Saol eile

Rugadh Charles McGlinchey i nGleann na Mínteach, Cluain Maine sa bhliain 1861. Fuair sé bás sa bhliain 1954. Bhí sé ar na cainteoirí dúchais deireanacha in Inis Eoghain. ‘I dtús mo laethaesa is í an Ghaeilge a bhí dá labhairt go hiomlán thar an pharóiste seo,’ a dúirt sé. Tháinig cara dá chuid, an máistir scoile áitiúil, Packy Kavanagh, go teach s’aige i rith an gheimhridh sna 1940í agus sna 1950í agus scríobh sé síos a scéal. Chuir Brian Friel eagar ar na nótaí agus foilsíodh iad mar leabhar - ‘The Last of the Name.’ Thosaigh Packy ag athscríobh an scéil i nGaeilge ach fuair Charles bás sula raibh sé leath bealaigh tríd an obair. Chuir Nollaig Mac Congail eagar ar na lámhscríbhinní agus foilsíodh ‘An Fear Deireanach den tSloinneadh’ sa bhliain 2002.

Bhí Charles Mc Glinchey ina fhíodóír. Níor fhág sé a cheantar féin ach dhá uair ina shaol. Chuaigh se bliain amháin go hAlbain chun an fómhar a dhéanamh agus sa bhliain 1932 chuaigh sé go Baile Átha Cliath chuig Comhdháil na Eocairiste. Seo a chur síos ar a thuras.

‘Choigil mé féin an tine maidin Sathairn amháin go luath sa bhliain 1932 agus chuaigh mé go Baile Átha Cliath ’soir an Congress, agus níor tháinig mé ar ais go raibh sé i meán lae Dé Luain agus bhí an tine beo ar fad,’

D’fhreastal níos mó ná milliún duine ar an Chomhdháil an bhliain sin. Chan John Mccormack ag an Aifreann faoin aer. Tháinig a lán athruithe ar an saol in Éirinn ó shin. Tá an creideamh i bhfad níos laige - bhí 12,500 ag an Aifreann faoin aer Dé Domhnaigh seo caite. Agus tá an Ghaeilge ar shiúl ó Ghleann na Mínteach le fada. Smaoiníonn tú ar an seanfhocal: ‘Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.’

A different world

Charles McGlinchey was born in Meentiagh Glen, Clonmany, in 1861. He died in 1954. He was one of the last native speakers of Irish in Inis Eoghain. ‘When I was a youngster, only Irish was spoken in this parish,’ he said. A friend of his, the local schoolmaster, Packy Kavanagh, came to his house during the winter in the 1940s and 1950s and he wrote down his story. Brian Friel edited the notes, and they were published as a book- ‘The Last of the Name.’ Packy began to rewrite the story in Irish but Charles died before he got half way through the work. Nollaig MacCongail edited the manuscripts and ‘An fear deireanach den tsloinneadh’ was published in 2002.

Charles McGlinchey was a weaver. He only left his home area twice in his life. One year he went to Scotland to work at the harvest and in 1932 he went to Dublin to the Eucharistic Congress. This is his account of the trip.

‘I raked the fire myself early one Saturday morning in 1932 and went to the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. I didn’t get back till noon on the Monday and the fire was still lit.’ More than one million people attended the Congress that year. John McCormack sang at the open air Mass. Life in Ireland has changed since then. There were 12,500 people at the open air Mass last Sunday. And Irish disappeared from Meentiagh Glen long ago. You think of the proverb: ‘A land without a language, a land without a soul.’