Fantastic Fridays: Ethna Carbery

Welcome to the series on Irish writers of the fantastic. Swan River Press takes us on a tour through Ireland’s fantasy heritage.

Ethna Carbery
“One bleak night in autumn a sound outside drew him to the door, and opening it, he stood listening.”

“The Wee Gray Woman” (1903)

Ethna Carbery (1866-1902) was the pen name of journalist, writer, poet, and patriot Anna MacManus. She was born Anna Bella Johnston in Ballymena, Co. Antrim on 3 December 1866, and started publishing poems and short stories in Irish periodicals at the age of fifteen. She was one of the co-founders of the Daughters of Ireland, a radical nationalist women’s organisation led by Maud Gonne. With the poet and writer Alice Milligan, Carbery published two nationalist periodicals, The Northern Patriot and The Shan Van Vocht, the latter considered a major contribution to the Irish literary revival. In 1901 she married poet and folklorist Séumas MacManus, though the marriage was short-lived. Carbery died at the age of thirty-five in Donegal on 2 April 1902. After her death, her husband published three volumes of her work: a book of poetry, The Four Winds of Eirinn (1902); and two short story collections, The Passionate Hearts (1903), and In the Celtic Past (1904).


Works by Ethna Carbery:
The Four Winds of Eirinn (1902) – poems
The Passionate Hearts (1903) – stories
In the Celtic Past (1904) – hero tales
We Sang for Ireland: Poems of Ethna Carbery, Séamus MacManus, Alice Milligan (1950) – poetry