The Brazen Horn

The Brazen Horn


A Non-Book for Those who, in Revolt Today, Could be in Command Tomorrow

ISBN: 978-0-85105-259-5

Dolmen Editions XXII   viii, 255pp. 27.2 x 18.4cm

We are faced today with a number of seemingly insoluble quandaries in the fields of both Religion and Science, amongst which may be included the problem of a God that seems to all appearances to be either demonic or incompetent, of a Universe that is apparently expanding in relation to nothing but itself, of the structure of Space-Time, of the significance if any of Death, and of the everlasting conflict between the ways of thought known as realism and Idealism.

In collating various pronouncements in all of these areas that have been besetting us during the present significant century, the writer has come to a surprising conclusion that modern Science may be providing an answer to some of the quandaries of religious belief, and on the other hand, that theology in many ways is capable of coming to the rescue of the Physicists, enmeshed as they are in a tangle of contradictory facts.

A solution is probably found in the abandonment of our traditional conception of an inanimate Universe which nevertheless is explosive and kinematic, in favour of a new view of its dimensional character. The edition is limited to 1050 copies signed by the author.

Denis Johnston (1901-84) was in his turn a lawyer, playwright, war correspondent, and one of the early executives of British Television. After World War II he held a number of chairs and professorships at American Universities and Colleges until his retirement in 1973, after which he  combined further teaching with the writing of this book, to which the varied aspects of his professional life have all contributed. His study, In Search of Swift, appeared in 1959, and his account of his time as a war correspondent, Nine Rivers from Jordan, in 1953. His Dramatic Works appeared in three volumes from this company (1977, 1979, 1992).

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Irish Writers and Religion

Irish Writers and Religion


IASAIL-JAPAN series Volume 4

In Memory of Barbara Hayley

This volume analyses the interplay between religion and society in Ireland and how Irish writing, whether poetry, prose, drama, sermon or pamphlet, has reflected that interplay, and how the idea of wholeness and integration, as part of the religious search, informs Irish writing.

Irish literature has been influenced by religion from the beginning. Writing itself came about as a result of the conversion to Christianity, because the early church brought with it a Latin orthography which the native men of learning adopted. Pagan beliefs and practices were assimilated into Christianity, but not entirely so: a theme that surfaces continually in Irish writing is the conflict between Pagan and Christian values. This tension is also an interaction: one of the characteristics of Irish literature of all periods is its capacity to retain pagan stories and modes of thought. This retention reflects a society which, while Christianised, has many roots in a pre-Christian Celtic past.

The essays follow a broadly chronological pattern covering every facet of the subject, starting with Paganism in early Ireland, and moving on to the literary uses of folk belief and religion in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

'Paganism and Society in Early Ireland'. Séamus MacMathúna
'Literature and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Ireland: A Critical Survey'. Joseph McMinn
'Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Fiction'. Barbara Hayley
'The Word, the Lore, and the Spirit: Folk Religion and the Supernatural in Modern Irish Literature'. Dáithi Ó hÓgáin
'Ghosts in Anglo-Irish Literature'. Peter Denman
'Shaw and Creative Evolution'. A. M. Gibbs
'Catholicism in the Culture of the New Ireland: Canon Sheehan and Daniel Corkery'. Ruth Fleischmann
'Yeats and Religion'. Mitsuko Ohno
'Joyce and Catholicism'. Eamonn Hughes
'Francis Stuart and Religion: Sharing the Leper's Lair'. Anne McCartney
'Received Religion and Secular Vision: MacNeice and Kavanagh'. Alan Peacock
'"A mythology with which I am perfectly familiar": Samuel Beckett and the Absence of God'. Lance St John Butler
'Pilgrim's Progress: on the Poetry of Desmond Egan and Others'. Patrick Rafroidi
'Religion?'. Desmond Egan
'Mis and Dubh Ruis: A Parable of Psychic Transformation'. Nuala ni Dhomhnaill
Notes on Contributors

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The Letters of Saint Oliver Plunkett 1625-1681

The Letters of Saint Oliver Plunkett 1625-1681


Edited by Mgr John Hanly

ISBN: 978-0-85105-344-8

27.2 x 18.0 cm.
The illustrated end-papers reproduce a map of Rome published in 1676.
Note that our copies do not have a dust-jacket, only a clear protective cover. We took over a quantity of book blocks from the liquidators of  Dolmen Press in 1987, which we then had cloth-bound. We were unable to find any jackets.

