seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Birth of Alfred Denis Godley, Scholar & Poet

Alfred Denis Godley, Anglo-Irish classical scholar and author of humorous poems is born on January 22, 1856, at Ashfield, County Cavan.

Godley is the eldest son of Rev. James Godley, rector of Carrigallen, County Leitrim, and Eliza Frances Godley (née La Touche). After attending Tilney Basset’s preparatory school in Dublin, he goes to Harrow College and Balliol College, Oxford, graduating BA in 1878. At Oxford he becomes known for his classical scholarship and wins several prizes, including the Craven scholarship and the Gaisford Prize for Greek Verse. In 1879 he is appointed assistant classical master at Bradfield College. He returns to Oxford in 1883 as tutor and fellow of Magdalen College (1883–1912). Serving as deputy public orator of Oxford (1904–06), he is elected public orator in 1910, a post he holds until his death.

Godley also enjoys renown as a writer of satiric verse and prose, beginning his literary career as a contributor to The Oxford Magazine in 1883. In 1890 he becomes its editor, and two years later publishes his first book of poems, Verses to Order (1892). Later publications include Lyra Frivola (1899), Second Strings (1902) and The Casual Ward (1912). His work is very popular and two volumes, Reliquiae (1926) and Fifty Poems (1927), are published posthumously. He also publishes numerous works of serious scholarship including Socrates and Athenian Society in His Day (1896) and Oxford in the Eighteenth Century (1908). Noted as a translator of Herodotus, Tacitus, and Horace, he serves as joint-editor of The Classical Review (1910–20). He also edits and publishes volumes of the poetry of Thomas Moore and Winthrop Mackworth Praed.

Active in political life, Godley serves as an alderman on Oxford City Council. During the Second Boer War (1899–1901) he organises volunteer forces, commanding a battalion of the 4th Oxfordshire Light Infantry (1900–05). He serves in this capacity again during World War I and is lieutenant-colonel of the Oxfordshire Volunteer Corps (1916–19). A staunch unionist, during the Home Rule Crisis, he supports the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and writes some political verse, notably The Arrest, which is popular among unionists. A pioneer in the sport of mountaineering, he is a founding member of the Alpine Club and a committee member (1908–11). He is also a member of the governing body of Harrow School. Towards the end of his career he is awarded honorary doctorates from Princeton (1913) and Oxford (1919).

In 1925 Godley goes on a tour of the Levant and contracts a fever which ultimately leads to his death on June 27, 1925, at his Oxford home, 27 Norham Road. He is buried at Wolvercote Cemetery.

In 1894 Godley marries Amy Hope Cay, daughter of Charles Hope Cay, fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. They have no children.

(From: “Godley, Alfred Denis” by David Murphy, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, October 2009)


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Birth of Cahir Healy, Irish Nationalist Politician

Cahir Healy, Irish nationalist politician, is born in Mountcharles, County Donegal, on December 2, 1877. He is a leader of northern Nationalists and is a self educated man who makes major contributions to Ireland’s cultural and literary heritage.

Healy becomes a journalist working on various local papers. He joins Sinn Féin on its foundation in 1905. He later campaigns against the inclusion of County Fermanagh and County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, arguing that they have an Irish nationalist majority. He is imprisoned for his activities in 1922, before being elected in the 1922 United Kingdom general election to represent Fermanagh and Tyrone as a Nationalist Party MP, but with the support of Sinn Féin.

Healy is re-elected in 1923, but remains in custody until the following year, in which he does not defend his seat. Instead, he is elected to represent the seat in the House of Commons of Northern Ireland in the 1925 Northern Ireland general election, but does not take his seat until 1927 due to the Nationalist abstentionist policy. In 1928 he becomes a founder of the National League of the North. In 1929, with the break-up of the large Fermanagh and Tyrone constituency, he switches to sit for the new seat of South Fermanagh. In a 1931 Fermanagh and Tyrone by-election he is again elected for Fermanagh and Tyrone to the British Parliament, but stands down again in 1935.

Healy becomes an insurance official but continues to write, his output including journalism, poetry and short stories. He is interned by the United Kingdom government for a year during World War II under Defence Regulation 18B. In 1950 he is elected to the British House of Commons for a third time, on this occasion representing Fermanagh and South Tyrone. He finally sits in the British Parliament in 1952, and holds the seat until he stands down in 1955. He leaves the Northern Ireland House of Commons in 1965, by which point he is the Father of the House.

Healy dies on February 8, 1970, at the age of 92 at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

(Pictured: Portrait of Cahir Healy by Lafayette, half-plate nitrate negative, July 7, 1932, given by Pinewood Studios via Victoria and Albert Museum, 1989, National Portrait Gallery, London)


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Birth of David James O’Donoghue, Biographer & Editor

David James O’Donoghue, Irish biographer, editor, and bookseller, is born in Chelsea, London, England on July 22, 1866.

O’Donoghue is born to Irish parents and grows up in the Hans Town area of Chelsea. He is the son of John O’Donoghue, a bricklayer from Kilworth, County Cork, and Bridget Griffin, who is from County Tipperary. He is the third of nine children, and has four brothers, Thomas, John, James, and Edmund, and four sisters, Mary, Ellen, Katherine, and Agnes. He is first an upholsterer‘s apprentice from the age of sixteen before becoming a journalist and author.

O’Donoghue attends a Catholic school and furthers his education at the British Museum. He begins his journalistic work by writing for the Dublin papers upon subjects relating to Irish music, art, and literature. A founder-member of the Irish Literary Society in London, he is also vice president of the National Literary Society, Dublin, and the compiler of a biographical dictionary, The Poets of Ireland (1891–93; revised edition, 1912), with entries on 2,000 authors. His published works also include Irish Poetry of the Nineteenth Century (1894), Humor of Ireland (1894), List of 1300 Irish Artists (1894), The Life and Writings of James Clarence Mangan (1897), Bibliographical Catalogue of Collections of Irish Music (1899), and Geographical Distribution of Irish Ability (1906).

