AOIDHMÍN MAC GRÉAGÓIR
a little-known Gaelic scholar

Ciarán Ó Duibhín

Forum for the Languages of Scotland and Ulster,
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, August 1994

A version of this article was published in Scottish Language 14/15:31–41 (1995/1996)

Additions are marked in yellow.

Although Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir is a comparatively minor figure in Gaelic scholarship, he is nevertheless a suitable subject for the present forum, since he displayed, in the early years of this century, an interest in all forms of Gaelic.

His name comes to our attention through three little books of folktales in Irish published between 1906 and 1910. The first of these, Fréamhacha na h-Éireann,1 contains material from Inis Meáin in the Aran Islands, and is notable for the fine illustrations by Seán Mac Cathmhaoil. The second, Siamsán na Beanna Fada,2 comes partly from Inis Meáin and partly from Co. Derry. It is dedicated to Ruairì Mac Leòid, a Gaelic singer from Assynt, who regularly attended the Irish Oireachtas.3 The foreword is in Scottish Gaelic (with a slight admixture of Irish forms), and is worth reproducing here, as illustrating Aoidhmín's ability in that form of Gaelic, as well as for its stirring content:

Do mo charaid Ruaridh Mac Leoid a sgriobh mi an leabhar so, agus gu dearbh, do thig liúm a rádh gu bhfeil na sgeulachdan athá annso sgriobhtha mar fuair me o na daoine iad. Ach is iomadh fear a thá ann a thá deanamh sguir is cáin ar na leabhraichean an fhad agus a thá siad a dol a mach. Ach is fhada mu'n d'fheuch a haon diubh fear a b'fhearr a chur 'na áite nuair a sguir iad. "Ne sutor ultra crepidam," Ar a shon sin cha 'n eil mi a faicinn ni saoghalta 's orm-sa mo bhacadh. Thá an Gháilig a dol ar aghaidh, taing do Dhia. Thá a Ghaidhealtachd fathast beo. Thá ár claidheamh chunnartach fhuilteach sgriosail réidh leis na Sasunnach. Cha 'n éil sinn dol a chur ar seula ris na huile ni a rinn ár muinntir anns na bliadhnaichean a chaidh seachad, ach leis ár claidheamh fhuilteach seasfidh a mach air blár mar fhior-fhir-treorachaidh nan Gaidheal agus fir saoradh ar duithcha. Uaislean agus islean Albann agus Eireann a co-oibreachadh ri chéile a chum taice a chumail ris an t-sean Bhrataich. Biodh am focal-faire so air a thogail, "Chuil fhadair,", "Chuil fhadair fhuilteach." Thá Dia leinn féin, is gu dearbh is coma co bhios 'nar n-aghaidh. Seasidh [sic] fior ar thaobh sinn féin, agus thá an buaidh leinn. Fiat justitia ruat coelum. Vox populi vox Dei!
AOIDHMÍN MAC GRÉAGÓIR,
An Pálaisín Gréine,
i nGleann Dubhais,
Beulfeirrsde

The third book, Sgealtan Rachreann,4 contains stories from Rathlin Island. The contents of this book have recently been republished by Gearóid Mac Giolla Domhnaigh and Gearóid Stockman as part of a volume called Athchló Uladh,5 and it was in this connection that the question arose once again as to who exactly was Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir.

I have published in Irish the results of my researches on Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir, the arrangement there following the course of his life.6 Here, I think it might be interesting to take things more or less in the order in which I discovered them, and in fact to retrace the discovery process itself.

