Seán 'ac Giolla Chearr (1878–1952) of Teelin, Lifford, Co Donegal
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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Seán 'ac Giolla Chearr was born in Teilionn, and was aged 52 at the time of recording. Both his parents were from Teilionn, and his father was a farmer and fisherman. In response to questions, he stated that he had lived in Teilionn all his life. He described herself as a farmer and fisherman. Irish was his mother language, and he could also speak English. He had attended primary school in Teilionn, but could not read or write. The recording team noted "clear strong voice".
In a taped conversation with me on 05/04/1986, the late Seán Ó hEochaidh said that the speaker lived in An Baile Mór, one of the townlands of Teilionn
("i gcroidhe Theilinn"), and he never left Teilionn. His father was from Teilionn, and so back to his greatgrandfather ("gar-athair") at least. His father,
Micheál Beag, was a "fear iongantach greannmhar" who could keep any company laughing with his humorous and preposterous stories. The speaker was popularly
known as "Style Carr", possibly from his habit of dressing well. He had an extraordinary voice: when out in a boat in Teelin Bay, his voice was instantly
recognizable by anyone within half a mile of him, or even further. Steering a boat, he would encourage the oarsmen by chanting:
"Port maith romhainn agus port maith 'ár ndiaidh,
Agus a chladhairí, iomraigí libh!"
He always had good fortune as a fisherman: "iascaire iongantach sona a bhí ann". He lost his hair suddenly: "d'éirigh sé maidin amháin agus d'fhág sé a chuid gruaige uilig sa leabaidh ina dhiaidh; i lag na hoidhche thuit a ghruag uilig de." He married a McLoughlin from Baile an Atharraigh, and they had at least four sons and two daughters. Two of the sons were alive in 1986, and a daughter Maighread was married to Mick Mac Aodhchain in Mín na Gualainne, east of Fintown (Mick was a brother of language activists Máire and Treasa Nic Aodháin; their mother was a sister of “Cú Uladh”). The speaker was in his seventies, at least, when he died.
Seán 'ac Giolla Chearr's birth was registered as having taken place on 1878/11/25 at An Baile Mór, to Michael Carr and Margaret Haughey. In the census of 1901, we find, in the townland of Leirg a' Dachtain, Michael Carre (46), a farmer; his wife Maggie (53); and their unmarried son John (22), a fisherman. All spoke Irish and English. In 1911, there were Michael (56), now widowed; son John (32), now married to Kate (31), and children of John and Kate: Michael (6), James (3) and Maggie (2); and finally a lodger, Kate McLoughlin (82), single. All over the age of 3 had Irish and English, except the lodger who had Irish only. John and Kate had been married for 7 years, and all 3 children were living.
John Carr and Kate Jimmy Bheirnigh McLaughlin of Baile an Atharraigh were married at An Charraig on 09/02/1904. They had four sons and four daughters:
The gravestone in Reilig na Carraige reads:
Seán 'ac Giolla Chearr was speaker 12 in Wagner's Gaedhilge Theilinn. He was described as about 70 years of age when that work was carried out in the winter of 1947–48.
Recent references to Seán 'ac Giolla Chearr:
I am grateful to Dr Seán Ó hEochaidh and to Dr Úna Uí Bheirn for information about this speaker.
Reilig na Carraige (Pioctúir: Ciarán Ó Duibhín).
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