T. F. O’Rahilly (1883-1953)


Life
[Thomas Francis O’Rahilly; commonly T. F.; also Tomás Ó Rahille]; b. Listowel, Co. Kerry. worked as a clerk at Four Courts, Dublin; assoc. with Eoin MacNeill [q.v.]; one of the first students and the School of Irish learning, 1903; grad. Royal Univ. of Ireland, 1905; fnd. ed. of Gadelica, 1912-13, of whcih only one volume appeared; appt. Professor of Irish, TCD, 1919-29; held special chairs in UCC and UCD, 1929-40; issued ‘Goidels and Their Predecessors’ [1935], arguing for Cruitin, Érainn, and Milesian invasions;
 
appt. director School of Celtic Studies at Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies [DIAS], 1941-47; lectured and wrote on ‘the Two St. Patricks’, DIAS 1942; ed. Celtica, Vol 1, Pts. 1 and 2 (1946, 1950); issued Early Irish History and Mythology (1946), in which his distinction between P-Celt and Q-Celt waves of Irish arrivals is made; awarded DLitt, TCD, and appt. Hon. Prof. of Irish, TCD, 1953; P. S. O’Hegarty prepared a bibliography in 1936. DIB DIW OCIL

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Works
  • ed. Gadelica: A Journal of Modern-Irish Studies. Vol. 1 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis; for the Association of Modern-Irish Studies 1912-13), iv, 304pp. [26cm].
  • coll. & ed. [as Tomás Ó Rathile] ed., Dánta Grádha: An Anthology of Irish Love Poetry (1350-1750) [Danta grádha: Cnosach de sna Danta Grá is Fearr san Ghaelge (A.D. 1350-1750)], with an introduction by Robin Flower (Dublin 1916; 1925), and Do. [2nd edn., revised & enlarged] (Cork UP 1926); Do. (Cork UP 1929) [details]; Do. [rep. edn.] (Cork UP 1968), 147pp., and Do. [new edn.] (Cork UP 1993);
  • coll. & ed., Dánfhocail: Irish Epigrams in Verse (Dublin: Talbot Press 1921), [7], 115pp., and Do. [2nd edn., rev. and enl.] (Cork UP 1926), v. [20 cm.; also Microfilm. Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland, 1995].
  • coll. & ed., A Miscellany of Irish Proverbs (Dublin: Talbot Press 1922), [8], 174, [2]pp. [16.3cm].
  • ed., Papers on Irish Idiom by Peadar Ua Laoghaire, together with a translation into Irish of part of the First Book of Euclid (Dublin: [s.n.] 1922), 123pp.
  • ed., Measgra Dánta I: Miscellaneous Irish Poems (Cork: Cork UP; Dublin: Educational Co. of Ireland, 1927; rep. 1977), [8], 277p. [details];
  • Laoithe Cumainn, Tomás Ó Rathile do bhailig is do chuir i n-eagar (Corcaig: Cló Ollsgoile Chorcaí 1925), 39pp.
  • Irish Dialects Past & Present, with Chapters on Scottish and Manx (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1932), 2p. l., [vii]-ix, 1 l., 278p., 1 l. [22 cm], and Do. [new edn. rev. by Brian Ó Cuiv] (DIAS 1972), xiii, 303pp. [23cm.]
  • The Two Patricks: A Lecture on the History of Christianity in Fifth-century Ireland [orig. as “Palladius and Patrick, lect. at Trinity College Dublin under the auspices of the DIAS, 20 March 1942] (Dublin: DIAS 1942, 1957, 1971, 1981), 83pp.
  • Early Irish History and Mythology (Dublin: DIAS 1946, 1964, 1971), x, 568p.;
  • ed., Desiderius, Otherwise called Sgáthán an chrábhaidh [Spill de la vida religiosa], by Flaithrí Ó Maolchonaire [Mediaeval & Modern Irish Ser., 12] (Dublin: Stationary Office 1941; rep. edn. DIAS 1955), [v]-li, 363pp. [see note].
 

