James Carney (scholar)

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James Patrick Carney (17 May 1914 – 7 July 1989) was a noted Irish Celtic scholar.

He was born in Portlaoise, County Laois and was educated at the Christian Brothers school in Synge Street, Dublin. He took his degree at University College Dublin in 1935, before going to Bonn University to study under Rudolf Thurneysen.[1][2]

On returning to Dublin, Carney worked under Osborn Bergin, Gerard Murphy, Richard Irvine Best and T. F. O'Rahilly. He pioneered an approach to early Irish texts which focused on their literary merit and their affinities with the other literatures of the medieval world.[2] His Studies in Irish Literature and History which appeared in 1956 challenged the 'nativist' approach to Irish literature which had dominated the scholarship of the previous decades.[2] His work on Saint Patrick also proved controversial.[2]

He was attached to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies from its foundation by Éamon de Valera in 1940 and became Professor of Irish there.[1][3] From 1950–52 he was visiting professor at Uppsala University where he and his wife founded a Department of Celtic Studies.[4] He was awarded an honorary doctorate by that institution in 1975.[3] In 1959, he was appointed member of the Royal Society of the Humanities at Uppsala.[5]

He was married to Maura Morrissey, also an academic and a member of the Royal Irish Academy, who predeceased him in 1975. The couple had a son, Paul, who was a judge in the Irish High Court.[3]

Select publications[edit]

  • Topographical Poems by Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin and Giolla na Naomh Ó hUuidrain, editor, (1943)
  • Poems on the Butlers of Ormond, Cahir and Dunboyne, AD 1400-1650, editor, (1945)
  • A Genealogical History of the O’Reillys, from Irish of Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh, editor, (1950)
  • Studies in Irish Literature and History (1956)
  • The Problem of St Patrick (1961)
  • Early Irish Poetry (1965)
  • Medieval Irish Lyrics (1967)
  • The Irish Bardic Poet (1967)
  • Poems on the O’Reillys, editor, (1970)


  1. ^ a b "James Carney". Ricorso. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  2. ^ a b c d McCaughey, Terence (1999). "James Patrick Carney" (PDF). Celtica. 23: 188–192. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  3. ^ a b c Bramsbäck, Birgit (1999). "James Carney's connections with Uppsala University" (PDF). Celtica. 23: 1–2. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  4. ^ "University College Cork (UCC): Faculty of Law". University College Cork. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  5. ^ Bramsbäck, Birgit (1999). "James Carney's connections with Uppsala University". Celtica. 23: 1–2.