Seumus MacManus (1867-1960)


Life
[var Seamas; b. James]; 31 Dec. 1867 at Inver [aka Mountcharles], Co. Donegal, son of a small-farmer; ed. Glencoagh [or Glencoe] Nat. School, and Enniskillen Teacher Training College; at 18, he began teaching at Glencoe, and afterwards at the Enniskillen Model School and Kinawley National School, Co. Fermanagh, before becoming principal of Glencoe Nat. School in 1888; told stories in class as young teacher; contrib. his first written fiction to Donegal Vindicator; issued story-collections incl. Shuilers from Healthy Hills (1893) and The Humours of Donegal (1898); resigned from teaching in 1898 and went to America in 1899, contrib. to Harpur's and Century, and found acceptance as an Irish writer; introduced to President Roosevelt at the White House; returned to Ireland, contributed to Shan Van Vocht (Belfast, ed. Ethna Carbery, et al.);
 
m. Anna Johnston [pseud. “Ethna Carbery”], 1901; returned to America at her early death in 1902, returning frequently to Donegal over the next fifty years; contributed to Weekly Irish Times; plays incl. The Townland of Tamney (INTS, Jan 1904); also The Hard-Hearted Man (1905); m. Catalina Paex, a Venezuelan, 1911; lived in Argentina before returning to New York; fiercely critical of Synge’s Playboy on Abbey’s first tour in America in 1911, and styled ‘Shame-Us MacManus’ by Lady Gregory; received LL.D., from Notre Dame University, 1917; issued The Rocky Road to Dublin (1938), third-person autobiography concerning the life of Gasúr with chars. such as chars. Patrick McGroarty, the Thrasher; Paddy macCalliog, the ballad singer (an amadán); Tom, gentleman and millionaire;
 
d. NY, 23 Oct. 1960, following a fall from a hospital window involving suspicions of was no accident in view of his state of mind [aetat 93]; called ‘the last of the shanachies’ by Padraic Colum; his papers are held in the National Library of Ireland [NLI]; there was an obituary by A. M. Sullivan. PI JMC DBIV IF2 DIB DIW DIH DIL KUN SUTH DUB OCIL DIL

[ The Story of Notre Dame University: The Notre Dame campus history page online gives excerpts from the campus magazine Scholastic reporting on sundry visits made by MacManus to that university between 1904 and 1934, including a series of 14 lectures given by him there in 1908 on topics ranging from “Making a Poem” and “Making a Novel” to “Early Irish Literature” and “The Irish Revival”. See Notre Dame History > Visitors - online; accessed 18.10.2023. ]

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Works
Poetry
  • Ballads of a Country Boy (Dublin: Gill 1905); MacManus [ed.,], with poems by Ethna Carbery and Alice Milligan, We Sang for Ireland (NY: Devin-Adair 1950).
Short fiction
  • Shuilers from the Heathy Hills, by ‘Mac’ ([Donegal] Mountcharles: G. Kirke 1893).
  • Barney Brean and the Other Boys (Dublin: ‘Irish Nights’ Office [n.d.]).
  • The Leadin’ Road to Donegal and Other Stories by “Mac” (London: Digby, Long [1896]; NY: Pratt, 2nd ed. 1908, et eds.).
  • Twas in Dhroll Donegal, by “Mac” (London: Downey 1896; 2nd & 3rd eds. 1897).
  • The Bend of the Road, by James MacManus, “Mac” (Dublin: Gill, Duffy; NY: Pratt 1897; London: Downey 1898).
  • The Humours of Donegal by James MacManus (”Mac”) (London: Unwin; NY: Pratt 1898).
  • Through the Turf Smoke by “Mac” (NY: Doubleday; Toronto: Morang 1899; London: Unwin 1901).
  • In Chimney Corners (NY: Harper 1899) [ill. Pamela Colman Smith] [var. NY: Doubleday & McClure 1899 & edns. up to NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1935: DIL].
  • The Bewitched Fiddle and Other Irish Tales (NY: Doubleday & McClure 1900).
  • Donegal Fairy Stories (NY: McClure, Phillips 1900; London: Isbister 1902; NY Garden City: Doubleday 1943).
  • The Red Poocher (NY: Funk & Wagnells 1903) [frontispiece; 4 stories].
  • A Lad of the O’Friels (Gill, Duffy [1903]; NY: McClure, Phillips 1903, 1906 [3rd edn.]; further edns. incl. NY: Devin-Adair , 1945, 1947).
  • Doctor Kilgannon (Dublin: Gill 1907).
  • Yourself and the Neighbours (NY: Devin-Adair [1914]), ill. T. Fogarty.
  • Ireland’s Curse (NY: Irish Publishing Co. [1917]).
  • Lo and Behold Ye (NY: Frederick A. Stokes [1919]) [IF 1919].
  • Tales that Were Told (Dublin: Talbot 1919/London: Unwin [1920]).
  • Top o’ the Mornin’ (NY: Frederick A. Stokes [1920]) [IF2 1921].
  • The Donegal Wonder Book (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1926).
  • O, Do You Remember (Dublin: Duffy 1926).
  • Bold Blades of Donegal (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1935; London: Sampson, Low 1937) [DIL Marston [1937].
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY: Macmillan 1938) [Morris Coll., UU], and Do., intro. Irvin S. Cobb (NY: Devin-Adair Co. 1947).
  • Dark Patrick (NY: Macmillan 1939).
  • The Well at the World’s End (NY: Macmillan 1939; NY: Devin-Adair 1945, 1949).
  • Tales from Ireland (London: Evans [1949]).
  • Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (NY: Macmillan 1950; Dublin: Talbot [1951]) [IF NY & Dub 1931 ?err], being with 92 short tales and an unconnected seanfhocal].
  • The Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Irish Folk-Tales (NY: Ariel Bks. [1951]; Pelligrini & Cudahy 1951; London: Dent [1952]) [IF London: Cape 1952].
  • The Little Mistress of Eskar Mór (Dublin: Gill 1960).
  • Hibernian Nights (NY: Macmillan 1963) [see extract from Preface - infra].
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Plays
  • The Townland of Tawney (Abbey 1904), The Hard Hearted Man (Dublin: Gill 1905), both Abbey; Woman of Seven Sorrows [1905] (Dublin: Gill 1945), play.
 

