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John Barry & Hiram Morgan, eds, Great Deeds in Ireland: Richard Stanihurst's De rebus in Hibernia gestis (Cork, 2013)

Great Deeds in Ireland is the first full translation of the controversial Latin history of Ireland by the famous Dublin intellectual, Richard Stanihurst. Written after he fled Elizabethan London for the Netherlands, De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis was published in 1584 by Christopher Plantin, the greatest printer of the age.

In facing Latin and English texts, Great Deeds in Ireland provides a contemporary account of Ireland’s geography and people and what the author considered to be the greatest event in Irish history – the Anglo-Norman conquest. Relying on the work of Giraldus Cambrensis, Stanihurst celebrated the origins of the English colony in Ireland whilst simultaneously allegorizing the dilemma facing his own community from a new wave of Protestant English conquerors.

The Anglo-Irishman’s attempt to introduce Ireland to Europe’s Renaissance elite in a literary tour-de-force went awry after many Gaelic Irish, also exiled on the continent, objected to the book’s satirical portrayal of Ireland’s clergy and its representation of the country’s customs, history and learned classes. The book was burned on the orders of the Inquisition in Portugal, marked prohibido in libraries in Spain and provoked a number of angry responses from readers and other writers over the following eighty years. Because of its centrality to debates about Ireland, Stanihurst’s De Rebus was the first book translation undertaken by the Centre for Neo-Latin Studies established at University College Cork for the study of this hitherto neglected corpus of Irish literature.

 

David Edwards & Keith Sidwell, eds, The Tipperary Hero: Dermot O'Meara's Ormonius (Brepols, 2011)

The Ormonius is a five-book heroic poem of nearly 4,000 hexameters on the military career of the 10th Earl of Ormond, Thomas Butler, a key figure in the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland. Written by Ormond’s fellow-Irishman, the doctor (and Oxonian) Dermot O’Meara, it was published in London by Thomas Snodham in 1615, and was probably aimed at James VI & I and his court.

Ormond (1531-1614), brought up at the English court and edu­cated with Prince Edward (later briefly King Edward VI), was a powerful warlord in Ireland, but loyal to the English crown. His military activities could easily be represented as those of a “scourge for rebels” and it is upon this aspect of his image that O’Meara focuses. The poem begins with his part in crushing the revolt of Thomas Wyatt against Queen Mary in England in 1554 and then moves to his activities in Ireland, focusing  upon relatively minor campaigns against the Scottish Gaels in Ulster, as well as against Shane O’Neill, the earl of Desmond, and many other rebels in Leinster and Munster. It ends in the late 1590s with  Ormond’s involve­ment in confronting the  Tyrone rebellion and the blindness that closed his military career.

Although writing a poem firmly within the classical didactic epic tradition, O’Meara utilises the framework of a contemporary vernacular Gaelic poetic form called the cathréim in its construc­tion. While specifically intending his creation as a true record of Thomas Butler’s deeds, O’Meara nonetheless makes use of the divine machinery of Vergil to underline the idea that the inspiration for rebellion comes from Hades, while the power of kings is under­pinned by Heaven. Though  borrowing heavily from the poetic stock of Vergil, Ovid, Silius Italicus and Claudian (to say nothing of and Lucretius, Lucan, Seneca, Valerius Flaccus and Statius), O’Meara creates an entirely (early) modern work, which produces through the medium of the learned language a classically enhanced reflection of the world in which he lived, ideologically slanted towards an Ireland firmly attached to the British Crown.

The edition includes a detailed historical and linguistic introduction, Latin text with conspectus fontium and apparatus criticus, English translation into blank verse with accompanying footnotes explaining historical and literary allusions, a full line-by-line commentary on linguistic, literary and historical matters, and detailed indices of ancient authors, Latin grammar, Latin metre, Latin names, English material and noteworthy Latin vocabulary.

The edition has been prepared jointly by Keith Sidwell, Emeritus Professor of Latin and Greek at University College Cork, former Director of the Centre for Neo-Latin Studies and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Greek and Roman Studies, University of Calgary, and Dr David Edwards, Senior Lecturer in History at University College Cork and Director of the Irish Manuscripts Commission, author of a recent monograph on the Butler Lordship.

 

Jason Harris & Keith Sidwell, eds, Making Ireland Roman: Irish Neo-Latin Writers and the Republic of Letters (Cork University Press, 2009)

This collection of articles by leading scholars focuses on Irish writing in Latin in the Renaissance and aims to rewrite Irish cultural history through recovery and analysis of Latin sources. This book renders accessible for the first time the vastly important Irish contribution to the counter-reformation, to European Renaissance and baroque literature in Latin and to the intellectual culture of European Latinity. The ethnic, cultural and religious divisions within Ireland produced a divided Latin writing and reading community. The Latin language became the medium in which the Catholic Church operated. When Christianity took root in Ireland so too did Latin. It became one of the principal languages of Ireland for over a thousand years resulting in over one thousand books being published by Irish authors. In order to convey the idiosyncrasies of Gaelic culture in the language of European scholarship to an international audience, Irish authors had to engage in a process of cultural translation. Many were Catholic exiles who attempted to promote an alternative to the English colonial narrative being written by domestic scholars. Some writers felt compelled to defend their country's reputation as a result of defamatory comments made by other writers. Articles include a detailed reconstruction of a feud with Scottish historians about the identity of medieval 'Scotia' as they claimed that it referred to Scotland rather than Ireland. Other articles include a contextual study of the political epic poem "Ormonius", an examination of the major Latinist Richard Stanihurst and an evaluation of the literature of Catholic exile.

 

Denis O'Sullivan, ed, The Natural History of Ireland by Philip O'Sullivan Beare (Cork University Press, 2009)

The Zoilomastix is a lengthy treatise written in refutation of the account of Ireland given by the medieval author Gerald of Wales in his Topography of Ireland and Conquest of Ireland. O'Sullivan also attacks the writings of Richard Stanihurst, whom he sees as a modern-day Gerald of Wales.Book one of the Zoilomastix is devoted to re-writing the natural history of Ireland. Although the author had spent most of his life abroad, he was able to draw upon his classical learning and compare his findings with the memories of Irish friends in the exile community in Spain and Portugal. The resulting text is a complex but extensive set of notes on Ireland's landscape, flora and fauna.Denis O'Sullivan's edition and translation of the text is an enormous achievement in rendering an extremely difficult manuscript accessible to a wider public.

Articles by Jason Harris can be found here: https://ucc-ie.academia.edu/JasonHarris

Articles by Hiram Morgan can be found here: https://ucc-ie.academia.edu/HiramMorgan

Articles by Ian Campbell can be found here: https://qub.academia.edu/IanCampbell

Articles by Nienke Tjoelker can be found here: https://uibk.academia.edu/NienkeTjoelker

 

The following general survey articles written by members of the Centre are directly available on this website:

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