Charles Joseph Kickham (1828-82)

[occas. pseuds. “Slievenamon and “Momonia] b. 9 May 1828, Mullinahone, nr. Cashel, Co. Tipperary (‘besides the Anner at the foot of Slievenamon’); son of a draper and farmer; nephew of Fr. Roger Kickham, a Vincentian, and Fr. Charles [Kickham], of Cashel diocese; through his mother Anne [née] O’Mahony, he was a cousin of the Fenian founder John Mahony; named after a grandfather; intended for medicine but suffered injury to eyesight and hearing in gunpowder-drying accident at 13; sided with the Young Irelanders when they seceded from O’Connell’s Repeal Association;
contrib. a song, “The Harvest Moon”, to The Nation (17 Aug. 1850) - his first publication, to be followed by others; later contrib. “Rory of the Hill”, “The Irish Peasant Girl”, and “Slievenamon” (otherwise known as “Home Longings”), to the Celt (1849-50); contrib. “The First Felon” [on John Mitchel] to Irishman (1858); contrib. to the Kilkenny Journal “Patrick Sheehan”, an anti-recruiting ballad which cause the government to pension a Crimea veteran; contrib. to The Nation, The Celt, The Irishman, and Shamrock; founded a branch of the Fenian ‘Confederate Club’ at Mullinahone; forged pikes for the Young Irelanders in 1848, and met James Stephens whe the leadership reached Mullinahone;
summoned the Brigade at William Smith O’Brien’s request by ringing the bell at Mullinahone; went into hiding after the 1848 Rising; received message from Stephens carried by Owen Considine inviting him to raise a Fenian organisation; worked for Tenant Right League (1850), and lost faith in political agitation with its failure in 1855 [vide Wm. Keogh, q.v.]; joined the Irish Revolutionary [later Republican] Brotherhood [IRB], 1860; travelled as an IRB delegate to the Chicago Convention, 1863; published “She Lived by the Anner” on emigration, and “Rory of the Hill” (1857), the most popular Fenian ballad; with Luby and Denis Dowling Mulcahy, he formed the editorial staff of The Irish People at invitation of James Stephens, acting as leader-writer, while John O’Leary acted as editor;
contrib. “Leaves from a Journal”, a memoir of his trip to America; also named with Luby and O’Leary in an incriminating document left by Stephens in the charge of Luby unbeknownst to Kickham, entrusting the organisation to all three; in Nov. 1865 for recruiting to IRB; arrested aat Fairfield Hse., Sandymoutn, with Stephens 11 March 1865; tried on 5 Jan. 1866 before [Judge] William Keogh at St Green St. Court and sentenced to 14 years penal servitude, with judicial expressions of sympathy for the prisoner and his intellectual attainments; the sentence conveyed to him by his lawyer through an ear-trumpet and heard with a smile; initially held in Richmond Prison [var. Mountjoy] with James Stephens;
transferred to Pentonville Prison near London, 10 Feb. 1865; suffered the death of his sister in his first year; served four years in Pentonville, with deteriorating health due to poor diet; transferred to Portland Prison, 14 May 1866, and later to Woking Prison, Surrey, as an invalid prisoner following questions in Parliament raised by John Maguire, MP for Cork during 7-26 May 1867; released through ill-health in March 1869, having completed Sally Cavanagh, or the Untenanted Graves (1869), a tale of famine and emigration featuring the story of an Irish peasant woman who resists seduction by the venal landlord Grinden and suffers the death of her children, keeping a deranged vigil over what she supposes to be their graves until forcibly removed before herself dying of fever;
returned to Mullinahone on his release; issued collected stories and verses as Poems, Sketches and Narratives Illustrative of Irish Life (1870); stood for parliament in Tipperary, following the annulment of O’Donovan Rossa’s vote, and defeated after scrutiny of the vote by only four ballots, 26 Feb., 1870; moved to Dublin; joined Supreme Council of IRB, 1872, acting as its first chairman; issued Knocknagow, or The Homes of Tipperary (1873), a melodramatic and episodic nostalgia of Irish rural community under colonial duress; reissued by Duffy (1879); Kickham was made the object of a national collection to relieve his poverty, 1878; wrote from bed in latter years; “Elsie Dhu”, a novel interrupted by his death, began to appear in the Shamrock on of 24 June, 1882;
visited in latter days by Rose Kavanagh and attended in his last hours by his sister, a Sister of Mercy; knocked down by a jaunting car in College Green, and suffered a broken leg, 1880; suffered a stroke, 19 August 1882; nursed in his final days by Rose Kavanagh, who recorded his last words; d. 22 August 1882 [aetat. 54], Blackrock, Co. Dublin; nearly ten thousand mourners followed his funeral cortège to Kingsbridge [now Heuston] Station; bur. in Mullinahone without clergy in official attendance, having refused the Catholic sacraments; the gaveside oration was given by John Daly, of Limerick; a commemorative statue by John Hughes (1865-1941) was unveiled by John O’Leary in 1898 [var. 1897];
his last work, For the Old Land: A Tale of Twenty Years Ago (1886), a somewhat disillusioned novel, was issued posthumously; recollections of Kickham were written by Ellen O’Leary and Rose Kavanagh; Knocknagow was translated into Irish by Micheál Breathnach (1881-1908) and publ. serially in An Claidheamh Soluis (1906-24; Mairtín Ó Cadhain translated Sally Cavanagh as Saile Ní Chaomhánaigh; nó, Na hUaigheanna Folamha (1932); Kickham professed to have missed the most ‘children, women, and fires’ while in prison. CAB ODNB PI JMC DBIV IF DIB DIW DIH MKA FDA SUTH ODNB OCIL

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A full-text copy of Knocknagow is available in RICORSO for downloading as .doc or pdf.

  • Sally Kavanagh; or, The Untenanted Graves (Dublin: W. B. Kelly; London: Simpkin, Marshal 1869), ill. [front. port.].
  • Knocknagow; or, The Homes of Tipperary (Dublin: Duffy 1873); Do. [2nd edn.] (Dublin: Duffy 1879); Do., with an Introduction by “M.R.” [Matthew Russell] [ 13rd edn.] (Dublin: Duffy 1887, & edns.), pp.vii-xii [see details]; Do., ed. Robert Lee Wolff [1-vol. facsimile of 1879 edn. with Russell’s introduction] (NY: Garland Publ. Co. 1979); Do. [rep. of 1879 edn.] (Dublin: Anna Livia 1988); and Do. (Woodstock 2000).
  • For the Old Land: A Tale of Twenty Years Ago (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1886), and Do. [new edn.] (Dublin & Waterford: M. H. Gill [1904]), 384pp. [‘Déanta i nEireinn’].
  • The Eagle of Garryroe (Dublin: Martin Lester [1920]), and Do. [rep. edn.] (Dublin: Talbot Press 1963).
  • Tales of Tipperary [abridged] (Dublin: Talbot Press [1926]), 49pp. [contains “White Humphrey of the Grange”, “Never Give Up”, “Annie O’Brien”, “Poor Mary Maher”, “Joe Donegan’s Trip”].
Poetry & Anthologies
  • Poems of Charles Joseph Kickham (Dublin: Educational Co. [1931]).
  • The Valley near Slievenamon: A Kickham Anthology, ed. James Maher [Kilkenny People 1942].
  • Sings a Song of Kickham: Songs of Charles J. Kickham;with Gaelic Versions and Musical Notations, ed. James Maher (Dublin: Duffy 1965) [contribs. incl. Maher, Benedict Kiely, Katharine Tynan, and W. B. Yeats] .
Occas. prose (incls.)
  • “Poor Mary Maher”; “Annie O’Brien”; “Never Give Up”; “Joe Lonergan’s Trip to the Lower Regions”, and “Memoir of Edward Walsh” (The Celt, 5 Dec. 1857, p.306.).
  • Seán Ua Cellaigh, ed. Speeches From the Dock, or Protests of Irish Patriotism (Dublin 1953).


