The University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries, Special Collections, and the COVID situation
Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, masks are currently required throughout the Hesburgh Library for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to all Rare Books & Special Collections spaces.
All visitors to campus are required to wear masks inside campus buildings at all times until further notice. Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu.
Upcoming Events: January and early February
Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:
Wednesday, February 2, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses: An event celebrating the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses will be hosted in Special Collections, with a display of Ulysses-themed treasures from the vault of the Hesburgh Library and the reading of short excerpts from Ulysses in several languages.
Spring Semester Exhibits
The spring exhibit will feature Medieval Bibles and biblical texts and is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The exhibit, curated by David T. Gura, Ph.D., will open in January and run through the semester.
The spotlight exhibits for January and February will feature first editions of Joyce’s Ulysses and related items, in honor of the centenary of Ulysses publication.
Classes in Special Collections
Throughout the semester, curators teach sessions related to our holdings. If you’re interested in bringing your class or group to work with our curators and materials, please contact Special Collections.
The program of the 1934 Pageant of the Celt is found in very few library collections. Printed programs tend to be quite ephemeral, but when they survive they give a great glimpse into an occasion. Visiting art historian Dr. William Shortall has provided an essay on the Pageant, contextualizing this interesting publication.
When the Irish government was invited to take part in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, also known as the Century of Progress International Exposition, they were initially reticent. Tariffs and trade barriers meant there was little prospect of any financial gain. Eventually they decided to participate because ‘considerations such as those connected with national publicity and prestige might outweigh the more tangible considerations of trading advantage’. Essentially they sought a soft power and cultural diplomatic benefit from their presence at the event and sent a cultural and industrial display that was housed in the monumental Travel and Transport building. When the Fair organizers decided to run the event again in 1934, numerous countries—including the Irish Free State—did not participate and their places were taken by private concessions. However, there were a number of events that the Irish State did participate in during the second manifestation, the most prominent was an open air theatrical pageant representing Irish history, The Pageant of the Celt. Irish Consul General in Chicago, Daniel J. McGrath, was on the executive committee of the production.
The Pageant took place on the 28th and 29th August, 1934, at Chicago’s main sports stadium, Soldier’s Field, in front of large ‘marvellous’ crowds. Although the pageant is credited to Irish-American attorney John V. Ryan, it was most likely co-developed with its narrator Micheál MacLiammóir, to whose work it bears similarities. Some contemporary reports credit it solely to MacLiammóir. The Pageant was produced by Hilton Edwards and covered the period of Irish history from pre-Christian times to the Easter Rising of 1916 and it had almost two thousand participants. The imperfect resolution to the War of Independence with Britain in 1921 and the subsequent Civil War were still fresh in people’s memory and, as in the earlier MacLiammóir pageants, were avoided. Almost ninety years later, the upcoming centenary decade faces similar problems on how to commemorate these divisive events.
The Program describes the scenes of Irish history presented in pageant, starting from ancient mythical beginnings with the Battle of Tailté; to the emergence of a Catholic Nation and the ‘coming of [Saint] Patrick’; followed by ‘The Golden Age of Ireland’; a nation defended from Viking invaders by Brian Boru; followed by the country’s ultimate subjection by Britain, beginning with the marriage of ‘Eva and Strongbow’ followed by the ‘rise of republicanism’ and culminating in ‘Easter Week 1916 [when] Phoenix-like, the Irish nation rises from the fires of defeat to wage anew the centuried struggle for liberty’. The Pageant’s finale was a mass singing of ‘The Soldier’s Song, Irish National Anthem’. The elaborate Program published the anthem’s lyrics, it also featured 17 chapters relating to Irish cultural endeavours, including Irish music, the Harvard Irish Archaeological mission, and the Celtic Revival; and it contained messages of goodwill to Ireland from other Celtic peoples.
The program itself has a richly decorated cover and small illustrations and decorated capitals throughout by Irish-American artist Vincent Louis O’Connor (c.1884-1974). The cover contrasts Celtic Ireland with modern Chicago. Round towers are juxtapositioned with skyscrapers, separated by clouds, both icons of their time and the spirit of their respective ages. A man and a woman in distinctive ancient Irish dress festooned with a Tara brooch, stand on Ireland’s green shore facing the Atlantic. These and Saint Brendan’s ship anchored, trademarked with a Celtic cross, signifying the Irish-American connection. This was an Irish pageant suitable for diaspora consumption, with its mix of the mythical and ancient, cultured and catholic, distinctive and unique, oppressed but not beaten, leading to phoenix-like revolution and rebuilding.
The artist O’Connor was born in Kerry and immigrated to Chicago in 1914. An art teacher, he began teaching in Ireland in 1904. In America he taught in the University of Notre Dame from 1915 to 1922 and contributed sketches to the university yearbook as well as an architectural rendering of Notre Dame’s proposed 50-year building plan. O’Connor held several exhibitions of his work which frequently featured prominent Irish personalities or landscapes. This Program connects Ireland, America and Notre Dame University and speaks to ongoing difficulties in reconciling Ireland’s turbulent past and how the events of 1922 can be commemorated a hundred years later.
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.
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 theTheatre of the Empire, which we can examine in digital form.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 right, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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 (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.
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’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.
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’.
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!
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.
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. …
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.
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.
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: