Building Ireland’s Architectural Heritage: The Works of Rudolf Maximilian Butler and James Gandon

UCC Library is pleased to open to the public the R.M. Bulter Architect Collection, a small archival collection relating to prominent architects Rudolf Maximilian Butler and James Gandon.

Rudolf Maximilian Butler (1872-1943)

Rudolf Maximilian Butler was an Irish architect, architectural historian, academic, and journalist. Born in Dublin in 1872, he was educated in both Dublin and Germany. Following his studies, he apprenticed in Dublin under architects James Joseph Farrall, from 1889-1891, and Walter Glynn Doolin, from 1891-1896. After completing his training, he remained with Doolin, first as his assistant and then as his junior partner. With Doolin’s death in 1902, Butler formed an architectural partnership with James Louis Donnelly named Doolin Bulter & Donnelly. The partnership ended approximately five years later with Donnelly’s departure. Butler then operated as Doolin & Butler for several years before finally practicing privately under his own name.

Butler’s most well known architectural designs are Catholic ecclesiastical works. Notable examples include:

He was a member of The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland; a founding member of Architectural Association of Ireland (formed in 1896); editor of the Irish Builder and Technical Journal, from 1899-1935; and professor of architecture at University College Dublin, from 1924-1942.

Title page of R.M. Butler's copy of The life of James Gandon, Esq.
Title page of R. M. Butler’s copy of The life of James Gandon, Esq.

The R.M. Butler Architect Collection primarily relates to Butler’s work as an architectural historian, containing correspondence, press cuttings, and other material, concerning his research into the renowned English-born architect James Gandon, best known for his design of Irish public buildings including the Custom House, the Four Courts, and King’s Inns in Dublin.

James Gandon (1743–1823)

James Gandon was born in London in February 1743. He was educated at Shipley’s Drawing Academy before apprenticing under the Scottish architect William Chambers, designer of the Casino at Marino and Charlemont House in Dublin, from 1758-1765. Following his apprenticeship, he set up an independent practice in 1765.

Portrait of James Gandon from The life of James Gandon, Esq.
Portrait of James Gandon from The life of James Gandon, Esq.

The collection includes correspondence from individuals such as Walter G. Strickland, author of A Dictionary of Irish Artists, and W. J. Jessop of Jessop & Son in Nottingham, touching on different periods of Gandon’s career. Early projects referenced include his engravings for Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus, a book of plans and drawings of Palladian revival buildings, and his design for the Shire Hall in Nottingham (built 1769-1772).

Gandon’s first major Irish commission came in 1780 when he was hired to design and superintend the construction of the Custom House in Dublin. It was a controversial project, receiving considerable opposition from the Corporation of Dublin, city merchants, and the public, largely due to its high cost and location. Despite the hostility, the project led to Gandon settling in Ireland where he was to remained the rest of his life.

Print of The Four Courts, Dublin [IE BL/CV/TP/DublinCity/39]
Print of The Four Courts, Dublin [IE BL/CV/TP/DublinCity/39]

Of Gandon’s other Irish projects, the collection includes two letters from R.M. Butler to the editor of the Freeman’s Journal, one in draft form and the other as a press cutting, concerning his work on the Four Courts and Parliament House in Dublin. In the draft letter, Butler outlines the design of the Four Courts by Gandon and Thomas Cooley (1740–1784). Cooley was the original designer but died after the western and southern portions of the quadrangle were finished. Gandon was then hired to complete the project and was responsible for the central part containing the Four Courts proper leaving “the impress of his genius on the whole beautiful edifice.” However, as with his other projects, things did not always run smoothly, with Butler noting that Gandon was forced to change his design for the portico by the Earl of Portarlington, which Gandon much regretted.

Writing in 1922, Butler ends the letter by laments the recent destruction of some Dublin’s most notable buildings, including the Four Courts, “which contributed so much to give it architectural dignity and charm as a metropolis.” He concludes: “It would be well if the Government would, when we once again enjoy the blessings of peace, appoint a commission to ascertain and report to what extent these beautiful buildings may, by careful restoration be recreated in whole or in part.” These restoration efforts are touched on in other items in the collection, including a notice from the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland containing a paper titled ‘Some Reconstruction Work at the Four Courts, Dublin.’ by T. J. Byrne from 1929.

