O'Carolan Festival Lecture

1st October 2015

NOBBER | SUNDAY | 4th OCTOBER | 3.PM

Peter Gallegan of Ardamagh, the renowned teacher, poet and scribe who died in 1860, is the subject of a lecture by historian Declan Cooney at the O’Carolan Festival, in the Community Hall

Peter
 Gallegan
 (Peadar
 Ó
 Gealacáin)
 was
 a
 very
 gifted
 hedge‐schoolmaster
 and
 poet
 who
 lived
 and
 worked
 in
 the
 north
 Meath/Cavan
 area
 during
 the
 nineteenth
 century.
 An
 outstanding
 manuscript‐scribe,
 he
 is
 renowned
 for
 the
 very
 valuable
 manuscript
 collection
 which
 is
 his
 legacy.
 These
 superb
 manuscripts
 are
 a
 vital
 record
 of
 the
 Irish
 language,
 literature
and
culture
in
the
Meath/Oriel
region.


The
 lecturer
 will
 focus
 initially
 on
 Gallegan’s
 early
 life,
 his
 work
 as
 a
 schoolmaster
 in
 the
 Moynalty/Nobber/Kilmainham wood 
area, 
and 
upon 
a 
bitter 
controversy 
which 
erupted 
over
 his
 employment
 by
 the
 Rev.
 Winning
 of
 Kingscourt
 in
 the
 schools
 of
 the
 proselytising
 London 
Irish 
Society, 
before 
dealing 
with 
his 
later 
work 
as 
a 
scribe 
for 
the 
great 
Presbyterian
 antiquarian 
Robert 
Mac 
Adam 
in 
Belfast, 
and 
further 
scribal
 activity 
in 
Drogheda.


Gallegan’s
 earliest
 compilation,
 the
 famous
 ‘Nobber
 Manuscript’
 (1824),
 will
 be
 considered:
 this 
is 
a 
fascinating 
document
 which 
sheds 
much 
light 
on
 social 
and 
educational 
history,
and
 on 
the 
role 
of 
the 
hedge‐schoolmaster 
in 
the 
community.


Strikingly
 important
 also
 is
 Gallegan’s
 ‘Edinburgh
 Manuscript’
 (1844),
 now
 conserved
 in
 the
 University
 of
 Edinburgh.
 Numerous
 poets
 of
 the
 Meath/Oriel
 region,
 including
 O’Carolan,
 are 
represented 
in 
this 
major 
collection 
of 
270 
pieces 
in
 over 
700 
pages. 
In 
the 
case 
of 
some
 poets,
 this
 is
 the
 one
 surviving
 record
 of
 their
 work.
 (Of
 the
 50
 poems
 in
 the
 volume
 Amhráin
 na
 Midhe
 (1933),
 37
 were
 from
 this
 Gallegan
 manuscript.
 A
 new
 edition
 of
 Amhráin
 na
 Midhe,
 with
 English
 translations,
 by
 Gibbstown
 native,
 Dr.
 Lesa
 Ní
 Mhunghaile, 
NUI 
Galway,
is 
due 
in 
October 
2015).


Finally,
 the
 lecturer
 will
 appraise
 Peter
 Gallegan
 in
 the
 context
 of
 his
 times,
 and
 assess
 his
 influence
on
later
scholars.



Declan
 Cooney
 lives
 in
 Virginia.
 He
 edited
 Munterconnaught:
 a
 history
 1847‐1997
 (1997)
 and
 co‐edited
 Noisy
 Mansions
 (2006),
 as
 well
 as
 contributing
 articles
 to
 Breifne.
 He
 is
 a
 former
 chairman
 of
 Cumann
 Seanchais
 Bhreifne,
 and
 has
 completed
 a
 research
 degree
 on
 Gallegan’s
 work
 in
 Maynooth
 University.
 The
 lecture
 is
 held
 under
 the
 auspices
 of
 Meath
 Archaeological 
and 
Historical 
Society.

Check out Live Sound Recordings in the Comhaltas Archive