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The Loughross Gaelic Scholar


Sean Duffy

Reproduced, with the Society's permission, from the 1989 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society

In the period from the Treaty of Limerick to the Great Famine, scarcely any part of the country was richer in Gaelic tradition than the north Louth and south Armagh area. While the classical age of Gaelic verse was well and truly dead, poetic composition had certainly not come to an end. In fact, beginning with Mac Curata and eliding with Mac Cooey, this period witnessed a creative flowering that has secured for the region a position of enduring pre-eminence. Nevertheless, it is undeniably the case that the compositions of Mac Curata and the other fili fain who succeeded him illustrate a sharp decline in quality from the precision of the filiocht na scol, but with the passing of Mac Cooey this decline may be said to have greatly accelerated. It was half a century or more before the area produced another Gaelic poet of significance ill the gifted and highly imaginative Dundalk man, Nicholas Kearney. The interval was filled, certainly not with silence, rather with a dull industrious murmur, as a considerable body of 'lesser bards' plied their fragile craft. One man stood head and shoulders above all the rest: Seamus Mac Giolla Choille or Doctor James Woods.

The first thing that needs to be said about Doctor Woods is that it is nearly impossible to assess his significance, for one simple reason: nothing like a representative sample of his work survives today. Only ten of his poems endure. The earliest copies of six of them are to be found in a manuscript which he himself compiled in the 1820's in the last years of his long life (U.C.D. MS. Morris 18), and all six appear to hive been written in this late period (1). The exemplars of three others, also late works, are available in a manuscript copied by his friend Art Murphy (perhaps as a tribute to him) around the time of his death (RIA MA. 23/B/19)(2). And the final piece is to be found on a couple of slips of paper on Wood's hand out of some other manuscript now lost (3). This tenth item, an elegy for Art Mac Cooey, is hardly likely to have been written upon the latter's death in 1773, when Woods was in his early - or mid-teens, but it is probably safe to assume that it dates from an earlier period than the other surviving poems. It too was transcribed by Art Murphy into his manuscript (indeed he supplies some verses, and the concluding annalach, missing from Wood's defective copy), so that it may possibly have been the piece that first earned Woods his reputation.

One thing does seem certain. Doctor Woods did not wait until he was sixty years of age before taking up his pen, so that at one stage there must have existed a good many more of his poems, perhaps of greater merit than those which form his legacy today. In the early 1830's, two young Dundalk men who had known Woods in old age, Nicholas Kearney, whom I have already mentioned, and Matthew Moore Graham, proposed assembling and publishing a multi-volume work called The Bardic Remains of Louth. They never proceeded beyond the first volume, a collection of the supposed works of O'Doirnin, and even this did not reach the presses, but their ambitious goal is revealed in an advertisement therein:

The songs and the Poetical Reliques of Peter O'Dornin will comprise another volume (in addition to thefirst). The Reliques of Courtenay (i.e. Mac Cuarta) one:- those of Mac Cooey and Patrick Lindon one each; the poetical works of Miss Mary Lindon, and of Doctor James Woods, one volume, and the work of the lesser bards at least one, making in all seven volumes of the Bardic Remains of Louth. These works will be published at any time that proper encouragement is given and will contain much pleasant and useful information.(4)

In other words, Kearney and Graham had sufficient of Woods's poems to make up half of one volume of the Bardic Remains. Not alone that, but they tell us that their (all be it highly suspect) first O'Doirnin volume was, in part, abstracted from Doctor Woods's 'Irish Manuscript Miscellanea'(5), a work almost certainly now lost. They were anxious to publish the Bardic Remains because of the rapidly weakening state of the Irish language in the country; they tell us that

... although it may be but imperfectly known and its antiquities all lost, yet Ireland will cease to be Ireland when the Irish language will be totally eradicated from among the people. Notwithstanding this, every day, as I have said, takes away some learned person, or some monument of antiquity, which the world and perhaps the ingenuity of man cannot supply. We have a few years ago lost the learned and condescending James Woods Esqr MD of Dundalk; most of his manuscripts and collectanea are scattered about in ignorant hands, and many entirely lost through negligence or ignorance; this loss cannot be supplie&- and the sooner this language will be regarded the better, and the more honourable to the living literati of the realm. (6)

From this it appears that Doctor Woods had assembled during his lifetime a voluminous manuscript collection, the bulk of which, including, no doubt, much of his own composition, perished after his death.

We are probably wrong, therefore, in judging him harshly because of the relative weakness of his remaining work, written by, a man perhaps well past his prime. His contemporaries certainly thought highly of his talents. As far as Kearney and Graham were concerned, Woods was the last of the Louthian bards' (They use the term 'Louth' loosely, to define an area including south Armagh.) In a letter Graham wrote to the Belfast-based Ulster Gaelic Society in February 1835 he says:

saim go bhfuil ionaid in Ereann is iomarcai i nduanta milse na Contar Lui, oir ba iomaduil i mbaird di,. mar ata, Seamus Dal.' Mac Cuarta, Padraigh Mac' a Liondain, Peadar O'Doirnin, Art Mac Cumhaigh, Mailigh Nic' a Liondain, agus fa dheoigh, an saoi agus an lia foghlamtha Seamus Mac Giolla Choille.(7)

Years later, Kearney recalled that 'Doctor Woods was a very learned man, a Judicious antiquarian, and an eminent bard ... beloved and highly respected by all who had the honour of his acquantance' (8).

This affection was due perhaps to Woods's very uniqueness in being a relatively well-heeled Catholic who yet maintained an interest in things Gaelic. The Peter Woods who held land at Loughross, about a mile from Crossmaglen, in 1766 was his father, while the 'Father Woods' who two years later was a curate in the parish of Creggail was presumably also related (9). We have Kearney's word for it that James himself was destined for the priesthood, but that ill-health intervened to prevent it (10). Cardinal 6 Fiaich has suggested that the Jacobus Woods, Hibernicus, pauper, who matriculated as a student of the College Le Lis in the University of Louvain on 15 January 1772 may be our man (11), though this would obviously necessitate revising upwards by at least two years Kearney's claim that he was seventy when he died in 1828 (He did not make the claim until about twenty years later, so it may simply have been a rough estimate. (12). While the Louvain Woods had enrolled as a student of philosophy, the Doctor's poetry is studded with classical allusion that suggests prolonged immersion in Greek and Latin literature. Biblical reference too is made in no small measure, and we may detect something of his Catholic fervour in the following verse out of his poem of welcome to Archbishop Curtis on his appointment to Armagh:

Beidh an t-eagnai aghmhar gan scith ina gharda,
In aghaidh na sarghoine is na claoine
A thig gan aireamh tri aimsiu abhal
Dar ndi ondr naimhde chun treadai,.
Mar chuir an tArdri a chonaic aibheis
Cionta Adhaimh agus Eabha,
An laoi-rialt alainn uaidh go trathuil
Chun na milt a shabhail on ngeimheal.

