Historic bilingual publication of Pádraic Ó Conaire’s classic stories

Perfecting their mannequin challenge, Brendan McGowan and Diarmuid de Faoite at the Launch  of the translations of Padraic O Conaire’s works, which took place in the Galway Museum on Saturday with Eithne Verling, Galway City Museum. Photo: Joe Travers.

Perfecting their mannequin challenge, Brendan McGowan and Diarmuid de Faoite at the Launch of the translations of Padraic O Conaire’s works, which took place in the Galway Museum on Saturday with Eithne Verling, Galway City Museum. Photo: Joe Travers.

First published in Irish in 1918, Seacht mBua an Éirí Amach/Seven Virtues of the Rising is a collection of seven stories by Pádraic Ó Conaire (1882–1928 ), published in English for the first time. Despite the title of the collection, the stories themselves are not directly concerned with the actual events of the 1916 Rising, although there are several allusions to key figures and locations.

Instead they reflect the seismic shift in public opinion in favour of those pursuing Irish independence rather than Home Rule, which culminated in the electoral success of Sinn Féin in 1918. The original Irish-language book published by the literary press Maunsels was part-funded by republican prisoners released during the general amnesty in June 1917.

Arguably the first important fictional response to the Rising, the book secured Ó Conaire’s position as the foremost writer in modern Irish and the only one of international standing. While admitting that it was of uneven quality and not his best work, the Donegal writer Seosamh Mac Grianna (1900–1990 ) hailed the book as the eighth virtue of the Rising. In recognition of its literary importance, Seacht mBua an Éirí Amach was recently selected for inclusion in The Irish Times and Royal Irish Academy series Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks.

The idea for this bilingual publication was first mooted by Brendan McGowan of Galway City Museum and Diarmuid de Faoite to bring the work of Pádraic Ó Conaire to a wider audience. The result of a collaboration between Galway City Museum and Arlen House, in association with Cló Iar-Chonnacht, the book has been part-funded by Galway City Council as part of its Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.

Born in GalwaY and reared in Connemara and Co. Clare following the deaths of his parents, Pádraic Ó Conaire (Patrick Conroy ) was the most innovative Irish-language writer to emerge from the Gaelic Revival, producing much of his best work between 1901 and 1915 while working as a civil servant in London.

Having returned to Ireland in 1915, he wrote profusely but unprofitably. He died in poverty in Richmond Hospital, Dublin in 1928 and was buried in Bohermore Cemetery, Galway. In his relatively short lifetime, he published more than 400 short stories, six plays and one short novel, as well as some 200 journalistic essays on a variety of topics.

A statue of Ó Conaire by master sculptor Albert Power, which was commissioned by the Gaelic League, was unveiled in Eyre Square by Éamon de Valera in June 1935.

It is now located in Galway City Museum.

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