Research guide: Literature

This guide provides an overview of the sources relating to the topic of literature held in the Special Collections and Archives department at the Glucksman Library.

It outlines the various types of archival and printed material relating to literature held at UL, and suggests other archive services and online resources which may be of interest to researchers.


stack of five books by Yeats with ornamented spines
Cussen collection: selection of books from the Yeats Collection

1. Overview

We hold both primary and secondary sources relating to literature.

Primary sources
Our archives contain the personal papers of many Irish authors and collectors of literature. These collections contain personal correspondence and notes, manuscript drafts and unpublished material, reviews, newspaper clippings and photographs which provide additional context to the published works of these authors.

Secondary sources
We hold a number of rare and first editions of published literature, as well as extensive reference material, in the general special collections, as well as the Norton, Leonard and Gilsenan Yeats Collections. We also hold a number of smaller printed literature collections, such as those relating to Elisabeth Bowen, George Egerton and Gothic literature.


This guide refers to material held in Special Collections and Archives only. For more information on the Glucksman Library’s main collection, including journals and databases, search the main library catalogue.

2. Key archive collections


Michael Curtin

book cover for Michael Curtin's novel The Plastic Tomato Cutter, featuring artwork, including a tomato
Leonard B/253: Cover of Michael Curtin’s novel The Plastic Tomato Cutter (London, 1991)

Michael Curtin (1942–2016) was born in Limerick and is best known for his darkly comic novels depicting life in his native city but within a broader canvas than his contemporary Frank McCourt. In addition to his novels, Curtin published a number of short stories, most notably in the New Irish Writing page of the Irish Press.

The Michael Curtin collection contains typescript drafts of Curtin’s novels The Replay; The League against Christmas; The Plastic Tomato Cutter; The Cove Shivering Club; and Sing! Also of interest is Curtin’s correspondence with publishers and literary agents, which illustrate the difficulties authors face in getting their work into print. Of particular note in this regard are the 11 rejection letters (P19/8) Curtin received for The Plastic Tomato Cutter before the book was published by Fourth Estate Ltd. in 1991.

Published works by Michael Curtin are available to search on the library catalogue here.


Gerard Gallivan

black-and-white portrait of smiling Gerard Gallivan in formal attire
P30/632: Studio portrait of Gerard Gallivan, c. 1990s

Gerard P Gallivan was born in Limerick in 1920 and grew up on Henry Street. A contemporary of Frank McCourt, Gallivan’s recollections of his home city differed considerably from those described in Angela’s Ashes, although the two men lived in very similar spheres. Gallivan was educated at Crescent College and graduated in 1939. He began his working career in England, where he emigrated in 1940. Here he also met his wife, whom he married in 1945. A year later, they returned to Ireland and settled in Limerick, where Gallivan established a career in the airline industry. In 1952, he was transferred to Dublin, where he was to live for the rest of his life.

Gallivan’s writing career commenced at the age of 18, when he wrote his first novel, The Hawk, but failed to get it published. He later found his feet as a playwright and over his long career wrote more than 40 plays, many of which were produced at The Gate Theatre, The Abbey Theatre, The Elbana Theatre, and The Olympia Theatre in Dublin, and at The Lyric Theatre in Belfast. He also did a lot of journeyman work, contributing several episodes to the popular radio series Harbour Hotel and The Kennedys of Castleross, and for the television drama Kilmore House. Many of his stage scripts, such as Parnell, The Final Mission, and The Lamb and the Fox, were also produced as radio plays.

Gallivan’s works focus predominantly on Irish political history (particularly the foundation of the Irish State) and major Irish and English political and social figures such as Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Maude Gonne, W. B. Yeats, Noel Chamberlain, Eamonn De Valera, Michael Collins, and Cardinal Newman. His published plays include Decision at Easter (1960); And a Yellow Singing Bird (1963); Mourn the Ivy Leaf (1965); Dev (1978); Watershed (1981), Lovesong (1984), and three volumes of Selected Plays (1999–2008). Among his best-known stage plays is The Stepping Stone, which was originally performed in 1963 and enjoyed a popular revival in Cork in 1997. Gallivan continued to write until the last months of his life. His later works included The Indomitable Lamb (1997), The Prudent Paramour (1997), and The Rusted Dagger (1998), all of which were broadcast as radio plays. His other late works included a family history The Gallivans of Limerick (1995), and a commissioned account of his working life, My Times in Irish Travel, published post­humously in 2004 as Ireland Enters the Air Age. Gerard Gallivan died on Christmas Day 2003.



