While in Westport Co Mayo at the weekend I took a few minutes to browse some "rare books" in the excellent West Coast Rare Books shop on James Street. Lots of interesting stuff, but one book caught my eye almost immediately: Lingard's History of England by Fr John Lingard which was updated by Dom Henry Norbert Birt in 1903 (the original was published in 1854). Flicking through the pages I noticed that the headings on each page were insets (see image below), and I realised that I was holding a copy of a book that I used to read when I was a young teenager. I remembered reading this book and gaining quite a good knowledge of British history - while the book's title indicates a history of England - Scotland and Ireland feature a lot too. I bought it (€15)! I recall the old copy in my parents house had no cover, and I'm guessing that it is since long gone from the house. I loved this book and have already re-read several passages.
The book was primarily intended for use in Catholic schools - I did not know this in the 1970s. Perhaps his sympathetic approach to Scotland and Ireland made it easier for an Irish boy like me to read. Fr Lingard died aged 80 on 17th July, 1851 - I am sure he would be glad to know that at least one student was still reading his book 167 years later!
Fr Lingard is perhaps more well known for his work with Catholic Emancipation in the early 19th century, and for his hymn "Hail, Queen of Heaven"
Hail, Queen of Heav'n, the ocean Star,
Guide of the wand'rer here below!
Thrown on life's surge we claim thy care,
Save us from peril and from woe.
Mother of Christ, Star of the sea,
Pray for the wanderer, pray for me