The River Shannon and its Shrines

One of the Shannon books that are listed on the IWAI website but that I’d never seen is J B Cullen’s The River Shannon and its Shrines, which the IWAI list says is

Dublin. C.T.S. of Ireland. 1909. p.p.107. Green boards. Prof. illus.

IWAI also lists J E McKenna Lough Erne and its Shrines published by the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland in 1909, and it provides a link to a downloadable copy of what is a short work of 32 pages.

How many pages?

In 2004 that learnéd bibliophile Michael Slevin also provided a list of books being sold by Healy Rare Books, which included

J.B. Cullen. The River Shannon and its Shrines. Dublin. Browne & Nolan. n.d. Disbound. p.p.28. Illustrated.

I mention this because I have recently acquired a copy matching that description (though, I suspect, not at Healy prices). The number of pages is indeed 28 rather than the 107 mentioned on the IWAI listing. So were there two books with the same title by J B Cullen? My copy concludes with the words

At Killaloe may end the notice of the Upper Shannon and its Shrines.

That is followed by

[The Story of Saint Senanus, which is to follow, will introduce the remaining Sanctuaries of the hallowed and majestic River.]

It seems possible, therefore, that Cullen wrote more than one piece on the Shannon; perhaps they were originally published in the Catholic Truth Society magazine and then assembled to provide a 107-page book. The National Library suggests that there may have been four pieces.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who knows more about this — and to get copies of any other sections that may exist.


Here is an extract from Cullen about Athlone.

To-day Athlone presents a picture of greater interest than many of our Irish cities or towns. Its normal population is some ten thousand inhabitants, but its importance as a military station often swells this aggregate. This latter circumstance gives a very distinct feature to Athlone. The town is generally bright and gay with the parade of military, and joyous with the strains of martial music, while ever and anon the practice of artillery keeps the echoes of the Shannon busy recalling — in our peaceful days — the stirring memories of the warring past.

The book was published in 1909: the army is that of His late Majesty King Edward VII.

Shannon -v- Erne

McKenna’s Erne book has a practical tone: it mentions the “finely-equipped paddle-steamer Lady of the Lake” but says

We prefer a modest little steam launch for the purpose of our present excursion.

Assuming we have a few quid to spare, of course. But Cullen says nothing about how the traveller is to get around. He has clearly been on the water (he visited several islands — and even Lough Forbes, which is not easy to see by road) but also travelled by land to Kilronan, Edgeworthstown and Roscommon. It would be interesting to know how and when he made his journeys.

Despite its title, his book[let?] displays an interest in military as well as in religious sites and history, but there is nothing about contemporary waterways usage or traffic.

J B Cullen

From searching tinterweb, I conclude that John Bernard Cullen may have attended Mungret College in Limerick [PDF; mostly irrelevant] and had a brother called James who was a Jesuit, co-founded the Rosbercon Choir, lived at Bawnjames House near New Ross, was a founding committee member of the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, contributed to the Parnell National Tribute and wrote lots of light historical articles. In 1886 two of his daughters, aged 3 and 13, drowned in an ornamental pond in his gardens.

I would welcome more information.

As far as I can tell he was dead before 1933 and his work is therefore out of copyright; accordingly I provide a PDF [5.3 MB] below.

The River Shannon and its Shrines

One response to “The River Shannon and its Shrines

  1. If he was not dead before 1933, you can always plead the same excuse that the UK MAIB did for using your photo!

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