas news items, and news of the Irish language and of the Gaelic League), but we soon became engrossed in the advertisements on the back page of each issue.

While most advertisements are in English, some are written in Irish, including this one from Madigan Brothers, tea merchants, of Henry Street, Dublin.

Tá tae “thar barr” ag Muintir Mhadagháin. (The Madigan family’s tea is superlative). The price of a pound of their tea ranges from 1/4 (one shilling and four pence) to two shillings.

A barber advertises his services — one wonders if the conversation in 180 Townsend Street was often in Irish, and how successful this ad was in bringing an Irish-speaking clientele. Surely he was not the only Irish-speaking barber in all of Ireland, but the claim might refer to Dublin city center.

As we might expect, many advertisements were directed not only to Irish language enthusiasts, but to those who supported Irish industry. In the spirit of Douglas Hyde’s groundbreaking essay, ‘The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland’ (1892), calling for Irish people to embrace Irish products as well as Irish culture and language, the advertisements promote Irish handkerchiefs, clothes, jewellery, whiskey and books.

Bernard Doyle’s biography in ainm.ie tells us that he was involved in the planning of centenary commemoration events for the 1798 Rising, and so it isn’t surprising to find an ad for ’98 commemorative items in his paper. Irish poplin, the material noted here for ties, sashes, and the Wolfe Tone badges, is a silk fabric that was woven in Dublin since the since the seventeenth century.

This Belfast jeweller advertises brooches complete with Celtic cross, harp, and what looks like a round tower.

Christmas cards with Irish language greetings , ‘the latest novelty’ are advertised below Tierney’s ad for rented china, glass and delph. Delph, or delf, a word rarely heard in America, is a common term in Ireland for earthenware dishes, cups, plates etc.

Kelly Brothers, above, advertise their large stock of wine, but only as a footnote to their altar wine.

Having read and enjoyed the advertisements, we will now send the volume for cataloging, and look forward to making it available for students and visitors.

The Private Theatre of Kilkenny

We added an attractive and interesting book to our collection on Irish Theatre, The Private Theatre of Kilkenny, with Introductory Observations on Other Private Theatres in Ireland, before it was opened. Privately printed in Kilkenny in 1825, the book covers the history of this theatre from its formation in 1802 until it ended in 1819.

Kilkenny, the home of an annual international arts festival, has a long history as a cultural city. Ask About Ireland, the Irish libraries and museums’ website of cultural and historical information for Irish students, features a page on Kilkenny Theatre, describing this Private Theatre as follows:

During the late 1700s, it became very fashionable for wealthy people to have private theatricals or plays performed at their houses. The popularity of this led to the formation of amateur acting companies, such as the one formed by Sir Richard Power in Kilfane. This company became so successful that it opened a public theatre in Kilkenny in 1802 called The Athenaeum. Most of its profits were donated to charitable organizations in the area.

Kilkenny Theatre: Glitz and Glamour, Learning Zone: Primary Students, AskAboutIreland.ie

The introduction discusses the history of theatrical activities in the area prior to the formation of the Theatre, during the years when plays were performed in the country homes of various landed families: “…about the end of the year 1774, a taste for Dramatic amusements was very prevalent in the County of Kilkenny. Plays were got up at Knocktopher, Farmley, and Kilfane, the Seats of the late Sir Hercules Langrishe, Mr. Henry Flood, of Parliamentary celebrity, and Mr. Gervais Parker Bushe … Mr. Henry Grattan … was a member of the Theatrical Society, which passed from one elegant and hospitable Mansion to another, for the purpose of enjoying their classic recreations: a little strolling community, of no mean talents, or ordinary pretentions.”

Each chapter provides the programs for the season, and also the text of the prologue and other commentary, for example an account of reviews or of visitors. The prologue shown above takes aim at critics of the theatre, including, apparently, The Globe of London:

But merit will have foes. Amus’d we find
We’ve whet the spleen of some malignant mind,
Who swells ouf fame, when he would wound and probe
Which, grateful for his labours, fill *The Globe.

