The Ossianic Society 1853-1863
Department of Modern Irish History
Nineteenth-century Ireland abounded with a multitude of learned and antiquarian
societies. Many of these, such as Philip Barron's Iberno-Celtic Society, Edward O'Reilly's
Ollamh Fodhlean Society, the Gaelic Societies of Dublin (1808) and Cork (1818) represented
a growing interest in ancient Irish literature and antiquities in the broadest sense
amongst Irelands educated, urbanised and wealthy patrons of the arts. Their rapid
demise was also illustrative of the relative lack of enthusiasm and intent with which
these and other societies and their members were characterised. This trend was ended
by the genesis of the Dublin Irish Archaeological Society in 1840. The Archaeological,
whose chief aim was the scholarly publication of ancient Irish manuscript material,
was founded by John O'Donovan and Eugene O'Curry who, together with George Petrie,
formed a triumvirate of the most eminent and well-remembered Irish scholars of the
nineteenth century.1 Its membership also included successive
Presidents of the Royal Irish Academy and Dublin University and the expertise and
facilities of all three institutions became interwoven, if not contiguous.2
The history of the Irish Archaeological Society in its first twenty-five years was not one of peaceful coexistence and cooperation, especially where perceived competition from like-minded societies was concerned. The Dublin-based Ossianic Society, which to-date has attracted little more attention than the occasional footnote or a fleeting reference as an example of just another short-lived learned society, was one such competitor. Its story, together with the story of some of its most active members, has remained unwritten, perhaps because it was the loser in a power-struggle that took place between its most active members and those of the Irish Archaeological Society and the Council of the Royal Irish Academy between 1853 and 1863. However, the mine of extant manuscript material detailing the hopes and fears, the bitter personal and professional rivalries as well as the attitudes of its most prominent members towards the rescuing and publication of Irish manuscript material, make for a fascinating study.3
The Ossianic Society was formed prior to the amalgamation of its predecessor, the Dublin Celtic Society, with the Irish Archaeological Society in 1854.4 The Ossianic Society took many of the leading members of the Celtic Society with it: John O'Daly, William Elliot Hudson, John Edward Pigot, Owen Connellan, John Windele and William Smith O'Brien.5It would appear that these individuals would rather establish a new society that could boast of 746 subscribers by 1860, than remain as members of the amalgamated Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society.6
The aim of the new society was to collect and publish the poems and tales of Oisín and the Fianna, especially those preserved in extant manuscripts in the Irish language. The Ossianic Society felt the need to emphasise the Irish language after the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society had removed the same from its manifesto. The problems which had led to the collapse of the Celtic Society would manifest themselves once again, with competition from the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society and its members often bordering on open conflict. To later observers it would seem inexplicable that both the Celtic and Ossianic Societies, with their large and influential membership, together with the eminent Irish scholars who edited and published their texts, should collapse.7The Ossianic Society did collapse, but not before it had managed to survive for nine years; during this period it published six volumes of its Transactions and had another six more in preparation.8 The Cork antiquarian and leading member of the Society, John Windele, believed that the Irish language as a tool for historical research had been aided greatly by the publications of the Ossianic Society which had contributed to this "auspicious movement" alleviating "the prejudices which were once arraigned against its [the Irish language] cultivation and use". 9
The greatest potential cause of conflict between the Ossianic Society and the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society can be found hidden-away in the small print of their respective rules, regulations and objectives. O'Daly had railed against the elitism of the Archaeological while Corresponding Secretary of the Celtic Society. However, the objectives of his new competitor, which had the effrontery to best his first enterprise, must have made him see red, pandering as it did to Anglo-Irish families [and] the nobility and gentry of Ireland".10 This emphasis on elitism was illustrated by the Society's first patron, His Royal Highness the Prince Albert and first President, His Grace the Duke of Leinster.
While it was true that the Council of the Archaeological Society was headed by Eugene O'Curry, and the Secretary and Auditor was Rev. James Henthorne Todd who also happened to be the President of the Royal Irish Academy, John O'Daly was unimpressed with the credentials of the other controlling Council members. The Ossianic Society differentiated itself from its rival by choosing to translate and publish only Irish manuscripts and other documents relating to the "Fenian period of Irish history".11 However, the most stark difference made by O'Daly between his Society and its chief rival can be found in the second General Rule governing the Society's operation. This stated: "that the management of the Society shall be vested in a President and Council, each of whom must necessarily be an Irish scholar".12 For O'Daly, then, one of the many factors which led to the acrimonious relationship which developed resided in the simple equation: Anglo-Irish, nobility and gentry of Ireland versus the Irish scholars.