What was recalled of our subject in popular memory? He was known to have lived in Belfast, and Dr Ruairí Blaney, in the course of his researches for his forthcoming book on Presbyterians active in the Irish language movement, had obtained some information from the late Tomás Ó hÉanáin, a doyen of the Gaelic League in Belfast. Tomás first met Aoidhmín around 1937, at which time he still attended Gaelic social events. He said that Aoidhmín lived in the Ligoniel area of North Belfast, that he died in the 1950s, that he lived off an inheritance, that he was a fluent speaker of Scottish Gaelic as well as of Irish, that he played the Highland bagpipes, and that on occasion he wore the kilt. In his speech, he always used cha for negation rather than . All of this turns out to be correct, or at least plausible, though there were many other rumours or anecdotes which have not been borne out by investigation.

The written record yields, in addition to the three booklets, a number of references and contributions in the Gaelic League paper An Claidheamh Soluis between 1908 and 1913, and rather later, in 1927-28, a number of contributions to An tUltach (a journal of Ulster Irish, founded in 1924). There may also be some articles in daily newspapers, which I have not yet traced, but Aoidhmín appears to have published little or nothing outside these bursts of activity.

One of the most interesting items was a report in An Claidheamh Soluis containing a photograph of Aoidhmín reprinted from Ireland's Saturday Night, a weekly sports paper in Belfast and a most unlikely place to find information about a Gaelic scholar! On this occasion Aoidhmín had won a fishing competition on Easter Monday 1914 — not a swimming competition, as An Claidheamh Soluis had it. The report in Ireland's Saturday Night states that 'Eamon McGregor' is a proficient swimmer and diver, as well as an expert angler.7

Aoidhmín is also acknowledged by name in publications of Joseph Lloyd, Henry Morris, P.T. McGinley, and in Dinneen's dictionary. The folklorist James Delargy was less than complimentary, referring to McGregor as 'an eccentric Gaelic Leaguer... who wore only Gaelic League clothers, Gaelic League boots, and all that', and to his third book as 'a not very reliable... pamphlet'. Nevertheless it was this book which interested Delargy in Rathlin Island.8

The variety of names by which our subject is referred to in these references is interesting. There is of course 'Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir', or as he wrote it earlier 'Aodhmaín Mac Gríogóir', and its anglicisation 'Eamon McGregor'. But there was something else. The preface of his first book is signed 'Aoidhmín Gréagóireach Mac Maoildhaoine.' In a note of 1911, Peadar Mac Conmidhe calls him 'Aodhanmhain Mac Gréagóir Mac Maoláin'. And on one occasion P.T. McGinley calls him 'Aoidhmin Mac Maoilin (An Gréagórach)'. There is clearly another name involved here.9

The usual sources of public records, including alphabetical indexes to Belfast Street Directories, failed to produce anything relevant under 'McGregor' in any of its forms, and progress was at a standstill. Perhaps I should be looking for some anglicisation of 'Mac Maoildhaoine'! Then one day, in the Queen's University library, recalling that Aoidhmín was rumoured to have lived in Ligoniel (or the adjacent district of Ballysillan), I took down a Belfast directory of the period and began to examine it street by street, without too much idea of what I was looking for, and with no expectation of finding anything. Sometimes, however, luck smiles on us, and after scanning only a few streets I found, at 24 Legann Street, one 'Aoidhmin Mac Gregoir' [sic]. He first appears at that address in 1908, and the name is gradually anglicised over the succeeding years, first to 'A Mac Gregoir' and then to 'A MacGregor'. In 1936, the name vanishes — to be replaced by H W G MacMillan! The latter name remains until 1950. The same name change occurs in voting lists.

I could now check the Irish census of 1911 for 24 Legann Street. The form turned out to be completed in Irish. Aoidhmín was living alone, was twenty-eight years of age, spoke Irish and English, refused to state his religion, gave his occupation as 'duine uasal gan ceard', and gave his place of birth as England.

A search for the death of H W G McMillan revealed that he died on March 14, 1950. His full name was Hugh Walter Gaston MacMillan. His death certificate showed that he died at hospital, and was aged sixty-six, which agreed with the age of Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir in his census return. The certificate stated that he was unmarried, and 'of independent means'. The details were supplied by a Thomas Clarke, and the only death notice in the newspapers was inserted by Thomas and Florrie Clarke. It indicated that McMillen was buried in Dundonald Cemetery. Thomas Henry Clarke was also the beneficiary of his will.

