New Hibernia Review Samreadh/Summer 2015
(Volume 19, No. 2)
James W. Flannery
Two Graves Beside the Bann
How Rosalind Became Irish: Lady Morgan and the Greening of As You Like It
Feed My Lambs: The Reverend Thomas Drew and Protestant Children in Early Victorian Belfast
Filíocht Nua – New Poetry
Anna Pilz and Andrew Tierney
Trees, Big House Culture, and the Irish Literary Revival
“Any Story I Would Ever Tell, I Would Cerainly Never Write”: An Interview with Mary Lavin
Ashby Bland Crowder
Seamus Heaney’s Revisions for Death of a Naturalist
Judge Daniel Cohalan: A Nationalist Crusader Against British Influence in American Life
Once More on a “Discarded Poem”: Yeats, Auden, and Brodsky
Nótaí na nEagarthóirí: Editors' Notes
In lieu of abstracts, New Hibernia Review presents editors’ notes that introduce each article and take note of the author’s other publications and researches. Here are the notes for this issue:
In our opening essay, James W. Flannery—a frequent guest at the home of the late Robert Welch in Coleraine—shares his journey of friendship and self-discovery with the scholar and poet who died in early 2013. Irish Studies lost one of its most formidable intellects with Welch’s death; behind the public man, of course, there was also a private man. Flannery and Welch shared much, including their immersion in the work of Yeats and of Thomas Moore, whose creative works Flannery has tirelessly promoted and performed. Indeed, when the University of Ulster bestowed an honorary doctorate on Flannery, Welch wrote that “hearing Jim half-sing/half-chant Moore’s amazing lyrics… the scenes evoked open up before our inner eye: landscapes of heartbroken longing and sorrow.” Here, Flannery enters the landscape of his own Irish journey by way of Welch’s most personal book, a memoir of his son Egan’s addiction, Kicking the Black Mamba (2012). In effect, Flannery gives us a “memoir of a memoir.” The recollections evoked by Welch’s harrowing spiritual testament lead Flannery to reflect on the deep sources of his lifelong fascination with Ireland, on the psychic legacy of exile, and on the search for redemption in a much too-fallen world.
Lady Morgan’s lifelong engagements with politics, history, and literature often found the novelist cannily reworking her sources to comment incisively on conditions in Ireland. As a case in point, Professor Benedicte Seynhaeve looks at Morgan’s many deployments of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, a text that crops up in numerous works, sometimes in direct quotations (and misquotations), and sometimes by analogy. Morgan extensively alludes to Rosalind in the characterization of her Irish heroines, and repeatedly associates the Forest of Arden with Irish landscapes. In her hands, As You Like It becomes an intertext for meditations on the condition of Ireland, to which Rosalind’s female agency and malleable identity help to give a feminist twist. In effect, Seynhaeve shows, Shakespeare’s heroine authorized Morgan to question the political roles of Ireland and England under the Union; to attack the existing class hierarchy; and to challenge woman’s position in a patriarchal society. A frequent presenter on Irish Romanticism at European conferences, Benedicte Seynhaeve has previously published on Morgan and Shakespeare in Modern Language Quarterly.
Located a few blocks west of Belfast City Hall, Christ Church (founded in 1833) lay at the heart of massive social change in the industrializing Victorian city, wedged between a Presbyterian majority and a rising influx of Catholics in working-class Belfast. Here, Dr. Sean Farrell calls out a significant thread in the many evangelical efforts of Rev. Thomas Drew, the pastor of the Church of Ireland institution: along with his virulent anti-Catholicism, Drew maintained an unstinting enthusiasm for the education and spiritual welfare of children of all classes. Drew’s vision may appear paternalistic to our present-day sensibilities, and as Farrell cautions, his recruiting successes do not necessarily mean his “lessons” were embraced. Nonetheless, his activist pastorate did indeed attract large numbers of working- and middle class parishioners. Sean Farrell is the author of Rituals and Riots: Sectarian Violence and Political Culture in Ulster, 1784-1886 (2000) and of articles in many journals, including New Hibernia Review, Éire-Ireland, and Irish Historical Studies.
A native of Missouri who has resettled in rural County Clare, Knute Skinner writes poems that find humor, quiet celebration, and sometimes a strand of bemusement in modest moments. In “The Life That I Have,” for example, he pauses to reflect on how the chore of gardening demands that he not pay too much attention to the loveliness of the weeds must pull; in another poem, his speculations on a couple observed at the airport must end abruptly when the flight is called. In “Spare Me,” he imparts almost a sense of jocularity about death and loss—a small boy misses his mother's funeral, but he also misses the food. We are creatures bent on surviving, even as we lose what is supposed to be important to us. Knute Skinner is the author of nine collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Concerned Attentions (2013).
We generally think of “the nation” as an abstract concept, and so it may often be. But there are also times when a sense of the nation can be as real as an oak or an ash, as it was for many writers of the Irish Literary Revival. Drs. Anna Pilz and Andrew Tierney consider the broad connections between Revival writers—especially those with ties to Big House life—and the arboreal culture of Ireland. Among these authors, they find, Ireland’s woodlands operated in a range of associations and connotations: at times, the depleted forests of Ireland served as an allegory of colonial conquest, while at other times trees represented the promise of national regeneration. Anna Pilz is a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Cork, and the co-editor of Irish Women’s Writing, 1878-1922: Advancing the Causes of Liberty (2015). Andrew Tierney’s articles have appeared in such journals as the International Journal of Historical Archaeology and the Journal of Architecture.