It was hardly surprising that, shortly after the Ossianic Society's official inception on St Patrick's Day, 1853, John O'Daly wrote in desperation to John Windele. In his communication he referred time-and-again to the reasons for the Celtic Society's demise, comparing their new project to a little craft which must be kept afloat in all weathers.13 Most of O'Daly's early correspondence regarding the Ossianic Society concerned the perils that his new Society would face, chief amongst which was apathy.14 In June he wrote again to remind Windele of his duties: "Remember you are bound to put in a good word for us and to canvass friends and foes for the sake of old Oisín".15
Very soon clashes of personality within and outside the Society threatened to break it asunder. In September 1853 Owen Connellan, Professor of Celtic Languages and Literature at Queens College, Cork, wrote to Windele complaining that he wished "he had ever anything to do with the Ossianic Society".16 However, the first real signs of the impending conflict between Eugene O'Curry and the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society came in a rather innocuous comment from O'Daly to Windele almost a year after the launch of the Society: "The Ossianic poem which I sent you is a copy of the one which we had so much trouble in getting from [O]Curry. [...] As it is intended for the Ossians keep the matter to yourself" .17 O'Daly urged Connellan to "write something on the Puffs that were daily appearing in the papers extolling the superior qualities of Mr [O]Curry as an Irish scholar".18 Connellan appeared reticent, but O'Daly's invective was unbounded, as he now adopted the title of the Bear or Cerberus for O'Curry in all his future correspondence.19
After the Society had been in existence for nearly two years Windele became more actively involved in its day-to-day running and publication projects. In doing so, he too came into conflict with Council members of the Royal Irish Academy, especially with the influential Eugene O'Curry. It rapidly became apparent to Windele that access to the Royal Irish Academy's Irish manuscripts was dependent on O'Curry's whims. Windele rapidly came to the conclusion that this situation did little to promote the study of ancient Irish literature. Nevertheless, things appeared to be changing and this prompted Windele to apply to have some work transcribed. He did not have to wait long for a response from the Royal Irish Academy but, perhaps tellingly, this communication was signed by Eugene O'Curry. He informed Windele that the portion of the Book of Lismore he wanted transcribed, the Forbhuis Droma, consisted of sixteen pages, and that his charge for transcription work was eight shillings per page. Windele scribbled a calculation at the end of O'Curry's letter, estimating that it would cost him £6. 8s.20 In response, Windele wrote a rather ill-tempered, if not incredulous, letter to the Council of the Academy reprimanding them for O'Curry's apparent monopolistic control over their manuscripts.21 Windeles letter was summarily dismissed by the Academy's Council which, according to John O'Donovan, had resulted in an "un-friendship22 subsisting between Mr. E. Curry and [Windele]".23 This cemented Windeles allegiances to the Ossianic Society.
After three years in existence, O'Daly and the Ossians had managed, perhaps against all the odds, to put three volumes of their Transactions into the hands of their members. The latter two had attracted some public disparagement, especially from Eugene O'Curry. He had dubbed Nicholas O'Kearney's Prophecies of St. Columbkille as 'The Prophecies';24 even the exceptionally fair-handed John O'Donovan thought the Prophecies "a vast disgrace to our Irish literature" and "calculated to do vast mischief among our poor peasantry".25 Although many believed that O'Kearney was with the fairies, O'Daly had to defend him personally, but - more importantly - academically.26 It was one thing for O'Kearney's own reputation to be destroyed, it was another for the first two volumes of the Society's Transactions, which O'Kearney had edited, to be brought into the same disrepute. It was little wonder that O'Daly wrote in high-temper to Windele: the Curry's i.e. the Bear, Pigot and Gilbert must be put down; and, as the lord liveth, and, as I live this night here, I will work myself to death even, in order to trample upon them.27
More injurious to O'Daly and the Society was O'Curry's public attack on Standish Hayes O'Grady, editor of the third volume of the Society's Transactions, Tóruigheacht Dhiarmuda agus Ghr·inne, and the Society's President, in the Tablet.28 This was particularly galling as O'Daly believed O'Grady was a celebrated translator and John O'Donovan thought he was of his age the best speaker of Irish in Ireland, and he is besides a good classical scholar.29 O'Curry's article in the Tablet hit a raw nerve. O'Daly could make excuses for O'Grady's tardiness in completing his contribution to the Society's Transactions with relative ease.30 However, the Tablet review, attacking O'Grady's abilities as an Irish scholar, elicited a very different response and course of action: "the Ossians must be up and stirring [and] Curry's [...] incapabilities as an Irish scholar must be exposed".31 O'Daly had decided to publish or be damned, announcing that his intended
article will make your flesh shudder and creep; and what is worse, it will show you the enmity of the man who is pocketing so much of the public money and doing nothing.32 It is a great matter that we have an opportunity of thrashing him soundly.33
Members of the Council of the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society responded in different ways towards O'Daly's retaliation. James Henthorne Todd strangely denied to William Smith O'Brien that he was acquainted with Mr O'Grady at all.34 John Edward Pigot went so far as to turn his back on O'Daly when he met him on the street.35 O'Daly's public bravado belied the strain that he was privately feeling, which manifested itself in several ways, notably a lack of patience with colleagues. He threatened to satirize the hardworking Windele to the very devil, asking him if he had any particle of a conscience, for his lateness in settling an account.36 In private Windele believed that O'Daly was a most ill conditioned & foul vagabond.37 For now the two men remained on speaking-terms, although even this modicum of civility was later tested.38 By the end of 1857 the Ossianic Society was teetering on the brink of extinction. Its fortunes were soon to change when William Smith O'Brien acceded to its Presidency.
