Thomas Keohler

1873-1942 [Thomas Goodwin Keohler; latter Keller by deed poll in 1914]; pseud. “Michael Orkney”; b. Belfast; worked at at Hely’s (stationary; later Hely Thom) for 40 years; issued Songs of a Devotee [Tower Press Booklets] (1906) amd incl. in George “AE” Russell’s anthology New Songs: A Lyric Selection (Jan. 1904); Keohler wrote reviews for Dana and criticised Synge’s Well of the Saints for its plot-dependence on a religious miracle; he is mentioned in the “Nestor” chapter of James Joyce’;s Ulysses (1922) as one of those to whom Stephen owes money - appearing as Koehler [sic] in the novel and remained friends with Joyce for many years; contrib. poems to the Dublin Book of Irish Verse (ed. John Cooke, Dublin: Hodges 1909); issued a second poetry collection as Time Utterances (1937); d. 1942; bur. Mount Jerome Cem., Dublin. DBIV

Bibl. note: Dublin Book of Irish Verse, ed. John Cooke (Dublin: Hodges 19ly09) incls. poems by Koehler - viz. Nos. 444-47; “Song” [‘I would swathe thee in hues of orient, Queen / Or sun-dancing sheen of the waves ..’]; “Supplication” [‘... O priestess of the silent hills ... Lead me unto thy secret place ..’]; “The Town Beyond the Trees”;“Wind and Sea”; also poems by James Joyce - viz., “Strings in the Earth and Air”, “Bid Adieu to Girlish Days”, and “What Counsel Has the Hooded Moon” (all from Joyce’s Chamber Music, 1907)

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Weldon Thorton, Synge and the Western Mind (1979): ‘In a review in Dana for March 1905, presumably written by Thomas Keohler, the play [The Well of the Saints] was criticised for being based on a supernatural event, for, says Keohler, “the very fact of a play being based on an incident of this nature precludes it in a measure from any vital connection with the tendencies and developments of modern life and thought.” He calls this an “incongruity” on the part of the dramatist [and] deplores [...] the effect on a gullible audience [quotes:]

“As we all know, there are thousands of people in this country who believe implicitly in the possibility of such a miracle taking place in this particular manner, and if the play should ever happen to be produced in rural districts, it would most likely tend to strengthen this belief, and in so far as it did so, would be allying itself to the already too numerous forces in the land opposed to intellectual progress.’ (Dana, No. 11, p.351; Thorton, op. cit., pp.128-29.)

[ There is an informative notice on Keohler in the Joyce Project - online; accessed 03.09.2023. ]

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