PUL’s first known work in Irish
The following is the first work in Irish known to have been written by PUL—namely a letter to the Gaelic League, that was published in The Irishman of May 4th, 1878, p693. The letter was for long a mystery. PUL said in his Mo Sgéal Féin (pp152-153) that he had written a letter in Irish to the Gaelic League, with advice on the Irish language movement that they ignored, and that the letter later appeared in the Freeman’s Journal:
Suim aimsire tar éis na h-oibre do thosnughadh i Maghchromtha tháinig leitir chúgham ó Bhaile Átha Cliath, ó’n “gCuman” úd “chun na Gaedhilge do choimeád beó.” Do tráchtadh liom ar an ngádh a bhí leis an obair a bhí ag an gCuman ‘á dhéanamh, agus ar an ngádh a bhí le h-airgead chun na h-oibre do dhéanamh. Dhá fhírinne ghlan ab eadh an dá nídh sin gan amhras. Chuireas púnt airgid chúcha agus do sgríobhas leitir cúcha, agus is i nGaeluinn do sgríobhas í. Thugas iaracht, sa leitir, ar raint neithe do chur ar a súilibh dóibh i dtaobh an chuma ‘n-ar cheart an obair a bhí curtha rómpa acu do dhéanamh. Chuireadar freagra chúgham ar mo leitir ag gabháil buidhchais an airgid liom. Agus chuireadar chúgham cló de’n Freeman’s Journal agus mo leitir Ghaeluinne i gcló air, díreach mar a sgar mo lámh léi. Do thugadar le tuisgint dom, ámhthach, i dtaobh na cómhairle a bhí tabhartha agam dóibh, ná raibh aon ghádh le dithineas. Ba mhar a chéile an sgéal agus a rádh: “A dhuine mhacánta, tabhair-se aire do d’ ghnó féin agus leig dúinne an rud céadna dhéanamh.”
For many years, scholars could not find it, as they searched the Freeman’s Journal for it, and Fr. Shán Ó Cuív’s bibliography of PUL’s works stated that it was still unfound. But Brian Ó Cuív later found it in The Irishman. The discussion on ainm.ie (where an Irish-language biography of PUL may be found) says:
I Maigh Chromtha do chuir sé litir chuig Aontacht na Gaeilge. Foilsíodh í sa Freeman’s Journal (theip ar an Athair Ó Cuív teacht air agus é ag liostú saothar Uí Laoghaire. Deir Brian Ó Cuív in Éigse 1960–61, 1. 247–51 gurbh í an litir a bhí i gceist an ceann a foilsíodh in The Irishman ar 4 Bealtaine 1878).
Thankfully, An Lón Dubh has located this newspaper (click here for the PDF, which also included an English translation—I do not include a transcription of the English translation here, as I am not clear whether PUL submitted it himself or whether it was done by the editors of The Irishman), and the article is as follows (adopting my Muskerry House Style—and not the original spelling, which reflects classical norms, as at such an early date PUL had not yet determined to follow his own spelling rules):
THE IRISH LANGUAGE.
The Rev. Peter O’Leary, C.C., Rathcormac, Co. Cork, has written the following Gaelic letter to Messrs. M. H. Gill and Son, 50 Upper Sackville-street, publishers of the works prepared by the “Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language.” The letter is valuable not only for its correctness and style, but for the signs of progress which it reports for the Gaelic movement in the schools of that locality:—
Ráth Chormaic, Cúntae Chorcaí.
An deichiú lá fichid de Mhárta, 1878.
A dhaoine uaisle,
Cuirim chúibh postórd ar choróinn agus dhá thuistiún mar dhíol as an bhfichid leabhar a fuaras uaibh.
D’iarrabhair orm má bhí aon ní fónta agam le rá mar gheall ar an nGaelainn sa bhall so é ’ chur in úil díbh.
Ar dtús: tá suas le fiche duine ’nár scoil bheag anso, agus tigid le chéile gach tráthnóna ag foghlaim na gceacht, agus bím féin dá múineadh agus is féidir liom a rá go bhfuilid ag dul chun cínn maith go leór. Tá tuilleadh ar an dtaobh amu’ den mhéid sin agus d’éis tosnú go maith do theip a bhfoighne in achomaireacht. San am céanna ceapaim go bfíllfid cuid acu nuair ’ chífid an gnó ag dul ar aghaidh agus a gcómhlaí ag labhairt na Gaelainne. Tá beirt nú triúr agam nár labhair focal di riamh go dtí a bhfuil le leathbhliain, agus is féidir leó anois an rann beag so thíos do ghabháil ar mheabhair agus do thuiscint:
Dreóilín a fuaramar thíos ar an ínse
Fá bhráid carraige is carbhat síod’ air
thugamar chúibh é—lán úr dtíse
’S go mba seacht feárr um an dtaca so arís sibh.