O'Brien's return to Ireland witnessed him renewing old friendships and acquaintances, especially, it would seem, if their interests in Irish language and literature coincided with his. In April 1857 he had received a disheartening letter from his old compatriot John Edward Pigot. Since 1845 O'Brien had been attempting to publish in Irish the Wars of Thomond. Pigot informed him that the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society was no better placed to publish this in 1857 than it had been in 1845, and besides, O'Brien's membership to that Society had long-since lapsed, and he had little chance of renewing it.39 Pigot's only advice to O'Brien, if he sincerely desired to see the Wars of Thomond in print, was to complete it at his own expense.40 He did offer O'Brien some considerable hope when he told him that both Curry & O'Donovan will give all the assistance they can gratis, I am very sure, in this as in many previous undertakings of the same kind. Pigot continued: The notes needed will be few, & O'D[onovan] & C[urry] will certainly supply them not only without difficulty but with delight.41
O'Donovan wrote to O'Brien expressing considerable surprise that James Henthorne Todd had declined O'Brien's invitation to edit the undertaking, as he knows so much about the expenses of Irish printing, of which I know absolutely nothing.42 Todd's refusal should have come as no surprise as he was at this time corresponding secretary of the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society and President of the Royal Irish Academy. Pigot, a friend of O'Brien's from their Young Ireland days, had shunned the Ossianic Society in favour of the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society, and by now was O'Daly's bitter enemy. It must have been quite clear to O'Brien that in some circles he was no longer welcome.
These setbacks in his own Irish language and literature projects induced O'Brien to seek the Presidency of the Ossianic Society. He may have viewed this as an ideal opportunity to pursue his personal ambition to publish Irish manuscripts. Standish Hayes O'Grady stood aside so that his former patron could adopt a leading role,43 a role which for O'Brien was certainly not honorific, as he soon began soliciting friends and acquaintances both to join, and to contribute work to the Society.44 On O'Brien's accession the Ossianic Society was one year in arrears in its promised publications to subscribers. It would appear that under O'Brien's direction things began to get moving again.
If O'Brien had been in any doubt about the sincerity of the conflict between members of the Ossianic Society and the Irish Archaeological, a meeting that took place in July 1858 between Owen Connellan and John O'Daly at O'Daly's shop, a meeting to which O'Brien was privy, must have clarified to a stark degree the enmity that existed.45 During this meeting Connellan and O'Daly made their feelings about the Irish Archaeological and O'Curry abundantly clear. O'Brien was informed by Connellan that he had been refused access to the Irish manuscripts of the Royal Irish Academy at the whim of Cerberus [...] and other brutal animals.46 Connellan's retribution against O'Curry, if true, was bizarre: I had a few round stones in my sleeve for Cerberus and gave him some hard blows, but my aims were calm and deliberate and told well.47 Connellan continued:
O'Daly and myself would [not] submit to the criticism of any illiterate persons who had no knowledge of the grammatical construction of the language, and O'Daly and I would have nothing to do with Curry directly or indirectly.48
This explanation, Connellan believed, had changed O'Brien's opinion of O'Curry altogether.
John O'Donovan felt obliged to make his apologies as O'Brien began to crack the whip once in charge.49 By the turn of the year he had responded to O'Brien's entreaties for publishable Ossianic work:
I send you the Boyish Acts of Fionn, the son of Cumhaill with literal translations, and with such contractions (as you left) lengthened out, according to the style of the Ms. This is the only Xmas box I can afford to send you, but I hope that I have completed it to your wishes; if not I shall do any thing else to illustrate it that you like.50
O'Brien's entreaties to O'Donovan and others to provide papers for publication may have produced results, but in his anxiety his methods were a little too abrasive for some. Connellan reminded a prospective contributor, John Windele, that Smith O'Brien, you're well aware, is not a man to be trifled with.51 O'Brien's complaints to John O'Daly that Connellan's proposed work for the Ossianic Society, A Tract on the Topography of Ireland, was so long delayed, led Connellan to tell Windele that he would rather some other person undertake it as I have no ambition to do it.52 O'Brien's caustic personality did not deter others, especially those in his employ, like Brian OLooney. In January 1859 John O'Donovan wrote to O'Brien about a proof he had been sent of Tír na nóg by John O'Daly for inclusion in the Transactions.53 Both O'Daly and O'Donovan had their reservations about its publication, not least because of its relatively modern authenticity.54 Despite their hesitancy, Brian O'Looney's edited version of Tír na nóg appeared in the Society's Transactions for 1858.55
