Today in Irish History September 18th, 2010

1846 – James Standish O’Grady, novelist, is born in Castletownbere, Co. Cork

Standish James O’Grady (18 September 1846 – 18 May 1928) was an Irish author, journalist, and historian. His father was the Reverend Thomas O’Grady, the scholarly Church of Ireland minister of Castletown Berehaven, County Cork, and his mother Susanna Doe (or Dowe). Standish O’Grady’s childhood home – the Glebe – lies a mile west of Castletownbere near a famine mass grave and ruined Roman Catholic chapel. It is not much further inland from the Castletownbere GAA ground. The Glebe is owned by a German couple who are both judges and use it as a holiday home.

After a rather severe education at Tipperary Grammar School, Standish James O’Grady followed his father to Trinity College, Dublin, where he won several prize medals and distinguished himself in several sports. He proved too unconventional of mind to settle into a career in the church, and qualified as a lawyer, though earning much of his living by writing for the Irish newspapers. However, a chance discovery of a book of Celtic literature inspired him. After an initial lukewarm response to his writing on the legendary past in “History of Ireland: Heroic Period” (1878-81) and “Early Bardic Literature of Ireland” (1879), he realized that the public wanted romance, and so followed the example of James McPherson in recasting Irish legends in literary form, producing historical novels including “Finn and his Companions” (1891), “The Coming of Cuculain” (1894), “The Chain of Gold” (1895), “Ulrick the Ready” (1896) and “The Flight of the Eagle” (1897), and “The Departure of Dermot” (1913).
He also studied Irish history of the Elizabethan period, presenting in his edition of Sir Thomas Stafford’s “Pacata Hibernia” (1896) the view that the Irish people had made the Tudors into kings of Ireland in order to overthrow their unpopular landlords, the Irish chieftains. His “The Story of Ireland” (1894) was not well received, as it shed too positive a light on the rule of Oliver Cromwell for the taste of many Irish readers. He was also active in social and political campaigns in connection with such issues as unemployment and taxation.
Some of the works of Standish James O’Grady:
Sun and Wind (Classics of Irish History)History of Ireland: The Heroic PeriodGreat Irish Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions)

sources: Amazon.com and WIKI

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