Another Festschrift

MacNeill B cropped

A few weeks ago I put up a short post about the centenary of the first book of essays (festschrift) dedicated to an Irish academic. Here is a follow up about the first such book for an Irish academic working in Ireland. I’m going to hang it very tenuously on the peg of a centenary by pointing out that the most influential piece of writing by this second person was published in 1913 – this was ‘The North Began’ by Eoin MacNeill, which appeared in An Claidheamh Soluis in November.

MacNeill was of course a distinguished academic first of all, and was professor of medieval history in University College Dublin from 1909 until 1941. His festschrift was produced to celebrate his 60th birthday in 1938, and was published in 1940. The list of contributors is formidable and international, showing MacNeill’s worldwide reputation as a scholar – there are papers from Rudolf Thurneysen of the University of Bonn, Hiolger Pedersen of Copenhagen and Carl Wilhelm Von Sydow of Lund, and many more.

What really stands out in Mac Neill’s festschrift, however, is the standard of production of the book itself. It was produced by Colm O Lochlainn, the foremost publisher and printer of the time in Dublin. O Lochlainn was a scholar of substance as well, a lecturer in Irish at UCD and one of the main authorities on the history of the book in Ireland. Some of the articles in the festschrift are in Irish, and O Lochlainn used a typeface that he had designed during the 1930s in cooperation with the Monotype Corporation, the world’s main producer of printers’ fonts, and their chief designer Stanley Morison, creator of Times New Roman. O Lochlainn called the new type Colum Cille, and this festschrift is (as far as I know) the first book that used it. It is a very elegant typeface indeed. You can find out more about it in Dermot McGuinne’s wonderful book Irish Type Design, which has recently been reissued. Here is the first page of the article by ‘Torna’, Tadhg O Donnchadha, about an elegy on Daniel O’Connell (click to enlarge):

Mac Neill A

O Lochlainn himself also contributed an article (in English) on ‘Roadways in Ancient Ireland’, and he drew a wonderful map to accompany it. This is a foldout at the end of the book:

O Lochlainn cropped

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