The collection also includes a short article by Butler, from the Irish Builder, discussing Canonbrook House in Lucan, County Dublin, Gandon’s residence following his retirement in 1805. Canonbrook is described as a rural Georgian house “designed and embellish by Gandon himself.” While retiring from the stresses of large scale schemes, Gandon remained active, designing upward of forty residences in Lucan and putting forward a range of projects in connection with public improvements and national memorials. He died at Canonbrook on 24 December 1823.

The R.M. Butler Architect Collection is now fully listed, with further details and the complete listing available at


Butler, Rudolph Maximilian, Irish gothic architecture (Dublin : Sackville Press [c1916])

Duffy, Hugo, James Gandon and His Times (Kinsale : Gandon Editions, 1999)

Gandon, James, The life of James Gandon, Esq. : with original notices of contemporary artists, and fragments of essays (Dublin : Hodges and Smith, 1846)

Williams, Jeremy, A companion guide to architecture in Ireland 1837-1921 (Dublin : Irish Academic Press, 1994)

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Political Prints: A Brief Look at 18th and 19th Century Visual Satire

Among the Cartographic Visual material currently being listed in Special Collections are two small collections of political prints, each representing two distinct periods in the history of visual satire and caricature in Great Britain.

Napoleonic Prints

The first set, titled ‘Napoleonic Prints’, contains thirteen engravings from the “Golden Age” of the political print (1760-c. 1830), dating from the end of the Seven Years War, in 1763, to the War of the Sixth Coalition during the Napoleonic era – the final print dating from 1813.

A range of social, political and technological factors aided the development of the political print in the latter half of the 18th century, with the medium truly coming into its own during the upheaval of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The period saw the emergence of a number of pioneering artists, including James Gillray (1756–1815), Thomas Rowlandson (1757–1827) and George Cruikshank (1792–1878). Gillray, in particular, is credited with transforming the medium through his distinct style and humour for which he has received the title “the father of the political cartoon”. Most prints at the time were sold as single sheets and produced from etchings or engravings, some using aquatint, while others were hand-coloured.

BL/CV/PolP/N/2 Billy a cock-horse or the modern colossus amusing himself (8 March 1797)
BL/CV/PolP/N/2 Billy a cock-horse or the modern colossus amusing himself (8 March 1797)

Members of the royal family, political figures, and other high-ranking members of society were all prime targets for Gillray and his fellow caricaturists, with images highlighting distorted or exaggerated features as the subject’s ambitions and moral shortcomings are mocked and scrutinised. A regular source of inspiration was the bitter rivalry between the Tories and the Whigs. The example above, from 1797, depicts a particularly arrogant William Pitt the Younger in Parliament bestriding the Speaker’s chair as he uses a spur on his left boot to stab Charles James Fox, Leader of the Opposition. The print is one of many focusing on Pitt’s management of finances to fund the war against Revolutionary France.

BL/CV/PolP/N/12 Pacific Overtures - or - a Flight from St Cloud's - over the Water to Charley - a new Dramatic Peace now Rehearsing (5 April 1806)
BL/CV/PolP/N/12 Pacific Overtures – or – a Flight from St Cloud’s – over the Water to Charley – a new Dramatic Peace now Rehearsing (5 April 1806)

George III and Napoleon were other popular subjects of ridicule. The former was often depicted as a pretentious fool, while the latter’s political ambitions were satirised, with caricatures emphasising his stature and/or inflated head. The above print by Gillray, from 1806, depicts George III confronting Napoleon on a theatre stage. Napoleon stands on a cloud as he points to a scroll containing his terms of peace. Meanwhile, the orchestra in the pit below is composed of members of the new Ministry, each playing to their own sheet music. As was common, the image is filled with commentary, analogy, and allusion.

Daniel O’Connell Prints

The second set of prints, titled ‘Daniel O’Connell Prints’, contains eleven lithographs, dating from the 1830s and 1840s, and represents the work of two artists: John Doyle (1797–1868), who adopted the monogram H.B., and Henry Heath (fl. 1822–1842), who adopted monogram H.H..