See also Robin Flower, ed., Love's Bitter-sweet: Translations from the Irish Poets of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries [chiefly from Thomas Francis O'Rahilly's Dánta Grádha [rep. of 1925 Cuala Press 1st Edn.] (Shannon: IUP 1971), [7], 37pp. [22cm];

 
Journal contribs. (off-prints)
  • ‘Irish poets, historians, and judges in English documents, I538-1615’, in Proceedings of the RIA, XXXVI [36], Sect. C (1921-24), pp 86-120, and Do. [as off-print], (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1922), 34pp.; 27cm.]
  • Notes on Irish Place-names (Dublin: Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1933), [24pp.; from Hermethena, Vol. 23, 1933].
  • Indexes to the Book of the Dean of Lismore [rep. from Scottish Gaelic Studies] (London: Humphrey Milford; OUP 1934), [25pp.]
  • ‘The Goidels and Their Predecessors’, in Proceedings of the British Academy, XXI (1935), c.p.353; rep. as The Goidels and Their Predecessors [Sir John Rhys Memorial Lectures] (OUP [1935]), 52pp.
  • ‘Dún Cermna’, in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1939) [as pamphl., 4pp.]
See COPAC short-title listing, attached.

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Bibliographical details
Meagra Dánta/Miscellaneous Irish Poems, edited by Thomas F. O’Rahilly, Professor of Irish in the University of Dublin (Cork University Press/Educational Company of Ireland 1927), 277pp.: [2 vols in 1:] I. Téaxtaí Gaelge as LSS [pp.1-118]; II. Irish Texts from MSS, pp.119-275; index [19 cm.]

Danta Grádha, Cnósach de sna Dánta Grá is Fearr San Ghaelge (A.D. 1350-1750) [1925] Tomás Ó Rathile do bailig is do Chóraig; an tarna Córú; é Cearthaithe agus méadaithe, Cuid 1, An Teux, fra reumhaiste ó Robin Flower (Cló Ollsgoile Chorcái, Colucht Oideachais ne hÉireann, Bleáclaith agus Corcaig 1929).

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Commentary
James Plunkett: ‘I can still recall the great scandal of 1942, when a book called The Two Patricks was published by a learned Irish Professor who advanced the theory that there was one Patrick (Palladius Patrick) whose mission lasted from 432-461, and another who arrived in 462 and died about 490. The suggestion caused a national unheaval. If the careers of the two Patricks, through scholarly bungling, had become inextricably entangled, who did what? And worse still - which of them was the patron saint? If you addressed a prayer to one, might it not be delivered by mistake to the other? There was a feeling abroad that any concession to the two Patricks theory would lead unfailingly to a theory of no Patrick at all.’ (The Gems She Wore, 1972, quoted in Allanah Hopkins, Living Legend of St. Patrick, 1989, p.150; see also under Flann O’Brien’s celebrated reaction to O’Rahilly’s 1942 paper, infra.)

