Séamus Ó Grianna (1889-1969)

Commentary

Life
[anglice Green; fam. “Jimí Fheilimí”; pseud “Máire”]; b. Ranafest [Rosses], Co. Donegal Gaeltacht, son of Féilimí Dhónaill Phrionsiais Green, a local folklorist, and br. of Seosamh Mac Grianna [q.v.]; worked as farm hand in Lagan Valley and Scotland, both at harvests and as a navvy; afterwards trained as teacher, St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra [TTC], Co. Dublin; became a school-teacher in Tyrone, Dublin, and chiefly in Donegal up to 1920; issued Mo Dhá Róisín (1921), a novel, and Caisleáin Óir (1924), another novel and his best-known workorganiser for Dail Ministery of Education, 1919; interned for 18 months as Republican, 1922-24; employed as civil servant in Customs and Excise, 1932 [by in-coming FF govt.]; worked as translator of An Gúm;
 
contributed to Tomás De Bháldraithe’s and Niall Ó Dónaill’s Irish dictionaries; active in controversies over the Irish orthography and refused to allow Caisleáin Oir (1924), a novel, to be standardised in the 1960s; also wrote Mo Dhá Roísin (1921), another novel; issued Cioth is Dealán (1927), stories; also issued Rann na Feirsde (1942) [var. Feirste], Nuair a Bhí Óg (1942), and Saoghal Corrach (1945), with accounts of Ranafest culture and tradition; both Nuair a Bhí Mé Óg (1942) and Saoghal Corrach (1945) are autobiographical, the first of which was translated by Art Hughes in 1999; he joined the Language Freedom Movement in reaction to government policies, 1966; his Irish became a standard in his life-time; Caisleáin Óir was turned into a musical by Leslie Long, Kathleen Ruddy and Phil Dalton, performed at An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny, 2000 and successfully revived. DIW DIB DUB

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Works
  • Mo Dhá Roísin (Dundalk: Dún Dealgan 1921);
  • Caisleáin Oir (Dundalk: Dún Dealgan 1924), and Do. [rep.] (Dublin & Cork: Mercier Press 1994);
  • Feara Fáil (Dundalk: Clólucht an Scrúdaighteoir 1933);
  • Cith is Dealán (Dundalk: Dún Dealgan 1936), and Do. [rep.] (Dublin & Cork: Mercier Press 1994);
  • Thiar í dTír Chonaill (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1936);
  • Nuair a Bhí Mé Óg (Dublin: Talbot 1942), and Do. [rep.] (Dublin & Cork: Mercier Press 1986)
  • Scéal Úr agus Sean-Scéal (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1945);
  • Saoghal Corrach (Dublin: An Preas Náisiúnta 1945);
  • An Teach Nár Tógadh agus Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1948);
  • Ó Neamh go hArainn (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 193);
  • An Clár is an Fhoireann (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1955);
  • Fód an Bháis (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1955);
  • Fallaing Shíoda (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1955);
  • Tarngaireacht Mhiseoige (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1958), and Do. [rep.] (Dublin: An Gúm 1995);
  • An Bratach (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1959);
  • An Droaidín (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1959);
  • Ó Muir go Sliabh (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1961);
  • Cúl le Muir agus Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1961);
  • Suipín an Iolar (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1962);
  • Úna Bhán agus Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1962);
  • Bean Ruadh de Dhálach (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1966);
  • Le Clap-Sholus (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1967);
  • Oíche Shamhraid agus Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1968);
  • An Sean-teach (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1968);
  • Mícheál Ruadh (Dundalk: Dún Dealgan n.d.);
  • Rann na Feirste (Dublin: An Preas Náisiúnta n.d.).

Also numerous translations of English classics into Irish for An Gúm [see Máirín Nic Eoin, An Litríocht Réigiúnach (Baile Átha Cliath: An Clóchomhar Tta 1982)].

In translation
  • Art [J.] Hughes, trans. When I Was Young [Nuair a Bhí Mé Óg] (Dublin: A & A. Farmar 1999; 2002), 250pp.
Edited Collections
  • Cora Cinniúna - Vols., 1-2 (Dublin: An Gúm 1993);
  • Castar na Daoine ar a Chéile: críbhinní Mháire 1, ed., by Nollaig Mac Congáil (Dublin: Coiscéim 2002) [novel & journalism];
    Na Blianta Corracha: Scríbhinní Mháire 2, ed. by Nollaig Mac Congáil (Dublin: Coiscéim 2003) [journalism].

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Criticism
  • Nollaig MacCongáil, Máire: Clár Saothair ([q. pub.] 1990) [bibliographical listings of works and stories, as well as journalism with dates and venues];
  • Peigí Rose, Peigí ar Mháire (Coiscéim 1992) [contains 5 pieces of commentary from various journalistic sources in Irish and English c.1948-1980];
  • Ailbe Ó Corráin, A Concordance of the Idiomatic Expressions of Séamus Ó Grianna (QUB: Inst. of Irish Studies 1989);
  • Breandán Ó Doibhlin, ‘Trí Leabhar’, review of Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair Le Clap-Sholus, with Gura Slán le M’Óige by Fion MacCumhaill, and An Coimhthíoch by Séamus Mac Conmara, in Comhar (Feabhra 1968).
 

See also Tomás Ua Concheannainn, ‘Mo Dhá Roísin’, in Studies XI, 43 (1922), 276-78; Máirín Nic Eoin, ‘Úrscealta Shéamais Uí Ghrianna’, An Litrírocht Réigiúnach [Chp. 16] (Dublin: Clóchomhar 1982), pp.179-205 [infra]; Philip O’Leary, Irish Interior: Keeping Faith with the Past in Gaelic Prose 1940-1951 (UCD Press 2009), 656p. [deals with Ó Grianna, Seán Mac Maoláin, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, et al.].

