This is the first comprehensive study of the work of Seán Ó Dálaigh/John O'Daly, the great nineteenth-century scribe; compiler and collector of manuscripts; editor; anthologist; publisher of Gaelic verse and stories and founder of societies for the publication of Gaelic literature. In addition he is an important figure in the development of Anglo-Irish literature. Written in Irish, the book includes a detailed analysis of his sources, manuscript compilations, printed editions and connections inthe literary world.
Seán Ó Dálaigh (John O'Daly, 1800-1878) was born in the culturally rich Sliabh gCua area of west Waterford, where he became a teacher of Irish with the Evangelical Bible society, the Irish Society, for which he subsequently became an inspector in Youghal and, later, Kilkenny. He converted to Anglicanism, but returned to Catholicism in the 1840s, causing considerable controversy as a result. One of his principal accomplishments lay in making the Gaelic manuscript heritage accessible in affordable printed form.
He combined bookselling with publishing and his serial publication, Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry (1844) allowed popular access to the texts of eighteenth-century Munster political verse and to the worldview that it reflected. Ó Dálaigh's Poets and Poetry of Munster (1849), with its celebrated translations by James Clarence Mangan, opened up views on post-Classical Irish composition. The Irish Language Miscellany (1876) pioneered the publication together of Gaelic literary and oral material in a manner that was widely followed in the twentieth century. Having moved his bookselling/publishing business from Kilkenny to Dublin, he founded there in the mid-1840's the learned Celtic Society and founded the Ossianic Society in 1853. The aim of the Ossianic Society was to collect and publish the lays and tales of OisÂ¡n and the Fianna, especially those preserved in extant manuscripts of Munster Irish. Ó Dálaigh's career intersects with critical issues of Irish political, religious and regional identity. This book restores to view people, publications, organisations and cultural issues that have been unjustifiably overlooked. Seán Ó Dálaigh should become standard reading for all those interested in nineteenth-century Ireland, in the history of manuscript production, literacy, bookselling, publishing, religion, regionalism, cultural nationalism and the history of scholarship.