Little Jesus

> Here’s a wee treasure from the children’s book collection, which relates directly to the Irish collection as well. The title is in Gaelic: Íosagán agus sgéalta eile (ca. 1907). I found a note typed sometime prior to 1932 with the book, which is so engaging that I must transcribe it (but I cannot speak to its authority):

“Jesuseen and other stories. Patrick Pearse wrote it. The Gaelic League put it out. Authorized distributor: Mary O’Rahilly, 87 Upper Street of the Bramblethorn, Town of the ford of the hurdles [i.e., Dorset Street, Dublin].

The strange lack of diminutive endings in English makes it difficult to give any sufficient translation of the word Íosagán. Little Jesus. Wee Jesus won’t do. The story is not about Jesus when he was a child but about the Jesus who is a child, that different person who (to speak Irishly) might be called the fourth member of the trinity.

Close-cropped, snub-nosed Patrick Pearse, a Dubliner, learnt his good Gaelic as a youth on holidays among the Galway country people of whom he writes tenderly in this book. He loved children with the hopefulness of the bachelor, never had time to have any of his own. Schoolmaster, essayist, anticipating Spengler as the first really articulate propagandist of the ideal of historical continuity in a nation’s life, he was above all a rebel. He was the leader of the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, that coolly calculated sacrifice which was at first as unpopular as it had been unexpected but which turned out, as planned, to be the effective incentive to the Revolution. Pearse with many others was executed. Alone with of the Sinn Féin leaders–perhaps because he never held a civil public office–he has acquired a slightly unreal aura in the nation’s memory as if he had no personality of his own, only a handful of ideals. His surviving parent is referred to in the newspapers today as The Mother of the Pearse.”

[Pearse’s mother was Margaret Pearse née Brady (1857–1 January, 1932), who was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician. She was born in County Meath and moved to Dublin, and in 1877 married James Pearse, a Dubliner who was originally from Birmingham. Another son Willie Pearse was also executed in the 1916 Easter Rising. She joined Sinn Féin after the Rising and gave support and endorsement to candidates during the 1918 Westminster election. She was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Sinn Féin TD for the Dublin County constituency in the 1921 general election].

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2 thoughts on “Little Jesus

  1. Thank you for the posting I was creating this year’s “Christmas Box” for the family with this story as the centerpiece, when I happened on the illustration. Íosagáinis best translated as “Little Jesus” as it is a child’s story. Also it is commonly anglicized elsewhere as “Jesukin”. Thank you once again.

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