Books And Bachelors - 1st Jan. 1949


Books And Bachelors: Text Version

1st January 1949


How many of you have seen Gearoid Mac Spealain's "Cathair Luimnighe," which has just been published? It is an outstanding

Books And Bachelors - 1st Jan. 1949 work in many ways. It is the first history of Limerick City ever to be written in Irish. That is, surely, the first thing that strikes one on handling this excellent book. It cheers one, for it is proof that the fight for the language has not been in vain.


The story of Limerick is presented in a most attractive form. Every page is full of interesting information, most of which was hitherto unknown, except, perhaps, to a few scholars. The inclusion of many contemporary Irish poems, some of them by Limerick poets like Daibhidh O Bruadair, which tell of particular phases in Irish history, was a happy thought. And, as if to show that Limerick still has men capable of turning a Gaelic verse, Mr. Mac Spealain gives his own delightful translation of Thomas Davis's famous poem, "The Geraldines."


Na Gearaltaigh! Na Gearaltaigh! Ba

riaghdha riamh a riaghail

Ar achadh reidh Chill Dara 'gus ar

Mhumhain na bhfearann min;

Is beag ba chas leo sogh no samh is

cara dhoibh gan dion,

San ruaig gur luath roimh "Chrom

Abu!" an namhaid na leomhfadh gliadh.


The book is well illustrated with some very interesting photographs,

and with many charming drawings by Sean Mac Spealain. One feels that the writing of this history has been a labour of love to Mr. Mac Spealain. It is a scholarly work, and an immense amount of research must have gone into its preparation; yet, one finds in it a warmth and an understanding of the hopes and aspirations of the people that are like the clasp of a friendly hand. I don't think I am making a sweeping statement when I say that at 3/-, this book is the best bargain that ever appeared on a Limerick book-seller's shelf. So far only Part I, bringing us to the Treaty of Limerick, has been published. We shall look forward eagerly to seeing Part II.


Talking of books reminds me to ask how many of you have joined An Club Leabhar-the Irish Book Club. Shortly before Christmas the Club made its first issue of books: "An Braon Broghach," by Martin o Cadhain; and "An Teach nar Togadh," by "Maire." Mairtin O Cadhain is regarded as one of the outstanding Irish writers of to-day; and of course "Maire," with his rippling Donegal Irish, needs no introduction to readers of Gaelic. A word to those who have not joined the Club! There can be no book club without members. Are you leaving it to someone else to join? I hope not. Send your subscription of £1 to an Runaí, An Club-Leabhar, 29 Sr. U. Chonaill, Ioch. Bla Cliath, and you will have done a good day's work for a good cause.


The new inter-Irish class activities in parts of East Limerick are proving an immense success. On December 20th, Kilfinane was the meeting place of friends of the language from Croom, Bruree, Ballyorgan, Ardpatrick and, of course, Kilfinane itself. Something in the neighbourhood of 100 Gaedhilgeoiri were present. First there was a community sing-song, which was followed by the ever-popular debate. The motion for the night was "Gur ceart cain do chur ar Bhaitsileiri" – "Bachelors should be taxed."


It proved a very entertaining topic; and bachelors may be pleased to learn that, despite the efforts of Croom and Bruree, the motion was lost by a slender majority. Speaking for the motion were: Padraig Mac Eil, Brugh Riogh; Tomas Mac Curtain, Brugh Riogh; S. M. Seoighe, Brugh Riogh; Brighid Ní Dhalaigh, An Charraig; Maire Ní Sheoighe, Brugh Riogh; Tadgh O Maidin, do.; Sean de Craigh, Croma. The following spoke against them and saved the bachelors: Padraig O Conaire, Cill Fhionain; Seosaimhin Ní Chathain, do.; Peig dé Bhailis, Baile Orgain; Tadhg O Maolain, do.; Siobhan Ní Chuarta, do. Padraig O Cearbhaill was in the chair and continued to add to his fame as Cathaoirleach. Fionan Mac Cuilm, who was present, spoke highly of the scheme for the bringing together of the Gaelgeoiri of a wide district.


An excellent tea was served after the debate. How the good ladies of Kilfinane provided for the crowds is somewhat of a mystery to me, but provide they did, generously and un-sparingly, so that there was fuigheall na bhfuigheall do ghach aoinne – or, as the Bearloirí would say: "there was lashins and l'avins for all." The tea is an indispensable part of these functions. Formality melts in the heat of a tea-cup, and friendship begins. By the time the ceilidhe comes people who had never met are like next-door neighbours' children.


The Christmas spirit was in the air and permeated the wonderful ceilidhe that brought the night's fun to an end. There was a mistletoe dance and a jugging performance by Padraig Mac Conbhuidhe of Croma; and then we had an exhibition of step dancing from Micheal Bairead; a splendid recitation from Tadhg O Maolain, and songs from Liam O hAnnain, Padraig O Donnchadha, Eibhin Ni Nuallain, Micheal Mac Craith and Seamus Mac Liaim – the last mentioned singing "Mary from Murroe," which was the first of the old songs of Limerick published in this column. Everybody was delighted with the night, and all now look forward to the next meeting of Gaeilgeoiri, in Ballyorgan, on January 13th.


The scheme of bringing the friends of the language together at functions where Irish is the spoken language, is proving most successful. Castleconnel, Croom, Bruree, Rockhill, Kilfinane, Ardpatrick and Ballyorgan are taking part. But what of the other places? Irish classes, Gaelic League Branches, Gaelic clubs, friends of the language, what about it? Why not all get together to work hand in hand, exchanging ideas, and planning for further activities? Ní neart go cur le cheile! I shall be pleased to hear from anybody interested in the scheme. Write immediately and let me have your views. Na teip orainn!


A very generous lady, whom I had included in my recent list of prize-winners, wrote, saying:- "Please don't send me a prize. Instead I ask you to accept enclosed P.O., value £1, to help you reward the younger people who competed. As for me, loving the language as I do, it is ample reward to see the grand number who responded to your competition." To this very, very kind lady I wish to say, gura mile mile maith agat. You young people who got books in Irish owe your gratitude, not to me, but to this generous lady. Beannacht De uirthi.


Too late to be included in the list of prize-winners came a fine account of Bruree from John J. Byrnes, Phc, L.P.S.I., 3 Hatch Place, Dublin. But better late than never; Thanks, John!


'Tis time to wish all my readers a very happy New Year. Go raibh gach beannacht nios fearr na a cheile oraibh san aith-bhliain ata romhainn.


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