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Myles Dillon & Nora Chadwick, The Celtic Realms [History and Civilisation] (London: London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1967), p.5: ‘With regard to the Celtic settlement of Ireland in particular, O’Rahilly in his ‘Goidels and Their Predecessors’, and again in his great book, Early Irish History and Mythology, put forward an entirely new theory. He distinguished four successive immigrations: the Cruthin some time before 500 bc; the Cruthin some time before 500 bc; the Érainn (= Fir Bolg) perhaps in the fifth century; the Laigin (with Domnainn and Gálioin) in the third century; the Goidil who came c. 100 bc. The notion of a series of invasions is traditional, and is first recorded by Nennius who knew of three, those of Partholón, Nemed, and the Children of Míl. / In the Book of Invasions as we know it from the eleventh century century recension there are five (or six): (Cesair), Partholón, Nemed, Fir Bolg, Tuatha Dé Danann, and the Children of Mil. But these legends are mere learned fiction, and have no value as history. Their interest is of another kind. The only bearing they have upon history is in so far as they betray a state of affairs which the literary men were trying to expound. What does appear from various references cited by O’Rahilly is the presence in Ireland of at least three ethnic groups: Cruthin (or Cruithni) who were mainly in the north-east and plainly akin to the Picts of Scotland (also called Cruthin); Érainn, who were mainly in the south-west and in the south-east corner (Déisi); and Goídil ( Cland Míled) who reigned over Tara, Cashel and Croghan and were the dominant people in the early historic period. Whether the Laigin were a distinct people or merely a Goidelic tribe is not clear to us. / O’Rahilly’s most novel suggestion is that his first three groups spoke Brythonic dialects, that is that they were “P-Celts”, and that the Goidil were the only Goidelic speakers, the only “Q-Celts”. And he seeks to prove this from the evidence of Irish words that are not Goidelic in form and may be Brythonic. His demonstration is not convincing, and the notion that this more archaic language was brought latest, by a migration of the Quariates from south-east Gaul, is inherently improbable. We think it more likely that Goidelic was first established in Ireland, and that Brythonic tribes made settlements there, just as Irish settlements were made in Wales both north and south. In those early centuries, when there was constant intercourse across the Irish Sea, there [5] was every chance of linguistic borrowing. […] O’Rahilly's doctrine has been accepted by some scholars (M. A. O’Brien, Early Irish Society, p.37) and dismissed by others (Vendryes, Études Celtiques, I, 352ff.)

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Dillon & Chadwick (The Celtic Realms, 1967) - further [regarding the rise of the Meath Uí Néill in connection with the arrival of the Milesians]: ‘The late Professor O’Rahilly categorically stated that the people of this last invasion of Ireland and the Goidelic form of the Celtic language were introduced simultaneously into Ireland at a comparatively late date, and he uses the term Goidelic of both the people and their language. He expressed the view that: ‘If anything is certain about the Goidels, it is that they reached Ireland direct from the Continent’, and he held that they ‘must have come to Ireland from Gaul’, and suggested that their migration was from south-eastern Gaul, perhaps from Gallia Narbonensis, whence they passed to the western coast not later than 120 BC, and migrated to Ireland towards 50 BC. (Early Irish History & Mythology, pp.207-08.) The late date and the course of events suggested by O’Rahilly are difficult to accept in view of the silence of Roman historians on so long and important a migration at this late date. The question must be regarded as at present unsettled. A more acceptable theory would be that the Milesians (Goidels) did come from Spain, as the Book of Invasions says. The discovery of Q-Celtic inscriptions in Spain by Tovar shows that in that lateral area the older forms had survived. / If, however, we accept the provisional date suggested in Chapter I (p.4f.), that is to say some time early in the second millennium BC, for the spread of the Celtic peoples to the British Isles, it becomes reasonable also to accept the conclusion that the differentiation of the Celtic languages into two principal groups, known as Goidelic (commonly called Q-Celtic) and Brythonic (commonly called P-Celtic, cf. p. 206) originally took place, not, as formerly believed, exclusively somewhere on the Continent, but also in the British Isles at some period [37] between c.2000 and 600 BC. Very possibly analogous changes may have been taking place throughout the whole Celtic world […].’