  • Cnoc na nGabha (Knocknagow) Cuid a haon, Cathal Cicham [Charles Kickham] do sgríobh an sgéal sa’ mBéarla / agus Micheál Breathnach co chuir Gaedhilg air (Baile Átha Cliath: Chonnradh na gaedhilge 1906), 156pp.; port., 19 cm; Notes: Revisions, notes and vocabulary () pp.[137]-56).
Stage adaptation
  • R. G. Walshe, Knocknagow: a drama in three acts, based on the famous Irish novel by Charles J. Kickham (Dublin: J. Duffy & Co. 1919; rep. 1931), [4], 53, [3]pp., 18.4 cm.
  • Séamus de Búrca, Charles J. Kickham's Knocknagow: or, The Homes of Tipperary, a new dramatisation (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1945), 65pp., [2]ll. of pls., 21 cm.; Do., as Phil Lahy, The Tailor: A One-act Play, from the dramatisation of Kickham's "Knocknagow" [2nd edn.] (Dublin: P.J. Bourke 1973), 21pp., ill [plan], 21 cm.
  • Knocknagow, by Charles Kickham, script by Una Morrissy, drawings by Jerome Sullivan [Irish Classics in Picture Story, No.4] ([Cork]: [Mercier Press] [1956]),
    32pp., ill., 26.6 cm.

Note: Kickham’s light poem on his friend the young Rose Kavanagh (d.1891) is given under Kavanagh, q.v., supra.

Bibliographical details
Knocknagow, or The Homes of Tipperary [1st edn.] (Dublin: James Duffy 1873); Do., with Preface by “M.R.” [Matthew Russell; 2nd Edn., on spine] (Dublin: James Duffy & Sons 1879), [4] 628pp.; Pref. dated July 1879); Do. [Thirteenth [13th] edition] (Dublin: James Duffy & Co. [1887]), xvi, 628pp.; Pref. by R.M., vii-xii; Contents [xiii]-xvi]; green boards [17th edn. ditto]; Do. [14th edn.] (Dublin: James Duffy & Son [1887]), [5], viii-xvi, [1], 10-628pp., 19 cm.; Do. [15th edn.] (Dublin: Duffy 1908), 628pp.; [...] Do. [25th edn.] (Dublin: Duffy 1931); Knocknagow; or, The Homes of Tipperary [25th edn.] (Dublin: Duffy 1931). [...]; Qry: COPAC lists Knocknagow [facs. of 1879 edn.], intro. Robert Lee Wolff (Garland 1979) prev. ed., Dublin: A.M. Sullivan, 1873.)

Title-page: KNOCKNAGOW; or, THE HOMES OF TIPPERARY / by / CHARLES J. KICKHAM / Author of / “Sally Cavanagh; or, The Untenanted GRAVES”, Etc., /“Yet meet him in his cabin rude/or dancing with his dark-haired Mary, / You’d swear they knew no other mood, But mirth and love in Tipperary.” —Thomas Davis. / Copyrighted in Ireland, America, and Great Britain. / Dublin: James Duffy and Co., Ltd., / 15 Wellington Quay. Verso: Printed by Edmund Burke & Co., 61 & 62, Great Strand Street, Dublin. [Dedication page]: I Dedicate this Book / About the Homes of Tipperary / to / My LITTLE NEICES, ANNIE AND JOSIE, / with many regrets and apologise / that in spite of all their entreaties I was obliged to “Let Poor Norah Lahy Die”. C.J.K.

CONTENTS [chapter titles]: I. Mr. Henry Lowe becomes the Guest of his Uncle’s principal Tenant [9]; II. “My eldest Daughter, Sir” [15]; III. Mat the Thrasher [22]; IV. The Tracks in the Snow [29]; V. The Doctor makes himself comfortable [34]; VI. The Station. Barney Brodherick’s Penance. Mrs. Slattery creates a Sensation [42]; VII Norah Lahy. The old Linnet’s Song [51]; VIII. Honor Lahy’s good luck [58]; IX. Billy Heffernan and his Flute [63]; X. “A little Nourishment” [68]; XI. Father Hannigan’s Sermon [74]; XII. Matrimony and “Marriage-money.” - The Widow’s last Wish [78]; XIII. The Doctor in a Fix [85]; XIV. Mount Tempe and its Master [97]; IV. A Day’s Shooting lost [97]; XVI. An Uninvited Visitor [101]; XVII. Lory [107]; XVIII. Miss Lloyd’s Foibles [112]; XIX. Will Sir Garrett Renew the Lease?’ [117]; XX. Mr. Lowe gets a Letter of Warning [123]; XXI. Five Shillings’ worth of Dance [130]; XXII. The Blue Body-Coat with gilt Buttons. Absence of Mind. “Auld Lang Syne” [138]; XXIII. Mat Donovan at home [149]; XXIV. “God be with ye!” [158]; XXV. Phil Lahy in the bosom of his family [168]; XXVI. A Bridegroom who couldn’t describe his Bride [174]; XXVII. The Jay [182] XXVIII. Barney wins a Bet; and loses mueh precious time [189]; XXIX. The Hauling Home. “Is Norah Lahy strong?” [198]; XXX. Ned Brophy’s Wedding [200]; XXXI. Mr. Lloyd does what Irish Landlords seldom do [ 220]; XXXII. An old Croppy’s notions of Security of Tenure. [228]; XXXIII. Billy Heffernan’s Triumph [239]; XXXIV. Lonely [251]; XXXV. On the Road to the big Town with the Cloud over It [259]; XXXVI. Home to Knovknagow. A Tenant-at-will. [268]; XXXVII. Discontent and Resignation [281]; XXXVIII. “Are you in Love, Mary?” [288]; XXXIX. The hook-nosed Steed [295]; XL. The Dragoon’s present. The Beauty Race. [312]; XLI. Miss Kathleen Hanly thinks it advisable to be “doing something” [325]; XLII. A Haunted Farm [332]; XLIII. Tom Hogan boasts that he never fired a Shot. [338]; XLIV. Hugh Kearney thinks he will get his Fishing rod Repaired [345]; XLV. Tom Cuddehy bids his old Sweetheart Good-bye. [351]; XLVI. “Mat Donovan is Killed!” [355]; XLVII. Billy Heffernan wonders what is “ coming-over” Norah [364]; XLVIII. The “Dead Past” and the “Living Present”. Mrs. Donovan’s sad face [374]; XLIX. In the lonesome Moor Meditating Murder. Darby Ruadh thinks himself badly used. Tom Hogan has an argument against Phil Lahy [383]; L. Tom Cuddehy feels “Someway Quare”. A glance baekwards to clear up the Mystery of the Tracks in the Snow [397]; LI. Mat Donovan in Tramore. Mrs. Kearney and her “Own Car.” The “Coulin” [408]; LII. The Bull-bait. The Carrick-man and his Dog, “Trueboy.” Lory punishes Beresford Pender and Rides home behind Mr. Bob Lloyd, on the grey hunter. Miss Lloyd involuntarily sits down [427]; LIII. The Hurling in the Kiln-field. Captain French throws the Sledge against Mat the Thrasher. Barney in trouble. Father M’Mahon’s “Proud Walk” [447]; LIV. Bob Lloyd in Danger. Mat Donovan’s opinion of “Desaving” People in the way of Courtship [467]; LV. Billy Heffernan makes Dr. Kiely a present. “As a friend of Phil Lahy’s” [481]; LVI. The White Jacket [497]; LVII. A Great Event. Tommy Lahy’s Accomplishments. Arthur O’Connor [502]; LVIII. Father Carroll’s Hoardings [514]; LIX. Another eventful Day. “Magnificent Tipperary” [520]; LX. Burglary and Robbery. Mat Donovan a Prisoner. Barney disappears. Mr. Somerfield and Attorney Hanly apply for Leases, and old Isaac dreads the Consequences [529]; LXI. Barney is Captured. His Account of himself. Mat the Thrasher in Clonmel Jail, and the Big Drum Silent [537]; LXII. Sad News from Ballinaclash [547]; LXIII. Ejected. The Bailiffs in the old Cottage. Billy Heffernan plays “Auld Lang Syne” again and the old Linnet Sings in the Moonlight [568]; LXIV. A Conspiracy. The “Coulin”. Miss Lloyd wants to know all about It. Visions of happy Days [565]; LVV. Mat Donovan follows Grace’s advice; but Bessy Morris is gone. Honer and Phil Lahy in their new Home [577]; LVI. “Only a woman’s hair!”. More Weddings than one. A Heart as “Big as Slievenamon”. Beautiful Ireland. The sort of a Wife that Barney got [698]; LXVII. Good-bye. The old Room. Mrs. Heffernan’s Troubles. “Magnificent Tipperary.” A Gleam of Sunshine. But Knocknagow is Gone [611]. INTRODUCTION, M.R. sketches biography [as supra], with narrative of Kickham’s trial and a story of his discovering a picture of the Blessed Virgin on the floor directly after sentencing, together with another concerning the Dublin Exhibition of 1864 of his ‘linger[ing] long before a painting, “The Head of a Cow”, by one of the Old Masters, not on account of any subtle genius he discovered in it, but “because it was so like an old cow in Mullinahone”, being ‘a quaint trait of the affectionate and home-loving nature which made it fitting that his grace should be where his cradle had been, “besides the Anner at the foot of Slievenamon”.’ [pp.vii-xii; xii; see also under Quotations, infra.]