For whatever reason, though, Woods did abandon his priestly studies, perhaps when his father died in 1778. This may have forced him to return home to care for his mother, but she too died some five years later (14). We hear nothing further of him for nearly a decade when, in his mid-thirties, he enrolled as a student at the Apothecaries hall of Ireland in 1792 (15). He was probably already working in Dundalk - and is styled by them 'James Wood, Dundalk, Louth' - apprenticed to a medical pratitioner, and se ' up in business in his own right having obtained his qualification. A contemporary description of Dundalk in the 1820s informs us that his premises were in the Middle Ward of the town, but we learn from a subscribers' list (to a fund for the elect on of Alexander Dawson) compiled in 1826 that James lived in Church Street, at the Demesne gate opposite St. Nicholas's Anglican (or 'Green') Church (16). Meanwhile, a James Woods registered his freehold premises in Dundalk for the first time in 1819: if it is our James, the valuation at 20 suggests a very lucrative holding (17).

The years that intervened between his return from the continent and the decision to take up medical studies were ones in which James no doubt busied himself in cultivating his interest in Gaelic learning. The Irish language he would have had from the cradle: though undoubtedly born too late to have had the opportunity of attending the school. 0 Doirnin is said to have 'taught with great applause' for a period in his native Loughross (18), his older siblings may well have shared the experience. One man he presumably did meet though was the future first Professor of Irish in Maynooth, Paul O'Brien from Moynalty in County Meath, who, before his decision to turn to the priesthood, had come to Culloville in the 1780's and maintained a school in the village for a time: we perhaps get a clue that Doctor Woods had met him from the following lines out of the tribute he composed on his death in 1820:

Ba gheanuil a ghrua gach uair le feachain,
Ba cheanuil, uaigneach, uaiseach, niamhuil,
D'aithneofai ar shluaite uabha Eabha e
Ar a dheise, ar a shuairceas, ar a shnua, 's ar a dheanamh;
A shamhail ni luailear uainn san reim seo
Ach Augustun uaisgheal a bhi suall sa daonnacht.

Paradoxically, though, while appreciation of the value of their Gaelic bathed in decline among his fellow Catholics, his own continued interest may have been instrumental in introducing him to the acquaintance of several Protestant families in the area for whom such enlightened curiosity was very much in vogue.

Sometime at or after the turn of the century he actually married a young Church of Ireland lady about a quarter of a century his junior. She was Anne Tyrrell who, when she died on 28 May 1859, was aged seventy-seven, which would mean having been born in or around 1782; but as there was a parishioner of Saint Nicholas's parish, Dundalk named Anne Woods in 1809 (20) (assuming this was she), she must have before this date married, while still in her twenties, Doctor Woods who was then about fifty.

This suggests a measure of respectability and it is reflected by the circles in which the Doctor chose to mingle. As an apothecary, what we would nowadays call a chemist, he was by no means restricted in the range of medical services he provided - hence his contemporaries on occasion denote him 'Surgeon Woods' (21) - and thus he acted throughout his career as a family doctor in the Dundalk area. Nicholas Kearney tells us that, as a child growing up in his aunt's house in Thomastown near Kilkerley, 'on one occasion, but (I) cannot recollect what was my complaint, possible none at all, the learned Dr. Woods (the family doctor) attended' (22) . It is very possible too, though the link is rather tenuous, that he was employed in this capacity by another local family with a strong interest in Gaelic literature, that of Samuel Coulter. He was a Presbyterian farmer who lived at Carnbeg about a mile north of Dundalk on the Forkhill road, and an unnamed doctor was present at the birth on 28 September 1793 of Samuel's eldest child, Thomas, later renowned internationally as a botanist. He had a considerable library of Irish books and manuscripts at Carnbeg (23) , and obviously spoke and read Irish: when, in 1792, Donnchadh Mac Orieachtaigh came to Carnbeg and made for him a copy of our earliest surviving collection of 6 Doirnin's poems, it was done 'chum usaide Shamhairle Ui Choldran san cCarnbheag', and he transcribed another manuscript for him in October 1796 (24) .

More interesting from our point of view is that in 1800 the County Down scribe, Patrick Lynch from Loughinisland, came to Carnbeg and was paid two shillings per parchment by Samuel to make copies of two more manuscripts for his collection (25) . One of these copies is of a manuscript transcribed by Pddraig O'Prontaigh in 1732 - 3: but the original is still in existence as U.C.D. MSS. Morris 7 and 8, having been obtained by Henry Morris from the daughter of Matthew Moore Graham. In other words, someone in the Dundalk area loaned Samuel Coulter the O'Prontaigh manuscript so that Lynch might copy it, and a generation later that original ended up in the possession of Matthew Graham. This makes it quite likely that it was Doctor Woods who owned the O'Prontaigh manuscript in 1800 and that he loaned it to Samuel Coulter - for the following reason. We know that Graham and Kearney were intimate with Doctor Woods and refer in the Bardic Remains to the dispersal of his manuscript collection after his death (and the need to gather up and preserve such remnants as survived). They set about doing this and at least one other of the manuscripts that came to Henry Morris via Gr;fham was originally Woods's (Morris 18), while in 1856 Fr. Patrick Lamb claimed to have -once had a manuscript containing most of the poems of MacCooey which he gave 'to a Dr. Jas. Woods of Dundalk......... and I often heard Nicholas O'Kearney, Esqr. get it after the death of Dr. James Woods's (26) . There is every likelihood, therefore, that their O'Prontaigh original was also got by them out of the Doctor's collection. Whatever acquaintance Doctor Woods may have had with the Coulter family, it didn't end with Samuel's death in 1801. Among the Coulter family papers, undated but on paper watermarked 1818, there has recently been discovered a translation by Doctor Woods of the tale Oidheadb Chloinne Uisnigh: 'Translation of the account of the death of the three sons of Usnagh, by Jas Woods, Dundalk' (27) . As this tale is to be found in the O'Prontaigh manuscript and its copy, it may present further evidence of Woods's ownership of the original, and one presumes (without having seen the translation) that he provided it from the O'Prontaigh exemplar in his possession, for a later member of the Coulter household, who had Lynch's copy, but lacked Samuel's facility with Irish. Thus, the relationship was one which appears to have persisted over two decades or more.