Tá anois machnamh beag agam le cur os úr gcómhair. Do chuir an obair an méad so ’na luí orm. Má thig im láthair fear den choitiantacht os cionn fiche bliain d’aois, nár labhair riamh focal Gaelainne agus ná raibh ’na taithí is cuma í nú bás aon fhocal di ’chur ’na bhéal isteach, ach má chuirim chun linbh deich mbliain do mhúineadh, foghlamóidh sé í chómh tiubh is do labharfad í. Rud eile, an mhuíntir go bhfuil eólas agus taithí acu ar an nGaelainn níl puínn meas acu uirthi, óir ceapaid gur cómhartha uaisleachta ar dhuine bheith dall uirthi. Dá mb’fhéidir an ní sin go chur as a gcroí ba rógheárr an mhoíll orthu í d’foghlaim agus í ’ labhairt go blasta.
Anois dá mbeadh an Ghaelainn dá múineadh in sna scoilibh coiteanna, beadh dhá ghnó dá ndéanamh: bheadh an mhuíntir óg dá foghlaim gan fhios dóibh féin agus beifí dá chur ’na luí ar an muíntir críonna gur mó an náire a hainbhios ná a heólas.
Ba dhó’ liom, dá gcuireadh sibhse chuige go dtiocfadh libh an tír go léir go chur ar aon ghuth ag lorg an mhéid sin ar lucht déanta ár ndlithe; agus ansan do mhúinfidh níos mó Gaelainne in aon bhliain amháin ná a bhfoghlamófí anois ar feadh deich mbliain.
Do tháinig chun lámha go cruínn leabhar scríbhneóireachta a chuireabhair ag triall orm. Tan ’ chonacadar na buachaillí é do tháinig árd-dúil acu air. Cuiridh chúm lenúr dtoil, fiche ceann eile dá leithéidíbh.
Táim ag brath air gur geárr go mbeidh scoil bheag eile againn anso in aice cnucáin na biolraí. Tá cuinne déanta agam le duine ón áit sin i gcómhair an lae amáirigh go dtispéanfainn do An Chéad Leabhar agus An Dara Leabhar Gaedhilge. Béarfaidh sé leis abhaile an dá leabhar agus chífidh a dhaoine muínteartha iad, agus deir sé go dtabharfaid go léir iarracht ar an nGaelainn d’foghlaim. Cuirfeadsa gach misneach is féidir liom orthu, agus ní bheartaim go mbeidh puínn trioblóide ann óir táid go léir i dtaithí Gaelainne ’na gcómhrá coiteann.
Dá iarraidh ar Dhia an rath do chur ar úr saothar agus go n-éirídh an t-ádh libh.
Peadar Ua Laoghaire.
amáireach: “tomorrow”, or amárach in the CO. An lá amáireach, “tomorrow”.
An Chéad Leabhar Gaedhilge: an instructional manual published by the Gaelic League in 1878.
An Dara Leabhar Gaedhilge: an instructional manual published by the Gaelic League in 1878.
anbhios: “ignorance”, possibly pronounced /aŋʹis/.
árd-dúil: “a great desire or liking” for something. Árd-dhúil, with medial lenition, is found in some of PUL’s later works. More research required here.
arís: “again”. PUL often (although not here) used the spelling airís, indicating a slender r, /i’rʹi:ʃ/.
beartaim, beartadh: “to think, estimate”. More usually, beartaím, beartú.
biolrach: “watercress”, or biolar in the CO. Cnucáin na biolraí is Watergrass Hill, thought to be a corruption of Watercress Hill. FGB indicates that biolra is a variant of biolar. PUL’s form is not given in PSD, which does however have biolarach, an adjective meaning “abounding in cresses”: this adjective appears to have become a feminine noun in PUL’s Irish.
bliain: “year”. The genitive plural is given here as deich mbliain, where deich mblian would be expected.
brá: “neck, the front of the neck”, with bráid in the dative. Fá bhráid carraige, “under the front of a rock”.
carbhat: “neck-tie”. Pronounced /kɑrəvət/.
céanna: “same”. San am céanna would generally appear as san am gcéanna in PUL’s later works.
cnucán: “hillock”, adjusted from cnoc- in the original in line with the general approach here to the editing of WM Irish.
coiteann: “general”. Scoileanna coiteanna, “general schools, public schools”.
cómhlach: “comrade, fellow, companion”. The plural cólaighe, transcribed here as cómhlaí, found in the original appears to be an attempt at a less dialectal form (cómhlaigh would make more sense), unless cómhlach and cómhla are some how aligned in PUL’s Irish. In any case, cómhlach does not appear in FGB.
