seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Birth of Breandán Ó hEithir, Writer & Broadcaster

Breandán Ó hEithir, Irish writer and broadcaster, is born in Cill Rónáin, Aran, County Galway, on January 18, 1930.

Ó hEithir’s parents are national school teachers, Pádraic Ó hEithir and Delia Ní Fhlaithearta. He is a nephew of Aran Islands authors Liam Ó Flaithearta and Tom Maidhc Ó Flaithearta, the brothers of his mother. He attends the Kilronan national school where his parents teach. He receives his secondary school education at Coláiste Éinde (St. Enda’s College), Galway. He attends University College Galway for three years, finishing his university course in 1952 but leaves without sitting his final examinations. He writes in both Irish and English, and is highly regarded for the originality and liveliness of his journalism, especially his work in Irish.

Ó hEithir marries Catherine von Hildebrand, a young student recently arrived in Dublin from Colombia, in 1957 and they have five children: Ruairí, Máirín, Brian, Aindriú, and Rónán. Catherine is born in Paris, the daughter of Deirdre Mulcahy from Sligo and Franz von Hildebrand from Munich, son of the noted philosopher and theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand.

After college, Ó hEithir spends a number of years working as an itinerant bookseller for Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge. He serves as an editor at Sáirséal agus Dill, the Irish language publishing house, and as Irish language editor for The Irish Press from 1957 to 1963. He also writes a column for The Sunday Press. He is a regular columnist with the journal Comhar and also contributes a weekly column to The Irish Times. He also serves as a staff journalist with Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), working on the current affairs programmes Cúrsaí and Féach.

In 1975 the Irish American Cultural Institute awards Ó hEithir a scholarship of £2,000 to allow him to devote more time to writing. The following year his first novel, Lig sinn i gcathú (1976), loosely based on his student days in Galway, becomes a best-seller. He and Catherine move to Paris in 1986, where most of his second novel, Sionnach ar mo Dhuán (1988), is written. Hopes of having produced his definitive novel are soon dashed by a series of devastating reviews.

Ó hEithir visits Colombia with his wife in the summer of 1990. On his return, he is presented with the Butler literary award of $10,000 in further recognition of his writing in Irish. A month later, after a very short illness, he dies of cancer in St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin on October 26, 1990. He is survived by his wife, Catherine, daughter Máirín, and sons Ruairí, Brian, and Aindriú.

A biography of Ó hEithir has been written by Liam Mac Con Iomaire.


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Formation of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge

comhdhail-naisiunta-na-gaeilgeComhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, the central steering council for the Irish language community, is formed on October 26, 1943. Its mission is to “strengthen and consolidate goodwill and support for the Irish language and its usage as a living language so that it may be used freely and widely in all aspects of Irish life.”

The role of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge is to act as a coordinating body for voluntary Irish language organisations. The National Youth Council of Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions are similar umbrella organisations. The board of the nonprofit organisation is made up of representatives of its 24 member organisations. The secretaria of An Chomhdháil, ten employees, is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation.

The organisation sees its role as providing leadership to those involved in community and voluntary work on behalf of the Irish language, to provide analysis of Government policies with reference to the language, and the development and promotion of new policy measures. In practice this meant developing policies which are broadly acceptable to all member organisations and have their support, political lobbying in support of various issues and the undertaking of new and innovative projects.

The information website Gaelport.com is a project managed by staff of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge. The community-focused website contains information on Irish language news and events as well as Irish language classes and vacancies. It also contains information on advocacy work carried out by Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge and other Irish language organisations. The website wins best Irish language website at the 2010 Irish Web Awards.

The last meeting of the board of management of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge is on the evening of July 14, 2014, due to an abrupt end of funding from Foras na Gaeilge, the inter-governmental agency established to promote the Irish language throughout the island of Ireland. The management board of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge thus has no choice but to cease all activities with the loss of six full-time staff.