From Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil Richard Lovett
In its southerly course the stream passes by Carrick-on-Shannon, Jamestown, Loughs Baderg and Forbes, and forms the boundary between Connaught and Leinster, separating Roscommon on the west from Longford and West Meath on the east. About nine miles from the town of Longford is a spot famous in the literary history not only of Ireland, but also of the United Kingdom. In 1583, a family named Edgeworth established itself at the village called Edgeworthstown, the head of it at that date being Bishop of Down and Connor. The family has always held a high place among those who felt it a duty to labour for the benefit and social improvement of those around them.
During the last century, Richard Edgeworth did much to improve the estate, and was a noted landlord, but it is to the pen of his daughter that the wide reputation of the family is due, and the Moral Tales have been read wherever English is known. The house in which the Edgeworths have resided for generations is a plain, comfortable mansion, and in this house, which is still standing, the stories were written which have delighted and benefited thousands of readers.
Dr. Macaulay, in the Leisure Hour for 1873, thus describes the place to which he then journeyed as a literary pilgrim: 'Edgeworthstown is not a show place, nor is it to be seen without special permission. Having obtained this, I spent some pleasant hours there. Yet it was a melancholy kind of pleasure, the silent and deserted rooms peopling themselves with the shadows of the generation now all but passed away. Maria Edgeworth died in 1850, yet the library or study where she wrote most of the works which have made her name world-famous is just as she left it. It is a large, low-roofed room, with thick projecting wood pillars and wainscoting, and with cosy recesses. Her writing-table and chair, and old family bits of furniture are still there. The walls are covered with pictures, chiefly family portraits, of which there are also several in the fine entrance hall. All parts of the house are full of interesting family records and relics.'
Maria Edgeworth's father was married four times, and had no less than twenty-two children. She was the eldest, and in 1814 she wrote: 'His eldest child was above five-and-forty, the youngest being only one year old.' It was the responsibility thus thrust upon her, combined with natural aptitude for the work, which enabled her to practise in that large family the precepts she embodied in her numerous writings.
Charlotte Milligan Fox, sister of the poet Alice Milligan, was a founding member of the Irish Folk Song Society and an indefatigable field collector of Irish traditional music. Her singularly important work on Irish haprers is here presented for the twenty-first century reader. This edition of Annals offers a much greater number of illustrations than were included in the original 1911 publication, a full biographical introduction, an extensive bibliography of the writings of Milligan Fox and an appendix discussing the variant texts of Arthur O’Neills Memoirs.
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