Irish Poetry, from the English Invasion to 1798

By Rusell K. Alspach | Go to book overview

4
Keating and Dermod O'Connor

GEOFFREY KEATING was born about 1570 in Tipperary, near the village of Burgess. He was educated first at home and then for twenty years studied abroad, returning to his native land as an ordained priest. He gained wide popularity as a preacher in the south of Ireland; but after delivering a fiery sermon on adultery that was taken too personally by a lady of his audience who was on terms of intimacy with the lord president of Munster, Sir George Carew, he fled to escape arrest. The remainder of his life Keating wandered throughout the length and breadth of Ireland reading and studying old books and manuscripts, many of which were destroyed or lost in the wars and "troubles" that came about soon after his death. He is thought to have completed his history about 1640 and to have died about 1644. His work was "one of the best known of Irish books till the final decay of literature [that is, Gaelic literature] after the famine of 1846, and the last book of importance to circulate in the British Isles in manuscript."71

English translations of Keating's history have been numerous. The earliest mention of a translation I have found is in Peter Walsh's Prospect ( 1682). Walsh, in speaking of Keating's history in his preface and of the fact that he had read it in Irish when he was a young man, goes on to say that "And now . . . I remembered how about four or five years since, the R. H. Earl of Anglesey, Lord Privy Seal, had been pleas'd to show me another Manuscript, being an English Translation of that Irish History of Keatings."72Walsh does not further identify this

____________________
71
DNB. A good estimate of Keating is in Thomas J. Shahan "An Irish Historian of the Seventeenth Century," American Catholic Quarterly Review, XXVIII ( April 1914), 310-38.
72
Peter Walsh, op. cit., preface, p. 16.

-81-

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