P.W. Joyce’s Lectures (Freeman’s Journal, 1904)

1.433-4. The Freeman’s Journal, (Dublin), Thursday, 12 May, 1904, 6.

Extract from a report on lectures delivered by P.W. Joyce.

In The Freeman’s Journal for Tuesday the 10th of May, 1904, the paper’s ‘By The Way’ column noted that: “In view of Dr. P. W. Joyce’s position as an authority upon the history and sociology of Keltic [sic] Ireland, a better attendance might have been expected at his lecture on “Education in Ancient Ireland,” delivered in Alexandra College yesterday.” The same edition carried a synopsis of this, the first of three constituting the Margaret Stokes Memorial Lectures for 1904 and the second and third lectures were also covered in this way on the Wednesday and the Thursday (the material covered by the lectures themselves occupies much the same ground as early sections of James Joyce’s 1907 lecture, ‘Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages’). The final report also covered Dr Mahaffy’s message of thanks to Dr Joyce and these comments:

He regretted that the young ladies of that College had not made sufficient use of the lectures; that they had not come there to hear something about the old learning of this country put forward in a calm and gentlemanly way. Irish studies would advance much faster, and they would have a claim to greater sympathy from a far larger public if they were not perpetually bound up with politics. It seemed to be the idea that everybody in the country must be either anti-Irish or anti-English, as if we never had the great series of teachers and scholars, Bunting, Petrie, Stokes, and the lady whose work they commemorated in these lectures who were patriots in the true sense and who nobody could say hated any body or any nation. Of those who were promoting this movement, the Gaelic League — of which there ought to have been more members present at those lectures (hear, hear) — would not bear any criticism whatever and would look upon any man who criticised any part of their movement not as a candid friend, but as an enemy. It was an axiom in party politics that a candid friend was a heathen, and nobody in party politics tolerated a candid friend in the camp; but surely in this great work of Irish studies a man might be allowed to have opinions of his own on some things. It was possible for a man to be very fond of Irish studies and not believe that Oisin was as great as Napoleon (laughter).