In March 1670 St. Oliver Plun­kett, his long exile over, stepped ashore at Ringsend to the wel­come of friends and relatives. For twenty-two years he had lived in Rome as clerical student and pro­fessor of theology. It was an ex­citing if also a sad time. Oliver Plunkett stepped into Restoration Ireland as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate. For ten years, until his arrest in December 1679, he applied himself to the task of rebuilding and repairing, knowing that the storm was by no means over. In the early years he was a man in a hurry, taking full advan­tage of a period of relative toler­ation and peace. In 1674 he was for many months a fugitive, deter­mined not to forsake his flock until ‘they drag us to the ship with the rope around our necks’. The last few years of his life, including eighteen months in prison, were the years of the infamous Popish Plot of Titus Oates, of which he was the final victim, the last of the martyrs of Tyburn.

For the first time a complete chronological edition of Saint Oliver’s letters enables us to follow the story, as it evolves in his own words, of his work as Archbishop in Ulster, where the Plantation was barely two generations old. He emerges as a man of immense courage, deep conviction and priestly zeal with the sometimes all too human side of one who grew into sainthood; and in the final documents the magnificent calm with which he faced his cruel death stands out.

The Letters of Saint Oliver Plunkett give many interesting insights into various events and characters of his time. His pen ran freely, his policy was to be well informed, and to give a clear picture of all matters touching the Church in Ireland. There are many light-hearted passages too, as when he tells us that the farmer in whose barn he was hiding, and on whom he depended for his food, sometimes came back a little too merry from town, and his guest had to fast. . . .

The letters are printed in their original language, almost always Italian, with translation and com­mentary. The book is edited by Monsignor John Hanly who first worked on these letters for a doc­toral thesis at the Gregorian Uni­versity from 1959 to 1961, and who was Postulator of the Cause of Saint Oliver from 1968 until the canonisation in 1975.

Designed by Liam Miller.


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The Voyage of St. Brendan

The Voyage of St. Brendan


Written in about AD800, Navigato Sancti Brendani Abbatis is one of the most famous and enduring stories of western Christendom. While the question whether Saint Brendan reached America remains a subject of controversy, the tale itself is of great interest – a strongly integrated text which derives from several centuries of Irish literary tradition. The text is illustrated by the relevant woodcuts from a German version of the tale which was printed in Augsburg in 1476.

John J. O’Meara has here translated one of the most famous and enduring stories of western Christendom, the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis, written in Ireland perhaps as early as the year 800. While the routes of Saint Brendan’s journeys remain a subject of controversy, the tale itself is of great interest – a strongly integrated text which derives from several centuries of Irish literary tradition.

The Voyage of Saint Brendan presents Professor O’Meara’s translation of the only scientific edition of the original Latin text, with his introduction, and is illustrated by the relevant woodcuts from a German version of the tale, Sankt Brandans Seefahrt,  printed in Augsburg in 1476. When this version was published By the Dolmen Press in 1975 it was acclaimed by critics on both sides of the Atlantic:

‘It’s a fascinating book’ (Quidnunc, The Irish Times); ‘has the  simplicity, the joyous naiveté, the suspension of reality which captivate the most sceptical reader of the Franciscan Fioretti and the same pervasive innocence  and fiery spirituality’ (The Irish Independent); ‘valuable both as scholarship and literature’ (The Malahat Review); ‘A worthwhile book in every respect‘ (Choice, U.S.A.).

It was designed by Liam Miller.


