Seaghán 'ac Meanman (1886–1962) of Glenties, Co Donegal

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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Seaghán 'ac Meanman was born at An Cionn Garbh, Baile na Finne, but no age or date of birth was given. His father was a farmer, shopkeeper and postmaster from An Cionn Garbh, and his mother was from Mín an Fhir Ruaidh. In response to questions, he stated that he lived at An Cionn Garbh up until the age of 20, but after that was "away from home in various [places]". He attended primary school at An Cionn Garbh. His occupation was stated to be a teacher. Irish and English were his mother languages, and he could read and write both. The recording team noted "clear strong voice" and "the speaker is a teacher by profession and therefore liable to correct his natural speech".

Seaghán 'ac Meanman was born on 12/12/1886 at Kingarrow, the son of Peadar Antoine 'ac Meanman (1838–1920) and Máire Nic Ailín (1851–1932), who were married in Letterkenny in 1880. His maternal grandfather, Bilí 'ac Ailín, figures in some of his writings. Énrí Ó Muirgheasa gives more details of Seaghán's descent, through his maternal grandmother, from Tadhg Ó Tiománaidhe (Dhá Chéad de Cheoltaibh Uladh, p 442), and his family connections are elsewhere amplified by the speaker himself (Béaloideas 1947).

In 1901, the household consisted of Peter (58), a farmer, and Mary (45) with children Anthony (20), Joseph (17), Peter (15), John (13), William (11), James (9), Patrick (7) and Bridget (5). All were bilingual. In 1911, the form was completed in Irish and contained the names of Peadar (74), a subpostmaster, and Máire (65) with children Antoine (32), Peadar (26), Seaghan (24), Uilliam (22), Pádraig (19) and Brighid (17). Again, all were bilingual. Peadar and Máire had been married for 33 years, and 8 of 9 children were living.

Seaghán 'ac Meanman spent five weeks at Coláiste Uladh in Gort a' Choirce in one of its early years. Through home study he obtained a King's Scholarship, and was then qualified to teach. As an active supporter of the Sinn Féin movement, as well as of the Gaelic League, he was a target of the civil authorities, and his writings describe with some familiarity the interiors of police stations. His teaching career too was disrupted, until in 1930 he obtained a position in Árd-Sgoil Mhic Daeid in Na Gleanntaí, where he remained for thirty years. On 24/05/1935 he married Nan or Annie Coyle, whose father was a jeweller in Letterkenny. According to Indiu of 05/09/1947, page 1, he had made a sound recording for the BBC.



Ballóg an toighe inar rugadh Seaghán Bán 'ac Meanman.
Pioctúir ón tsuidheamh Áras Sheagháin Bháin.

The speaker features on p 107 of the Celtic Who's Who of 1921, which tells us that he was winner of gold and silver medals in literary competitions at the Oireachtas of 1910, and in 1911 of the gold cross of the Irish Literary Society of Springfield Massachusetts; and that he contributed, over various nom-de-plumes, articles and stories to Irish–American papers.

Several of the references below list Seaghán 'ac Meanman's published books; it is only necessary to add that his series of school readers Crann an Eolais contains five parts, since many lists fail to include part five, An Toradh. Many of Seaghán's stories and essays were originally published in the press, both national and local, and he also wrote a vast quantity of other pieces for the press, often under pseudonyms such as "Cnuasaire" or "Manannan" (see Ó Mhuir go Teamhair).

Seaghán's adherence to traditional spelling, in the face of abbreviating reforms, has often led to his being labelled as a provincial crank. In actual fact, he advocated the use of a uniform spelling throughout the country; and, since the spoken language is heterogeneous, it was entirely logical for him to reject systems which shortened the spelling in line with the pronunciation of particular dialects, and to rest his choice on the established spelling which contained sufficient interpretive flexibility to cope equitably with dialect variation.



Reilig Bhaile na Finne

Seaghán Bán died on 07/11/1962 and was buried in Fintown. The tombstone reads:
        I ndíl Chuimhne ar
        Sheághan Bán Mac Meanman
        Ceann Garbh & Na Gleannta
        fuair bás
        7 Samhain 1962.
        R.I.P.
He was survived by his wife, who then returned to Letterkenny to live. She died in 1971 and is buried with her husband at Fintown.

