Monday, 11 January 2010

Dictionary of Irish Biography

Today I had reason to look up a number of entries in the new Dictionary of Irish Biography.  I was impressed by some of the entries but disappointed by others and even more disappointed by some omissions.  There were two in particular that came to my attention today and I will interested to see what other significant omissioners I come across.

The two omissions I picked up on today were:
  • Eileen Percy (1900-1973), who was born in Belfast but emigrated with her family to America, where she became one of the stars of the silent film era, starring with Douglas Fairbanks.
  • Henry Arthur McArdle (1836-1908), who was also born in Belfast and emigrated from Ulster to America, where he became a notable painter.  His work included a number of historical paintings relating to the history of Texas and some of these hang in the Texas Capitol.
This is an example of what I call the 'hidden history of Ulster'.  There are many notable figures who were born in Ulster, such as Percy and McArdle, but who are now forgotten. 

I welcome the publication of the Dictionary of Irish Biography but there is a need for a modest but more comprehensive and inclusive Dictionary of Ulster Biography, that includes those forgotten figures.  I intend to make a note of other omissions that come to light and return to this again.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the link to the Handbook of Texas Online. It is a resource that I have often visited in relation to the Scotch-Irish influence in Texas. Are you aware of any other information or source of information about McArdle? As yet I have been unable to find any other information about his early years in Belfast.
    I hope to visit Texas, possibly in March, but that will be dependent on political circumstances here at home.

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