Our copy is elegantly bound, and is a great example of the craft of an Irish bookbinder. The bookseller describes it thus:

Contemporary full burgundy morocco. Covers with double gilt frame, blind stamped Greek-key and acanthus rolls, ‘Gervase Bushe / Glencairne Abbey’ in gilt on upper cover. Spine divided into six panels by five raised bands, title in gilt direct in the second, the remainder tooled with a gilt floral device. Armorial bookplate of Benjamin John Plunket on front pastedown.

This book is from the library of Benjamin John Plunket, and bears his bookplate. The Hesburgh Libraries acquired it this year by purchase from Irish bookseller, Éamonn de Búrca.

Fairy Tales and Folk Tales — Two Books by Yeats

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Most of the books in our W. B. Yeats collection sit neatly on the literature shelves — in fact, the majority are in the ‘rare medium’ shelves as our special collections are organized in various size ranges. Exceptions, however, with variant editions found in the ‘rare small’ sections of folklore and children’s literature section, are Yeats’s Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry and his Irish Fairy Tales.

Fairy and folk tales of the Irish peasantry / ed. and selected by W.B. Yeats.
London: W. Scott, undated. Rare Books Small GR 153.5 .F34 1880z

Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry was one of Yeats’s earliest published books. At the time of this work, Yeats had been publishing in periodicals for about four years, mostly in the Dublin University Review. He had published one book of poetry, Mosada, now exceedingly rare, in 1886, and was working on having his next collection published — The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. His published poetry and other writing of the time demonstrates a great interest in folklore, and in stories of fairies, ghosts and other phenomena of folklore, and his reading was complemented by encounters with the people of County Sligo in particular, where he spent much of his time.

To find Yeats discussing this publication, we can consult John Kelly’s great compilation, The Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats, which, fortunately, we have in digital form and so can easily search the letters for references to folklore and fairies. Thus we learn that Yeats was invited by his friend Ernest Rhys to produce a book of folklore for the Camelot Series of prose writing, to be published by Walter Scott. 

Yeats writes to his friend Katharine Tynan in February, 1888:

I am trying to get some sort of regular work to do however, it is neccessary, and better any way than writing articles about things that do not interest one — are not in ones line of developement — not that I am not very glad to do the Folklore book or any thing that comes to my hand.

Kelly, 47-48
Illustration by James Torrance from Irish Fairy and folk Tales, a later edition, circa 1893, published by W. Scott. The picture illustrates a story by William Carleton, ‘Frank Martin and the Fairies’.

Irish fairy and folk tales / selected and ed. with introduction, by W.B. Yeats. Twelve illustrations by James Torrance. London: W. Scott, [1893?]

In the letters we also find Yeats consulting with Douglas Hyde on the book.

Yeats’s selection includes stories written by those friends, Douglas Hyde and Katharine Tynan and other contemporaries, and also by earlier writers, among them Crofton Croker, whose early nineteenth century collections of folklore were very popular.

In the introduction to the 1888 book, Yeats discusses the context for storytelling in the community, and he argues the merits of the folklore collectors included in his book, saying that “they have made their work literature rather than science” and that they have “caught the very voice of the people” (xiv). 

Most of Yeats’s early encounters with the rural Irish were in Sligo, where his mother’s family lived, and here he introduces a story-teller of his acquaintance, Paddy Flynn, “a little, bright-eyed, old man, living in a leaky one-roomed cottage” who tells stories of Columkill (Colmcille) and who has told Yeats matter-of-factly of his sighting of the Banshee.

 Fairy and folk tales of the Irish peasantry / edited and selected by W.B. Yeats. London: W. Scott; New York: T. Whittaker, 1888. Rare Books Small GR 153.5 .F34 1888

The chapters demonstrate the editor’s interest in the various supernatural or magical creatures and phenomena found in Irish folklore. The sections on fairies are divided into ‘The Trooping Fairies’ and ‘The Solitary Fairies’. In the first are stories of Changelings, and of the Merrow (a sea-being), while the Solitary Fairies include the Leprechaun and his variants, and also the Pooka and the Banshee.

