The first documented report of a UFO,or flying saucer, in the United States was in 1947 when entrepreneur Kenneth Arnold claimed to see a group of nine objects flying at high speeds over Mount Rainier in Washington. The same year the Irish Defence Forces began its dossier of unexplained phenomena in the skies. But almost 300 years prior to this 16 residents of “Poins-Town” in Tipperary attested to their eyewitness accounts of “the divers and most strange and prodigious apparitions seen in the air”.
In the latest De Burca rare book catalogue an extremely rare copy of this book, which recalls the sightings of “something like a ship”, relates the accounts given by a Mc C Hewetson and a Mr R Foster, along with others who saw the unidentified flying objects. Printed in 1679 on marbled boards, the good copy is listed at €1,750.
Throughout the catalogue there are some extremely rare letters from Daniel O’Connell, James Larkin, William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Francis.
For fans of Seamus Heaney, item 120 is a signed inscribed copy of Death of a Naturalist, which is a first edition, third impression of the book “now recognised as one of the most significant collections of poetry in modern times”. Reading “With good memories of Oxford, Seamus Heaney 27th March, 1968”, the copy, which is in its original dust jacket, also bears the previous owner’s signature (€1,350).
Patrick Kavanagh also makes an appearance in Kavanagh’s Weekly, which was a unique and extraordinary journal of literature and politics. Published and distributed by the poet’s brother Peter, Kavanagh contributed most of the articles and some poems using various pseudonyms, while Peter wrote under the pen name John J Flanagan.
The paper was vehemently opposed to the contemporary Fianna Fáil government but failed to attract advertisers. In the penultimate issue it published an ultimatum that unless it received a donation of one thousand pounds (in 1952) the publication would cease (€2,850).
For Gaeilgeoirs or those with a penchant for Bram Stoker, item 280 is a very interesting copy of Dracula, which is the first Irish edition. The copy, which has an “exceedingly rare pictorial dust jacket”, was “published with the kind permission of Mrs Bram Stoker, 1933” and illustrations on the jacket are by AOM (A Ó Maolaoid, Austin Molloy) who also illustrated Clann Lir and In Óige an tSaoghail. (€1,250).
For the year that’s in it, being the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jack B Yeats, the catalogue has JM Synge’s, The Aran Islands with drawings by Jack B Yeats.
The good copy comes from the library of Dermod O’Brien of Cahermoyle, and tells the compelling account of life on the lonely, barren windswept islands off the Galway coast, in which Synge recalls: “I have never seen anything so desolate. Grey floods of water were sweeping everywhere upon the limestone.” It was here that the writer found inspiration for Riders to the Sea.
Dermod O’Brien had a significant role in the Irish art world during his life, and served as president of the Royal Hibernian Academy and governor of the National Gallery (€575).
**By Elizabeth Birdthistle