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Notes on the Poets of Clare by Thomas F. O’Rahilly

Aodh Buidhe Mac Cuirtín

Aodh Buidhe Mac Cuirtín (Hugh Mac Cuirtín) was second, cousin to Aindrias Mac Cuirtín and came of the same family of hereditary Clare poets. He was born in the parish of Kilmacreehy, near Liscannor. His literary activity begins as early as 1690. After the capitulation of Limerick he probably went with Sarsfield’s forces to France; for according to the MSS. he was in Lord Clare’s regiment in Flanders in 1693. Afterwards, it is said, influential Irish friends secured his appointment as tutor to the Dauphin, a position which he held for seven years. In 1714 he found himself in Dublin, where his interest in Clare’s affairs was evinced by elegies which he wrote on the death of O’Loghlen of Burren in that year. In Dublin he became acquainted with Seán and Tadhg Ó Neachtain and other scholars and in 1717 he published there a work in English entitled “A Brief Discourse in Vindication of the Antiquity of Ireland”, for which he succeeded in obtaining several hundred subscribers. Later on he paid another visit to the Continent, and in 1728 he published in Louvain an Irish Grammar, the first on it’s kind in English, which he had composed, as we learn accidentally, while he was in prison (in Dublin, perhaps) for some offence. The Grammar was reprinted in 1732 at the end of Father Conor Begly’s English-Irish Dictionary, published in Paris in that year, to which Aodh Buidhe also prefixed an introductory poem.[3] Returning to Ireland, he appears to have resided for a time in Limerick. His later years he spent in his parish of Kilmacreehy, where the walls of his “college” (on the ploughland of Cnuncín-an-aoird), and also the ruins of his house (in a place called Cor-an-fhile) [4] were pointed out half a century ago, and may yet be standing. He died at an advanced age in 1755, leaving two daughters, and was buried in Kilmacreehy churchyard .

Lúghnasa 4, 1917.

To the Editor “An Claideamh Soluis”.

A Cara,
I have read with very great interest Mr. P.F. O’Reilly’s article on the two MacCurtins in your current issue. In particular the information given regarding Aodh Mac Curtin supplies a desideratum long felt by those interested in the biographies of Irish poets and historians of the 18th century. However, Mr. O’Rahilly admittedly does not seem to be aware of the cause, the place, or the date of Aodh MacCurtin’s imprisonment - three obscure points on which Dr. Douglas Hyde and Rev. Dr. Hogan, S.J., also failed to illicit information. On this account I am happy to be able to present your reader with the brief facts, as far as can be ascertained.

  1. Mac Curtin was imprisoned by Sir Richard Cox, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, because he had the courage to assail some of the mendacious statements made by Cox in his “Hibernia Anglicana” (1690).
  2. The place in which MacCurtin was imprisoned for over a year was Newgate, in Dublin, a most foul, pestiferous prison.
  3. The date of MacCurtin’s imprisonment was 1717, after the publication of his valuable work, “A Brief Discourse in Vindication of the Antiquity of Ireland,” printed in Dublin in 1717. I may add that in his “Irish Grammar,” printed at Louvain in 1728, MacCurtin makes a touching reference to his imprisonment.
    W.H Grattan Flood

Lúghnasa 18, 1917.

[To the Editor “An Claideamh Soluis”.]

A Curtin MS

The following may be of interest to your readers, supplementing T.F. O’Rahilly’s interesting snapshot biographies of the Clare writers.

Eight or ten years ago I had in my hand the MS. of an Irish work in the possession of a family named Curtin, formerly hailing from Clare, I think, and then settled in Tullamore. All they knew about the MS. was that it had been written by one of their ancestors, and has been handed down to them as a family heirloom. I remember making some notes at the time, but in changing about these got mislaid. As well as I recollect, however, there were about 100 or 150 4 to 8vo pages, well scrivened, dealing with the grammar and construction of the Irish language. The cover, brown paper, was considerably frayed, and some of the end page and opening page are missing. There was a dedication, if my recollection serves me right, to the Earl of Devinish, but is was incomplete. There was a name in Ogham and a date in some part of the MS. The name, I think, was O’Hickey, and the date somewhere early in the nineteenth century. O’Hickey was probably a transcriber. A son of this family sussequently brought this MS. to Dublin, and I have heard of a few people who saw it with him. I remember impressing on him the necessity of preserving it, and asked him not to part with it except to some of our scholars. I lost sight of him afterwards. He died a year or two ago, and what became of his effects I am trying to find out. I saw a brother of his in Tullamore last Sunday, and I have hopes the MS. will again come to light.

Seán Mac Caoilte

Ar phósadh Isibeal” by Aodh Buidhe Mac Cuirtín

Extracts from a manuscript found among the papers of the late Laurence Healy of Ennistymon and extracted by him, from some of the works of Hugh M'Curtin

Ring-Forts in the Barony of Moyarta, Co. Clare, and Their Legends by Thomas Johnson Westropp

The origins of Clann Chruitín: chronicler-poets of the learned Gaelic tradition by Luke McInerney


Aindrias Mac Cuirtín


Seón Ó Huaithnín