[Bishop] John O’Brien

Life
?-1767; Irish Catholic prelate, vicar-gen. of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, and bishop of Cork & Cloyne on separation, 1747; said to have compiled Irish-English dictionary (1768); a work on gavelkind and tanistry in Ireland (1774-75). ODNB

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Works
John O’Brien, bishop of Cloyne, Focalóir Gaoidhilge - Sax-Bhéarla (Paris 1768).

 

Commentary
Gerard O’Brien, ed., Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, collected Essays of Maureen Wall (1989), ‘... we find John O’Brien, Bishop of Cloyne, appealing to the Pope for a subsidy for his Focaloir Gaoidhilge-Sax-Bearha or Irish-English Dictionary (Paris 1768) on the grounds that it is absolutely necessary for the preservation of the Catholic religion in Ireland that such a dictionary should be available to young priests beginning their work there.’ [5]

Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986) , remarks: ‘The introduction to O’Brien’s dictionary contains an attack on the embezzling of Irish tradition by Macpherson. In 1764, he had published anonymously an essay in Journal des scavans pointing out Oisin’s Irish origin.’ (q.p.)

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Notes
Paper trail: In Nov. 1780 Charles O’Conor [The Elder] wrote to him of his intention of putting ‘our disjointed documents as we have left into some good light, the more as much labour has been taken of late to put them into the worst.’ (Letters of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare, ed. Robert E. Ward & Catherine Ward, 1988, p. 396.) See also O’Conor’s comments on Vallancey’s Collectanea, in which he finds the hand of the late Dr. O’Brien, ‘who indulged too much to fancy in his researches both philological and historical’ (p.402).

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