The Gerard Gallivan Papers document Gallivan’s career as a playwright, comprising manuscript and typescript drafts of his plays and other works; extensive correspondence with theatre producers, actors, publishers, and writers’ societies; posters and programmes relating to his plays; diaries; photographs; and press cuttings. The papers provide an interesting insight into the creative process of a playwright and the journey which takes a play from an initial idea into print and onto stage or air.

Fifty-five volumes of manuscript, typescript, and printed scripts were donated by Gerard Gallivan to the National Library of Ireland in September 1991. They can be consulted in the NLI Manuscripts Reading Room (Call Number Ms 35,286/1–55). A list of these volumes can be accessed online here. An original typescript of Gallivan’s play Triangle can be found in the Focus Theatre Papers collection at the NLI (here). Additional material, including a typescript of Gallivan’s play Assembly and material relating to the production of his play The Stepping Stone can be found in the Lyric Theatre/O’Malley archive in the James Hardiman Library, NUIG.


Seán Lysaght

Seán Lysaght was born in 1957 and grew up in Limerick. He was educated at UCD, where he received a BA and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature. He spent several years in Switzerland and Germany before returning to Ireland to teach and pursue further studies at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. In 1996, he received a PhD for his biographical study of Irish natural historian Robert Lloyd Praeger, which was published two years later by the Four Courts Press as Robert Lloyd Praeger: The Life of a Naturalist. He now lives in Westport and lectures at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

Lysaght’s early ventures into poetry won acknowledgment in 1975 at the North Cork Writers’ Festival in Doneraile, where he received first prize in the under 18 category with his poems The Geese, Sacrilege, and They Cast off Youth. He also won an award at the annual Patrick Kavanagh poetry festival in 1985. Lysaght’s first collection of poems, Noah’s Irish Ark, was published in 1989 by the Dedalus Press. His second collection, The Clare Island Survey (Gallery, 1991) was nominated for The Irish Times/ Aer Lingus poetry award. In 2007, Lysaght received the prestigious O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry. His work draws heavily on the natural world, combined with allusions to literature and legend. According to Lysaght, ‘poetry should be a negotiation between what we know to be our limits and the revelation of something we didn’t even realize was there in the first place.’



The collection illustrates Seán Lysaght’s early development and maturing as a poet. It contains many of his early published works (including essays, poetry, and book reviews) and correspondence with publishing companies, literary journals, and newspapers, including his unsuccessful attempts to find a publisher for a novel (P18/20).

Published works by Seán Lysaght other than those forming part of this collection are available in the Special Collections and Archives Department and in the Main Library at the University of Limerick. These works can be found by searching the library catalogue here.


Edward P McGrath

book cover for Joyce's Dubliners, featuring artwork of a Victorian streetscape
Dubliners: Cover of James Joyce’s Dubliners, 1993 (823.912 JOY)

Edward McGrath was a professor of English Literature in New York University, who had a major research interest in James Joyce. The collection, donated by his widow, is based on a single theme, that of the strange publishing background to James Joyce’s Dubliners. The book’s journey began in 1904, when Joyce submitted a collection of short stories to the publisher, Grant Richards. It was not until February 1906 that Richards accepted them. Unfortunately, Richards had problems with his printer who refused to set up the print for the story ‘Two Gallants’, as he objected to certain passages therein. In 1907, after many debates and arguments about the deletion and modification of this and other passages in the book, Richards backed away from publishing the work. In 1909, George Roberts of the Dublin firm Maunsel & Co. accepted Dubliners and signed a publication contract in August of that year. However, Roberts soon had second thoughts and the entire first print run of the book was burned before it was launched. Dubliners was finally published in 1914 by the original publisher, Grant Richards, a full 10 years after it was written.

McGrath had a great interest in discovering what influenced two successive publishers to reject the manuscript. Section A of the collection contains letters sent to him by various Joycean scholars and biographers, a Jesuit priest, and various curators of rare book libraries holding Joyce material. The letters are in the form of replies to requests for information surrounding the rejection of the manuscript by Grant Richards and George Roberts. Section B contains McGrath’s collection of photocopies of Joyce’s letters to Richards. The originals of these letters are held in the New York Public Library.

