Help Now >
FREE Catholic Classes
(EOGHAN O COMHRAIDHE)
An Irish scholar, born at Dunaha near Carrigaholt, Co. Clare, 1796; died 1862. His father, a farmer of modest means, was an Irish scholar, a good singer, and well-informed as to the traditions of his people. His son Eugene, or Owen, grew up amid perfect Irish surroundings, and soon learned to read the Irish Manuscripts which were still common among the people. After the fall of Napoleon (1815), there followed a period of much agricultural distress in Ireland, and the O'Curry farm was broken up. In 1834 Eugene joined the number of men engaged upon the topographical and historical part of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, Petrie, Wakeman, Clarence Mangan the poet, and last but not least John O'Donovan. In search of information concerning Irish places O'Curry visited the British Museum (where he catalogued the Irish Manuscripts for the authorities), the Bodleian Library at Oxford, the Library of Trinity College, the Royal Irish Academy, and other places. But the Government, afraid, it is said, of the national memories that the work was evoking, abandoned the survey three or four years later and dissolved the staff. The great collection of materials, upwards of 400 quarto volumes of letters and documents bearing upon the topography, social history, language, antiquities, and genealogies of the districts surveyed, was stowed away.
After this O'Curry earned his livelihood by reading, copying, and working on the Manuscripts in Trinity College and the Royal Irish Academy. The first Archæological Society was founded in 1840, relying chiefly upon the assistance of O'Curry and O'Donovan. In 1853 O'Curry joined the council of the Celtic Society and published for them two Irish texts, the "Battle of Moyleana," and the "Courtship of Momera", with excellent translation and notes. In 1855 he was appointed professor of Irish history and archæology in the recently founded Catholic University of Ireland , whose first rector was John Henry (afterwards Cardinal ) Newman. His lectures, published at the expense of the university (1860) under the title of "The Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History", proved an invaluable mine of information upon the ancient Manuscripts of Ireland and their contents — annals, genealogies, histories, epics, historical tales, saints' lives, and other ancient matters ecclesiastical and civil. "O'Curry", writes D'Arbois De Jubainville (L'Epopée celtique en Irlande, p. xvi), "is the first man who studied at their sources the epics of Ireland." His book was a revelation, and opened up an entirely new world to European scholars. It was followed by a series of thirty-eight lectures "on the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish ", published later (1873) under the editorship of Dr. W. K. Sullivan.
O'Curry, a self-taught man and with little or no classical knowledge, was one of Ireland's most energetic workers. Scarcely an Irish book was to be found which he did not read and scarcely a rare manuscript existed in private hands of which he did not make a copy. In this way he gained an outlook over the field of Irish literature, so full and so far-reaching that though strides have been made in scientific scholarship since his day, no one has come ever near him since in his all-round knowledge of the literature of Ireland. He transcribed accurately Duald MacFirbis's book on Irish genealogies, the Book of Lismore, and scores of others. The last work he was engaged on was the Brehon Laws ; of these he transcribed eight large volumes, and made a preliminary translation in thirteen volumes. O'Curry was severely tried by government officials who took upon themselves, in crass ignorance and in defiance of all rules of scholarship, to dictate to the master how the translation and compilation of the Brehon Laws were to be carried on. O'Curry has left a fully written posthumous statement of the incredible treatment to which he and O'Donovan were subjected, and his account of how he was the first scholar since the death of the great antiquarian, Duald MacFirbis ( murdered in 1670), who was able to penetrate and get a grip of the long forgotten language of the ancient law tracts, is one of the most curious things in literature. Many men, such as Todd, Petrie, Graves, Reeves, were deeply indebted to O'Curry, for with a rare generosity he freely communicated the treasures of his knowledge to all who asked him.
Help Now >
Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.
Mysteries of the Rosary
Saint of the Day for Saturday, July 2nd, 2022
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Bernardino Realino
Prayer of the Day for Saturday, July 2
A Guide for Confession
Unfailing Prayer to St. Anthony
The Apostles' Creed
Act of Contrition
- Daily Readings for Saturday, July 02, 2022
- St. Bernardino Realino: Saint of the Day for Saturday, July 02, 2022
- Prayer for Employment: Prayer of the Day for Saturday, July 02, 2022
- Daily Readings for Friday, July 01, 2022
- St. Junipero Serra: Saint of the Day for Friday, July 01, 2022
- Prayer of the Chalice: Prayer of the Day for Friday, July 01, 2022
FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything
Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.