“I shall never forget it to him”: Personal and Public Memory in Somerville and Ross’s Irish R. M. Stories.

Rose Lovell-Smith


Between 1899 and 1915, a period of relative peace and stability in Ireland, Edith Somerville and Martin Ross published their most popular works, the three books which together contain 34 short stories narrated by an Irish R. M. or Resident Magistrate. All of these stories were originally published in London magazines, and their reading audience therefore encompassed Irish readers of varying political sympathies and viewpoints as well as English-language readers who knew little of Irish politics or of Ireland. The potential readership of these tales, then, was mixed, and critical reception of the tales has also remained mixed. The tales are approached here from two angles, as ways of investigating how memory is shown to be experienced in Ireland at the time in The Irish R.M. In line with recent work by Julie Anne Stevens, elements of political allegory are uncovered in the Irish R. M. tales, firstly, in readings of two ghost stories which recall and reflect on Ireland’s past. The central relationship in the tales, the friendship between the RM, Major Yeates, and his landlord, the local Master of Fox Hounds (MFH) Flurry Knox, is then approached by comparing the profound differences between the personal memories of these two individuals. Overall, this discussion supports the critical standpoint that Somerville and Ross’s vision of late-Victorian and Edwardian Ireland is a subtle and insightful one.


Edith Somerville; Martin Ross; Irish literature; Major Yeates; Flurry Knox; Mr Knox’s Country; Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.; Further Experiences of an Irish R. M.; Irish tales; Irish satire on British rule; types of memory in fiction;

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