Carrigtwohill Farmer Dáibhí de Barra (1757-1851) to be honoured

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Dáibhí de Barra, a Carrigtwohill tenant farmer, poet, and author is to be honoured in his native village on Friday, May 31st. de Barra was born in 1757 in Woodstock, Carrigtwohill, where he farmed for the best part of a century before departing this life in 1851 having survived the Great Famine.

While he was proficient in English, learned at a local hedge school, he was a native Irish speaker which was quite common at that time but he was also able to read and write in Irish which was far less common in that era. He appears to have gained local repute at quite an early age and his first long prose work Corr-ghliocas na mBan Léirmhínithe (‘The Particular Cleverness of Women Revealed’) was written in the early 1790s and was frequently copied in succeeding decades.

He composed a wide range of poetry on topics ranging from local religious and political matters to humorous verses on the theft of his knife and his problems upon the death of his cat. Two later of his later works, Párliment na bhFíodóirí (‘The Parliament of Weavers’) and Cath na Deachún ar Thrágh Rosa Móra (‘The Tithe Battle on Rossmore Shore’), are now considered among the most important surviving pieces of prose in Irish from the period 1800-1850.

During his lifetime his reputation drew other poets and antiquarians to his dwelling in Woodstock. But since then his repute has spread due, in the first place, to his sons Dáibhí Óg de Barra and Seán de Barra and then his grandson David Barry. Recent decades have seen his prose works put into print. This remarkable Irish language scholar has been formally recognised nationally by inclusion in Dictionary of Irish Biography and is discussed in the Cambridge History of Irish Literature, undoubtedly the only Carrigtwohill farmer to be so honoured.

To celebrate Dáibhí de Barra’s life and achievements, the Carrigtwohill and District Historical Society will unveil a commemorative plaque on his grave in the Old Graveyard, Carrigtwohill on Friday, 31st May 2019 at 7.00pm.

Immediately after this, the Carrigtwohill and District Historical Society will host a second event during which Paul Doherty (USA) will present an original manuscript of Daibhí de Barra’s to the Society to hold on behalf of the local community. Paul’s great-grandfather, John Doherty (c.1826-1887), was born and raised in Ballintubber between Midleton and Carrigtwohill and brought a number of books with him to America when he emigrated in 1865.

This manuscript written by Dáibhí de Barra himself is very interesting as it is a poem in English advertising the services of a local teacher who was a master of all disciplines if the poem’s praise is to be believed. Paul will kindly present the manuscript on Friday, 31st May 2019 at 7.30pm in the Community Centre, Carrigtwohill.
Refreshments will be served in the Community Centre at 8pm. All are invited to attend either or both of these events.

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