Other items in the collection include a letter from Seán O’Casey to McGrath enclosing a large signed black and white photograph of himself (P8/4); an obituary of the Irish poet and author Oliver St. John Gogarty (P8/20); and a review of a book about James Joyce (P8/21).


Tom Nestor

book cover for Tom Nestor's book The Keeper of Absalom's Island, featuring artwork of three children bathing in a lake
Leonard B/947: Cover of Tom Nestor’s novel The Keeper of Absalom’s Island (Cork, 1999)

Thomas G Nestor was born in 1937 in Coolcappa, Rathkeale, County Limerick as a farmer’s son and one of ten children. He was educated in St Flannan’s College, Ennis in 1950–1954, and began his working career in 1955, first with Shannon Sales and Catering Service, and then with an American company in Ennis. Nestor later became self-employed and ran a training and consultancy programme for middle managers until his retirement in 2004.

Nestor began his writing career in 1964 with two articles about rural Ireland, which were published in the Manchester Guardian. These were followed by Twilight in Suburbia, written for Donacha O’Dulaing for his radio programme A Munster Journal. The work was however rejected. His published works include three radio plays broadcast by BBC and RTÉ, some thirty short stories published in Scotland, USA, and Australia, and three novels: The Keeper of Absalom’s Island (1999), The Blue Pool (2002), and Talking to Kate (2009). From 1964 to 1998, Nestor also contributed to The Limerick Leader with his column My Life and Times.

The collection includes typescript drafts of five of Nestor’s radio plays, four of his short stories, and two of his novels. It also incorporates issues of Blackwood’s Magazine, Short Story International, and other publications which contain his short stories. There is also correspondence with the BBC and with publishers and literary agents which illustrate Nestor’s efforts to get his works published.


Kate O’Brien

black-and-white portrait of seated Kate O'Brien in black, wrist resting on the back of her chair
P12/407: Studio portrait of Kate O’Brien, 1940s

Kate O’Brien, a pioneer in Irish fiction, was born in Limerick on 3 December 1897 as one of the ten children of Thomas O’Brien and Catherine née Thornhill. Her mother died when she was six years old, and she became the youngest boarder at Laurel Hill, a French convent school in Limerick. In 1916, she received a county council scholarship to read French and English in University College Dublin. She graduated with a BA three years later.

O’Brien began her career in London as a freelance journalist for The Sphere and later The Manchester Guardian Weekly. In 1921, she travelled to the United States as a companion to her sister Anne and her husband Stephen O’Mara. A year later, she moved to Spain, where she spent ten months working as a governess in Bilbao. During this time, she formed a deep attachment to the country that was to remain with her for the rest of her days. Returning to London in 1923, she married a young Dutchman, Gustaff Renier. However, this union was only to last eleven months before the couple separated.

O’Brien’s literary career commenced in 1926 as the result of a bet with a friend that she could write a play within a number of weeks. The result, Distinguished Villa, was met with wide acclaim. Several other plays followed, including The Silver Roan, The Bridge, and Set in Platinum. However, it was her first novel, Without My Cloak (1931), that established O’Brien as a significant Irish writer. The book was awarded the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

In 1934, O’Brien produced her second novel, The Ante-Room. Two years later, it was adapted for the stage in London’s Queen Theatre, but did not meet with success. In that same year, O’Brien suffered another professional setback when her third novel, Mary Lavelle, was banned by the Censorship of Publications Board in Ireland. In 1937, her play The Schoolroom Window was performed at the Manuscript Theatre Club in London. In the same year, she published the highly personal travelogue Farewell Spain, largely in response to the events surrounding the Spanish Civil War. The book was later banned in Franco’s Spain and O’Brien was forbidden access to the country until 1957.

In 1938, O’Brien published her fourth novel, Pray for the Wanderer, followed two years later by The Land of Spices, her second work to be banned in Ireland. O’Brien spent the early years of the Second World War in Oxford and London, working for the British Ministry of Information. The writer moved to Devon in 1942 boarding in the house of novelist, E.M. Delafield, and over the next year published The Last of Summer, which was performed as a play at the Phoenix Theatre in London and the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin between 1944 and 1945. The publication English Diaries and Journals was produced in 1943.