Other plays [individually undated] were issued from 1905 by D. O’Molloy, Mount Charles, Co. Donegal, The Leading road to Donegal; The Resurrection of Dinny O’Down; The Lad from Largeymore; The Townland of Tamney [1904] [rep. Chicago: De Paul Univ., Irish Drama Series, 1972]; Orange and Green [1906]; Nabby’s Heron’s Matching; Bong Tong Comes to Balruddery; Rory Wins; Mrs Connolly’s Cashmere; The Miracle of Father Peter [1906]; The Rale True Doctor; The Bachelors of Braggy.

Reprints
  • The Dream Physician: A Five-act Comedy, by Edward Martyn [with] The Townland of Tamney: A One-Act Comedy by Seumas MacManus [Irish Drama Series, 7] (Chicago: De Paul UP 1972), [1], 73p.
Autobiography
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY: Macmillan 1938/NY: Devin-Adair 1947).
Miscellaneous
  • Sliagh Liagh, A Pamphlet for Workers, Our Line of Advance: Some Thoughts on the Gaelic Movement (Cork: Corcoran 1917).
  • ‘Picture of Donegal’, in New York World Telegram, (20 April 1938); Also, William Rooney (1909) [a biog. tribute].
  • The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland (NY: Irish Publishing Co. 1921/NY Devin-Adair 1945, 1955) [infra; incl. contrib. by Miss. L. MacManus].
See also A Short History of the Irish Race (Dublin: Browne & Nolan (1928).

