‘On Active Service’: Maynooth College, chaplains & the anti-conscription crisis

By Professor Marian Lyons (Department of History, Maynooth University) and Barbara McCormack (Special Collections Librarian, Maynooth University Library)

While Europe was in the throes of the Great War and Ireland made a bold strike for independence, the national seminary at Maynooth experienced a profound transformative period. On Easter Monday 1916, although the college president, J.F. Hogan, blessed seventeen Volunteers from the town of Maynooth as they set out to join the insurrection in Dublin, he stated categorically that he opposed their action. During Easter week there was an air of excitement in the college. When President Hogan rounded a corner to find students drilling in front of Rhetoric House, he allegedly said: ‘You’ll be well advised to disband, gentlemen’. From early on in the Great War, Maynooth priests volunteered for army chaplaincy duties. In 1917 the college authorities publicly supported the recruitment of Irish Catholic priests as army chaplains by conducting early ordinations to meet the demand for priests. But as Sinn Féin began to contest elections, and the days of the Irish Parliamentary Party grew numbered, the mood in Maynooth, as in the country, was changing.

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Silence Would be Treason: an Irishwoman’s Diary on Ken Saro-Wiwa and Sr Majella McCarron

As Maynooth University Library  prepares to launch the second edition of Silence Would be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa  , we are pleased to post an article by Lorna Siggins, originally published on December 28, 2017, with the kind permission of the Irish Times. You can learn more about Ken Saro-Wiwa at Maynooth University and view items from the archive here.


Silence Would be Treason: an Irishwoman’s Diary on Ken Saro-Wiwa and Sr Majella McCarron by Lorna Siggins


Breadbaskets have all sorts of uses, not least for activities that have little to do with food. A Fermanagh-born nun became wise to that fact over two decades ago, as did South African leader Nelson Mandela, Body Shop founder Anita Roddick and novelist William Boyd.

Ken Saro2
Ken Saro Wiwa

“Well, it was food of a sort,” says Sr Majella McCarron, chuckling at the thought of it all. It was thanks to the witting or unwitting bearers of such baskets in a detention centre in Nigeria that she shared an illicit mailing route with Mandela, Roddick, Boyd and US human rights campaigner Ethel Kennedy. Their mutual correspondent was imprisoned poet Ken Saro-Wiwa.

“I have seen your work and your pictures in The Irish Times and I think you yourself might be surprised how far those Ogoni bells are ringing now, and how you yourself have become the bellman,” Saro-Wiwa wrote to her in March 1995, “thanking God” for her presence in his life.

Eight months later, Saro-Wiwa was dead, along with colleagues Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine.

The nine, all participants in a non-violent campaign to highlight the environmental degradation wrought by the petroleum industry in the Niger Delta, were charged with having murdered Ogoni chiefs on spurious evidence and were hanged on the orders of a military tribunal.

Sr Majella was back in Ireland at the time, and her shock and sadness were tempered by the knowledge that she had kept Saro-Wiwa’s extensive correspondence, amounting to some 28 letters in all – and a poem which was dedicated to his “sweet soul sister”. It was while lecturing in education at the University of Lagos that she had first met the writer. The Derrylin native and science graduate had spent almost three decades teaching in Nigeria, having joined the Missionary Institute of Our Lady of Apostles in 1956.

She remembers how he had “a tiny office with a desk and a fax machine and a typewriter in Lagos”, and she contacted him to offer the support of the missionary Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network for the environmental campaign in his native Ogoniland. She thought he would be an “excellent mentor” in the area of advocacy, as she says she “hadn’t a clue about same”. It was, she remembers, “tragically fulfilling”.

She travelled 500km to visit Ogoni villages which were destroyed in 1993, and offered to lobby for EU relief, with the support of the Daughters of Charity in Port Harcourt and Trócaire back in Dublin.

His first letter to her was his note of thanks. Such was the trust that developed between them, before and during his imprisonment, that when Saro-Wiwa was awarded a Swedish prize, the Right Livelihood Award, in October 1994, the nun travelled to Stockholm to collect it for him. She also delivered the acceptance speech which he wrote in military detention.

Photographs from that event form part of the extensive archive which Sr Majella has donated to Maynooth University.


Ken Saro Wiwa letters
Sr. Majella McCarron presents the Ken Saro-Wiwa archive to Maynooth University, 10th November 2011

An edited version of the Saro-Wiwa correspondence to her, along with his poems, was published in 2013, and this has now been updated again as a freely available e-book.

It places Saro-Wiwa’s legacy in an international context, at a time when a recently published review by Amnesty International of thousands of internal company documents and witness statements relating to Royal Dutch Shell’s attempts to silence protesters in the Niger Delta in the 1990s has informed its new call for a criminal investigation. The multinational had denied the allegations.

The e-book includes contributions from Maynooth University academics Ide Corley, Laurence Cox and Anne O’Brien, deputy librarian Helen Fallon, and poet Nnimmo Bassey, who co-ordinates Oilwatch International.

There are hyperlinks to an audio-archive of related interviews, and the work also includes a poem which Sr Majella was moved to write after her visit to devastated Ogoni villages.

Saro-Wiwa was a “contradictory figure”, Corley writes. He was an “Ogoni ethno-nationalist who upheld federalism during the Nigerian civil war, 1967-1970”; a “democrat who appeared, at times, to have embarked upon a drive for personal authority”; and “a proponent of non-violent protest whose execution was arranged on charges of incitement to murder”.

The letters to Sr Majella, which form the core of the book, reveal a man with a sense of humour and no trace of self-pity. “Do not forget that I have been here only 23 weeks now,” he wrote in October 1994. “Mandela and Sisulu were there [imprisoned in South Africa] for 26/ 27 years. How can I complain?”