It was now quite certain that Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir and Hugh W G MacMillan were the same person, and I recalled that one Hugh MacMillan had been teaching an Irish class in Ballymacarrett in 1900, in a Gaelic League branch run by P.T. McGinley. In one report, McMillan is described as 'his energetic assistant'.10 He thus begins life as "Hugh MacMillan", becomes "Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir" at some time between 1900 and 1906 (except in political matters — see later), and reverts to "Hugh MacMillan" around 1936, until his death in 1950.

Thomas Clarke died in 1977, but I was successful in finding Mrs Florence Clarke, and she was more than willing to tell me about "Old Mac", as she referred to him. Her husband, Tom, had been reared at 26 Legann Street, next door to Aoidhmín. She was aware of Old Mac's two names, and of his interest in Rathlin Island. She said that his father was a doctor who died young, and that Aoidhmín had lived with him on a farm, and later studied medicine himself without completing his course. His parents were buried in St Elizabeth's, Dundonald, but the tombstone is no longer in existence. Aoidhmín himself was not buried with his parents, because of some administrative difficulty, but in the Leckey family grave in the main Dundonald Cemetery (Mrs Clarke's maiden name was Leckey).

He lived on the interest from a mortgage loan to the Belfast Water Commissioners. He travelled for six months of the year, including the continent, and did lots of camping out. He was known to the children of Legann Street as "The Millionaire", due to his habit of always carrying a navy blue attache case, which contained twelve rings and a gold watch belonging to his father, and because he did not work. He did not attend church. He rarely had any visitors, but went out quite a lot and seems to have spent much of his time in Smithfield, at the bookshops. One of his few visitors was a Constable O'Shea from Ligoniel Barracks, who was probably an Irish speaker. His neighbour, Tom Clarke's mother, died around 1948, and he was rather alone after that, apart from visits by Tom Clarke.

When he died, there were only six people at his funeral, including the minister of Ballysillan Presbyterian, Rev. Herbie Clements. His house was full of papers and books and bags of unopened tinned food. There were five bicycles, fourteen tents, many cameras, golf clubs, fishing tackle, knives, six kilts with ornaments etc. (and a book of tartans), and unused utility clothing. Three of the kilts were given away to a "rag woman" Mary Shevlin and the others were cut up for children's clothes. The bràistean and sgian-dubhs went to a pipe band in New South Wales. The tents were distributed amongst the children of shipyard workers (Tom Clarke worked in the shipyard). The books had to be lowered out of the window in a basket, which took four men eight hours to do. Some time after his death, an old man called asking about him, and told Mrs Clarke that he had found Aoidhmín's diaries in a bookshop.

One fascinating item among his effects were some letters from a lady friend. The letter-writer had a daughter who was a nurse, and Mrs Clarke suspected that Aoidhmín was her father. The name Evelyn occurred frequently in these letters. But more on this later.

I was now in a position to find out about Aoidhmín's parents, from will calendars, death notices, and registers of deeds. His father was Hugh Wallace MacMillan, who was raised on a farm called 'Loughview' at Ballyrainey, between Dundonald and Comber, Co. Down. Hugh Wallace MacMillan qualified as a medical doctor at Queen's University in 1873, and went to work in England, in Macclesfield, Penistone and Barnsley. On 22 February 1883, he married Emily Miriam Louisa Gray, of Royston, near Barnsley. They had two children, Hugh Walter Gaston, born 16 February 1884 at Barnsley; and Mary Emily Elizabeth (Bessie), born 11 August 1885, also at Barnsley.

