[Fr.] Francis Shaw, S.J.

1907-1970; ed. UCD; studied under Eoin MacNeill; appt. Professor of Early and Middle Irish, UCD; author of a celebrated article in Studies (Summer 1972) imputing blasphemy to the leaders of the 1916 Rising in timing their action for Easter, with associated symbolic speeches and writings identifying the patriotic rebel with the sacrificial Christ; written in 1966 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Rising but not thought advisable to publish by the Studies board publish until 1972; as his article on MacNeill in The Scholar Revolutionary makes clear, his stance was inspired by the memorandum written by Eoin MacNeill in Feb. 1916.

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  • ‘Medieval Medico-Philosophical Treatises in the Irish language’, in Essays and Studies presented to Professor Eoin MacNeill, ed. John Ryan (Dublin: Three Candles Press 1940), cp.144-45.
  • ‘The Linguistic Argument for Two Patricks’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review (Dublin 1943), pp.315-22.
  • ‘The Irish Folklore Commission’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 33, 129 (March 1944), pp.30-36 [review of Seán Ó Suilleabháin, Handbook of Irish Folklore; Jeremiah Curtin, Irish Folk-tales, and Béaloideas (Vol XII); available at JSTOR - online or see extracts, attached].
  • Irish Medical Men and Philosphers’, in Seven Centuries of Irish Learning 1000-1700, ed. Brian Ó Cuiv (Dublin: Stationary Office 1961), pp.87-90.
  • [anon.,] ‘Eoin MacNeill’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 55 (Dublin 1966), cp.5
  • ‘The Canon of Irish History: A Challenge’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, LXI, 242 (Dublin 1972), pp.113-52 [though written in 1966; available in JSTOR - online; see table of contents, attached].
  • ‘Eoin MacNeill, The Person’, in The Scholar Revolutionary: Eoin MacNeill and the Making of the New Ireland, ed. F. X. Martin & John Francis Byrne (Shannon: IUP 1973), q.pp. [rep. in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Summer 1973, pp., pp.154-64].

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  • Padraig Ó Snodaigh, Two Godfathers of Revisionism: 1916 and the Revisionist Canon (Dublin: Fulcrum Press 1992), 44pp. [on Francis Shaw, SJ, & R. D. Edwards].
  • Patrick Maume, ‘Fr Francis Shaw and the Historiography of Easter 1916.’ in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 103: 412 (Dublin: 2014), pp.530–51 [see extract].

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David Cairns
& Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland, Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture (Manchester UP 1988): ‘During the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising, in 196, the contradictions between past and present became apparent as the tall, near-blind figure of De Valera endorsed the aims of 1916 as synonymous with those of the State from a platform shared with the dynamo of the new policy, Seam Lemass. Had Father Francis Shaw’s article “The Canon of Irish History: A Challenge” (Shaw, 1972, pp.113-52) been published in 1966, as intended, the reassessment of economic nationalism would have bene shortly followed by that of nationalism tout-court. As it was, the article was held back by the editors of Studies, who feared that it spublication would strike a sour note on the anniversary of the Rising. Father Shaw's article was not published until 1972 [...; p.140.]

Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland (1996), pp.211-12: ‘What troubled Hogan [err for J. J. Horgan] and Father Shaw in the 1916 writings was their unapologetic invocation of Wolfe Tone and, by extension, the “godless” anti-Catholic rebels of the French Revolution. Father Shaw, [211] citing clerical alw, bjects to Pearse’s description of the Jacobin Tone as a prophet. (See further under Quotations, infra.)

Patrick Maume, ‘Fr Francis Shaw and the Historiography of Easter 1916’, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review (2014), pp.530–51: Maume 'suggests that Shaw’s attitude to 1916 was shaped both by a European Catholic critique of revolutionary nationalism as a pseudo-religion, leading to idolatry of the state and thence to Nazi or communist totalitarianism, and by a more inchoate tradition of Irish Catholic “Whiggery”, which saw the fulfilment of Irish identity in the creation of a clerically-guided Burkean elite, to preside over an immemorially faithful and naturally deferential Catholic people. (p.530; available at JSTOR - online; accessed 20.11.2021.)

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W. B. Yeats: Shaw writes that Yeats’s supposedly Irish inspiration found its basis in a pseudo-Oriental dream-world, far removed from anything properly called Celtic, and based on “much mutual borrowing and uninspired imitation’.” Fr. Shaw also took issue with Leavis’s view that Yeats’s Irishness made his dream-world “something more than private, personal and literary” and conferred on it “an external validation” (New Bearings in English Poetry, Faber 1932, p.34) - denouncing the poet for turning upstanding Irish heroes into effeminate dreamers and Anglicised lotus-eaters. Shaw goes on to assert that Yeats poetry did not express ‘national character and feeling’.

See further quotations under James Connolly [q.v.], J. Crofton Croker [q.v.], Sean Ó Suilleabháin [q.v.], Patrick Pearse [q.v.], and Wolfe Tone [q.v.]

W. B. Yeats: ‘The fact of the matter is that while Mr. Yeats went to [S. J.] O’Grady and Lady Gregory for his heroes, he went to the “Brahmin philosopher” and Madame Blavatsky for his inspiration. Is it not a little surprising to find “the great fountain of Gaelic Ireland” pouring forth, by some strange perversion, a pure stream of Oriental philosophy?’ (In Studies, March 1934, pp.25-41, and June 1934, pp.260-78. quoted in Roy Foster, ‘When the Newspapers have Forgotten Me ...’, in Yeats Annual 12, Macmillan, 1996, p.173.) [Check date.]

Patriot Christs: ‘Objectively the equation of the patriot with Christ is in conflict with the whole Christian tradition, and, indeed, with the explicit teaching of Christ.’ (Studies, Summer 1972, p.123; quoted in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, 1995, p.211.)

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Namesake: Fr. Francis Shaw, S.J. (1881-1924), served in the British Expeditionary Force in WWI and was stationed at No.17 Casualty Clearing Station, France; later posted to Bombay (c/o Archbishop’s House), and to Mesopotamia, where he suffered malaria and dysentery. Shaw was formerly an orphan in the guardianship of one Fr. Fogarty (afterwards bishop of Killaloe).

He was educated by the Christian Brothers and at St. Vincent’s, Castleknock before studying Engineering at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which he quitted in order to join the Jesuit novitiate in 1902. In that capacity he philosophy at Jersey and Stoneyhurst and later acted as Prefect and Master at Clongowes Wood, 1909-13. He taught at Mungret College (Limerick) after the war. In 1924 he died of cancer [ aetat 43].

He is credited with silencing British officers who disparaged the men of the Dublin Rising in 1916 [‘an icy frightened silence followed’]; also noted the number of Irish priests in Mesopotamia: ‘Mesopotamia is, of course, full of Irish priests...At Basra I went to Mass on 2nd February with a Father Farrell from Westmeath to the Syrian and Chalden Catholic Churches....An odd bit of news gets into our local press, The Baghdad Times.’ (See Flickr > JesuitIreland, ‘by Irish Jesuits’ - online; with photo port. in uniform, dated 24 Aug. 1916.)

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