[Canon] Ulick J. Bourke

Life
1829-1887 [Uileog de Burca]; Irish language revivalist; b. Dec., Castlebar, Co. Mayo [DIW & DIH b. Galway]; ed. St Jarlath’s in Tuam, and St. Patrick’s Maynooth, where he wrote College Irish Grammar (1856); ord. 1858; professor of Irish, logic, and humanities at St Jarlath’s [Tuam], 1858-78; president, 1865-78; parish priest of Kilcolman, Claremorris, 1878; Easy Lessons or Self-Instruction in Irish, serialised in The Nation [many eds.]; first chairman of Soc. for Preservation of the Irish Language, fnd. 1876; left the Society to found the Gaelic Union with David Comyn, 1880; est. Gaelic Journal; taught Dr. Mark Ryan; had Irish letters typecast for Tuam News and Celtic Educator; other works incl. The Aryan Origins of the Gaelic Race and Language (1875); Life and Times of the Most Rev. John MacHale (1882); A Plea for the Evicted Tenants of Mayo (1883), and Pre-Christian Ireland (1887); d. Claremorris . DIW DIB DIH OCIL

[ top ]

Works
The Aryan Origins of the Gaelic Race and Language, Containing Notes on the Origin and Grammar of Irish Language and Literature; the Brehon Laws and Round Tours (London 1875); A Memoir of the Bishop and his Times by Bourke [3rd ed.] (Dublin 1881); The College Irish Grammar, containing some remarks in the form of dissertation on the Orthography of the Language [1st ed.] (Dublin 1856); ed., Sermon in Irish-Gaelic by Rev. James O’Gallagher, Bishop of Raphoe (1877).

[ top ]

Criticism
Gaelic Journal/Irishleabhar, Vol II (Nov 1882- ) [Leabra 2], ‘Beatha Sheaghain Mhic Heil Ardeaspoig Thuama’ [John McHale, sic] by Very Rev. U. J. Canon Bourke, PP MRIA, [in seven parts] pp.24-25, 43-46, 120-122; 137-43; 209-16; 287-92; 305-11, prefixes by an elegy (‘Air Bás ..’]. Note that the biography assumes the front-page position is several issues.

[ top ]

Commentary
Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde (1974), finds that Gaelic League policy is foreshadowed in the essay on ‘The Language of the Gael’, a long appendix to Canon Bourke’s edition of Dr. Gallagher’s Irish Sermons [1877] which Hyde acquired with other books and MSS at an book auction in August 1878. (pp.40-42.)

Maurice Sweeney, reviewing reviewing Dermot McGuinne, Irish Type Design, A History of Printing Types in the Irish Character (IAP 1991?), writes: notes that ‘Canon Ulick J Bourke in an introduction to his book The College Irish Grammar (1856) wrote, “the Irish language has been unmercifully mangled in endeavouring to make it look neat in its foreign anti-national dress. English letters [are] most unfit to display the natural grace and energy of the Irish language.” Several years later he recanted, coming to believe that the old Irish character was, just like the “English letter” essentially Roman, and that “therefore, we, to be up to the age, ought, like men of sense, to adopt that letter which is the best, the readiest in writing, and that which from practice is to our own hand ready and easy.” The debate was effectively concluded in 1960 when the Irish Department of Education adopted Roman for school texts. At the founding of the State, moreover, cló rómánach had been adopted for official documents in Irish.’ (The Irish Times, 25 July 7 1992)

[ top ]

References
Brian Cleeve & Anne Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985); wrote grammar as student at Maynooth; pulished simple lession in Irish in The Nation; Professor in Tuam College, 1859, and President, 1865; parish priest in Mayo; wrote life of John MacHale, Archb. of Tuam, as a serial in Gaelic Journal [Irishleabhar na Gaeilge], 1882-83; translated into English and published as The Life & Times of the Most Rev. John MacHale (1882).

Belfast Public Library holds The Aryan Origin of the Celtic Race and Language (1875); The College Grammar; Life and Times of ... John MacHale (1882).

Cathach Books (1996-97) lists The College Irish Grammar, compiled chiefly with a view to aid the studetns of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and the Catholic University of Ireland; in the study of the National Language [n.d.], 204pp. [fp. with Irish script].

[ top ]

Notes
Namesake: the younger brother who enjoys the love of the mother of the central character, denied to him, in George Moore’s story ‘So On He Fares’ (The Untilled Field), is called Ulick Bourke.

[ top ]