The Irish Astrological Society
According to Cyril Fagan, the Irish Astrological Society was inaugurated on February 7th 1922 at 12:39:17pm GMT in Dublin. Judging by the headings on its stationery, The Society was officially called by its Irish name Cumann Astrolaideacta na h-Eireann. The English equivalent was located beneath this title in brackets. Very little information exists about this Society, despite the involvement of W.B.Yeats who was the Patron and Chairman. Astrology groups come and go, but given that this one had a Nobel Prize winning poet as Patron and Ireland's most celebrated astrologer as its President, it would seem appropriate to put what little information there is down for the record.
IAS & the Theosophical Society in Ireland
Pending further research, it seems probable that the IAS developed out of a group of people involved with the Theosophical Society in Ireland. It is not clear if the IAS was contained within or allied to the Theosophical Society. The situation is confused by the fact that Cyril Fagan used to teach astrology classes at the Hermes Lodge, which was part of the Theosophical Society. Fagan was a member at least until 1929, as in August of that year he was in attendance at Ommen in the Netherlands when Krisnamurti disavowed his guru status in front of 3,000 Theosophists.
Also, there is mention of Fagan giving an astrology lecture at 14 Sth.Frederick St. (Dublin) in Vol.11 no.4, 1932 of Theosophy in Ireland: "Mr C.Fagan was, on another occasion, very interesting and enthusiastic on astrology - a subject he has made his own." This was a combined meeting of the Hermes, Dublin and Irish Lodges. By this stage, the IAS was 10 years old. The comment reads as if Fagan was a guest speaker, which suggests that the IAS was probably a separate entity. Which would make sense as it would then have a broader and more inclusive membership base, rather than being restricted to the theosophically inclined. One wonders too whether Yeats would have been involved if the IAS was within the auspices of the Theosophical Society. By 1922, he had left the Theosophical movement in favour of the Order of the Golden Dawn.
W.B.Yeats archive at SUNY
After a good deal of searching, I eventually came across reference to the IAS in the Yeats Archive at the University of New York in Stonybrook (SUNY). The library there houses the most complete body of Yeats material. It contains a folder which includes a copy of the IAS Constitution, a few chart 'blanks' and a couple of xeroxed manuscripts written by Cyril Fagan which formed part of the IAS teaching courses.
IAS Officers of Council
From the copy of the Constitution we learn that the IAS used to meet every Friday evening at 8pm at 5, Leinster Street, which is a very short walk from the end of South Frederick St., the Theosophical Society in Ireland's HQ. In 1922, the year of its foundation, the 'Officers of Council' were as follows:
- President: Cyril Fagan
- Vice-Presidents: Pierce L.Pielou, John Larkin, Mrs Dunn (who lived in Belfast
- Hon.Secretary: Bernard Kelly
- Hon.Treasurer: Mrs J.Allen
The Constitution was considered and approved at a meeting of the provisional Council held on February 15th 1922, and adopted at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society held on February 25th 1922 in the premises at 5, Leinster St. It is noticeable that W.B.Yeats is not mentioned as the Patron of the Society, although he is described as such on the copies of the chart 'blanks'. Underneath a small image of the IAS horoscope in the top left corner of the blank chart it reads 'Patron: W.B.Yeats'.
Of the Officers of Council named above, I found mention of Pierce Pielou at a genealogical web site. This revealed that he was born in Dublin on September 3 1870, and died in 1962. He was employed by Arthur Guinness, Son & Co., and was "very involved in Dublin musical societies, the Theosophical Society, the Society for Psychical research, the St.John's Ambulance Service and the Irish Animals' Protection League." He was the author of "The Leslies of Tarbert, Co.Kerry and their Forebears" 1935; "What is Man?", 1952; and "An Old French Family and Its Huguenot Descendants in Ireland" 1944.
IAS still going in 1940?
As regards the longevity of the IAS, I have a photocopy of the contents page from the June 1940 issue of World Astrology Magazine Vol.4 no.6, which was kindly sent to me by Kay Cavender, the American Sidereal astrologer. It names Cyril Fagan as one of its Board of Advisory Editors, and describes him as "President of the Irish Astrological Society". So far I have not come across any evidence that the IAS was alive after 1940, and it may be presumptious to assume that it was still functioning then.
So, the Irish Astrological Society has not left many foot prints in the sand, at least not many that are readily visible. The Irish Astrological Association, which I think is still in existence at the time of writing, was formed on May 5th 1973. None of the founder members I have talked to know anything about the IAS.
When time permits, I will transcribe and put up the IAS Constitution, just for the sake of completeness. Unfortunately, the quality of the photocopies I have of this material is very bad, so I will not be able to provide scanned images.
Copyright © 2003 Bill Sheeran. All Rights Reserved.