O’FLANAGAN, James Roderick. Edited by. The Fermoy Monthly Illustrated Journal, and General
Advertiser. A Magazine of Literature and Local Intelligence. Vol. I. April 1885 – Vol. II. No. 4. July 1886. All
published. Fermoy: Lonergan & Company, 1885-1886. Royal octavo. Not paginated. Printed in double column with
numerous adverts. From the Liverpool Public Library with bookplate and stamps. Previous owner’s signature.
Contemporary half morocco on cloth sides, titled in gilt on spine. Binding worn, internally a very good copy. €2750
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James Roderick O’Flanagan (1814-1900), novelist, barrister and man of letters, was born in Fermoy,
County Cork. He was the son of John Fitch O’Flanagan, barracks-master at Fermoy, and Eliza Glissan.
Educated at Fermoy College and TCD. He was admitted to the King’s Inns in 1834, Gray’s Inn (London) in
1836 and to the Inner Temple. He was later called to the Irish Bar. O’Flanagan travelled on the Continent in
1836 and his diary of that trip was published as ‘Impressions at Home and Abroad’.
Beginning in 1838, he practised on the Munster circuit but relied on journalism for his livelihood,
contributing to the London Law Times and the Cork Southern Reporter. He also contributed to the Dublin
University Magazine, The Harp (Cork, 1859), and the Dublin Journal (1858). In addition, he became editor of the Irish National Magazine (Dublin, 1846), the Irish Teachers’ Magazine (Dublin, from 1860), and was
chief writer for the Dublin Saturday Magazine (1865-67). By 1846 he had risen to the position of crown
prosecutor in Cork. In 1847 he secured a post in the insolvency court in Dublin but, his sight failing, he
retired on a pension. He moved to London around 1870, but returned to Ireland in 1872 and built a mansion
on the family property on the Blackwater River near Fermoy.
He was horrified by the agrarian violence of the early 1880s, and visited his old acquaintance T. H. Burke
shortly before he was murdered in the Phoenix Park, to demand law enforcement. In 1885-6 he edited the
Fermoy Monthly Independent Journal. O’Flanagan was now a Parnellite Home-Ruler, though he insisted
that an Irish parliament should be firmly loyal to the empire and to Queen Victoria, whom he revered as
monarch and authoress. Nostalgia for Grattan’s Parliament is detectable in his Annals, Anecdotes, Traits
and Traditions of the Irish Parliaments, 1172–1800.
The Journal has a feast of articles on: literary extracts and criticism, poetry, local and national history,
topography, auctions. Minutes of the meetings of the Fermoy Dispensary Committee, the Fermoy Town
Commissioners and the Fermoy Union. Notes from far afield, Afghanistan, India, Persia, Australia.
O’Flanagan serialised two of his novels, one unfinished, neither in book form and antiquarian articles,
including a series on Cork men of letters. Other contributors included: Matthew Archdeacon, James Byrne,
M.F. Geran, P.A. MacL., Rev. T. Lee, Standish O’Grady, etc.
In the final issue notice is given to ‘The Patrons of the Fermoy Journal’: “Our first number intimated our
resolve to provide a monthly publication, useful to our locality, and strictly non-sectarian. We have kept our
pledge, but the state of Ireland has so changed recently, that, in compliance with the wishes of the greater
number of our readers, we have resolved to merge the “Fermoy Monthly” into a Weekly Newspaper,
entitled the “Fermoy Independent Observer”, which will appear shortly.
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