The first months of 1859 witnessed John Windele renewing his conflict with Eugene O'Curry and the Royal Irish Academy over access to the Irish manuscripts in their possession. However, on this occasion Windele chose to utilise the good auspices of the Ossianic Society and O'Daly to achieve his objectives. After some lengthy negotiations between John Windele, the Ossianic Society, John O'Daly and the Duke of Devonshire's literary representative, Eugene O'Curry, it was agreed in February 1859 that Joseph Long·in, an Irish scribe often utilised by Windele, should be allowed to visit Lismore Castle in order to transcribe from the original vellum Book of Lismore for the Ossianic Society.56 Windele was to provide Long·ins finance and in return would receive a facsimile of the transcription.57 Several days later O'Daly contacted Windele, inquiring whether Long·in had left for Lismore, and half in jest suggested that he might be able to steal the Book of Lismore for them: I hope he may tramp off with the Book [of Lismore] on his back; [...] I think he will unless Mr Curry puts a double sentry on the door and one inside also.58 In truth, Long·in was having more difficulty with the Book of Lismore than he had anticipated. He wrote to report the progress he had made during his unsatisfactory visit to Lismore Castle, which would necessitate a second trip.59 Returning to Cork, Long·in wrote to Windele stating his current position, and inquiring after his patrons instructions. So keen was he to return, he offered to forfeit his teaching wages if Windele would be prepared to meet his expenses.60 Windele must have acquiesced, as the next correspondence between them saw Long·in reporting his progress on his return from a second visit to Lismore Castle.61
Now that Long·in and Windele had something to show for their efforts a slightly acrimonious row erupted between John Windele and the Council of the Ossianic Society. Windele argued that the Ossianic Society should bear some of the financial burden for Long·ins work as they were also going to benefit from it. Windele became more entrenched after a letter from John O'Daly to Owen Connellan had reached his eyes. In it O'Daly had called Windele ridiculous for barking and making rules and for being the only member out of 500 or 600 who volunteers to alter the constitution of the Society.62 Windele explained his position to the Council of the Ossianic Society, and the matter was settled, not without a little rancour on both sides, on 7 July, when Owen Connellan and John O'Daly wrote to Windele, stating that Long·in would be paid the requested sum of £2.63
In the first volume of Transactions published by the Society it had been announced that a future publication would be Agallamh na SeanÛiridhe. John Windele had been named as its editor, but by 1860 the Agallamh had not materialised. John O'Daly politely suggested to Windele that perhaps the delay was due to problems encountered with its translation and offered the services of William Smith O'Brien and Standish Hayes O'Grady as alternative translators.64 Windele was relieved; however, when it came to O'Grady taking up where Windele had left off, O'Daly had sadly to report: I greatly fear we shall dissolve on next Patrick's day as I see no sign of any book being prepared for publication.65 A week later he was more upbeat, believing that he could still steer the Society thro[ugh] all perils.66 His cheerfulness was short-lived, however, as Standish Hayes O'Grady had disappeared and those who volunteered to edit books for the Society are now flinching. O'Daly concluded: that it is time for me to flinch too and not be killing myself.67 Two months later O'Daly appeared to be completely tired of the Society, especially
as there is a suspicion abroad that I am making a fortune by it, as I was told the other day [...]. I would work willingly and cheerfully for the sake of rescuing the MSS., but I will not stand aspersions of that sort [...]. Kearney, O'Grady, the Professor [Connellan], and myself fulfilled our engagements to the Society; but those who made similar professions and when it came to their turn to work, and held back then they may answer for themselves by-and-by.68
Some of O'Daly's angst was played out in the last volume of the Society's Transactions. Published three years behind schedule, the volume was edited in its entirety by O'Daly, mostly from manuscripts supplied by William Smith O'Brien. O'Daly explained in the Society's Eighth and final Annual Report:
Numerous Members, by a reprehensible want of promptitude in answering the circulars announcing that a work was published and their Subscriptions due, have caused grave inconvenience to the Society. [...] The Council have, therefore, decided that all defaulters names be struck off the rolls [and] cannot advise the printing of another work.69
The last Abstract of the Receipts and Expenditure of the Society for the year ending 1857, was published in 1861. It made desultory reading, showing that the Society's Balance in hands was 1s 6d.70 In comparison the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society's Balance in hands was £557, despite the fact that its publications, just in printing and binding costs (discounting the fact that they often remunerated their editors, notably O'Curry and O'Donovan), were four times more expensive.