The doctor's father was John Strain MacMillan (there is a slight doubt over the middle name, as given on the doctor's marriage certificate), and he made over Loughview to the doctor in 1879. But Loughview had not been long in the MacMillan family — valuation lists and maps from 1815 and 1833 show no MacMillans in Ballyrainey, though there were quite a few of the name in neighbouring townlands and throughout the parish of Comber, and even in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1663 there is a John McMillan in Comber — the only one in Co. Down. The name 'Strain', if correct, may indicate a connection with MacMillans in the nearby townland of Ballyhenry Minor, and overall it appears that the MacMillans were long established in the Comber area.

The doctor's health was failing, and he returned to Belfast, and died at Loughview on 22 October 1890. I have no firm date for his return to Ireland, but 1888 or 1889 seems most likely, and I do not know whether his wife and children accompanied him. His wife Emily sold Loughview in 1893, and strangely her witnesses are from Glasgow. She bought a house at 243 Albertbridge Road in 1897, but moved to the newly-built 8 Indiana Avenue just before her death on 1 March 1903. 243 Albertbridge Road was the family address at the time of the 1901 census. Hugh MacMillan is living there with the mother and sister. He is the only one of the family who can speak Irish.

A deed of 1905 concerning the doctor's will gives the occupation of Hugh W G McMillan as 'author'. In 1908, Hugh and his sister Bessie sold some houses in Bentham Street, which formed part of their mother's estate. Hugh is described as a medical student (living at 23 Prospect St), while Bessie is living at 11 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley, which is the home of her uncle, George Harry Gray, and this is the last I know of her. This sale coincides with Aoidhmín's move to 24 Legann Street, where he was to spend the rest of his life.

In April 1993 I spent a few days at Barnsley Central Library and Wakefield Registry of Deeds. I did not succeed in tracing the fate of Bessie MacMillan,10a or in following the Gray family back further than Emily's parents, James and Mary Gray, who both died in April 1882.10b James was a builder, and was well off, and they had two sons, George Harry Gray (an estate agent) and James Gray (a solicitor). I hoped to demonstrate a Scottish origin for the family, and have yet to check the birthplace of James and Mary according to the 1881 census.10c

I also consulted the church records of St Elizabeth's, Dundonald, though without learning much of value. However, the assistant minister, Rev F McCrea, overheard me mentioning the name of Hugh Walter Gaston MacMillan, and said that an old lady had been asking about the same person a few weeks previously. He put me in touch with her, and I found that her name was Evelyn and that she was a retired nurse — in fact, she was none other than the subject of the letters about whom Mrs Florence Clarke had told me.

Evelyn's name is also Mrs Clarke, though she is unrelated to Florence Clarke. It appears that while Hugh MacMillan was studying medicine at Queen's University, he stayed with a family at 5 Harrow Street. Evelyn is the daughter of Hugh and the lady of the house (Sarah), and was born in 1908. Hugh left the house and Evelyn was raised as one of the family, in which there were already four children. But Hugh remained in touch with Sarah, and on one occasion Sarah brought the three-year-old Evelyn to visit him, a visit she still remembers. Evelyn went to England in 1928 to train as a nurse and finished in 1932. She remained working in England, but returned to Belfast on holiday. Sarah finally told her all about Hugh MacMillan, and Evelyn met him several times in 1934 or 1935. With the outbreak of war in 1939 Evelyn returned to Belfast permanently but she did not see Hugh again. Sarah died in 1943, and Evelyn married around 1948.

Evelyn's memories of Hugh MacMillan, based largely on those meetings in the 1930s, corroborate those of Florence Clarke. She was able to add that he traced his descent on his mother's side from Mary Queen of Scots (and Darnley?), and believed he had aristocratic French relatives. She had a number of photographs, including one of Hugh and herself together, one of Hugh sitting outside a tent, and one of Hugh at the Kempe Stones, Dundonald.11 11a

A few other odds and ends of information, gathered from various sources, will complete the picture as I presently know it.11b

Aoidhmín was present at the 'first Scotch Summer School' at Roy Bridge in Lochaber, in August 1909.12 This school was held annually, at various venues, for five or six years thereafter. (Another attendee at the Roy Bridge school was the Austrian academic, Rudolf Trebitsch, who was travelling around making sound recordings which are now archived at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.)