Some other editions
Knocknagow, or The Homes of Tipperary [another edn.] (Dublin: [M. H. Gill & Son], 1952), xvi, 620pp.; Do., by Charles J. Kickham (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son 1962), xvi, 620pp.; 19 cm.; Do. [abbrev.] ([Dublin & Belfast]: Educational Company of Ireland Ltd [19--]), 80pp., ill., 18.1cm. [‘Published by arrangement with Messrs. James Duffy & Co., Limited, owner of the Copyright of Knocknagow.” [t.p.; wrapper: Senior class]; Do., abridged by Maureen Donegan (Dublin: Mercier Press 1978), 85pp., 18cm.; with an introduction by Robert Lee Wolff [facs. of 2nd edn., 1879] (NY & London: Garland 1979), xii, 628p., 19cm. [incls. bibl. refs.]; Do., (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1978); Do. [facs. of 1879 2nd edn.] (Otley: Woodstock Books 2002), 628pp., 19 cm.

Index of Publications available at Internet Archive with inks supplied by Clare County Library  

Knocknagow; or, The homes of Tipperary, by Charles Joseph Kickham
Published in 1887, J. Duffy (Dublin)
Statement: by Charles J. Kickham ...
Edition: 13th edn.
Pagination: xvi, [9]-628pp.
Available at Internet Archive

Sally Cavanagh; or, The untenanted graves: A Tale of Tipperary ...
by Charles Joseph Kickham
Published in 1869, W.B. Kelly
Available Internet Archive


Available at Internet Archive  

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Biography & memoir
  • Michael Cavanagh, ‘In Memoriam’, in Celtic Magazine, I, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (Jan-March 1883).
  • John Francis Meagher ‘The Men of the Old Guard’ in Irish Fireside, 5 (1885).
  • Fr. Matthew Russell [as “M.R”], Introduction to Knocknagow, or The Homes of Tipperary [1873] (Dublin: 1887), pp.vii-xii [see extract].
  • John O’Leary, Recollections of Fenians and Fenianism, 2 vols. (London 1896).
  • John Francis Meagher, ‘Recollections’ in Shamrock, 26 (1889) [q.pp.].
  • Richard J. Kelly, Charles J. Kickham: Patriot and Poet (Dublin: Duffy 1914) [see extract].
  • James J. Healy, Life and Times of Charles J. Kickham (Dublin: Duffy 1915) 146pp.
  • T. P. O’Connor, ‘My Friend Charles Kickham’, in Gaelic American, 4 (April 1925).
  • Daniel Corkery, Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature [1931] (Cork: Mercier Press 1996), pp.24-25 [see extract]
  • Hester Sigerson, ‘Personal Recollections of C. J. Kickham’, in The Irish Press, 9 May, 1933.
  • Annie Kickham White, ‘The Family of Charles Kickham, 1752-1940’, in Romantic Slievnamon, ed. James Maher (Mullinahone 1954).
Recent commentary
  • William Murphy, Charles J. Kickham: Patriot, Novelist and Poet, intro by Thomas Wall (Blackrock: IAP 1976).
  • R. V. Comerford, Charles J Kickham: A Study in Irish Nationalism and Literature ([Portmarnock] Dublin : Wolfhound Press 1979), 255pp., ills, facs., map, ports. [see extract].
  • John Cronin, ‘Charles Kickman, Knockagow’, in The Anglo Irish Novel: The Nineteenth Century [Vol. I] (Belfast: Appletree Press 1980), pp.99-114.
  • E. R. R. Green, ‘The Beginnings of Fenianism’ and ‘Charles Joseph Kickham and John O’Leary’, [both in] The Fenian Movement, ed. T. W. Moody (Cork 1988) [q.pp.].
  • James H. Murphy, ‘Catholic Ireland and Kickham’s Knockagow: “Not a Bad Dream”’, in Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 (Conn: Greenwood Press 1997) [Chap. 7], pp.79-87 [see extract].
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘Charles Kickham and the Living Mountain’, in A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp. 107-18 [see extract]. See also Irish Book Lover, Vols. 2, 3, 6, & 26.
General reference
Historical sources
  • Dr. Mark F. Ryan, Fenian Memories, ed. T. F. O’Sullivan (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son 1945 ).
  • John O’Leary, Recollections of Fenians and Fenianism, 2 vols. (London: Downey & Co. 1896).
  • Leon Ó Broin, Fenian Fever: An Anglo-American Delemma (London: Chatto & Windus 1971).
  • Desmond Ryan, The Fenian Chief: A Biography of James Stephens (Dublin: Hely Thom 1967).
  • Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Four Years of Irish History 1845-1849 (London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1888).
  • Christy Campbell, Fenian Fire: The British Government Plot to Assassinate Queen Victoria(London: HarperCollins 2002).
  • Owen McGee, The IRB: The Irish Republican Brotherhood from The Land League to Sinn Féin (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2005).
Literary studies
  • Malcolm Brown, ‘Bibliographical Note’, in The Politics of Irish Literature from Thomas Davis to W. B. Yeats (London: George Allen & Unwin 1972), p.415 [see extract].
  • D. George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland (London: Routledge 1982; 1991), p.98 [see extract]
  • Terry Eagleton, ‘Form and Ideology in the Anglo-Irish Novel’, in Mary Massoud, ed., Literary Relations: Ireland, Egypt and the Far East (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1996), pp.135-46 [see extract]. See also sundry others under Commentary, infra.

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John O’Leary
Matthew Russell
Richard J.Kelly
Daniel Corkery
Stephen Gwynn
Malcolm Brown
D.George Boyce
Anthony Slide
Kevin Whelan
William Trevor
Terry Eagleton
James H. Murphy
Benedict Kiely
Margaret Kelleher

Rose Kavanagh, “Charles Kickham

Rare loyal heart, and stately head of grey,
Wise with the wisdom wrested out of pain!
We miss the slender hand, the brave bright brain,
Ah faith and hope to point and light the way
Our land should go. Oh! Surely not in vain
That beacon burned for us, for we can lay
Fast hold of the fair life without a stain
And mould our own upon it - we can weigh
Full well his fate who suffered, sang, and died
As nobly as he lived. Ah! nought could tame
The truth in him, for nought could thrust aside
His lifelong love - the land whose sacred name
Throbbed to the last through his life’s ebbing tide
And lit the face of Death with love’s white flame.

Rose Kavanagh and Her Verse, ed. Rev. Matthew Russell, S. J. (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1909), pp.43-44. See further remarks on Kavanagh’s relation to Kickham under Kavanagh, q.v.