O’Brien’s seventh novel, That Lady (1946), published in North America as For One Sweet Grape, was perhaps her greatest commercial success. The novel was adapted for the stage in November 1949, directed by Guthrie McClintic and starring Katherine Cornell as Ana de Mendoza. Six years later, the novel was made into a motion picture. Kate O’Brien returned to live in Ireland in 1950, and on the strength of her new-found wealth purchased a handsome property in Roundstone, county Galway. She continued to be productive in her new surroundings and published her biographical work Teresa of Avila in 1951, followed by her eighth novel, The Flower of May, in 1953. The writer travelled to Rome in Italy in the early months of 1954 in preparation for what was to become her ninth and final published novel, As Music and Splendour.

A decade after her move to Roundstone, O’Brien returned to England, settling in Boughton, Kent. Whilst the 1960s did not yield any further fictional work, O’Brien produced another travelogue entitled My Ireland in 1962. Presentation Parlour, a collection of reminiscences of her early family life, followed in 1963. In addition, she produced articles for different publications including her Long Distance series in the Irish Times. Kate O’Brien died in Kent on 13 August 1974, aged 76, leaving behind a body of unfinished work including her memoirs and what would have been her tenth novel, Constancy.


The Kate O’Brien Papers

The collection is a fascinating record of the life and career of writer Kate O’Brien, providing not only a cross-section of her literary output, but also an insight into the private world of one of Limerick’s most prolific daughters. This body of material is an extremely valuable source for researchers in Ireland and abroad.

The collection has been arranged thematically into six series, to address O’Brien’s personal life, literary life, media coverage, printed material, photographic material, and death.

Series A
This series provides the researcher with a rare glimpse into O’Brien’s personal life with official documentation including her birth and marriage certificates and passports. This part of the collection also contains diaries, correspondence with family, friends, and admirers, and material relating to O’Brien’s financial affairs and her on-going struggle to control them. Her long-term relationship with artist Mary O’Neill is reflected in a number of cards and postcards exchanged between the two women from the late 1940s until the year of O’Brien’s death. O’Brien’s diaries, dating from the early 1960s and covering just over a decade, record the writer’s daily activities, appointments, travel plans, financial dealings, and occasionally more personal information such as the state of her health or mood.

The most substantial component of the collection is Series B which addresses O’Brien’s literary life. Her literary work is mostly in draft format and often contains handwritten amendments. This body of material consists of travelogues, articles, essays and short stories, lectures, biographies, novels, and material for radio and film. Essays and short stories in draft format include Singapore has Fallen (1942), On Ballycottin Strand (1945), Old Balls MacSweeney (1956), Boney Fidey (1956) and Manna (1962). Also of interest are mostly typescript drafts of articles produced by O’Brien from her home in Kent as part of the Long Distance series for the Irish Times, addressing a variety of issues from Northern Ireland to Charles de Gaulle. Two drafts of Presentation Parlour, the author’s reminiscences of her aunts, are contained in the collection. One of the most interesting components of this series is the body of material relating to O’Brien’s last novel, Constancy, which remained incomplete at the time of her death. The collection holds both handwritten and typescript drafts of book one and two of the novel, each containing their own amendments.

Series B
This series includes O’Brien’s dealings with her literary agents and publishers and includes contracts outlining conditions relating to copyright, royalties, publishing rights, and payments, as well as financial material and correspondence. The author’s involvement with broadcasting bodies such as British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Éireann, and Radio Telefís Éireann is also represented. Other material in Series B includes drafts of lectures for different audiences; correspondence regarding the Civil List Pension; and O’Brien’s involvement with educational projects.

Series C
This series focuses on media coverage of Kate O’Brien in Irish and British newspapers, magazines, and periodicals. It includes reviews and articles relating to the author’s work from the 1920s to the mid-1980s, a scrapbook of press cuttings from 1927 to 1934, and articles on various subjects. There are also press cuttings relating to Kate O’Brien’s death in 1974.

Series D
This series comprises publications and other printed matter, including copies of O’Brien’s novels Without My Cloak and Mary Lavelle, programmes for a bullfight at Plaza de Toros de Madrid and for the play That Lady, performed at Dipson’s Erlanger Theatre in October 1949.