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Criticism
  • [N.a.], ‘Chronicle and Comment’, in The Bookman (March 1899), pp. 14-15.
  • Wilbur Macey Stone, ‘Letter to Editor’, in New York Times (21 Aug. 1907).
  • F. Marion Gallagher, ‘Seumas MacManus, the Man’, in Overland Monthly, 1, 6 (June 1908), pp.493-95.
  • Br. Leo, ‘S. MacManus: Poet, Author, and Dramatist’, in “Catholic Writers of Today” [ser.],
  • The Youth Catholic Messenger, LV, 7 (21 Oct. 1938), p.59.
  • [n.a.], ‘Son of Donegal: Autobiography of Seumas MacManus’, in St. Louis Post-Dispatch (20 April 1938) [review].
  • Harry Hansen, ‘Good Old Stories Told by Irishmen Live Again in The Rocky Road to Dublin, in New World Telegram (20 April 1938).
  • Horace Reynolds, ‘Seumas MacManus Vividly Recalls an Earlier Ireland’, in New York Times Review of Books, (1 May 1938); [n.a.],
  • ‘A Poet’s “Rocky Road to Dublin” is the Fairest Way to Ireland’, in Kansas City Star (17 March 1939).
  • Matthew Koehn, ed., Catholic Authors: Contemporary Biographical Sketches, 1930-1947 (NY: St. Mary’s Abbey 1948), “Seamus MacManus”.
  • James Stern, ‘Tales from Irish Firesides’, in New York Herald Tribune (7 May 1950).
  • Raymond Piper, ‘The Last of the Shanchaís’, in The Countryman Magazine (Fall 1958), pp.420-21.
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘A Gift of Donegal, 2: A Fine View and a Funeral’, in The Irish Times (21, May 1971).
  • Helen Meehan, ‘Ethna Carberry/Anna Johnston McManus’, in Donegal Annual (1993), pp.55-65.
  • ——, ‘The McManus Brothers: Patrick (1864-1929) & Seumas (1868-1960)’, in Donegal Annual (1994), pp.5-18.
  • ——, ‘Shan Van Vocht’, in Ulster Local Studies, 19, 1 (Summer 1997), pp.80-90.
  • [...]
  • Christopher Cusack, ‘“Seanachie to the New World”: Seumas MacManus and the Transatlantic Appeal of Irish Local Colour’, in Open Library of Humanities, 8:2 (2022) [see extracts].

See also Brenda O’Hanrahan, Donegal Authors: A Bibliography (n.d.); Tadhg Gavin, ‘Profile from the Past’, in Ireland ‘s Own [q.d.], p.5; Cathal G. O’Hainle, ‘“The Inalienable Right of Trifles”: Tradition and Modernity in Gaelic Writing Since the Revival’, in Éire-Ireland (Winter 1984), pp. 59-77 [on Pearse].

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Commentary

Ernest A. Boyd, Irelands Literary Renaissance (Dublin: Maunsel 1916) - Chap. XV: Fiction [&c.] - Seamas MacManus

[MacManus] is known also as a poet and dramatist, but his popularity derives from the numerous tales of Donegal life and fairy lore which began in 1896 with The Leadin ’ Road to Donegal. This work came after Shuilers from Heathy Hills (1893), a collection of prose and verse, but it may be said to mark the beginning of the author’s career. In spite of its flagrantly “stage Irishman” humour and exaggerated dialect, Seumas MacManus was not destined to follow in the tracks of Lover and Lever. ‘twas in Dhroll Donegal (1897) and The Humours of Donegal (1898) were still in the rollicking Lover manner, but Through the Turf Smoke (1899) showed more restraint and closer observation of actual peasant life. Three volumes of folk-tales. The Bewitched Fiddle, in Chimney Corners and Donegal Fairy Tales, followed in immediate succession, and afforded evidence of the author’s increasing literary skill, which soon attained its fullest expression. A Lad of the O’Friels, which appeared in 1903, is superior to anything else Seumas MacManus has published, and may be counted as one of the best idealistic novels of the Irish peasantry we possess. Like most of its kind, the book inevitably [379] tends to fall into a series of scenes, but the thread is sufficiently substantial to constitute a genuine story, instead of the more usual peg upon which to hang detached sketches. The community of Knocknagar is a living microcosm, studied with eyes which have seen from the inside the people and events described. Seumas MacManus succeeds in shaking off the obsession of broad comedy which has heretofore clung to him, and writes directly out of a life he knows so well, that one regrets his concessions to stereotype. The memorable picture of a Lough Derg pilgrimage is a perfect example of the fine material which lies at the disposal of the Irish novelist.

[...]
pp.378-79; see full copy in Library > “Critical Classics” - as attached.

Christopher Cusack, ‘“Seanachie to the New World”: Seumas MacManus and the Transatlantic Appeal of Irish Local Colour’, in Open Library of Humanities, 8:2 (2022). Note: Bibl. citations at end-of-article are given in square brackets.

From the late 1890s onwards, Donegal writer Seumas MacManus was a frequent contributor to leading American periodicals and was often listed alongside noted American local colour writers. Moreover, the first books he published in America were immediately successful. MacManus rooted his work explicitly in Donegal and its seanchaí tradition, and in the United States in particular his works were positioned as representative of an authentic Celticity. But why did MacManus’s work translate so readily to the American market? And what were the contexts that engendered the success of his stories and books? Using reviews, profiles, promotional materials, letters, and MacManus’s self-presentations, this article explores how his work contributed to the construction and commodification of a transatlantic sense of Irishness rooted in local colour conventions. It concludes that the American reception of his work demonstrates how apparently local formations of regional identity garnered transatlantic attention not only as a function of their exoticness, but also as a result of the instrumentalisation of domestic literary conventions that generated conceptual links between localness and universality.

