Bernadette Lowry's new book "Sounds of Manymirth" is a revelatory study of Percy French’s influence on James Joyce and his final novel "Finnegans Wake."
French Connection – Frank McNally on why Percy French may be the real hero of Finnegans Wake.
Houston, we have a problem – Frank McNally on Percy French’s forgotten collaborator Houston Collisson.
William Percy French was born in 1854 at Cloonyquin House, County Roscommon. He was the second son of landowner Christopher French and his wife Susan Emma (nee Percy).
He was educated in Ireland and England. In 1872 he began an engineering degree at Trinity College, Dublin. There he developed his talent for songwriting. Percy French is perhaps best known as a writer of humorous songs, but he was active also as an editor, concert promoter, landscape painter, sketch writer, poet, banjo player, and stage entertainer.
Artworks by French have increased in value. On 20 September 2005, the Percy French watercolour landscape Where ever I go my heart turns back to the County Mayo was sold by Dublin auctioneers Whyte's for a then record price of €44,000.
A comprehensive biography of French, focusing on his paintings, Lead Kindly Light, was produced and written by Oliver Nulty of the Oriel Gallery in 2002, the culmination of his life's work promoting French at a time of official neglect.
During the years 1889 & 1890 Percy French, with contributions from a small group of friends, principally wrote and edited a comic magazine in Dublin. The only complete 104 original editions of Percy French’s ‘Jarvey’ are held by the National Library Dublin.
Access to the two large ledgers, each containing one year’s publications, has been restricted for some time in order to protect the documents. With this in mind, the Percy French Society initiated the ‘Jarvey Project’.
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Bernadette Lowry was born in Co. Tipperary. She is a graduate of English, History and Economics from University College Dublin. She also holds a Higher Diploma in Education and a Diploma in the History of European Painting from UCD.
During a career break for family purposes from 2001 - 2005 she worked as a freelance curator and catalogue writer with the Oriel Gallery, Dublin.
She edited and contributed to its major Percy French biography, Lead Kindly Light: 150 years of Percy French published in 2002. She has contributed poetry to The Irish Catullus and Cuban Love Songs. She teaches English and lives in Dublin with her family.