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Na Cheithre Soisgéil agus Gníoṁartha na n-Aspol 1915, 1921 (Peadar Ua Laoghaire)

Peadar Ua Laoghaire

Peadar Ua Laoghaire (also written Peadar Ó Laoghaire or anglicised as Peter O’Leary) was born in 1839 in County Cork in Ireland. He grew up speaking Irish as his first language.

He studied at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1867. From 1891 he served as parish priest at Castlelyons in County Cork. It was here that in the 1890s he started his writing. He became a well loved Irish writer using the Munster form of Irish. He is regarded today as one of the founders of modern literature in the Irish language.

Bible Translation

Peter O’Leary translated the whole Bible from Latin Vulgate into Irish Gaelic. His Bible is in hand-written manuscript form at Maynooth University. Some of his translation work was published in weekly instalments in the Cork Weekly Examiner. The liturgical readings from the Missal (An Soísgéal as Leabhar an Aifrinn) was published by the Irish Book Company in 1902. The 4 Gospels from his Bible were published in 1915. Peter O’Leary died in March 1920.

Some of his biblical translation work was published after his death: The Acts of the Apostles (Gníoṁarṫa na n-Aspol) was published in 1921; Stories from the Holy Bible (Sgéalaidheachta as an mBíobla Naomhtha) were published in 7 parts from 1922; and the Story of the Maccabees (Sgéalaidheacht na Macabéach) was published in 2 parts in 1925.

4 Gospels and Acts

The Gospel according to Matthew (An Soisgéal do réir Mhaitiú), the Gospel according to Mark (An Soisgéal do réir Ṁarcuis), the Gospel according to Luke (An Soisgéal do réir Lúcáis) and the Gospel according to John (An Soisgéal do réir Eóin) were published as separate booklets in 1915. They were also published as one combined book called Na Cheithre Soisgéil (The 4 Gospels) in 1915. They received the Imprimatur from the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin in 1915. The Gospel of John was reprinted in 1936.

The book of the Acts of the Apostles (Gníomhartha na n-Aspol) was published separately in 1921, and the page numbers followed on from the 4 Gospels. It received the Imprimatur from the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin in 1921.

The 4 Gospels and Acts were translated from the Latin Vulgate by Peter O'Leary and with compared to the Greek by Gearóid Ó Nualláin (anglicised as Gerald O’Nolan).

O'Nolan added a brief introduction, chapter summaries and footnotes to each book translated from the English Douay-Rheims 1752 Bible. He also added in helpful cross-references, and some useful explanatory footnotes for difficult words and terms which usually start with .i.

These books were published in Dublin (Baile Atha Cliath) by Brun Agus O Nuallain. Each book is paragraphed with verse numbers in the outer margin. The verses and cross-references follow the Vulgate versification tradition.

Digital Edition

In 2020 the printed editions of the 4 Gospels and Acts were digitised for the National Bible Society of Ireland. This was done to mark the 100th anniversary of Peter O’Leary’s death in 1920. In the digital edition the verse numbers are re-inserted. The digitised version called was called: Na Cheithre Soisgéil agus Gníoṁartha na n-Aspol 1915, 1921 (Peadar Ua Laoghaire). The characters were converted from traditional Gaelic script to modern Roman script for the ease of reading. 

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