Canon P[atrick] A. Sheehan,The Graves of Kilmorna: A Story of ’67 (1915; 1918 Edn.)
Myles was buried in deep thought, as he sat there above the ashes of his beloved mother. She had died whilst he was yet a boy; but her love, discriminate and wise; her deep, heartfelt, trustful religion, and her intense devotion to her country had made a lasting impression on the boy, — an impression that never entirely faded. He sought the lonely place to be out of the way of the crowds that filled the streets; and to avoid witnessing what he considered a nation’s humiliation. His own work was to come after — the work of pulling down and destroying for ever the fabric of that hated government, of which this man was a servile tool. He had a certain amount of contempt for the man himself as a parvenu and an upstart, [35] who had forced himself into the front ranks of his profession; but he hated him because he thought he was making the people more servile than ever; and his hate rose into wrath, when he thought of this glib lawyer surrounded by a degraded people, and receiving their adulations, whilst Charles Kickham, the gentle poet, the accomplished scholar, the faithful and loving delineator of his country, was rotting out his life, deaf and blind, amongst the scum of the English population. This moment, he thought, Kickham is lying awake in his cell at Millbank, having been in bed since five o’clock this lovely summer evening according to one of the most hateful prison rules. What is he thinking of? Of the sun setting on Slievenamon, of the golden gorse climbing up the hills, and filling the valleys of Tipperary; of the wild flowers in the deep meadows along the banks of the stately Suir, of the peasants resting after their daily toil; of the blue smoke curling up from the thatched cottages, of the boys and girls at the evening dance in the village; of the Sainted Irish dead sleeping beneath the hawthorn and ivy in many a ruined Abbey. And hark! here is the muffled tread of the English warder, who pulls back every quarter hour the iron slip outside his cell, and peers through to see that his Irish felon is safe.  And hark! (pp.34-35.)

[ Note several earlier and later references to Irish patriots Emmet, Fitzgerald, Meagher, Mitchel (as Mitchell), John O’Hagan, Thomas Clarke Luby and James Stephens, et al. - besides Kickham in several other places. ]

Remarks on Myles Cogan’s reaction to the agrarian violence of the Land League in Ireland at the time of his release from imprisonment in Dartmoor in c.1876:

Once he broke silence and reserve, and launched out into a furious philippic against the Moonlighters and Rapparees of the period. Some English papers attributed the murders and moonlight outrages, which then were dishonouring the land, to a remnant of Fenians, who still clung to the old idea of separation. Myles was wroth at this. He had trust in the honour of his old comrades; and he could never bring himself to believe that the men of ’67 would descend to the commission of crime, which was made still more loathsome by its very meanness. Charles Kickham had issued a mild protest to the papers in the same sense. Myles wrote a letter flaming with wrath and outraged honour. (Ibid., p.231; opening of Chap. XXXIII)

See also full-text copy in RICORSO Library - as .pdf [attached]

John O’Leary, Recollections of Fenians and Fenianism (London: Downey & Co. 1896 ): ‘[... T]here was another kind of knowledge beside that of books possessed by Kickham, and in this I have never met with any one who excelled him. He knew the Irish people thoroughly, but especially the middle and so-called lower classes, and from thoroughness of knowledge came thoroughness of sympathy. It was not that he at all ignored the faults or shortcomings of the people, but he was convinced that these were far more than counter balanced by their virtues, and, anyway, whatever merits or demerits they might have, they were his people, to whom he was bound to cling through life unto death, and this he did with a strength and force excelled by no man of his generation, if equalled by any.’ (Vol. 2, p.265.)

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Matthew Russell [signed “M.R”], Introduction , Knocknagow, or The Homes of Tipperary [1873] (Dublin: 1887), pp.vii-xii: This short essay, dated ‘Dublin 27th Feb. 1887’, alludes to Rose Kavanagh’s kindness towards Kickham and to memories of him by John O’Leary [q.v., and see under see Criticism, supra], and this includes narrative: ‘In the Dublin Exhibition of 1864, he [Kickham] had lingered long before a painting, “The Head of a Cow”, by one of the Old Masters, not on account of any subtle genius he discovered in it, but “because it was so like an old cow in Mullinahone’. Note that Russell holds Kickham to have been brought up in Tipperary, ‘beside the Anner, at the foot of Slievnamon.’ Further quotes Ellen OLeary’s memoir: ‘[...] He had a great fund of quiet humour, and would describe a scene or a character with a few well-painted strokes. Though gentle and kind in disposition, he could be a good hater as well as a fervent lover.’ (Russell, Introduction, p.xii.)

Richard J. Kelly, K.C., C. J. Kickham, Patriot and Poet: A Memoir (Dublin: James Duffy 1914), 64pp; delivered as lecture at Fr. Mathew Hall, Church St., Dublin, printed in Sunday Freeman. Inscribed to George Sigerson, Aug. 1914, Sigerson being CJK’s lifelong friend and medical attendant. Kickham was possibly present at Ballinagarry; lost his hearing in gunpowder accident at the age of 16; produced his poetry, such as “The Irish Peasant Girl” and “Rory of the Hill”, for Dr Kane, ed. of The Celt (Kilkenny); considered his trial a mockery of justice, and refused to plead, since the court would not admit evidence from Charles Luby; imprisoned Mountjoy and Pentonville; his song “Patrick Sheehan” concerns an Irishman blinded at Sebastopol who begs on Dublin streets [‘a poor neglected mendicant ... as I joined my country’s tyrants / My face I’ll never show / Among the kind old neighbours / In the Glen of Aherlow’]. Kelly quotes extensively from Butt’s praise of the patriotism and manliness of the Fenians, in his Rotunda address at the time of the Irish Home Rule Federation in 1873. (The Amnesty Meeting was held in October 1869.)

Daniel Corkery, Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature [1931] (Cork: Mercier Press 1996): Knocknagow, one of the few books which have furnished living figures to the [24] Irish consciousness, as the Pickwick Papers has to the English or Père Goriot to the French, is of this submerged Anglo-Irish literature. It is a book unknown except to the Irish; and again one is not sorry, for, when all is said, it is only good in parts, and not great anywhere. The emotional content here also is right; the mental equipment, however, that shaped it out was not hardened by culture and discipline. And it may be taken as the type of many other such books, Carleton’s - than which it is more popular yet not at all as good - the Banims’ and those of others. So that the same question arises: Is the development of this prose literature, in which under-educated Ireland discovers its own image, the way for Anglo-Irish literature in the future, or shall the alien market decide for ever the way of it? (Mercier Edn., 1996, pp.24-25.)

Stephen Gwynn, Irish Literature and Drama in the English Language (London: Nelson 1936), writes: ‘Nationalist Ireland accepted enthusiastically Charles Kickham’s Knocknagow, a peasant’s story of life in Tipperary; but it cannot be seriously regarded as literature’ (Op. cit., p.110).

Malcolm Brown, ‘Bibliographical Note’, in The Politics of Irish Literature from Thomas Davis to W. B. Yeats (London: George Allen & Unwin 1972), calls Knocknagow ‘the most important single literary work ever written by a leading Irish revolutionist’, with further remarks: ‘This expert panorama of the Irish rural scene in the age of Isaac Butt provides the sharpest possible image of the forces that moved Irish history. It is also remarkable for what it is not. Totally devoid of rancour, vague in all its action lines, and so prolix that its leisureliness is actually charming, it is the precise Anti-self of the rabid novel we would be led to expect from Yeats’s late aspersions on it [...] Its literary ancestor is Adam Bede rather than “A Modest Proposal”, and its perennial popularity in Ireland is eighty evidence form both Irish good taste and Irish good sense.’ (p.415.)