By the 1830s, visual culture had changed, moving from the engravings and etchings of the earlier period to new techniques such as lithography. The new cheaper, and quicker, methods of production coincided with a shift from single sheet prints to serial formats. As Henry Miller notes: “Instead of being issued as single-sheet prints, caricatures, graphic satires and non-satirical political images increasingly came in a variety of formats that were published continually at regular intervals.” (p. 25) Both changes can be found in the set, with each of the prints numbered as part of a series – in the present case ‘Political Sketches of H.B.‘ and ‘Political Sketches by H.H.’.

BL/CV/PolP/DOC/4 New State Omnibus, or The Man wot is Cad to the Man wot was Cad to the Man wot drove the Sovereign (24 December 1834)
BL/CV/PolP/DOC/4 New State Omnibus, or The Man wot is Cad to the Man wot was Cad to the Man wot drove the Sovereign (24 December 1834)

The John Doyle, or H.B., prints primarily focus on the short period of Robert Peel’s first Ministry (1834-5). The image above reflecting the less than promising start to Peel’s first term as Prime Minster. It depicts an omnibus, lettered “Public Reform”, with the Duke of Wellington as the conductor, or cad, and Sir Robert Peel as the coachman. Unfortunately, it only carries a single passenger in the form of William IV. Meanwhile, John Bull, a personification of the nation, keeps watch as timekeeper. Indeed, Peel’s minority Tory government was forced to resign after approximately a hundred days in office, largely thanks to an alliance between the Whigs and Daniel O’Connell.

Only one of the Doyle’s prints contains the figure of O’Connell. Dating from 1837, it depicts him as the driver of a hackney-cabriolet, titled “Patent Safety”, dictating the direction of the cab and, by implication, the present Whig ministry under Lord Melbourne.

BL/CV/PolP/DOC/7 The Beggar and The Queen (c. 1844)
BL/CV/PolP/DOC/7 The Beggar and The Queen (c. 1844)

Conversely, Daniel O’Connell appears in all five of the Henry Heath, or H.H., prints which provide a short sequence focusing on his campaign for repeal of the Union. The image above, shows O’Connell kneeling before Queen Victoria disguised as a beggar as he presents the petition for repeal. A group of Irish beggars stand behind him while Prince Albert, Sir Robert Peel, and the Duke of Wellington accompany the Queen. In the dialogue boxes, the Queen indicates that she sees through O’Connell’s disguise and rejects the petition, while Wellington and Peel comment on the matter: “Dan has well disguised himself, but it won’t do, the Queen has her suspicions and appears determined not to listen to his blarney.” The remaining prints focus on O’Connell’s subsequent arrest, trial and imprisonment.

Both sets of political prints are now fully listed, with further details and the complete listings available on the Special Collections’ Cartographic Visual LibGuide.


George, Mary Dorothy, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Vol. VII (London : The British Museum, 1942)

McLean, Thomas, An illustrative key to the Political sketches of H.B.,from no. 1 to no. 600 (London : Thomas McLean, 1841)

Miller, Henry, Politics personified : portraiture, caricature and visual culture in Britain, c. 1830-80 (Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2015)

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Book History and Provenance in the Green Coat School Collection

The Green Coat School Collection is now held in UCC Library but was originally formed in Cork City during the 18th century under the aegis of the Green Coat School trustees. The Green Coat School, also known as ‘Shandon Charity School’ and ‘St Mary Shandon Corke’ opened in 1717 and first admitted twenty boys and twenty girls.

History of the Green Coat School

The school started as a private foundation for the children of poor Protestant families on the north-side of Cork City in Ireland. The School was so called because the uniform was green and keeping the uniform was dependent on good behaviour and knowing one’s catechism. The school was vocationally oriented and in UCC Library’s Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) trustees’ descriptions noted which students were bound out as apprentices to a variety of trades such as bookbinders, button-makers and seamstresses (23 June 1719).

The image is an excerpt from William Beauford's 1801 map of Cork City. The Green Coat Hospital & School is present on the map  as building 'B'. The Green Coat Hospital is adjacent to Shandon Church.
“Building B in the centre of the map is Green Coat Hospital & School.” William Beauford. Map of Cork, 1801.

