Pádraig Ó Gallchobhair (1850–1940) of Tulnashane, Killeter, Strabane
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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Pádraig Ó Gallchobhair was born in Tulnashane, in County Tyrone, close to where the River Derg leaves Lough Derg, and was aged 79 at the time of recording. His father was a farmer from Tulnashane and his mother came from near Barnesmore, her people being originally from Glenties in Donegal. In response to questions, he stated that he spent all his childhood and adult life in Tulnashane, where he was still living, and had "spent a while" at primary school at "various places in the neighbourhood". His own occupation was a farmer. Irish was his mother language, and he could also speak English. He could read and write English but not Irish. The organising secretary commented that he had "long lost the habit of speaking Irish" and also added "clear voice, not strong." The speaker had gone away before all his texts could be written down.
This speaker and his fellow West Tyrone native Máire Nic Daeid were among the last speakers to be recorded at Letterkenny Courthouse, on the afternoon of 05/10/1931, and it is probably for that reason that they are included in a photograph together with some of the recording team: Myles Dillon, M.A. O'Brien, Séamus Ó Néill and Karl Tempel. This photograph was published in the Irish Times, 10/10/1931, p 6 under the caption "Gramophone records in Gaelic"; in the Irish Independent, 13/10/1931, p 4 under the caption "Preserving the native language"; and in the Irish Press, 15/10/1931, p 6 accompanying a moving description of the occasion by Antoine Ó Dochartaigh entitled "The voice of a thousand years".
Patrick himself, as well as two of his sisters, submitted claims for the old-age pension (preserved in PRONI), and as a result of these claims we have a transcript of the family details from the 1851 census. Michael Gallagher was aged 36 in 1851, as was his wife Jane or Ginny. They were married in 1842, and had 4 children in 1851: Sally or Sarah (8 — living with her uncle Owen McCrory, Meenablagh), and the others at home: Mary (5), Susy (3) and Patrick (6 months). Pension claims were made by Sally (in 1912, two forms), Susan (1917) and Patrick (1920).
Of Patrick's sisters, Mary married James McPhilemy of Tullynashammer in 1870; sons Edward, born at Tulnashane in 1871, and Patrick, born in Killen in 1877; and they were living at Bomackatall in 1901. Sally married James McHugh of Meenablagh around 1872; children included Joseph (born 1873), Michael (1877), Alice (1878), Michael (1880), Hugh (c1881) and Mary Jane (c1888).
In 1889 at Aghyaran Patrick Gallagher, aged 30, married Cecily Moss, aged 22, from Garvagh Blane. Both their fathers, Michael Gallagher and James Moss, were farmers. The Gallagher family were living at Tulnashane in 1901 and 1911. In 1901, the household was headed by Patrick's father, Michael (86, a widower); and there is Patrick (60, a farm labourer) and Cicley (25), and their children Maggie (10), Hugh (3) and Patrick (2). Michael and Patrick (senior) were described as speaking Irish only, while the others had no Irish at all. In 1911, Patrick (60, farmer) was the head, with Cecily (52), and five children, all still living: Maggie (18), Michael (16), James (14), Patrick (12), Hugh (10). Only Patrick (senior) could speak Irish; he was bilingual.
Of Patrick's family, James remained in Tulnashane where he married and had at least eight of a family, but he later moved to Golandun when a son bought a farm there, and there he died in 1986.
Although the headstone says 1945, the civil registry gives Pádraig Ó Gallchobhair's death as occurring on 20/03/1940, at the stated age of 83. His name is included on the family headstone in Aghayaran, which reads
Reilig Áth a' Ghearráin (Photograph © Irish Graveyard Surveyors).
Recent references to Pádraig Ó Gallchobhair include:
Colm J O'Boyle, Phonetic texts of East Ulster Irish, MA thesis QUB, 1962, pp 39–40, 41, 50–1, 183–90, 191–3, 214.
Heinrich Wagner and Colm Ó Baoill, Linguistic Atlas and Survey of Irish Dialects, Vol IV, 1969, pp 292–4.
Breandán Mag Fhinn, "Voices from the past", Aghyaran 7, 1992, pp 4–7. Also Aghyaran 8, 1993, p 27.
Pádraig Ó Baoighill, Padaí Láidir Mac Culadh agus Gaeltacht Thír Eoghain, 2009, pp 280–3.
Róise Ní Bhaoill, Ulster Gaelic Voices, 2010, pp 202–3, 224–33.
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