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R. V. Comerford, Charles J. Kickham: A Study in Irish Nationalism and Literature (Dublin: Wolfhound 1979); ‘Looking at the nineteenth-century Irish rural society, Kickham did not see the pattern discerned by other nationalist propagandists - an alien landowning aristocracy exploiting native tenantry. Instead, he saw Irishmen (of various social ranks) exploiting other Irishmen because they were permitted, encouraged or even forced to do so by alien and unjust laws. Landlords might be the worst offenders but that was merely because they had the greatest scope. ickham knew that tenant farmers were quite as diligient and ruthless in clearing labourers and smallholders from the countryside as were the landlords.’ (p.148-49; cited in James H. Murphy, Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922, 1997, p.83.) ‘Through his propagandist writings, and through the IRB, Kickham exerted some influence over the politico-military theories and strategies of the cadres of the Irish revolutionaries. Through Knocknagow he both expressed and nurtured something far more fundamental, much of the basic mentality of the modern Irish nationalist community.’ [q.p.; q. source.]

D. George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland (London: Routledge 1982; 1991 Edn.): ‘but it would be truer to see them as sensitive, conservative people who held a deep affection for their locality, an affection perfectly illustrated in C. J. Kickham’s novel Knocknagow, when Mat the Thrasher gazed on: ‘the thatched roof of the hamlet … And, strange to say, those old mud walls and thatched roofs roused hirn as nothing else could. His breast heaved, as with glistening eyes, and that soft plaintive smile of his, he uttered the words ‘For the credit of the little village’ in a tone of deepest tenderness.” This was the sentimental side of Irish nationalism; but Kickham also caught the sense of betrayal of the noble Irishry (and pride in their military prowess) in his portrayal of the eviction of Tom Hogan [quotes battle scene at some length]’; … ‘To the realism of Synge, therefore, was opposed the sentimentality of Kickham; a very different kind of art, cerainly, but one that the contemporary audience [of the Revival] preferred to recognise and respond to. […] The popularity of the Kickham/Colum school lay in its depicting a way of life that people wanted to regard as authentic and truthful - the “heroism of little people” (R. J. Loftus, Nationalism in Anglo-Irish Poetry, 1964). They felt at home with it; they found it congenial and satisfying […]. In a ftn., Boyce adds, ‘even Corkery approved of Knockagow.’ (Synge, 23, 25; Boyce, p.98 & n.)

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Anthony Slide, The Cinema and Ireland (1988), p.12-14, notes that the most important of the Film company of |Ireland productions was Knocknagow, adapted by Mrs NF Patton from the popular and still in print novel by Kickham. Initially nine reels, the film ... was released as a six-reeler, directed by Fred O;Donovan, who also acted, with Nora Clancey, Valentine Roberts, Kathleen Murphy, Arthur Shields, Brian McGowan, Alice Keating, Kathleen O’Connor, and Cyril Cusack. ‘Terrific success’. Slide offers this summary, set in Ireland of the 1850s, concerns Arthur O’Connor, who gives up the notion of a priest when he falls in love with Mary Kearney; peasants oppressed by absentee landlord Sir Garrett Butler; Irish nationalism very apparent in the titles such as ‘In the name of the law that protects you, the huts are pulled down that the people may perish; there will be an awful reckoning, in not in our time then later’; and ‘its a land of plenty, and God forgive those who come to Ireland to starve the Irish’; and ‘What curse is on an Irishman that he cannot have even proverty’s crumbs for his dear ones?’. The film was nevertheless well reviewed in England, ‘There is more than a soupçon of underlying propaganda about this native Irish production, which, although it has many technical faults, is by no means without charm and interest.’ (Bioscope, 16 Oct. 1919). ... The film was Michael MacLiammoir’s first appearance under his adopted name; Nora Clancey appeared, being married to Fred O’Donovan. The film opened in Clonmel at Magner’s Cinema Feb 6 1918, and was trade shown in Dublin at the Sackville St Picture House, 6 Feb 1918. The Boston Globe reviewed, ‘The best photography we have seen in any European picture to date is in Knocknagow. The acting is remarkable for its naturalness and the Irish pictures have surely won a place in the American markets on their merits.’ (p.14).

Kevin Whelan, in ‘The Bases of Regionalism’, in Prionsias Ó Drisceoil, ed., Culture in Ireland - Regions: Identity and Power (Belfast: QUB/IIS 1993), cites the episode in which Matt Donovan (“the Thresher”) beats Captain French in a sledge-throwing competition, taking inspiration for the feat from his view of the the roofs of the nearby hamlet. Whelan remarks, ‘the territorial allegiance and communal spirit celebrated and idealised by Kickham have died hard in Ireland.’ (p.39).

William Trevor writes, ‘The only available books about Ireland were Jimín, in Irish, at school, and Knockagow by Charles Kickham, which I abandoned after the first paragraph.’ (Excursions in the Real World [1st ed. 1993], Penguin 1994, Introduction, p.xv.)

Terry Eagleton, ‘Form and Ideology in the Anglo-Irish Novel’, in Mary Massoud, ed., Literary Relations: Ireland, Egypt and the Far East (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1996), pp.135-46: ‘There is a species of Irish fiction - the wildly popular Knocknagow comes to mind - which strives to sanitise reality for the ends of edification, since to depict the people in their true degraded state might only confirm their oppressors’ stereotypes of them […] Writing is torn between an abrasive realism which in indicting the colonial risks demeaning the people, and one which in fostering the national self-esteem gives false comfort to their rulers.’ (p.137.)

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James H. Murphy, ‘Catholic Ireland and Kickham’s Knocknagow: ‘“Not a Bad Dream”’ [Chap. 7], Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 (Conn: Greenwood Press 1997), p.79-87, quotes Comerford on the success of Knocknagow with lower middle-class Ireland: ‘[enabled it] to see an explanation of its own origins in a struggle against the vicissitudes of insecurity of tenure’ (Kickham, 1979, p.210; here p.80); further, Comerford finds that the novel closer to the vision of most people in post-independence Ireland than ‘the official Gaelic ideal of the new nationalist elite’ (Ibid., 210-11; here p.80.) Murphy speaks of an ‘interpretative grid’ which enables readers to find in Kickham’s novels a message that he never placed there, remarking the ‘relative unpopularity of Kickham’s two other principle novels Sally Cavanagh, or the Untenanted Graves (1869) and For the Old Land (1886); cites incident recorded by Russell of Kickham: ‘as he was led away to his cell something on the ground attracted his notice, and he picked it up. It was a little paper picture of the Blessed Virgin, and he kissed it reverently’ (1988 edn., p.ix; here p.81); ‘Both Knocknagow and Sally Cavanagh are set in the 1840s. In neither, however, is the Great Famine mentioned, though it clearly lies behind the sense of horror that expresses itself especially in Sally Cavanagh. In that work it produces an emotional charge too great for the narrative to cope with Hence its dismissal by reviewers as being too sad. By contrast, the narrative strategies employed in Knocknagow, both to express and contain it, are the principal reasons for that novel’s greater success. In spite or rather because of its flaws, Sally Cavanagh highlights one of the principal themes in Knocknagow, that of Ireland as a country of devastating grief and conflict. For Kickham’s later, lower middle-class audience that theme expressed a truth about Ireland valid for its entire history and not simply for the period of the famine, from which Kickham’s work derives its sense of horror. Though it was based on solid historical experience, it was a theme not without advantages to the lower middle class as it sought to perceive itself in as benign a light as possible. For it allowed lower middle-class readers to think of themselves as noble [82] victims, deserving both sympathy and admiration. It also enabled them to avoid seeing themselves as members of a new establishment that might be responsible for causing pain to others.’ (pp.82-83); quotes Comerford [as supra] in evidence that Kickham’s political analysis was not based on repudiation of English stock in Ireland (p.83.) ‘The key to understanding Knocknagow’s appeal lies in its ability to allow two images of Irish life to coexist. It presented Ireland both as a society riven with conflict and oppression, as in Sally Cavanagh, and as a society of harmony and celebration.’ (p.84); notes the landlord Sir Garret in Knocknagow is treated sympathetically in spite of the depredations of his agent and, indeed, that he plays “The Coulin” together “My uncle Dan” [85] in Mrs. Kearney’s dream (pp.85-86); ‘conflict between characters never comes to a head because of an ambivalence within the novel’s own fictional framework. It encourages anger against injustice and yet, seeming to fear the very emotion it has created, it soothes that anger with music. It allows the coexistence of alternative models of Irish society. It raises the spectre of apocalyptic conflict only to hold it at bay with music. / The ambivalence at the heart of Knocknagow mirrored an ambivalence at the heart of lower middle-class Ireland which lionised it and came to use it as a totem of its self-understanding. [...] it was important to keep the memory of the suffering alive so that unity might endure. But it was also important to keep the trauma, with the anger and chaos it might generate, under control, lest present reality be disturbed. [..] they considered what self-respect and prosperity they had won to be the fruits of a long struggle [86] against injustice. They did not think of themselves as members of a new philistine establishment but as poor people who had managed to raise themselves ever so slightly from poverty./ [… &c.’] (pp.86-87.)

