Introduction to The Capuchin Annual
A Machine Readable Version
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The Capuchin Annual was published in Dublin from 1930 through 1977. Although its readership was by and large Irish, its circulation was international as it was frequently sent to Irish expatriates and members of the Capuchin community abroad. It is a journal unique in Irish publishing — although its ethos always remained the promotion of and education in Christian values and a Catholic way of life, it found many unique ways of exploring these subjects.
From its conception, successive editors, beginning with Father Senan Moynihan O.F.M., C.A.P. (who was also the editor of The Father Mathew Record), it maintained a very high quality of contributions. Many Irish writers, artists, and educators who later rose to prominence (such as Michael Bowles, Ben Kiley, Francis Macmanus and Augustine Martin) often received their first opportunities to publish with The Annual).
The Annual was always published on high-quality glossy paper, making reproductions of art works as good as one would expect in a journal of the fine arts. It was also very hefty — each volume was around 500 pages, and each bore the same cover design by Sean O'Sullivan. Throughout the difficult years of the Second World War (or 'The Emergency' as it is still referred to in Ireland), the publication still came out on a regular basis, but on slightly coarser paper.
The editors of The Annual realised that this might be one of the only book-length publication an Irish family might invest in in any given year. And as such, set as one of their goals to educate and elucidate in areas outside the strict confines of morality, such as an appreciation of literature and the fine arts. In this area MacGreevy was one of their major contributions. From his first contribution to The Annual in 1942, to his last in 1966, one year before his death, his goal was to explore the work and lives of Irish artists, and to make the Irish people aware and proud of their rich literary and artistic heritage. Articles such as 'Three Historical Paintings by J.B. Yeats ' (1942), ' The Historical Background of Irish Art' (1944), 'Some Statues by John Hogan ' (1946-47), 'St. Brendan's Cathedral, Loughrea 1897-1947' (1946-47), 'Fifty Years of Irish Painting; 1900-1950' (1949), 'Art, Criticism and Science' (1960), and ' Michelangelo — After Four Centuries' (1965) reinforced, not only a rich visual heritage in Ireland, but how that heritage intersected with a greater European artistic one.
MacGreevy also participated in many of The Annual's many tributes — symposiums by a variety of writers on the death of somebody prominent in Irish life, such as John McCormack (1946-47), Margaret Burke Sheridan (1959), and Monsignor Pádraig de Brún (1961). And he himself was the recipient of a fine series of tributes in the 1968 Annual.
While it must be admitted that many of MacGreevy's articles from The Annual might not stand up to the rigours of present-day literary and art criticism, they provide a fascinating window onto an area of Irish cultural history which is only beginning to be explored by present-day scholars.