BURKE’S: Burke’s Irish Family Records. With a preface by the editor, Hugh Montgomery- Massingberd.
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London: Burke’s Peerage, 1976. Royal octavo. pp. xxxii, 1237. Red buckram gilt. paper repair to titlepage. Spine professionally rebacked. A very good copy. Scarce.
Though by necessity the title has been changed, this volume is a worthy successor to the past four editions of Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, which first appeared in 1899. This was followed in 1904, but the most scholarly and greatly extended edition was brought out in 1912 under the editorship of A.C. Fox-Davies. He greatly benefited by the expert advice of G.D. Burtchaell, then Deputy Ulster, who contributed much Irish material to the Complete Peerage, and examined all the lineage to be published in the Landed Gentry which made it a work of considerably more value than its counterpart of Great Britain. After a 46 year wait, a new edition was issued in 1958, though by then the great majority of the families previously treated had either lost their land or had left Ireland. Consequently many of the families included no longer were landowners. The present editor was restricted by economic reasons to treat about 500 families (514 are included), but it is pleasant to note that this edition has 1,237 pages compared to 778 in 1958. The book is handsomely produced with considerable material not previously published. Included in the new pedigree are the artistic family of Hone, and those of Oscar Wilde and the late Erskine Childers, fourth President of the Irish Republic. It is well known that the longest documented pedigrees in Western Europe are those of Irish dynasties. When they ceased to reign, many continued to have a chiefly status. Some still appear, such as The McGillycuddy of the Reeks, O’Conor Don (he does not use the prefix ‘The’), and The Mac Dermot, Prince of Coolavin, who incidentally has the only native princely style outside the Royal House in the British Isles.
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