Thursday, March 28, 2013

April Book of the Month - John Daly, 'Fein-Theagasc Gaedheilge' (Dublin, 1846)

John Daly (1800-1878) was born in Farnane, Co. Waterford, was educated through hedge-schools and taught Irish at Wesleyan College, Kilkenny. He moved to Dublin and set up as a printer and bookseller in Angelsea St. He commissioned and published Edward Walsh translations as Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry (1844), as well as publishing this book, Self-Instruction in Irish, in 1846. He was founding secretary of the Ossianic Society, 1853; retained contact with Gaelic poets and scholars such as Patrick Farham in Dingle, Co. Kerry, and Art Mac Bionaid, in Forkhill, Co. Armagh.

Daly corresponded with Nicholas O’Kearney who edited Feis Tighe Chonáin for the Ossianic Society founded in his Anglesea St. house in 1853; issued Michael Kearney, trans., The Kings of the Race of Eibhear (1847), being the poem of John O’Dugan [Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin]; commissioned and published Mangan versifying the prose translations in The Poets and Poetry of Munster (1849), 1st Series [George Sigerson’s edition being the second]; also Irish Miscellany: Being a Selection of the Poems of the Ulster Bards of the Last Century (1876) and Key to the Study of Gaelic (Boston 1899).

This book was bought in 1880 by Douglas Hyde, and contains hand-written notes on points of Irish grammar at the back done by Hyde himself. Founder of the Gaelic League, An Craoibhin Aoibhinn was instrumental in bringing the work of Irish language scholars such as Daly to a wider audience. This book is part of the Éamon de Buitléar collection which was recently donated to the James Hardiman Library here at NUI Galway. Éamon’s father served as A.D.C. to Douglas Hyde when he was the first President of Ireland.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

James Joyce and the Topographical Symphony of the Fourteen Tribes of Galway

The 17th century pictorial map of Galway 

One of the most interesting items in our archival collection is a 17th century pictorial map of Galway.  The item attracted the attention of James Joyce who in 1912 described the map:

The strangest and most interesting historical document in the city archives is the map of the city made for the Duke of Lorraine in the seventeenth century, when His Highness wished to be assured of the city’s greatness on the occasion of a loan requested of him by his English confrere, the happy monarch.  The map full of symbolic expressions and engravings....The margins of the parchment are heavy with the heraldic arms of the tribes, and the map itself is little more than a topographical symphony on the theme of the number of tribes.  Thus the map maker enumerates and depicts fourteen bastions, fourteen towers on the wall. Fourteen principal streets, fourteen narrow streets and then sliding, seven gardens, seven alters..., seven markets and seven other wonders.

The list of 14 'Bastions'
Joyce’s source for this historical background is clearly Hardiman’s History of Galway, more recent scholarship has cast doubt on the link between the map and the proposed treaty with the Duke of Lorraine.  Certainly the map makes symbolic use of the numbers seven and fourteen.  As well as many of the features of the map appearing in groups of seven and fourteen the map includes a piece of Latin verse which reads in translation:

Rome boasts seven hills,
The Nile its seven'fold streams,
Around the pole seven radiant planets gleam;
Galway, Rome of Connacht, twice equals these;
 She boasts twice seven illustrious families;

The Rome of Connacht? Gate with a flag reading SPQG
This is the earliest known reference to the fourteen tribes of Galway. What is the significance of this symbolic use of the numbers seven and fourteen?  Other than the obviously Christian religious significance of the number seven  and a general Renaissance era neo-platonic interest in mathematics and numerology we are not really sure.  If any budding Dan Browns out there can have any ideas about the hidden message of seven and fourteen we’d love to hear them, if you can tie it into the storming of the Bastille on the 14 of July 1789 so much the better.

Read more of the story behind this fascinating map in this month’s edition of History Ireland .

You can access the map on line at:

#2 of the 14 Bastions which appear on the map

The coats of Arms of four of the fourteen tribes of Galway which appear on the margins of the map 

Friday, March 1, 2013

The History and Delineation of the Horse

 Book of the Month
John Lawrence - The History and Delineation of the Horse
(London, 1809)
A project has been underway by staff in our Information Access and Learning Services division to upgrade the catalogue information relating to many of our special printed collections and work has just been completed on the Kings Inns collection.
This volume was chosen to represent the fifty books in that collection.  The James Hardiman Library was one of a number of Irish libraries to purchase books which were offered for sale by the Honourable Society of the Kings Inns in 1973. The sale provoked major controversy in the Irish cultural world at the time and the purchase by other Irish Libraries with financial support from An Taisce, was an attempt to retain important rare books in Ireland.
Lawrence’s History and Delineation of the Horse is one of the best known works by an English author who wrote extensively on horses and animal husbandry. He was among the foremost proponents of improving the treatment of animals. His entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that he was consulted by Richard Martin, MP for Galway [“Humanity Dick”], before the latter introduced his “bill on the better treatment of cattle” in parliament.  The book treats extensively of the history of the horse with particular reference to its development as a domestic species. Published in  a century which saw the formalisation of racing and “The Turf”, there is much commentary on the development of racehorse breeds, a topic that will no doubt exercise the minds of many in Ireland and Britain during the month of March, when the annual Cheltenham racing festival takes place!
Find out more….
The entry on John Lawrence can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The print edition is available at 920.041OXF in the Reference Collection on the Ground Floor or it is available online to NUIG users only.
For more details about the controversy concerning the sale of the Kings Inns Library see Colum Kenny. Kings Inns and the Battle of the Books, 1972: cultural controversy at a Dublin library (Dublin, 2002). 026.34 KEN in the Special Collections Reading Room.
You can view the Special Collections homepage here