Benedict Kiely, ‘Charles Kickham and the Living Mountain’, in A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999): ‘I submit he knew his people for now as well as for his own time. […/] Any consideration of Kickham as a writer must inevitably be influenced by his nobility as a man and by the fact, too, that he is a national piety. But he who is still, I should hope and trust, so close to the heart of his people, observed and understood them with all the exactitude of the ideal Jamesian novelist, on whom nothing is lost.’ (p.111.) Further, ‘[S]urely the point is that Kickham was not writing Knocakgow as the revolutionary and political propagandist that he was, but as the novelist that he also was […]. He wasn’t James Connolly, Michael Davitt or Fintan Lalor, but he was aware of much that was and was to be important to them. As a novelist, his concern was to write it down as it was, to record the people he knew and their social usages. Which does not mean that he accpted those social usages, any more than he approved of all the people. Although, indeed, his natural sympathies were very wide.’ (p.117.)

Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 [...]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11]: ‘[...] Charles Kickham’s 1873 novel Knocknagow; or The Homes of Tipperary was the most widely read Irish novel in the late nineteenth century, and retained this popularity well into the twentieth century. Kickham (1828-82), from Mullinahone, County Tipperary, was the son of a shopkeeper and farmer. His first writings included verse published in nationalist newspapers such as the Nation and the Celt and he worked for the Fenian paper the Irish People for two years until his arrest in 1865. Convicted in 1866 on a charge of “treason-felony”, he served three years of a fourteen-year sentence of imprisonment, released in 1869 on grounds of ill-health. Kirkham was the author of four novels, including Sally Cavanagh; or the Untenanted Graves (1869) and For the Old Land, published posthumously in 1886. These novels are significantly less well known, partly because, as James Murphy has argued, they questioned some of the ‘basic assumptions of lower middle-class Ireland’, in the case of For the Old Land through an extensive critique of clericalism and in Sally Cavanagh where the resolution of the novel is achieved by the benevolent agency of the new Tory landlord, who allows his tenants to purchase their lands. The emotional potency of I may have also discomfited readers in the first post-famine generation: its graveyard scene, in which Sally tends the “untenanted graves” where she believes her children to be buried, deploys the force of some of the most horrific famine images, and was echoed many years later in Liam O’Flaherty’s 1937 novel Famine.’ (p.477; refs. see R. V Comerford, Charles J. Kickham: A Study in Irish Nationalism and Literature, Dublin: Wolfhound 1979, pp.207-11 [on the popularity of Knocknagow], and James H. Murphy, Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 (Westport, CT: Greenwood 1997), pp.79-84 on Sally Cavanagh.) [Cont.]

Margaret Kelleher (‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 [...]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, 2006, Vol. 1) - cont.: ‘Between 1870 and 1902 a series of Land Acts gradually transformed the ownership of Irish land, and the popularity of Kickham’s novel may be read alongside this social change. The precise historical setting for the story of Knocknagow is difficult to determine: possibly the mid- to late 1840s, or perhaps the 1850s. The Great Famine is explicitly mentioned only once, and then only in the closing pages by an emigrant to America who denounces English rule. Yet curiously Knocknagow became fixed in the minds of many readers as the archetypal famine novel. One reason for this is the novel’s nostalgic evocation of a pre-famine society, marked by conviviality, music and social harmony, and ruined by land clearances, evictions and emigration, events that are detailed in the narrative. The novel’s best-loved character, Mat the Thrasher, who remains invulnerable to eviction because of an anomaly in the land laws, thus acquires the symbolic role of folk hero, or fairy-tale figure, but one through whom the peasant proprietorship of land may also be imagined. And, as R. V Comerford, Kickham’s biographer, has shown, the novel continued to appeal in the twentieth century, primarily to a rural, middle-class readership to whom it offered an attractive explanation of their origins as a landowning class.’ (Comerford, op. cit., 1979, p.210.)

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Last words (recorded by Rose Kavanagh): ‘Remember I die thinking of Ireland, loving her the same as ever, and I only wish I could have done more to help’ - and ‘Merciful Jesus!’ (Quoted in Matthew Russell in Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses, M. H. Gill 1909, p.17, remarking that ‘this gentlest and most amiable of rebels had died a holy death’; idem.).
‘To somebody who asked what he had missed most in gaol, he replied, “Children, and women, and fires.”’ (Fr. Russell, Preface to Knockagow, Duffy 1887, p.ix.)

Knocknagow (1873): ‘A woman shrieked out and fell senseless to the floor. She was one of the paupers in the auxiliary workhouse, who are marched to the parish chapel every Sunday, as the chapel in the regular workhouse is too small even to accommodate the imnates of the house. This poor woman was only admitted a week before with her husband and children, from whom, according to their infamous rules, she was at once separated. She now heard her husband’s name read from the altar, and with a wild shriek of agony fell down, and was borne senseless from the chapel. They did not even take the trouble to inform her that her husband was dead! Were human beings ever treated before as our people are treated? I often wondered at the almost wild looks of the paupers while the list of deaths was being read. But I understand it now! (1988 edn., pp.540-41; cited in James Murphy, Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922, Conn: Greenwood Press 1997, p.79-8; p.84.)

The Rose of Knockmany

Oh! sure ’tis some fairy
Has set me contrairy,
No more blithe and airy I sing as I go;
No longer in clover,
A free-hearted rover,
I lilt a light ditty or shake a loose toe!
In Leinster and Ulster,
Through Connaught and Munster,
‘Twas I made the fun stir wherever I stray’d;
And a jovialler fellow,
While sober or mellow,
Ne’er toss’d off a jorum or wooed a fair maid.
Till once in the May time,
The tuneful and gay time—
(Ah, I fear ’twas the fay-time)—from eve to the dawn,
I play’d for a maiden,
With hair simply braiden,
With eyes of soft lustre and grace like the fawn—
Those eyes, while she listened,
Through dewy drops glistened,
Or sparkled like gems in the light of the moon;
Some witchcraft was in it,
For since that blessed minute,
I’m like poor young Johnny who played but one tune.
For whether I’m strolling
Where billows are rolling,
Or sweet bells are chiming o’er Shannon or Lee;
My wild harp when sweeping,
Where fountains are leaping,
At lone Gougane Barra or storied Lough Neagh—
To priest or to peasant,
No matter who’s present,
In sad hours or pleasant, by mountain or stream,
To the careless or cannie,
To colleen or granny,
Young Rose of Knockmany is ever my theme.

Rep. in Songs of the Gael: A Collection of Anglo-Irish Songs [... &c.], ed. Rev. Patrick Walsh (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1922), pp. [available at Internet Archive - online].

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The Irish Peasant Girl”: ‘She lived beside the Anner / At the foot of Slieve-na-Man, / A gentle peasant girl, / With mild eyes like the dawn; / Her lips were dewy rose buds; / Her teetch were pearls rare; / A snow-drift ’neath a beechen bow / Her neck and nut-brown hair.’ (Cited in Maureen Murphy, ‘The Irish Servant Girl in Literature’, Writing Ulster, No. 5, 1998, pp.134-35.)

