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.