“I’m not worried for myself,” he admits at another point. “At 52, I think I’ve served my time and, come to face it, I’ve lived a charmed life. A few more books, maybe, and the opportunity to assist others would have been welcome. But it’s okay. . .”

And there was concern about his family, and some care for his jailers. “What do you think a Nigerian soldier earns? 800.00 naira a month. And that’s after 27 years in the force. I’ve had to feed the soldiers who guard me!”

After the executions, Sr Majella and Ogoni Solidarity Ireland campaigned on behalf of 20 more Ogoni detainees, who were released. She gave her support to the self-styled “Bogoni”, the community activists opposed to the methodology of the Corrib gas project in north Mayo, and to the Love Leitrim campaign against fracking.

As her late “mentor” observed in his poem dedicated to her: “What is it, I often ask, unites/ County Fermanagh and Ogoni? /Ah, well, it must be the agony/ The hunger for justice and peace/ Which married our memories/ To a journey of faith . . .”

Silence Would Be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa is available free on http://eprints.maynoothuniversity.ie/8940/

MITHRIDATES and the Irish connection

by Penelope Woods

 A little book has just arrived in the library, of notable Irish interest, yet ostensibly none: a Latin text published in Zürich in 1610, the work of one local author, supplemented by another, with the obscure main title, Mithridates.

City of Zürich (1581) by Braun and Hogenberg 

Who was Mithridates?

Mithridates was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor and lived over 2,000 years ago. An exceptional linguist, he was said by Pliny the Elder to have administered his kingdom in all its 22 languages. His name seemed apt in 1555 as the title for a book surveying 130 world languages.

Portrait of Conrad Gessner by Tobias Stimmer, c. 1564
Conrad Gessner by Tobias Stimmer 

It was Conrad Gessner (1516-1565), Swiss physician, naturalist and bibliographer, a man of enormous output and energy, who in 1555 had Mithridates printed in his native Zürich. It reflects the contemporary thinking on languages. Gessner wanted to find out how the vernacular languages had evolved, their connections and distinctions. The three chief biblical languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin were widely seen as parents of all the vernaculars, with Hebrew as progenitor. Together with Arabic, Gessner saw them as a unifying force in the world.


John Bale
John Bale, Bishop of Ossory

Gessner dedicated his Mithridates, to an Irish bishop

John Bale (1495-1563), protestant bishop of Ossory had become an exile in Basel. Gessner and Bale had already been engaged in grandiose projects: Gessner, in his Bibliotheca universalis (1545-9) attempted a catalogue of all books printed in Hebrew, Greek and Latin since printing began; Bale had compiled a list of British authors and their writings, Illustrium maioris Britanniae scriptorium… summarium (1548), following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII and the dispersal and destruction of their libraries. The two men knew each other well. Bale had sent Gessner the Lord’s Prayer in Welsh. It is one of 27 language samples in the book. In the dedication, Gessner presses him for Irish and Manx also.


Gessner on the Irish language

All the Celtic languages except Cornish are mentioned in Mithridates. At that time on the Continent, Ireland was generally portrayed as remote and primitive. In his entry for Irish, Gessner relies on Sebastian Münster’s popular Cosmographia (1544). He repeats ancient ideas of kinship between the peoples of Ireland and Spain, their physique and customs. He states that the language of the Irish is peculiarly their own, spoken otherwise only by the Scots of the highlands and islands, themselves originally from Ireland. But, as indicated, no example of Irish.


Title page of Mithridates Gesneri (1610)


In 1610, Kaspar Waser of Zürich published Mithridates Gesneri and included a sample of Irish!

Kaspar Waser (1565-1625), theologian and orientalist, had Gessner’s Mithridates with its dedication to Bale reprinted in Zürich, together with his own commentary. He had procured the first two verses of Psalm 103, translated into Irish from the English metrical form used in Calvinist Geneva and Scotland (the metrical psalms had not been printed in Irish). Waser included both specimens, Irish and English, declaring he could see no resemblance between them even though, he said, Ireland had long been subject to the kings of England; nor could he see a connection with Spanish, though Spain was only three days’ fair sailing away. Finding he could not relate Irish to the parental antecedents, he dismissed the language as barbarous – this, despite his having visited Ireland in 1592. Little did he realise that the psalms had already been translated into Irish as early as the 7th century (see the Cathach, the Psalter of St Columba.


An early landmark in printing Irish

It was in Waser’s Mithridates Gesneri, that Irish first appeared in print in a cultural context. His specimen predates the output of the Irish Franciscans in Louvain whose little books in Irish script were intended specifically for Irish Catholics, to support their faith. In Ireland, the language had been used solely for printing works for the Protestant Church.


Bookplate from  Mithridates Gesneri (1610)


A collector’s collectible

As a final treat, this copy of Waser’s Mithridates Gesneri bears the armorial bookplate of a 17th century owner pasted to the inside front cover. No less than Louis-Émeric Bigot, (1626-89), a councillor in the parliament of Rouen and a bibliophile, known to savants the breadth of Europe. Another story!

Below, Waser’s specimen of Irish in the original form, in modern spelling and in literal English (with grateful thanks to Msgr Brendan Devlin)



Further reading

Considine, John: Dictionaries in early modern Europe: lexicography and the making of

heritage (Cambridge, 2008).