The Glen of Aherlow”: ‘My father died; I closed his eyes / Outside our cabin door. / The landlord and the sheriff too / Were there the day before! / And then my loving mother, / And sisters three also, / Were forced to go with broken hearts / From the Glen of Aherlow. // For three long months, in search of work, / I wandered far and near. / Went then to the workhouse / For to see my mother dear; / The news I heard nigh broke my heart, / But still in all my woe, / I bless the friends who made their graves / In the glen of Aherlow.’

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Clerical influence in politics: ‘The Irish priest assumes an authority over his flock which the clergy of other Catholic countries never dream of assuming. Yet this is not to be wondered at. The history of Ireland explains it. The fiendish tyranny of England ground our people down to the condition of ignorant slaves. In this state of compulsory ignorance and serfdom the people naturally looked for guidance to the only educated class that cared for or sympathised with them. But times are changed. The people are now comparatively educated, and demand the right possessed by the people of other Catholic countries of acting according to the dictates of their own judgement in all worldly concerns.’ (Irish People, 9 April 1864; quoted by Donal McCartney, ‘The Church and the Fenians’, in Maurice Harmon, ed., Fenians and Fenianism, Univ. Review 1968, p.17). Also, [Irish Catholic bishops] ‘the accomplices of Castlereagh in the murder of their countrymen’ (7 May 1864); ‘we challenged and do challenge their right to dictate to the people in politics’ (Irish People, 21 May): both in McCartney, op. cit.; and see further quotations from 27 Feb.; 10 March, 9 April, 7 May, 21 May, 4 June & 16 Sept. [‘our duty to tell the people that bishops and priests may be bad politicians and worse Irishmen’].

Drunkenness & faction-fighting are disappearing. Our young men are becoming more intelligent and manly, and, consequenty, more moral every day. And this change is most apparent precisely where the Irish People is most, and “Fenianism” is said most to abound’. (‘Fenianism Metamorphosed’, in Irish People, 17 Jue 1865; attrib. by R. V. Comerford in Charles J. Kickham, 1979, p.245; cited by Toby Joyce, ‘Ireland’ strained and mashalled manhood: the Fenians in the mid-1860s’, in Margaret Kelleher, and James H. Murphy, eds., Gender Perspectives in Nineteenth-Century Ireland: Public and Private Spheres, Dublin: Irish Academic Press 1997, p.75, ftn.

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Note: There is a very able Wikipedia webpage online [accessed 24.06.2010.]; see also the article by Tomás O’Riordan on the UUC Multitext Project in Irish History webpage [online; accessed 24.06.2010].

Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: University of America 1904), gives extracts from Knocknagow and Sally Cavanagh; also verse, “Rory of the Hill” [‘That rake up near the rafters. / Why leave it there so long?’], ‘Patrick Sheehan’ [‘My father died; I closed his eyes / Outside the cabin door; / The landlord and the sherriff too / Were there the day before’ [see further in “Quotations”, supra]; and “Patrick [sic] Sheehan”. Kickham’s comment at the conclusion of his trial was terse, “I have endeavored to serve Ireland, and now I am prepared to suffer for Ireland.” JMC remarks that Kickham lost his eyesight while in prison [err]; quotes John O’Leary in A Treasury of Irish Poetry [ed. Brooke & Rolleston]: ‘Kickham was above all things “kindly Irish of the Irish, neither Saxon nor Italian” - a patriot first and a poet after ... with a knowledge of the manners, customs, feelings, and moods of the Irish peasant greater, I think, than was possessed by any other man I ever met.’ A statue was raised to him in Tipperary town. Note that McCarthy remarks, ‘Kickham’s ballads are equally popular, and are just what ballads for the people should be - simple in language, direct in purpose, and in an easy and common measure.’

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [P:t. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists Sally Cavanagh [Duffy [1869]; NY: Benziger new ed. 1902), evils of landlordism and emigration, besides tragic heroine, contains noble Protestants in Mr & Mrs Hazlitt; Knocknagow (Duffy [1879]); For the Land, small farmers, emigration (Gill [1879, and 14 eds to 1916/19], NY: Benziger 1914, rep.1916); The Pig-Driving Peelers, appears in one of the ‘Knickerbocker Nuggets’, in W. B. Yeats, Representative Irish Tales(NY: Putnam n.d.). Brown on Knocknagow: One of the greatest of Irish novels, pictures of Tipperary village introducing all the characters affectionately; photographic fidelity to peasant life; throws light on the Land Questions, and some ‘dull’ middle class conversation.

Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), adds The Eagle of Garryroe (1919), a romance of 1798, with central character ‘Hubert Butler’ of TCD; Tales of Tipperary, stories first collected here (1920).

John Cooke, ed., Dublin Book of Irish Verse 1728-1909 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1909), gives bio-dates 1828-1882, and selects “Rory of the Hill” [ ‘“That rake up hear the rafters, why leave it there so long” ... “You’ll shortly know the reason, boy!, said Rory of the Hill!”’]; “The Irish Peasant Girl”.

Colm O’Lochlainn, Anglo-Irish Songwriters (Dublin: Three Candles Press 1958), cites Kickham’s novels Knocknagow, Sally Cavanagh, and For the Old Land; also his sweet and melodious songs, “Slievnaman”, “She Lived Beside the Anner”, “Patrick Sheeran, or the Glen of Aherlow”, and “Rory of the Hill”.

Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), cites Michael Cavanagh, ‘In Memoriam’, in Celtic Magazine, I, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (Jan-March 1883); John Francis Meagher ‘The Men of the Old Guard’ in Irish Fireside, 5 (1885); John O’Leary, Recollections of Fenians and Fenianism, 2 vols. (London 1896); John Francis Meagher, ‘Recollections’ in Shamrock, 26 (1889); James J. Healy, Life and Times of Charles J. Kickham (Dublin: Duffy 1915) 146pp.; T. P. O’Connor, ‘My Friend Charles Kickham’, in Gaelic American, 4 (April 1925); Hester Sigerson, ‘Personal Recollections of C. J. Kickham’, in The Irish Press, 9 May 1933; Annie Kickham White, ‘The Family of Charles Kickham, 1752-1940’, in James Maher, ed., Romantic Slievnamon (Mullinahone 1954).

Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), lists ‘Knocknagow; or, The House [sic] of Tipperary’.

John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longmans 1988; rep. 1989) adds contrib. poetry to the Shamrock, A prime example of the closer connection of politics and fiction in Victorian Ireland than in Victorian England. British Library holds 4 fiction titles.

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; selects Knocknagow (the dispute between priest and militants, Chp. 32), [248-52]; Fenian brotherhood, Thomas Clark Luby, Charles Kickham and John O’Leary, James Fintan Lalor, 207; the first ed. published by A. M. Sullivan in 1873, v. rare; 2nd edn. 1879; first 36 chps. published serially in The Emerald, New York, and The Shamrock, Dublin, 248; Kickham on Cullen in The Irish People [seeq.v.]; John O’Leary wrote, ‘after defying the Archbishop to “produce one ungarbled passage in support of his assertion [that the nationalist press is vilifying the Catholic Church]”, he proceeds to carry the war into the enemy’s camp [in The Irish People, 1865, 39th issue]. “If faith and morals have been subverted in his diocese, let him charge it to his won imprudence, or attribute it to his own neglect. The doctrines which subverted the faith or debauched the morals of his flock were not taught in the columns of the Irish People [sic]. What we have taught, and what we shall continue to teach, is, that Dr Cullen or any other ecclesiastic is not to be followed as a guide to politics ... We have yet to hear what Dr Cullen did previous to the establishment of those journals pretending to be the organs of the Irish people to limit the circulation in Ireland of journals really subversive of faith and morals. What steps did he take with reference to Reynolds’ publications, Family Herald, Penny Dispatches, and other cheap periodicals. We leave Harlots’ Progresses and horrible suicides to cheap English publications. We have no need of such heroes ... We find heroes enough, both lay and clerical, amid the traitors to Ireland ... Dr Cullen expects to crush the cause of Ireland ... Dr Cullen knows that, though the Irish People should find no difficulty in refuting his statement, the poison of his pastoral is diffused through a thousand channels through which the refutation can never enter. &c.” John O’Leary, in Recollections (1896), Chp. IX, written in 1893 [256-59]; ... men like Kickham thought Irish soldiers in the American Civil War used be used as soon as possible for fighting in Ireland, 263; Devoy gives the story of Stephen’s escape from a cell in Richmond Prison next but one to Kickham’s (Recollections, 1929), 269; Kickham opposed to the New Departure (i.e., the IRB’s treaty with Butt’s IPP), 276; Kickham, as political prisoner, 281; among Fred Ryan’s list of English-speaking nationalists (Dana 1904), 999;, BIOG, 367, b. Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary; deaf and sight damaged by gunpowder at 14; in hiding after 1848; IRB, and ed. of The Irish People, 1865; COMM, PS O’Hegarty, ‘Kickham’s Novels,’ IBL XXVI (1938) 41-43; R. V. Comerford, Charles J Kickham: A Study in Irish Nationalism and Literature (Dublin: Wolfhound 1979). See also David James O’Donoghue, ‘The Literature of ’67’, in Shamrock, 30 (1893)

