‘An Chuallacht Léannta’ Pt1
Proinsias Mac Brádaigh SJ is the editor of the book ‘An Chuallacht Léannta’ which explores the huge contibution of Irish Jesuits to the Irish lanuguage and our culture. In this interview he gave to Pat Coyle of Jesuit Communications he talks about the whole venture.
Jesuits who loved their ‘teanga dúchais’…
Seo leabhar ag ceiliúradh éacht léinn a rinne uimhir bheag Íosánach, (agus iar-Íosánach amháin) sa 19ú agus sa 20ú aois. “Is oscailt súl cuntais an leabhair seo, scéal a mhúsclaíonn dúil an duine an litríocht seo againne a bhlaiseadh as an nua agus aithne ceart a chur ar éirim agus dul ár dteanga.”
As Dr Alan Titley, Emeritus Professor of Modern Irish in university College Cork, wrote in Studies, Spring 2012, vol 101, No 401: “One of the most extraordinary things about the History of Ireland and of its literature is that most people, scholars included, hadn’t the least clue about the latter until the very end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century….There was no authoritative dictionary to which somebody could go to retrieve either common or arcane meaning…It would not be an exaggeration to state that a number of Jesuit scholars turned this situation around in a short number of years….The Society of Jesus played a major role in the promotion of Irish scholarship, and it would be difficult to imagine that scholarship without this invaluable contribution.”
Ag Trácht ar thréimhse Athbhunaithe an Oird scríobhann Michelle O Ríordan, stairí in Institiúd Mater Dei; “Múineadh Gaeilge sa choláiste i gCoill Cluana Gabhann (Clongowes) ó 1840, an tAth Amhlaoibh Ó Donabháín (ó Thrá Lí) a bhí ina bhun. Sa Scoil seo, agus i scoileanna eile faoi stiúir an Oird, cuireadh bun faoi chreidimh an phobail Chaitlicigh. Mar bhreis ar seo, is iomaí sagart san Ord a chuir spéis nár bheag sa Gaeilge – dá shaothrú mar ábhar léinn agus mar mheán chumarsáide i measg an phobail, agus dá chur chun cinn i measg na cléire. Dob fhéidir a áiteamh gur cruthaíodh gréasán a leathnaigh thar na glúna. Glún ab ea an ghlún seo, a bhain le thréimhse Athbhunaithe an Oird, a chuaigh ina cheannródaithe roimh an triúir is mó atá faoi chaibidil sa leabhar seo, an tAth Pádraig Ó Duinnín, an tAth Lámhbheartach Mac Cionnaith SJ agus an tAth Eoin Mac Fhir Léinn SJ.
While treating work done by other Jesuits, this book centres mostly on different aspects of the work of the three mentioned above, Fr Patrick Dinneen, Fr. Lambert McKenna and Fr. John Mac Erlean. With their Jesuit colleagues these three brought about a revolution is Irish scholarship. Dinneen’s dictionary is still as authoritative as when originally published and has been reprinted 9 times. Lambert McKenna’s English – Irish Dictionary, though out of print, is an amazing treasure of English – Irish equivalent phrases for those who can lay their hands on a copy, and would warrant republication. And their editions of Irish poetry from the late middle ages to the 18th century revealed a treasure house of literature which can be widely enjoyed as a result of their work and of scholarship by others based on their original publications.
Proinsias Mac Brádaigh says “Foilseacháin Ábhair Spioradálta and an Timire are proud to bring the work of these Jesuits and their colleagues to our notice again. And it is our hope that this book will inspire readers to rediscover and enjoy our literature and language. We hope it will also be a small contribution to us as a bilingual people in a multilingual world.”