The stories collected from folklore are interspersed with verse, including, for example William Allingham’s ‘The Fairies’, with which the collection begins. In the section on the Changeling, we find an example of one of Yeats’s own compositions, his well-known poem ‘The Stolen Child’, with an early version of the refrain uttered by the fairies to entice the child to leave and join them:

Come away, O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than
you can understand.

W. B. Yeats, ‘The Stolen Child’, in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888), p. 59.

The rest of the chapters cover characters ranging from ghosts to priests, and there is also a chapter called ‘Tyeer-Na-N-Og’ (Tír na nÓg — the land of youth).

Title page with frontispiece by Jack B. Yeats: an illustration from “The Young Piper” by Crofton Croker.

Irish Fairy Tales, edited with an introduction by W. B. Yeats. New York: Cassell, 1892.

Yeats’s Irish Fairy Tales, with illustrations by his brother, Jack B. Yeats, was published in a series for children in 1892. This book has a modest selection of fourteen stories, a lively introductory essay on ‘The Irish Storyteller’, and an appendix on the classification of Irish fairies.

In a note on the contents, Yeats explains that he has included no story that has already appeared in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, and that he believes the two volumes to make “a fairly representative collection of Irish folk tales.”

With writers of the stature of W. B. Yeats, librarians and scholars have many resources for researching the bibliography, and in the case of Yeats, we have Allan Wade, A Bibliography of the Writings of W. B. Yeats, 3rd. ed., rev., Russell K. Alsbach (1968). Nevertheless, Yeats made so many changes in editions of his work, that it is always interesting to compare the variant editions of his work.

Competing with Finian’s Rainbow

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

This immigrant librarian was delighted to see Ireland’s national holiday celebrated in American elementary schools. It was dismaying, however, to walk down a school corridor in March of 1996, and see the walls bedecked with rainbows, crocks of gold, and leprechauns.

Did a film about a leprechaun and a crock of gold so captivate American audiences that no other stories could compete? Have books of Irish stories been available for children who grew up in America in the last century?

Padraic Colum, The King of Ireland’s Son, illustrated by Willy Pogany. NY: Macmillan, 1921.
Rare Books Medium PR 6005 .O38 K54 1921

Padraic Colum (1881-1972) and Ella Young (1867-1956) are the only Irish authors whose books have been recognized with a Newbery honor. The Newbery medal was founded in 1922 and is awarded annually by the ALA for an American-published children’s book. In addition to the medalist, a few books are named honor books each year. Colum and Young are also among the few Irish authors mentioned in American reviews of children’s books in the first half of the twentieth century.

Colum’s The King of Ireland’s Son, illustrated by Willy Pogány, has many stories woven into a framing narrative. Between the time when Connal, the King of Ireland’s son, is sent on a quest by the Enchanter and the end where he and Fedelma, the Enchanter’s daughter are finally married, there are many stories and adventures, some concerning Connal and Fedelma, and some being stories told by our characters — stories within stories.

As in all Colum’s books for children, the art of the storyteller is always close to the surface.

Padraic Colum, The King of Ireland’s Son. Illustrations by Willy Pogany.

And then a flock of ravens came from the rocks, and flying straight at them attacked Fedelma and the King of Ireland’s Son. The King’s Son sprang from the steed and taking his sword in his hand he fought the ravens until he drove them away. They rode on again. But now the ravens flew back and attacked them again and the King of Ireland’s Son fought them until his hands were wearied. He mounted the steed again, and they rode swiftly on. and the ravens came the third time and attacked them more fiercely than before. The King’s Son fought them until he had killed all but three and until he was covered with their blood and feathers.