Series E
The photographic component is contained in this series. It provides a valuable record of O’Brien’s family life growing up in county Limerick, school days in Laurel Hill Convent, graduation from University College Dublin, close relationship with her sister Nance, travels to Spain and other locations, brief marriage to Gustaff Renier, literary commitments, life at The Fort in Roundstone, county Galway, move to Kent, England, and passion for cats.

Series F
This series addresses the sickness and subsequent death of Kate O’Brien in August 1974, and includes documentation from Canterbury Hospital relating to her personal possessions, copies of her death certificate, and correspondence between family and friends. The administration of the writer’s estate is also addressed and includes O’Brien’s last will and testament and a codicil of will.

Related collections
The O’Mara Papers at UL also holds material relating to Kate O’Brien (see below).

Further material relating to Kate O’Brien, consisting of novels, plays, short stories, articles, talks, and letters (both manuscripts and published works) are held at the McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. For a digital finding aid to this collection, click here.


The O’Mara Papers

programme for Kate O'Brien's play The Last of Summer, featuring artwork of a curtain
P40/866/10: Programme of a performance of Kate O’Brien’s play The Last of Summer, 1945

The O’Mara Papers incorporate some 650 items of Kate O’Brien’s private correspondence with her sisters Anne O’Mara, May O’Brien, and Clare O’Brien, her brother-in-law Stephen O’Mara, and nephew Peter O’Mara. The letters illuminate O’Brien’s method of writing, the creative process behind each of her novels, and the ups and downs of her career as author. Of particular note is the sparkling correspondence relating to Mary Lavelle between Stephen O’Mara, who critiques the work, and Kate O’Brien, who vigorously defends it. On a more personal note, the letters also reveal the author’s complete lack of financial acumen, her tendency to live wildly beyond her means, and her lifelong dependency on the fiscal good will of Anne and Stephen O’Mara. Of Kate O’Brien’s private life the letters reveal almost nothing, demonstrating a high degree of circumspectness and a tendency to compartmentalise various aspects of her life. The one rare exception is correspondence relating to her brief marriage and its aftermath in 1922-1925 which, while not revelatory as such, exposes a more vulnerable aspect of Kate’s personality. The letters cover fifty years of Kate O’Brien’s life, and the long time span touchingly reveals her aging process, the increasing difficulties she faced to have her work accepted as she grew older, and the gradual diminishing of her creative spark. In addition to correspondence, the O’Mara Papers contain press cuttings of O’Brien’s columns published in various newspapers, reviews of her works, a small number of her writings, and programmes of her plays.

The O’Mara Papers also include a small collection of letters and poems written by Austin Clarke to Anne O’Brien in 1916–1917. The documents, written in the early stages of Clarke’s literary career, provide important insights into a young poet’s search for identity and expression.


JM O’Neill

Jeremiah Michael ‘Jerry’ O’Neill (1921–1999), playwright and novelist, was born in Limerick, where his father was the city’s postmaster, and educated at the Augustinian College, Dungarvan, County Waterford. In the 1950s, he moved to England where he worked in Barclays Bank and grew to specialise in colonial banking. He was posted to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in West Africa for a time. When he returned to England, he became an agent in the building trade in London and the Home Counties. In 1967, he became the tenant landlord of the Duke of Wellington pub in the Ball’s Pond Road in Islington. There he established the Sugawn Theatre and Sugawn Kitchen, a well-known venue for plays and folk music.



In 1980 he left the pub trade and settled in Hornsey, where he wrote a number of plays and four novels. During this time he received two Irish Post/AIB awards. His plays include Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, Diehards, and God Is Dead on the Ball’s Pond Road. His first novels, Open Cut (1986) and Duffy Is Dead (1987), were hailed as truly original works, earning him the accolade of being ‘the laureate of the London Irish’. These first two novels were followed by Canon Bang Bang (1989) and Commissar Connell (1992). He moved to live in Kilkee, County Clare, where he completed his two last novels, Bennett & Company (1998) and Rellighan, Undertaker (1999). He died in 1999, in his seventies, shortly after being awarded the Kerry Ingredients Book of the Year Award for Bennett & Company.

This collection contains the drafts and proofs of O’Neill’s novels and plays, as well as other writers’ adaptations of his novel Open Cut for film. A thesis discussing the significance of O’Neill’s work in the context of Irish writing is also included in the collection.


