Peadar Ua Laoghaire

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Peadar Ua Laoghaire

Father Peadar Ua Laoghaire (Irish pronunciation: [ˈpʲad̪ˠəɾˠ oː ˈl̪ˠeːɾʲə],[1] first name locally [ˈpʲad̪ˠəɾʲ];[2] also Peadar Ó Laoghaire (April 1839 – 21 March 1920[3]) was an Irish writer and Catholic priest, who is regarded today as one of the founders of modern literature in Irish.


He was born in the parish of Clondrohid, County Cork, and grew up speaking Munster Irish in the Muskerry Gaeltacht.[4] He was a descendant of the Carrignacurra branch of the Ó Laoire of the ancient Corcu Loígde.[5]

He attended St Patrick's College, Maynooth and was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in 1867. He became a parish priest in Castlelyons in 1891, and it was there that he wrote his most famous story, Séadna, and told it as a fireside story to three little girls. Séadna was the first major literary work of the emerging Gaelic revival. It was serialised in the Gaelic Journal from 1894, and published in book form in 1904.[4] The plot of the story concerns a deal that the shoemaker Séadna struck with "the Dark Man". Although the story is rooted in the folklore the writer heard from shanachies by the fire during his youth, it is also closely related to the German legend of Faust. It was first published as a serial in various Irish-language magazines.

Apart from Séadna, Ua Laoghaoire wrote an autobiography called Mo Sgéal Féin ("My Own Story"), published by Norma Borthwick's Irish Book Company. In addition, he translated some stories of medieval Gaelic literature into modern Irish, such as Eisirt and An Cleasaí, and translated an abridged version of the story of Don Quixote into his local dialect of Irish.

Peadar Ua Laoghaire became known for his support for caint na ndaoine, the real Irish of the people rather than any attempt to revive older forms of Irish. But he also drew careful distinctions between what he saw as good Irish and bad Irish, saying in chapter 5 of Mo Sgéal Féin,

Before I left Liscarrigane, I had never heard from anybody's mouth phrases such as "tá mé", "bhí mé", "bhí siad"; I always used to hear "táim", "bhíos", "bhíodar", etc. Little things! – but little things that come repeatedly into conversation. A taut mode of expression, as against one that is lax, makes for finish in speech; in the same manner, a lax mode of expression as against the taut, makes for speech that is deficient. Besides, the taut speech possesses a force and a vigour that cannot be contained in speech that is falling apart...The loose mode of expression is prominent in Gaelic today and English is nothing else. English has fallen apart completely.[6]

Accordingly, he strongly promoted Cork Irish as what he saw as the best Irish for propagation among the Irish people.

He died in Castlelyons at the age of 80.


The following is a partial list of his works.[7][8]

  • Ar nDóithin Araon, 1894
  • Mion-chaint: an easy Irish phrase book, compiled for the Gaelic League, 1899
  • Eólas ar áireamh, arithmetical tables in Irish, 1902
  • An Soísgéal as Leabar an aifrinn, 1902
  • Irish prose composition: a series of articles, including several upon the Irish autonomous verb, 1902
  • Aesop a Tháinig go hÉirinn, 1903
  • Sgothbhualadh, a series of articles in Irish reprinted from the "Leader", 1904
  • Séadna, 1904 (originally serialised in 1898)
  • An Craos-Deamhan, 1905
  • An Bealach Buidhe, a drama, 1906
  • Tóruigheacht Dhiarmuda agus Ghráinne, 1906
  • Niamh 1907
  • Eisirt, 1909
  • Seanmóin agus trí fichid, sermons for every Sunday and holy day of the year, 1909–10
  • An sprid: Bas Dalláin: Tadhg Saor, three short plays, 1911
  • An Cleasaidhe, 1913
  • Caitilina, 1913
  • Aithris ar Chríost, 1914 (a translation into Irish of Thomas à Kempis' 'Imitatio Christi')
  • Sliabh na mban bhFionn agus Cúan Fithise, 1914
  • Lughaidh Mac Con, 1914
  • Bricriu, 1915
  • Na Cheithre Soisgéil as an dTiomna Nua, 1915 (a translation into Irish of the Four Gospels)
  • Mo Sgéal Féin, 1915
  • Guaire, 1915
  • Ag Séideadh agus ag ithe, 1918
  • An teagasg críosdaidhe, edited by Ua Laoghaire, 1920
  • Don Cíchóté, (A partial translation of Cervantes' novel Don Quixote, 1921
  • Gníomhartha na nAspol, 1922 (a translation into Irish of the Acts of the Apostles)
  • Lúcián, 1924
  • Sgéalaidheachta as an mBíobla naomhtha, 1924 (stories from the Bible)
  • Críost Mac Dé, 1925
  • Sgealaidheacht na Macabéach, 1926 (the stories of the Maccabees from the Apocrypha)
  • Aodh Ruadh, an adaptation of the life of Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill originally by Lughaidh O'Clery in the 17th century, 1929
  • Notes on Irish words and usages
  • Papers on Irish idiom : together with a translation into Irish of part of the first book of Euclid, by the late canon Peter O'Leary ; edited by Thomas F. O'Rahilly.
  • Cómhairle ár leasa, articles published in the "Leader"
  • Mo shlighe chun Dé : leabhar urnaighthe

An article listing 487 of Ua Laoghaire's articles and works was published in Celtica in 1954.[9]


  1. ^ Ó Cuív, Brian (1944). The Irish of West Muskerry, Co. Cork. pp. 21, 49. 
  2. ^ An Músgraigheach 1, June 1943, note 1
  3. ^ An tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire
  4. ^ a b Welch, Robert (1996). Oxford Concise Companion to Irish Literature. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280080-9. 
  5. ^ Diarmuid Ó Murchadha, Family Names of County Cork. Cork: The Collins Press. 2nd edition, 1996. p. 214
  6. ^ In the original Irish:

    Sar ar fhágas-sa Lios Caragáin níor airigheas riamh amach a' béal duine na h-abartha so, .i. "Tá mé"; "bhí mé"; "bhí siad." D'airighinn i gcómhnuighe "Táim"; "bhíos"; "bhíodar," ⁊c. Neithe beaga iseadh iad san, ach is neithe beaga iad a thagan isteach go mion minic sa chaint. Agus is slacht ar an gcaint an módh dlúithte seachas an módh sgurtha. Ar an gcuma gcéadna, is neamhshlacht ar an gcaint an módh sgurtha seachas an módh dlúithte. D'á éaghmuis sin bíon sa chaint dhlúithte neart agus fuinneamh nách féidir a bheith sa chaint a bhíon ag tuitim as a chéile...Tá bárr 'á thabhairt do'n mhódh sgurtha sa Ghaeluinn, agus módh sgurtha ar fad iseadh an Béarla. Tá an Béarla tuitithe as a chéile ar fad.

  7. ^ A partial bibliography of Ua Laoghaire's works]
  8. ^ Works by Peadar Ua Laoghaire held by the National Library of Ireland are also listed above; some are undated.
  9. ^ Still available from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
This page includes material translated from the corresponding article at the Irish Wikipedia as of 2007-10-07.