MacManus, Seumas (1868–1960), writer, was born 31 December 1868 in Mountcharles, Co. Donegal, second son of Patrick MacManus, farmer and small shopkeeper, and Mary MacManus (née Molloy), from a farming family in Drumholm. On completing his education at the local Glencoagh school he enrolled in the Model School in Enniskillen, where he obtained his teacher's certificate. His first teaching post was in Kinawley, Co. Fermanagh; in 1888 he became principal of Glencoagh school. He was interested in the nationalist movement, becoming the first secretary of the Gaelic League in Co. Donegal, a founder member of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), and a founder member of the 1798 Commemoration Committee in Mountcharles (1897). He was on the board of Padraig Pearse's Scoil Enda, and when Pearse visited Donegal he stayed several days with MacManus.
He collected legends and folklore in the local ‘rambling houses’ and began contributing to the local Donegal Vindicator. He won a prize for his ‘Ride on an Irish jaunting car’ in the Weekly Irish Times, using the pen-name ‘Mac of Glen Eany’; later he shortened his pen-name to ‘Mac’. Apart from the Dublin-based Shamrock, he contributed to the Belfast-based Northern Patriot and Shan Van Vocht edited by Alice Milligan (qv) and Ethna Carbery (qv). His earliest full-length publications were Shuilers from heathy hills (1893), The leadin' road to Donegal (1895), 'Twas in dhroll Donegal (1897), The bend of the road (1898), and The humours of Donegal (1898).
In 1898 he got an assignment from the editor of Le Petit Journal in Paris to interview the leaders of Irish organisations in America, so he resigned from his school. He brought his collection of stories with him and in 1898–9 had articles published in leading US magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Harper's Monthly, the Century Magazine and the Catholic World. He returned to Ireland in 1900 and on 22 August 1901 married the writer Anna Johnston (‘Ethna Carbery') in Whitehouse church, Belfast. On 2 April 1902 Ethna died in Revlin House, Donegal, and was buried in Frosses. He wrote the introductions to her works The four winds of Eirinn and The passionate hearts, which were published posthumously. He continued writing for Irish nationalist publications such as United Ireland; his poems were published in Ballads of a country boy by Gill in 1905. In 1904 his play ‘Townland of Tamney’ was performed by the Irish National Theatre Society. Other plays of the period are ‘The hard-hearted man’, ‘Woman of sorrows’, ‘Orange and green’, and ‘The leadin’ road to Donegal'. He was present at the ‘Birth of Sinn Féin’ or ‘Battle of the Rotunda’ in May 1905 and organised the first meeting of Donegal County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Mountcharles (October 1905).
In 1903 he had founded a small monthly magazine, Irish Nights, which contained many of his own stories. After six issues he returned to the US and publication ceased. Seumas spent the rest of his life in the US lecturing and writing. In 1908 he was appointed to lecture in literature in Notre Dame University, Indiana, and in 1917 the University conferred a doctorate of law on him. His main novels were A lad of the O'Friels (1903) and The red poocher (1903); the autobiographical Rocky road to Dublin appeared in 1938. Ireland's cause put in book form a lecture given to Cumann na nGaedheal in London in 1903. It was expanded into The story of the Irish race in 1938. Some chapters were written by Helena Concannon (qv) and Aodh de Blacam (qv).
MacManus also published fairy tales in Donegal fairy stories (1900), wonder tales in The Donegal wonder book (1926), and articles in papers and magazines. In 1938 he founded a magazine, Chimney Corners, in Ireland but it was not a success. In the 1940s and 1950s he visited Mountcharles annually, and in the summer evenings told stories such as ‘The well o’ the World's End’ and ‘The knight of the Glenn's Steed o' Bells’ to the children gathered at the village pump. He died on 21 October 1960 in New York; his remains were brought back to Donegal in May 1961 and were buried in the same grave with those of Ethna Carbery in Frosses.
His second marriage was to a writer, Catalina Violante Páez in New York in 1911. She was a granddaughter of General José Antonio Páez, the first president of Venezuela. They had two daughters, Mariquita and Patricia.