Aoidhmín delivered a lecture in the Irish of Co. Antrim in Belfast in 1913.13 The subject of the lecture is not recorded, but only the dialect in which it was delivered.

Aoidhmín was also a participant in the momentous Árd-Fheis of the Gaelic League, held at Dundalk in 1915, apparently representing a Munster branch of the organisation!14

Under the name of Hugh MacMillan, Aoidhmín was an active member of the East Belfast Branch of the United Irish League, a Home Rule organisation.14a He is recorded as having attended numerous branch meetings in 1912, and on one occasion chaired the meeting, when P.T. McGinley delivered a lecture on 'Irish Place-names'.15 I also understand he was Belfast secretary of the Irish National Volunteers in 1917 (information from Eamon Phoenix).

The Irish-speaking community remained unaware of Aoidhmín's death, until a notice from the International Book Shop appeared in the Irish News, advertising a large quantity of Irish books for sale. This caught the attention of Tomás Ó hÉanáin, and he visited the bookshop. The shopkeeper told him that the books, which included many translations, had belonged to an Eamon McGregor who had recently died, and that he also had left manuscripts. Two members of the Belfast Gaelic League committee were deputed to inspect these manuscripts, but they reported that they consisted of notes made by Aoidhmín on books he had read, and were not worth buying. In the light of our present picture of Aoidhmín's activities, however, it must be regarded as unfortunate that these materials were not preserved.

Many questions are still unanswered about Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir. It remains a mystery, for example, why he chose this pen-name. It is likely that 'Aoidhmín' represents a familiar form of 'Hugh' (which is 'Aodh' in Irish Gaelic), and it would be interesting to know whether he acquired it in Inis Meáin or in the Sperrins or in Rathlin, or indeed from P.T. McGinley. The choice of 'Mac Gréagóir' is also unexplained. Perhaps the history of the Gray family may contain some clue. Another possibility is that he borrowed the name from an unrelated family in Belfast with whom he was friendly.

The major puzzle, though, is how he acquired a knowledge of Irish and of Scottish Gaelic. He was already teaching Irish at the age of sixteen, and I have no record of his whereabouts for the ten years preceeding this date. One fascinating possibility must be mentioned, though it is strictly unproven. The censuses reveal that there were at any time on Rathlin Island up to a dozen boys and girls in their early teens who were not natives of the island but were working as farmhands or domestic servants. Michael J. Murphy's book on Rathlin mentions one such, at around the right period, giving his name as 'Mullen'.16 According to Alec Morrison, this boy worked for Archie Morrison (who was a source for Scéaltan Reachrann) and for Niall Dan McFaul. It would explain many things if this 'Mullen' were Hugh MacMillan, but I have uncovered no proof of this. Although Aoidhmín's father had died when he was six years old, he was not exactly an orphan, and his mother was well off.

I would like finally to take a brief look at Aoidhmín's published work, apart from the three booklets mentioned at the start. His main theatres of activity seem to have been Inis Meáin, the Sperrins, and Rathlin. In an article on names of fishes in An Claidheamh Soluis, he arranges the material by district, and I am prepared to believe that he collected it all at first-hand: the districts are: Rathlin, Inis Meadhon Árann, Tor-Inis (Tory Island), Oileán Mheanáin (Isle of Mann), and 'áiteacha eile' (other places, which include Glenelly and South Antrim).17

Of the Claidheamh Soluis material between 1908 and 1913, the main item is a series of seven articles in 1908, variously entitled 'Sean-Ranna Ultacha' or 'Meagnaidh Cúigidh Uladh'.18 These consist of proverbs and similar material from the Sperrins, and (except for the last article, which is anonymous) they appear over the bizarre pen-name 'Greagóirína Nic Ghréagóir Gréagach', but I have no doubt that Aoidhmín is the author of the first six at least. Incidentally the word 'meagnadh' can be found in Dinneen's dictionary, glossed as 'joy, sport, pastime' and with Co. Derry provenance. As it is present in the original edition of 1904, Séamus Ó Ceallaigh, rather than Aoidhmín himself, is the likely contributor.