Incidentally, if Woods and Coulter were friendly around the turn of the century, these were, of course, heady times in Irish history. There are some grounds for thinking that Samuel Coulter was at least sympathetic to, if not involved in, the United Irishmen. A family seal, which may date from this period, bears an emblem similar to that employed by the United Irishmen: a harp upon a shamrock-bed, surmounted by another sprig of shamrock, with the motto Eire go brach on top. The description of one of the books in his library - a volume of 'Irish & English Vocabulary'-sounds somewhat like Bolg an Tsolair or Gaelic Magazine (which contained a section of vocabulary and lists of phrases), produced under the auspices of The Northern Star by Samuel's friend Patrick Lynch in 1795. And the last we hear of Lynch is, in fact, in 1803 when he gave evidence in the trial that ended in the execution of Thomas Russell (28) . Doctor Woods was probably equally sympathetic. In 1826, admittedly twentyeight years later, he subscribed 2 towards the fund set up to pay the expenses of Alexander Dawson, the liberal candidate in the election of that year (29) and one of his best-known poems - Failte Bheartomoin Ui Chathalain - was written to welcome home from America Bartle Callan, a supporter of the United Irishmen from Thornfield near Kilkerley: in 1796, the latter received three months imprisonment and a fine of 100 when the coffin containing the body of James 'Butchy' Kirk (assassinated for informing on members of the secret society'The Defenders') was thrown into the river Fane at Inniskeen (30) , and he was eventually forced into exile in 1798 because of his political activities:

A Bheartomoin, a dhea-jhir, de threibh na n-ardri
Gan mheabhail bhi i gcrich Oirghialla;
'S i gceannas le bri i dTeamhair gan dith
Go hoiriunach, fior, oirirc;
Seacht mbliana fichead gan freasura, fhir chaoimh,
A chaithis i dtir nua uainn;
'S, a ghaiscigh, glac sith in d'aol-lios aris,
Gan bheith in achrann ann, no in uamhan.

And as a Gaelic scholar the Doctor would very possibly have met Patrick Lynch on his arrival in Dundalk in 1800: it may have been Lynch himself, rather than Coulter, who picked the 6 Prontaigh manuscript out of Woods's collection as meriting inclusion in Samuel's library.

One of the people Lynch did almost certainly meet in Dundalk was the local Presbyterian minister, the eminent classicist and Gaelic scholar, Reverend William Neilson. The latter had attended as a boy Lynch's school in Loughinisland (32), and it was probably he who introduced the scribe to his parishioner, Samuel Coulter. At this point, Neilson was no doubt already working on his grammar of Irish, and according to John O'Donovan he obtained Lynch's assistance in the project (33). It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Woods too would have been one of the first people whose acquaintance Reverend Neilson made upon his appointment to Dundalk and the two decades and more that he was to spend in the town as minister must surely have witnessed much collaboration between both men. Reverend Neilson had a brother, Joseph Andrew, who was also a medical practitioner in Dundalk, while his sister Jane was married to another local doctor, John Getty M.D.(34). Perhaps a professional snobbery on their part explains the curious fact that Doctor Woods was not among the sixty or more local peole who subscribed to Neilson's Introduction to the Irish Language when it appeared in 1808 - or could impecuniosity possibly explain the lapse? - though the latter work contains a large extract from a version of Oidheadb Chloinne Uisnigh and there may be some link between this and the translation (albeit perhaps of a different recession) that the Doctor later made: the latter's 'Transiation of the account of the death of the three sons of Usnah' was made in or after 1818, presumably for Samuel Coulter's younger brother, Joseph, who had subscribed to Neilson's Introduction, and sometime before his own death in 1821 Neilson loaned for publication by Thomas Stott a manuscript called "The adventures of Deardra and the Death of the Sons of Usna'(35). About this same time, 'in 1818, or thereabouts' according to his publisher, John Donaldson was compiling his Historical and Statistical Account of the Barony of Upper Fews. It has an 'Appendix containing an alphabetical list of the denominations or townlands in the said barony, with the words in the Gaelic or Irish tongue, from whence they are probably derived, and a translation of same into English'. To compile this Appendix Donaldson called on the services of Doctors Woods and Neilson, two 'eminent Irish scholars' who were obviously looked upon as the leading authorities on the subject in the neighbourhood, and who 'kindly furnished him separately- with their opinions, in writing, of the Irish words from whence (they supposed) these townlands were named, and a translation of these words into the English language' (36).

The omission of Doctor Woods from the subscribers' list in Neilson's grammar deserves mention as, by all accounts, he had a reputation for generosity in that regard. In the 1820's two works were published by Michael Clarke of Whitewood, near Nobber in County Meath. The first, which appeared in 1824, was his translation of the religious poem Crioch deanach an duine, and sure enough Woods is included among the long list of subscribers (37). Three years later, Clarke produced a translation of Tuireamb na bEireann, and although Doctor Woods is apparently inadvertently omitted from the subscription list, the author includes in the work a still quite humorous poem which he wrote (and which surely deserves a revival after all these years): it is called The Translator's Tour, & impartially written and it recounts Clarke's journey through Counties Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan in search of sponsors for his work, and in the section dealing with his trip to Dundalk, he refers to

The merchants and traders who there do reside,
And who are of that seaport the wealth and the pride.
And likewise the Doctors who never deny
To subscribe to the bard who may to them apply.

The latter, he specifically tells us in a note, are 'Doctors Woods, Clarke and Murphy' (38).

It was Woods's very status as a doctor that brought him into contact with, and allowed him to act as a bridge between, people in various walks in life. Thus, he was a link between the local Protestant gentry into whom he married and their largely Irishspeaking Roman Catholic tenants from whom he had sprung, and among whom, in his enthusiasm for Gaelic literature, he chose to mingle. So preoccupied was he with things Gaelic that most of his surviving verse is written in praise of fellow Gaelic enthusiasts. Some of them were dead, others very much alive, but it says something of the personality of Doctor Woods that his poetry, unlike that of his old sparring partner Art Murphy (who liked to ruffle a few feathers in his verse), was never but encomiastic. One of the subjects of his praise was a mail named Michael Campbell. All trace of him appears to be lost today and we would know nothing of the background to Doctor Woods's tribute were it into a manuscript he was compiling in the 1840's, and provided the following introduction:

Micheal Ua Cathamhuil, Fhearann Bailligh, tailliur tire, ollamh leighis, &c.
Michael Campbell, the hero of the following song, was a tailor who lived at Fearann Bailligh, or as it is now, called, Bailly-land, near the old church of Ard Patrick in the parish and county of Louth: this worthy man, in addition to the extensive and useful practise he acquired as a country tailor, followed the still more useful and eminent calling of Quack Doctor and was a celebrated character, no less so than Burns' Doctor Hornbook.

Campbell was a hearty fellow, whose memory was well stored with the wild traditions of the country, and being a good Celtic scholar, he could not escape the notice of the learned doctor Woods: an acquaintance ",as soon formed and finally a strong friendship, and in difficult cases Campbell was wont to consult and obtain the benefit of the Doctor's pro sional skill. The song was a tribute of friendship......
This song is transcribed from the Doctor's hand writing.