From his first visit to the United States in 1898-9 onwards, the Donegal revivalist author, folklorist, and activist Seumas MacManus, at the time still largely unknown in the country, became a frequent contributor to leading American periodicals. Magazines such as Harper’s, Century, the Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly, The Outlook, and McClure’s featured MacManus’s Donegal folk tales, local colour fiction, and verse. Published in quick succession, collections of his stories, such as Through the Turf Smoke (1899), In Chimney Corners (1899), The Bewitched Fiddle (1900), and Donegal Fairy Stories (1900), sold well, were widely reviewed, and often went through multiple American editions. As MacManus became an established name, magazines also began to solicit his opinions on Irish politics, history, and culture. Charles Fanning suggests that The Story of the Irish Race (1921) ‘is probably on more Irish-American shelves than any other title’ [Charles Fanning, The Irish Voice in America; 250 Years of Irish American fiction 2nd edn. Lexington Kentucky UP 2000]. Indeed, MacManus’s fame itself soon became a marketing instrument: Funk & Wagnalls, who published The Red Poocher in 1903, promoted him as ‘the present-day Prince of Irish Storytellers’ (see for instance their advertisement in the November 1903 issue of Pearson’s, 1903).

[...]

For the most part his writings in prose and verse reflect the quaint and pathetic folklore which he absorbed at the wakes, weddings and patterns in ‘droll Donegal.’ Happy for him and for his readers that the spiritual enters so largely into his work. He has nothing to do with the brutal materialism found among the very poor and vicious in great cities which too often furnish morbid story-tellers with an excuse to cry out their wares. The simple, almost sinless lives of his own people in the highlands of Donegal, their struggles, stories, smiles and sighs are his theme (Scholastic, 1904).

Such praise suggests that editors and reviewers believed that an authentic representation of the Donegal peasantry and true Celticity could be found in MacManus’s work. The Overland Monthly, for instance, declared that ‘Mr. MacManus’s Irish men are real Irishmen, - not the article we are familiar with on the variety stage and in the funny papers’ (Overland Monthly, 1899: 481).

Given, however, the sometimes comic nature of MacManus’s tales, such claims strike a false note. MacManus’s Donegal is often a world of familiar types rather than rounded characters, including the spalpeen, the roguish Irish peasant who is, as Joep Leerssen describes him, ‘likeable, unruly, cute [in the Hiberno-English sense]; unpolished but charming, slightly mischievous but fundamentally unthreatening’[Leerssen, Remembrance and Imagination: Patterns in the Historical and Literary Representation of Ireland in the Nineteenth Century, Cork UP 1996), p.171.] Indeed, the Irish bibliographer Father Stephen Brown noted in A Reader’s Guide to Irish Fiction that ‘at times the fun goes perilously near “Stage-Irishism”’ (1910: 128). The Dial also noted the performative character of MacManus’s Irishness, typifying his work as ‘a rollicking bit of exaggeration, carrying it almost to the point of burlesque’ (The Dial, 1900: 435). The Literary Digest also considered MacManus’s work unrealistically cheerful. ‘The book has the monotony of an eternally smiling face’, the review states, asking why the Irish would emigrate in such numbers ‘if there existed hamlets like that described by Mr. MacManus’ (Literary Digest, 1903: 697).

[...]

As the reception of MacManus’s Donegal narratives in the United States demonstrates, Irish local colour writing was instrumentalised to carry such universal resonance. Recognising the popularity of local colour in the United States, MacManus promoted the remote county as the locus of an unadulterated folk culture whose significance transcends national borders, an estimation readily adopted by literary critics. As such, the American public not only read MacManus for the entertainment value of his fictions and folk tales, or the transatlantic performance of a vernacular Irishness that had been made increasingly popular by the transatlantic operations of the Gaelic revival. [...]

