Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Padraic O'Conaire

The 28th of February next marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of the author Padraic O Conaire. Perhaps best known as a short-story writer, he was also a novelist and dramatist. Born in the "Lobster Pot" Bar here in Galway to Tomas and Cait O Conaire, he moved to his material grandparents in Ros Muc in 1894 following the death of his parents, and later to other relatives in County Clare. He found his way to London where he worked in the Civil Service for a while, but was most active in the London branch of Connradh na Gaeilge, before returning to Ireland to work as an organiser or timire for Connradh. He passed in 1928. For further information on him, Lesa Ni Mhungaile's biography of him in The Dictionary of Irish Biography available here in the James Hardiman Library provides an excellent short introduction to the man and writer.

During the period 1901–27 he published over 400 short stories in various newspapers and journals including "Inis Fáil", "An t-Éireannach", "Guth na nGaedheal", "United Irishman", "New Ireland", "Weekly Freeman", "Leinster Leader", "Irish Nation", "Irishman", "Freeman's Journal", "Free State", "Galway Express", "An t-Óglach", and "Fáinne an Lae". He also wrote five plays, a novel and over 200 essays on various topics.

Perhaps the most iconic image of Padraic is the statute erected in his honour in Eyre Square, and unveiled by his Blackrock College classmate Eamonn de Valera in June 1935. Albert Power was commissioned to create the memorial by a group of Galway citizens. The statue is now to be seen in Galway City Museum. The archives service holds a collection of correspondence, subscription information and press cuttings relating to the commissioning of the statue, information on Coiste Chuimhneachain Pádraic O Conaire is available at .

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