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This exhibition has been created by Natasha Dukelow. Natasha completed her undergraduate degree in History and Archaeology before completing her master’s degree in medieval history in UCC. Her prime interest area is the Franciscan order, particularly preaching culture and the friars’ impact on a wider social context.
Margaret Cusack (1829-1899) was born into a wealthy Protestant family in Dublin. Her father was a doctor and upon the separation of her parents in her adolescence she moved with her mother to England where she attended boarding school. Margaret had in an interest in social reform and joined an Anglican sisterhood to pursue this aim. However, she found this unsatisfying and took an unusual move in 1858 by converting to Catholicism. In 1859 she joined the Poor Clares and adopted the name 'Sister Mary Francis Clare.' On her return to Ireland she initially lived at the convent of the Poor Clares in Newry, Co. Down, before moving to a convent in Kenmare, Co. Kerry where she lived from 1861-1881. Cusack became involved in church politics, the Land League and fund raising for relief efforts. Cusack came into conflict with the political establishment and the Catholic Church in Ireland, Britain and America as a result of her actions and strong personality. Disillusioned by this friction between herself and the Catholic hierarchy she returned to Protestantism in 1889. Her final years were spent in England, where she wrote scathing criticisms of the Catholic Church before her death in 1899.
Cusack was the first Irish woman to write a complete history of Ireland in An Illustrated History of Ireland (1868) and she was the first to do so from a nationalistic perspective. A History of the Irish Nation: Social, Ecclesiastical, Biographical, Industrial and Antiquarian (1878) is another example of her nationalistic histories which contributed to her standing out among female Irish historians of the time as the only one writing a nationalist theory giving preferential treatment to Catholics. Among the Irish women historians she was the only nun.
Martin Haverty (1809-1887) was born in Mayo and was the younger half-brother of the artist Joseph Patrick Haverty (1794-1864). Martin Haverty initially wished to join the priesthood and pursued his education at the Irish College in Paris, however he then chose to become a writer and went to Dublin in 1836. Haverty was an historian and a journalist and worked for the Freeman’s Journal from 1836 to 1850, where he primarily served as their foreign correspondent. He was also associated with the London Morning Chronicle and later became sub-librarian at Kings Inn. Haverty died in Dublin in January 1887 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Sir William Betham (1779-1853), born in Suffolk, England was an antiquarian who came to Ireland in 1805. He had served as the Deputy of Ulster from 1807-1820 and received a knighthood in 1812. From 1820 until his death in 1853 Betham held the office of Ulster King of Arms. In this role he compiled summaries of official documents including wills and marriage licenses. He was also a diligent collector of early Irish manuscripts and owned the Book of Dimma. Betham was admitted to the RIA as a member and became esteemed for his early research activities, including his Antiquarian Research in 1826 and 1827. However, he became discredit in the opinions of serious scholars as time went on for his increasingly conjectural and notional writings. The Gael and Cymbri is considered as one of these speculative works.
John O’Donovan (1806-1861) was born in Co. Kilkenny and was an Irish language scholar. He published his translation of the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland/Annals of the Four Masters in seven volumes between 1848 and 1851, with extensive notes written to give the reader background knowledge of the text. The full version was printed in 1856. O’Donovan’s translation was funded by a government grant of £1,000 pounds obtained by the president of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865), a notable mathematician.
John Lynch (c.1599-c.1677) was born in Galway and educated by the Jesuits. He became a secular priest in 1622 and was appointed Archdeacon of Tuam. Lynch was known as an historian. He left for France in 1652 where some of his works were published at St. Malo. Lynch wrote the the Cambrensis Eversus and in 1662 it was published under the name 'Gratianus Lucius.' The text, written in Latin, is a polemic against Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales, 1146-1223) accusing him of dishonesty and bias. The Cambrensis Everus issues a harmful criticism of Gerald’s Topography (c. 1188) and demonstrates that the title of the 'Conquest of Ireland' (c.1189) was inaccurate. Lynch goes on to discredit Gerald’s status as an historian and counters his imputations against the Irish people with an eloquent defence.
Mac Fibris translated and transcribed various texts throughout his career including the Leabhar na nGenealach, a book of Irish genealogies concerning the main Gaelic and Anglo Norman families. Mac Fibris was reputed for his knowledge of language and history and was employed in 1655 by Sir James Ware (1594-1666) to collect and translate materials for Ware’s work on the Antiquities and History of Ireland.
Daniel Laurence Kelleher (1883-1958) was born in Cork and educated at University College Cork. He was a playwright and man of letters who was associated with the ‘Cork Realists’, a group of dramatists, in his early Career.
Stephen Lucius Gwynn (1864-1950) was an Irish journalist, author, biographer and a Protestant Nationalist Politician. He was the elected representative for Galway Borough from 1906 to 1918 as a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party and at the request of John Redmond, Gwynn wrote The Case for Home Rule (1911). During World War I he served as a British Army officer in France and in 1919 he founded the Irish Centrist Party.
Alexander Williams (1846-1930) was a landscape painter, ornithologist and taxidermist. He was a founding member and secretary of the Dublin Sketching Club and was elected as associated member of the Royal Hibernia Academy (RHA) in 1884.
Richard Barry O’Brien (1847-1918) was a lawyer, journalist and historian and prolific writer. O’Brien edited and provided an introduction for The Autobiography of Wolfe Tone in 1893.