Aodh Ó Dubhthaigh (1872–1937) of Gort a' Choirce, Co Donegal

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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Aodh Ó Dubhthaigh was born at Gort a' Choirce, and was aged 59 at the time of recording in 1931. His father was a baker and small farmer from near Gartan and his mother came from Ardsmore, Cloghaneely. In response to questions, he stated that he had spent all his life in Gort a' Choirce, except for 8 or 9 years in Glasgow, mostly after the age of 20. He had attended primary school at Caiseal na gCorr. His occupation was given as clerk of district court (in Falcarragh, added Myles Dillon). Irish was his mother language, and he could also speak English, and could read and write both languages. Comments on his enunciation were "moderate voice" and "rather hoarse voice", while a warning was added that he was "liable to literary influence".

Aodh's paternal grandparents, Pádraig Ó Dubhthaigh (c1800–18xx) and Máire (1804–1878), lived in the townland of Tullymore in Gartan, where they farmed 86 acres of land. They were evicted from this farm, possibly in the early 1850s; according to Niall Ó Dubhthaigh (CBÉ MS 918 p 286), Pádraig was also performing the role of teacher, but the landlord (Stewart) took exception to the education of the natives, and had Pádraig jailed for 6 months in Buncrana, and evicted on his release. Pádraig's family, consisting of three sons and four daughters, made their way to Letterkenny, where son Cathal (c1831–24/12/1890) took up the baking trade and came to work for Séamus Ó Gallchobhair in Gort a' Choirce, bringing with him his mother and his brother James Mór. Cathal married his first wife, Madge, in 1862 but she died within two years; on 25/02/1866, at Gortahork, Cathal married again, to Neilí Ní Dhubhgáin (1840–11/05/1914) from An Árdaidh Mhór, and settled into a small holding at An Bhealtaine. Cathal was aged 32 and Neilí was 21; her father was Manus Doogan, a farmer. Some years later Cathal started up his own bakery business from home.



Aodh Ó Dubhthaigh, c 1903.
Pioctúir ó Davy Caldwell.

The family of Cathal and Neilí consisted of:
      Séamus / James C (c1868–1916)
      Patrick Joseph (1870–1942); b (civil) 25/08/1870
      Manus (1871–1953)
      Aodh / Hugh (1872–1937); b (civil) 02/08/1872
      Niall (1874–1961); b (church) 15/11/1873; b (civil) 02/06/1874; b (Seán Ó hEochaidh) 09/04/1874; d 29/05/1961
      Charles (1876–1914); b (church) 10/09/1875; b (civil) 02/01/1876; d 16/06/1914
      Máire / Mary (1877–1967); b (church) 08/10/1877; b (civil) 02/11/1877
      Seán / John C (1879–1939); b (church) 13/02/1879, b (civil) 20/02/1879
      Donnchadh (1882–1882)
      Eibhlin / Lena (1883–1960); b 10/10/1883; d 25/10/1960
      Maighread / Margaret (1888–1935)
For some of the family we give birth dates from the civil registry, and/or from the Tullaghobegley East church records.

Several of the family went to America. First to go was Patrick, in 1889; he settled in Maryland and had 13 children. Séamus went next, in 1894, fearing arrest for his anti-landlord activities. He was the first of several to settle in Montana, where he was active in mining and in state politics. He married there in 1898 but his American wife and their only child died within two years, and he did not remarry. Two others emigrated in 1905, after working in the family bakery business: Manus married Sarah Harkins and went to Los Angeles, where they had three children; while Seán joined Séamus in Montana around 1908 and they lodged together. Maighread went to Philadelphia in 1909, moving to join her brothers in Montana around 1912. Séamus was shot dead in January 1916. Maighread married an American, James Connors, in 1917, and they had 3 children; James Connors died in 1924 and Maighread married John Sanders and had another child. When Maighread died in 1935, all her four children were taken to Seattle by the paternal grandmother of the three eldest. Seán died unmarried in 1939.

