Pádraig Ó Fiannachta

Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta died last Friday. He was a giant in the world of Irish.

Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta died last Friday. He was a giant in the world of Irish.

He was born in Baile Móir near Dingle in 1927. He spent thirty-four years teaching in Maynooth University. He was appointed professor of Old Irish, then Professor of Middle Irish and, finally, Professor of Modern Irish!

He edited the Maynooth Bible. He translated half the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Irish and edited the other half which was translated by other scholars. Cardinal Ó Fiaich said in the foreword to the Bible that ‘there would be no Maynooth Bible this century but for the tireless enthusiasm and the enormous capacity for work of Father Pádraig Ó Fiannachta. Just as the 17th century translation is called the Bedell Bible, we think that it would not be inappropriate to call the 20th century version the Ó Fiannachta Bible’.

Monsignor Ó Fiannachta also worked on the Irish Dictionary of the Royal Academy. He directed An Sagart, a publishing company which produces religious books. He founded Glór na nGael, which organises a yearly competition to encourage the use of Irish throughout Ireland and abroad.

He has written many learned articles and books, including ‘Sean-Ghaeilge gan Dua’, the first textbook in Modern Irish those who wish to learn Old Irish.

He was also a poet. I got great pleasure from reading his bilingual book, ‘Léim an dá Mhíle’. It is a long poem in which the poet imagines that Christ spent his public life in Corca Dhuibhne. Simon and ‘Wee Andy’ fished herring in Damh Deirg Bay. Christ was crucified in Mountjoy. He went up to Heaven from Cruach Mhárthain. The poem shows the deep spirituality of the poet and his love for his people and for his native place.