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Rare Book by Limerick Author Discovered

Ken Bergin, Glucksman Library

The University of Limerick has received a generous donation of an extremely rare book by Limerick author John Francis O'Donnell (1837-1874). The book is The Emerald Wreath. A fireside treasury of legends, stories, published by James Duffy in [1864].

Ken Bergin, Curator of the Special Collections, Glucksman Library said; "This is indeed a rare find, as far as we know only one other copy of this book exists in an Irish institution. O'Donnell was an accomplished poet and journalist whose contributions to Irish literature and journalism deserve recognition"

The Emerald Wreath is a beautifully illustrated collection of prose and verse with numerous colour engravings by the Brothers Dalziel, this copy is one of only a small number known to be in existence, with the only other institutional copy in this country at the National Library of Ireland.

John Francis O'Donnell was born in Limerick City in 1837 and lived over his father's shop in Gerald Griffin Street. He was educated at the Christian Brothers and at the age of 17 he became a journalist with the Munster News. From there he went on to become the sub-editor of the Tipperary Examiner and in 1860 joined the Universal News, a London paper with Catholic and Irish nationalist views. At this time, he writing was admired by Charles Dickens and many of his poems were published in Dickens' All the Year Round.  In 1862, O'Donnell returned to Ireland and joined the staff of The Nation and also acted as editor of Hibernian Magazine. Two years later he returned to London as editor of the Universal News and then editor of The Tablet. He passed away on the 7th May, 1874 aged 37 years after a brief illness and was buried at Kensal Green, London.

The book has been donated to the Special Collections Department of the Glucksman Library by scholar and collector Fr. John Leonard, a long-standing patron of the Glucksman Library. Fr. Leonard has been searching for a copy of this book for over 40 years. O'Donnell's other major works are entitled Memoirs of the Irish Franciscans (1871) and Poems which was published posthumously in 1891. Fr. Leonard had previously donated copies of these works to the University.

The Emerald Wreath, Memoirs and Poems will go on display in Special Collections, Glucksman Library, University of Limerick from 4th November.

The Emerald Wreath

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