Now, some of this can be taken with a pinch of salt, especially Kearney's claim that he is copying from a version of the poem in Woods's own hand: this and several other poems in the same manuscript are transcribed by Kearney out of Art Murphy's valuable little book, now RIA MS. 23/B/19. Nevertheless, Doctor Woods did write the poem (not perhaps the finest Gaelic poem ever written, but then the doctor was far from being the finest of Gaelic poets), and it surely presents a few clues as to his character (40). Take the following little piece of fantasy:

Da mbeinn le ri-cheart i gceannas Fodla mar ba mhian liom
Is uaisle na criche a bheith ag isliu dom fein,
Bheadh failte agus diomhanas don tailliuir ag Seamas
Mar ba ghndth trath bhi rithe na Teamhrach i gceim........

Spanish wines would freely flow, he goes on, to welcome the hosts of scholarly Gaels. and the 'learned philosoher' himself would, like Asclapius, the God of healing. revive the spirits of every sage that yielded to the wine:

Ni choigleofai fionta na Spainne no aoibhneas
Ag failtiu na milte de aicme na ngael,
Is bheadh an fealsamh saoithiuil mar Asclapius go liofa
Ag cur meanmna i ngach saoi glic a bheadh claite le fion.

Perhaps this says something of Doctor Woods's own partialities, and it may be worth mentioning that the only non-Gaelic poem that survives in his hand is a copy of Lord Byron's drinking song that begins:

Fill the goblet again! for I never before
Felt the glow which now. gladdens my heart to its core;
Let us drink! Who would not? since thru' life's varied round
In the goblet alone no deception is found. (41)

But this may be to do him an injustice. His poem continues, after bemoaning the Final destruction of the Gaelic order, their banishment from Ireland with King James, and the ascendency of clanna an Bhearla, by advising his fellow Gaels (Catholics, effectively) not to worry about Wully (Protestant domination), but surrender themselves instead to Him who will bestow a heavenly reward on all Gael who accept Him as King:

O threigeadar an Ghael-threibh Rath Cruachna is nach_feidir
Rem-riora a bheith ag aon de shiol Oillil mar bhi,.
Is gur dibriodh as Ereann sliocht Ire le Seamus
Is gur ghabh clann an Bhearla gabhail sa chrich,
Nil gar duinn bheith buartha le Wully ach geilleadh
Don Mhac a bheir saibhreas na bhFIaitheas gan dith
Do gach aon de shiol Eabha a gheilleas do theampall
Is chreidfeas go heag gurb eisean an ri

As to the subject of the poem, Michael Ca'mpbell. he is evidently an exceptional scholar and the possessor of a great font of Gaelic learning:

Nil siolla nd trachta dar cumagh le ar mbardaibh
0 ghluais 6n Spainn 'noir treibh Cholaimh le reim,
Nach bhfaighidh tu go sasta ag an dea-mhac mar tharla
, Le saorshrutha samhghlic in aiste is i gceill.

He may even be the last of the great savants of old, for whom the Doctor wishes a long and healthy career:

Nil a stir againn den rogha-threibh thug faoiseamh do Eirinn
Ach Micheal is ni breag sin an sontanach caoimh,
Is go mba saolach a bheidh si sa tir seo le scan maith
I dtanas gach feile go soineanta saor.

And he concludes the poem by sending his greetings to this man who won the affection of every ingenious sage about Louth:

Beir mo chead beann mar fheirinn go dubalta siar uaim
Mar chonaios an fialmhac is taitneamhach cliu;
An fior-fhiosaigh ceilli de mhianshliocht an Ghaeil Ghlais,
Fuair ansacht on eigse agus o gach saoi glic faoi Lu;
Nil file no reix-dhamhna uile san reagun
A thaighiodh an dea-mhac caradach caoimh,
Nach dtabharfadh maraon le ceannfort na cleire,
Searcghrd a gcleibh don mhacaomh gan dith.

More than anything else, what makes this poem interesting is that it was written in Irish in the town of Dundalk in the third decade of the nineteenth century. It was written by one Gaelic enthusiast in praise of the learning and scholarship of another. It is not an isolated instance and nor was either of these two scholars an Oisin i ndiaidh na Feinne. They were representatives of a school of Gaelic enthusiasts, perhaps in decline, but still quite thick on the ground in the neighbourhood; Woods's reference to gach saoi glic faoi Lu provides a hint of this, but indicates also how it was possible for Woods to think in terms of the area around Louth (the village, presumably, as opposed to the county) as a distinct reagun of Gaelic learning in its own right, 'the region in which the virtuous man dwelled' (san reagun a thaithiodh an dea-mhac ...) still with its own fair share of representatives of the eigse.

Closer to home, ten or more miles north of Louth village, in Mounthill County Armagh (the birthplace of Art Mac Cooey), the death took place in March 1823 of another Gaelic scholar, Patrick Dowdall. Toirealach Mac Cooey, a brother or nephew of Art, wrote a long elegy for him in the form of an aisling in nineteen six-line stanzas (42). However, Doctor Woods too wrote a poem in his honour to commemorate his death. It is considerably longer than that which he wrote for Michael Campbell, sixteen stanzas in the version in the doctor's own hand, and in the version 'corrected and revised' by Art Murphy there are an extra three plus a concluding annalach (43), and one wonders whether these may in fact have been added by the latter. Interestingly, though, Woods's poem too is written in the form of an aisling, having the same length and structure as that by Toirealach Mac Cooey, and again one is left wondering why. Is one copied from the other? Were they written to a pattern? Or were they perhaps written in concert as part of one of the iomarbhanna which Doctor Woods is famed for taking part in, in the 1820s (as I recount below)?

As to Doctor Woods's poem, being an aisling, much of it is taken up with the usual idealised visionary scene-setting. At its core, though, the Doctor does tell us something about Dowdall and his stature as a scholar:

B'e searcghreith na nGael go leir an saoi seo
Le heineach, le feile, le ceill, is le dilseacht,
A shamhail san reim seo ni fheadaim a mhiniu...

That he came from Mounthill seems without doubt: Baile an Atha na mine is specifically referred to, and we are told that:

Ta'n Feadh ina dhiaidh-san treaghdaimh cnaite
Gan taithi na heigse no na n-ollun liofa,
Gnaoi na greine sa lae ghil claochta,
Na hiasca fein gan di san oiche,
Na magha reabtha is gne na tire,
O d'imigh an fear fial d'fhag mo dheora sios lion.

His family also get a mention. His father appears to have been Lawrence, and he himself had two sons, Lawrence and William, while four ladies are mentioned who must be daughters or sisters: Ellen, Ester, Peggy and Rose. His wife (uaishbean tseimh an dea-fhlaith cheanna) is also still alive and, too, his grieving brother (A dhearthair ag eagaoin leis fein is ni hionadh). More noteworthy from our point of view, this Patrick Dowdall obviously had a reputation as a generous host to all the poets in the district:

Riaradh an triath na diormai iomai
Thigeadh fa shiar, fa dheas no fa chli do,
Is gach saoi dea-bhriathrach no file glic liofa
Go gcloifeadh an fial iad le haiocht is le ice.

