The idea for this dual language publication was first mooted by Brendan and Diarmuid to bring the work of Pádraic Ó Conaire to a wider audience and is the result of a collaboration between Galway City Museum, publishers Arlen House and Cló Iar-Chonnacht, Galway City Council and the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. The book will be part of RTE’s Book-On-One throughout the month of April.
Seacht mBua an Éirí Amach secured Ó Conaire’s position as the foremost writer in modern Irish and, arguably, the only one of international standing. As to the stories themselves, Brendan McGowan points out they 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.”
Diarmuid adds that Ó Conaire himself played a role in de Valera’s own success in Co. Clare, having campaigned on his behalf. “Ó Conaire worked as an election agent for de Valera in East Clare, having first gotten to know him as a student in Blackrock College.”
Diarmuid maintains that Ó Conaire’s Clare connections have been severely overlooked in the past: “Pádraic had at least as many close relatives in Clare as he had in Galway. He spent a year in school between Rinneen and Miltown Malbay and it was these same relatives who arranged for his subsequent education. Ó Conaire would return to West Clare almost every year up until a few years before his death.” Diarmuid hopes to put the Clare connection to rights in this reading.
Born in Galway town 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.
Diarmuid de Faoite’s translation is available in libraries, instore and online from www.Kennys.ie, www.cic.ie, The Ennis Bookshop, An Siopa Leabhair (Harcourt St, Dublin), Kennys, Charlie Byrne’s and Dubrays in Galway. His reading at Ennistymon Library on Wednesday 26th April at 6.30pm is free entry and all are welcome.