Borrowed Days by Father Matthias Bodkin

Published by Browne and Nolan Dublin 1942


Father Matthias Bodkin S.J. 1896 – 1973


Borrowed Days is a novel, set in the period 1760 to 1820, whose themes are the inheritance of Emo, the spiritual development of the main character Maurice O’Moore and the desire to create a Catholic school at Emo. According to the flyleaf, it is “the drama of a man and a nation moving in step to a new life: to the man it brings romance and a splendid inheritance ... For the nation it means the ’98, the Union and the Veto ... The back-cloth is a picture of the Georgian age of taste drawn with rare knowledge and sympathy ...”. 

A central character is the fictitious Earl of Portborough (a composite picture of the Earls of Portarlington under a different name).

At the beginning of the fourth chapter, there is a lyrical description of Emo Court: “In plan it was daringly simple, a noble block of masonry unspoilt by any subsidiary wing or annex. At its heart ... a temple of beauty rising in carved and gilded marble like a fountain ... its copper dome already clouding with a delicate sky-green patina.... its marble columned banqueting hall, its brass railed staircases, its high stone-chimneyed oak-panelled library.... The taste of an age that worshipped taste had ruled every proportion.”

Fr Matthias Bodkin weaves similar lyrical descriptions of Emo Court and the gardens and estate throughout the story.