Henry Maule (1676?–1758), as rector of Shandon (1706–26), was closely associated with the founding of the Green Coat School and served as a trustee. From its founding to midway through the 18th century the school was a prototype and model to follow in the Irish coat and charter school movement and “the movement’s equation of Protestantism with civilisation and industry gave the schools additional meaning in the Irish context” (DiIB). Maule was instrumental in its success: “Maule toured Europe, [particularly English and Scottish models] to investigate similar schemes” (DiIB). However by the end of the 18th century the School had declined (McCann 108) and as evidenced from a circular within UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book soliciting funds for the School’s Trustees. This circular is signed by Richard Lee, treasurer and grandfather to Dr Philip G Lee, and is dated 28 January 1822.

Furthermore Maule wrote about his intentions for forming the Green Coat School in Pietas Corcagiensis: or, A view of the Green-coat Hospital and other charitable foundations in the parish of St. Mary Shandon, Corke. In UCC Library’s copies the plates are present whereas they’re frequently removed. Jos. Harris was a noted Cork engraver and he provided the plates.

Architectural print of the "South Prospect of the Green Coat Hospital, Cork." taken from 'Pietas Corcagiensis'. The building is large with two wings and a turret in the centre of the roof. On the turret is a weather vane. Over the print of the building is the motto 'God's providence is our inheritance'.
“South Prospect of the Green Coat Hospital, Cork.” Pietas Corcagiensis.

Collection Acquistion

The collection was deposited in UCC in the late 1990s. UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) was donated by Brian Smyth, Dublin in the late 1990s. There is a note inside the front end paper of the Green Coat School Minute Book: “Given into the care of the Rector Rev. R. Hearn by Dr. Philip G. Lee 25 May 1930.” Philip G Lee was a doctor and local Cork historian. Underneath the note Dr Lee has written: “Given to me as ‘waste paper which I have bound. It comprises the minutes of the trustees since the foundation of the Hospital and from these minutes was extracted the rare valuable report of the School Manor as ‘Pietas Corc.’ They are very valuable and important.” It is probable for this reason that it was seen as waste paper and that the first page is page 13. The Representative Church Body Library in Dublin has a different minute book of the Green Coat School (Manuscript 986).

The Green Coat School Collection

The collection in UCC Library has 280 books. The collection has: 10 items from the 16th century, 195 from the 17th century and the remainder are from the 18th century. The items in the collection are predominantly in English (209 items), with 20 items in Latin. However there are also 20 items in French, 1 item in Spanish and 1 item in Irish Gaelic. As this is an early modern collection the imprints of each item show the spread of printing throughout Europe and the map and list below illustrate this spread.

Map showing the different locations across Europe for the place of printing for items in the Green Coat Collection.
Places of printing as on imprints in the Green Coat School Collection
  • Lyon (3 items ranging from 1562 – 1653)
  • Lausanne (1 item from 1577)
  • London (201 items ranging from 1579 – 1729)
  • Hamburg (1 item from 1592)
  • Leiden (5 items ranging from 1597 – 1648)
  • Cologne (2 items from 1602 and 1682)
  • Geneva (7 items ranging from 1606 – 1679)
  • Hanover (1 item from 1610)
  • Frankfort (2 items from 1610 and 1665)
  • Oxford (10 items ranging from 1610 – 1717)
  • Amsterdam (11 items from 1628 – 1718)
  • Cambridge (3 items ranging from 1649 – 1654)
  • Paris (7 items ranging from 1653 – 1713)
  • Utrecht (1 item from 1660)
  • Dublin (12 items ranging from 1670 – 1786)
  • Rotterdam (2 items from 1680 and 1690)
  • La Haye (2 items from 1695 and 1710)
  • Liege (3 items ranging from 1699 – 1717)
  • St Malo (1 item from 1704)
  • Brussels (1 item from 1711)
  • Cork (2 items from 1721 and 1725).