And as a result, they, including Doctor Woods no doubt, held him in great affection:

Dalta na heigse is search chle ibh gach saoi e
Gurbh e a chlaochladh gan bhreig d'fhag buartha an tir seo.

This buairt was felt all the more as Doctor Woods was now of an age when many of his friends and contemporaries were beginning to predecease him, and indeed Patrick Dowdall's death followed hard on the heels of that of another local scholar, Domhnall MhacNabball an sgolair Gaoileigh or Daniel McNaul. He died less than a year earlier that much is obvious from the elegy Woods composed in his memory - but I know nothing else of him, and the poem reveals little more (44). McNaul was apparently the greatest authority on Gaelic learning in the north of Ireland:

Thug se an chraobh leis o thuaisceart -Eireann san oideas
Gaelach bhi i gcein uainn trath.....

And Woods deplores the fact that, ironically, now that Domhnall is gone, there is not a fiery poet left who might sufficiently inflame his fellow bards so as to express Ireland's loss:

Is cas buartha an sua ceanna bheith fa lioga is gan draoi le fail
Ghriosfadh eagnach na gcomhaoitheach eigsiuil ta go treaghdai ina dhiadh 's a gcra,
Na file faobhrach go fior a scaoibfeadh na chuirfeadh igceill do mhor-chlainn Adhaimh
An easpa eagnairc' ta go fior ar Ghaela o cuireadh i gcre uathu an diorfhear gra.

This may be pure epitaphic bombast, but it may also in some sense express James Wdods's disconsolation at the imminent demise of native learning in his own area and may represent a cry from the heart of an elderly Gael in search of literary confrEres who might keep the tradition alive.

He found one such confrere in Art Murphy. Art lived at Thomastown, about a mile or so west o Dundalk, in a little roadside cabin which he called Grottoplace Castle, and Doctor Woods was probably already a familiar figure in the neighbourhood. As mentioned above, Nicholas Kearney claimed that he had,been his family's doctor and we have a poem which the Doctor wrote in praise of another of Art's neighbours, a lady called Ellen Nic Eoin from Kilkerley. She was presumably a descendant of the McKeowns of Belrobin who in former times had been one of the leading Catholic omtry families in the area, and we may perhaps equate her with 'Else McKeone' bom to Hugh and Arm (nee Duffy) on 6 August 1780 (45), though this would leave her ~ forty at the time pf Woods's tribute. The family seem to have maintained their interest in native culture because Rev. Neilson's grammar was subscribed to by 'Mr. Owen McKone, jun. Kilcurley' when it appeared in 1808, and we may suspect that theirs was an open house into which gathered the literati from far and wide: this might explain why doctor Woods's poem in her honour is not unique - we have another by a tailor named Arthur Mac Creesh(46) - and we can well imagine the Doctor engaging his audience as he recited:

Is aoibhinn a bheith ag fiachaint ar an neamhain seo ata chois na sli,
Ina conai i bhflaitheas ceimiuil na dtrian onar shiolraigh si,
Is deimhin gurb i an Phaonix a chuir eicliops mar dhearbhaigh draoithe,
Ar a bhfuil no a raibh de gheaga san che chruinne ar dhreach sarli,
Da mbeadh an bhandia bhrdigh-gheal san Ian-tionol ud i measc na slua
A ghnathaios Tempe alainn o ard-fhe olimpic shual
Bheadh Ellen dhior gan dibheil ar laimh ag an triath go luath,
Is Ionu dhearscnaithe ag caoi is ag ceansai naoi a bheith san
throne (47).

In any case, James soon became acquainted with one of the most colourful characters in the area, our friend Art Murphy. In this period Art was running a 'Gaelic Society' of sorts in the Kilkerley and Donaghmore area and acting as tutor in things Gaelic, versification in particular, to local enthusiasts. And it appears that his method of raising the metrical skills of his 'disciples', as he liked to call them, involved having them compete in composing a verse on a pre-chosen theme, which efforts Art then corrected and revised, before having them adjudicated upon. It seems that a third party chose the theme and it was perhaps the latter alone who decided on the merits of the various entries, or the whole Society may have assembled for the occasion into Grottoplace Castle. Fortunately, the details and entries for one of these contests survive (48), in a case where a neighbour of Murphy's named Joseph Coleman composed a stanza on a religious theme, and it evoked responses from Art and five of his disciples. Art then sent all the entries to him, enjoining him to indicate if there were any errors contained in their various efforts. This proof that such activities took place possibly explains why it is that we appear to find, even in the comparatively few surviving examples of the poetry of this period, more than one poet writing about the same subject. Thus, both Woods and Toirealach Mac Cooey wrote elegies for Patrick Dowdall, both Woods and Arthur Mac Creesh wrote tributes to Ellen McKeown, and Woods and Art Murphy composed not one but two poems each on the same topics: they each wrote a 'Welcome' to Daniel O'Connell and a 'Welcome' to Bartle Callan.

Now, Nicholas Kearney would have us believe that these poems were composed in an iomarbhi or bardic contention, a very formal affair where the various claimants among the local bards gathered together in the open air at such a romantic setting as Castletown Mount and, a theme having been proposed, would set to work on composing a poem on the spot or, as he claims happened on the occasion of the last such event, would all wilt before the shining pre-eminence of Woods and Murphy, who would then battle it out among themselves. But this needs to be taken none too literally. Nicholas is our only source for the details of wonderfully fertile imagination. He transcribed all four poems (the two by Woods and the two by Murphy) at least four times over a twenty-year period (49) and his account was quite exaggerated by the end and he also, incidentally, tells us at various points that it occured in 1825, in 1826, and in 1827. That is not to say that his account is entirely without foundation, since we know that Art Murphy did organise such contests, but we would do well to scrape away the various accretions in Kearney's account and see precisely what basis there may have been to it.

Doctor Woods himself copied his Failte Ui Chonaill into Morris MS. 18, probably directly after its composition, which would have been in April or May 1825: it obviously was written upon O'Connell's highly publicised return from London, where he had gone in February of that year to lobby (unsuccessfully) against Goulburn's Unlawful Societies Bill, as the following verses make clear:

A laoi realt shudilci, failtear linn
Do theacht o uais-bhruin Bhreatain,
Lan duailce, is de ghruaim neamhloinn
Tri mheabhail gach draoi son bhearichlaon.

Is gleis is suall linn fuaim do chinn
Ag miniu uait go dearscnaithe,
Na reactha is dual duinn fhail gan roinn
Is cheanglos dr mbd le Breatain.

