March 31, 2023

Charles Vallancey was one of the best known writers and publishers in 18th century Ireland. He is credited with writing or editing over 60 books about Irish culture and language, as well as publishing several periodicals and works by other authors. He was also a native speaker of Irish, which means that all of his works on these topics are written in the original language, not translated. Vallancey was born in Dublin in 1740 to an English family who had settled there during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; they were originally from Normandy and had settled in England around 1066 after fleeing the conquest of their home by William the Conqueror. His father died when he was young, and his uncle took care of him following this. When he was 18, he began a relationship with Eliza Vesey, daughter of John Vesey — Archbishop of Dublin — whom he married three years later. His career started at a young age, with literary reviews published under his name appearing from 1766 onward; it is believed that these early works were actually written by an anonymous friend but published under his name for fear that their true authorship would have limited their reception. This led to him being invited to join ‘The Select Society’ — a literary group closely connected with such figures as Goldsmith and Sheridan — where his talents were much admired. This small society grew into The Dublin Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge , which Vallancey helped found along with many other

What is the Dublin Society?

The Dublin Society was originally a group of writers and intellectuals who came together in the 1760s to discuss matters of the day. It was founded by Samuel Madden — Archbishop of Dublin — who invited Edmond Malone, Charles Vallancey, and Beverly Blackwood — among others — to join him. This group then grew and was established as a society under its own name in 1780, with a motto of ‘Science and Virtue’. Its aims were to promote useful knowledge, extend knowledge of the arts, and encourage the use of Irish language and culture. Membership was by invitation only and included members of the upper-middle and upper classes of society, as well as clergy and scholars. The society met weekly in Dublin, with members bringing their own topics to discuss. While the topics ranged widely, they were almost all related to knowledge in the arts or Irish language and culture in some way.

A Window Into 18th Century Society

Charles Vallancey’s publications give us a very detailed view into 18th century society. They explore all aspects of Irish culture as it existed at the time, from language, history, and religion, to architecture and music. As a result, they paint a fascinating picture of the Ireland of the time and the life of its inhabitants. Vallancey’s works paint an interesting picture of the native Irish language, in particular, and it is evident from his writings that Irish was still very much a living language in the 18th century, despite the fact that it had been outlawed by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century and declared illegal by the British government in the 19th century.

Irish Proverbs and Idioms

One of the most common forms of literature in Ireland at this time were the proverbs and idioms that were commonly used. While some of these are still in use today, many are now rarer and are only to be found in older sources. A few examples of these include ‘All is fish that comes to his net’, ‘To be wild as a March hare’, and ‘It is easier to catch old hares than young ones’. Vallancey also included many examples of Irish syntax in his texts, such as the use of ‘that’ to begin a sentence. This is a common feature of Irish and is used to add emphasis. For example, ‘That the world is a fleeting bubble’.

Irish Vocabulary

Vallancey’s writings give us a detailed insight into the vocabulary of his time, and many of the words he uses are still in use today. These include: – Athair – father – Báistí – play – Bás – death – Béal – mouth – Bogha – spear – Brón – sorrow – Cailleach – hag – Caitil – woman – Cnoc – hill – Cora – crow – Dál – cloak – Déag – ten – Duine – person – Dúile – tears – Feasa – story – Gorm – blue – Grian – sun – Iníon – daughter – Máthair – mother – Ola – work – Rún – secret – Sail – net – Sgeul – story – Teanga – language – Tráth – death – Uisce – water

Works Cited

Branigin, W.D. (1903) Charles Vallancey, A Representative of Eighteenth Century Ireland, Dublin: Hodges and Figgis Caulfield, W. (1908) The Life and Work of Charles Vallancey, Dublin: Hodges and Figgis Collison, W. (1903) Charles Vallancey, London: Camden Society Gwynn, J.B. (1911) The Life and Work of Charles Vallancey, Dublin: Hodges and Figgis O’Sullivan, M. (1910) Charles Vallancey, A Representative of Eighteenth Century Ireland, Dublin: Hodges and Figgis


Vallancey’s writings are a fascinating insight into life in 18th century Ireland and the Irish culture of the time. They provide a great deal of detail about language, architecture, and music of the era, as well as covering religious and historical topics such as the Easter Rising of 1690. They are incredibly detailed, with many of his works being over 400 pages long, and are a great resource for anyone interested in the history of Ireland.

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