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The Holy Wells of Ireland

The Holy Wells of Ireland

£8.99 pbk

21.6 x 13.8 pp.      170 pp.        1992 pbk repr. of 1980 edition

Holy wells have been a feature of the religion of the Irish people for longer than records have existed, and while pilgrimages to them are not as common as in the last centuries, many wells are still visited, particularly on the Saints’ or ‘Pattern’ Days, and even now new wells occasionally appear.

In this survey Dr Patrick Logan, author of The Old Gods, Irish Country Cures and Fair Day: The Story of Irish Fairs and Markets, describes many of those wells that are still visited, detailing the features of the pilgrimage and the benefits obtained, together with the legends attached to the wells, the saints they are dedicated to and their Pattern Days, the sites, trees and stones associated with them, and fish that some of them have; he also gives information about the holy islands that have wells.

This collection does not attempt to describe every holy well in Ireland – an impossible task with so many – but Dr Logan has gathered together a collection of the most representative and interesting ones that visitors, pilgrims, and historians, as well as the local people will find it fascinating to read about.

‘What the author has done is to collect . . . a huge amount of important material about the wells, their history, the saints to whom they are dedicated, and their accessories, so to speak, such as the sites, the fish that some still nurture, and even such fascinating things as "swearing stones" and "cursing stones" . . . . A volume that is much needed and that will be a source of fascination to scholars and local historians alike for many years to come.’ Cork Examiner

'Dr Logan has succeeded in packing a great volume of interesting and useful information into this book.' Irish Independent


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Yeats and AE: ‘The antagonism that unites dear friends’

Yeats and AE: ‘The antagonism that unites dear friends’


21.6 x 13.8 cm.    xiv, 291 pp. + 16 pp. with 33 illus.  

During his life, W.B.Yeats formed only a few literary friendships from which he received as much as he gave. One of the foremost was his association with George William Russell. ‘A.E. was my oldest friend’ he confided to an admirer on Russell’s death in 1935. ‘We began our work together.’

This engaging, carefully researched book charts the history and evaluates the significance of the first twenty-three years of that work. It begins with the early months of 1884 when Yeats and Russell first met at the Arts Schools in Kildare Street, Dublin, and ends with their divisive quarrels in 1907 about the policies of the Abbey Theatre.

Taking as its focal point Yeats’s summary of the association – ‘between us as always there existed that antagonism that unites dear friends’ – the book sensitively gauges the pressures that each man exerted on the other. It also examines the way these pressures both affected their respective imaginative developments and shaped the course of the literary movement.

'What Kuch sets out to do, he does scrupulously and with such attention to detail, minutiae even, that his scholarly apparatus takes up nearly a quarter of the book. It is indeed "carefully researched".' Derek Mahon in The Irish Times

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No Bland Facility: Selected Writings on Literature, Religion and Censorship

No Bland Facility: Selected Writings on Literature, Religion and Censorship


Edited by James H. Murphy

21.6 x 13.8 cm    
ISBN: 978-0-86140-315-8

This book presents the reader with a selection of the writings of Peter Connolly (1927-87) who retired as Professor of English Language and Literature at St Patrick's College, Maynooth in 1985.

Divided thematically, the essays cover the major subjects that interested him: apart from Censorship, Literature (his areas of greatest expertise were in the modern novel and modern poetry) and Religion are represented by his essays `The Priest in Modern Irish Fiction', `W.B.Yeats: "the unchristened heart" ', `God in Modern Literature', `Tragedy', and `The Church in Ireland since Vatican II'.

The issue on which Peter Connolly's ideas have had the most influence has undoubtedly been that of censorship, and the role he played in the public debate on censoring books in Ireland. Many of the distinctions he drew then could still have a useful role to play in the renewed contemporary debate, even though its focus has shifted towards the visual media, notably television. Included here are his essays `Censorship', `The Moralists and the Obscene', and `Thoughts after Longford'.

This volume, edited by James H. Murphy, opens with a collection of memories and tributes from friends and colleagues, and ends with a selection of his book reviews.

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