Recently I have given a number of talks on my new book, The Earls of Desmond. The title of my talk in Rathkeale, on Friday 22 November, was Mary Hickson and the Earls of Desmond: a Life Long Affair. It was a full house and many of those present asked for a copy of my book on the Earls. (A recent conference in Tralee asked for copies of my History of Tralee as gifts for the guest speakers.) Here is something I wrote recently about Mary Hickson.
Mary Hickson’s father and his friend Archdeacon Rowan were her childhood inspiration for a life devoted to antiquarianism, but her Gaelic ancestors, from the side of her mother Sarah Day and the McGillycuddys of the Reeks, informed nearly everything she wrote, particularly Old Kerry Records and her campaigning journalism in the Kerry press in the decades of Home Rule and the newly emergent Catholic Church. John James Hickson and Archdeacon Rowan resided in Tralee, where Mary was born, but their families had come from the peninsula of Corca Dhuibhne, where Mary’s father had inherited the lease of Hillville Lodge and some rugged townlands on the shores of Brandon Bay.