The History Show Book Club- ‘The Outer Edge of Ulster’ by Hugh Dorian.
Life in 19th century Donegal could be, to quote Thomas Hobbes, ‘nasty, brutish and short’. And that was at the best of times, in the most convivial places. The Fanad peninsula was neither. It is situated on the far side of Lough Swilly to the Inishowen peninsula.
With much of the land owned by one of the most oppressive landlords in the country, William Sydney, the 3rd earl of Leitrim, the people of Fanaid, to paraphrase the words of Henry David Thoreau, ‘led lives of quiet desperation and went to the grave with the song still in them.’
Except for Hugh Dorian, clerk, schoolmaster, whose ‘song’ was a fascinating memoir of the area through most of the Victorian period. His portrayal of Fanad from the 1830’s to the 1890s has finally been published, almost a century after his death, by Lilliput press, in an edition edited by Breandan Mac Suibhne of the University of Notre Dame, and Professor David Dickson of Trinity College, Dublin.
It was our History Show book club choice for May and Myles was joined by historians Roisin Higgins, Arlene Crampsie and Ciarán Reilly.