The composition of the subject matter of the collection is largely related to the Bible and Christianity with a number of items relating to language, literature (14) and history (40 items). Like many early modern collections there are a large number of works relating to classical writers. Dr Edel Semple in UCC’s School of English discusses The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes in this blog post.

However, there are no books with clasps and ties in the collection. In UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book it states: “Orderd that no books be lent out of the town nor any Book in the town unless the person who borrows it enters his name in the Register Book and leaves double the value till he returns it” (15 December 1718) therefore none of the books were chained.

In addition, UCC Library holds an ecclesiastical collection, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library which was started in 1720 by Bishop Peter Browne and contains similar subject matter to that of the Green Coat School Collection. UCC Library’s general Older Printed Books Collection was established by withdrawing items published before 1851 from the Library’s general holdings. Of the 270 items held in the Green Coat School Collection 246 items are not held in any other collection in UCC Library. St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Collection and the Green Coat School Collection have 35 items in common; whereas Older Printed Books and the Green Coat School Collection overlap on 5 items. Three titles are present in three different collections including: Leabhar na nornaightheadh ccomhchoitchionn or The Book of Common Prayer in English and Irish.

Description of Ownership Marks

Maule wrote Pietas Corcagiensis anonymously and within this book is a catalogue of the books that were donated to the Green Coat School Library (pages 37 – 48). Most of the donors to the Green Coat School Library were a who’s who of early 18th century Cork life: clergy, brigadier general, sheriffs, a lord mayor and gentry. Examples of provenance include signatures in the hand of the donor, stamps and former classification scheme markings. There are no bookplates, mottoes, armorial stamps or ciphers as evidence of provenance in the collection.

Donors As Listed In Pietas Corcagiensis

  • Honourable Brigadier General Stearne: 37 titles.
  • The Reverend the incumbent of the parish (presumably Maule): 132 items.
  • John Morley, Esq., Mayor of Cork in the year 1718: 4 items.
  • Henry Arkwright, Esq.: 2 items
  • The Right Honourable Early of Inchiquin: 3 items
  • Mr Daniel Thresher: 6 items
  • Capt. Charles Maule: 25 items
  • Mr Richard Pomeroy: 3 items
  • Mr Henry Sheares: 7 items
  • Mr Sheriff Austin: 3 items
  • Mr Sherrif Croker: 10 items
  • Unknown provenance: 38 items.


Many of the items Maule donated are ecclesiastical in nature. According to ESTC Of the Sacraments in General is held in Great Britain in Cambridge colleges, Oxford colleges and cathedral libraries. It not that unusual that a 17th century Anglo-Irish bishop has acquired a copy. Knowing one’s catechism played a fundamental role in the Green Coat School.

Rev. Henry Maule’s signature above the title on the title page 'Of the Sacraments in General.'
Rev. Henry Maule’s signature on the title page Gabriel Towerson. Of the Sacraments in General.

Samuel Croker was Sheriff in Cork, a court officer elected by the freemen of the borough. Laud’s A Relation of the Conference is a good example of the interest in publishing material to doctrine and religious controversy in the late 17th century. This item is significant as it contains fragments of an old almanac used as strengtheners in the binding and has a variety of annotations.

Sheriff Croker's signature on end-papers of 'A Relation of the Conference betweene William Lawd.'
Sheriff Croker’s signature on end-papers of A Relation of the Conference betweene William Lawd

In the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) is a list of subscribers to the School including Mr Bowyer (p.13). He donated money and A Rational Account of the Grounds of Protestant by Edward Stillingfleet for unknown reasons. Stillingfleet was a remarkable scholar and preacher and much of his library is now in Marsh’s Library in Dublin. This title is in two collections in UCC Library and is one of 29 works by Stillingfleet held between the Green Coat School Collection and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library. The aforementioned conference is between Laud and Fisher which further shows how important Laud was at this time. The manuscript note reads ‘Mr Bowyer, bookseller in London, to the Green-Coat Hospitall of St Mary Shandon, Corke.’

Provenance: Stamps

Henry Arkwright was a customs’ port officer in Cork at this time. Arkwright donated two different editions of Burnet’s History. This copy is a ‘4th edition’ but no 3rd edition was published by Burnet. This title is a good example of how popular titles were.