Robert Stradling

The Robert Stradling collection was compiled by Professor Robert A Stradling between 1992 and 2000, and formed the basis for his publication in 1999, entitled The Irish and the Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. The collection was deposited in the University of Limerick in 2002.

black-and-white picture of seated men in military uniforms, one looking through binoculars, in front of stacked sandbags
P13/77: A group of Irish brigadiers outside a shelter at La Marañosa, March 1937

Stradling sourced his material from surviving Irish veterans of the Spanish Civil War, their friends and families. In addition, copies of documents were assembled from numerous library and archive services, including the Archivo General Militar at Ávila, Archivo del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores (Madrid), Archivo General de la Guerra Civil Española (Salamanca), National Library of Ireland, and National Archives, Dublin. The oral accounts were recorded during visits to Ireland in 1994 and 1996, with the exception of the recording of Jimmy Kavanagh by his son James in 1992, and the Radio Éireann interview with Phil McBride in 1986. A large quantity of published sources were also assembled and reproduced, including newspapers, books, periodicals, and magazines.

Divided into three main sections, the collection focuses on documentation from Irish Brigadiers, administrative documentation, and media coverage of the Spanish Civil War in Ireland and abroad.

This collection successfully assembles documentation relating to the role of the Irish Brigade in the Spanish Civil War from a range of different sources. The body of material provides a number of different perspectives of the war, including the personal accounts of the Brigadiers, the official documents of the administration of General Franco and the Irish Brigade, and the views of the media at home and abroad. In addition, it provides access to copies of documents that in many cases remain in private ownership.


Maurice Walsh

black-and-white portrait of seated Marucie Walsh in formal attire smoking a pipe, artwork of bookshelves in the background
P7/155: Portrait of Maurice Walsh, c. 1930s

Maurice Walsh was born near Lisselton, County Kerry on 21 April 1879, the eldest son and one of ten children of John Walsh and Elizabeth Buckley. His father was a devoted reader, and both he and Maurice’s primary school teacher Michael Dillon cultivated his interest in books from an early age. Having attended St. Michael’s College in Listowel, Walsh joined the civil service in 1901 and became a customs and excise officer. After brief postings in Ireland, he was sent to Scotland, a country whose landscape and people were to have a profound influence on him. In 1922, Walsh transferred to the customs service of the new Irish Free State. He was prominent in the newly established customs officers’ association, Comhaltas Cana, and contributed to its journal, Irisleabhar. He retired in 1933, and dedicated the rest of his life to writing. Maurice Walsh died at his home in Stillorgan, Dublin on 18 February 1964.

Walsh’s literary output spanned about sixty years. His early works were short stories published in the periodicals Irish Emerald (1908) and The Dublin Magazine (1923–1925). Of his fourteen novels, the first, The Key Above the Door was published in Edinburgh in 1926 and attracted an unsolicited tribute from the famous Scottish author J. M. Barrie. Walsh continued to write short stories, which appeared mainly in Chambers’s Journal and The Saturday Evening Post (Philadelphia). The first collection of these was published as Green Rushes in 1935.

One of Walsh’s most successful creations was the character Thomasheen James O’Doran, based on Tom O’Gorman, a veteran of World War I who worked for Walsh. Eleven of the stories based on him were published in Thomasheen James, Man-of -No-Work in March 1941 and reprinted in May of that year, which indicates their great popularity. Thomasheen James also featured in two other collections: Son of a Tinker and Other Tales (1951) and The Smart Fellow (1964). Many of Walsh’s works were translated into European languages and all were sold in English-speaking countries such as Canada and Australia.

One of Walsh’s better-known novels now is Blackcock’s Feather, published in 1932. Set at the time of the Nine Years War (1594–1603), it has been noted for the quality of its prose. In 1933, the Department of Education published an abridged version, which became familiar to generations of post-primary school students. It was later translated into Irish as Cleite Clarcollig.

