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Notes on the Poets of Clare by Thomas F. O’Rahilly


1. “He was a frequent visitor at the house of Edward O’Brien of Ennistymon, and Sorley MacDonnell of Kilkee,” says Brian O’Looney. MacDonnell married in 1718 Isabella, daughter of Christopher O’Brien of Ennistymon. She was a great patron of the poets, and survived until 1788.

2. Nineteenth century writers variously give 1740, 1743 and 1749 as the date of his death: but the above, taken from a MS. of 1754, is more likely to be correct.

3. Aodh Buidhe has thus the distinction of being the only Irish poet during the whole of the eighteenth century who ever saw even a line of his own work in print!

4. So Brian O’Looney. Michael O’Reilly in 1853 wrote that Aodh Buidhe lived in a place called Ráithmheirginn in this parish

5. Ó Huaithnín and Huonyn have now been changed generally to Green; even in Irish one now hears Graoin.

6. An imperfect copy of a poem by Bhátaér Ó Huaithnín, probably the poet’s father, has been preserved in MS.

7. So the story is told by O’Curry and O’Looney; but from a poem by Ó Huaithnín himself it would appear that his acquittal was due not to Mícheál Coimín but to the advocacy of the latter’s son, Éamonn – seabhac na Ceathramhan Caoilte, as he calls him.

8. One of the poet’s sisters married Andrew Lysaght of Kilcornan, and was great-grandmother of the well-known Edward Lysaght (1763-1810), author of “Kate of Garnavilla” and other songs.

9. Three of these deal with Harriet Stacpoole, a young lady whom (as was the fashion among certain classes in those days) he abducted from her father’s house. His brother James (Séamus) had a somewhat similar adventure; he attempted to abduct one Bridget Davoren, and after she had been rescued from him wrote a song (which still survives) in which he describes his melancholy and his love for her.

10. Or Seán do Hór. Also, of course, written with de for do.

11. Songs in her honour, or lamenting her death, were composed by Hoare, Considine, Lloyd and Meehan.

12. As Seán do Hóra was living in 1776 (as we know from a “warrant” by Tomás Paor), this makes it certain that his death occurred between 1776-1786.

13. O’Curry does not say that he was acquainted with the poet himself, and the obvious implication is that he was not. O’Curry was not born until November, 1794; and in one of his poems, a kind of barántas, composed before he left Clare in 1822, he recommends those engaged in pursuing the culprit to call to, among other places, “the forge of Seán do Hóra”, who would treat them hospitably. This has been misunderstood as referring to the poet, whereas obviously the reference to one of the poets sons (or possibly grandsons) whom O’Curry knew.

14. So the traditional account supplied by Mr. John Daly of Ennis and given in the Preface to Henry Henn’s reprint (Cambridge, 1893) of Lloyd’d “Short Tour”. Brian O’Looney says that Lloyd was “a native of Upper Tulla,” but probably this is merely an influence from the fact that the poet spent the later years of his life in that locality. O’Looney is also in error in placing Lloyd’s death “in the year 1757-’58.”

15. The song is a “seditious” one (although hardly more so than the usual aisling), and Lloyd is said to have been put on his trial for writing it.

16. This agrees with John O’Daly who speaks of Considine as “of Ath na gCaorach, in the County of Clare”, i.e. the Annageeragh River, a little to the south of Mullagh.

17. More fully Ó Míodhacháin and Ó Miadhacháin.

18. For instance, a poem by Meehan in his pseudo-capacity of “priomh-riaghlathóir nó surveyor Chuain Mhalbay” welcoming one Pádraig Ó Conaill who had come from the Maigue district (in Co Limerick) to visit Malbay, and who had been recommended by Seán Ó Tuama.

19. Meehan’s “feeling appeal to the Irish in 1798” was believed by O’Looney to be his last poetic composition. O’Looney, I think, was referring to a poem by Meehan beginning A uaisle Inis Eilge, but at the moment I lack facilities to confirm this.

20. His surname represents an older Mac Meanman, but had his name changed to Merriman both in Irish and English in the poet’s day.

21. O’Donovan in 1839 speaks of both daughters as living in London.

22. Deibhidhe received its death-blow in the second half of the seventeenth century, and for practical purposes may be looked upon as extinct by the beginning of the eighteenth.

23. Ollamh oighreachta, “hereditary man of letters,” he calls himself in one of his poems.

24. I have seen a MS. written by Seán Chmabers during the years 1736-1741. A Trinity College MS. compiled from 1774 to 1781 is partly in the hand of Seán Chambers, but mainly in that of Séamus Chambers (his brother?); it also contains various later comments written by T [homas] Chambers

25. So John Daly. O’Donovan had previously spoken of him as “an Irish poet of Clare.”

26. He himself writes as Ulf.

27. This was printed, none too correctly, in Vol. viii of the “Gaelic Journal,” and was there without reason, “presumed” to have been composed not by Eugene O’Curry but by his father Eoghan Mór.

28. Besides composing some verses of his own, he collaborated with Séamus Mac Cuirtín in an elegy on Peadar Mór Ó Lochlainn, the last “Prince of Burren,” who died childless in 1823. As Séamus Mac Cuirtín was only eight or nine years old at the time, it is obvious that at least his share in it was not written until long after 1823.

29. Three other MSS. in the same institution were written by Peter O’Connell in 1782, probably in his native county.

30. Her body was discovered by two men from the neighbourhood, one of them, named “Patrick Connell”, being in all probability Peter O’Connell’s brother.