The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 15, 2013

June 15, 1872

Thomas Caulfield Irwin (May 4, 1823 to February 20, 1892) ) was an Irish poet. Once wealthy, and ambitious, his poems earned him the title of "the Irish Keats." According to Geoffrey Taylor, in Irish Poets of the Nineteenth Century (1951), there is little information extant about this writer, but he thinks it fair to deduce that Irwin was a classical scholar, and at one time, married, and with a son who died young. The poet traveled in Europe, Syria, North Africa. 

Toward the end of his life he was living in "squalid" poverty, and "more than a little mad." Then, Dublin remarked on his eccentricities more. These included not eating meat, pacifism, and a love for cats. The pacifism might be tossed over when it clashed with the cats. A missing cat, on June 15, 1872, prompted Irwin to place this ad in a Dublin newspaper:

Robbery! One Pound Reward. Stolen from the back drawing room at No. 1 Portland Street, North Circular Road, Dublin, between the hours of one and three o'clock, of Saturday 15 June 1872. A Large Dark Gray and Black Male Cat, the property of Mr. Thomas C. Irwin. This poor animal who answers to the name of Ton, and is lame in the left fore paw and weak in the left eye, can be of no value to anyone but Mr. Irwin, who had him for five years before he lost him through the cruel and desperate act of a miscreant. One pound will be given by me to whoever restores the animal uninjured, and at once, to above address, or who affords authentic information as to the party who entered Mr. Irwin's room and committed the robbery. 

Here is something Irwin wrote, excerpted, from "Hours I Remember Lonely and Lovely to Me"

Hours I remember lonely and lovely to me,
Living a life as simple as sunlight or tree
When with some beautiful white cloud in love I would be
Or grasses amiably waving in the warm wind of the sea.

Perhaps the above is tranquility recollected in turmoil? I am not sure when those lines were written but in 1881 Irwin was back in the papers asking for the return of "...two grey brindled striped Cats, male and female...stolen...[from No. 41 Stephens Green.]

Irwin died in Rathmines, in the Dublin spring of 1892. Thomas C. Irwin should be remembered too for writing this:

Around the stalk of the hollyhock
The yellow, long, thin-waisted wasp,
Emitting sounds, now like a lisp

In the dry glare, now like a rasp,
Climbed slowlily with stealthy clasp,
And vicious, intermittent hum;
Nosed awhile each sickly bloom
Withered round the edges crisp -
Then head-long vanishing grew dumb...

According to Taylor, Irwin's  six volumes of poetry, the last published in 1889, do not include many poems in obscure Irish magazines, uncollected and forgotten.

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