Priest, patriot, and scholar, b. 25 August, 1863, at Ballyfallon, County Meath ; d. at Los Angeles, 18 Oct., 1899. Neither parent spoke Irish and it was little used where he was born; in fact, he was ignorant of the existence of a language of Ireland until a student at St. Finian's seminary at Navan.
His interest in the language begun there continued at Maynooth, where from his entrance in 1882 he devoted himself to the study of the Irish language, antiquities, and history. His holidays he spent in the Irish-speaking parts of the country where he acquired his knowledge of the spoken language. Ordained in 1888, in 1891 he was appointed professor of Irish at Maynooth, and at about the same time became editor of the "Gaelic Journal". At the instance of the Archbishop of Dublin he began his series of "Simple Lessons in Irish ', first published in the "Weekly Freeman", which have done more than any other book in the last two centuries to familiarize thousands of Irish with the language of their ancestors. He was one of the founders of the Gaelic League, organized in Dublin in 1893 "for the purpose of keeping the Irish language spoken in Ireland ", and later became its vice-president, which position he held until his death.
In 1894, failing health sent him to Arizona and California, where he died. Some years after, with the aid of the Irish in the United States his body was brought back to Ireland and buried at Maynooth. An earnest and tireless worker, his services to the Gaelic League out-weigh those of all his fellow-workers to the present day, not that his scholarship was above criticism, but because he came at the moment when a man of his kind was needed.
Biography Of St Rita
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