O'Donoghue: The Life and Writings of James Clarence Mangan

Pdf D.J. O'Donoghue, The Life and Writings of James Clarence Mangan, Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1897
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The Life and Writings of James Clarence Mangan by D. J. O' Donoghue is a biography interspersed with the writings of of the 19th century poet, essayist and Irish nationalist.

James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849) was born in Dublin , the son of grocer and hedge school teacher. The young Mangan was taught by the Jesuits and learned the basics of Latin, Spanish, French and Italian before family bankruptcy forced him at the age of 15 to seek work as a lawyer's clerk. He later worked for the Ordnance Survey and was an assistant at the Library of Trinity College, Dublin .

In 1818 he first began to submit poems for publication and in 1920 adopted the middle name Clarence. In 1830 after teaching himself German he began translating the works of the German poet Goethe into English. By the 1840s he was translating Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Irish literature.

Mangan was a troubled soul, suffering from depression and mood swings and as a consequence became addicted to alcohol and opium. His appearance was bizarre as he took to wearing a blonde wig, green spectacles and a cloak.

The calamity of the Great Famine (1845-1852) saw mass starvation, disease and emigration devastate the country. Approximately one million Irish dead and another million emigrated after the potato crop which was the staple diet of the poor failed due to blight. These years had a deep impact on Mangan whose writings became increasingly nationalist in tone. His views were shared by the Young Irelanders, an Irish republican rebel group who staged a failed rising in Ballingarry, Co. Tipperary in 1848.

Among Mangan's most famous poems were Dark Rosaleen, Siberia , Nameless One, A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century, The Funerals, To the Ruins of Donegal Castle, Pleasant Prospects for the Land-eaters and Woman of Three Cows.

Mangan also wrote a short autobiography after he was encouraged to do so by Father C. P. Meehan, a fellow poet, Irish historian and editor. Unfortunately in 1849, Mangan's life went into a fatal downward spiral of alcohol, opium addiction, starvation and depression. He died of cholera aged only 46 and was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery , Dublin .

Mangan's life and work have been hugely influential inspiring 20th century Irish poets such as Thomas Kinsella. Mangan is commemorated with a bust in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin and his writings and papers are preserved at Trinity College Library , the National Library of Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy .

D. J. O'Donoghue (1866-1917) born in Chelsea , London , was a prolific self-taught Irish scholar of the late 19th and early 20th century. He began his career as a journalist and wrote biographies of many Irish writers. His writings also covered Irish history, music, art, and literature. He moved to Ireland in 1896 and became the librarian of University College Dublin.


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