Phonetic Irish language newspaper shone briefly

This November 1912 newspaper may have been the final edition of Glór na Ly, a short-lived publication which promoted attempts to write the Irish language in a phonetic-looking manner.

By Niall Murray

In ways appearing more like Welsh than Irish, the ‘letiriú shímplí’ spelling system was the brainchild of the newspaper’s editor Shán Ó Cuív. The Cork-born journalist had devised the ‘simplified spelling’ in association with Osborn Bergin, Fr Richard O’Daly and others, a few years earlier.

ShanOCuiv_large.jpg
Shán Ó Cuív, editor of Glór na Ly. Picture: National Library of Ireland

At a time when there was a renewed interest in the language, particularly through the classes and other work of the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge), he believed the traditional rules for writing Irish may not have been helping those efforts.

In this edition of Glór na Ly, (Glór na Laoi, in reference to Cork’s River Lee) a serialised translation of Don Quixote appears as Don Chíchóté, written by ‘An Tahir Peaduir Ó Laeri.’

An tAthair Peadar Ua Laoghaire’s books like Mo Scéal Féin and Séadna were very prominent texts in the language revival, taught and read in classes around the country, when Irish was still not taught as standard in most national schools.

The Catholic priest was later buried in the same churchyard in Castlelyons, near Fermoy, Co Cork, where Thomas Kent was re-interred in a State funeral last September, when a copy of Mo Scéal Féin was one of the offertory gifts.

IE LIVE NEWS   04/09/2015  (with sean o'riordan story in advance of kent state funeral) ...  St. Nicholas' Church and grounds, Castlelyons, Co. Cork, in advance of the state funeral of Thomas Kent with the Kent family tomb third from the foreground.  Picture: Denis Minihane.
St Nicholas’ Church in Castlelyons, Co Cork, where an tAthair Peadar Ua Laoghaire and Thomas Kent are now both buried. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Kent was executed in May 1916 after police head constable Thomas Rowe died in a shootout as Irish Volunteers activists were rounded up nationally in the aftermath of the Easter Rising. His brother Richard Kent was killed trying to escape, and an tAthair Peadar was brought to the scene by police.

The front page of Glór na Ly in November 1912 featured a story by Míhál (ordinarily Micheál) Ó Máille, and the back page is laid out mostly with adverts.

Phonetic Irish language newspaper shone briefly

Many of them are from traders in Macroom, the town where Ó Cuív grew up and from where he published the eight-page newspaper.

While all the Glór na Ly ads are in English, most highlight the ‘Déanta in Éirinn’ campaign of the period, with mention of their goods being Irish-made, while an inside page carries an ad for a locally-made butter: ‘Anything good for Ireland. DRIPSEY is in it!’

Below it, Harrington’s Cork Chemical & Drug Co Ltd promoted its Irish-made medicines with the slogan ‘Guaranteed Purity and Freshness.’


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