After her death in 1996, it seemed as if the short story writer Mary Lavin might be in danger of becoming one of those artists whom everyone admires, but almost no one actually reads. No longer: for instance, New York University held a symposium on Lavin in 2012, Irish Academic Press released the edited collection Mary Lavin in 2013, and novelist Colm Tóibín has been a particularly steady and outspoken admirer of her fiction. Perhaps one reason for Lavin’s previous low profile was her own reticence. She almost never gave interviews, for example: the 1971 conversation introduced by Dr. Theresa Wray in this issue is the first published interview with Lavin in more than forty years. In this short conversation, Lavin touches on her work habits, the sources of her short stories, and her relationship to Ireland. Above all, she conveys her delight in discussing the craft of fiction with students. Theresa Wray has published articles on Lavin in many venues, most recently in The Irish Short Story: Traditions and Trends (2015).
The so-called Belfast Group, an extraordinary constellation of young Northern Irish poets who gathered for a workshop convened by Philip Hobsbaum in 1962, was a formative influence on the young Seamus Heaney. In a meticulous piece of textual scholarship, Dr. Ashby Bland Crowder examines the changes (often quite small) to the poems that Heaney brought to the Group that would go on to be included in his stunning first collection, Death of a Naturalist (1966). Crowder adds texture to our understanding of this nascent phase of Heaney’s career; though he appears occasionally timid, the young Heaney’s commitment to his art and to the New Critical principles espoused by the Group shine through. The revisions that Crowder delineates resulted in poems that are more artful and more accurate in their rendering of experience. A widely published scholar on diverse Irish, American, and British writers, Bland Crowder’s edition of The Complete Poems of John Crowe Ransom is forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press
In his 2005 book Irish-American Diaspora Nationalism: The Friends of Irish Freedom, 1916-1935, Dr. Michael Doorley charted the complex and contentious fortunes of the most visible Irish nationalist group in the United States. In that study, Doorley showed the centrality of the American agenda to even the most adamant nationalists abroad. Here, he focuses on the key figure in the Friends, Judge Daniel Cohalan of New York—a man of impressive organizational skills and no small political connectedness. In “Irish Race” conventions, in oratory, books and magazine articles, and in tireless lobbying, the American-born Cohalan was in effect the voice of radical Irish nationalism in the United States for nearly half a century. As he traces the ups and downs of Cohalan’s career, Dooley finds that the judge’s convictions sprang from a consistent intellectual source: a surprisingly modern belief in pluralism as the core of American identity, a pluralism that would include an Irish note in the national story.
Three titans of twentieth-century poetry come together in Dr. Grigory Kruzhkov’s scrutiny of W. H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939,” a celebrated poem that Auden nonetheless later declined to include in his anthologies. Kruzhkov teases out the many Yeatsian echoes to be found there and elsewhere in Auden’s poetry. In opening lines of “September 1,” for instance, he finds unmistakable connections to Yeat’s “Vacillation”: “Auden,” he writes, “borrows the mood, the tone, and the situation from Yeats: a man undergoes a personal crisis, his vision of future is blurred, and the sense of detachment at the café’s table turns out to be the starting point for his meditation.” Years later, when Brodsky sat down to write a long essay on Auden’s poem, he too intuited Yeatsian links—but unfortunately, the Russian had only a spotty knowledge of the Irish poet’s work; as Seamus Heaney would later observe, Brodsky “had a bit of a blind spot there.” Grigory Kruzhkov is a poet, critic, and translator, and has published numerous articles on children’s literature in Russian periodicals.
We continue our presentation of historical drawings drawn from the collections of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, which are ably introduced on the website http://www.botanicgardens.ie/home.htm. In addition to the gardens themselves, the National Botanic Gardens maintains an extensive library devoted to botany and horticulture, as well as an art collection of more than 3,000 drawings—indeed, one of the largest collections of drawings of any sort in Ireland. Some of these art works were originally held at the Science and Art Museum in Dublin (the forerunner of the National Museum) before being transferred to Glasnevin in 1970.
Our cover image presents Armillaria mellea, commonly known as honey fungus. It was drawn by Ivy Massee, an accomplished botanical artist who flourished in the second decade of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, little is known about Ivy Massee. She appears to have been born in Richmond, Surrey, around 1896, and was the daughter of the mycologist George Massee (1850-1917). Her father worked as the assistant principal in cryptogams in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (cryptogamae are non-flowering plants that reproduce by spores), and was the first president of the British Mycological Society. Ivy Massee was also interested in fungi and actively collected in the field. While still quite young, she assisted her father with two of his publications; British Fungi and Lichens (1911) and Mildews, Rusts and Smuts (1913), providing him with illustrations that were used as plates in the books. She also researched and published an article on mycology that appeared under her own name in the Journal of Economic Botany in 1914. Massee’s botanical illustrations were not confined to fungi; in 1913, she produced a fine set of drawings of poplars for the renowned plant collector and forester Augustine Henry. These illustrations are also in the collection in Glasnevin. In 1914, her work was purchased by the Science and Art Museum in Kildare St. in Dublin, whose botanical collections were later transferred to the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin.
We thank the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, and especially librarian Alexandra Caccamo, for kind assistance in providing our cover images and in composing this note.