Ethna Carbery

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Anna Johnston MacManus
BornAnna Bella Johnston
(1864-12-03)3 December 1864
Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland
Died2 April 1902(1902-04-02) (aged 37)
Donegal, County Donegal, Ireland
Pen nameEthna Carbery
PeriodVictorian era
Literary movementIrish Literary Revival
Notable worksThe Four Winds of Eirinn, In the Celtic Past
SpouseSeumas MacManus (1867–1960)

Ethna Carbery (born Anna Johnston, 3 December 1864 – 2 April 1902) was an Irish journalist, writer and poet. She is best known for the ballad Roddy McCorley and the Song of Ciabhán; the latter was set to music by Ivor Gurney. Along with Alice Milligan she published two Irish nationalist magazines.


She was born Anna Bella Johnston on 3 December 1864[1] in the townland of Kirkinriola, Ballymena, County Antrim, the daughter of Robert Johnston, a carpenter and prominent Fenian organiser, and Marjorie (Mage) Magee, who came from County Donegal.[2]

From the age of fifteen, when she had her first piece published, she contributed poems and short stories to a number of Irish periodicals, including United Ireland, Young Ireland, the Nation and the Catholic Fireside.[3]

She participated in the nationalist commemorations of the 1798 Rising and with Alice Milligan, Maud Gonne and others toured the country delivering lectures on the United Irishmen. In 1900 she was a founder-member of Inghinidhe na hÉireann, the revolutionary women's organisation led by Maud Gonne. She was elected a vice-president of the association, along with Jenny Wyse Power, Annie Egan and Alice Furlong.[4] She and Milligan wrote and produced plays as part of its cultural activities.[3]

She and Alice Milligan published two nationalist publications, The Northern Patriot and (later) The Shan Van Vocht, which was published from 1896 monthly until 1899. Its contributors included Katharine Tynan, Nora Hopper, Seumas MacManus and Alice Furlong, and it contained some early writings of James Connolly.[3]

On 22 August 1901 she married poet and folklorist Seumas MacManus (1867–1960)[5] and moved with him to Revlin House, just outside Donegal Town in County Donegal in the west of Ulster. It was then that she began writing under the pen name of Ethna Carbery because once she took the last name of MacManus she didn't want to be confused with her husband (also a writer).

She died in Revlin House of gastritis on 2 April 1902, aged 37.[6][7] Her husband, who was three years her junior, outlived her by 58 years.[2] Although MacManus and Johnston were only married for one year her impact on his life ran deep.

Her poetry was published by her husband after her death in The Four Winds of Erin, which was phenomenally successful over the next few years. Some further volumes followed.[2] He also wrote a memoir dedicated to her.[8]


  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "General Registrar's Office" (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c McGuire, James; Quinn, James (2009). Dictionary of Irish Biography. Volume II. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy-Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-63331-4.
  3. ^ a b c Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 58. ISBN 0-7171-2945-4.
  4. ^ Coxhead: Daughters of Erin, Five Women of the Irish Renaissance. p. 44
  5. ^ "General Registrar's Office". Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  6. ^ "General Registrar's Office". Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Death of Mrs Seamus MacManus". Freeman's Journal. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  8. ^ "ETHNA CARBERY". Retrieved 2001-09-19.

External links[edit]