Evidence of provenance: Gold tooling of letters stamped on front board. Name: Henry Arkwright, Esq.

Gold tooling of letters stamped on front board. Name: Henry Arkwright, Esq.

Evidence of provenance: Gold tooling of letters stamped horizontally on back board. Name: Shandon Charity School Library.

Gold tooling of letters stamped horizontally on back board. Name: Shandon Charity School Library.

The Pomeroys were a prominent Cork family. This is one of the many Books of Common Prayer in the GCSC. In total 21 items were stamped with ‘Shandon Charity School.’ From the Green Coat School Minute Book it is “Ordered that the books given to the library be lettered by Combra (?) Daniel.” (2 February 1720). It is unknown how many tradesmen were engaged in gold lettering but it is likely that Combra (?) Daniel also did other gold lettering for Arkwright and Pomeroy.

Gold tooling of letters stamped on back board The Book of Common Prayer. Name: Rich Pomeroy.

Gold tooling of letters stamped on back board The Book of Common Prayer. Name: Rich Pomeroy.

Further Research Possibilities

Little recent research has been conducted on the Green Coat School Library either as a stand-alone institution, as a library within the coat school system or on the survival rating of coat school libraries. To date most scholarship was conducted between the 1940s and the 1970s (see the articles in the Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society listed in the bibliography). Further work could be carried out on the bindings, older classification schemes and fragments in the binding throughout the collection.

Manuscript fragments in the spine binding of 'The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes.'
Manuscript fragments in the spine binding of The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes.

Gold-tooling on binding and former classification scheme marking on William Oldisworth A Dialogue between Timothy and Philatheus. London: Printed by W.B.for Bernard Lintott, 1709-11.


Burnet, Gilbert. The History of the Reformation of the Church of England: in two parts. London: Printed for J. Walthoe and B. Tooke [etc.], 1715.

Conlon, Michael V. “Some Old Cork Charities.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1943): 86-94.

Donlan, Seán P. “Maule, Henry.” Dictionary of Irish Biography. (ed.) James McGuire, James Quinn. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Green Coat School Collection. Special Collections, UCC Library.

Green Coat School Minute Book. U335. Special Collections, UCC Library.

Laud, William. A Relation of the Conference betweene William Lawd: then Lrd Bishop of St. Davids, now Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbvry, and Mr Fisher the Jesuite, by the command of King James of ever blessed memorie. With an answer to such exceptions as A.C. takes against it. / by the said Most Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury. London: Printed by Richard Badger, MDCXXXIX, [1639].

Leabhar na nornaightheadh ccomhchoitchionn: agas mhiniostralachda na Sacraimeinteadh: agas reachdadh agas dheasghnáth oile na Heaglaise, / do rēir usáide Eaglaise na Sacsan; maille ris an tSaltair no Psalmuibh Dhaibhidh. Ar na bpunneadl. mur cantar no raidhtior iad a tteampollaibh. Lunnduin: ar na chur a gcló ré E. Ebheriongham, ag na Seas Realt a Sráid Abhé Máiria, [1712].

Manuscript #986 held at The Representative Church Body Library (RCBL), Dublin.

McCann, Peadar. “Cork City’s Eighteenth-Century Charity Schools: Origins and Early History.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1979): 102-11.

Ó Coindealbháin, Seán. “Schools and Schooling in Cork City’” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1943): 44-57.

Oldisworth, William. A Dialogue between Timothy and Philatheus: In which the principles and projects of a late whimsical book: entituled, The rights of the Christian church &c., are fairly stated and answer’d in their kind, and some attempts made towards the discovery of a new way of reasoning, intirely unknown both to the ancients and moderns. London: Printed by W.B.for Bernard Lintott, 1709-11.

Pietas Corcagiensis: or, A view of the Green-coat Hospital and other charitable foundations in the parish of St. Mary Shandon, Corke: shewing the several steps that have been taken in erecting and supporting those charities. Cork: Publish’d by order of the trustees (and sold for the use) of that hospital: Printed by Samuel Terry, 1721.

