Until he attained fame as a rebel leader and signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, Patrick Pearse was better known as a teacher and writer. His last book was published just a few weeks before the Rising – a collection of short stories in Irish called An Mháthair agus Sgéalta Eile (The Mother and Other Stories).
It was published in Dundalk, Co Louth, in early 1916 by William Tempest of the Dundalgan Press under the author’s Irish name, P Mac Piarais. One hundred years later, an “extremely rare” copy of the book has turned up in the spring 2016 catalogue from De Búrca Rare Books in Blackrock, Co Dublin.
The price – €3,750 – is explained by the inscription of Pearse on the front endpaper: “Do Sheaghán Binéid / ó Phádraic Mac Piarais / 19. 2. 16”, in Pearse’s characteristic backward-slanting handwriting.
Bookseller Éamonn de Búrca said “this was Pearse’s last literary publication and includes six stories, including the well-known Bríghid na nAmhrán. The date of the inscription, February 19th, is just eight weeks before the Rising.”
The recipient, Seaghán Binéid (presumably Bennett), has not been traced. See deburcararebooks.com.