By Geraldine Sheridan, Graham Gargett, G Gargett, G Sheridan

Through what channels did the French Enlightenment achieve the 18th-century Irish reader, and what effect did it have? What have been the pictures of eire present within the France of the philosophers like Voltaire? those are the questions which a group of students try and resolution during this quantity. in addition to concentrating on the reception of particular writers in eire, the e-book considers broader parts just like the Irish theatre, literacy in French and the supply of French books.

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Catholic doctors included John Fergus, an important Irish scholar and collector. Among gentry educated in France, or with family or trading links, may be numbered Francis Thomas Fitzmaurice, third Earl of Kerry, and Thomas Wogan Browne, son of an Irish exile, a colonel in the French army. The Bellew family provide a particularly good example. Catholic gentry who retained their status and lands during the eighteenth century, they made a living from flour milling. 31 Many Catholics educated abroad entered the church and returned to the Irish ‘mission’ as priests and bishops.

A Catholic farm labourer throughout most of the century might earn somewhere between 6d. and 1s. per day (Cole, p. 160). Given the number of titles identified, the relatively wide distribution of many, and the fact that every copy sold was likely to have been read by several individuals – six readers for one copy was regarded as the average for newspapers (Cole, p. 17), with perhaps a somewhat lower figure for the type of periodical material we are considering – it is clear that the journals made a significant contribution to the transmission of ideas.

32 Church of Ireland clergy, especially the higher levels, educated at Trinity College or at Oxford or Cambridge, were very much in tune with intellectual currents from the continent and many were capable of reading and speaking French, as witness Dr Edward Synge, Bishop of Elphin. His daughter Alicia’s governess and companion Blandine Jourdan was the grand-daughter of Elie Bouhéreau, Huguenot exile and first Keeper of Archbishop Marsh’s library in Dublin. French words and phrases pepper the letters from father to daughter, in which literature and a wealth of other topics are discussed.

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