Kevin Rockett, Luke Gibbons & John Hill, Cinema & Ireland (London: Routledge 1988), lists Knocknagow [1918], filmed 1917; produced by Film Co., of Ireland, dir. Fred O’Donovan - based on Kickham’s novel and inspired by screening of D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation; its success in Ireland only exceeded by Willy Reilly. [q.p.]

Vide, Charles Barr, ‘Fred O’Donovan: Not Just Knockagow’, at Film Ireland (12 Sept.2016): ‘O’Donovan’s career began as an Abbey Theatre actor from 1908, and then director, after which he was a freelance actor in theatre, film and radio, before going on to become prolific pioneer director of live drama for BBC Television, in 1938-39, and again, after the wartime closedown, from 1946 till his death in 1952. He was celebrated for his long-take one-camera style, of which there are fascinating anticipations in Knocknagow. [...] (Available online; accessed 24.04.2024.)

British Library holds [1] Life and Times of Charles J. Kickham.. pp. xiv. 146. J. Duffy & Co.: Dublin, 1915. 8o. [2] Charles Joseph Kickham, patriot and poet: a memoir. 64pp. J. Duffy & Co.: Dublin, 1914. 8o. [3] For the Old Land. A tale of twenty years ago ... With twenty-two illustrations. 188pp. M. H. Gill and Son: Dublin, 1886. 8o. [4] For the Old Land. A tale of twenty years ago. (Sally Cavanagh; or, the untenanted graves.). 2 pt. Ford’s National Library: New York, 1887. 8o. [5] Knocknagow; or, the Homes of Tipperary ... Twenty-fifth edition. xxii. 9-628pp. J. Duffy & Co.: Dublin, 1930. 8o. [6] Knocknagow; or, the Homes of Tipperary. [A novel.]. Dublin, [1879.] 8o. [7] Saile Ní Chaomhánaigh; nó, Na huaigheanna Folamha ... Máirtín Ó Cadhain do chuir i nGaedhilg. 251pp. Oifig Díolta Foillseacháin Rialtais: Baile Átha Cliath, 1932. 8o. [8] Sally Ca[v]anagh; or, the Untenanted Graves. A tale of Tipperary. [With a portrait.]. Dublin, 1869. 8o. [9] [Tales of Tipperary.] [missing details] 155pp. [missing details] 1953. 8o. [10] The Eagle of Garryroe. 171pp. Martin Lester: Dublin, [1920.] 8o. [11] The Eagle of Garryroe and Tales of Tipperary. 2 pt. Talbot Press: Dublin, 1963. 8o. [12] The Old Land ... New edition. 384pp. M. H. Gill & Son: Dublin, 1904. 8o. [13] The Valley near Slievenamon. A Kickham Anthology ... Compiled and edited by James Maher, etc. [With illustrations, including portraits.]. pp. xx. 365. Kilkenny People: Kilkenny, [1942.] 8o. [14] [missing details] (For the Old Land.) [missing details] etc. 421pp. [1939.] 8o. [15] [missing details], etc.. 1924, 29. 8o. [Missing details due to faulty BL entries codes.]

Belfast Central Public Library holds Sally Cavanagh; Knocknagow; Tales Of Tipperary, and also The Eagle of Garryroe (n.d.)

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Sally Cavanagh (1869) bears an epigraph from a poem by Thomas Davis: ‘The child of a peasant; yet England’s proud queen / Has less rank in her heart and less grace in her mien’. Knocknagow (1873) has another from the same writer: ‘Yet meet him in his cabin rude / Or dancing with his dark-haired Mary / You’d swear they knew no other mood / But mirth and love in Tipperary.’

BMV: On his way to prison in 1866, ‘Kickham picked up a piece of paper from the ground. It was a picture of the Blessed Virgin. He kissed it reverently, saying to the warder: “I have been accustomed to have the likeness of the Mother of God morning and evening before my eyes since I was a child. Will you ask the governor if I may keep this?”’ (See Catholic Encyclopaedia, online; accesed 27.06.2010.)

W. B. Yeats’s poem ‘The Ballad of the Foxhunter’ is ‘founded on an ancient incident, probably itself a Tipperary tradition, in Kickham’s Knocknagow’ (Variorum Poems, p.798; cited in Daniel Albright, ed., Poems, 1992, p.426). Yeats’s poem was first publ. in East and West (Nov. 1889), and after had its second printing in United Irishman (28 May 1892) where it carried the subtitle information, ‘An incident from Kickham’s Knocknagow.’ The huntsman in Kickham is named Rody also. Yeats included some other items from Knocknagow in his anthology Representative Irish Tales (1891), while still other material from it had been used in Wanderings of Oisin (1889). See A. N. Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats (London: Macmillan 1988), p.53.

James Joyce held a copy R. G. Walshe, Knocknagow (Dublin: James Duffy 1917), a play based on Kickham’s novel, in his Trieste library. (See Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of James Joyce, London: Faber, 1977, p.130 [Appendix].)

F. S. L. Lyons points out that for Charles Kickham the famine was a watershed in that it ‘wiped out a paternalism which, if sometimes vicious, could also be benevolent and had substituted in its place the cash nexus.’ (Ireland Since the Famine, 1971, p.128; quoted in Robert Welch, Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980, p.138.)

Namesakes: Arthur O’Connor, a character in Knockagow, and the heart-throb of Mary Kearney, bears a name which joins that of Charles Kickham to form the given names of the Free State politician Arthur James Kickham O’Connor (1888-1950) - as well as bringing to mind that of the United Irishman Arthur O’Connor (1763-1852) [q.v.] who led the Irish Legion in the Napoleonic Army and resided on an estate in France. In the novel, Arthur O’Connor is a charming young man and a friend of Mary's brother Hugh, who is destined to become a priest. Much of the novel concerns his growing misgivings about his vocation in spite of his mother's generous investment in it, and his gradual discovery of his love for Mary Kearney - who has loved him all along - resulting in their marriage. It is they who close the novel in conversation with the remarks:

‘“Arthur, stop for a moment,” said Mary, an hour later, as they reached the top of the hill on their way home. “Can it be that Annie’s voice could reach this! The drawing-room windows are open, and I really think I can hear her singing.”
Dr. O’Connor reined in the horse, and listened with some curiosity.
“Oh, it is from Mat Donovan’s,” Mary observed. ”And I am much mistaken if it is not Billy Heffernan's old flute.”
”Why,” said Arthur, when they had driven on a little further, “there is nothing but music to-night. Do you hear the fife from Billy Hetfernan’s own house, too?”
“It is very pleasant,” returned Mary. ”Thank God, there are happy homes in Tipperary still! But” — she added, sadly, as she turned round, and looked along the two low whitish walls that reached from ‘the cross’ to Mat Donovan’s— ” but KNOCKNAGOW is GONE!” (1887 Edn. p.628; The End.)

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