The huge success of the Old Moore’s Almanac meant that copycat versions continually sprang to life, all wanting a piece of the pie. We take a look at some of the ‘spurious editions’ of the past.
In 1851 the enterprising John Francis Nugent, of 35 Cook Street, Dublin, started his own almanac, in opposition to Old Moore’s Almanac. It was called Nugent’s Old Moore’s Almanac. The original Old Moore’s Almanac, almost ninety years old at this point, was fed up to the gills of other publishers stealing their thunder and their name.
Nugent acted as manager and editor of this rip-off version of the Old Moore’s Almanac until his death in 1866, and after that it was taken over by his assistant. But then something strange happened. In 1886, John McCall, long-time editor of the genuine Old Moore’s Almanac, became editor of Nugent’s Moore’s Almanac simultaneously. He carried on like this for 12 years. It would seem to be a conflict of interest: Nugent’s Almanac was very similar to Old Moore’s Almanac; there were the usual prophecies and weather forecasts. In the end, Nugent’s almanac was taken over by Nugent’s widow but in 1898 she re-married and allowed it to lapse.
There were other copycats. An edition in 1900 of Old Moore by W. A. Quirke of 25, Wicklow Street, was the subject of a legal action by the proprietor of the genuine Old Moore’s Almanac at the time, P.C.D. Warren. Not only was this new copycat edition stealing its thunder, it wasn’t even producing original copy; it was stealing the exact copy from Old Moore’s Almanac, and printing it under its own name!
Warren obtained an injunction against Quirke restraining him from publishing any almanac containing a list of fairs taken from the plaintiff’s publication. This stopped the sale of Quirke’s almanac and he was debarred from selling any copies of the issue in question.
The genuine Old Moore’s Almanac then tried to copyright the name “Moore’s Almanack”. The court refused to grant exclusive use of the words “Old Moore” or “Moore’s Almanack” to the plaintiff owing to the fact that many copycat almanacs were already published in England called “Old Moore’s” and it would be too difficult to police. The ship had sailed. It is assumed that Old Moore’s Almanack became Old Moore’s Almanac, to distinguish it from all other non-genuine competitors. The almanac without the “k” was forevermore the genuine one.
Calling Out the Copycats
The editor of the 1853 edition of Moore’s Almanack decried all of the copy cats, saying that even the English were at it now: stealing Irish culture and fame right out from underneath Irish noses. Here is an article from the literature section of the Weekly Telegraph in 1852:
Moore’s Almanack for the year of Our Lord 1853
We are calling attention to this work, the genuine Old Moore’s Irish Almanack, we feel bound especially to notice because we are aware that the attempt is made to the great injury of the author, and to the great injury of the Irish trade, as well as great injury to the honest fame and fair reputation of the country to call upon the public to either spurious imitations of the real work or to import amongst the people a contraband article called “Moore’s Almanack” which is we believe written and printed in England. The attempt should be made by Englishman to despoil us of our Moore’s Almanac cannot be a matter of surprise when we know that our neighbours on the other side of the channel have long been endeavouring to despoil us of our Wellington by constantly speaking and writing of the Duke as an Englishman, never as an Irishman. We now conceive it to be the duty of the Irish press to earnestly resist the one dishonest attempt as the other.
We will not let the English have our Theophilus Moore no more than our Arthur Wellesley and we insist on proving that none but the real genuine Theophilus Moore, Philomath, abiding at Skerries could write such prophecies as to be found in The Almanac embellished with his portrait; as in the same manner it has been proved that none but the Irishman Wellington could have fought in the Battle of Waterloo and won it. The Verity of the Irish prophet is proved by his words as the valour of the Irish general was demonstrated by his deeds.
Theophilus Moore, Philomath, the author of The Almanack before us, may be regarded as the only genuine living representative of the extraordinary class of beings who lived ages ago and combined together the power of foretelling future events with the gift of poesy and to whom the name “Vates” was applied indifferently.
In ancient times the “Vates” was the oracle of his neighbourhood and many such were to be found. But at present we believe there is but one “Vates” in all of Europe and that is our Theophilus Moore and most happy are we to perceive that our Theophilus Moore eschews all sorts of magic fortune telling and conjuring tricks of every kind and description whatsoever. Mr Theophilus Moore abjures alike heresy and idolatry. He is a genuine prophet, a poet and we feel confident, judging from his prophesies, that he is not only a pious Christian, but also a true-hearted Irishman.
In order that the public may judge for themselves, and that the public may better distinguish between the real Theophilus Moore and the fictitious Theophilus Moore whoever they are concocted in England or Ireland, we shall place a few extracts from his prophecies before them.