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Commentary
Pol O Muiri, “An Irishman's Diary” [guest contributor], in The Irish Times (6 Oct. 1998): ‘[...] In the first of his autobiography, Nuair a bhí me Óg, Ó Grianna is introduced to the poetry and locale of Robbie Burns. It is an Odyssey of discovery and education for the young man and one which leaves an indelible mark on him. He litters on chapter of his autobiography with verses from Burns: “What’s a’ the jargon o’ your schools, / Your Latin names for horns and stools? / If honest nature made you fools, / What sairs your grammars? / Ye’d better ta’en up spades and shools / Or knappin’ hammers.”. Without question, Burn’s anti-authoritarian tone appealed to Ó Grianna. Tellingly, Ó Grianna is later asked: “Do you read often?” He replies: “Often enough. ... But I have only one book, Burns. One book and that bought. An investment in literature that was undoubtedly costly for someone costly for someone forced to work like a mule for every penny he could collect.” What fascinates most is that this cultural exchange occurred almost unnoticed. The gaudy to-ing and fro-ing of contemporary literature has none of the lyrical honesty and heartbreaking poetry of Ó Grianna’s encounter. Here was a man, like many of his generation, with pride in himself and his people, with ear for the music of the spoken word, learning from a neglected tradition. This cross-pollination and whispered discourse was to last well into this century. The Donegal poet Cathal O’Searcaigh, a man only in his 40s, remembers his own father returning from work in Scotland and reciting Burns. [...]’

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References
British Library; see under Maire; also Pierre Loti, pseud., Iascaire &c. from Pecheur d’Islande (1952); Cioth is Dealán by ‘Máire’ (Preas Dhún Dealgan [1926]), 6+125pp.; Feara Fáil, by ‘Máire’ (Dún Dealgan, Cló-luct an Scrúduightheoir 1933), 126pp.; Micheál Ruadh, by ‘Máire’ [réamhrádh le h-Iolann Fionn, ainm cleite [pseud.] of Seósamh Mac Grianna] (Preas Dhún Dealgan [n.d.]), 2+49pp.; Mo Dhá Roísin (Dundalk [1922]). 102pp.; Ó Neamh go h-Arainn, stories (Oifig an tSoláthair 1953), 232pp.; Scéal Úr agus Sean-Scéal Maill le Gluais (1948), 247pp.; also Thiar í dTír Chonaill, essays (Dublin: Comarta an dTrí gConneal[?] 1940). [Compiled from BML & Riseteard de Hae, ed., Clár Litridheacht na Nua-Gaedhlighe, Vol. I, 1938). ADD, Caisleáin Oir (1924; Cork: Mercier Press 1983, 7th ed. 1989), 160pp. [with grammar notes and glossary]; also ‘Sgríbhneoirí Gaedhilge – Go nDearcaigh Dia Ortha’, in An tUltach (Eanáir 1941), pp.1-2.

University of Ulster Library holds Cúl le Muir agus Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1961), 218pp. [12 pieces]; An Draidín (Cork & Dublin: Cló-ucht an Shiolar 1959) [25 pieces]; Fallaing Shíoda (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1956), 173pp. [16 pieces]; Fód a’ Bháid agus Gearr-Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1955) [24 pieces]; Le Clap-Sholus (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1967), 288pp. [novel in diary form]; Mo Dhá Roísin (Dundalk: W. Tempest 1921); another ed. (Thrí gCoinneal/Three Candles [n.d.]) [XIV pieces]; Nuair a Bhí Mé Óg (Dublin: Talbot 1942; Mercier 1979) [0 8534 604 X]; Saoghal Corrach (Dublin: Preas Naisiúnta 1945), 198pp. [novel]; Cioth is Dealán (Dundalk: W. Tempest 1927), 125p. [7 pieces]; Caisleáin Oir (Dundalk: W. Tempest 1924; Three Candles 1938; Cork: Mercier 1983), XXI pieces] [0 85342 461 6]; An Bhratach agus Gearr-Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1959), 174pp. [18 pieces]; Bean Ruadh de Dhálach (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1966), 344pp. [novel]; An Clár is an Fhoireann (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1955), 204pp. [26 pieces]; Oidhche Shamhraid agus Scéalta Eile (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1968) [26 pieces, incl. ‘Parnell’, p299ff.]; Ó Neamh go h-Arainn (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1953) [XXIX pieces]; Ó Mhiur go Sliabh (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1961), 232pp. [novel]; Scéal Úr agus Sean Scéal (maille le Gluais) (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1945) [15 pieces ending with Gluais]; An Sean-teach (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1968), 259pp. [novel]; Suipín an Iolar (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1962), 287pp. [novel]; [?]Garngaireacht Mhiseóige (Dublin: Oifig an tSoláthair 1962), 261pp. [13 pieces].

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Notes
Sense of place: Máirín Nic Eoin, ‘Úrscealta Shéamais Uí Ghrianna’, An Litrírocht Réigiúnach [Chp. 16] (Dublin: Clóchomhar 1982), [chap.] pp.179-205: departs from an epigraph taken from Geoffrey Grigson: ‘Place obviously matters to a writer as long as he does not stay there exclusively, I mean as long as he is there and elsewhere. Regionalism is something else, it is a vehicle of sentimentality in which the incompetents choose to travel.’ (Grigson, ‘The Writer and His Territory’, in Times Literary Supplement, 28 July 1972; here p.179.)

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