Monday 22 July 2019

From Múscraí to Japan and back home again for a rare find

Conor finds rare Irish language book while browsing in a Tokyo book store

Concubhar Ó Liatháin

A rare edition of a book of Irish language phrases and words from the Múscraí Gaeltacht has been unearthed in a Tokyo book store by a bookshop owner and avid collector from Ballyvourney.

'Cnósach Focal ó Bhaile Bhúirne i gCunndae Chorcaí - A collection of words from Baile Bhúirne in County Cork' is a compendium of phrases and words unique to the Múscraí Gaeltacht which were gathered by Mícheál Ó Briain, one of the famed 'Ceithre Mhaistrí/Four Masters'. 

The more than 1,500 words it contains were also included in editions of the famed Irish language dictionary 'An Duinníneach' by the renowned lexicographer an tAthair Pádraig Ó Duinnín. 

Conor Kelleher, who owns the the Gadaí Dubh book shop in the Gaeltacht village, discovered the book during a recent trip to Japan to visit his daughter who is married in the capital. 

As he was browsing through the Kitazawa bookshop in Jimbocho, an area in Tokyo which has over 150 bookshops, Conor came across the book from his native Ballyvourney and immediately purchased it.

"It's in perfect condition and the story of how it got from Ireland to Japan must be really interesting," he said.

The book is now on sale in the Gadaí Dubh bookshop. The discovery comes to light as renewed interest is being shown in Mícheál Ó Briain and his work in Ballyvourney. 

Ó Briain, born in 1866, came from Ballinora and qualified as a teacher going on to teach in Ballingeary before being appointed as a teacher in the primary school in Baile Mhúirne. He died in 1942 and the book was published in 1947 thanks to the efforts of Brian Ó Cuív, father of Eamon Ó Cuív TD, who edited the volume.

Recently a plaque commemorating Ó Briain was unveiled at the primary school in Baile Mhúirne by its current principal, Conchúr Ó Luasa. Local history group Dámh Staire Acadamh Fódhla organised the event as part of their efforts to recognise local people who have contributed to the cultural and literary wealth of the community. 

They have previously erected a plaque in St Gobnait's Cemetery at the resting place of another of the Four Masters, Tadhg Ó Riordáin. They had found the unmarked grave thanks to their ongoing efforts to map the cemetery.  

They plan to host an open day in the cemetery this coming Sunday to seek and share information about this ongoing work.

They will be based in the former Church of Ireland and be able to talk to people between 12.30 and 3pm that day, with the annual Shrine Mass commencing at 3.30pm.