Other Claidheamh Soluis items include the list of fish names; several discussions of the lexical item 'fill, pill, till'; a number of songs from Rathlin Island, including a version of 'Aisling Fhraoich'; and an article about Rathlin. There is a reference to an unpublished play entitled 'An Muileann Dubh'. Another Rathlin song appears in An Chraobh Ruadh, a magazine published in Belfast in May 1913.19 Henry Morris' Céad de Cheolta Uladh (1915) contains a note on page 258, referring to possible earlier publication of the song 'Fear a' Bhàta' by Aoidhmín in the Irish Independent. It is possible, therefore, that Aoidhmín also published articles in the Dublin daily press.19a

When the monthly journal An t-Ultach was founded in 1924, the editor evidently persuaded Aoidhmín to supply some more of his material, and a few fragments from him appear in 1927–28, mostly under the title 'Criomáin Aondroma'. These consist of stories and songs from the Glens of Antrim (and in one case, from Ballinascreen on Co Derry), and they have been included in the republication Athchló Uladh. There are also what appear to be two original poems by Aoidhmín: 'Tá ceo na sléibhte ag scaipeadh' and 'Tabhóchad mo phíobaibh is seinnfead cumha'; the latter, with its echoes of MacCrimmon's 'Cumha Ruairi Mhòir', is a lament for Patrick Pearse.20

Inis Meáin is of course still a strongly Irish-speaking area today, but native-spoken Irish has vanished from the Sperrins and from Rathlin Island. In Rathlin, Aoidhmín is probably the only person to have collected material from Domhnall Eoin Ruaidh Mac Mhuircheartaigh (born c1841), acknowledged to be the last great Gaelic story-teller in the island. (It is possible that Delargy also got some material from Domhnall on his visits in 1915 and 1916; Domhnall was still alive in 1911, at least.) 20a When Nils Holmer, Cosslett Ó Cuinn and the song-collector Sam Henry arrived in Rathlin, a generation later, they found only scraps of material by comparison, and when David Clement and Linda Ballard came around, two generations later still, almost nothing in Gaelic survived. Aoidhmín's Antrim Glens material, while very limited, also predates Holmer.

In the Sperrins, Aoidhmín certainly spent time around Ballinascreen in South Derry,21 and it may be from here that he obtained his 'Glenelly' material, although strictly speaking Glenelly is a few miles to the west, in Co. Tyrone. Tyrone Irish has been well served by numerous folklorists and linguists, and sound recordings survive, but less attention has been paid to the Irish of Co. Derry. Ballinascreen Irish was spoken and written by Séamus Ó Ceallaigh; Seán Mac Diarmada collected scraps of it; there are a few short items among the Doegen recordings; and there are the unpublished Heron manuscripts. But Aoidhmín also obtained material in the next valley to the north, Glenshane, and as far as I know, apart from a scrap of 'An Seanduine Dóighte' obtained there by Cosslett Ó Cuinn, this is unique.

Although the materials published by Aoidhmín are small in volume, and in spite of the doubts sometimes cast on their reliability, they are of the greatest value for the study of the now extinct dialects of North-East Ulster. We can only guess at what else he may have collected and which has not survived.