O’Donoghue publishes an edition of James Fintan Lalor‘s writings (1895) and an edition of William Carleton‘s Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry (four volumes, 1896–97). He edits the works of Samuel Lover (six volumes, 1898–99) and the prose works (1903) and poems (1904) of James Clarence Mangan. He writes biographies on William Carleton (1896), Richard Pockrich (1899), and Robert Emmet (1902).

In 1896 O’Donoghue moves to Dublin. In 1909 he becomes librarian of University College Dublin. He is co-editor of Catalogue of the Gilbert Library (in Dublin; 1918). William Butler Yeats writes of him in his Autobiographies of William Butler Yeats (1938).

O’Donoghue dies suddenly on June 27, 1917 at his home on Auburn Avenue, Donnybrook, Dublin. He is buried in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery.


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Birth of Mary Colum, Literary Critic & Author

mary-columMary Colum (née Maguire), literary critic and author, is born in Collooney, County Sligo on June 14, 1884, the daughter of Charles Maguire and Catherine Gunning. She is the author of several books, including the autobiographical Life and the Dream (1947), and From These Roots: The Ideas that Have Made Modern Literature (1937), a collection of her criticism.

Maguire’s mother dies in 1895, leaving her to be reared by her grandmother, Catherine, in Ballysadare, County Sligo. She attends boarding school in St. Louis’ Convent in Monaghan, County Monaghan.

Educated at Royal University of Ireland Maguire is founder of the Twilight Literary Society which leads her to meet William Butler Yeats. She regularly attends the Abbey Theatre and is a frequent visitor amongst the salons, readings and debates there. After graduation in 1909 she teaches with Louise Gavan Duffy at St. Ita’s, a companion school to Patrick Pearse‘s St. Enda’s School. She is active with Thomas MacDonagh and others in national and cultural causes and co-founds The Irish Review (1911–14) with David Houston, MacDonagh and others. She, along with her husband, Padraic Colum, whom she marries in July 1912, edit the magazine for some months of its four year run. She is encouraged by Yeats to specialise in French literary criticism and to translate Paul Claudel.

Colum and her husband move to New York City in 1914, living occasionally in London and Paris. In middle age she is encouraged to return to writing, and becomes established as a literary generalist in American journals, including Poetry, Scribner’s Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, The Freeman, The New York Times Book Review, The Saturday Review of Literature, and the New-York Tribune.

Colum associates with James Joyce in Paris and discourages him from duping enquirers about the origins of the interior monologue in the example of Édouard Dujardin. She accepts Joyce’s very ill daughter, Lucia, for a week in their Paris flat at the height of her “hebephrenic” attack, while herself preparing for an operation in May 1932. She serves as the literary editor of The Forum magazine from 1933–1941 and commences teaching comparative literature with Padraic at Columbia University in 1941.

She rebuts Oliver St. John Gogarty‘s intemperate remarks about Joyce in The Saturday Review of Literature in 1941.

Colum’s publications become increasingly sparse in the 1950s as her arthritis and neuralgia grow more and more severe. She dies in New York City on October 22, 1957. At the time of her death, she is working on Our Friend James Joyce with her husband, each writing various chapters. It is assembled posthumously by Padraic Colum and is published by Doubleday on August 22, 1958.

Colum’s letters are held in Scribner’s Archive, Princeton University Library, while a collection of her papers is held at the State University of New York.


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First Meeting of Oscar Wilde & Walt Whitman

walt-whitman-oscar-wildeOn January 18, 1882, while on a successful speaking tour of the United States, the 27-year-old Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde, newly famous at home and abroad, visits 62-year-old poet Walt Whitman at Whitman’s home in Camden, New Jersey at 431 Stevens Street, a building that no longer exists.

Wilde’s mother had purchased a copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1866 and had read passages to Oscar when he was a child. It is not surprising, therefore, that Wilde seeks out Whitman when he has the opportunity to visit the United States. Wilde, through his friend and publisher in Philadelphia, J.M. Stoddart, requests that Whitman meet them for dinner in Philadelphia on the afternoon of Saturday, January 14. The ailing Whitman is not well enough to make the crossing of the Delaware River to Philadelphia. The meeting is then arranged to take place at Whitman’s home.

On Wednesday, January 18, after giving his lecture in Philadelphia the previous evening, Wilde travels by ferryboat across the river to visit Whitman. The two poets spend two hours together in a pleasant discussion over wine and milk punch.

Wilde is known to speak publicly about their meeting only once, in an interview with the Boston Herald about ten days after the meeting. He says, “I spent the most charming day I have spent in America. He is the grandest man I have ever seen. The simplest, most natural, and strongest character I have ever met in my life. I regard him as one of those wonderful, large, entire men who might have lived in any age, and is not peculiar to any one people. Strong, true, and perfectly sane: the closest approach to the Greek we have yet had in modern times. Probably he is dreadfully misunderstood.”

Wilde and Whitman meet for a second time in early May. Due to so little being known about the visits, some biographers incorrectly speculate that the two poets are estranged. However, Whitman sends Wilde an inscribed copy of November Boughs in 1888. This is sold a decade later when Wilde’s library is liquidated for debts while he is in prison after being found guilty of “gross indecency with men.”

Whitman always defends Wilde against the accusations of his detractors. “Wilde was very friendly to me – was and is, I think – both Oscar and his mother – Lady Wilde – and thanks be most to the mother, that greater, and more important individual. Oscar was here – came to see me – and he impressed me a strong, able fellow, too.”