Gessner, Conrad: Mithridates, introduction, texte latin, traduction franςaise… par

Bernhard Colombat et Manfred Peters (Genève, 2009)

Kuosen, Iodocus à: De vita et obitu…Kaspari Waseri (Basileae, 1626), pp. 11-12

Poppé, Erich: ‘The Celtic languages in Conrad Gessner’s Mithridates (1555)’ in

Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 45 (1992), pp. 240-50

Waser, Kaspar: Mithridates Gesneri exprimens differentias linguarum tum veterum, tum quae hodie, per totum terrarum (Tiguri [Zürich]: Typis Wolphianis, 1610), ff. 115r-116r

On Louis Émeric Bigot, see http://histoire-bibliophilie.blogspot.com/2015/10/la-bibliotheque-bigot.html


‘Reading Euclid’: Examining the key mathematical text through an exhibition at the Russell Library

By Barbara McCormack (Special Collections Librarian, Maynooth University), Dr Ciarán Mac an Bhaird (Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Maynooth University) and Dr Philip Beeley (Reading Euclid Project, University of Oxford)

An important exhibition relating to the history of mathematics was launched in the Russell Library on Wednesday, 27th June by Professor Philip Nolan (President of Maynooth University). ‘Reading Euclid: Examining the key mathematical text through an exhibition at the Russell Library’ was a collaboration between the Library and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Maynooth University in conjunction with the ‘Reading Euclid’ project at Oxford University.

Euclid’s Elements is often referred to as one of the most influential works ever written, and it has played a key role in education since it first appeared. The original text is attributed to the Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria, who lived around 300BCE. It was one of the first mathematical works to have been printed and is reported to have had the second most printed editions of any work after the Bible. It has been used as a textbook in mathematics for over a 1000 years, and contains many well-known results, such as the Pythagorean Theorem.

Euclid Invitation
Invitation to the exhibition launch in the Russell Library which took place at 5.00pm on Wednesday, 27th June.

Alongside editions in the original Greek, Arabic, or Latin, the main languages in which Euclid’s Elements has been handed down, there were others translated into modern languages such as Italian, French, German, and English. But it was not only linguistically that the text varied. There were also differences both in content and format. Many editions, especially the more widely used ones, comprised only the first six books, while others directed at more scholarly audiences included the remaining seven as well as the “added books” (XIV, XV, and sometimes XVI). Equally, the number and order of propositions could differ tremendously. And size was important, too. Some editions of Euclid’s Elements were weighty scholarly tomes that would grace any library shelf, while others were small enough to fit comfortably into the reader’s pocket.

This exhibition was curated as part of the Reading Euclid project, based at the University of Oxford. The Reading Euclid team is highlighting the legacy of the Elements of Geometry in Early Modern Britain and Ireland, and is particularly interested in varieties of evidence, such as ownership marks, underlinings, and annotations, which shed light on how these books have been seen, read, and used.

What follows is a selection of pre-1700 Euclidean items from the collections of the Russell Library.

1. Megarensis Geometricorum eleme[n]torum libri XV.

Printed in Paris by Henri Estienne in 1516 the oldest edition of Euclid’s Elements in the Russell Library was produced by the French humanist scholar Jacques Lefèvre d’Estaples. This was the most important Latin edition of the Elements before the Greek editio princeps of 1533. The binding of our copy has been repaired but the original wooden boards have been retained. The handwritten annotation ‘quod nos jam punctum’ [a sign that is for us already pricked] appears on page [4] after the printed word ‘Signum’. This is evidence of material interaction between the reader and the book.

RB 89 (Title page)
Title page of RB 89 Megarensis Geometricorum eleme[n]torum libri XV


2. Elememtorum libri quindecim.

SC 28 25 (Title page)
Title page of Sc. 28 25 Elememtorum libri quindecim

Thomas Richard was a sixteenth-century Parisian printer who printed Greek texts from 1548 onwards.[1] This 1558 edition of Petrus Ramus’ Latin version of Euclid’s Elements features Richard’s printing device on the title page. The text is bound in a limp vellum binding. Pages from a printed Spanish theological text have been used as binder’s waste for the pastedowns and endpapers.

A signature on the title page reads ‘Miguel Martinez Calzada’. While Ramus does away with visual images entirely, hand drawn diagrams on pages three and four provide strong and interesting evidence of engagement and interaction with the text. The theories of ‘isosceles’, ‘scalenem’, ‘rectagulum’ and ‘amblygonium’ are illustrated in this way. The word ‘finis’ in the colophon has also been copied by a reader/owner.

SC 28 25 (Page 3)
Hand drawn diagrams provide strong and interesting evidence of engagement and interaction with the text

[1] Charles Henry Timperley, The Dictionary of Printer and Printing, with the Progress of Literature, Ancient and Moderne (London, 1839), p. 309.


3. Operum mathematicorum: tomus quintus.

SC 17 33e (Title page)
Title page of Sc. 17 33e Operum mathematicorum: tomus quintus

The fifth volume of Jesuit mathematician and astronomer Christopher Clavius’s Opera mathematica [Mathematical works] was printed in 1612, the year of his death. The title page features the printer’s device of the Jesuit order with the motto ‘Laudabile Nomen Domini’ [the name of the Lord be praised]. Our copy features the stamp of the Royal Astronomical Society on the title page.  A label with a signature [Br. Taylor?] appears in the upper right-hand corner.


A handwritten note affixed to the front endpapers lists the name of stars according to the ‘Stellarum Austrulium catallogus ad annum 1601’ [catalogue of stars in the southern skies for the year 1601] beginning with coordinates and dates for Canopus. Bound in a limp vellum binding the text features head- and tail-pieces, floriated and historiated initial letters, and diagrams and tables.

