seamus dubhghaill

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


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Birth of Nicholas Brady, Clergyman & Poet

Nicholas Brady, Anglican clergyman and poet, is born in Bandon, County Cork, on October 28, 1659.

Brady is the second son of Major Nicholas Brady and his wife Martha Gernon, daughter of the English-born judge and author Luke Gernon. His great-grandfather is Hugh Brady, the first Protestant Bishop of Meath. He receives his education at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford. He earns degrees from Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1685, MA 1686, BD & DD 1699).

Brady is a zealous promoter of the Glorious Revolution and suffers for his beliefs in consequence. When the Williamite War in Ireland breaks out in 1690, he, by his influence, thrice prevented the burning of the town of Bandon, after James II gives orders for its destruction following the Capture of Bandon. The same year he is employed by the people of Bandon to lay their grievances before the Parliament of England. He soon afterward settles in London, where he obtains various preferments. At the time of his death, he holds the livings of Clapham and Richmond.

Brady’s best-known work, written with his collaborator Nahum Tate, is New Version of the Psalms of David, a metrical version of the Psalms. It is licensed in 1696, and largely ousts the old Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter. His ode Hail! Bright Cecilia, based on a similar ode by John Dryden, is written in 1692 in honour of the feast day of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. It is set to music by Henry Purcell in 1697. Like Dryden, he also translates Virgil‘s Aeneid, and writes several smaller poems and dramas, as well as sermons.

Brady marries Letitia Synge and has four sons and four daughters. He dies on May 20, 1726, and is buried in the church at Richmond, London. Notable descendants of Brady include Maziere Brady, Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

(Pictured: “Portrait of Nicholas Brady (1659-1726),” oil on canvas by Hugh Howard (1675-1737), circa 1715, National Gallery of Ireland)


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Birth of James Henry, Scholar & Poet

james-henryJames Henry, Irish classical scholar and poet, is born in Dublin on December 13, 1798.

Henry is the son of a woolen draper, Robert Henry, and his wife Kathleen Elder. He is educated by Unitarian schoolmasters and then at Trinity College, Dublin. At age 11 he falls in love with the poetry of Virgil and gets into the habit of always carrying a copy of the Aeneid in his left breast-pocket.

Henry graduates from Trinity with the gold medal for Classics. He then turns to medicine and practises as a physician in Dublin until 1845. In spite of his unconventionality and unorthodox views on religion and his own profession, he is very successful. He marries Anne Jane Patton, from Donegal, and has three daughters, only one of whom, Katherine, born in 1830, survives infancy.

His accession to a large fortune in 1845 enables him to devote himself entirely to the absorbing occupation of his life – the study of Virgil. Accompanied by his wife and daughter, he visits all those parts of Europe where he is likely to find rare editions or manuscripts of the poet. When his wife dies in Tyrol he continues his work with his daughter, who becomes quite a Virgil expert in her own right, and crosses the Alps seventeen times. After the death of his daughter in 1872 he returns to Dublin and continues his research at Trinity College, Dublin.

As a commentator on Virgil, Henry will always deserve to be remembered, notwithstanding the occasional eccentricity of his notes and remarks. The first fruits of his researches are published at Dresden in 1853 under the quaint title Notes of a Twelve Years Voyage of Discovery in the first six Books of the Eneis. These are embodied, with alterations and additions, in the Aeneidea, or Critical, Exegetical and Aesthetical Remarks on the Aeneis (1873-1892), of which only the notes on the first book are published during Henry’s lifetime. As a textual critic Henry is exceedingly conservative. His notes, written in a racy and interesting style, are especially valuable for their wealth of illustration and references to the less-known classical authors.

Henry is also the author of five collections of verse plus two long narrative poems describing his travels, and various pamphlets of a satirical nature. At its best his poetry has something of the flavour of Robert Browning and Arthur Hugh Clough while at its worst it resembles the doggerel of William McGonagall. His five volumes of verse are all published at his own expense and receive no critical attention either during or after his lifetime.

James Henry dies at Dalkey, County Dublin, on July 14, 1876.