Pádraig 'ac Ailín (1876–1951) of Mín a' Droighin, Gleann Cholmcille, Co Donegal

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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Pádraig 'ac Ailín was born at Mín a' Droighin, and was aged 46 or 47 at the time of recording. His father, a farmer, came from Mín a' Droighin, and his mother from the parish of Glencolumcille. In response to questions, he stated that he had lived at Mín a' Droighin all his life, and described himself as a farmer. Irish was his mother language, and he could also speak English. He had attended primary school at Mín na Croise for "a while", and he could read English and "a little" Irish, but could not write either. The recording team noted "good clear voice".

Pádraig's parents were married on 1873/02/23 at Glencolumbkille. The groom was Michael Campbell, aged 30, a bachelor, of Mín na Croise, whose father was Phelim Campbell, a farmer. The bride was Bridget Boyle, aged 30, a spinster, of Mín a' Chearrbhaigh, whose father was Patrick Boyle, a farmer. A son, Felim, was registered born to the couple at Mín a' Droighin on 1874/02/02, and then the birth of the speaker Patrick was registered as taking place on 1876/07/20. A daughter, Mary, was registered as born to Michael Campbell, Mín a' Droighin, and Mary McNelis, on 1879/07/17 (presumably the mother's name is in error in the registration record).

In the census of 1901, at Mín a' Droighin, we find Bridget Campbell, a widow, aged 70, and her two unmarried children, Patrick, aged 20, a farmer's son; and Mary, aged 18. All three were recorded as speaking Irish only. In 1911, only the two children remained, both still unmarried. Patrick, 34, a farmer, was now the head of the family; while Mary, 31, was a sprigger. Patrick spoke Irish and English, while Mary spoke Irish only.

In a conversation with me recorded on 05/04/1986, Seán Ó hEochaidh said that the Campbells were great Irish-speakers, born and reared as they were "istoigh ionns na dubh-shléibhte." He had never visited the speaker himself, but surmised that he must already have been dead before Seán's time collecting in Gleann Cholmcille — even though Seán had been at work in Mín a' Chearrbhaigh as early as January 1936. Seán estimated the speaker's age as over 60 at least, possibly more, and said that he remained in the district, farming sheep and cattle. Seán said that the speaker's son [recte, brother or possibly brother's son], known as "Curdy", had a public house in Killybegs, but it had been sold several times in the interim. It seems possible that Seán may have been thinking of the generation prior to the present speaker.

Campbell's public house, in Bridge Street, Killybegs, was owned by Philip Campbell, originally from the Glencolumbkille area, who had spent a number of years in the US, and who died on 28/05/1950 and is buried at Killybegs. His death record gives his age as 75. He may be safely taken to be the Felim whose birth was noted above in 1874. His wife Elizabeth is buried with him; she died on 21/04/1944, aged 62. She was a native of Derry.

Philip/Felim had two sons, born after his return from America. They were Philip Henry (who was in poor health) and Michael Hugh. Michael Hugh inherited his uncle Patrick's farm at Mín a' Droighin, and lived there until his death. He was unmarried.

Pádraig 'ac Ailín died at Mín a' Droighin on 1951/07/28, aged 75, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Cashel Cemetery. He was unmarried. The death was registered by his nephew, Michael H Campbell, of Killybegs. The Derry People of 1951/08/11 (page 5) described Patrick as “a well-known and popular local figure” and “a gifted Gaelic storyteller.”

His sister Mary died at Mín a' Droighin on 1963/01/26, and the Donegal Democrat of 1963/02/08 (page 7) said of her “she inherited a wealth of traditional lore from her father Mr Michael Campbell, a gifted storyteller and poet.”

The song “Camus Binne” (Dhá Chéad de Cheoltaí Uladh, uimh 100), which commemorates the wreck of the “Sydney” on 1870/10/16, is thought to have been written by a member of this Mac Ailín family. There are further versions in Bailiúchán na Scol, one of which includes the song in a group entitled “Amhráin Bhriain Chonaill”.

Teach Mhic Ailín, Mín a' Droighin.

Recent references to Pádraig 'ac Ailín include:
      Seán Ó hEochaidh, audio tape with Ciarán Ó Duibhín, 05/04/1986
      Nollaig Mac Congáil and Ciarán Ó Duibhín, Glórtha ón tseanaimsir, 2009, at pp 52–4, 82–4.

Thanks are due to Seán Mac Fhionnaighle (Oideas Gael) and to the Carr family, Mín a' Droighin, for local information.

Speaker's recordings Ulster Doegen index

Speculative family tree:

                      Phelim Campbell-----                           Patrick Boyle-----
                                       | Meenadreen                                 | Meenacharvey
                                       |                                            |
                                    c1844–1886                | m. 1873          c1837–1907
                                                              | lived Meenadreen
                 |                                           |                          |
               Philip ('Curdy'?)-----Elizabeth           PATRICK                      Mary
               1874–1950          |  c1882–1944          1876–1951                    1879–1963
               publican           |                      unmarried                    unmarried
               Killybegs          |
                        |                 |
                     Philip Henry        Michael Hugh
                     1914–               living c2005

Ciarán Ó Duibhín
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