'Siad na deithe an trath b'dil leo e d'ardaigh is chuir chugainn an triath
O' Conaill an digh is gach ardfhlaith san chomhthiono1 a thrial
Go cathair ri Shasan go bhfaghadh siad osadh son ghlia,
Ler saltradh Crioch Fail is dfhag sma ar mhacra, ir miriail.

One presumes that the idea for a contest to see who could compose the most fitting tribute emerged close to the event itself and that Art Murphy's poem was written at the same point, although Doctor Woods made a copy only of his own entry. However, in March 1828, some weeks after the Doctor's death, the poem was transcribed into Murphy's own book (RIA MS. 23/B/19), but the fact that the 'public secretary' of Art's Gaelic Society says there that

This was no doubt written by the learned Doctor Woods on the Counsellor's return to Dublin after being to London to make some Depositions to Parliament(51).

suggests to me that he was not quite certain, which (one assumes) he would have been had its composition been the occasion of a major bardic contest. Furthermore, the earliest copy (and the only one not by Kearney) of Woods's Failte Bheartomoin Ui Chathalain is in Art's book, where it is not only transcribed but 'corrected' by him, before supplying his own poem on the same theme. As with the poems on O'Connell, there is not the slightest mention of them having been written as part of an Iomarbha.

This idealised picture first emerges in Kearney and Graham's Bardic Remains of Louth, which they compiled in the early 1830's, but which had as one of its dims to enhance the reputation of Louth as a centre of Gaelic learning. It was natural, therefore, that, having by now come into possession of Art's book, Kearney should take the bare bones of the Welcomes that Woods and Murphy wrote and construct an elaborate body about them which would serve to demonstrate how productive their area continued to be. Hence this glorified image of a grand bardic assembly, with Murphy and Woods competing for the laurels.

But Kearney found a further opportunity for embroidering his tale when he discovered in Art's book a poem addressed by Doctor Woods to Murphy beginning A Mhurcaidh Mhoir nach fann bri. Since this is obviously a tribute to the latter's talents, Kmmey was able to round off his story of the iomarbha by saying that Woods wrote the poem by way of conceding victory to his rival. However, on this point at least there am strong grounds for doubting the whole episode: Woods's poem was almost certainly composed to serve another purpose. Art Murphy wrote a poem called Murcha Mor (52) which was intended to demonstrate his skills as a Gaelic scholar. Kearney refers to it in the Bardic Remains when he says that

....we also saw Grottoman (Art Murphy) challenge the whole world by his learned poem on the Irish language, entitled 'MurchaMor', to which we think he never got a satisfactory answer.

But some time later Art must have heard a rumour that Doctor Woods had criticised the work or his own reputation, and so he wrote a sharp retort to Woods prefaced by the note:

Litir a scriobhadh le hArt Mor O'Murchaidh chun an lia oirirc Seamus Mac Giolla Choille ar chloisteail go ndearna si (ie. Woods) ceol cainte do, ar thaille rann a chuir se (ie. Murphy) chuige cian o shin darbh ainm Murcha Mor.

In other words, Murphy had written Murcha Mor, Woods had composed a criticism of same, and now Murphy was seeking redress (53). Art's poem that follows refers specifically to Murcha Mor, and to Woods's slighting of him before the neighbours; he accuses him of not having understood the poem in spite of his great learning (which would be quite understandable as it is deliberately designed to be abstruse), and playfully asks for a response:

Tusa scriobh mo thainse,
'S narbh dil leat mo chumannsa,.
Is thug don chomharsa cain
Ar mo dhansa (ie. Murcha M6r) mar chloisimse.

Nior thuig tusa m'abhar,
Ce barr feabhais d'oidis;
Mar an sionnach leis na smear';
Bhi si gear mar nar thuigis.

Freagra anois go ciallai,
I bhfialtoil m'urdnsa,
No nil geigin ar do bharrsa,
Nach ngearrfaidh mo chorransa.

Not so playful perhaps is the note that follows the poem:

Muna ndeanfar ni bhim feasta gafa leat. (55)

It was at this stage then that Woods decided to clear up the misunderstanding, by writing his poem that begins

A Murchaigh Mhoir nach fann bri
In ealain eolai na n-ard ndraoi,
Ba choimhdhe duit le fire cheart
Bheith id ollamh riora tre hintleacht.

Is iomai duan, dan, is laoi
A theagmhaigh dom in mo shaol sa chrich,
Is leitheid do shaothairse (Murcha Mor) gan go gan chli
Nior frofa o laimh aon tsaoi.

or, since we know what a gracious and affable person the Doctor was, perhaps this is the only response he had given to Art's poem. Perhaps this is what Art had foolishly been upset by, because it seems Doctor Woods had neglected to ensure that Art got a copy of it sooner: he belatedly sent it to him along with the note

Shaoil me go bhfuair tu an choip-scribhinn seo i bhfad o shin oir do chuir me chugat e. Chun Art Mor Mac Murchaidh.
Seamus Mac Giolla Choille

And so it was that the authors of the Bardic Remains were able to assert:

I cannot dismiss this without noticing the testimony (A Mburchaigh Mhoir nach fann bri). the deceased bard (Woods) bore to the surviving one, although we do not hear that Mr. Murphy has written a single stanza to the memory of hisfriend, and colleague in the bardicfame, a circumstance much to be regretted by the friends of the deceased, and of Irish literature in general.

Are we to take it from this that Art did not forgive Doctor Woods over the above episode? Certainly if Art had written a tribute Nicholas Kearney was unaware of it, later claiming that the Doctor's elegy was composed by Matthew Moore Graham (though if this work existed at one stage, doubtless it unfortunately has long since perished) (57). But I find it hard to believe that Murphy would have borne a grudge against the Doctor - the very fact that six of the. ten poems by Woods that have survived are to be found transcribed by Art Murphy into his little book close to the time of the doctor's death indicates, I think, a fondness for his memory and a desire to help it prevail. Kearney and Graham make the point clearly that the Doctor and Art together merit being set on a pedestal above all the other scholars of the area, their joint efforts being responsible for the emergence of a new spirit of cultural endeavour in County Louth. It is a fine tribute and deserves inclusion:

The bardic celebrity of thepresent day is not confined to the talent of the aforesaid two worthy individuals, although to doju@tice to their name, we are bound to confess that all the energies displayed by others of later years are altogether owing to their exertions, and to the examples set by them, as well as to the encouragement they from time to time afforded to such as were desirous ofstudying, or transcribing the MSS of old Ireland. To these gentlemen we may also trace the origin of the liberal and independent spirit lately evinced in our County, and which reflects everlasting honours upon their name, and shall remain a monument of imperishablefame to their memory for ever. (58)

Besides, we do have another poem that Art wrote for him, though admittedly not an elegy. A faded copy of it survives in Morris MS. 1, next to a copy of Murcha M6r, so that one presumes they are connected. One also presumes it is correct to conclude that Doctor Woods is the lia to whom the poem is addressed. Like much of Art's work its meaning is quite obscure but he does appear to be asking Woods's forgiveness, and the leigheas he seeks may be Woods's answer to the question posed in Murcha Mor:

A lia mo speis
Tabhair domsa leigheas
Ar ghalra ghuth Ealga
Gonta le cealga
Chlann Mhairtin a' Bhearla
A rinne orainn eirleach
Eadhon, leabhairin binn
De Bhearla chlann Fhinn
0 maigh dom go beacht
Is deanfaid leat acht
A bheith feasta i bpein
Do shearbhonta fein.