Plutarch. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes / compared together by that graue learned philosopher and historiographer, Plutarke of Chaeronea; translated out of Greeke into French by Iames Amyot … and out of French into Englishe by Thomas North. London: Imprinted by Thomas Vautroullier and Iohn VVight, 1579.

Stillingfleet, Edward. A Rational Account of the Grounds of Protestant Religion: being a vindication of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury’s relation of a conference, &c., from the pretended answer by T.C.; wherein the true grounds of faith are cleared and the false discovered, the Church of England vindicated from the imputation of schism, and the most important particular controversies between us and those of the Church of Rome throughly examined. London: Printed by Rob. White for Henry Mortlock… , 1665.

Towerson, Gabriel. Of the Sacraments in General: in pursuance of an explication of the catechism of the Church of England. London: printed for Richard Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in S. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1686.

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“Ring Them Bells”: Father Prout and The Bells of Shandon

When listing archives even the smallest collections can draw you into the lives and works of the individuals who inhabit the material. Such was the case when I recently listed the Francis S. Mahony Collection. The collection consists of just five items, with the key item being an autographed final verse of the poem ‘The Bells of Shandon’ by the Cork born humourist and journalist Francis S. Mahony, better known as ‘Father Prout’.

Francis S. Mahony, aka Father Prout

Francis Sylvester Mahony (1804-1866) was born in Cork on 31 December 1804 to Martin Mahony, co-founder of the Blarney Woollen Mills, and his second wife, Mary Mahony. He attended Clongowes Wood College from 1815 to 1819 before continuing his education at Jesuit colleges in Amiens and Rome and beginning his novitiate at the Jesuit seminary in Paris. He returned to Clongowes in 1825 where he was appointed master of rhetoric but lost his position following a night of heavy drinking with his students. Despite his subsequent expulsion from the Jesuits, he was ordained as a priest in 1832 and appointed chaplain of the Cork Cholera Hospital during the outbreak of an epidemic in the city. However, tensions with his bishop led him to abandon his ordination and, in 1834, he moved to London where he became a leading contributor to Fraser’s Magazine (and later Bentley’s Miscellany) writing under the pseudonym ‘Father Prout’.

Rev. F. Mahony ('Father Prout') from The final reliques of Father Prout.
Rev. F. Mahony (‘Father Prout’) from The Final Reliques of Father Prout.

The character of Prout was named after a real Father Prout from Watergrasshill, Co. Cork who had died in 1830. In the essay ‘Dean Swift’s Madness’, Mahony describes his fictional Prout as the child of Jonathan Swift and Stella. His essays, later collected as The Reliques of Father Prout, contain fabricated biographical details of the life of Prout alongside his reflections on life and literature. At the time of their publication they were much admired for their sharp wit and entertaining style, with subjects of ridicule including Thomas Moore and Daniel O’Connell (the latter given the moniker ‘Dandeleon’). They secured a wide readership and established Mahony’s reputation, enabling him to mingle with many distinguished artists and literary figures of the day, including Thackery, Dickens and Maclise.

The Fraserians (contributors in 1835 to Fraser's Magazine) from The Reliques of Father Prout.
The Fraserians (contributors in 1835 to Fraser’s Magazine) from The Reliques of Father Prout. Figures depicted include Thomas Carlyle, William Makepeace Thackeray and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mahony is the second figure to the right of William Maggin, co-founder of Fraser’s Magazine, who stands at the centre of the group.

“The Bells of Shandon”

Interspersed throughout his essays are several original poems, together with translations of verse from (and into) various languages, including Latin, Greek and French. The best-known example of his poetic output is ‘The Bells of Shandon’, a nostalgic poem about Cork. The style of the poem is clearly captured in the first verse:

With deep affection and recollection
I oft times think of those Shandon bells
Whose sound so wild would In days of childhood
Fling round my cradle their magic spells,
On this I ponder, where’er I wander,
And thus grow fonder sweet Cork of thee
While thy bells of Shandon sound far more grand on
The pleasant waters of the river Lee.

The bells being referred to are those housed in the tower of the Church of St. Anne in Shandon on the north-side of the city of Cork. With its gold salmon weather vane and situation overlooking the River Lee, the tower is a noted landmark in the city. The poem appears in the essay ‘The Rogueries of Tom Moore’, a satirical take-down in which Prout accuses Moore of having plagiarised his work for the composition of ‘Evening Bells, a Petersburg Air’ during a visit to Cork.

