Carleton House
92 Malone Road
Belfast
BT9 5HP
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Telephone 02890 666448
Specialists Ireland, Irish History & Culture, Manuscripts, Maps, Literature, Economics, Sciences, History of Ideas, Travel, Rare Books in all fields (15th to 20th Centuries)
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Carleton House
92 Malone Road
Belfast
BT9 5HP
Contact Peter Rowan
Telephone 02890 666448
Specialists Ireland, Irish History & Culture, Manuscripts, Maps, Literature, Economics, Sciences, History of Ideas, Travel, Rare Books in all fields (15th to 20th Centuries)
The item listed here are samples from the 2016 fair.
We will be launching the highlights of the 2017 fair on 1st May 2017.
P & B Rowan
Stand F02

EXTENSIVELY CORRECTED COPY OF HIS RARE FIRST BOOK

MacDONAGH, Thomas

Through the Ivory Gate A Book of Verse By Thomas McDonagh [sic], Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker 1902

first (sole) edition small 8vo. 110pp., each page (including the title page) with a decorative border printed in yellowish-orange enclosing the text which is printed in green, several vignettes and decorative devices also printed in green, green cloth lettered in gilt on front cover and spine, small decorative devices in gilt on front cover, without the final blank leaf p.111-2, narrow blank strip torn from top margin of title page (presumably to remove a name), a few triflng marks on cloth, else a very nice copy. Rare.

Provenance
Extensively amended in manuscript throughout by the author in his characteristic hand, apparently in preparation for a another edition. Very many of the poems have minor corrections and many have words (even lines) cancelled and substituted with other words in manuscript, a few entire stanzas (and entire poems) are scored through and in one place substituted with a manuscript alternative, in the table of contents most of the poems are marked with either a small "o" or a small "x" (but these do not correlate completely with some similar marks in the body of the text). An old typescript slip, possibly from a bookseller's or auctioneer's catalogue, with a brief description loosely inset.

Note
His rare and attractively produced first book of which a small number only were printed and which was dedicated to W. B. Yeats. That the book was 'Printed on paper of Irish Manufacture' was announced on the verso of the title, and presumably the colours used in printing were intended to echo those of the flag of the Irish Republic. Issued simultaneously in blue cloth, and, a trifle later perhaps, in stiff cream boards.
MacDonagh (1878-1916), poet, dramatist, scholar and revolutionary had spent some years as a novice in a Catholic religious order of the Holy Ghost Father at Rockwell College in Tipperary before a personal religious crisis led him in 1901 to abandon his plans for the priesthood. It is that crisis and its causes that provided the themes for this book. "This volume consists of two sections: a sequence of forty-two poems collectively titled 'Dream Tower', and a group of fourteen poems radically different in character entitled 'Roisin and Other Verse'. The 'Dream Tower' sequence predates the 'Roisin' sequence poems and deals - in almost autobiographical fashion - with events at Rockwell College. As the preface state, 'Dream Tower' outlines a 'struggle of soul from the innocence of childhood through disillusion, disappointment and ill to doubt; and thence through prayer and hope and the pathos of old memories to lasting Trust and Faith' ... The basic significance of 'Dream Tower' is the autobiographical experiences that many of the poems recount. ... The 'Roisin' poems .. differ very much in character from those of 'Dream Tower'; lighter in tone, they are based on purely irish themes and show the influence of MacDonagh's newfound interest in Gaelic League nationalism. In particular the 'Roisin' poems emphasize the importance of speaking the Irish language. ... Roisin [is] a feminine metaphor for Ireland .. The 'Roisin' poems contain numerous allusions to Irish placenames .. and evoke traditional mythological concepts such as Tir-na-nog, to which Roisin flees to escape the ruin of contemporary Ireland" [Norstedt]. Although Yeats permitted the dedication of the book to him he was dismissive of the work "Whether you have poetical power or not I could not really say - but I can say that you have not found yourself as a poet" and the book was indeed little noticed and MacDonagh reportedly later told a friend that only 113 copies were sold.
MacDonagh followed up this first work with two further books of verse, April and May (1903) and Golden Joy (1906). Among his papers in the National Library of Ireland there is evidence in the form of sample tables of contents that MacDonagh projected something in the nature of a 'Collected Poems' with selected pieces from Through the Ivory Gate and April and May. The much corrected and amended versions of the poems in this copy of the book were apparently intended for such a volume.
However as his literary powers matured MacDonagh grew to despise this work and he is recorded as having burnt the pile of what he had left of them in the grounds of Pearse's school St. Enda's where he taught. He was a signatory to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916, was in command of Jacob's factory during the Easter Rising, and was executed by firing squad on 3 May 1916.
Vide: J. Norstedt Thomas MacDonagh A Critical Biography (1908).

Edition
first edition

Signed / Inscribed
Extensively annotated by the author