Patrick Weston Joyce

From The Cabinet of Irish Literature, Volume 4, edited by T. P. O'Connor

Patrick Weston Joyce was born in 1827 in the village of Ballyorgan, county Limerick. He was educated at private schools. In 1845 he entered the service of the Commissioners of National Education, under whom he held several successive posts till 1860, when he was placed at the head of the Central National Model Schools, Dublin. He was next raised to the position of a professor in the commissioners' training department for teachers—a post he still holds. While he was thus climbing the ladder of promotion in his department he found time to enter and graduate in Trinity College, of which he became a B.A. in 1861, an M.A. in 1865, and LL.D. in 1870.

Dr. Joyce's first work was suggested by his own occupation. A Handbook of School Management and Methods of Teaching, published in 1863, has passed through many editions, and continues to be universally used by the teachers of Irish National Schools. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1863, and two years afterwards he put at the disposition of that body the results of his investigations into the laws by which the Irish names of places were formed. The series of papers in which he developed his ideas were received with favour by Petrie, Todd, and other leading Irish scholars. Thus encouraged, Dr. Joyce continued his investigations, and in 1869 he published his work on the Origin and History of Irish Names of Places. This is a fascinating volume, full of quaint stories, curious information, most interesting analysis of the superstitions and history hidden in the names by which localities are known. The success of the book was immediate, a second edition being called for within a few months. In 1875 came a "Second Series," and the book, now consisting of two volumes, is unique of its kind; for in no other country in Europe have place-names been subjected to the same detailed scientific analysis, and the results given in a readable form. In 1872 was issued Ancient Irish Music, a collection of one hundred Irish airs hitherto unpublished, with historical and illustrative text. The work contained, besides, several songs, some of them by Dr. Joyce himself, others by his brother Robert Dwyer Joyce. In 1879 appeared Old Celtic Romances, a series of eleven of the ancient bardic tales of Ireland, translated into plain homely English from the Gaelic manuscripts of the Royal Irish Academy and Trinity College, Dublin—a work which, like the Irish Names of Places, has been very favourably reviewed, and is already an established success. Dr. Joyce is, besides, author of How to Prepare for Civil Service Competition, and A School Irish Grammar.

See also Fairies and the Names of Places in Ireland