In 1641 The Irish friars of Louvain acquired a new printing press , and an Irish translation of the Rule of the Third Order of St Francis was the first work printed on it.
In 1645 Antoin Gearnoin published
Parrthas an Anama
(‘Paradise of the Soul’).
The the first mention of a printing project by the Irish monks occurs on 7 February 1611, when Robert Chamber lain (MacArtuir) left his pension from the king of Spain to the community in Louvain and wrote
“reh-aghaidhanclodh-Gaoidhilg agusneithedochuracel?dorachasanon?irdoDhia,adudar n?sionagusd’rdSanFroinsias.”
‘for the Irish type and the printing of material in Irish that will contribute to the hon our of God,the fame of our nation and the order of St Francis ‘
356J. Antoin Gearnoin
Parrthas an Anama [‘Paradise of the Soul’]
Louvain: The monastery of the Irish friars. 1645. SOLD
Duodecimo. 11 X 7 cm. ‡‡12 , A10, B6, C12,D6, e12, F6, G12, h6, I12, K6, l12, M6, n12, o6, p12, Q6, R12, S6, T12, u6, X12, Y6, Z12, Aa6, bb12, Cc6, dd12, ee6.
506 pages with 86 large woodcuts in the text. It has been recently bound in vellum and professional paper repairs on the title and final leaf with some loss of text. This is a very rare book with the ESTC only one copy in the US, Newberry.
The type face is said to have been cut copying the handwritten of the Irish Franciscan Giolla Brighde Ó hEoghusa a.k.a. Bonaventure O Hussey (1574-1614), Who having escaped Douai in 1610 to find refuge in Louvain. There he published his version of the
Irish catechism. In 1641 The Irish friars of Louvain acquired a new printing press from Antwerp, and a new Irish translation of the Rule of the Third Order of St Francis was the first work printed on it. It is, in essence, a manual of devotion for Irish Catholic families living in peace and tranquillity. Parrthas an Anama is accompanied by 86 woodcuts, the mixing of the Vernacular wit woodcut illustrations gives a great understanding of the mission of these displace Irish Franciscans. This text was designed for the lightly educated, and the illiterate.
Acting as menanomic device illustrating the text, and printing it in Gaelic type, certainly is an attempt of the counter-reformation to spread Catholicism in Ireland as resistance to protestant encroachment. While these wood cuts are found in other religious works published in Louvain and not specifically produced for the Irish text, their presence enhances the aura of tranquillity that the work suggests. While the actual output from Louvain is quite meagre, it seems that the publication of further works was intended.
Wing G439A( see above)
- Lynam, E. W. 1969. The Irish character in print: 1571–1923. New York: Barnes & Noble. First printed as Oxford University Press offprint 1924 in Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 4th Series, Vol. IV, No. 4, March 1924.)
- Vincent Kinane, A Brief History of Printing and Publishing in Ireland (Dublin: National Print Museum of Ireland, 2002)
- Brendan Leen, Four Centuries of Printing in the Irish Character (Drumcondra: Cregan Library, St Patrick’s College)
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