A full-text copy of the article is available online; accessed 18.10.2023. Incls. a banner-image from Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen (NY 1900), p.193 - ill, by Tegner [Wikicommons].
Titles cited:
  • [as “Mac”], The Leadin’ Road to Donegal and Other Stories (London: Digby, Long and Co. 1895).
  • [as “Mac”] ‘twas in Dhroll Donegal (London: Downey and Co. 1897).
  • [James MacManus “Mac”] The Humours of Donegal (London: T. Fisher Unwin 1898).
  • [as James MacManus] The Bend of the Road (London: Downey and Co. 1898).
  • Through the Turf Smoke: The Love, Lore, and Laughter, of Old Ireland (NY: Doubleday and McClure 1899).
  • In Chimney Corners: Merry Tales of Irish Folk Lore (NY: Doubleday and McClure 1899).
  • Donegal Fairy Stories (NY: McClure, Phillips and Co. 1900).
  • The Bewitched Fiddle and Other Irish Tales (NY: Doubleday and McClure 1900).
  • The Red Poocher (NY: Funk and Wagnalls Company 1903).
  • A Lad of the O’Friels (NY: McClure, Phillips and Co. 1903).
  • ‘Seumas M’Manus Raps “The Playboy”’, in New York Times (27 November 1911), p.11.
  • Bij het laaiende turfvuur [By the roaring turf fire], trans. A. Coussens (Antwerp: NV Het Vlaamsche Land 1922) [a selection
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin: The Story of the Donegal Man, Seumas MacManus [1938] (Dublin: Moytura Press 1988).
Note: Christopher Cusack is also co-editor with Margaret Corporall and Lindsay Janssen, of Recollecting Hunger: An Anthology: Cultural Memoirs of the Irish Famine in Irish and British Literature (Dublin: IAP 2012), 304pp.

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Quotations

My Creed”, by Seamus MacManus

One Queen, I own, and one alone
Commands my meek obedience;
No Sovereign named by human law,
From her draws my allegiance.
For her I live, for her I strive,
And shall, till life is ended;
And with my latest parting breath
Her name it will be blended —
            Kathleen,
Your dear name will be blended.

I love God’s peace upon our hills,
And fain would not destroy it;
I love sweet life in this fair world,
And long would I enjoy it.
But when my Sovereign needs my lifey
That day I’ll cease to crave it;
And bare a breast for foeman’s steel,
And show a soul to brave it —
            Kathleen,
For your sweet sake to brave it.

O, glorious Death on battle-plain
Our foemen oft has baffled;
And proudest lovers of Kathleen
Have holy made the scaffold.
Not mine to choose, nor mine to care —
The cause the manner hallows —
I’ll court the steel, or kiss the cord,
On green hill-side or gallows —
            Kathleen,
For you I’ll woo the gallows.

My life is then my Queen"s, to leave,
To order, or to ask it;
This good right arm to fend or strike,
This brain is hers to task it.
This hand that waits, this heart that beats,
Are hers when she shall need ’em,
And my secret soul is burning for
Her trumpet-call to Freedom —
            Kathleen,
O, sound the call to Freedom!

Rep. in Gill’s Irish Reciter: A Selection of Gems from Ireland’s Modern Literature, ed. J. J. O’Kelly [Sean Ó Ceallaigh] (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1905), pp.2-3 [available at Internet Archive - online].

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The Mountain Waterfall”, by Seamus MacManus

Like lance from an ambushed one, glimmering, shimmering flung,
Over the brink of the mountain ’tis hurled;
Like Love to the arms of Love, from the grim heights above
Headlong it plunges into a new world.

And, oh! of the seething, the writhing, the wreathing,
The broil and turmoil, but a demon may tell —
The cavernous thundering like gods enraged, sundering,
Riving with striving the cauldrons of hell!

Madly it bounds along, bawling its revel-song,
Sweeping and leaping with riotous glee —
Oh, the wild course of it! oh, the dread force of it!
Maddened and gladdened, its spirit is free.

Tossing like white-maned steeds, hissing like wind-swept reeds,
Flashing, and crashing, wild wave over wave —
Rising in anger, falling in clangour,
Like armour-clad knights on a field of the brave!

Pushing and crushing, white-plumed ones rushing,
Bursting to join in the weltering fray;
Frenziedly dashing, deafeningly clashing —
The dust of the conflict configured in spray!

To the skies shouting, all order flouting —
Never was known such astounding career,
Dizzily swirling, wheeling and whirling —
On and away by moor, meadow, and mere!

Gleaming and glancing, like thick-massed pikes dancing,
Hurrying, skurrying, over the plain;
Aught in the way of it ? Whish! and away with it,
Man, beast, or lumb’ring log, off to the main!

So, from its caging, resistless and raging,
So shall young Freedom sweep over the land,
To skies above sending its long wild shout, rending
The sentinel hills with its thunderings grand!

Its track be a red one, its course be a dread one,
A mad one, a glad one, for who will be free,
And ah, for the quaking knaves! ah, for the sons of slaves!
Sas’nachs and soul-less ones swept to the sea!