SC 17 33e notes on endpapers

4. Euclidis Megarensis mathematici clarissimi Elementorum geometricorum libri XV.

SC 28 1 (title page)
Title page of Sc. 28 1 Euclidis Megarensis (1558)

Bartolomeo Zamberti’s Latin translation of Euclid’s Elements was first published in 1505. This later edition (1558) by the Basel printer Johann Herwagen (1497 – 1558) contains historiated initial letters and head-pieces. Our copy features handwritten marginalia in pencil and ink by a previous owner/reader which can tell us much about how the text was used, for example the annotation ‘obliquè posita id est horizonti parallela’     [slanting that is parallel to the horizontal] which appears on page 507 and also ‘extenditur’ [extended] which appears in the margin of the twenty-second theorem beside the underlined word ‘refringatur’ [refracted] on page 512. Diagrams to illustrate theorems have been copied by hand (such as the eleventh theorem on page 508) perhaps to aid the learning process.


The exhibition was a great success and we look forward to future collaborations between the Library and the Department of Mathematics at Maynooth University and the Reading Euclid project at the University of Oxford.

Dr Ciarán Mac an Bhaird (Department of Mathematics & Statistics), Professor Philip Nolan (President of Maynooth University), Dr Philip Beeley (University of Oxford) and Barbara McCormack (MU Library) pictured at the launch of ‘Reading Euclid: Examining the key mathematical text through an exhibition at the Russell Library’ on Wednesday, 27th June.

Cataloguing the Graham Family Archive

by Miriam van der Molen, Archivist, Maynooth University Library

A selection of material from the Graham Family Archive

An exhibition of material from the Graham Family Archive will be on display outside the Special Collections Reading Room in the John Paul II Library from the beginning of June until 23 June 2018.

In 2016 I catalogued the papers of the Graham family from Belfast who were Catholic wine and spirit merchants. Initially I looked through the boxes of documents to get an idea of content. Some documents were folded and tied together into bundles with ribbon. This was a typical way of storing legal papers from the nineteenth to early twentieth century. For papers not in any bundles, I had to figure out the link between documents.

Physical Condition: Dust and Mould

Many documents were very dusty and had rusty paperclips and pins, so I used the archivist’s traditional tools: the smoke sponge to clean and the archival quality paperclip to replace any rusty specimens. Looking through more materials, I discovered some items that were brittle due to weakening from water damage and resulting mould growth, which also caused severe stains in some cases. In order to remove the mould with smoke sponges, I wore a mask and gloves to minimise contact with spores. I also used a low-power vacuum cleaner for the mould so that it would not end up floating in all directions!

Mould damage 1
Mould Damage

Whenever something was in very poor condition, I recorded this in CALM, the archival cataloguing software, where our conservators can see it and do conservation work where needed.

First Section: People

The most challenging part of the arrangement (organisation) and description (cataloguing) of the Graham Papers was figuring out the family ties, through discovering what a woman’s married and maiden names were. It was also difficult when a person’s first name was not mentioned. For example, ‘Mrs Graham’ could mean the wife, or daughter-in-law, of a man with the surname Graham.

I created a series for non-business material, arranged by surname. I further sub-divided this into individual files relating to individual people and their papers.  I decided to put women under their maiden surnames, and then specify who they had married, if they had married, thereby establishing the link between their birth and married families. I created a family tree as I went, which helped enormously.

The many legal papers included wills and probates, solicitors’ bills and letters to and from solicitors. In addition to this, there is also more personal material. For example, Thomas Graham Junior was the executor of his uncle’s will on the latter’s death in 1870. The uncle, Thomas Graham Senior, appears to have had no surviving children, so he bequeathed his possessions to nieces and nephews. Thomas Junior, as executor, administered Thomas Senior’s money, including to his widow, Elizabeth Graham, née Magorian, who inherited very little. There are touchingly personal letters from Elizabeth to Thomas Junior, her nephew, asking for money because she would like to go out and buy potatoes, and also letters expressing her loneliness and wishing her nephew would visit her.

The Archive also includes documentation of the appointment of Thomas Graham Junior as Justice of Peace in 1893, as well as the appointment of William Joseph Graham, his son, as Justice of the Peace. (More information on the first document can be found here: https://mulibrarytreasures.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/thomas-graham-a-justice-of-the-peace-appointed-in-1893/)

Thomas Graham’s appointment as Justice of the Peace for County Down


The Seal showing Queen Victoria


The oldest item in the Archive is a will made by John Bowden in 1871, which shows typical unstandardised eighteenth century spelling.

The will of John Bowden, an ancestor of Mary Josephine Bowden,                                          whom Thomas Graham Junior married


Second Section: Keegan Graham and Company

As well as material that has to do with the personal affairs of individuals, there is material relating to the wine and spirit business, Keegan Graham and Company. The business was begun by James Keegan in 1834. Thomas Graham Junior joined as a partner in 1881. This business material was arranged into a second series. This material has to do with accounts, the renting of the property in High Street in Belfast for the use of the business, and the partnership agreement between John Joseph Keegan (James Keegan’s son) and Thomas Graham Junior. Eventually, in 1906, the widow of James Keegan withdrew as a partner, some years after her son John Joseph had died, and the business was dissolved.

Third Section: Other Material

Recipe for La Grande Chartreuse

The third series contains material which did not fit into the first or second series. Ideally, archivists prefer not to have an ‘other’ section, but this is sometimes the only way to accommodate them! The third series includes two newspapers, one from 1834 and one from 1869. There is also a recipe which an unknown person writes they got from ‘a French paper’, for making La Grande Chartreuse (a medieval liqueur), and a few other little things.

Cleaning and cataloguing the collection was a very enjoyable experience. I love arranging and describing archival material. I also used CALM, an archival cataloguing software, for the first time, so I was able to learn an additional archival skill as well as consolidating my cataloguing abilities. I am also very grateful to my colleagues for answering all my ‘small questions’ that occurred to me as I was processing this collection!

Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio at Maynooth University Library

Barbara McCormack, Special Collections Librarian

Portrait of William Shakespeare from the ‘Fourth Folio’

Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio, printed in 1685, will be on display outside the Special Collections Reading Room in the John Paul II Library during May 2018.