For long periods of 1859 to 1861 O'Brien had been absent from Dublin.71 His absence had coincided with the huge downturn in the fortunes of the Ossianic Society; his return would witness his involvement in the bitterness and recriminations that had been commonplace within the Society for more than a year. In February 1861 Dr. James Henthorne Todd wrote to O'Brien blaming the Ossianic Society and O'Brien for problems being experienced by the Irish Archaeological Society.72 O'Brien took offence at Todd's letter, especially at being called a humbug patriot, but he did not have to wait long for an apology.73
One issue beyond any other dominated the last fitful years of the Ossianic Society, that of the publication of the Táin BÛ Cuailgne. The Ossianic Society had announced the publication of the Táin under the editorship of William Hackett in 1855, yet by 1861 it had not appeared.74 The Council of the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society had announced in 1860 that it also intended to publish the T·in, the first time the intended publications of the two Societies had coincided; the race to be the first to publish a credible version of the Táin might decide which would gain preeminence (and survival) in the field. In December 1861 O'Daly informed Windele, a close friend of Hackett's, about O'Brien's attitude towards the Táin: I read your letters about the Táin to Smith O'Brien who seems inclined to dissent from the Council if they decided on its publication which they ought.75 O'Daly's next letter to Windele was far more urgent as pressure appeared to be mounting from O'Brien to resolve the issue:
I write now to inform you that there is no time to be lost in the matter if it [T·in]is to be printed, as the Irish Archaeological are working tooth and nail to shove us off; but I am sure they will not succeed if we stand together. [...] I told him [O'Brien] distinctly that no matter what his views or opinion on the subject may be that the Táin would be published by us that we had it in preparation for the last six years [...] and consequently were bound to our members the major part of which could not afford to pay a pound or perhaps two, for Curry's [...] and that we had the introduction from the Book of Lismore already printed. So it was out of the question to interfere with us in the matter.76
In May 1862 O'Daly requested that Windeles copy of the Agallamh, as well as the transcripts of the T·in, should be sent to him.77 Windele must have been a little confused as he had not heard of a competent Irish scholar named O'Brien residing in Killiney; O'Daly had to reiterate his request:
Mr Smith O'Brien is the man of whom I spoke to you about. He is living at Killiney (not Kilkenny) [...]. He is entirely for clearing the way for Curry's version of the Táin so that there would be no use in asking him to revise it. But the Agallamh, Longs transcript, he offered to compare [...] with the original now here.78
Rather than put their defective copy and translation of the Táin before the public and become the laughing stock of the literary world, the Ossianic Society petered out into oblivion. John O'Daly's parting words were: we cant do more than we have done.79
There is considerable doubt as to the reasons for the Ossianic Society's eventual demise. Its financial situation was always precarious; its editors provided their services gratis which perhaps made them more susceptible to the vagaries and clashes of personality than the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society. Its extinction coincided with the death of some of its most active members, including its President, William Smith O'Brien, John Windele and John O'Donovan. This factor alone must have exacerbated the Society's other weaknesses.80 If Eugene O'Curry and James Henthorne Todd had aimed to monopolize the academic study of Irish manuscript literature and antiquities, and there should be some doubt that this was a serious objective, the death of the Ossianic Society merely marked a Pyrrhic victory. Working quietly away in Munster was the Kilkenny Archaeological Society; this Society and its accompanying journal would eventually supersede and outlive the Archaeological. O'Curry did not live to see the Ossianics expiration either. Dying in 1862, his position in the Royal Irish Academy was filled by Joseph Long·in, John Windeles scribe from Cork. This situation gave John O'Daly and Owen Connellan renewed hope in their efforts to promote and disseminate Irish literature.81
If the Ossianic Society had achieved anything it was to show that their literature, the stories of the Fianna both ancient and modern, had as much value as, for example, the Life of St. Columba or the Liber Hymnorium brought before the public by the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society. The tales of the Fianna, like the Irish language itself, had evolved, and were evolving still, from benchmarks of illiteracy and ignorance, to badges of pride and patriotism. The tales of poverty had now, in the space of no more than thirty years, become the new tools of a new education. The Ossianic Society's part in this process was not inconsiderable.82
Cat.Mss.N.L.I. Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the National Library of Ireland
Cat.Mss.R.I.A. Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy
N.L.I. National Library of Ireland
R.I.A. Royal Irish Academy
TransC Transactions of the Celtic Society
TransO Transactions of the Ossianic Society
WSOB William Smith O'Brien
Graves Collection. R.I.A., Ms. 12. F. 40.
Hudson Papers. R.I.A., Ms. 3. C. 8.
O'Brien, William Smith, Correspondence. N.L.I., Mss. 445-7.
O'Brien, William Smith, Papers. R.I.A., Ms. 23. M. 62.
Royal Irish Academy Papers. R.I.A., Ms. 12. Q. 13.
Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. N.L.I., Ms. 8468.
Windele, John, Correspondence (1853-63). R.I.A., Mss. 4. B. 12-23.
Windele, John, Papers. R.I.A., Ms. 12. C. 2.
Windele, John, Correspondence. R.I.A., Ms. 12. L. 12.
NEWSPAPERS AND MISCELLANY
Minutes of the Royal Irish Academy (1873-4)
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vi, (1864-6)
Transactions of the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society
Transactions of the Celtic Society
Transactions of the Ossianic Society, (1854-61), i-vi, Dublin, John O'Daly.
Ulster Journal of Archaeology
Weekly Telegraph (Dublin)
Best, R. I. (1913), Biography of Irish Philology and Literature, vol. I, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.
Boyne, P. (1977), Scholarly seedtime of the Irish literary revival: a study of the lives and works of George Petrie, Eóin O'Curry and John O'Donovan related to the development of Irish literature in English, Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University College Dublin.
Coleman, J. (1898), Contributions to Irish biography, no. 34. The South Munster Antiquarian Society. Part 1: John Windele, Irish Monthly, xxvi, 182-9.