The searbhonta, however, did not have to serve his master for long. Doctor Woods died soon afterwards, according to Kearney on 6 January 1828, aged seventy, and was buried in Creggan graveyard. The precise date may be a matter of conjecture but there seems little reason to doubt the burial place. That said, one curious episode may be worth recalling, for what it is worth. William Tempest records, in a note attached to his list of tombstone inscriptions in St. Nicholas's Parish Churchyard in Dundalk, that on 7 February 1888, a woman from Adelaide in Australia called Anna Woods Longson who claimed to be the grand niece, not of Doctor Woods, but of his wife - in a letter to a Mrs. McCoy of Swansea (late of Dundalk) stated that Doctor Woods was buried in St. Nicholas's Churchyard on 11 September 1836 and his wife in the same plot on 13 July 1838 (60). I know nothing further of the assertion which appears to be wrong on a number of counts. The Bardic Remains, which was written about 1833, states that 'We have a few years ago lost the learned and condescending James Woods Esq. M.D. of Dundalk' and the inscription on Mrs. Woods's grave has her death on 28 May 1859.

Kearney claimed of Woods in the mid-1840's that 'some short time before his death, he began to make arrangements to erect monuments to the memory of our Northern bards, but death - alas! - put a stop to the generous and patriotic project' (61). Now, I am not entirely convinced that this was the case: Nicholas had a friend called Brian O'Roddy who was a builder by trade, and some time later they seem to have between them come up with the idea of erecting a monument over the traditional 'grave' of Edward Bruce at Fochart, and they flew this kite by means of letters in a Belfast newspaper (62); it came to nought, of course, but it may be that the reference to Woods's 'project' - in a manuscript Kearney was compiling for William Elliott Hudson, a wealthy and generous Dublin patron - was made in the hope of eliciting backing for just such a scheme. Nevertheless, the mention of monuments in connection with Doctor Woods reminds one instantly that he did erect at least one such stone - on his parents' grave in Creggan - and there seems every likelihood that he himself would wish to be interred in the latter location, to be close in death not merely to his ancestors but to the bardic traditions it represented and which he had exhausted so much effort in trying to foster.

On the last page of his only surviving manuscript is a version of Urchill a' Chreagain, 're-translated by JW'. Is it sheer chance that the earliest piece of the Doctor's work that we have is his grave lay for Mac Cooey while, as a parting gesture, in what must have been one of his final acts, he has left us his own translation of Art's enduring epitaph? As he began by lamenting the passing of the last of the great bards of Oirialia, so he must surely have had as a dying wish a final resting place beside that of Art. Though the last verse of the Doctor's translation has not survived, we may perhaps be excused for concluding this account with Sigerson's well-known rendition

"One pledge I shall ask of you only, one promise, O Queen divine! And then I will follow faithful, - still follow each step of thine, - Should I die in some far-off country, in our wanderings east and west, In the fragrant clay of Creggan, let my weary heart have rest" (63)


1. They are 'Failte an Dochtura Mhic Chruitin' (who was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1819), 'Feartlaoi an Athair Pol O'Briain' (who died in 1820), 'Feartlaoi Dhonaill Mhic Nabhall' (who died in 1822), 'Feartlaoi Phadraig Dubhdall' (who died in 1823), 'Failte Ui Chonaill' (written upon his return from London in 1825), and a praise-poem for Ellen Nic Eoin.....Back

2. They are 'Failte Bheartomoin Ui Chathaidin' (upon his return from exile in 1825), and the undated 'A Mhurcaidh Mhoir nach fann bri' and 'I bhfearann Bailligh ta'n taillidir is mian lionsa tracht air'.....Back

3. For convenience, Henry Morris fixed the leaves to the end of Morris MS. 18; all ten poems have been edited by Seosamh O'Duibhginn in Siamus Mac Giolia Choille. circa 1759 - 1828 (Dublin 1972).....Back

4. U.C.D. MS. Morris 17 p. 447.....Back

5. ibid. p. 419 of pp. 328, 342, and 343.....Back

6. ibid. p. lxii.....Back

7. The letter (the orthography of which I have normalised) is in a manuscript owned by Aibhistin Mac Amhlaidh, who has kindly given me permission to quote from it.....Back

8. RIA MS. 23/E/12 p. 353.....Back

9. There was also a 'Widow Woods' in nearby Tullyard and a 'John Woods' in Clarbane: L. P. Murray History of the Parish of Creggan in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Dundalk 1940) pp. 18, 43.....Back

10. RIA MS. 23/E/12 p. 353.....Back

11. Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich 'Poets and scholars of Creggan parish' Creggan: Journal of the Creggan Local History Society No. 1 (1986) p. 63; of Brendan Jennings 'Irish Students in the University of Louvain' in Sylvester O'Brien (ed.) Meascra i gcuimbne Mbicil Ui Chliirigh (Dublin 1944) p. 92.....Back

12. RIA MS. 23/E/12 p. 353 (transcribed in 1846).....Back

13. O'Duibhginn pp. 47-8.....Back

14. His father died in March 1778, aged 57 years, and his mother Rose (nee Treanor) died in June 1783: see Kevin McMahon and Jem Murphy Guide to Creggan Church and Graveyard (Creggan Historical Society 1988) pp. 23 and 47.....Back

15. O'Duibhginn p. 8.....Back

16. Tempest's Annual (1904) p. 15 lists, as an apothercary in the Lower Ward, Richard Murphy, and, in the Middle Ward, Robert Brown, Patrick Clarke, John Coleman, Patrick Flood, Mary O'Brien, Samuel Parkes, and James Woods; my thanks for the information on the subscribers' list are due to Mr. Noel Ross of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society.....Back

17. See A List of Registered Freeholders of the County of Louth, 1821, consisting of the Baronies of Ardee, Lower Dundalk, Upper Dundalk, Ferrard and Louth (Dublin 1820) in the National Library of Ireland.....Back