Those who remained at home were living at Lower Beltony in 1901: Ellen 56, a widow; and family Neal 24, baker; John 19, baker; Charles 22, baker; Mary 20, housework; Helena 14, scholar; Margaret 13, scholar; all unmarried. There was a servant, Michael McHugh 20, and a niece Kate Doogan 10. All the household spoke Irish and English. In 1911, there were Eibhlin 72, a widow, and family Niall 37, baker; Cathal 35, farmer's son; Máire 33, farmer's daughter. All were unmarried, and spoke Irish and English. 10 of the 11 children were living. Separately in 1911, there was Aodh's household, though he was not himself present: Brighid 34, wife; Eibhlín 7, daughter, at school; Hugh 6, son, at school. Brighid spoke Irish and English, while the two children spoke Irish only. The marriage had taken place 8 years earlier, and there had been just the two children.


After starting in the family bakery, Aodh spent some years working in the Glasgow area (1892–1896) and was active in the Gaelic League there. Returning home, he became the Gaelic League's timthire for Donegal 1904–1915 though his activities also extended to Derry and Tyrone. He was involved with the early years of Coláiste Uladh, close to his home place. He married Brighid Ní Ghallchobhair from An Bhealtaine at Gort a' Choirce on 13/09/1903; her father was Hugh Gallagher, a farmer. Brighid died in 1914, leaving two children, Eibhlín and Aodh Óg. Aodh continued his Gaelic League involvement and then in 1922, under the new Irish government, he became court clerk of Falcarragh, working mainly with Judge Lughaidh Breathnach. Aodh married again at Gort a' Choirce on 10/10/1921, to Madge Gallagher from Doire Conaire; her father was Barney Gallagher, a farmer. They lived at An Bhealtaine and had four daughters Brighid, Cáitlín, Máire and Maighread.

Aodh's pseudonyms included "Hughie a' Bhéiceara" and "Aodh Béil-bhinn." He was noted for his speaking ability, in both Irish and English. He was known to deliver a number of recitations, including "Aodh Ruadh" (at Feis an Duin 1907: Ulster Herald 09/02/1907 p 7; see also Bearnard Ó Dubhthaigh, "Fuadach Aodha Ruaidh", An tUltach 12/1965, pp 3–4) and "Deilín na mBacach" (at Gaoth Dobhair 1908: Ulster Herald 04/01/1908 p 2) and Healy's English translation of "Red Hugh's address before the Battle of the Curlews", from Gill's Irish Reciter pp 65–68 (Derry People 1907/01/05 p 2). In 1906 he wrote four articles in Irish on the language movement in Donegal: Ulster Herald 29/09/1906 p 6; 06/10/1906 p 7; 13/10/1906 p 7; 20/10/1906 p 3. He broadcast in Gaelic on Radio Éireann on the subject of "The Land War in Gweedore", apparently on 02/07/1935 ("Donegal Gael's broadcast", Derry Journal 05/07/1935 p 12); we have a (possibly incomplete) undated newspaper report of the talk.



Brighid Ní Ghallchobhair.
Pioctúir ó Davy Caldwell.

Aodh's brother Niall was a renowned seanchaidhe, from whom Seán Ó hEochaidh collected a vast quantity of material. See "Donegal's greatest seanachai", Ulster Herald 10/06/1961 p 9; Seán Ó hEochaidh, "Buailteachas i dTír Chonaill", Béaloideas 13 (1943) 130–58 at 130–2; Seán Ó hEochaidh, "Niall Ó Dubhthaigh 1874–1961", Béaloideas 28 (1960) 134–7; Diarmuid Breathnach & Máire Ní Mhurchú, Beathaisnéis 1, 1986, pp 68–9; Ríonach Uí Ógáin, Mise an fear ceoil, 2007, pp 96–102, 126–34, 150, 428; Aodh Ó Máirtín, Niall Ó Dubhthaigh, a shaol agus a shaothar, PhD thesis, Cork, 2010. Niall worked as a postman from the age of thirteen, and then continued the family bakery business after Manus' departure in 1905. He moved to Glasgow in 1920 and worked there as a baking instructor until his retirement in 1937, when he returned to An Bhealtaine. He was unmarried, and died in 1961.

