Peadar O Laoire - noted Irish language scholar

Thirty-five years ago, the noted Irish Language enthusiast Padraig O Laoire, a native of Inches, Eyeries, was honoured in his native Beara, and a fitting tribute was paid to his memory and to his work for an Ireland both Gaelic and free.

A memorial tablet was unveiled over his grave at St. Finian’s Cemetery, Foildarrig, Castletownbere, which reads: PADRAIG O LAOIRE - 1871-1896 - UDAR AGUS SCOLAIRE - SOLUS NA BHFLAITHEAS DA ANAM’.

The simple and impressive ceremony was preformed by Padraig O Laoire of Inches, Eyeries, a nephew of the celebrated scholar. Two wreaths were laid on the grave, specially sent to mark the occasion, from Ruairi O Bradaigh President of Sinn Fein, and from Joe Cahill of the Provisional IRA, in recognition of O Laoire’s work in Belfast during the 1890s, both as a language enthusiast and as a member of the IRB.
Diarmuid O Suilleabhain, a native of Eyeries, in the course of his oration in Irish remarked that the casual observer might think that we of the Celtic race had something akin to an obsession with the dead and to the gatherings at the gravesides of such men, diverse perhaps in character, but united in their love for Ireland, as O’Donovan Rossa, Sean O h-Eicheartaigh and Mairtin O Cadhain were not occasions of idle and futile mourning but were a manifestation of the resolve of those present to carry on the torch.

They had gathered to pay tribute to O’ Laoire’s memory and to resolve anew to re-dedicate themselves to those ideals for which Padraig O Laoire and the young men and women of his generation laboured so heroically to achieve. He hoped that the young men and women of Beara would learn to appreciate the strength of character, the integrity to bring the ideals for which he laboured to fruition.

Following the oration a decade of the Rosary in Irish was recited by Liam O’Dwyer of Ardgroom. The three-day commemoration programme, began with a social evening of traditional Irish music, song and dance at Cametringane House Hotel, Castletownbere. The official opening was performed by Sonnaca O hAodha, Ard Runai of Conradh an Gaeilge, who paid tribute to the great work done by Padraig O Laoire at the turn of the century for the advancement of the Irish language and Irish nationality.

Members of the Bantry branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoitiri Eireann supplied music for the evening’s entertainment. At the Berehaven Hall, a lecture entitled ‘Padraig O’Laoire, a shaol agus a scribhneoreacht’ was given by Diarmuid O Sulleabhain, the well-known author in modern Irish, from Eyeries.

In the course of his lecture, he outlined the life and work of O Laoire both at home in his native Beara, and in Dublin. O’Laoire taught Irish to Padraig Pearse, who was then a young schoolboy and, no doubt, due to his influence as a teacher, in later life, composed the poem “Mise Eire, sine me ina an Cailleach Beara’, a poem that will be remembered forever in Ireland.

The great friendship that existed between O Laoire and Eoin MacNeill was not without significance. Whatever some historians had said about him, his work and devotion to Ireland should be remembered and due recognition given to his greatness. O Laoire’s visits to London and Belfast were undertaken both as a language enthusiast and as a member of the IRB. His name and work were well known by freedom fighters in Belfast.

The speaker made reference to the slavish and defeatest attitude of some members of Cork County Council towards the Irish language during a recent debate in that body. He said that: “This gathering here was proof positive that Irish was a living tongue and was a force to be reckoned with.”

In proposing a vote of thanks to the lecturer, Sean Nash of Bantry thanked the speaker for his well informed and inspiring talk. They all felt enriched in knowledge as a result of it and his only regret was that it was confined to the audience in the hall, such an inspiring address deserved a place in the programmes of RTE. Michael Breathnach, Beara, seconded the vote of thanks.

Olivear O Murchu, Cathaoirleach, Craobh Beara, Conradh na Gaeilge, in the course of a talk, outlined the history of Beara from the early Celtic settlements to the death in a feud of Morty Og O’Sullivan and John Puxley in 1754. During the weekend commemoration, an historical exhibition of items of local and national interest was held in the Berehaven Hall. Padraig O’Laoire died at the early age of 25 years.

Courtesy of the Southern Star
23rd July 2005