Bible translations into Irish

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A complete translation of the Bible into Irish was first published in the 17th century: the New Testament in 1602 and the Old Testament in 1680.

Walsh, Daniel and Bedel's version[edit]

After the Tudor reconquest of Ireland, the established Church of Ireland attempted to consolidate the Reformation in Ireland, with little success among the Gaelic Irish. The first translation of the New Testament (Tiomna Nuadh) was begun by Nicholas Walsh, Bishop of Ossory, who worked on it until his untimely death in 1585. The work was continued by John Kearney (Treasurer of St. Patrick's, Dublin), his assistant, and Dr. Nehemiah Donellan, Archbishop of Tuam, and it was finally completed by William O'Domhnuill (William Daniel, Archbishop of Tuam in succession to Donellan). Their work was printed in 1602.[1]

The work of translating the Old Testament was undertaken by William Bedel (1571–1642), Bishop of Kilmore, who completed his translation within the reign of Charles the First. However, it was not published until 1685, in a revised version by Narcissus Marsh (1638–1713), Archbishop of Dublin.[2][3]

Translation John (Eoin) 3:16
An Bíobla Naomhtha (Bedel version, from reprint in 1817) Oír is mar so do ghrádhuigh Día an domhan, go dtug sé a éinghein Meic fein, ionnus gidh bé chreideas ann, nach rachadh sé a mugha, achd go mbeith an bheatha shiorruidhe aige.

Twentieth-century versions[edit]

In 1951, the Hibernian Bible Society published a translation of the New Testament into Irish made by Earnán De Siúnta (Ernest Edwin Joynt, "An Buachaillín Buidhe") a Methodist active in the Gaelic League, and based on the 1602 translation.[4]

The Irish Roman Catholic bishops established a commission in 1945 to plan the publication of an Irish-language New Testament, and a steering committee in 1966 to publish a complete Bible.[5] Books were published individually in various forms by An Sagart, a Catholic publisher established at Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth by Pádraig Ó Fiannachta, from the Gospel of Luke in 1964 until 1977.[5][6] Ó Fiannachta and Coslett Ó Cuinn were among the translators.[5] A complete version, revised from the originals and edited by Ó Fiannachta, was published as An Bíobla Naofa in 1981.[5] This is now available online.[7]

Translation John (Eoin) 3:16
An Bíobla Naofa (The Holy Bible, 1981 Catholic translation) Óir ghráigh Dia an domhan chomh mór sin gur thug sé a Aonghin Mic uaidh i dtreo, gach duine a chreideann ann, nach gcaillfí é ach go mbeadh an bheatha shíoraí aige.


  1. ^ William O'Domhnuill's (Daniel's) Translation of the New Testament into Irish. Retrieved on 2 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Treasures of the Irish Language: Some early examples from Dublin City Public Libraries". 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  3. ^ "Bedell's Irish Old Testament". King's College London. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  4. ^ Breathnach, Diarmuid; Máire Ní Mhurchú. "DE SIÚNTA, Earnán (1874–1949)". (in Irish). Cló Iar-Chonnacht. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Forewords in English" (PDF). An Bíobla Naofa. Colin Glen Christian Fellowship. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Eolas / About Us". Official website (in Irish). An Sagart. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "'An Biobla Naofa' on the Internet". Colin Glen Christian Fellowship. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Scéalta as an Apocrypha; Roibeard D'Uidheas Mac Siacais a scríobh an réamhra; Muircheartach Ó Cionga a d'aistrigh don Easpag Bedell; Cosslett Ó Cuinn a chuir in eagar. Baile Átha Cliath: Oifig an tSoláthair, 1971
  • An Bíobla in Éirinn, (Leachtaí Cholm Cille XX), Má Nuad, 1990
  • Breatnach, Deasún, Bedell and the Irish version of the Old Testament, Conradh na Gaeilge, 1971
  • McCaughey, Terence, Dr Bedell and Mr King: the making of the Irish Bible, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Celtic Studies, 2001
  • Ó Glaisne, Risteárd, Cosslett Ó Cuinn, Coiscéim, 1986
  • Williams, Nicholas, 'The Bible in Irish', The Encyclopedia of Ireland, Gill & Macmillan Ltd, 2003
  • Williams, Nicholas, I bPrionta i Leabhar, An Clóchomhar, 1986