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Quotations
Early Irish History and Mythology (DIAS 1946) - as quoted in George A. Little, Dublin Before the Vikings (1957): O’Rahilly identifies Mogha and Conn as ancestor deities of the South and North, and of the midland Giodels, respectively […] reduced by the action of euhemerism from the status of gods to that of men [and that] the whole incident concluding with the Cath Magh Lena is the factual history of the invasion and gradual usurpation of the southern counties of Ireland by Iberian Goidels. The Erainn were the dominant people in Munster before the arrival of the Goidelic Eóganacht. The Erainn fraternised with the Eoghanacht. So much did their friendship prosper that at length they made efforts to prove themselves as having sprung from the same stock. [… T]hese two people declared the ancestor-deity Eóghan their common patron. O’Rahilly continues: ‘all through Irish literature, the northern half of Ireland is known as Leth Cuinn, Conn’s Half, the southern half as Leth Mogha Nuadat (or, shortly, Leth Mogha), Mug Nuadat’s Half. We may take it that here, as often, the names of ancestors are used in a secondary sense to signify the peoples descended from them, so that Leth Cuinn properly means ‘the half dominated by the descendants of Conn (the Dál Cuinn)’ and Leth Mogha Nuadat, ‘the half dominated by the descendants of Mug Nuadat (the Eóghanacht)’. Such names could hardly have come into existence until the Goidelic conquest was well advanced. Our early historians usually prefer a picturesque explanation to a prosaic one; and so from the ninth century, if not earlier, we find them inferring from those names that Conn and Mug Nuadat had divided Ireland between them.’ (pp.191; Little, op. cit., p.165.) ‘Their partitioning of Ireland into two halves finds mention in the Irish World-Chronicle (Rorannad Hériu i ndo eter Mug Nuadat, i, rig Muman, acus Chond Cétchatach, i, eter d Ath cliath, AI, 7d. 16-18 [also RC, XVIII, 7), and the genealogical tracts (…), though it is ignored in Lebor Gábala [Book of Invasions] which contents itself with recording the parallel portion of the country between Eremon and Eber’. (p.192.)

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References
T. F. O’Rahilly, ed., Celtica: Journal of School of Irish Studies, Vol. 1 pt 1 (1946), 160pp.; also Vol. 1, Pt. 2 (1950). pp.161–409+iv (Introd.) [DIAS Cat., 1996]

DIAS (Cat. 1996) lists T. F. O’Rahilly, Kathleen Mulchrone, et al., Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy [1926–1958] [published by the Royal Irish Academy, now bound and distributed by the School of Celtic Studies] (DIAS 1970), 27 fasciculi in 6 vols. and indexes (2 vols.), in 28 fasciscles, [Vol. I:] fasc. I-v, pp.1–654; [Vol. II:] fasc. vi–x, pp.655–1294; [Vol. III:] fasc. xi–xv, pp. 1295–1938; [Vol. IV:] fasc. xvi–xx, pp.1939–2578; [Vol. V:] fasc. xxi–xxv, pp.2579–3220; [Vol. VI:] fasc. xxvi–xxvii, pp.3221–3500; [Vol. VII:] Index I, pp.1–586; [Vol. VIII:] Index II (General index), pp.587–1331; Fasc. xxviii, pp.3501–3792.

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University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection holds Danta Gradha, an anthology of love poetry of the 16th and 17th centuries (1916) [sic]; Irish Dialects … (1932); Irish Poets, Historians and Judges in English Documents 1538-1615, with John MacNeill [Eoin Mac Neill] (Silva Coluti); Laoithe Cumainn (1925); Mea[s]gra Danta (Cork U.P., 1927).

Belfast Public Library holds Dánta Grádha (1916 [?recte 1926]); Early Irish History and Mythology (1946); A Miscellany of Irish Proverbs (1922); The Two Patricks (1942).

Hyland Books (Cat. 214), lists Danfhocail, Irish Epigrams in Verse (1921); The Goidels and their Predecessors [Rhys Lect.] (1934); see also Hyland Books (Cat. 219; Oct. 1995).

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Notes
Desiderius, Otherwise called Sgáthán an chrábhaidh [Spill de la vida religiosa], by Flaithrí Ó Maolchonaire [Florence Conry], ed. T. F. O’Rahilly (Dublin: Stationary Office 1941; rep. DIAS 1955), is an Irish translation of an allegorical pilgrimage entitled Tratado llamado el Desseoso, y por otro nombre, Espejo de religiosos in Spanish, with additions made by Ó Maolchonaire and printed in Louvain in 1616 under the title Emanuel / leabhar ina bhfuil modh / iarrata … na / beathadh riaghaltha … Sgathan an chrabhaidh drong / oile Desiderius. The said work is an incomplete translation of parts I to III of the Spanish original. The first known edition, written in Catalan by a priest of the order of St. Jerome, was published anonymously in Barcelona in 1515. Ó Maolchonaire inserted passages to encourage Irish Catholics and made considerable omissions - cf. Introd., p.[VII] and XVI.

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