1. Fréamhacha na hÉireann, Dublin: Maunsel, 1906.

2. Siamsán na Beanna Fada, Dublin: Gill, 1907.

3. More information about Ruairi Mac Leòid may be found in An Deo-Gréine (1909) pp. 54–55.

4. Sgéaltan Rachreann, Dublin: Gill, 1910.

5. Gearóid Mac Giolla Domhnaigh agus Gearóid Stockman: Athchló Uladh, Belfast: Comhaltas Uladh, 1991.

6. Ciarán Ó Duibhín: 'Aoidhmín Mac Gréagóir 1884-1950', An tUltach, Márta 1994, pp. 6–14.

7. An Claidheamh Soluis 9/5/1914 p. 2; Ireland's Saturday Night 18/4/1914 p. 3.

8. J.H. Lloyd, O.J. Bergin, G. Schoepperle, 'The Reproach of Diarmaid', Revue Celtique 33 (1912) p. 45 note 1; Henry Morris 'Some antiquities of Rathlin' in Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 2nd ser, 17 (1911) pp. 39–46, on p. 46; also, Céad de Cheoltaí Uladh (1915), p. 258; P.T. McGinley ('Cú Uladh'): Ciall na Sean-Ráidhte (1914), p. 2; also An Claidheamh Soluis 9/7/1910, p. 4; P.S. Dinneen, Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla (1927), p. xiii; T K Whitaker, 'James Hamilton Delargy' in The Glynns 10 (1982) pp. 23–30.

9. An Claidheamh Soluis 9/7/1910, pp. 3–4; 6/5/1911 p. 5.

10. An Claidheamh Soluis II (1900–1901), pp. 9, 280–1, 490 inter alia. Aoidhmín was later secretary and teacher of the Craobh Neimhe Mhuire branch of the Gaelic League in Belfast in February 1906; Ulster Herald 3/2/1906 p. 2 and 17/2/1906 p. 7.

10a. Bessie McMillan married Thomas J Kennedy, HM Customs, Belfast, on 1 February 1910 at Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, Belfast. Irish News 19/2/1910 p. 1.

10b. James Gray and Mary Woofinden were married on 31/12/1838 in the Parish Church of Sandall Magna in the County of York. He was 29, bachelor, builder, of Ashtonunderline; his father was Thomas Gray, builder. She was 24, spinster, of Sandal; her father was John Woofinden, farmer. The minister was Thomas Westmoreland, vicar; witnesses Thomas Schoney, William Link. (1838/q4 Wakefield 22,611)

10c. 1881 Census for Luns Villa, Roystone, York, England.
James Gray, head, married, male, 71, retired builder, born Doncaster, York, England.
Mary Gray, wife, married, female, 66, born Kingsley Common, York, England.
George H Gray, son, unmarried, male, 26, builder, born Roystone.
Emily M L Gray, dau, unmarried, female, 23, born Roystone.
Annie M Jagger, servant, female, 16, domestic servant, born Honley, York.
James Gray, son, unmarried, male, 28, solicitor, born Roystone.
(PRO RG11, piece 4599, folio 56, page 15).

11. There is a picture of Aoidhmín in the Donegal Gaeltacht in An tUltach, July 1992, p. 11.

11a. Mrs Evelyn Clarke died on 10/11/1998, aged 90.

11b. The following note by "Cú Uladh" (or P.T. McGinley) has come to light: "Among the Gaels", Irish News, 24/6/1910 p. 7:

I travelled to Dundalk Feis with one of the most notable of Ulster Gaels, but one who is comparatively little known, even in the Gaelic world, Mr. MacGregor MacMillan. He is a retiring man, who seeks no publication. His great delight is to go round the Gaedhealtacht, mostly on wheels, collecting every scrap of folklore, poetry, tales, salutations, proverbs, prayers, etc., which he can find. There are few districts in Ireland where Irish is spoken that he has not visited, and he has even sampled the Gaelic of the Scottish Highlands and of Man in their native habitats. He has spent a great deal of time in Rathlin, and is enthusiastic about the vast quantity of folklore he has taken down there. I have seen a few specimens, and my estimate of the value of Rathlin Irish has been very much raised. I believe a book of these Rathlin tales would be a very useful text-book for Ulster readers. There is some talk of such a publication.