The fourth edition of Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, more commonly known as the Fourth Folio, was printed for Herringman, Brewster and Bentley ‘at the Anchor in the New Exchange, the Crane in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, and in Russell-Street Covent-Garden’ in the year 1685. The Fourth Folio was printed just twenty-two years after the printing of the Third Folio, many copies of which were destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. The text features the engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droedshout which appears opposite the title page. It also includes the original dedication to William Earl of Pembroke and his brother Philip E. of Montgomery by compilers of the First Folio,  John Heminge and Henry Condell.

Jean Marsden suggests that the playwright and poet Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718), based his 1709 edition of Shakespeare’s works on the 1685 Fourth Folio.[1] According to Valerie Hotchkiss and Fred C. Robinson the Fourth Folio contains standardised typography and improved punctuation along with consistently italicised stage directions.[2] Fredson Bowers argues that there are three distinct sections in the Fourth Folio and that each section was produced by a different printing house. Bowers notes inconsistencies in the use of woodcut ornamental initial letters and plain display capitals between the three sections. The first section of the text features floral woodcut initials, while the second section features just one initial letter, and the third does not feature any woodcut initial letters at all.[3] Bowers also identifies Robert Roberts as a printer of this folio.

The Library’s copy of the Fourth Folio was once owned by Edward Maurice, Bishop of Ossory from 1755-56 (the handwritten signature on the title page reads ‘Ed. Maurice’). The Folio is part of the Otway-Maurice collection which was recently transferred from the St. Canice’s Cathedral Library, Kilkenny to Maynooth University Library on a long-term loan basis. The collection includes over 3,000 titles printed before the year 1850, including four examples of incunabula (pre-1500 printing).

Our copy of the Fourth Folio features seven handwritten titles listed under ‘A catalogue of all the Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies contained in this Book’, which include: The London Prodigall, The Puritan Widow, and A Yorkshire Tragedy. The play Pericles is also listed, although as Eric Rasmussen and the Rev. Will Sharpe indicate, this play was not included in the First Folio, despite having appeared in the 1609 quarto.[4] The text of the Fourth Folio contains several errors but perhaps the most significant appears in the title of Hamlet which reads ‘RPINCE’ as opposed to ‘PRINCE’ of Denmark.

Image reproduced by permission of the Librarian, Maynooth University, from the St. Canice’s Cathedral Library, Kilkenny; on long-term loan from The Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.


[1] “Rowe, Nicholas.” The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. : Oxford University Press, 2015. Oxford Reference. 2015. Date Accessed 21 Oct. 2016; http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198708735.001.0001/acref-9780198708735-e-2483.

[2] Hotchkiss, V., & Robinson, F. C. (2008). English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton: From Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton. Baltimore, US: University of Illinois Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.

[3] Bowers, F. (1951). Robert Roberts: A Printer of Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio. Shakespeare Quarterly, 2(3), 241-246. doi:1. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2866657.

[4] The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. : Oxford University Press, 2015. Oxford Reference. 2015. Date Accessed 21 Oct. 2016; http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198708735.001.0001/acref-9780198708735-e-494.

Mgr. Seán Swayne’s Bequest

By Yvette Campbell, Russell Library Cataloguing Project

Monsignor Seán Swayne, an internationally renowned liturgist, was the first director of the Irish Institute of Pastoral Liturgy at St Patrick’s College, Carlow, and was chairman of the Irish Episcopal Commission for the liturgy and parish priest of Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny. Following studies in Paris, he was appointed to the faculty at St Patrick’s College, from where he helped to found the IIPL. The institute has attracted students from all over the world to take part in its one year programme.

In 1989 Father Swayne was appointed monsignor in recognition of his lifelong promotion of the arts, liturgy and architecture. He died in May 1996. His bequest to the Russell Library, Maynooth included 100 books printed before 1850.

SW 100
Armorial bookplate – SW 100

The collection is primarily devotional and liturgical, with many of the books showing evidence of usage and regular handling. A number of the books belonged previously to Mgr Swayne’s uncle, Peadar MacSuibhne of Kildare. What follows is a cross-section of examples illustrating the significance of this collection to international scholars and researchers. The presence of fine bindings, bookplates, original ties and decorated paper were noted. One item printed in Paris in 1789 possesses an armorial bookplate: ‘Certavi Et Vice’ [I’ve Fought and Won].

The collection also features a beautiful copy of Missale Romanum, ex decreto sacro-sancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum printed in Lyon by Bernuset in 1782 (SW 105). This is one of the most aesthetically beautiful objects in the Swayne bequest and features an elaborate frontispiece of Christ on the Cross, musical notations and delicate original silk ties with tassels.

SW 105
Missale Romanum (1782) – SW 105

Another item from this collection features a provenance inscription from the ‘Ragged School of Silver Street, Reading’. ‘Ragged’ schools were charitable organisations that aimed to provide free education to poor and destitute children in 19th-century Britain, often providing free food, clothing, lodging and other home missionary services for those too poor to pay.

A Ragged School. Image taken from maybole.org

Often they were established in poor working class districts with high population density, and established either by an individual philanthropist or by a religious mission. They would even teach poor mothers how to clothe and bring up their offspring, to teach fathers their duties to their families and children their duty to their parents, to teach above all things that true wisdom is true religion and true religion supreme love to God. The hardship faced by these children, and the religious and economic illiteracy the Ragged Schools attempted to stem, would in turn inspire the child-like figures of Want and Ignorance that clung to the Ghost of Christmas Future in Dickens’s 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. The scenes of squalor that Dicken’s came face to face with also inspired Oliver Twist (1838).