18. According to Kearney's 'Memoir of Peter O'Dornin the celebrated bard of Louth' in U.C.D. MS. Morris 17, printed in Sean de Ris Peadar O'Doirnin, a Bbeatha agus a Shaothar (Dublin 1969) Appendix 2 p. 65.....Back

19. See Eiiri O'Muirgheasa AmhrAin na Midhe (Dublin 1934) p. 64; Tomas O'Fiaich 'Saothru na Gaeilge sna hIolscoileanna - 5: Coldiste Phadraig, Manuat 'Feasta (Meen Fomhair 1958) p. 8. The poem is printed by O'Duibnginn pp. 32 - 7.....Back

20. William Tempest to Henry Morris: see U.C.D. MS. Morris 18 p.v. and 6 Duibhginn pp. 80 - 1.....Back

21. John Donaldson A Historical and Statistical Account of the Barony of Upper Fews, in the County of Armagh (Dundalk 1923 from a manuscript dated 1838) p. 1.....Back

22. Nicholas O'Kearney 'Folklore no. I'Transactions of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society ii (for 1852 - 3, published 1855) p. 38.....Back

23. E.CharlesNelson' A Dundalk farmer's library in 18O3 'Linenhall Review iv no.3 (Autumn 1987) pp. 14 - 16.....Back

24. The first is now British Library Additional MS. 18749, the second Additional MS. 18746: Robin Flower Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the British Museum ii (London 1926) pp. 128, 383.....Back

25. Now B. L. Additional MSS. 18747 and 18748: Flower ii pp. 379 and 326.....Back

26. H. Morris 'Art Mac Cooey and Father Lamb' Louth Archaeological and Historical Society Journal vii no. 3 (1931) pp. 412 - 8.....Back

27. I owe these and other family details to Thomas Coulter's biographer, Dr. E. Charles Nelson.....Back

28. Seamus O'Casaid Patrick Lynch of County Down: Irish Scholar (Dublin 1927).....Back

29. See note 16 above.....Back

30. Denis Carolan Rushe Monaghan in the Eighteenth Century (Dublin 1916) pp. 98 - 100.....Back

31. O'Duibhginn p. 51; incidentally, the hero returned a wealthy man - when he registered for the first time as a freeholder in the townland of Thornfield, barony of Upper Dundalk, in May 1829, his valuation was set at 50 (see Louth Free Press and Ulster Reporter for 6 May 1829, on microfilm in the National Library of Ireland).....Back

32. Breandan O'Buachalla 1 mBeal Feirste Cois Cuain (Dublin 1968) p. 60.....Back

33. Rev. William Neilson D. D. An Introduction to the Irish Language (Dublin 1808): see O'Donovan A Grammar of the Irish Language (Dublin 1845) p. lx.....Back

34. Seamus O'Saothrai 'William Neilson, D. D., M.R.I.A., 1774 - 1821 'Measera Uladh. Leabbar comortha Iubhaile Orga An tUltach 1924 - 1974 (arna chur in cagar ag Anrai Mac Giolia Chomhaill) p. 85 and 87 note 27; I am grateful to an tUasal O'Saothrai for his assistance.....Back

35. O'Buachalia 1 mBeal Feirste Cois Cuain p. 62 note 11.....Back

36. Published in 1923, from Donaldson's manuscript completed in 1838 ' : as far as ! am aware, the only dating criterion we have is Donaldson's remark that it was originally intended for publication in the Newry Register but that the latter folded in 1819.....Back

37. Michael Clarke Man's Final End: translated from Crioch Deigheunach Don Duine. Dan Diadha. Written originally in Irish (according to the best authorities), by the Rt. Rev. J. O'Connell, Bishop of Kerry, who lived in the Sixteenth Century (Dublin, A. Goodwin, 1824); see the list of subscribers pp. 47 - 58.....Back

38. Ireland's Dirge, an historical poem, written in Irish by the Right Rev. John O'Connell, bishop of Kerry, translated into English verse by Michael Clarke (Dublin 1827) p. 200.....Back

39. RIA MS. 23/E/12 p. 353: the exemplar is in RIA MS. 23/B/19 p. 46.....Back

40. It is printed by O'Duibhginn pp. 69 - 71.....Back

41. U.C.D. MS. Morris 18 p. 113; Jerome J. McGann Lord Byron, The Complete Works i (Oxford 1980) pp. 265 - 6.....Back

42. See Rev. P. Power 'Irish MSS. in Waterford' The Gaelic Journal xiv (1904) pp. 692- 5.....Back

43 U.C.D.MS.Morrisl8p.121;RIAMS.23/B/19p.163:printed by O'Duibhginn pp. 38 - 44.....Back

44. Printed by O'Duibhginn pp. 74 - 6.....Back

45. My thanks are due to Cardinal O'Fiaich for helping me obtain a printout of relevant data from the Haggardstown parish registers. ....Back

46. O'Fiaich 'Poets and Scholars of Creggan parish' loc. cit. p. 64.....Back

47. Woods's poem is printed by O'Duibhginn pp. 72 - 3.....Back

48. In RIA MS. 23/B/19 pp. 100 - 01.....Back

49. U.C.D. MS. Morris 17 p. 425 - 6 (c. 1833); RIA MSS. 12/B/5 pp. 144 - 57 (c. 1840), 23/0/47 pp. (21 - 24) (c. 1845), 23/E/12 p. 392 (c. 1846).....Back

50. Printed by O'Duibhginn pp. 60 - 61; Murphy's effort follows (pp. 62-63).....Back

51. RIA MS. 23/B/19 p. 171 (my italics).....Back

52. Two copies of it survive, in U.C.D. MS. Morris 1 and in RIA MS. 3/C/8 (Section 11).....Back

53. I have here differed from Seosamh O'Duibhginn's interpretation (p. 67) who, being unaware of the existence of Arts's poem Murcha Mor, understandably assumed it was Woods's A Mburchaidh Mhoir nach fann bri that was referred to in the note.....Back

54. Printed by O'Duibhginn p. 68.....Back

55. RIA MS. 23/B/19 p. 119.....Back

56. Printed by O'Duibhgirin pp. 66 - 7.....Back

57. RIA MS. 23/E/12 p. 353.....Back

58. U.C.D. MS. Morris 17 p. 441.....Back

59. The manuscript appears to read uarlach which I take to be eirleach, 'a slaughtering'.....Back

60. Information obtained from Mr. Noel Ross; of the latter's review of Seanchas Ardmhacha for 1972 in Louth Arch Soc Journ xviii no. 2 (1974) p. 171.....Back

61. RIA MS. 23/E/12 p. 353.....Back

62. See Sean Duffy 'The Gaelic account of the Bruce invasion Cath Fbochairte Brighite: medieval romance or modern forgery?' Seanchas Ardmhacha xiii no. 1(1988) p. 75.....Back

63. George Sigerson Bards of the Gael and the Gall (London 1897) p. 241.....Back