Davis, R. (1998), Revolutionary Imperialist: William Smith O'Brien, 1803-1864, Dublin, Lilliput Press.
Duffy, S. (1989), Nicholas O'Kearney: the last of the Bards of Louth, Coalisland, Cuchulainn Press.
Kinane, V. (1994), A History of the Dublin University Press, 1734-1976, Dublin, Gill and Macmillan.
NÌ /rdail, M. (1997), On the colophons, correspondence and notes in the Long·in manuscripts, Dublin, R.I.A., Unpublished offprint.
Casaide, S. (1940), Irish scholars in 1853, Irish Book Lover, xxvii, 5, 256-8.
Somerville-Woodward, R. (1998), The Celtic Society, PaGes: Arts Postgraduate Research in Progress, 5, University College Dublin, 177-86.
Somerville-Woodward, R. (1999), Language without a Mouth: the Development of an Irish Language Consciousness, c. 1820-1878, Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University College Dublin.
Windele, J. (1857), Present extent of the Irish language, Ulster Journal of Archaeology, v, 19, 243-5.
1 For all three: Boyne, P. (1977), Scholarly seedtime of the Irish literary revival: a study of the lives and works of George Petrie, Eóin O’Curry and John O’Donovan related to the development of Irish literature in English, Unpublished Ph.D., University College, Dublin.
2 The Archaeological utilised the R.I.A.’s extensive Irish manuscript collections and had an almost monopolistic usage of the Dublin University Press.
3 The most valuable source: John Windele Correspondence. R.I.A., Mss. 4. B. 12-23 (1853-63) which consists of c. 3,000 letters and other miscellaneous items.
4 Somerville-Woodward, R. (1998), ‘The Celtic Society’, PaGes: Arts Postgraduate Research in Progress, 5, University College, Dublin, pp. 177-86.
5 O’Daly, John (1800-78): hedge school educated Irish teacher, scribe, scholar, bookseller. A teacher and later an inspector for the Protestant Irish Society for Promoting the Education of the Native Irish through the Medium of their Own Language (1828-1841). Corresponding secretary and dominant figure behind the establishment and work of the Celtic (1847-53) and Ossianic Societies. Provisional Committee member for the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language (1877-8). John Windele, (1801-1865): antiquary, private collector and transcriber of Irish manuscripts. Patron of Irish scholars and scribes, notably the " Long·ins: Peadar, PÛl and Joseph from Whitechurch, County Cork. Acclaimed throughout antiquarian and archaeological circles for his collection of Ogham stone inscriptions, many of which were in danger of being destroyed. Editor of Bolster’s Cork Magazine.
6 Became the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society in 1855.
7 Coleman, J. (April, 1898), ‘Contributions to Irish biography, no. 34. The South Munster Antiquarian Society. Part 1: John Windele’, Irish Monthly, xxvi, p. 184.
8 TransO, vol. vi, p. x for the Society’s publications.n.
9 Windele, J. (1857), ‘Present extent of the Irish language’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology, v, 19, pp. 244-5 cf. Windele Collection, 27.2.1851. R.I.A., Ms. 12. C. 2 [583-6] and Cat.Mss.R.I.A Fasciculus xxiv, p. 3035.
10Transactions of the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society (1855), University Press, Dublin.‘Advertisement’, pasted into back of volume.
11 TransO, vol. i, p. 5 ‘General Rules’ number 1.
12 TransO, vol. i, p. 5 ‘General Rules’ number 2.
13 John O’Daly to John Windele, 7.4.1853. R.I.A., Ms. 4.B.13 [345-6].
14 Emphasis on his (O’Daly) was indicative of the control O’Daly wished to exert; although listed merely as ‘honorary Secretary’, the work of the Society in almost every aspect, down to the printing of its Transactions emanated from O’Daly’s book shop at 9, Anglesea Street, Dublin.
15 John O’Daly to John Windele, 1.6.1853. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 13 [528-9].
16 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 26.9.1853. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 13 [962-5].
17 John O’Daly to John Windele, 4.1.1854. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 14 [11-12].
18 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 17.11.1854. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 14 .
19 John O’Daly to John Windele, 30.8.1855. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 15 [735-6].
20 Royal Irish Academy (Eugene O’Curry) to John Windele. 20.1.1855. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 15 [61-2].
21 John Windele to R.I.A., [n.d.,]. R.I.A., Ms. 12. C. 2 [678-9], a rough draft copy with the end portion no longer extant. Undated, but between 20.1.1855 and 19.2.1855.
22 O’Donovan has written nem-cháirdes above ‘un-friendship’.
23 For dismissal: R.I.A., (John Jallett, Secretary to the Council) to John Windele, 20.2.. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 15 [167-9] and John O’Donovan to John Windele, 23.6.1857. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 17 [347-9] for ‘un-friendship’.