Some of Walsh’s work was broadcast on radio beginning with Blackcock’s Feather, which was serialised both on Radio Éireann (1937) and on BBC radio in Northern Ireland (1938). Such productions were not confined to Ireland. The Man in Brown was broadcast under its American title Nine Strings to Your Bow in the US in 1945, and in 1950, Scottish radio broadcast The Key Above the Door. Naturally, there were many schemes envisaged for the adaptation of work of his for film, but most failed. It was, however, a film which was to guarantee the fame of one of his short stories, The Quiet Man, published in The Saturday Evening Post in February 1933. On reading the story, John Ford purchased the film rights of it, but it would be almost twenty years before it made its way onto celluloid. For many, it now occupies iconic status in cinematic history.

The only novel of Walsh’s to be successfully adapted for film was Trouble in the Glen, made in 1954 by Republic Pictures and starring Margaret Lockwood and John Laurie. Its production was preceded by controversy concerning the sale of the film rights between Walsh’s American literary agents, Brandt and Brandt of New York, and his principal publishers on this side of the Atlantic, Chambers. The dispute soured his view of the movie business and he refused to assist in the making of the film.

In addition to short stories and novels, Walsh also wrote plays, some poetry (mainly unpublished), and articles on subjects including whiskey (of which he was a connoisseur). In 1940, he collaborated with Seán O’Faoláin in the writing of an article entitled ‘Ireland in a Warring Europe’, which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post. The article was a defence of Irish neutrality and generated much reaction.

Walsh was involved in two literary organisations – PEN (of which he served as president in 1938) and the Friends of the Irish Academy of Letters. In addition to O’Faoláin, other writers including Francis McManus were among his wide circle of friends. The collection includes much evidence of his popularity. The royalty statements from his publishers and agents tangibly prove his success as a writer, and the letters from admirers give his audience a human face.


The Maurice Wash Papers

The collection is a comprehensive record of the life and work of Maurice Walsh, a figure who has a distinctive place in the Irish literary history. The Walsh Papers have been divided into five series.

Series A
This series includes documents relating to Walsh’s personal and business affairs and also encompasses letters from friends and admirers. Material on Irish neutrality and his work on Irish Mist advertisements can also be found in this section, as can letters from publishers and literary agents, and material relating to proposals for the staging, broadcasting, or filming of Walsh’s work.

Series B
This series contains Walsh’s literary papers. It includes manuscript and typescript drafts of his novels excepting the first, The Key Above the Door, and similar material relating to his five published collections of short stories. There are also some published versions of his short stories and galley or proof copies of three of his novels.

Series C, D, and E
These series contain material relating to Maurice Walsh’s wife, Caroline née Begg; his son Maurice Walsh; and his grandson Manus Walsh, respectively.

Special Collections and Archives Department holds copies of all of Walsh’s novels and short story collections, including some first editions.

3. Key reference texts

There is a wealth of reference texts relating to literature in Special Collections and Archives. Here are just a few to get you started on your research:

Search the library catalogue here

4. Key printed collections


Gilsenan Yeats rare book collection

The Gilsenan Yeats Collection contains many rare first editions of printed works by William Butler Yeats.  It features all of Yeats’ works such as The Tower, The Winding Stair, Wind among the Reeds, and Plays for an Irish Theatre.  It is one of the finest Yeats collections in Ireland, providing focus and inspiration for literary scholarship.  The collection was donated to the Glucksman Library by Professor Michael Gilsenan with the aid of the American Ireland Fund.


Fr John Leonard Limerick Collection

The Fr John Leonard Limerick Collection is the definitive collection on Limerick. It holds works by many writers associated with the city and county, including Michael Collins, Dorothea Conyers, Michael Curtin, Aubrey de Vere, Gerald Griffin, Michael Hartnett, Jim Kemmy, Bryan Merryman, Lola Montez, Kate O’Brien, Desmond O’Grady, Gabriel Rosenstock, Eithne Strong, and Frank McCourt, amongst many others.




Ciarán McAnally Travel Collection

The Ciarán McAnally Travel Collection is a library dedicated to Irish travel literature. It comprises over 5,000 items dating from the seventeenth-century to present day. The narratives contained in the collection are a distinct kind of primary source with unique importance as historical evidence. The McAnally Collection is a valuable source for the study of the nature of travel accounts with includes the works of many of Ireland’s greatest writers.


5. Further reading and resources

Please note some databases listed below may require login through the Glucksman Library website

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Early English Books Online

Eighteenth Century Drama

Early Modern Books

English Short Title Catalogue


A full list of useful online resources is available here.