Pádraig Ó Siadhail (c1894–1976) of Árd Bán, Míobhaigh, Na Dúnaibh, Co Donegal
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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Pádraig Ó Siadhail was born in Áird Bhán and was aged 34 at the time of recording. He was a sailor by profession. His father was a farmer from Áird Bhán, and his mother came from Dumhaigh. In response to questions, Pádraig stated that he had spent at least his first 20 years in Áird Bhán, and since then had been a sailor "in various parts of Ireland, Scotland and England". He gave Irish as his mother language and could also speak English. He had attended primary school at Doire 'n Chasáin, and could read and write English. Comment on his articulation was that he had a "clear strong voice".
Pádraig Ó Siadhail was known as Pádraig John Phaidí. He was the eldest son of John Shields and Catherine Conner, and was living in the family home at Ardbane in both available censuses. In 1901, there were his parents John 50 and Catherine 34, with children Mary 11, Margaret 9, Patrick 6, Hugh 5 and Dominick 2. All had Irish and English except Dominick who had Irish only. In 1911, there was John 62 and Catherine 45, who had been married for 22 years and 7 of whose 8 children were living, and children Maggie 19, Patrick 17, Fannie 10 and Ellen 5. All had Irish and English except Ellen who had Irish only. In 1911, Hugh was a servant with the Connor family of Glebe, Rosguill; and Dominick was a servant with the Harris family of Meevagh, Rosguill. Pádraig was at school in 1901 and was described as a farmer's son in 1911.
Pádraig's father, John Phaidí Mháire, made a pension application on 19/09/1917, from his address at Ardbane (Naional Archives, Cen/S/7/996). We learn from this that he was the son of Patrick Sheals and Nancy Woolhare or McElhare, whose family was #15 in Ardbane in the 1851 census.
Pádraig tells us in one of his Doegen recordings about his adventures as a crew-member of the "Carrigart", skippered by Antain Ruadh 'ac Eiteagáin. This is corroborated on p 73 of Ar Toinn is ar Tír, and there is an account of Antain Ruadh and the "Carrigart" on pp 4–11 of the same book. Undoubtedly Pádraig's narrative is somewhat áidhbhéalach, and I have even heard it claimed that he was involved only in inshore fishing and "nach deachaidh sé riamh ní b'fhaide ná trí mhíle ón talamh" but the truth may lie somewhere in between.
Pádraig's abilities as a story-teller are confirmed by his winning a prize at An tOireachtas in October 1946 (Ar Toinn is ar Tír p 75). Besides the sound recordings of him made by the Doegen team, and those made by Máirtín Ó Cadhain and Pádraig Ó Baoighill in 1957, Seán Ó hEochaidh included an item from Pádraig in Béaloideas 33 (1965) pp 38, 86.
In one of his Doegen pieces, Pádraig mentions "Seán Ó Siadhail an sagart a bhí ann in m'am-sa" — this is Rev Dr Seán Ó Siadhail (1902–1971), born in New York but raised in Ros Guill, described on p 10 of Ar Toinn is ar Tír as "mac Johnnie Mháire". Dr Seán wrote a piece about Pádraig ("Pádraig Sheáin Phaidí") entitled "Ar Bharr na dTonn", Irisleabhar Mhuighe Nuadhad (1925) pp 55–7, and he also wrote a piece about the "Carrigart": "Ar Dhruim na Mara", Irisleabhar Mhuighe Nuadhad (1927) pp 84–6. Any or all of the following might be the same as "Johnnie Mháire": Seán Ó Siaghail, a fisherman, of Cnoc Mór, An Dumhaigh, a source for Cú na gCleas (1914), p 106; Seán Mac Sidheail, Árd Bán Uachtarach, aged 68 on 04/03/1940, from whom Seán Ó hEochaidh recorded material, including an anecdote published in Béaloideas 21 (1951) pp 121, 258; Seán Ó Siadhail named in Ó Cadhain i dTír Chonaill p 245 as a Ros Guill storyteller; a member of a Dumhaigh family in the censuses of 1901 and 1911.
Pádraig Ó Siadhail moved from Árd Bán and lived in later life at Baile Láir, Dumhaigh. There is a photograph of the ruins of the house he shared with his sister Helen or Ellen at Baile Láir on p 255 of Pádraig Ó Baoighill, Ó Cadhain i dTír Chonaill. Ó Baoighill, pp 245–6, says that most of the Ó Siadhail family of Árd Bán went to America. He mentions two relations of Pádraig still living locally in 2007: Séamus Ó Siadhail, Leargán Riabhach; and Seán Ó Siadhail, Gleann. The first may be the same person who was mentioned to me as "Jimmy John Phaidí" by a Ros Guill native who described him as Pádraig's son; however I have not seen anything else to suggest that Pádraig married or had a family. The second may be the person who was described to me as a brother of Pádraig, living in Gleann Iartharach.
Pádraig Ó Siadhail died on 09/09/1976 aged 85 and is buried in Carrigart, together with Hughie Shields who died on 30/11/1979 aged 85, and Ellen Shields who died on 12/03/2000 aged 95. These last two are assumed to be Pádraig's brother and sister.
Recent references to Pádraig Ó Siadhail include:
Reilig Charraig Airt
(Photograph © Irish Graveyard Surveyors).
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