24 Nicholas O’Kearney’s Prophecies of St. Columbkille (Dublin, 1856), not an Ossianic Society publication, but was associated with the Society because of his position as editor at this time. See Duffy, S. (1989), Nicholas O’Kearney: the last of the Bards of Louth, Coalisland, Cuchulainn Press.
25 John O’Donovan to [?], 17.3.1856. Graves Collection. R.I.A., Ms. 12. F. 40 [135-7].
26 O’Daly had believed that O’Kearney’s edited version of Cath Gabhra would directly challenge O’Curry’s credibility: John O’Daly to John Windele, 20.4.1854. R.I.A., Ms. 12. L. 12 .
27 Seán Ó Dálaigh [John O’Daly] to Windele, 25.1.1856. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 16 [81-8].
28 TransO, vol. iii, passim. John O’Daly to John Windele, 6.2.1858. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 . Also, Tablet 30.1.1858.
29 John O’Daly to John Windele, 1.2.1854. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 14 [131-4]. O’Daly used many items by O’Grady in TransO, vols. iv and vi, passim. John O’Donovan to WSO’B, 26.3.1858. N.L.I., Ms. 446 .
30 ‘The Council deeply regret the unavoidable delay which has occurred in the publication of their recent volume [...] which could not be well avoided; as the gentleman who undertook the editing of the book was called out of the country on business on various occasions, while the book was going through the press’: TransO, vol. iv, p. ix.
31 Windele Collection. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 . O’Daly was pleased when the Weekly Telegraph (Dublin), 9.4.1853, questioned the fitness of O’Curry to partner O’Donovan in the compilation of the proposed Dictionary of the Irish Language: " Casaide, S. (Nov. 1940), ‘Irish scholars in 1853’, Irish Book Lover, xxvii, 5, pp. 256-8., cf. William Elliot Hudson Papers. R.I.A., Ms. 3. C. 8 [15.9.1852]. John O’Daly to Windele, 6.2.1858. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 .
32 It would not have escaped O’Daly’s notice that O’Curry had been paid £30 for merely assisting John O’Donovan in editing Cormac’s Glossary.
33 John O’Daly to Windele, 6.2.1858. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 [147-9].
34 J. H Todd, Trinity College, Dublin to WSO’B, 17.1.1957. N.L.I., Ms. 445 . 35 John O’Daly to John Windele, 20.11.1856. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 16 [649-51].
36 John O’Daly to John Windele, 18.9.1857. 4. B. 17 [597-8].
37 John O’Daly to Professor Owen Connellan, 9.5.1859 (a copy in Windele’s handwriting), R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 .
38 John O’Daly to John Windele, 22.6.1859, R.I.A., Ms. 12. B. 19 .
39 John Edward Pigot to WSO’B, [n.d. 26.4.[1857?]]. N.L.I., Ms. 445 .
40 N.L.I., Ms. 445 .
41 N.L.I., Ms. 445 .
42 John O’Donovan to WSO’B, 25.1.1858. N.L.I., Ms. 446 . O’Donovan estimated that it would cost £300 to publish the Wars of Thomond if O’Brien decided to do so at his own expense. I know nothing: reference to Todd’s recently published Leabhar Imuinn, printed at the Dublin University Press: Kinane, Vincent. (1994), A History of the Dublin University Press, 1734-1976, Dublin, Gill and Macmillan, pp. 150, 381.
43 It may have been efficacious for the Society for O’Grady to stand down after attacks on him by O’Curry in the press.
44 Witness the tremendous rise in membership: TransO, vol. vi, pp. 213-22.
45 Held at O’Daly’s book shop, 9 Anglesea St., Dublin.
46 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 3.7.1858. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 .
47 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 3.7.1858. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 [488-9].
48 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 3.7.1858. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 [487-9].
49 John O’Donovan to WSO’B, 4.8.1858. N.L.I., Ms. 446 .
50 John O’Donovan to WSO’B. 23.12.1858. N.L.I., Ms. 446. The Boyish Exploits of Finn Mac Cumhaill. Mac-gNímhartha Finn Mac Cumaill. Edited by John O’Donovan, LL.D., M.R.I.A. TransO, vol. iv, pp. 288-304.
51 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 29.12.1858. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 18 [937-8].
52 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 8.9 1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [627-8]. The work mentioned by Connellan was edited and translated by John O’Donovan, published by the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society in 1862: Best, R. I. (1913), Biography of Irish Philology and Literature, vol. I, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, p. 128.
53 TransO, vol. iii, pp. 320 and 321.
54 John O’Donovan to WSO’B, 15.1.1859. N.L.I., Ms. 446 and John O’Daly to John Windele, 20.1.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [101-3]. Modern: Tír na n-Óg was written in the mid-eighteenth century by Michael Comyn (Mícheál Cuimín).
55 TransO, vol. iv, Tír na n-Óg. The Land of Youth. Edited by Bryan [sic] O’Looney, pp. 234-80. Preceding this O’Daly wrote: "The Council of the Ossianic Society do not hold themselves responsible for the authenticity or antiquity of the following poem; but print it as an interesting specimen of the most recent of the Fenian Stories"; ibid., p. 228.
