1912 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Jeremiah Callanan

D. J. O'Donoghue, in Poets of Ireland (1912) 54.



JOSEPH JEREMIAH CALLANAN. — Recluse of Inchdony, and other Poems, London, 1830, 8vo (MS letters to Maginn and Crofton Croker in copy at Brit. Mus.); Poems of J. J. Callanan, Cork, 1847; Dublin, 1861, 8vo; and again in Gems from the Cork Poets, Cork, 1883, 8vo. (Several other reprints of the work, generally with a prefatory memoir by M. F. McCarthy.)

This admirable poet, the first of the really Irish writers of English verse, was born in Cork in 1795, and educated partly in that city and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he won one or two prizes for poetry. Became a tutor, and was for a while assistant at Dr. Maginn's school in Cork. Then he taught for private families, and in that capacity went out to Lisbon in 1827. Had written for the Cork papers and magazines, especially the Mercantile Chronicle, and Bolster's Quarterly Magazine. He died at Lisbon on September 29, 1829, just as he was about to return to Ireland. Though there has been much discussion about his Christian names, it may be taken for certain that one of them was Jeremiah, as "Jerry" was the name he was usually called by. He contributed a few of his translations to an early number of Blackwood's Magazine and his "Virgin Mary's Bank" to the Literary Magnet, of which Alaric A. Watts was editor. The poem appeared in January, 1827, and was reprinted in Watt's Poetical Album for 1828. His "Avondhu" was published in the Literary Magnet for 1827 (p. 205, part 2), over signature of "Hidalla." In Patrick O'Kelley's volume of poems — "The Aonian Kaleidoscope," 1824 — are some lines by Callanan eulogistic of O'Kelley. He sent his famous "Gougane Barra" to the New Monthly Magazine in 1826, then edited by the poet Campbell, but though backed by Maginn's influence, it was refused. A slightly different version to that universally known is in MS. in the British Museum. Callanan's "Lay of Mizen Head" was first given to the world, it would seem, through the Harp, 1859, edited by M. J. McCann, who obtained it from John Windele, the Cork antiquary. The poems "Cusheen Loo" and "The Lamentation of Felix MaCarthy," quoted as Callanan's in various collections, were not his, according to his declaration in one of the MS. letters above referred to, which were quoted in full by the present writer in Dublin Evening Telegraph, January 13 and 16, 1890.