Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Rosenbach

There may be snow on the ground on Delancey Place, but we are feeling pretty green here at the Rosenbach. We began our day with a meeting dedicated to developing our upcoming Bloomsday celebration; it’s too soon to share details, but we are so looking forward to this annual celebration. Later this afternoon, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Heritage Month, we offered a Hands-On Tour of our Irish literary treasures by authors including James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Jonathan Swift, and others.

The Art of Ownership closes after March 19, so we singled out a bold bookplate for our Instagram. This idyllic Irish landscape was designed by Jack Butler Yeats (brother to William Butler Yeats, the poet) for John Quinn, an Irish-American lawyer whose desire to reconnect with his parents’ homeland led him to become a frequent visitor to Ireland and patron to Irish artists. Around here, we know him as the lawyer who (unsuccessfully) defended the Nausicaa chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses against obscenity charges by arguing that it was too incomprehensible to corrupt young minds. Last fall, we were reminded of Quinn’s connection to the Yeats family by way of the Abbey Theatre from Dublin, who were in Philadelphia on tour. Quinn was acquainted with William Butler Yeats, a co-founder of the Abbey Theatre; around 1911-1912, Quinn defended the Abbey from an obscenity charge incurred while touring The Playboy of the Western World in America. (Unlike Ulysses, the Abbey was released from these charges.)

Jack Butler Yeats, bookplate for John Quinn. Wood engraving and black printing ink on paper. Ireland, late 19th or early 20th century.

Of course, the Rosenbach has strong ties to contemporary Irish culture as well as classic Irish literature. Our friends and frequent collaborative partners at the Irish American Business Chamber & Network invited some of our staff to a gathering at the Old Pine Community Center after the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 12. While there, our staff had the opportunity to meet several visiting Irish dignitaries who were in town, including Minister of State Joe McHug, Ambassador Anne Anderson, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Rosenbach Director Derick Dreher with Minister of State Joe McHugh
Rosenbach Director Derick Dreher with Ambassador Anne Anderson
Rosenbach Director Derick Dreher with Taoiseach Enda Kenny

If the Taoiseach looks somewhat familiar to you, he has been in the news this week after a luncheon with President Trump in the Capitol. There, as well as during the gathering in Philadelphia, the Taoiseach made remarks on the rights and contributions of immigrants from Ireland. As the home of one of Dublin’s most famous literary exports written by a celebrated Irish emigrant, not to mention numerous other artworks and masterpieces by immigrants, expatriates, and dual citizens, we can’t help but agree.