Pádraig Ó Laoghaire (1870–1896): an Irish scholar from the Béarra Peninsula
Cumann Staire Bhéarra / Beara Historical Society
Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail
The focus of this book is an utterly neglected, important figure from the period leading up to the foundation of the Gaelic League and the early years of that movement, Pádraig Ó Laoghaire (1870–1896) from the Béarra Peninsula in West Cork. Taking her reader on a biographical tour in the opening chapter, Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail follows with an analysis of the development of this key scholar from an emerging author to a respected man of letters, both at home and abroad among the Irish diaspora worldwide. Ó Laoghaire’s position and influence in the Gaelic League is then examined alongside his role as important confidant of fellow Gaelic revivalists, Douglas Hyde (1860–1949) and Joseph H. Lloyd (1865–1939). Also examined are Ó Laoghaire’s own poetry and his pioneering Sgeuluidheacht Chúige Mumhan, a unique collection of seven folktales from Béarra’s oral tradition that appeared in 1895. Over time, Pádraig Ó Laoghaire seems to find brief mention, if at all, in studies of the resurgence of Irish nationalism and culture in the final decades of the nineteenth-century. This, Ní Úrdail argues, is due in no small part to the legacy of the other famous Ó Laoghaire and towering figure from Cork, ‘An tAthair Peadar’. That the Béarra man died of tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-six years is, she notes, a contributory factor.