Little Nelly and the Dying Irish Girl
This book consists of two stories ‘Little Nelly’ and ‘The Dying Irish Girl’, and includes another non-fiction piece ‘Hope for Ireland’. The stories focus on the process and advantages of conversion from Catholicism and both highlight the follies and dangers of this religion. It is an important text in terms of the NLI’s holdings of religious works featuring Irish characters and published in the U.S. ‘Little Nelly’ is set in Scotland, first in the Highlands, and later in Edinburgh, when Nelly’s family must move following the death of her father. It tells the story of this Scottish Catholic family, focusing on the child Nelly, who has begun to listen to the messages of the Protestant religion, as recounted by Miss Helen. ‘The Dying Irish Girl’ is set in Ireland and depicts the conversation of two Irish siblings, Mary and Pat, as Mary lies on her deathbed. They speak about their cousin Kathleen who died a ‘heretic’ but who was happy and comforted and ‘did not believe in purgatory’ (120). To Mary’s delight, Pat agrees with her views, and she exclaims ‘“Sure brother, you’ve turned heretic too!”’ (123). Interestingly, the charge of ‘heretic’ is turned into a positive, and the children create their own communal bond based on this reclaiming. Pat’s reasons for reading the Bible are intertwined with a particular form of politics as he pronounces himself ‘a true loyal subject to the Queen’ (123). Much of the text consists of Pat’s reading from the bible, and unusually, the text ends, not with Mary’s death, but with Pat’s words of hope gleaned from the bible (133).The final piece in the book, ‘Hope for Ireland’ delineates some of the perils of ‘Popery’ and focuses in particular on the good being achieved by an ‘infant-school’ in Clifden, which many Catholics now attend. It emphasises the trials Catholic children in Clifden have undergone in order to attend the scriptural school, saving themselves from ‘bigoted Papists’ (137) in the process. The book is typical of other publications by the Presbyterian Publication Board from the mid-19th century held in the National Library of Ireland as part of the Stephen Griffin Collection, and is interesting in terms of its inclusion of both Scottish and Irish stories, and its mixture of fiction and non-fiction
Place of Publication:
Presbyterian Board of Publication
Date of Publication:
144 p.,  leaves of plates : ill. ; 16 cm.
Copy Specific Notes:
Bookplate: Stephen Griffin Collection. Ms note: [partly illegible] …From Mrs Fanny Cleveland, New York. Ms name: Lizzie
Literature and Education
Ireland, Religion, Moral, Death, Religious Conversion, Non-fiction, Scotland, Edinburgh, Scottish Highlands, Clifden, Galway.
General Catalogue (Children’s Books) - NLI