The Minstrel Boy (novel)

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The Minstrel Boy (also published under the title Desmonde) is a 1975 novel by A. J. Cronin.

A. J. Cronin Scottish novelist and physician

Archibald Joseph Cronin was a Scottish novelist and physician.

The Minstrel Boy


First UK edition
Author A. J. Cronin
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Gollancz (UK)
Little, Brown (US)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 285 pp. (UK hardback edition)
ISBN 0-575-01972-7


The story concerns the life of a young priest called Desmonde Fitzgerald. In his seminary he is noted for his magnificent singing voice, his practical jokes and his good looks which make him inordinately attractive to women. In his first clerical posting in Ireland, the lady of the manor falls in love with him, but he is seduced by her niece, whom he later marries. He becomes a musician and lives in poverty in Dublin, where his wife deserts him and later dies in Switzerland. After a period in Spain he is given a second chance and becomes a missionary to India, where he again risks becoming involved with a rich local woman but this time escapes. The book contains the classic Cronin features of human weakness and failure with ultimate redemption.

Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, Early-Morning Seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy, academia, or ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions. In the USA, the term is currently used for graduate level institutions, but in history it has been used for high schools.

Dublin capital and largest city in Ireland

Dublin is the capital of, and largest city in, Ireland. It is on the east coast of Ireland, in the province of Leinster, at the mouth of the River Liffey, and is bordered on the south by the Wicklow mountains. It has an urban area population of 1,173,179, while the population of the Dublin Region, as of 2016, was 1,347,359, and the population of the Greater Dublin area was 1,904,806.

Missionary member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism

A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to proselytize or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem, meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send". The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach The gospel in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.

Autobiographical references

The story's narration is by a character "Alec Shannon" who bears a close resemblance to Cronin himself. In the novel, reference is clearly made to his own alma mater, St Aloysius' College, as the description of the fictional school, St Ignatius', is clearly a description of the buildings and environs of the school Cronin attended. Reference is also made to his footballing exploits as Cronin was reputedly an excellent footballer and played in the College First XI . Cronin never specifically mentioned his own school in his books but does refer to another Jesuit school, Stonyhurst and a combination of Stonyhurst and Ampleforth called "Amplehurst". He also never refers directly to Glasgow, but to the fictional locale of "Winton", which often stands in for Glasgow in Cronin's novels.

Stonyhurst College coeducational Roman Catholic independent school in Lancashire, England

Stonyhurst College is a coeducational Roman Catholic independent school, adhering to the Jesuit tradition, on the Stonyhurst Estate, Lancashire, England. It occupies a Grade I listed building. The school has been fully co-educational since 1999.

Ampleforth village in the United Kingdom

Ampleforth is a village and civil parish in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England, 20 miles (32 km) north of York. The village is situated on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. The parish has a population of 883 according to the 2001 census, increasing to 1,345 at the 2011 Census, and includes Ampleforth College. The name Ampleforth means the ford where the sorrel grows.

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.

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