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Limerick's Literary Legacy: Tribute to Father Ryan |

Limerick’s Literary Legacy: Tribute to Father Ryan

In a bustling meeting at 6 Stephen’s Green, the National Literary Society of Ireland gathered for a profound exploration into the life and works of Abram Joseph Ryan: The Irish-American Priest, Patriot, and Poet. Presided over by Rev. Professor George O’Neill, S.J., the lecture delivered by Rev. J. S. Sheehy, C.M., stirred the hearts of a sizable audience.

Reverend Sheehy, in his engaging discourse, humbly refrained from attributing genius to Father Ryan. Instead, he embraced Ryan’s own modest assessment of his creative process—poems conceived sporadically, in haste, wherever inspiration struck. Born on August 15th, 1839, in Norfolk, Virginia, to parents hailing from Limerick, Ryan’s journey to priesthood began in St. Louis in 1860. His life took a poignant turn with the eruption of the Civil War, a conflict that deeply stirred his soul.

Removed from his missionary duties, Ryan felt compelled to answer his nation’s call to arms. Like many patriotic priests of his time, he enlisted as a chaplain in the Confederate Army, serving steadfastly until the war’s conclusion. Throughout this tumultuous period, Ryan’s pen became a powerful instrument of advocacy, as he penned stirring verses and prose to bolster the Southern cause. He even founded and sustained “The Banner of the South,” a publication dedicated to advancing the Confederate narrative.

Amidst the chaos of battle, Father Ryan’s words resonated with fervent patriotism. His compositions vividly captured the essence of warfare, depicting the harrowing realities of conflict with poignant clarity. The audience was enraptured as Reverend Sheehy recited poignant excerpts, each line pulsating with the spirit of resilience and sacrifice.

A sense of gratitude permeated the gathering as Reverend Sheehy concluded his lecture. Professor Robert Donovan, moved by the profound insights shared, proposed a vote of thanks, swiftly seconded by Mr W. O’Leary Curtis. Their gesture encapsulated the collective admiration and appreciation for Father Ryan’s enduring legacy—a legacy that continues to illuminate the rich tapestry of Irish-American literature.

In commemorating Father Ryan’s contributions, the National Literary Society not only honoured a distinguished poet but also celebrated the indomitable spirit of Irish heritage. As the echoes of their applause faded into the night, it was evident that Ryan’s legacy would endure, an everlasting testament to the power of words in shaping the course of history.

General Advertiser for Dublin, and all Ireland – Saturday 06 February 1915

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