Phil 'ac Giolla Cheara (c1843–1932) of Leitir, Urris, Clonmany, Inishowen
Diarmuid 'ac Giolla Cheara (1852–1934) of Urris, Clonmany, Inishowen

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The brothers Phil and Diarmuid 'ac Giolla Cheara lived together in Iorras throughout their lives. According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaires for Phil and Diarmuid in September 1931, both were born in Iorras (Diarmuid simply says "Clonmany"), and gave their ages as 85 and 80 respectively at the time of recording in 1931 (on other evidence, Diarmuid is believed to have been born in July 1852). Both parents came from Iorras, and the father was a farmer. In response to questions, the brothers stated that they had spent their entire lives, as children and adults, in Iorras; Diarmuid adds "never away from this place". They attended Tiernasligo primary school — "a while at it", says Diarmuid. The present occupation of both was given as a farmer. Irish was their mother language, and they could also speak English — "a little", in Diarmuid's case. Neither could read or write. Professor Dillon commented that Phil's voice was weak, and that he was "very infirm" and "too close to the receiver for clear recording". Professor O'Brien noted that Diarmuid "suffers from asthma" and "is also somewhat hoarse."

In the 1901 census, the family is found in the townland of Letter. The head of the family was the mother, Ellen, a widow, 75 years old, speaking Irish only. There are three children, Phillip (36, ?recte 56), Diarmuid or Jeremiah (50), and Sorcha or Sarah or Sally (30), as well as a farm servant, John Duffy. All the household could speak Irish. From Diarmuid's marriage records, the deceased father was called Philip Kerr.

It is interesting to note that three of the family had material in Irish published by Éamonn Ó Tuathail in Béaloideas:
      "A Northern Medley", 4:2, 1933, pp 204–13 at 207 (item VI) from Phil;
      "Ashy Pet", 2:2, 1929, pp 148–54 from Diarmuid;
      "Seanchus Ó Inis Eóghain", 11, 1941, pp 83–115 at 115 (items 12, 13, 31, 33) from Sarah.

Whereas Phil and Sarah were both unmarried in 1901, Diarmuid was a widower. He had married Marget Doherty, also of Letter, on 17/01/1894 but she died later the same year. Diarmuid remarried on 26/01/1902, to Maggie Diver, again of Letter. By the census of 1911 in Letter, Diarmuid (64) was head of the household, of which Philip (68) and Sarah (62) were still members. With his wife Margaret (38), Diarmuid had now seven children: Ellen (8), Mary (6), Annie (5), Philip (4), Catherine (3), Patrick (2) and Bridget (3 months). The census form is somewhat ambiguously completed but it seems that only the three older members of the household claimed to speak Irish.

Phil died on 27/11/1932, aged 84, and a bachelor; Sally died on 30/11/1932, aged 76, and a spinster; both deaths were registered by Philip Kerr, Letter, a nephew. Diarmuid died on 19/01/1934, aged 73, and a widower; the death was registered by Mary Brennan, Leenan, a daughter.

Recent references to Phil 'ac Giolla Cheara include:
      Colm J O'Boyle, Phonetic texts of East Ulster Irish, MA thesis QUB, 1962, pp 34–7, ?49, 169–78, ?214.
      Róise Ní Bhaoill, Ulster Gaelic Voices, 2010, pp 82–3, 178–82.
and to Diarmuid 'ac Giolla Cheara:
      Colm J O'Boyle, Phonetic texts of East Ulster Irish, MA thesis QUB, 1962, pp 33–4, 164–9.
      Heinrich Wagner and Colm Ó Baoill, Linguistic Atlas and Survey of Irish Dialects, Vol IV, 1969, pp 287.
      Róise Ní Bhaoill, Ulster Gaelic Voices, 2010, pp 78–9, 138–41, 196–9.

Phil 'ac Giolla Cheara's recordings Diarmuid 'ac Giolla Cheara's recordings Ulster Doegen index

Speculative family tree:

                                             Philip Kerr----------------Ellen
                                                               |        c1826–1908
             |               |                                                                       |
             |               |                                                                       |
             |               |                    Edward Doherty             Patrick Diver           |
             |               |     m1:1894/01/17       |        m2:1902/01/26       |                |
          PHILIP         DIARMUID-----------------Marget Doherty-------------Maggie Diver          Sorcha
          c1843–1932     7/1852–1934                  –1894           |      11/1880–?1924         c1856–1932
                        |         |        |         |          |          |         |        |          |         |
                      Ellen     Mary     Annie    Philip   Catherine    Patrick   Bridget   Sarah     Joseph   Jeremiah
                      1903–     1904–    1905–    1906–    1907–        1909–     1910–     1912–     1914–    1915–
                                m Brennan,                              m 1931
                                Leenan                                  Conaghan
                                m McLaughlin

Ciarán Ó Duibhín
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