St. John Drelincourt Seymour

[?-?]; Church of Ireland antiquarian and proponent of the Protesant Patrician church in Ireland; author of The Puritans of Ireland 1647-61 (1912; 1969); True Irish Ghost Stories (1914); St Patrick’s Purgatory: A Medieval Pilgrimage in Ireland (1919); Anglo-Irish Literature, 1200-1585 (1929; rep 1970); Irish Visions of the Otherworld: A Contribution to the Study of Medieval Visions (SPCK 1930); Irish Witchcraft and Demonology (1913; rep. [?]1970), which devotes a chapter to Dame Alice Kyteler; and other works; also, with H. L. Neligan, True Irish Ghost Stories [2nd edn., rev. and enl.] (1914; 1926); he also edited the 15th century Liber Primus Kilkenniensis and the Ormond fragments for the RIA (1932-34).


ed., Ormond MSS. Fragments 1 & 2, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 41 (1932-4), pp.207, 208; ed., Liber Primus Kilkenniensis, in ibid. p.206.

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A. N. Jeffares
, W B Yeats, A New Biography (Macmillan 1988), his Irish Witchcraft and Demonology considered a source for Yeats ‘Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen’; Yeats also used his book on St Patrick’s Purgatory as a source for ‘The Pilgrim’ and his play, as we as the earlier bout ‘If I Were Four and Twenty’, in which he makes an allusion to it in that he would memo bishops to open ‘that cave of vision once beset by an evil spirit in the form of a long-legged bird with no feathers on its wings’. Bibl, ‘The Coarb in the Medieval Irish Church’, Proc. RIA C, 41 (1932-34) [OXCO under coarb]. See also Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats (1984), where the same text is adduced regarding Robert Artisson in the final section of the poem under “Meditations in Time of Civil War” (VI).

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University of Ulster Library holds St Patrick’s Purgatory, a medieval pilgrimage in Ireland (1919), 108pp.; Anglo-Irish Literature, 1200-1585 (1929; & rep. Octagon 1970); Irish Visions of the Otherworld, a contribution to the study of medieval visions (SPCK 1930); Irish Witchcraft and Demonology (Hodges Figgis 1913), 235pp., and facs. rep. (Wakefield 1970?); The Puritans of Ireland 1647-61 (1912; rep. Clarendon Press 1969).

[with H. L. Neligan], True Irish Ghost Stories [2nd edn., rev. and enl.] (1926).

Belfast Public Library holds Adventures and Experiences of a Seventeenth Century Clergyman (1909); The Diocese of Emly (1913); Irish Visions of the Other World (1930); The Puritans in Ireland 1647-1661 (1921); St. Patrick’s Purgatory (1918); True Irish Ghost Stories (1914); United Diocese of Cashel and Emly ... (1908).

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On St. Patrick’s Purgatory: ‘The earliest historical period at Lough Derg is preceded by a legendary one. .. [such] tales may in themselves be valueless, but as a general rule it will be found that when an accretion of legend gathers round a place it is an indication that the site was of some importance in the pre-Christian period. ... Early missionaries, with commendable foresight, established themselves in a spot where they might both combat Paganism in its citadel and as well ultimately transfer to themselves its traditional importance.’ (Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, Dundalk 1918, p.8.)

, St John Seymour BD, LittD, MRIA, Archdeacon of Cashel and Emly, The Twelfth Century Reformation in Ireland (Assoc. Prom. Christian Know. 1932), 23pp. He discusses the position of the diocesan as distinct from the monastic prelates, who in towns like Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford, had support in seeking reforms through association with the see of Canterbury, whence their succession, and who enlisted Papal support. ‘But the irony of the situation lay in the fact that for Ireland spiritual union with Rome brought about political union with England, which was certainly not part of the reformer’s programme. But so events turned out. While the country’s fate was trembling in the balance the Irish bishops, full of zeal for Rome and conformity, felt that they were bound to give their support to the Papal grant made in the bull Laudibiliter, and accordingly did all that lay in their power to ensure its becoming effective, thus materially contributing to the success, or whatever degree of success was attained, of the Anglo-Norman Invasion. This was a fatal mistake. Had the Church remained reformed and independent the future might have been very different; as it was, the connection with England was not of assistance to her spiritual life and development in the centuries that followed.’ [END] Bibl. sources incl., Very Rev. H. J. Lawlor, St Bernard’s Life of Malachy of Armagh (London 1920); Lawlor, Notes on St Bernard’s Life of St. Malachy (Proc. RIA Vol. XXXV [q.d.]); Lawlor, A Fresh Authority for the Synod of Kells (Proc. RIA Vol. xxxvi); Elrington, ed., Archbishop Ussher, V[e]terum Epistolarum Hibernicarum; Works of Giraldus, trans. T. Wright; J[ohn] O’Donovan, Annals of the Four Masters; Rev B. MacCarthy, Annals of Ulster; Keating, History of Ireland, ed. Comyn and dinneen, Vol. II; Rev J McCaffery, Black Book of Limerick (Dublin 1907); L’Abbé Legris, Life of St Laurence O’Toole (Dublin 1914); Rev. J. L. Robinson, St Laurence O’Toole (Irish Church Quarterly, Vol. X); Venerable WS Kerr, Independence of Celtic Church in Ireland (London 1931); A. Walsh, Scandanavian Relations with Ireland during the Viking Period (Dublin 1922); Dom L Gougaud, Les Crétien[]s Celtiques (Paris 1911); Rev J Ryan, SJ, Ireland AD 800-1600 (Dublin); Prof. E Curtis, Under the Normans, Vol. 1 (Oxford); JF Kenny, Sources for Early History of Ireland, Vol. 1 (NY 1929); Ven. St J Seymour, Irish Visions of the Other World (London 1930).


Jeffares avers that Mrs. Yeats told him that Yeats read Seymour’s works in their entirety (See Jeffares, ‘Yeats’s Great Black Ragged Bird’, in Images of Invention, Colin Smythe 1996, p.265).

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