Robert O’Driscoll

1938-1996; b. Newfoundland; joined Toronto Univ. as Asst. Professor, 1966 and estab. Celtic studies at St. Michael’s College, initiating the subject in Canada; m. Treasa; directed “Canada and the Celtic Consciousness”, an international conference, 1978, issuing the transactions as The Celtic Consciousness (1979); friend of Liam Miller;
host to members of the Yeats family, W. H. Auden, Jack MacGowran, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel and John Cage; his library was sold in part in Sotheby’s, July 1997, and reacquired by family on acknowledgement of real value through intervention of a leading Irish-studies publisher and proprietor of Dolmen Press; d. 29 Feb. 1996, of heart-attack, in Ireland.

[ top ]

  • Intruder [Advent Poems, 10] (London: Advent Books 1972), [12]pp.
  • Nato and the Warsaw Pact Are One: An Action Poem, with notes [The Armageddon Series, Pt. 2] (Warsaw/Toronto: Zespol 1990), 64pp.
[ top ]
Monographs & editions
  • ed., Theatre and Nationalism in Twentieth-century Ireland [2nd Seminar in Irish Studies, 1968] (London: OUP 1971), 216pp., ill. [4 pls.].
  • ed., with Lorna Reynolds, Yeats and the 1890s [Yeats Studies: An International Journal, 1] (Shannon: IUP/UCG [1972]), 210pp..
  • ed., with Lorna Reynolds, Theatre and the Visual Arts: A Centenary Celebration of Jack Yeats and John Synge [Yeats Studies: An International Journal, 2] (Shannon: IUP/UCG [1972]), 138pp., ill. [6 pls., facs., & ports.].
  • ed., with Lorna Reynolds, Yeats and the Theatre [Yeats Studies: An International Journal] (London: Macmillan 1975), xiv, 288pp. ill. [16pp. of pls., facs. & ports].
  • Symbolism and Some Implications of the Symbolic Approach: W. B. Yeats During the Eighteen-nineties {New Yeats Papers, 9] (Dublin: Dolmen Press/NY Humanities Press 1975), 84pp., 1 ill.
  • ed., Edinburgh Arts 1979: A Quest Through Europe, or, The Long Way Round to the Edinburgh Festival [Richard Demarco Gallery] (Edinburgh [1980]), [145]pp., ill., maps, ports; 14 cm [ltd. edn. 500].
  • An Ascendancy of the Heart: Ferguson and the Beginnings of Modern Irish Literature in English, intro. by Máire Cruise O’Brien (Toronto: Macmillan 1976), 84pp.
  • ed., The Celtic Consciousness [1979] (Edinburgh: Canongate 1981), 642pp.; Do. [another edn.] (Mountrath: Dolmen Press 1982), xxxi [i.e., 29], [1], 642pp., ill. [facsims., map, music, ports.]; and Do., [another edn.] (NY: Braziller 1985), xxxi, 642 pp.: ill. [extracts.]
  • ed. Dream Chamber: Joyce and the Dada Circus: A Collage [and] John Cage, About Roaratorio: an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake, by Sorel Etrog (Toronto: Black Brick Press; [Dublin]: [Dolmen Press] 1982), 91pp., ill ; 26 cm.
  • The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada (Canada: Celtic Arts 1988), 1,041pp. [see contents].
  • with Elizabeth Elliott, New World Order Corruption in Canada [The New World Order Observed: A Trilogy, Vol. 3] (Toronto, Saigon, Dublin, Castelnau 1994), 648pp.
  • ed. & intro., Selected Plays of M. J. Molloy [Irish Drama Selections, No. 12] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1998), xvii, 394pp.

See also


The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada, ed, Robert O’Driscoll, 2 vols. (Canada: Celtic Arts 1988)
  • Image and Reality: Ireland and the Irish Canadians [Kildare Dobbs]
  • Data: What is Known About the Irish in North America [Donald H. Akenson]
  • Irish Emigrants to Canada: Whence They Came [Cecil J. Houston and William J. Smyth.]
  • The Paddy Image: The Stereotype of the Irishman in Cartoon and Comic [Donald Power
    “God’s Unfortunate People”: Histiogeography of Irish Catholics in Nineteenth Century Canada [William M. Baker]