Corcaigh: Cork, a placename found, as with many other placenames, in a fossilised dative, derived from the noun corcach, “moor, marsh, low-lying swamp”.
coróinn: “crown”, or coróin in the CO, pronounced /kroːŋʹ/. A crown was equivalent to five shillings in predecimal currency.
cuinne: “meeting, appointment”. This is usually spelt coinne, but the original spelling was cuinge here, and the u is retained as showing the pronunciation better. Coinne ’ bheith déanta agat le duine, “to be due to meet someone”.
cúntae: “county”, or contae in the CO. Also found as cúndae.
dall: “blind”. Dall ar rud, “in the dark on something, ignorant of it”.
dara: “second”. More generally tarna in WM Irish.
deichiú: “tenth”. Spelt deachmhadh in the original, but I don’t believe that form reflects the local pronunciation.
éis: “track”. This word seems to be rarely used in its original meaning. D’éis found here is equivalent to tar éis, “after”.
fá: “under; against”, or faoi in the CO. This preposition was originally fa, and this is the classical spelling used in the original. This is edited here as fá, which form is occasionally found in PUL’s works, reflecting historical confusion between fa and má (“about”). The prepositional pronoun fé is more frequently found in WM Irish for the base preposition itself.
feárr: “better”. Go mba seacht feárr um an dtaca so arís sibh, “may you be seven times better this time next year”. Shouldn’t it be seacht bhfeárr?
fiche: “twenty”. The classical genitive was fichead, with fichid in the dative, but PUL consistently uses fichid in the gentive, probably reflecting an underlying variant noun fichead, which is found in PUL’s Séadna. Fichid in correctly used in the dative also in the first line of the letter here.
foghlamaím, foghlaim: “to learn”, or foghlaimím, foghlaim in the CO.
foighne: “patience”, pronounced /fəiŋʹi/. Spelt foighde in the original.
gabhaim, gabháil: “to go”, with many subsidiary meanings. The translation given for rann do ghabhail de mheabhair is “to commit a verse to memory”, but it seems rather to mean “to recite a verse from memory”.
gan fhios: “unwittingly”. I believe gan fhios is two words (cf. i ganfhios, where ganfhios is a noun).
gheibhim, fáil: “to find”. The past-tense form fuaramar is retained as given, although fuaramair is the Cork form. Fuaramar was a historically correct form, which has been adopted in the CO.
i gcómhair: “for, in store for”. This phrase was spelt i g-coir in the original, and generally i gcóir in PUL’s works, in line with PUL’s view (cf. Notes on Irish Words and Usages) that this phrase derives from cóir, “proper arrangement (among other meanings)” and not cómhair, “presence”. He indicated he did not have a nasal vowel in this phrase, but the issue is complex, as his etymology seems faulty (The Dictionary of the Irish Language has i gcomhair) and it is possible that i gcómhair has become conflated with a separate phrase i gcóir, “ready” in WM Irish. In any case, nasalisation is not a noted feature of modern-day WM Irish, and so the CO form produces the correct pronunciation.
ínse: “watermeadow”. This is translated as “island” in the original, but inis, “island”, and ínse, “watermeadow”, are distinct words, and there is no evidence that PUL provided the translation here.
lámh: “hand”. The gentive láimhe in the original is adjusted here to lámha in line with PUL’s later insistence that this is the correct genitive. The nominative is /lɑːv/ and the genitive /lɑː/. Rud a theacht chun lámha usually means “for something to come to hand”, but seems here to mean rather “for something to come in handy”. More research required here.
méad: “amount”. Normally found as méid in PUL’s Irish.
méid: “amount”. This is generally not lenited after den in PUL’s works (cf. den méid in his novel Niamh). Den mhéid here possibly reflects classical norms.
ná: “than”, adjusted from iona in the original.
nú: “or”, or nó in the CO.
os cómhair: “before”, pronounced /ɑs koːrʹ/.
postórd: “postal order”. The CO has ordú poist.
Ráth Chormaic: spelt Rathchormaic in the original, Rathcormack, Co. Cork. Ráth means “fort, earthen rampart”.
scoil: “school”, with scoilibh in the dative plural here, where scoileanna would be more usual.
tan: “time, occasion”, also used adverbially meaning “when, at the time that”, followed by a relative clause. This usage appears very rare in PUL’s works.
tigim, teacht: “to come”. The older form tigim is used here, where tagaim is more generally found in the dialect. Notice má thig fear, “if a man comes”.
tispeánaim, tispeáint: “to show”, with the slender t of WM Irish inserted in the editing here; the original cleaved to classical norms.
tugaim, tabhairt: “to give, bring”, with thugamar in the preterite here, where thugamair is more common in WM Irish.
tuistiún: “fourpence” in predecimal money.
tús: “beginning”. Ar dtús, “first of all”. More generally ar dtúis, but the original form is retained here as PSD shows both forms existed, and PUL seems to be cleaving to classical norms here.
úil:iúl in the CO, “knowledge”. The word úmhail, “attention”, appears to have become confused with the dative of eól, producing úil. Where anull stood in the original, it has been adjusted in the editing here. Rud a chur in úil do dhuine, “to let someone know something, to make someone realise something”.
úr: “your (pl)”, or bhur in the CO. Le bhur d-toil in the original is adjusted here to lenúr dtoil.