Rep. in Gill’s Irish Reciter: A Selection of Gems from Ireland’s Modern Literature, ed. J. J. O’Kelly [Seán Ó Ceallaigh](Dublin: M. H. Gill 1905), pp.267-68 [available at Internet Archive - online].

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The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland, by Seamus MacManus, assisted by several Irish scholars (NY: Irish Publishing Co. [2nd edn.] 1921 [PO Box 1300]), 719pp. [incls. An Honor Roll-call, pp.715-19, naming those whose ‘big aid’ enabled him to give up work for three years to complete the book.] Epigraph, verses from Ethna Carbery: ‘O wind-drifted Branch, lift your head to the sun,/For the sap of new life in your veins has begun,/And a little young bud of the tenderest green/Mine eyes through the snow and the sorrow has seen!// O little green bud, break and blow into flower,/Break and blow though th ewelcome of sunshine and shower; / ‘twas a long night and dreary you hid there forlorn,/But now the cold hills wear the radiance of morn!’ This book is inscribed / To the haloed memory of one who, pondering the heroic records of her race, dedicated her life to Ireland’s holy cause, and in undying strains sang the glories[,] the sorrows and radiant hopes of her land beloved - Eire’s Queen of Song / ETHNA CARBERY.

Text: ‘[] The writer was impelled to the compilation of this story of our race by the woeful lack of knowledge on the subject which he found in the four corners of America, among all classes of people, alike the intelligent and the ordinary. With the vast majority of America’s intellectual ones he found Ireland’s past as obscure as the past of Borneo. On three occasions he was asked by educated women who were pillars of their Societies, Has Ireland got a history? /
 To a large extent the blame for American ignorance of Ireland’s story rests upon the ignorance of our own exiles, and the children of those exiles. Were these possessed of a general knowledge of Ireland’s past, and the proper pride that most come of that knowledge, the good Americans around them would catch information by contagion. The writer hopes that even this crude compendium may put some fothe necessary knowledge and pride in the minds and hearts of his people - and also the incentive to seek out and study the history of the country that endorwed them with the rare riches, spiritual and mental, that characterises the far-wandered children, and children’s children, of the Gael. [ &c.]’

Remarks: MacManus as ‘compiler’ acknowledges that L. McManus, auth. of The Silk of the Kine, supplied the ‘chronicle of Ireland during the Wars of Elizabeth, and during those of William of Orange’; Helen O’Concannon supplied ‘the bright chapter on the Wilde Geese’, while Rev. Toomas O’Kelly ‘tells the story of the Parnell period’. Sean-Ghall gives the period of Shane Buide to Shane O’Neill, Dr. Joseph Dunn contributes a chapter on the Danish period’ Thomas Arthur O’Shaughnessy of Chicago, ‘striving to make Gaelic art living again here’, is accredited with the illustrations and cover. (pp.xii-xiii.) Note also a cutting in edn. held in Morris Collection, UUC Library: “Seumas MacManus, poet, humorist, Shanachie; ‘this brilliant spokesman of a wonderful people now comes to enthrall us with his delightful intellectual diversions’ (san Francisco Bulletin; MacManus, p. Box 13000, New York City [cutting in edn. of The Story of the Irish Race, in ).” See further under Robert Emmet [supra].

Rocky Road to Dublin (1938) [of Marg’et O’Gorman:] ‘So, after she had for nearly two years enriched his mother’s house and lives of all in it - with riches that would seldom be reached and never surpassed in their lives again - she, rare young shanachie, to her weeping regret and theirs, took her departure for America. In announcing her going, she used the words which so often she had used in her tales - words that had always started the boy’s dreams - said she was “going off to push her fortune”. And though in the fabled land she went to she was to meet with romantic fortune far and away beyond her rainbow hopes, she carried away with her, and there lost, greater, richer, fortune, far.’ (pp.169-70; quoted in Emer Campbell, UU Diss., UUC, 2001.)

Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain ([1931]), Introduction: ‘A three-week holiday through the enchanted hills and glens of the same magic mountains that made a new man of me; through our folklore land: land of kings and queens, poets, prophets, and saints, wizards, witty women and witless men, fairies too, and ghosts maybe, and birds and beasts that talk (but talk less foolish far than the half-humans you’ve had to hearken to for all the tiresome day you’ve just, than God, put behind you.’ (p.14; quoted in Emer Campbell, UU Diss., UUC, 2001.) Note: the title is from verses included in it: ‘Heavy, heavy hangs its head, and longtime has been calling, calling, plaintive calling, to me to come and gather.’ (ibid., p.10.) Further, ‘Right wise it was of our Colm when founding in Iona his famous sixth century school and colony of monks and scholars, he forbade the bringing in of a cow. “Where comes a cow”, the wise man laid down, “there follows a woman; and where comes a woman follows trouble.’ (Heavy, p.24?.