A Hidden Holocaust - Grosse Isle: The Holocaust Revisited

  • Pathway to Beatification: Mere Gamelin et les immigrés irilandais [Therese Frigon]
  • Black ’47: A Summer of Sorrow [Gerald Keegan]
  • Almost As Bad as Ireland: The Experience of the Irish Immigrant in Canada, Saint John, 1849]
  • The Irish in Atlantic Canada]
  • The First Irish Foothold in North America [Cyril Byrne]
  • Gentle as the Snow on a Rooftop: The Irish in Nova Scotia to 1830 [Terrance Punch]
  • The Irish in Newfoundland [C.W. Doody]
  • A “New Ireland” Lost: The Irish Presence in Prince Edward Island [Brendan O’Grady]
  • Another New Ireland Lost: The Irish of New Brunswick [Peter M. Toner]
  • Douglas Hyde in New Brunswick : 1890-1891 [Douglas Sealy]
  • The Irish in Quebec]
  • The Irish in Quebec [Marianna O’Gallagher]
  • Beaurivage: The Development of an Etnic Identity in Rural Quebec, 1820-1860 [D. Adian McQuillan]
  • The Celtic Family in Feudal Gaspé [Aldo Brochet]
  • Irish Families in Ancient Quebec [John O’Farrell]
  • Ultramontism in Quebec and the Irish Connection [Desmond Bowen]
The Irish in Ontario
  • Reginalized Migration and Settlement Patterns of the Irish in Upper Canada [Bruce S. Elliot]
  • Success and the Dounbtful Image of Irish Immigrants in Upper Canada: The Case of Montague Township, 1820-1900 [Glenn J. Lockwood]
  • The Irish in the Napanee River Valley: Camden East Township, 1851-1881 [Juliam Gwyn]
  • The Irish in Wstern Canada]
  • The Irish in the Arctic: A Perspective on the Irish in Canada [Donal Deieach]
  • Irish Nationalism in Manitoba , 1870-1922 [Richard Davis]
  • Orangemen on the Frontier: The Praries and British Columbia [Hereward Senior]
  • The Irish in British Columbia [J.A. Lavin]

Thomas D’Arcy McGee and the Making of the Canadian Nation

  • Thomas D’Arcy McGee: Irish Founder of the Canadian Nation [William G. Davis]
  • From Freedom to Tolerance: D’Arcy McGee, the First Martyr [Robin B. Burns]
  • Turning the Spit: Timothy Anglin and the Roasting of D’Arcy McGee [William M. Baker]
  • D’Arcy McGee, Fenianism and the Separate School System in Ontario [Ann Dooley]
  • Thomas D’Arcy McGee: Turning Points in the Life of a Nationalist [William Kirwin]
  • Ridgeway, the Fenian Raids and the Making of Canada [Peter Berresford Ellis]
  • When It Mattered:]
  • The Linking of the Orange and the Green]
  • A Linking of the Orange and the Green [Clare Wescott]
  • The Irish in the War of 1812 [A.E.C. Bredin]
  • The Orange and the Green with Snow in Between [Hereward Senior]
  • Who Shall Separate Us? The Montreal Irish and the Great War [Robin B. Burns]
  • Back in the Old Country: Diary of a Canadian Soldier in Ireland, 1918 [Christopher Cochlan]
  • The Second World War and the Saga of the Irish Regiment of Canada [Brian Horgan]
  • Francis Collins: An Irishman’s Contribution to the Freedom of the Press in Canada [John Ward]
  • Ogle Gowan: Founder of Canadian Oranism [Hereward Senior]
  • Robert Baldwin: Symbol of Political Moderation [Hereward Senior]
  • William Baldwin: Founder of Canadian Liberalism [Hereward Senior]
  • Francis Hicks: Political Architect [Hereward Senior]
  • Robert Lindsay Crawford, 1910-1922: A Fenian Protestant in Canada [John W. Boyle]
  • Sam Hughes: Folk Hero of the Future [Hereward Senior]
  • James F. Kenney: Pioneer Irish Scholar [Glenn T. Wright]
  • James Charles McGuigan: First Cardinal from English Canada]
  • The McDonoughs: A Famous Mining Family Team [Stan Twardy]
    Padraig O Broin: Poet, Publisher, Book Collector [?]

A Gallery of Portraits: Edward Blake, Timothy Eaton, Nellie McClung, Sir William Mulock, Robert McLaughlin, King Clancy

Language and Culture
  • Irish Folks Songs in Canada [Edith Fowke]
  • Reflections of the Fortunes of the Irish Language, with Some Reference to the Fate of the Language [Proinias Mac Aonghusa]
  • An Attempt to Make Gaelic Canada’s Third Official Language [John Ward]
  • Growing up Irish in a Newfoundland Outpory [Patrick O’Flaherty]
  • Am I Really As Gaelic As They Say? [Harry J. Boyle]
  • My Irish Humour [Max Ferguson]
Politics and Sociology
  • The Irish Holylands of Ontario [Edward Jackson, O.P.]
  • Orangemen in Canada [Cecil J. Houston and William J. Smith]
  • The Irish Palatines and Methodism in North America [Dean O’Driscoll]
  • The Education of a Minority: The Irish Family Urbanized [Murray W. Nicolson]
  • The Donnellys: A Tipperary Vendetta in Victorian Ontario [James Reany]
  • Irish Catholic Politics in Ontario [Michael Connell]
  • Irish Catholics and the Political Culture of Upper Canada, The Case of the Toronto Mirror, 1837-1865 [Curtis Fahey]
  • The Orange Order in Toronto: Religious Riot and the Working Class [Gregory S. Kealey]
  • Protestant and Catholic Attitudes Toward Poverty: The Irish Community and the Development of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in Nineteenth Century Toronto [Mary Lassance Parthun]
  • The Catholic Church and Irish Nationalism in Toronto: 1850-1900 [Gerald J. Stortz]
Canada, Ireland and the World
  • A Toast to Canada [Dean MacBride]
  • The Anglo-Irish Treaty and After: The Canadian Model and Context [John A. Murphy]
  • Canada, Ireland and the Commonwealth: The Declartion of the Irish Republic, 1948-1949 [F.J. McEvoy]
  • A Return to the Hearthstone]
  • A Return to the Hearthstone [Robert O’Driscoll]
  • Re-grafting the Ancestoral Tree or Tracing Your Irish Roots [Kathleen Neill]


top ]

