Tháinig do Litir…

Tháinig do Litir…
Litreacha ó pheann an Athar Peadar Ó Laoghaire chuig Séamus Ó Dubhghaill (Beirt Fhear)
[Foilsitheoirí: An Sagart; €15]

Cnuasach litreacha, mar aon le scata aguisíní, atá sa saothar seo atá curtha in eagar ag an Dr Tracey Ní Mhaonaigh, léachtóir le Nua-Ghaeilge in Ollscoil Mhá Nuad. Is i Leabharlann an Ruiséalaigh, Coláiste Phádraig, Maigh Nuad, atá an cnuasach bunaidh ar coimeád. 99 litir ar fad atá ann ó pheann an Athar Peadar Ó Laoghaire agus é i mbun comhfhreagrais le Séamus Ó Dubhghaill (Beirt Fhear). Clúdaíonn na litreacha tréimhse ocht mbliana déag, ó mhí Aibreáin 1899 go dtí mí an Mheithimh 1917—tréimhse an-tábhachtach i scéal na Gaeilge agus obair Chonradh na Gaeilge faoi lán seoil, An Claidheamh Soluis tagtha ar an saol agus ceisteanna teanga agus cultúir á gcur agus á bplé.

Donnchadh Ó Floinn, iar-Ollamh le Gaeilge sa Choláiste, a rinne an bailiúchán a chlárú sa bhliain 1947 agus bhronn sé ar Choláiste Phádraig é i mí na Márta 1949. Ní amháin go ndearna sé iad a chlárú agus a bhronnadh ar an gColáiste, ach rinne sé iad a athscríobh ar dtús, in dhá chóipleabhar faoi chlúdach crua, chun go mbeadh cóip ann dá dtarlódh aon cheo do na litreacha bunaidh.
Cad a bhí á scríobh ag an Athair Peadar sna litreacha seo? Ní nach ionadh, tá cuid mhór iontu mar gheall ar leaganacha cainte agus brí focal, mar aon le plé ar mhúnlaí áirithe gramadaí.

Ceisteanna a bhí i mbéal an phobail i bhfoilseacháin na linne is mó a spreag, de réir dealraimh, ábhar an chomhfhreagrais, agus an tAthair Peadar ag tacú le, nó ag seasamh an fhóid i gcoinne, tuairimí á léiriú iontu.

Chreid sé sa teanga agus i saothrú na teanga, ach ar bhealach a thaitin leis féin. Iad siúd a bhí ar aon tuairim leis, bhí sé an-mhór leo, ach sheas sé an fód go láidir ina gcoinne siúd nach raibh. Feicimid sna litreacha, dá bharr, daoine áirithe á moladh go hard na spéire aige—Séamus Ó Dubhghaill féin, Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh agus Norma Borthwick, ina measc—agus daoine eile á gcáineadh aige—Micheál Ó hIceadha, Seosamh Laoide, Eoin Mac Néill, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, agus, an duine ba mhó a thuill a cháineadh, Pádraig Mac Piarais. Is é an meon a léirítear dúinn tríd an mbailiúchán seo an ghné is luachmhaire de.

Thagair an tAthair Peadar, agus na litreacha á scríobh aige, d’ailt a bhí i gcló i bhfoilseacháin éagsúla, nó d’imeachtaí a bhí ar siúl nó á n-eagrú ag an am, agus rinne an t-eagarthóir iarracht, in aguisíní an tsaothair, na hailt seo, mar aon le tuairiscí comhaimseartha ar na himeachtaí, a chur ar fáil chun bearnaí a líonadh don léitheoir. 53 aguisín ar fad atá ann.

This work, edited and arranged by Dr Tracey Ní Mhaonaigh, Maynooth University, contains a collection of letters, housed in the Russell Library in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, along with a number of appendices. It contains 99 letters, written by Fr Peter O’Leary to J.J. Doyle (Beirt Fhear), over a period of eighteen years, from April 1899 to June 1917—an important period for the Irish language, with Conradh na Gaeilge in full swing, An Claidheamh Soluis in its infancy, and questions of language and culture very much in the public forum.

Donnchadh Ó Floinn, a former Professor of Irish in Maynooth, collated the collection in 1947 and presented it to St Patrick’s College in March 1949. Not only did he collate it, but he also wrote out all of the letters, in two hardback notebooks, to ensure a copy would survive in the event of the original letters being lost or destroyed.

About what was Fr Peter writing in these letters? Not surprisingly, we see numerous discussions about versions and meanings of words and phrases, and about particular grammar structures. It would appear that the current affairs of the time inspired the content, as Fr Peter gives his thoughts on issues and opinions as shared in contemporary publications or in public fora.

He very much believed in the language and in its cultivation, but in a way that he approved of. He had a great time for those who agreed with him, but stood strongly against those who didn’t. We find, therefore, certain individuals highly praised in his letters—among them, Ó Dubhghaill himself, Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh and Norma Borthwick—and others deeply criticised— Micheál Ó hIceadha, Seosamh Laoide, Eoin Mac Néill, Eoghan Ó Neachtain, and the individual who received his strongest criticism, Pádraig Mac Piarais. It is this mindsight, as portrayed throughout the collection, which is of most interest.

In his letters, Fr Peter referred to articles in various publications, or to events organised or being organised, and, as a result, as an aid to the reader, the editor has endeavoured to provide these articles and accounts of the various events in the appendices, of which there are 53.

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