The Munster News joins The Archive | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week at The Archive we are delighted to welcome 69,314 brand new pages to our collection, covering Scotland, Ireland and England and over a century and a half’s worth of headlines. We have one new title joining us this week, as well as comprehensive updates to six of our existing titles.

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We turn to County Limerick today for our exciting brand new addition, namely the Munster News. The Munster News was set up by Francis Counihan, a proud Catholic and advocate for liberty of conscience for all creeds, in Limerick, and its first edition appeared on 7 June 1851. But the Munster News was not the only new kid on the block in Limerick at the time. During the mid-nineteenth century the relatively small city saw a boom in the publication of new newspapers, which were often set to fail, and it was in these unusual circumstances that the Munster News was born, already competing with three other newspaper titles in the area.

Munster News | 27 January 1912

Indeed, it seemed for a while that the Munster News was destined to fail. Its competition soon made it an evening newspaper, and it defied all odds (even its old and worn type) to survive the 1850s. The 1860s was marred by an ongoing feud between proprietor and editor Francis Counihan and his competitor Maurice Lenihan of the Limerick Reporter, which is also available on The Archive. Cross words were often exchanged in print between the two, with Lenihan commenting that Counihan was ‘as bereft of elegance as a foul heap of compost.’

Lenihan eventually published an apology, and the Munster News weathered the storm. By 1892 it had a circulation of 5,000, and it steered clear of any controversy. Although never ‘crusading or controversial,’ the newspaper offices were a target for arson in the July of 1920, whilst publication came to abrupt end in 1935, the last edition appearing on the 1 June.

Munster News | 5 February 1930

Continuing with our Irish theme, we have added new pages to one of the Republic of Ireland’s best-selling newspapers, the Sunday World (Dublin). Famed for its investigative journalism and its hard-hitting coverage of crime, the Sunday World (Dublin) also has editions printed in Northern Ireland and in London.

We also have updates this week to our Scottish titles, including to the historic Dundee Courier. Founded in 1816 with a Conservative leaning, the newspaper became more independent as the nineteenth century progressed. By the 1870s it had become a daily publication, and it eventually amalgamated with the Dundee Advertiser in 1926. Other updates this week are to the Perthshire Constitutional & Journal, and the Irvine Herald.

Meanwhile, we have added a string of new pages covering approximately 30 years to the Home News for India, China and the Colonies. Part of the steamship press phenomenon, where titles were published in Great Britain for dissemination abroad, our updates cover the final years of the publication of Home News. Suffering from advances in communication, such as the telegraph, the Home News became outmoded, and consequently did not survive into the twentieth century.

The Genesis of Dorian Gray

And although the Home News had become somewhat outmoded, it was still reporting on the latest news (as far as it was able), including a segment called ‘Literary and Artistic Gossip.’ It was this column, in the September of 1890, which revealed the inspiration behind Oscar Wilde’s only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was serialized in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine that same year.

Toronto Daily Mail | 26 September 1891

Regarding the ‘genesis’ of the novel, the Home News publishes Wilde’s own account:

Allow me to clear up the mystery. The genesis of ‘Dorian Gray’ is as follows:- In December, 1887, I gave a sitting to a Canadian artist who was staying with some friends of hers and mine in South Kensington. When the sitting was over, and I had looked at the portrait, I said in jest, ‘What a tragic thing it is. This portrait will never grow old, and I shall. If it was only the other way!’ The moment I said this, it occurred to me what a capital plot the idea would make for a story. The result is ‘Dorian Gray.’

Illustrated London News | 27 February 1892

Despite reporting on the origins of the novel, the Home News is all confusion six months later in March 1891:

Mr Oscar Wilde prints the preface – which we do not pretend to understand – to ‘Dorian Gray.’

Interestingly, the newspaper had tried its own hand at the serialization of novels, printing thriller Fast and Loose by Major Arthur Griffiths in the 1880s. But the endeavour was not a success, and it was The Picture of Dorian Gray which was to stand the test of time.

 New Titles
Years Added
Munster News 1851-1860, 1862-1871, 1873-1877, 1879-1880, 1882-1889, 1910, 1912-1915, 1919, 1922, 1925-1927, 1930
Updated Titles

This week we have updated six of our existing titles.

You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.

Years Added
Dundee Courier 1987, 1996
Home News for India, China and the Colonies 1866-1870, 1889-1896
Sunday World (Dublin) 1997, 2005
Perthshire Constitutional & Journal 1870
Irvine Herald 1969-1970
Penrith Observer 1904

You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.


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