This copy of the Book of Common Prayer, New Testament and Psalter (SW 14) is lacking a title-page but was printed between 1671 and 1674 and would have belonged to the Ragged School, Silver Street in Reading in the 1800s. Its poor condition is a testament to the dedicated study of the children in these ‘Ragged’ Schools.

One of the most impressive books in the collection is Missale Romanum, ex decreto sacro-sancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum printed in Lyon in 1747 (SW 97). According to the inscription on the title-page, the former owner was Abraham Lockett Ford (b Newry, 3 April 1853- d Ardee 16 April 1945) who was an Irish Anglican clergyman.

SW 97
Missale Romanum (1747) – SW 97

Ford was educated at the Royal Institution School, Liverpool and Trinity College, Oxford. He was ordained deacon in 1876 and priest in 1878. He was an Assistant Master at his old school then Curate at Dundalk. He was Rector of Camlough from 1878 to 1893; and then of Ardee. He was Rural Dean of Athirdee from 1900 until 1925, and then of Drogheda until 1934. Ford became Archdeacon of Armagh in 1934; and held the post until his death. He was additionally Chaplain to the last four Lords Lieutenant of Ireland.

This item is in near perfect condition bound in blind-tooled calf leather with a stamped spine and gilt border, 5 raised bands and original ties and marbled endboards.

Souvenirs, impressions, pensées et paysages, pendant un voyage en Orient (SW 71) by Alphonse de Lamartine printed in London in 1838 is a particularly interesting book on descriptions and travels of the Middle East in the nineteenth century. It features a frontispiece map of Syria in black and white prepared by prominent French cartographer and engraver, Jean Baptiste Pierre Tardieu in 1835.

Souvenirs, impressions, pensées et paysages (1838) – SW 71

Other particular highlights of the collection include a copy of the first two books of The Pentateuch of Books of Moses in the Irish character copied from the original manuscripts with care by Thaddeus Connellan printed in London, 1822 (SW 39). This particular copy has handwritten glosses on the endpapers detailing the reasons for publication by an admirer of the author.

Part of this reads:

‘Reader you are to know that Thad[d]eus Connellan is the author of this work and that it was he who founded and adjusted the type in order to instruct his fellow countrymen and enable them to read and understand their native toung[u]e…’.

Finally, a tome of some rarity is The Lives of the most eminent saints of the oriental deserts printed in Dublin in 1834 (SW 5). What makes this book particularly interesting is the marginalia on the endpapers detailing the social history of its former owner:

‘It strikes me that the whole of us ought to go to first Mass at Chapel and come home as quick as we could together. What think you?’

‘It is better for me not to see the old man and come home after first Mass. I believe he will not be in town, should he be, we will let you know’

‘What has he to do with me in that case? It is you. I only want to know if the retreat will continue…’

‘If the retreat will not be over, will not speak to any one only in [confession?]. Act on that as your Director will order or recommend’.

Access to the Swayne donation is available online via the LibrarySearch discovery tool.




Christmas In The Archives


By Emma Doran, Special Collections & Archives, JPII Library.


title page
Cover Page of the pamphlet The Irish Christmas, published by the Three Candle Press in 1917.

“Who can bring back the magic of that story, the singing seraphim,   the kneeling Kings, the starry path by which the Child of Glory ‘mid breathless watches and through myriad wings came.”


The Descent of the Child – by Susan L. Mitchell (1866-1926)

Keeping in toe with the festive spirit this month our Special Collections blog will bring to light a beautiful Irish produced pamphlet, filled with various poems and imagery composed around the idea of Christmas. The pamphlet, called The Irish Christmas was published originally in 1917 by the Three Candle Press in Dublin. The copy located here is a first edition printed in 1917 and inscribed by the original owner ‘ for ” Ginette” from her loving little cousin Simon Donnlevy Campbell. Christmas 1917’.


The poems published in this pamphlet are penned by a number of poets who sympathized with or had links to the Irish cause at the time.  The pamphlet also provides ties closer to home here at Maynooth University as Fr. Tomás Ó Ceallaigh, the author of the first poem listed studied at Maynooth. Altogether there are six works listed in total written in both the English and Irish language. While the illustration work included is that of the artist and cultural activist Sadhbh Trinseach (Ceasca Trench).


Sadhbh Trinseach

Illustration by Sadhbh Trinseach , printed in the pamphlet The Irish Christmas, published by the Three Candle Press in 1917.


Born in 1891, she developed nationalist sympathies from the early age of fifteen. She joined the London branch of the Gaelic League in 1908. Through her attendance at Irish-language she became acquainted with many prominent Gaelic Leaguers, including Pádraig Pearse. In 1913-1918 she began designing publicity posters and postcards for the Gaelic League. She was an executive member of Cumann na mBan and an active member of Craobh na gCúig gCúigí. For those wishing to learn more about Ceasca, some sketchbooks and her papers are now available in the National Library of Ireland.



Fr. Tomás Ó Ceallaigh

Fr. O Kelly
An image of Fr. Tomás Ó Ceallaigh. Taken from NUI Galway’s History of the School of Education.  http://www.nuigalway.ie/colleges-and-schools/arts-social-sciences-and-celtic-studies/education/events/history-school-of-education/

The first professor of Education in NUIG was born in 1879. In 1897, he attended Maynooth College as a clerical student and was ordained a priest in 1903. Fr. Ó Ceallaigh’s love of all things Irish further flourished in Maynooth College under the tutelage of Fr. Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh, who had been appointed the professor of Irish in the College in 1891. Fr. Ó Ceallaigh was one of the founders of Irishleabhar Mhuighe Nuadhad and Cuallacht Chuilm Cille. He also edited Irisleabhar na Cuallachta. Having chosen a very interesting example of our archive collection to investigate in this month’s blog it is wonderful to discover that one of the works included was written by an alumnus of the college.  The piece had previously been published in the Christmas edition of An Claideam Soluis in 1907 under the editorial eye of Pádraig Pearse. While continuing to work in education and further his studies Fr. Ó Ceallaigh was still an avid composer and writer as seen by the text of twenty-two poems, six plays and five ceol-dramaí published in his biography An tAthair Tomás Ó Ceallaigh agus a Shaothar, by An tAthair Tomás S. Ó Laimhin (Gaillimh 1943).