Niall Ó Dubhthaigh agus Seán Ó hEochaidh, c1940.
Pioctúir ó Davy Caldwell.

Aodh's brother Cathal worked at home as a baker and as a farmer. He was later involved in the activities of Coláiste Uladh, mainly teaching song and dance. He never married and died aged thirty-nine as a result of poor health.

Aodh's sister Máire was known as a singer. She recorded part of the song "An Cailín Gaelach" for Rudolf Trebitsch at Oireachtas na Gaedhilge in Dublin in 1907. The words of the recording were transcribed in Irish, and translated into English, by her brother, the present speaker, who thus has a connection with both the Trebitsch and the Doegen recordings. Máire married John a' Ghabha McGee in 1912, and they had seven(?) of a family, two of whom died in infancy.
      Patrick 02/01/1913–13/03/1940, accidentally killed in Glasgow
      Neilí, c1914–04/1986, a well-known singer; she worked in McFadden's Hotel, and later kept house for An Canónach 'ac Giolla Cheara. After he died in 1956 Neilí went to America, but later returned and built a new house. See Ríonach Uí Ógáin, Mise an fear ceoil, 2007, pp 100–1, 366. Neilí was buried in Gort a' Choirce on 06/04/1986 and was survived by her brother Jimmie, her sister Mary, and nephews and nieces.
      Sara 31/07/1915–29/02/1932
      Áine Maria 21/12/1917–24/12/1917
      Bríd 01/05/1920–09/05/1920
      Jimí (An Caiseal)
      Mary (Mrs Sullivan)
      Charles (London)
When Máire died in May 1967, aged 89, she was the last of the Ó Dubhthaigh family. Of her children, Neilí, Mary, Charles and Jimí survived her. See Ríonach Uí Ógáin, Mise an fear ceoil, 2007, pp 101–3, 126, 365–6; Derry People 13/05/1967 p 2.

Máire Ní Dhubhthaigh.
Pioctúir: Bella Mhic Aoidh.
Lena Ní Dhubhthaigh.
Pioctúir ó Davy Caldwell.


Aodh's sister Eibhlín, known as "Lena a' Bhéiceara", worked as a housekeeper in County Tyrone for a time in her twenties and later moved back to the bake house in An Bhealtaine. She was active in the War of Independence, and the family home was destroyed by the British in reprisal. After the War Lena taught Irish in schools in Dundalk and Dungannon and later returned to teach the language locally. She never married but shared a small cottage in An Bhealtaine with her brother Niall until her death in 1960. See Pádraig Mac a' Ghoill, "County Cameo", Ulster Herald 12/11/1960 p 4; Ríonach Uí Ógáin, Mise an fear ceoil, 2007, p 126.

Aodh Ó Dubhthaigh died on 27/02/1937 and was buried in Gort a' Choirce on 2 March. A commemoration of his memory took place on the occasion of the Gaelic League's jubilee in July 1943, and was attended by his widow, his sister Eibhlín, his brother Niall, his daughter Máire, and his niece Eibhlín Nic Aodha.

The family gravestone in Gort a' Choirce contains the names of:
      Cathal Ó Dubhthaigh 24/12/1890
      Eibhlín Ní Dhubhthaigh 11/05/1914
      Cathal Ó Dubhthaigh 10/09/1875–16/05/1914
      Áine Maria Nic Aoidh 21/12/1917–24/12/1917
      Bríd Nic Aoidh 01/05/1920–09/05/1920
      Sara Nic Aoidh 31/07/1915–29/02/1932
      Aodh Ó Dubhthaigh 02/07/1872 (recte 02/08) –27/02/1937
      Eibhlín Brennan 10/04/1937 (recte 1931)
      Maighread Ní Dhubhthaigh
      Pádraig Mac Aoidh 02/01/1913–13/03/1940
      Léna Ní Dhubhthaigh 10/10/1883–25/10/1960
      Niall Ó Dubhthaigh 15/11/1973–29/05/1961

Aodh's two children from his first marriage both died in Glasgow. Evelyne, born 1903, married Francis Patrick Brennan in Letterkenny in 1929; she died in Glasgow on 10/04/1931, aged 26. Aodh Óg, born 1905, married Margaret Seils in Glasgow in 1950, and died in the same city on 13/04/1955, aged 49.

