[CONRY, Florence.]

[CONRY,FLORENCE] Emanuel Leabhar ina Bhuil Modh Iarrata agus Fhagala Fhonbhtheachda na Beathadh Riaghaltha ar Attugadh Drong Airighthe Sgáthan an Chrábhaidh Drong eile Desiderius.

Louvain, Ar na chur a ccló maille ré hughdadhás , 1616


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. in fours. pp. [viii], 344. (*) , A-2U . Gaelic letter. Small woodcut of Christ with cross on title, another of the Virgin and Child on **2 verso, small woodcut initials, “Desiderius Hibernice” in contemporary hand at foot of title, “Speculum vitae vel Desiderius Hybernice” in C19th century hand on fly, C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on fly, Shirburn Castle blindstamp to head of first three ll. Title page and verso of last a little dusty, light age yellowing, minor light water-staining in places, the odd marginal thumb mark. A very good copy, crisp and clean, with good margins, in C18th three-quarter speckled calf over marbled boards, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, gilt fleurons at centres, red morocco label gilt, a.e.r., upper corners a little worn.

Exceptionally rare first edition of this fine Gaelic printing from Louvain, made for the Recusant market in Ireland, by the Irish Franciscan Florence Conry, from the extraordinary library of the Earls of Macclesfield. The work is an incomplete translation of books 1-3 of the ‘Tratado llamado el Desseoso, y por otro nombre, Espejo de religiosos’, which takes the form of an allegorical pilgrimage, first published anonymously in Catalan (Barcelona, 1515) under title: ‘Spill de la vida religiosa’. Considerable additions meant to encourage Irish Catholics to remain steadfast in the face of religious persecution were made by the translator, Florence Conry. The work is often wrongly ascribed to Miguel Comalada. The translator Conry (or Conroy) was an Irish Franciscan and Archbishop of Tuam (1560/1-1629), who was born in Galway and died in Madrid. An ardent Irish patriot, he was involved in Tyrone’s rebellion and in other Irish movements, and founded the Irish Franciscan College at Louvain, largely with monies provided by Isabella, the daughter of Philip II of Spain. “Florence Conry archbishop of Tuam, . was a native of Connaught. After receiving a suitable education in Spain and the Netherlands he became a Franciscan friar of the Strict Observance at Salamanca, and he was for some time provincial of his order in Ireland He was nominated by Pope Paul V to the archiepiscopal see of Tuam 30 March 1609, and was consecrated the same year by Cardinal Maffei Barberini, protector of Ireland, afterwards Urban VIII (Brady, Episcopal Succession, ii. 138).At Conry’s solicitation Philip III founded for the Irish a college at Louvain under the invocation of St. Anthony of Padua, of which the first stone was laid in 1616.” DNB. “Domestic conditions made establishment of a Gaelic press in Ireland impossible. It fell, therefore, to the fledgeling Irish colonies in Europe to organise a print response to the Protestant offensive. The Franciscans were already familiar with the products of the Protestant press and even deigned to use them…. In 1611 the Irish Franciscans cut the Gaelic front and set up a printing press in Antwerp, which is soon moved to Louvain. It was in order to help the youth and others in Ireland against the false doctrine of other religions that the Franciscan press produced a small number of catechetical and devotional texts. Their circulation appears to have been limited to the Gaelic-speaking community then resident in Flanders though there is evidence that they also circulated in manuscript form in Ireland. Only a small number of publications came off the Irish press.. and between 1619 and 1641 the press does not appear to have been used at all. .. The meagre production was due, in part, to financial constraints, which exacerbated existing problems of composition, printing, and distribution. Low literacy rates in Irish were a factor and it seems Irish speakers who learned to read tended to become literate in English only.” Raymond Gillespie. ‘The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Volume III.’ “The Franciscans, for example, were at the forefront of the drive to print devotional works in Irish for the Gaelic speaking part of the Irish catholic church. .. And not only the language involved but also the format of these particular works indicate their intended audiences .. such smaller works were more easily hidden on the person… In Ireland, where possession of such recusant works could prove dangerous, it made sense to produce clandestine works in these smaller formats”. Crawford Gribben. ‘Enforcing Reformation in Ireland and Scotland, 1550–1700.’ A very good copy of this exceptionally rare early Gaelic printing.

ESTC S125534. STC 6778. Allison & Rogers 151. Shaaber 343ESTC gives copies at Harvard and Huntington only.
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