Brian De Breffny, ed., The Irish World: The History and Cultural Achievements of the Irish People (London: Thames & Hudson 1977), cites O’Driscoll in his introduction: ‘The psychic bond which made the people into a spiritual and physical unit was forged, in his opinion [Professor O’Driscoll of Toronto Univ.], not by the nationalist politicians but by the writers and artists who transformed a distant, even fictional, national past into a living presence in the Irish mind.’ (p.6.)

The Bulletin [Toronto Univ.] (8 April 1996), Obituary: ‘[...] Professor Fred Flahiff, a colleague at the college, said in an interview that for many years the college “was basking in what Bob was doing.” Later, however, O’Driscoll suffered from mental and behavioural problems that eventually ended his teaching career. O’Driscoll was suspended from teaching amid controversy over his activities and behaviour. “Everything he became engaged with, he became engaged with obsessively”, Flahiff said. “I’m not sure it was an illness, or that he simply ended up in a milieu which was not the milieu he should have been in.” However, it is “very important” to judge O’Driscoll’s accomplishments and failings with compassion. “His achievements were real.” / Rev. Robert Madden, director of alumni affairs at St. Michael’s and a professor emeritus of English, writes in a statement of tribute to O’Driscoll about a student who after one conference “spoke of his infectious enthusiasm and expressed gratitude for the generosity of spirit with which he organised these conferences, involving students, drawing people together and bringing cultural richness into the lives of all involved”.’

[ top ]

The Celtic Consciousness (Dolmen/Canongate 1981), 642pp. Introduction: ‘[...] The cauldron, or, in Christian terms, the Grail, is a central recurring motif in Celtic mythology. ...] // Does the resurgence of the Celtic spirit in the twentieth century, and the reappearance of mystics and visionaries, suggest that Vico, Spengler, and Yeats were right in their contention that history moves in cycles? Do perceptions and ideas which have been pushed ot the periphery in one cycle become the spiritual nucelus for the next? In any case, contemplation of the Celtic experience forces one to look backwards and forwards at the same time, and an appropriate image of that experience seems to be one of those ancient Celtic faces carved in stone, looking simultaneously in many directions.’ (Introduction, Pt. I; p.xi.) Further [Intro., Pt. II] ‘To understand the Celtic consciousness, the peripheries of the Indo-European world must be touched, and points of contact between East and West probed, certainly with regard to mythology, language, music, and art. [’; xii]. Further: ‘Like the cauldron of their mythology the Celts themselves are proving inexhaustible .. Celtic society is an “extremely refined and complex society, the dimensions of which we have scarcely begun to understand.”’ (Quoting Sean Ó Tuama, ‘The Lineage of Gaelic Love-Poetry from the Earliest Times’, pp.289-304 in this vol.; p.294). [Cont.]

The Celtic Consciousness (1981) - cont.: O’Driscoll laments the absence of ‘an academic programme in Celtic Studies using interdisciplinary means to correct the fundamental misconception that has been at the core of our educational system, and this is, as Claude-Levi-Strauss suggests, the mistaken belief that the womb of civilisation lies in the Mediterranean. [T]he Celts in their relation to the Germanic and Latin world are as crucial as he Greeks and Romans in the evolution of European civilisation.’ [xxi]. Note that John Kelly writes in his foreword: ‘[] The Celtic consciousness event was deemed impossible by all program organisers save O’Driscoll and those who caught the fever of his infectious spirit. / The event was explosive: it lasted fro weeks and played to full houses in the largest auditoria on campus. Moreover, the explosion has had its fallout In 1981, as this book goes to press, there geins at the University of Toronto a full Major Programme in Celtic studies, the emergence of which Dean Kruger calls a miracle the dawn of a new day of revival.’ [Cont.]

The Celtic Consciousness (1981) - cont.: Note also contribution by the mythologist and Joycean Joseph Campbell: ‘[I]t is one of the glories of the Celtic tradition which we have gathered here to celebrate, that in its handling even of religious themes, it retranslates them from the languages of imagined fact into mythological idiom; so that they may be experienced, not as time-conditioned, but as timeless; telling not of miracles long past, but of miracles potential within ourselves, here, now, and forever. This is an aim that is basic to the Grail tradition, basic to Arthurian Romance; as it was basic, also, to the earlier Celtic way of story-telling, whether of pagan heroes or of Christian knights and saints.’ (‘Peripheries of the Indo-European World’, in O’Driscoll, ed., op. cit.; p.4. Epigraph from W. B. Yeats, unpubl. lecture of Jan. 1904, New York: [see Yeats, Quotations, infra].

[ top ]