Recent references to Aodh Ó Dubhthaigh include:
      Cú Uladh, "Among the Gaels", Irish News 24/10/1910 p 7.
      "Language pioneer passes away", Derry People 06/03/1937, p 3.
            FJL, "Great loss to Gaeldom", Derry People 06/03/1937, p 3.
            "Caill mhór do Ghaedhil", Derry Journal 10/03/1937, p 6.
      "Gaelic League's Golden Jubilee. Tributes to Hugh O'Duffy", Derry Journal 30/07/1943, p 6.
      Pádraig Mac a' Ghoill, "County Cameo", Ulster Herald 12/11/1960 p 4.
      Fiach Fánach, "Nuacht ó Thír Chonaill" An tUltach 07/1961 p 10.
      Fiach Fánach, "Nuacht ó Thír Chonaill" An tUltach 11/1965 p 16.
      Pádraig Mac a' Ghoill, "County Cameo", Ulster Herald 25/08/1973 p 10.
      Diarmuid Breathnach & Máire Ní Mhurchú, Beathaisnéis 1, 1986, p 68.
      Lillis Ó Laoire, "Rannta agus Cluichí Páistí", An tUltach 07/1987, pp 4–6 & 10 esp 6.
      Donncha Ó Súilleabháin, Na Timirí, 1990, pp 58–65.
      Colm Ó Cearúil, Aspail ar son na Gaeilge, 1995, p 135 et passim.
      Róise Ní Bhaoill, Ulster Gaelic Voices, 2010, pp 78–9, 134–7, 166–9.


Tumba mhuinntir Dhubhthaigh i nGort a' Choirce.
Pioctúir ó Davy Caldwell.

Much of the family information given here is due to Davy Caldwell, a grandson of Aodh Ó Dubhthaigh, who is writing an Ó Dubhthaigh family history. Aodh Ó Máirtín has also been of great assistance. Some of the information also derives from a tape I made with the late Seán Ó hEochaidh on 05/04/1986.

Speaker's recordings Ulster Doegen index


Speculative family tree:


                             Cathal Ó Dubhthaigh----------------------Neilí Ní Dhubhagáin
                             Gartán                       |           An Árdaidh Mhór
                             1831–1890                    |           c1839-1914
                                                          | m 1866
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    |              |             |         |           |          |          |          |              |         |            |
 James C    Patrick Joseph     Manus     AODH        Niall     Charles     Máire      Seán C       Donnchadh  Eibhlín     Maighread
 1868–1916  1870–1942          1871–1953 1872–1937   1873–1961 1875–1914   1877–1967  1881–1939    1882–1882  1883–1960   1888–1935
 US         US                 US                                                     US                                  US
                                         m(1)1903                          m1912
                                         Bridget Gallagher                 John Magee
                                         c1877–1914
                                         family                            family
                                         Evelyne                           Patrick
                                         1903–1931                         1913–1940
                                          m1929                            Eibhlín
                                          Francis Brennan                  c1914–1986
                                                                           Sarah
                                         Aodh Óg                           1915–1932
                                         1905–1955                         Áine Maria
                                          m1950                            1917–1917
                                          Margaret Seils                   Bríd
                                                                           1920–1920
                                                                           Jimí

                                                                           Mary

                                                                           Charles
                                         m(2)1921
                                         Madge Gallagher

                                         family
                                         Bríd
                                         Caitlín

                                          m
                                          Frank Caldwell
                                           –2013
                                         Máire
                                         Maighread


Ciarán Ó Duibhín
2016/12/26
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