Colum, 51
Padraic Colum, The Girl who Sat by the Ashes. Illustrated by Dugald Stewart Walker. NY: Macmillan, 1919.
Rare Books Medium PR 6005 .O38 G57 1919

Colum’s children’s books, published by Macmillan, are drawn from the literature of a number of countries and cultures. His The Golden Fleece and The Children’s Homer were much-read and constantly recommended for youth, and his Hawaiian stories were written at the request of the Hawaiian legislature. His Irish stories include The Girl who Sat by the Ashes, and The White Sparrow, and The Forge in the Forest is a collection of stories of different cultures all told in a forge, a traditional setting for storytelling.

Typically, Colum’s books have stories within a story, so that the narrator and context of the storytelling is part of the story. In The Big Tree of Bunlahy, for example, the narrator sets the scene by claiming that the big elm tree in his small native village is world-famous. The narrator proceeds to tell of many instances where he sat under the tree as a boy, often in the context of an errand such as a visit to the shoemaker, and he tells of a colorful series of people who gathered under the tree, and the stories that they told on different occasions. Stories vary from early Irish literature such as the story of Oisín (Usheen) and Tír na nÓg, to stories about animals and birds.

Colum’s children’s books are just one aspect of the literature for which he was known. He was already well-known in Ireland as a playwright and a poet when he left for America in 1914. In fact, he is mentioned in Joyce’s Ulysses as one of Ireland’s most promising young writers in 1904.

In his long career in America he taught literature at Columbia University in New York, sometimes co-teaching along with Mary Colum, his wife.

Another Irish emigrant, Ella Young, who made her home in California in the 1920s, was involved, as Colum was, in the Irish Literary Revival. She, too, taught in a university. She taught Irish myth and lore at the University of Berkeley in California. And Irish myth and lore is at the center of her books of stories for children. Shown above is her 1932 book, The Unicorn with Silver Shoes, illustrated by Robert Lawson.

Ella Young, The Wonder Smith and his Son: A Tale from the Golden Childhood of the World. Illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff. NY: Longmans, Green, 1927.
Rare Books Medium PS 3547 .O4745 W66 1927

The Wonder Smith and His Son was a Newbery Honor book in 1928, and The Tangle-Coated Horse and Other Tales was a Newbery Honor book in 1930.

The Wonder Smith is Young’s name for An Gobán Saor, a mythical builder, stonemason and trickster, who figures in many Irish folktales. The title page by Boris Artzybasheff, with its decorations inspired by the designs on Irish illuminated manuscripts, enhances the idea of these tales orginating in ‘the golden childhood of the world’.

Ella Young. The Wonder Smith and his Son. Illustration by Boris Artzybasheff.

It is interesting that the works of these two writers of the Irish Revival, settled in America, were selected by American publishers and reviewers alike. They represent a new image of Ireland for American readers, one of a nation with its own folklore and literary traditions. Earlier books such as Only an Irish Boy by Horatio Alger, told stories of Irish immigrant children who ‘made good’ in America, and so the insistence of these writers on the existence and richness of Ireland’s culture was probably very welcome.

Our Fall 2013 exhibit was on Irish children’s literature, and we hope to have a selection from that exhibit online in the near future.


Happy St Patrick’s Day to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

St Patrick’s Day 2018 post: St. Patrick’s Day in America (1872)
St Patrick’s Day 2019 post: St. Patrick and the Nun of Kenmare
St Patrick’s Day 2020 post: St. Patrick’s Day Postcards

Or, you can browse all our Irish Studies related posts.

“Revenge! Remember Limerick” — The Fighting Irish at Fontenoy

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Fontenoy. “Revenge! Remember Limerick. – Dash down the Sassenagh.” Colored lithograph. J. D. Reigh. Dublin: Printed by Tomsohn & Wogan. Supplement to the Christmas number of the Shamrock, 1886.

The above illustration depicts the oft-described reversal in the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745, from the French Army’s almost inevitable defeat to a decisive win. At a point when the battle between the French and the Allied coalition of English, French and Hanoverian troops was almost over for the French, a line of Irish regiments advanced.