Other works included in the pamphlet are:

I Follow a Star by Joseph Campbell

Christmas and Ireland by Lionel Johnson

The Crib by Susan Mitchell

The Descent of the Child by Susan Mitchell

Ho Ri, Ho Ri by Sean Duan Albanach



Joseph Campbell
Poem by Joseph Campbell, printed in the pamphlet The Irish Christmas, published by the Three Candle Press in 1917.

Joseph Campbell

Born in 1879, is best known as a poet and republican. Circa 1900 he joined the Gaelic League and became a fluent Irish speaker. Campbell is known to have frequently submitted poems to Arthur Griffith’s United Irishmen publications and as a great admirer of W.B Yeats’ poetry. He is also known for producing lyrics for many Ulster traditional airs leading to Campbell’s’ reputation as a lyrical poet. Campbell was known to be a friend of Pádraig Pearse, and taught Irish History in St. Enda’s.



Lionel Johnson

Born in 1867, is best known as a poet and critic. Johnson was an acquaintance of Oscar Wilde and a well-known friend of W.B Yeats. He was a founding member of the Irish Literary Society in London 1892 and composed many propagandist poems set in Ireland focusing on the theme of martyrdom and persecution. In April 1894, Johnson came to Dublin to lecture on the topic of ‘poetry and patriotism’ supporting the ideals of Yeats. It was also Johnson who arranged the first meeting between Olivia Shakespear and W.B Yeats.


Susan Mitchell

Susan Mitchell
Poem by Susan Mitchell, printed in the pamphlet The Irish Christmas, published by the Three Candle Press in 1917.

Born 1866, Mitchell is most recognized as an essayist, poet and supporter of Home Rule. A close friend of the Yeats family and in particular W.B Yeats. When recovering from illness, Mitchell stayed with the Yeats family in London in 1899 and had her portrait painted by John Butler Yeats.  She was a lifelong friend of George Russell, who encouraged Mitchell to publish a number of poetry anthologies such as A Celtic Christmas, The Living Chalice, Aids to Immortality of Certain Persons in Ireland and Frankincense and Myrrh. She was a founding member of the United Irish Countrywomen’s Association, known today as the Irish Countrywomen’s Association. After the 1916 rising she took care of the personal affairs of Countess Markievicz. Her portrait painted by John Butler Yeats is available to view in the National Gallery of Ireland.

The pamphlet, The Irish Christmas can be viewed by request in the John Paul II Special Collections & Archives, Reading room.

Opening Times: Monday, Wednesday & Thursday Mornings – 10AM-1PM

Tuesday 10 AM-5PM. Closed for Lunch 1PM-2PM

Special Collections is closed on Fridays


Fr. Tomás Ó Ceallaigh:

Ó Héideáin, Eustás, TAthair. (2001). History of the School of Education. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from http://www.nuigalway.ie/colleges-and-schools/arts-social-sciences-and-celtic-studies/education/events/history-school-of-education/



Patrick Maume (2015). Trench, Cesca (Trinseach, Sadhbh).
In James McGuire, James Quinn (ed.),  Dictionary of Irish Biography.
Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Ó Héideáin, Eustás, TAthair. (2001). History of the School of Education. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from http://www.nuigalway.ie/colleges-and-schools/arts-social-sciences-and-celtic-studies/education/events/history-school-of-education/

James Quinn (2009). Campbell, Joseph.
In James McGuire, James Quinn (ed.),  Dictionary of Irish Biography.
Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Desmond McCabe (2009). Johnson, Lionel Pigot.
In James McGuire, James Quinn (ed.),  Dictionary of Irish Biography.
Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Patrick M. Geoghegan (2009). Mitchell, Susan Langstaff.
In James McGuire, James Quinn (ed.),  Dictionary of Irish Biography.
Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.


Lines from a Wintery Enclosure: A Letter from Seán Ó Faoláin to Friends in Brazil


Document of the Day: By Audrey Kinch, Maynooth University Library.  archives explored

It was a pleasure to sit back and read a letter sent in 1977 by Irish writer, Seán Ó Faoláin, on behalf of himself and his wife Eileen in Ireland, to their friends Munira Hamud Mutran and her husband Marcello in Brazil. At the time, Ó Faoláin was seventy-seven and still active in his career. Mutran was a young academic in Brazil. She had completed her PhD thesis on Ó Faoláin’s short stories the previous year in 1976, and would go on to become Professor of Literatures in English in the University of São Paulo in 2000. They enjoyed a correspondence over fourteen years and an enduring friendship for many more. Mutran received an honorary doctorate from Maynooth University in 2008, and she donated the letters to the University Library.

Selection of Documents from the Sean O Faolain Archive
              Selection of Documents from the                Seán Ó Faoláin Archive

Seán Ó Faoláin was born in Cork in 1900. He attended the Lancasterian School and the Presentation Brother’s College. In 1918, he began studying in University College Cork. He completed an MA in Irish in 1924 and an MA in English 1925. Ó Faoláin was a nationalist and a member of the Irish Volunteers. Throughout his life, he travelled widely within his career and also for leisure. He taught Anglo-Irish literature at Boston College in Massachusetts and English language and literature at St. Mary’s Training College in South West London. He was married to children’s writer Eileen Gould, they had two children, Julia and Stephen, and they lived in Killiney, County Dublin. Ó Faoláin published works in fiction and non-fiction. His first novel, A Nest of Simple Folk was published in 1934 and he continued writing throughout his life. He was granted the freedom of Cork city in 1988, and passed away at the age of 91 in 1991.


