Samuel Lover (1797–1868)

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Above: Portrait of Samuel Lover (1797–1868), Author and Artist, by James Harwood (1856). (NGI)

Dublin was home to Samuel Lover until 1835, when he moved to London for better commissions for his miniature portraits. In 1846–7 he toured the United States with ‘Irish Evenings’ that featured humorous songs of his own composition set to old Irish melodies. As late as 1916, Lover’s ‘The Low-backed Car’, ‘The Bowld Sojer Boy’, ‘Molly Bawn’ and ‘The Four-Leafed Shamrock’ were still being sung by Irish-American audiences. Lover converted his romantic ballad about a 1798 rebel, Rory O’More, into a novel with the subtitle A national romance; it was so popular that it was adapted for the stage in 1836 and made the transatlantic reputation of the actor Tyrone Power. The longevity of Rory O’More in the United States was a motivating factor behind its selection by the American film company Kalem for one of the historical dramas it shot on location around Killarney in 1911. Lover’s nationalism was deep-rooted; as he told his grandson, he was six years old in 1803 and witnessed British reprisals in Dublin in the wake of Emmet’s rebellion.

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