Accounts of the battle claim that the Irish Colonel Lally shouted “Cuimhnidh ar Luimneach agus ar feall na Sasanach!” And that this cry was repeated down the ranks. “Remember Limerick and the treachery of the English” is a reference to the Treaty of Limerick of 1691, broken by the English not long after it was made.

This print, new to our collection, is by Irish artist and cartoonist John Dooley Reigh (1851-1914) who contributed illustrations to periodicals such as The United Irishman, Shamrock, Zoz, and others. As we add this print to our collection, we note that it is not our only illustration celebrating that battle, and indeed, were we to explore our collections, we would find many accounts and references to the Irish Brigade at the Battle of Fontenoy.

We select two examples to display here, an American print and a broadside ballad.

The print shown below, also from the 1880s, was produced by Kurz and Allison of Chicago. In this illustration the military leaders are less prominent than the fighting men, and the tattered green flag with the Irish harp emblem is prominent.

Battle of Fontenoy. Chicago: Kurz and Allison, circa 1886.

Elsewhere, we have an example of the Battle of Fontenoy as recounted in nineteenth-century Ireland in our the Broadside Ballads collection. “Fontenoy” by Thomas Davis introduces the Irishmen’s advance with a summary of the wrongs inflicted by the English:

How fierce the look these exiles wear, who’re wont to be so gay,
The treasured wrongs of fifty years are in their hearts to-day—
The treaty broken, ere the ink wherewith ’twas writ could dry,
Their plundered homes, their ruined shrines, their women’s parting cry,
Their priesthood hunted down like wolves, their country overthrown—
Each looks as if revenge for all were staked on him alone
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, nor ever yet elsewhere,
Rushed on to fight a nobler band than these proud exiles were.

“Fontenoy”. Irish Broadside Ballads collection, BPP 1001-110

‘The Citizen’ and Henry Hudson’s Collection of Irish Music

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Ninety years ago, Francis O’Neill made the University of Notre Dame the valuable gift of his remarkable personal library, a library known primarily for its collections on Irish music and Irish history.

Included are some bound volumes of a periodical called The Citizen or Dublin Monthly Magazine of 1841, and its successor Dublin Monthly Magazine, 1842.

Though the magazine covers literature, history and politics, it is for the music that O’Neill collected these volumes, as borne out by both his pencil annotations on the pages and his listing of these volumes under ‘Musical History and Literature’ in his inventory of the collection (O’Neill Library Inventory, MSN/MN 0502: Series 2).

The periodical ran, with various name-changes, from 1839 until 1843. When William Elliot Hudson (1796-1853) became editor, his brother, Henry Hudson (1798-1889) contributed a regular section on Irish music. This is the same Henry Hudson, a dentist with a practice on St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, whose manuscripts found their way into various collections including that of Francis O’Neill. We know how O’Neill came by the manuscript from a letter he wrote to Charlotte Milligan Fox in 1911:

When I obtained the MSS. Volume referred to on pages 68 and 249 of “Irish Folk Music” through Nassau Massey, Cork, I was informed that some four or five similar volumes had been purchased for the Boston Library. These latter, it appears, reached Mr. Massey, and were disposed of before the volume I now possess came into his hands.

O’Neill’s letter is published in an article by Fox, “Concerning the William Elliott Hudson Collection of Irish Folk Songs” in which she describes her discovery of the five notebooks in the Boston Public Library, and also argues erroneously that the author is William E. Hudson.

Hudson transcribed the songs and melodies at a time of enthusiasm for collecting and preserving traditional music of Ireland. Edward Bunting’s published collections, beginning with the melodies he transcribed from the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792, inspired a number of others to engage in similar work.

While the manuscript notebooks are filled with the songs or melodies, his published sections on Irish music include also lengthy introductions to the songs. The February 1941 issue of The Citizen also includes an essay on the printing of Irish music.