Sean O Faolain letter to Brazil
Letter from Seán Ó Faoláin to Munira Hamud Mutran and her husband Marcello, 1977


The letter that I have selected from the archive reads as follows:

“Dear Marcello, Munira,

Lovely to hear from you both and thanks for the elegant desk diary. We have often thought of you. My publisher insists on producing a selection of my best? stories in 1978 and so does his American counterpart. Our lives are as quiet as a mouse when the cat is around. It rains and blows but we reck not. One of the regrets of age is non-participation i.e. not being part of the busy world outside; but this is also one of the charms of retirement.

Pardon this ‘used’ envelope – Eileen is sending out her Christmas cards in my envelopes and it is too wild and wet to go out for replacements! We do live like hibernating squirrels once December comes. This, it has been said, is why Scandinavian longships were so finely carved – in the days of short light they carved by the firelight. I like this wintry enclosure. It is a good time for writing, tho’ at my age I ‘potter’ rather than compose. We send you all our warmest affections.

Sempre :-

Seán Ó Faoláin”

Signature on the letter from Sean O Faolain1
                 Detail from the letter containing                 Ó Faoláin’s signature

The letter exudes the warmth of the friendship and displays an ease of exchange in communication. At the top of the letter is a loop drawing of both Marcello and Munira’s names entwined at the letter “M”. The letter is also signed off warmly and fondly “Sempre”.

Dr Munira Mutran is Associate Professor of Literatures in English at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.  In 2015-16, she attended Trinity College Dublin at the Long Room Hub as a Visiting Research Fellow.

Letters to Brazil:  The Sean O’Faolain Archive can be consulted by appointment in the Special Collections and Archives Department at Maynooth University Library. For further details: library.specialcollections@mu.ie




Comhfhreagras idir an tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire agus Séamus Ó Dubhghaill (Beirt Fhear)

Cáipéis an Lae: An Dr Tracey Ní Mhaonaigh, Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, Ollscoil Mhá Nuadarchives explored

Tá an comhad áirithe seo ar coimeád i Leabharlann an Ruiséalaigh, Coláiste Phádraig, Má Nuad. 99 litir atá ann ó pheann an Athar Peadar Ó Laoghaire agus é i mbun comhfhreagrais le Séamus Ó Dubhghaill (Beirt Fhear). Clúdaíonn na litreacha tréimhse 8 mbliana déag, ó mhí Aibreáin 1899 go dtí mí an Mheithimh 1917—tréimhse an-tábhachtach i scéal na Gaeilge agus obair Chonradh na Gaeilge faoi lán seoil, An Claidheamh Soluis tagtha ar an saol agus ceisteanna teanga agus cultúir á gcur agus á bplé.

Photograph of Peadar O Laoghaire
Grianghraf de Pheadar Ó Laoghaire

Donnchadh Ó Floinn, iar-Ollamh le Gaeilge sa Choláiste, a rinne an bailiúchán a chlárú  sa bhliain 1947 agus bhronn sé ar Choláiste Phádraig é i mí na Márta 1949. Sula ndearna sé aon chuid den obair seo, dóbair gur cailleadh an bailiúchán ar fad, áfach. Murach gur tugadh faoi deara, trí thimpiste agus iad á ndó, gur litreacha Gaeilge a bhí iontu, bheidís ar fad scriosta. Ach, a bhuí le súil ghéar an Athar Tomás Ó Cléirigh C.M., sábháladh an tromlach agus tugadh do Dhonnchadh Ó Floinn iad. Ní amháin go ndearna Ó Floinn iad a chlárú agus a bhronnadh ar an gColáiste, ach rinne sé iad a athscríobh ar dtús, in dhá chóipleabhar faoi chlúdach crua, chun go mbeadh cóip ann dá dtarlódh aon cheo do na litreacha bunaidh.

Cad a bhí á scríobh ag an Athair Peadar sna litreacha seo? Ní nach ionadh, tá cuid mhór iontu mar gheall ar leaganacha cainte agus brí focal, mar aon le plé ar mhúnlaí áirithe gramadaí. Ceisteanna a bhí i mbéal an phobail i bhfoilseacháin na linne is mó a spreag, de réir dealraimh, ábhar an chomhfhreagrais, agus an tAthair Peadar ag tacú le, nó ag seasamh an fhóid i gcoinne, tuairimí á léiriú iontu.

Letter from Peadar O Laoghaire to Seamus O Dubhghaill 16 October 1900
Ceann de na litreacha ón gcomhfhreagas idir an tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire agus Séamus Ó Dubhghaill atá ar coimeád i Leabharlann an Ruiséalaigh, Coláiste Phádraig, Maigh Nuad.

Chreid sé sa teanga agus i saothrú na teanga, ach ar bhealach a thaitin leis féin. Iad siúd a bhí ar aon tuairim leis, bhí sé an-mhór leo, ach sheas sé an fód go láidir ina gcoinne siúd nach raibh. Feicimid sna litreacha, dá bharr, daoine áirithe á moladh go hard na spéire aige—Séamus Ó Dubhghaill féin, Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh agus Norma Borthwick, ina measc—agus daoine eile á gcáineadh aige—Micheál Ó hIceadha, Seosamh Laoide, Eoin Mac Néill, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, agus, an duine ba mhó a thuill a cháineadh, Pádraig Mac Piarais. Is é an meon a léirítear dúinn tríd an mbailiúchán seo an ghné is luachmhaire de.