Recent references to Seaghán 'ac Meanman include:
      Lachlan Macbean, The Celtic Who's Who (1921) p 107.
      Séamus Ó Searcaigh, Nua-Sgríbhneoirí na Gaedhilge (1933) pp 99–114.
      Énrí Ó Muirgheasa, Dhá Chéad de Cheoltaibh Uladh (1934) p 442.
      Seaghán Mhac Meanman, "Seanchaidhthe a bhFuil Cuimhne agam Ortha" in Béaloideas 17 (1947) pp 226–30.
      Eamonn Ó Doibhlin, "Sean Mac Meanman, Scribhneoir agus Scealai" in An tUltach (11/1962) pp 5–6&18.
      Risteárd Ó Glaisne, "Seaghan Ban Mac Meanman, scealai" in An tUltach (12/1974) pp 9–11&13.
      Séamus Ó Cnáimhsí, "Freagra ar Fhorrán: Seán Bán Mac Meanman" in Meascra Uladh II (gan dáta, c1983) pp 186–200.
      Séamus Ó Cnáimhsí (eag), Éigse 1988: Seán Bán Mac Meanman (1988) passim.
      Séamus Ó Cnáimhsí, "Seán Bán Mac Meanman" in Scríbhneoireacht na gConallach (1990) pp 79–92.
      Diarmuid Breathnach & Máire Ní Mhurchú, Beathaisnéis 2 (1990) pp 61–2; Beathaisnéis 3 (1992) p 163; Beathaisnéis 9 (2007) pp 63b,140a.
      Áilbhe Nic Giolla Bhrighde, "Údair Ghaeilge as Dún na nGall", tráchtas M.A. in UCG, 1991.
      Nollaig Mac Congáil and Ciarán Ó Duibhín, Glórtha ón tseanaimsir (2009) pp 33–5, 75.
      Róise Ní Bhaoill, Ulster Gaelic Voices (2010) pp 76–7, 118–23.


Speaker's recordings Ulster Doegen index


Speculative family tree:


                                                                                     Tadhg Ó Tiománaidhe
                                                                                      –c1770   |
                                                                                               |
                                               Toirdhealbhach Dall 'ac Daeid-----Gráinne Ruadh Ní Thiománaidhe
                                                                              |
                                                                          Colm 'ac Daeid-----------
                                                                                             |
                                                                                             |
                                                           ---------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           |                                                                   |
                                                           |            1?                    2?                               |
                                                 Méadhbha Nic Daeid----------Bilí 'ac Ailín---------Anna McMenamin     Colm Bán 'ac Daeid-------Anna Bhán
                                                                        |    c1826–1909         |                      c1819–c1911          |   c1822–c1911
                                                 Mín an Fhir Ruaidh     |                       |                                           | Mín na Cumhainge
                 --------------------                                   |                 ---------------                -----------------------------------------
   Bridget       |                  |                                   |                 |             |                |                               |       |
   McGlynn-----Anthony      Peadar 'ac Meanman--------------------Máire Nic Ailín        Anna        William           John-----Rose                 Margaret  Tully
   c1837–c1920              1838–1920                 |           1851–1932              1871–       1875–             c1844 |  c1875                c1849–    c1850–
            |                                         |
            | Mín an tSionnaigh                       |  An Cionn Garbh
   ----------------                  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   |              |                  |          |        |             |                             |            |           |            |
Bridget         Peter            Anthony     Joseph    Peter         JOHN-------Annie Coyle      William       James      Patrick      Bridget
1880–           1878–1949        c1881–1961  c1884–    c1885–1969    1886–1962       –1971       1888–1977     c1890–     c1892–1979   1894–
                                                                         pós 1935                (Bro Gerard)
                                 Kingarrow   US        Kingarrow     Na Gleanntaí                Nottingham    US         Kingarrow    Kingarrow
                                 unmarried             unmarried                                                          unmarried    unmarried


Ciarán Ó Duibhín
2016/12/26
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