In our present number we again present our readers with three Irish airs. In the mechanical departments of the work, we are but experimenting. The neglect of every matter of art in Ireland has hitherto been so great, that we have had to cope with difficulties, which few, possibly , of our readers, are prepared to appreciate. The metals to be graven, — the tools to be employed,– the inks to be used, are all in a state of imperfection. The result is, and it has been the case for years, that those requiring any musical work of nicety to be executed, go, or send to London for it; and thus, even in Bunting’s last beautiful work, in the bringing out of which so much notationality has been tastefully displayed, the reader will find the last page deformed with the announcement, “London, engraved by H. T. Skarratt, 5, Eyre-street, Hatton-garden.” One hundred and thirteen plates for an irish work, especially national, engraved in London!

The Citizen or Dublin Monthly Magazine XVI, no. III, February 1841. P. 134

Hudson assigned Irish language titles along with English titles to most of his tunes. Examples are “Fuaim na dTonn” / “The Sound of the Waves” and “An Deoruide Tuirseach” / “The Weary Wanderer”.

Hudson’s series of notebooks of music manuscripts is divided across three libraries: one in the National Library of Ireland, five in the Boston Public Library, and one here in Notre Dame’s Special Collections.

A page from the Hudson manuscript MSE 1434-2B 021

Our notebook has been digitized may be viewed online, and digital copies of those at the Boston Public Library are available in the Internet Archive:

Book for Irish Airs, nos. 1-111
Numbers 1-424
Numbers 428-737
Manuscript beginning with 732
Manuscript with a note on Hudson’s own compositions

The seventh manuscript is in the National Library of Ireland, with the following catalog description: Traditional Irish airs, collected by Henry Hudson, in the 19th cent. From the O Casside Mss.

Bibliography

Colette Moloney and Deirdre McDonald, ‘The Irish Music Manuscripts of Henry Hudson’, in Kerry Houston, Maria McHale & Michael Murphy, eds., Documents of Irish Music History in the Long Nineteenth Century. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2019.

Jimmy O’Brien Moran. ‘Henry Philerin Hudson, MRIA: an Irish Macpherson?’ Béaloideas, 81 (2013), pp. 150-169.

Phillips Barry, ‘Irish Music in the Hudson Manuscripts’, Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, 13 (1913), pp. 9-10.

Color Our Collections: St. Brigid’s Day and “An Alphabet of Irish Saints”

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

St. Brigid’s Day, February 1st, marks the beginning of Spring in the Irish calendar.

In our exhibition of Irish children’s literature some years ago, we showed the first children’s alphabet book written completely in Irish that we know of — Na Rudaí Beaga (c. 1920) by Pádraig Ó Bróithe, illustrated by Lucas Rooney. We recently added a bilingual alphabet to our collection. An Alphabet of Irish Saints, illustrated by the same artist, was first published in 1915.

This book has a two-page spread for letters of the 18-letter Irish alphabet, each entry listing a saint and including a verse in English by Charlotte Dease and one in Irish by Tadhg Ó Donnchadha. An illustration, an ornate letter in the Gaelic font, and notes on the saint and associated place and festivals complete each entry.

The English verse refers to the story of Brigid receiving a promise that she could have all the land that her shawl, or mantle, could cover, to build her abbey. Her shawl spread to cover a great expanse of land. While this verse suggests a learned woman leader who could also cook, scrub and sew, the Irish verse must have been far less appealing to any young reader. It takes the form of a prayer to St. Brigid, and the prayer asks that the comely young women of Ireland would emulate her in practicing hard work.

Whether or not Brigid was a real person, an abbess in the fifth century, her legends have been part of Irish tradition and custom for centuries. In fact, look closely at the illustration above, and see the rushes strewn on the floor. These were surely added by the artist in reference to the story of the saint weaving a cross of rushes from the floor, and hence the traditional Crois Bhrighde, or Brigid’s Crosses, made at this time of year around the island of Ireland through many generations.


From February 1-5, 2021, libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world are sharing free coloring sheets and books based on materials in their collections. Visit The New York Academy of Medicine Library’s #ColorOurCollections site for more information and to find other color options.

