I nDún Éideann a rugadh é ar 19 Feabhra 1782. Iarnmhangaire a athair. Bhí sé ag obair in oifig árachais sular ceapadh é ina mhinistir ar phobal beag de Bhaistigh Shasana. Bhí spéis ar leith aige i nGarbhchríocha na hAlban agus ba é a bhunaigh an Gaelic School Society. Chuir sé roimhe go scaipfí briathar Dé sna teangacha Ceilteacha. Thug sé turas timpeall na hÉireann agus thug seanmóir i nGàidhlig i Sligeach. ‘After the sermon was concluded, Mr Blest made particular enquiry among the Irish-speaking portion of the congregation as to the extent to which Mr Anderson’s address was understood by them and was assured that though they could interpret the meaning of a solitary word occasionally, yet a consecutive perception was out of the question’ (sliocht as A Memoir of the late Albert Blest, 1843 le M.C. Motherwell i gcló ag Tomás Ó hAilín in Studia Hibernica 8 [1968]). Scríobh sé Historical sketches of the Native Irish, 1828 tar éis dó Éire a thaisteal agus cúpla paimfléad a scríobh ar staid na teanga. Deir Anderson i dtaobh na teanga sa réamhrá a chuir sé le Historical sketches: ‘But regarding it as a medium of thought and feeling between the people themselves, having witnessed for himself the deep hold which it has of the heart he hesitates not to add that, in all the measures here recommended and reinforced, the language itself alone will be found to operate like the insertion of leaven and will lend to each of these measures a corresponding—an irresistible energy.’ Is é a deir Roger Blaney (Presbyterians and the Irish Language, 1996) i dtaobh an leabhair: ‘This and its subsequent editions, had a significant impact on Protestant thought in Ireland. These publications are still an indispensible source in understanding the position of Irish in pre-famine Ireland.’ Creideann an Bléineach gurbh é saothar Anderson ó 1814 amach faoi deara gur bhunaigh baill d’Eaglais na hÉireann an Irish Society agus gur chuir na Preispitéirigh scoileanna Gaeilge ar bun faoin Home Mission. In The Irish Book Lover, Iúil-Nollaig 1929 (‘An Irish translation of Bunyan’) deir Séamus Ó Casaide gurbh é Historical sketches a spreag bean de phobal Anderson chun The Pilgrim’s Progress a chur i nGaeilge na hÉireann. Foilsíodh cuid de faoin teideal Gluaiseachd an Oilithrigh nó Turas an Chríosduighe, o’n t-Saoghal so chum an t-Saoghal le teacht Fa amhlughadh aisling. Aistrithghe O Mbhearla. Eoin Bhunian, 1837. Anderson féin a scríobh an réamhrá agus a ghabh buíochas le daoine a thug cabhair. D’éag sé ar 18 Feabhra 1852. Is fiú sliocht faoi Historical Sketches a thabhairt as litir a scríobh an Dr Séamus Mac Domhnaill ar 28 Eanáir 1830 (i gcló ag Breandán Ó Buachalla inI mBéal Feirste Cois Cuain, 1968):

‘The book which your Lordship [an Tiarna Downshire] sent me is written with great prudence and circumspection for altho’ the author be a Scotch Presbyterian yet one can never discern from this work to what sect he belongs. There is none of those absurd reproaches cast upon the Papists, no predictions of their conversion, nothing said about Antichrist, the Babylonesh Lady and the beast with the ten horns.’

Tá cuntas ar a obair timpeall Ghaeilge na hÉireann agus na hAlban ag Victor Edward Durkacz in The Decline of the Celtic languages. A study of linguistic and cultural conflict in Scotland, Wales and Ireland from the Reformation to the Twentieth century, 1983.

Diarmuid Breathnach

Máire Ní Mhurchú