56 Eugene O’Curry, Lismore Castle to John O’Daly, 22.2.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [163-71]; John O’Daly to John Windele, 23.2.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 ; John O’Daly to John Windele, 24.2.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19  for negotiations. For Windele’s relationship with " Long·in: Somerville-Woodward, Robert. (1999), ‘Language without a Mouth’: the Development of an Irish Language Consciousness, c. 1820-1878. Unpublished Ph.D., University College, Dublin., esp., pp. 80-100 and NÌ /rdail, MeidhbhÌn. (1997), ‘On the colophons, correspondence and notes in the " Long·in manuscripts’, Unpublished R.I.A. off-print, Dublin.
57 For the refusal to provide funds: John O’Daly to John Windele, [n.d., but before 20].2.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 .
58 John O’Daly to John Windele, 26.2.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [191-2] and John O’Daly to John Windele, 8.3.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [213-6].
59 Joseph Long, Lismore Castle to John Windele, 13.3.1859 R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [143-4].
60 Joseph Long, Whitechurch to John Windele, 13.4.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [147-9].
61 Joseph Long, Whitechurch to John Windele, 26.4.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 .
62 Copy by Windele: John O’Daly to Owen Connellan, 9.5.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 .
63 John Windele to The Council of the Ossianic Society, 12.5.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [281-3]. Owen Connellan to John Windele, 7.7.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 [445-7]. For O’Daly’s version of events: John O’Daly to John Windele, 22.6.1859. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 19 .
64 John O’Daly to John Windele, 7.1.1860. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 20 [31-4].
65 John O’Daly to John Windele, 8.1.1861. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 21 [25-7].
66 John O’Daly to John Windele, 14.1.1861. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 21 .
67 John O’Daly to John Windele, 30.1.1861. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 21 [81-2].
68 John O’Daly to John Windele, 4.3.1861. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B . 21 [153-5].
69 TransO, vol. vi, ‘Eighth Annual Report. Read on the 17th Day of March, 1861’, p. ix.
70 TransO, vol. vi, Abstract of the Receipts and Expenditure of the Society, for the Year Ending 1857, p. xiii. In January 1861 Smith O’Brien had advised O’Daly to pay off the Society’s liabilities as fast as he could, rather than be stuck with them: John O’Daly to John Windele, 14.1.1861. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 21 [44-5].
71 Davis, R. (1998), Revolutionary Imperialist: William Smith O’Brien, 1803-1864, Dublin, Lilliput Press, pp. 343-8, 350-3, cf. WSO’B Collection. R.I.A., Ms. 23. M. 62; ibid., N.L.I., Ms. 457.
72 J[ames] H[enthorne] Todd, D.D., Trinity College to WSO’B, 11.2.1861. N.L.I., Ms. 447 .
73 J. H. Todd to WSO’B, 13.2.1861. N.L.I., Ms. 447 .
74 Announced in TransO, vol. ii, p. 12; Hackett from Midleton, County Cork, a member of the Ossianic Society since its foundation, was an amateur antiquarian and Irish language enthusiast.
75 John O’Daly to John Windele, 10.12.61. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 21 [821-3]. In this same letter O’Daly reported O’Donovan’s death: "No doubt you will be sorry for the death of poor O’Donovan who departed this life last night at the age of 52 years".
76 John O’Daly to John Windele, 26.4.1862. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 22 [179-82].
77 John O’Daly to John Windele, 4.5.1862. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 22 [213-16].
78 John O’Daly to John Windele, 24.5.1862. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 22 [243-7]. Joseph " Long·in’s brother, Peadar, had made a copy of the Táin for O’Brien as early as 1844.
79 John O’Daly to John Windele, 1.5.1862. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 22 [197-8].
80 O’Donovan d. 1861; O’Brien d. 1864; Windele d. 1865; ironically, Windele’s extensive Irish manuscript collection was purchased by the R.I.A.: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy vol. ix, (1864-6), pp. 306, 381; ibid., pp. 306, 386-8 for O’Brien’s voluntary bequest of his manuscripts.
81 Owen Connellan to John Windele, 2.5.1863. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 23 [339-42] and ibid., 22.12.1863. 4. B. 23 [933- 5]; John O’Daly to John Windele, [2?].1.1863. R.I.A., Ms. 4. B. 23 [19-20].
82 Irish publications by the Ossianic Society were reported as being amongst the eight most prevalent Irish texts, other than religious publications, in Munster in 1873: Report Commissioned by the R.I.A., Ms. 12. Q. 13, Cat.Mss.R.I.A Fasciculus xxiv, p. 3080 and Minutes of the Royal Irish Academy, 16.3.1874. Report of the Council for the year 1873-4, p. ci. In 1876 two of the Society’s publications, Youthful Exploits of Fionn and Laoi OisÌn ThÌr na n-"g were adopted by David Comyn’s recently established Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language (S.P.I.L.), as two of their ‘set texts’ for examinations in Irish: S.P.I.L., Papers. N.L.I., Ms. 8468 (3).