Daily Purchases for a Famine Soup Kitchen

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Ireland’s Great Famine began in 1845 when the potato crop, the main food of much of the population, was destroyed by a potato blight. This blight recurred in the following years, leading to the deaths of over a million people. With the emigration of up to another million people, Ireland lost almost a quarter of its population.

Among the vast range of books and other materials our library has to help us study the Famine, there are a couple of rare or unique items. Such items give insight into various aspects of people and communities. One such item is the notebook shown here, the accounts of a soup kitchen, one of the many set up to give relief during the Famine.

This is the daybook, or notebook, listing all the receipts and expenditures for Drumbo Soup Kitchen from December 1846 to March 1848, accompanied by a sheet of tickets for Drumbo Soup Kitchen (MSE/IR 0100). Of the various places of that name, this is most likely Drumbo, County Down. This has not yet been verified. It was acquired by the Library in 2012.

The expenditure gives us an idea of the ingredients. In January 1st, 1846, purchases included cayenne pepper, black pepper, split peas, whole peas, barley,  beef, cow’s head and carrots.

The 32-page notebook includes the names and amounts of cash subscriptions, and the notebook bears the treasurer’s name — “Dr. James Orr, Treasurer to the Drumbo Soup Kitchen.”

Along with the notebook is a sheet of printed tickets with the following text: “Drumbo: Soup Kitchen: One Ration. Paid, One Penny.”

archivespace.library.nd.edu/repositories/3/resources/2026

Headless Horsemen in American and Irish Legend

by Sara Weber, Special Collections Digital Project Specialist, and Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

2019-2020 marks the two hundred years anniversary of Washington Irving’s first publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., which includes the perennial Halloween favorite “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow”. In the time since its publication, the story has found its way into films, TV shows, other books, and various other popular culture references. In honor of the anniversary, we’ve selected it for our 2020 Halloween tale.

The particular volume shown in this post came to us across the ocean from Ireland. It was part of the library of Walter Sweetman, a nineteenth-century Catholic landowner in County Wexford. When the Sweetman family of South Dakota inherited the Irish property, all the books from the library were included with furniture, but many perished from exposure to the salt water. It’s a pity our conservators were not involved in organizing that shipment. We like to imagine a reader in a large Irish country house reading of Sleepy Hollow with the backdrop of an Irish stormy evening.

The Sweetman Collection, given to us in 1997, is a large collection of over 470 volumes.

Download a PDF of Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to read the whole story.

Irving’s headless horseman was not the first of his kind, however. Riders who have lost or carry their head appeared in various stories and folklore before featuring as Ichabod Crane’s nemesis, beginning as early as the 14th century poem Gawain and the Green Knight. In Irish legend, the Dullahan or dúlachán is a Grim Reaper-like rider who carries his head under his arm (sometimes also known as the Gan Ceann, meaning literally “without a head” in Irish). (See Jessica Traynor’s ‘How tales of the headless horseman came from Celtic mythology’ in the Irish Times, October 23, 2019.)

In Thomas Crofton Croker’s Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1834), we find several stories grouped together under the heading of “The Dullahan”, including one titled simply “The Headless Horseman”. Croker was one of the earliest writers to compile collections of Irish folklore. Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland was first published in 1825. Having received much attention, including translation by the Grimm brothers, Croker went on to produce two more volumes. This edition, published in 1834, is a one-volume selection that he edited. A summary of the controversy surrounding the various friends who contributed stories may be found in the biography by Maureen Murphy in the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

The humorous story that we have selected begins in a sheebeen in Ballyhooley, West Cork, and follows the incredible encounter of Charley Culnane with a headless man on a headless horse.


Happy Halloween to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

Halloween 2016 RBSC post: Ghosts in the Stacks
Halloween 2017 RBSC post: A spooky story for Halloween: The Goblin Spider
Halloween 2018 RBSC post: A story for Halloween: “Johnson and Emily; or, The Faithful Ghost”
Halloween 2019 RBSC post: A Halloween trip to Mexico