Hibernian Nights (1963) - Preface

Storytelling is the oldest and surely one of the loveliest of the arts, and when the world was younger, lustier and, in not a few ways, better, than today, it was necessarily one of the most prized, so largely did all the peoples depend on it for their nightly entertainment.

But today storytelling has become all but a lost art in almost every country. But my country, Ireland, cherished it most, brought it to greater perfection and held to it longest of all the western nations. The shanachie (storyteller) and the Bard, oft-times one, held the most honored place at court of every Prince and Chief, as well as in the hearts of the people. Long and hard years of learning for the noble profession they served in the Bardic schools, and rare were their rewards when at length they were vested with the cloak of the profession.

The art took a long, long time to wane with our people. In my childhood days, in my Donegal mountains, though the schooled professional shanachie had long disappeared, the homespun storyteller was plentiful - and cherished. There still was not a hill nor a glen but had its noted, sometimes famed and beloved practitioner who had inherited the great wealth of the ancient tales and spent the nights in lavish bestowment of his rare riches on the needy souls surrounding him. By a hundred happy hearths on a thousand golden nights, then I, with my fellows, enthroned me under the chimney brace, or in circle, hunkered on the floor in the fire glow, heartening to the recital, and spellbound by the magic of the loved tales so lovingly told by fear-a-tighe (man-of-the-house) or bean-a-tighe (woman-of-the-house). Not many women could be termed shanachie, but she was a poor mother who had not at least a dozen or twenty tales on which to bring up her children.

Thus and so, we Donegal children learnt the folk stories and the telling of them. Thus and so it was that we in turn propagated them. Thus and so it was that these fascinating tales through the long, long ages, gave to millions after millions, entertainment, happiness, joy, as well as the awakening and development in them of that beautiful imagination and sense of wonder that lightened, brightened and gilded lives that through near-hunger, hard labor and perpetual struggle with fate might well be expected to have been sore and sour to bitterness.

But the circumstances hard or otherwise, storytelling was ever a propagator of joy. The advent of printing and growth of reading it was that began the decline and finally the practical extinction of the hallowed art. Yet no multiplication of books and mushrooming of readers could compensate the world for the sad loss incurred. The read story never did, never will come near the benefiting quality of the told story. Two of the essential good qualities of the latter, the former never can capture. The read story may be said to be a dead story, prone on the printed page, entombed between boards, while the told story is a very much alive story, glowing, appealing and dancing with energetic vitality - the personality and inspiration that the good storyteller can always command into the tale he tells. While the read story may possess the value of the story alone, the told story carries, superimposed on it, the golden worth of a good storyteller’s captivating art and enhancing personality - trebling its wealth.’)

—Quoted by Norbert Blei on a website of memories compiled by a man who heard Seamus MacManus speaking at a ‘small college in central Illinois’ in 1956 - when he formed the following impression of the Irish writer: ‘[He] sat in a chair near me that night. He was dressed in clothing so old and odd-looking that it was hard to believe the man was real. He seemed to have stepped out of the old country, out of Yeats’ Celtic Twilight … out of the fiction of one of his own tales.’ (Available online; accessed 18.10.2023.)

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References
Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985) lists novels, The Miracle of Father Peter (1906) [recte play]; Orange and Green (1906) [recte play] Lo and Behold Ye! (1919); Top of the Morning (1920). Plays, The Townland of Tawney (1904), The Hard Hearted Man (1905), both Abbey; The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY 1938), autobiog. Maxwell (Mod. Irish Drama, 1984) cites only The Townland of Tamney.

Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), gives bio-notes: b. Mount Charles [sic], Co. Donegal; visited America in 1898; subsequently contributed to leading American magazines; lived in America most of the time; visiting lecturer to US universities; many novels and other books; adds Lo and Behold Ye (NY: Stokes 1919); The Donegal Wonder Book (NY: Stokes 1926), 282pp.; O, Do You Remember (Dublin: Duffy 1926), 156pp.; Tales that Were Told (Dublin: Talbot 1919), 280pp.; Top o’ the Mornin’ (NY: Stokes 1921); Bold Blades of Donegal (London: Sampson Low/NY: Stokes 1935); The Well of the World’s end (NY: Macmillan 1939); The Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Irish Folk-Tales (London: Cape 1952); Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (NY: Macmillan/Dublin: Talbot 1931 [sic]), 224pp., a misc. of ninety-two short pieces.

Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives extract from Humours of Donegal, and also ‘A Stor, Gra Geal Mochree’; Weaver’s Grave is frequently anthologised (Irish Short Story, OUP; David Marcus ed., Irish Short Stories). Note: ‘The Weaver’s Grave’ illustrated by Jack Yeats in pen and ink (?Cuala edn), copy of ltd. edition held in Sligo Library.

John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longmans 1988; rep. 1989), b. Donegal, son of peasant farmer, ‘By the time I was seven I could tell a hundred of the old tales’; national School teacher, then journalism; US tours in later life; folkloric tales immensely popular in America; Notre Dame hon. doct., 1917; comic and idyllic stereotypes of Irish peasant life, incl. The Leadin’ Road to Donegal (1896); ‘twas in Dhroll Donegal (1896); The Bend of the Road (1897); The Humours of Donegal (1898). d. New York; considered too Irish for reading comfort. BL 21.

Books in Print (British Council 1994) The Bewitched Fiddle and Other Irish Tales (NY: Doubleday & McClure 1900); Donegal Fairy Stories (NY: McClure, Phillips 1900; Doubleday 1943; Dover Publications 1976) [0 48621 971 2]; The Red Poacher (NY: Funk & Wagnells 1903); A Lad of the O’Friels (NY: McClure, Phillips 1903, 1906, &c.; Devin-Adair 1947); Doctor Kilgannon (Dublin: MH Gill 1907); Yourself and the Neighbours (NY: Devin-Adair 1914); Ireland’s Curse (NY: Irish Publishing Co. 1917); Lo and Behold Ye (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1919); Top o’ the Mornin’ (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1920); The Donegal Wonder Book (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1926); O, Do You Remember (Dublin: Duffy 1926); Bold Blades of Donegal (NY: Frederick A. Stokes 1935; London: Sampson, Low 1937); The Rocky Road to Dublin (NY: Macmillan 1938/NY: Devin-Adair 1947; Dublin: Moytura Press 1988) [1 871 305 00 4]; Dark Patrick (NY: Macmillan 1939); The Well at the World’s End (NY: Macmillan 1939; NY: Devin-Adair 1945); Tales from Ireland (London: Evans 1949); Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (NY: Macmillan 1950; Dublin: Talbot 1951); The Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Irish Folk-Tales (NY: Ariel Bks. 1951; London: J. Cape 1952); The Little Mistress of Eskar Mór (Dublin: MH Gill 1960); Hibernian Nights (NY: Macmillan 1963; NY: Barnes & Noble 1994) [1 56619 361 3] NB, BML also holds Bold Heroes of Hungry Hill and Other Folk Tales.

Hyland Books (Cat. 220) lists Donegal Fairy Stories (1st ed. 1902), called ‘one of the scarcest of MacManus’s books’ [prob. err., since evidently the first US edition] [Hyland Cat. 214; 220]; Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (1st edn. 1951); Chimney Corners , Vol. 1, Nos. 3-11 & 13, Aug. to Oct. 1838. [

Belfast Public Library hold 15 titles incl. Ballads of a Country Boy (1905); Irish Nights (n.d.); Heavy Hangs the Golden Grain (1950); The Rocky Road to Dublin (1947); The Story of the Irish Race (1921); Through the Turf Smoke (1901). MORRIS holds The Lad of the O’Friel’s [sic] (c.1930); The Rocky Road to Dublin (1930); The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland (1921); Woman of Seven Sorrows (1905).

Ireland History website reprints his Story of the Irish Race [online; accessed 22.06.02].

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Notes
Lad of the O’Friels: orphan Nuala Gildea arrives in Knockagar and falls in riciprocal but unconfessed love with Dinny O’Friel; courting of Ellen Burns; villain and leader of the wren-boys, The Vagabone, turns narrator of the epilogue. (Emer Campbell, UG Diss., UUC 2007.)

NLI Papers: “Memoirs of [A] Political Activitist” [NLI MS; c.1959] recounts meetings with Maud Gonne, W. B. Yeats, John O’Leary, Douglas Hyde, George Sigerson and P. J. McCall. ‘Dublin days’ [MS] recounts his arrival in Dublin in the 1890s as ‘star of the Donegal Vindicator’; (Emer Campbell, op. cit.)