Francis Sylvester Mahony. "Father Prout." (From a Photograph.) from The bells of Shandon : with the annals of the Church of St Anne Shandon, Cork.
The Church of St. Anne Shandon, Cork. (From Photo by Guy & Co.) from The bells of Shandon : with the annals of the Church of St Anne Shandon, Cork.

The copy within the Francis S. Mahony Collection (see below) is an autographed final verse of the poem in Mahony’s hand. The printed version reads as follows:

There’s a bell in Moscow, while on tower and kiosk O!
In Saint Sophia the Turkman gets,
And loud in air calls men to prayer,
From the tapering summit of tall minarets;
Such empty phantom I freely grant them,
But there’s an anthem more dear to me-
‘Tis the bells of Shandon that sound so grand on
The pleasant waters of the river Lee.

However, a letter from Peter Burke accompanying the verse notes that the handwritten version corrects a common misprint, with the term “Kiosk, O !” in the first line corrected to “Kiosko”.

Mss of the final verse of the poem "The Bells of Shandon" by Frank Mahony, alias Father Prout
Ms of the final verse of the poem “The Bells of Shandon” by Frank Mahony, alias Father Prout

The poem remains the most enduring of Mahony’s work and has since become a popular song, a rendition of which can be listened to on website of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

Mahony left London in 1837 to travel to the Continent. He was Rome correspondent for the Daily News from 1846 to 1858 before settling in Paris where he was correspondent for The Globe until his death in 1866. Following his death, his remains were brought to Cork where they were interred in the family vault in St. Anne’s Shandon Graveyard.

The Burke Connection

In terms of the provenance of the item, the collection contains four additional items unrelated to O’Mahony: two letters from Peter Burke (1811–1881) to a Miss Gould of Beaconsfield, and two letters from Sir John Bernard Burke (1814–1892) also to Miss Gould.

Peter Burke was an English barrister, serjeant-at-law, and writer. He was the son of John Burke, an Irish genealogist, and the original publisher of Burke’s Peerage. In the first of his letters, dated 10 November 1855, he refers to the enclosed “far-famed and exquisite lyric” which he had Mahony write for Miss Gould during a recent visit to Dublin (and notes Mahony’s correction). In both of his letters, the second dated 13 March 1860, he discusses his research into the life and work of the Irish politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, widely regarded as the father of modern conservatism. Peter Burke published two works on Edmund Burke: The Wisdom and Genius of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke in 1845 and The Public and Domestic Life of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke in 1853, as well as several works on legal matters.

Regarding the identity of Miss Gould, she appears to be one of the daughters of John Gould, Rector of the Beaconsfield Rectory in Buckinghamshire, with the letters including references to Peter Burke’s visits to the rectory and Edmund Burke’s burial and memorial at Beaconsfield. The collection ends on something of a melancholy note. The final two letters are from Peter’s brother, Sir John Bernard Burke, who took over publication of Burke’s Peerage (and related titles) following the death of their father. In his first letter, dated 18 August 1869, he informs Miss Gould of his brother’s illness. His second letter, dated 6 April 1879, tells that his brother is in the same state he has been for years, unable to leave his room or see anyone. It concludes: “I have however conveyed to him the kind remembrance you entertain of him, and those old times when he delighted to visit Beaconsfield.” Peter Burke died two years later, on 26 March 1881.

The complete descriptive list for the Francis S. Mahony Collection can now be accessed on the Archives Collection LibGuide at:


Mahony, Frances, The final reliques of Father Prout. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1876)

Mahony, Francis, The reliques of Father Prout. (London : James Fraser, 1836)

Mannin, Ethel, Two studies in integrity : Gerald Griffin and the Rev. Francis Mahony (“Father Prout”). (London : Jarrolds, [1954])

Moore, E., The bells of Shandon : with the annals of the Church of St Anne Shandon, Cork. (Cork : Printed by Guy & Co. Ltd, [ca. 1890])

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