Great Deeds in Ireland is the first full translation of the controversial Latin history of Ireland by the famous Dublin intellectual, Richard Stanihurst. Written after he fled Elizabethan London for the Netherlands, De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis was published in 1584 by Christopher Plantin,
the greatest printer of the age.
March 2014, ISBN 978-1-78205-087-2 €25, £20, Softback, 234 x 156mm, 544pp, in Latin & English
Lay readers can now form their own opinions thanks to the efforts of John Barry and Hiram Morgan in preparing the beautifully produced Great Deeds in Ireland, where a fresh English translation and the complete Latin text of De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis have been printed on facing pages. Their edition is enriched with incisive but unobtrusive annotations and with a lengthy introduction that offers an appraisal both of Stanihurst’s career and of how his Latin text has been read and received in succeeding centuries-Nicholas Canny director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway
In facing Latin and English texts, Great Deeds in Ireland provides a contemporary account of Ireland’s geography and people and what the author considered to be the greatest event in Irish history – the Anglo-Norman conquest. Relying on the work of Giraldus Cambrensis, Stanihurst celebrated the origins of the English colony in Ireland whilst simultaneously allegorizing the dilemma facing his own community from a new wave of Protestant English conquerors.
The Anglo-Irishman’s attempt to introduce Ireland to Europe’s Renaissance elite in a literary tour-de-force went awry after many Gaelic Irish, also exiled on the continent, objected to the book’s satirical portrayal of Ireland’s clergy and its representation of the country’s customs, history and learned classes. The book was burned on the orders of the Inquisition in Portugal, marked prohibido in libraries in Spain and provoked a number of angry responses from readers and other writers over the following eighty years. Because of its centrality to debates about Ireland, Stanihurst’s De Rebus was the first book translation undertaken by the Centre for Neo-Latin Studies established at University College Cork for the study of this hitherto neglected corpus of Irish literature.
John Barry has been involved in teaching and research in the Classics Department of University College Cork. He has written on various aspects of Irish Latin writing and the classical influence on Irish scholarship and has been a contributor to the New Oxford DNB.
Hiram Morgan, teaches at University College Cork. He has written Tyrone’s Rebellion (Woodbridge, 1993) and has edited Political Ideology in Ireland, 1541–1641 (Dublin, 1999), Information, Media and Power through the Ages (Dublin, 2001) and The Battle of Kinsale (Bray, 2004). He was a founder and co-editor of History Ireland, Ireland’s illustrated history magazine. He is a former chairman of the Royal Irish Academy’s Historical Sciences Committee and is current current director of CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts of Ireland