"Cú Uladh" wrote a brief review of the book a few months later: "Stories from Rathlin", Irish News, 9/9/1910 p. 5.

12. Sinn Féin Daily, 26/10/1909, Notes from Scotland, p. 1. For more information on the summer school, see An Deo-Gréine (1909) pp. 109–110, 182 (1909).

13. An Claidheamh Soluis 19/4/1913 p. 2; 3/5/1913 p. 4. Also "Among the Gaels" Irish News 28/4/1913 p. 7, where we are told by "Sean-athair" that the lecture took place on 21 April, and dealt with certain districts of County Antrim. The lecture was given in the Irish of Antrim itself — or rather, of Rathlin Island; and led to a brisk and lively discussion on Antrim, Donegal and Scots Gaelic. A further lecture, apparently mainly in Irish, on "Ancient customs of the Gael in Co Antrim" was given by Aoidhmín to the Árd-Chraobh in December 1913, and he is said to be writing a book on the subject. Irish News 13/12/1913 p. 6; 20/12/1913 p. 6.

14. Imtheachtaí na h-Árd-Fheise 1915.

14a. Note that another individual called "Hugh McMillan" was active in Belfast circles around the same time, and it is often difficult to known which of them is referred to. This other person was born in Limerick around 1870 of northern parents. Most if not all of the family moved back north, and his father, Samuel McMillan, died in Belfast in 1907. This Hugh was married with a family, and lived in East Belfast — Woodstock Road in 1901, and Harper Street in 1911. He claimed a knowledge of the Irish language in the censuses. It was this Hugh McMillan who was the nationalist voter registration agent. Irish News 26/11/1914 p. 6.

15. Irish News 3/12/1912 p.3; 10/12/1912 p.7; 16/12/1912 p.6.

16. Michael J. Murphy, Island of Blood and Enchantment, Dundalk: 1987, pp. 106–7. There are also Rathlin folk memories of the adult 'McGregor' on pp. 131—2, 176.

17. 'Iasg sáile agus fíor-uisge', An Claidheamh Soluis 16/4/1910, p. 5.

18. An Claidheamh Soluis 2/5/1908 p. 7; 16/5/1908 p. 7; 20/6/1908 p. 6; 27/6/1908 pp. 5–6; 4/7/1908 p. 6; 25/7/1908 p. 6; (and, of doubtful relevance) 17/10/1908 p. 5.

19. An Claidheamh Soluis 3/12/1910 p. 4; 10/12/1910 p. 14; 21/1/1911 p. 5; 22/4/1911 p. 5; 25/5/1912 p. 5; 6/7/1912 p. 4; 27/7/1912 p. 5; 22/2/1913 p. 6; 19/7/1913 p. 3. An Chraobh Ruadh (Belfast, May 1913), p. 86. Irish News 6/5/1913 p. 7.

19a. A series of contributions to the Irish Independent has been drawn to my attention by Dr Nollaig Mac Congáil:

I have also found some items in the Ulster Herald of 1905 under the name of Aodhmán Mac Griogair Maoildhaoine; these are the earliest of all so far:

20. An tUltach, March 1927 pp. 3, 8; April 1927 p. 3; June 1927 p. 7; November 1927 p. 3; February 1928 p. 7; April 1928 pp. 6–7; May 1928 p. 7; June 1928 p. 6.

20a. Séamus Ó Searcaigh has a story by Domhnall Eoin Ruaidh in Foghraidheacht Ghaedhilge an Tuaiscirt, 1925, pp. 190–9. 

21. For example, 'Mr McGregor McMillan, Draperstown' was an adjudicator at Feis Thír Eoghain, held at Toome: Irish Weekly 12/8/1905, p. 1.



Ciarán Ó Duibhín
2012/02/17
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