New biographies added to 7 May 2024 – Posted in: News – Tags:

New biographies added to

Five new biographies have been added to in May 2024. The valuable resource of the biography collection at encompasses more than 1,800 biographies from 1560 to the present day. This Irish biography project has been developed since 2009 by Gaois, Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge, DCU, in collaboration with Cló Iar-Chonnacht, and with Diarmuid Breathnach and Máire Ní Mhurchú, authors of the nine-volume series published by An Clóchomhar between 1986 and 2007 under the title “Beathaisnéis.”

A panel of editors was established in 2013 under the direction of Cló Iar-Chonnacht to update some of the older biographies and to write new ones. Éilís Ní Anluain, Micheál Ó Conghaile, Seán Mac Labhraí, and Lillis Ó Laoire are providing the accounts of the individuals added in 2024.

The project is funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports, and Media with support from the National Lottery.

Máire Mhac an tSaoi

The biographies include an account of one of Ireland’s great poets, Máire Mhac an tSaoi (1922–2021). She obtained a degree in Celtic Studies from University College Dublin and qualified as a barrister from King’s Inn. She worked as a research assistant at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies for a period and spent some time as a translator in Spain, France, and New York with the United Nations.

A short story by Mhac an tSaoi, ‘An bhean óg’, was published in Comhar in 1948. Several poetry collections were published by her – including Margadh na saoire (1956) and An galar dubhach (1980) among others. She and her husband, Conor Cruise O’Brien, collaborated on A concise history of Ireland (1972). University College Dublin conferred an honorary doctorate on Máire in 1991. Three books were published by her as a result of research she conducted on Gearóid Iarla –  A bhean óg ón… (2001), Cérbh í Meg Russell? (2008), and  Scéal Ghearóid Iarla (2011).

Joe Steve Ó Neachtain

Joe Steve Ó Neachtain (1942–2020) hailed from An Spidéal in the Cré Dhubh townland. He spent much of his life working with Údarás na Gaeltachta in the building department and as a Cultural and Language Officer. He had close ties with the Actors of An Spidéal and wrote plays, dialogues, and pantomimes. He travelled the country with his play “Níor mhaith linn do thrioblóid,” which later toured to Boston, USA. Over 300 episodes of his radio drama series “Baile an Droichid” were broadcast on Raidió na Gaeltachta over ten years.

Ó Neachtain played the role of Pádraig Ó Conghaile in the television soap opera Ros na Rún. Although his first book, “Fead Ghlaice,” wasn’t published until 1986, he had written much before that, from when he first put pen to paper in 1969. His work encompassed prose, poetry, plays and songs, and earned numerous awards and accolades, including several Oireachtas na Gaeilge awards. He played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement in the Gaeltacht.

Caitríona Hastings

Caitríona Hastings (1952–2021) was a lecturer and writer born in Co. Tyrone. She earned a degree in Irish Studies from Ulster University and was appointed as a lecturer in the Irish Department at Ulster University, Coleraine. She had a particular interest in modern poetry, in the poetry of Oriel, in phonetics, and in folklore, and she was highly respected and esteemed by her students. She wrote and produced several plays, including “Oisín i ndiaidh na Féinne” and “An tSúil Ghlas.”

She also spent a period as a lecturer at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology on the Castlebar campus. Among her works are; Balor (2008), Ag bun na Cruaiche: folklore and folklife from the foot of Croagh Patrick (2009), An Gréasaí Bróg agus na Sióga (2009), Mac Rí Éireann (2010), Ó Chrann go Crann (2011), Hubert (2014), An t-Éan Órga (2015), and Ridire an Ghaiscidh (2016). Balor was awarded the Réics Carlo Prize in 2009.

Pádraig Ó hAoláin

Pádraig Ó hAoláin (1944–2021) was born in Cloghjordan, Co. Tipperary . He developed an interest in the Irish language and the Gaeltacht community while working in the tunnels in London alongside people from Connemara and Donegal. He composed songs like “Cumha” and “Cóilín Phádraig Shéamais,” perhaps the most famous and recognisable songs created in Irish in the last fifty years. He spent periods working with Gaeltarra Éireann and with Comharchumann Chois Fharraige before returning to Údarás na Gaeltachta. He was appointed as Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2005. He placed particular emphasis on language planning and providing support to small businesses. He understood the importance of infrastructure and services being available to the community. Since moving to Connemara in 1970, Pádraig was fully immersed in the life of the community – as a hurler, as a singer, as an actor, and as a pillar of support for community voluntary committees.

Anders Eric Olof Ahlqvist

Anders Eric Olof Ahlqvist (1945–2018) was a Finnish linguist and professor born in Stockholm, Sweden. He studied Classical Studies at the University of Helsinki and focused his attention on general linguistics. He obtained a doctorate in Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh in 1974. He was appointed as a lecturer in Old Irish at NUI Galway in 1976. He spent periods as a professor at the University of Helsinki, Utrecht University, and the University of Sydney. He had a naturally supportive and empathetic nature. He also published some works in Irish, including Téarmaí Gramadaí na Sean-Ghaeilge (1993) and Litriú na Gaeilge in Stair na Gaeilge (1994). Anders’ revised edition of Auraicept na nÉces completely changed the understanding of linguists regarding the early linguistic influence of Gaelic scholars on academic study. Two festschrifts were published in his honour as well.


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