Seo é an státaire agus an t-óráidí cáiliúil a d’fhág airgead le huacht ar mhaithe le scoláireacht na Gaeilge. Scríobh gaol leis, Warden Flood, Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of the Right Honorable Henry Flood, M.P., Colonel of the Volunteers, 1838; tá cur síos fada air in Leaders of public opinion in Ireland, 1871 le William Edward Hartlepole Lecky; scríobh Séamus Puirséil Henry Flood: aiste eolais ar a shaol is a shaothar, 1968; foilsíodh i 1998 Henry Flood: patriots and politics in eighteenth-century Ireland le James Kelly. I gContae Chill Chainnigh a rugadh é. Ba é an Príomh-Bhreitheamh Warden Flood a athair. Ó 1724 bhí an t-athair in aontíos i mBaile Átha Cliath le Isabella Whiteside. B’in í máthair Henry. Bhí deartháir aige, Jocelyn, agus deirfiúr, Arabella, ach cailleadh go hóg iad. Taispeánann James Kelly (1998) gur pósadh Warden Flood agus Isabella, go príobháideach is cosúil, uair éigin idir 1739 agus 1742. 1732 a thugtar mar bhliain bhreithe Henry de ghnáth ach is dóigh le Kelly gurbh fhéidir gur tuairim 1730 a rugadh é. Is taobh amuigh de chuing an phósta a rugadh Arabella freisin ach is i ndiaidh an phósta i 1746 a rugadh Jocelyn.

Chuaigh Henry isteach i gColáiste na Tríonóide agus bhain céim M.A. amach i gColáiste Chríost, Oxford, i 1752. Chaith sé tamall ag déanamh staidéir ar an dlí. Toghadh ina bhall parlaiminte é thar ceann Chill Chainnigh i 1759. An bhliain ina dhiaidh sin toghadh mar theachta do Challainn é in ionad James Agar. Tharraing feabhas a óráidíochta aird air agus d’éirigh leis a bheith ina cheannaire ar fhreasúra láidir agus a bheith chun tosaigh go mór sa ‘Patriot Party’, ar cheann dá n-aidhmeanna neamhspleáchas reachtais a bhaint amach. I 1768 toghadh do Challainn arís é agus bhí de thoradh air gur éirigh idir é agus Agar. Cuireann T.P. Power síos ar an naimhdeas in Kilkenny: History and Society: interdisciplinary essays on the history of an Irish county, 1990 in eagar ag William Nolan agus Kevin Whelan (‘Parliamentary Representation in county Kilkenny in the eighteenth century’). Maraíodh triúr dá dheasca i 1759-60. I 1769 mharaigh Flood an fear eile, Agar, sa dara comhrac aonair eatarthu agus tháinig slán ón dlí.

Moladh go dtabharfaí post sa rialtas dó, chun a thacaíocht a cheannach, is dóigh, ach lean Flood air sa bhfreasúra. Nuair a tháinig rialtas níos liobrálaí i gcumhacht thug Flood tacaíocht dó agus ceapadh mar leas-chisteoir in Éirinn é, post gan chúram agus £3,500 sa bhliain ag dul leis. Dúirt an Tiarna Leifteanant Harcourt faoi: ‘Since I was born I never had to deal with so difficult a man, owing principally to his high-strained ideas of his own great importance and popularity.’ Le linn dó a bheith sa phost cuireadh lánchosc ar easpórtálacha agus chuir an rialtas 4,000 saighdiúirí Éireannacha go Meiriceá mar ‘armed negotiators’. Thug Flood tacaíocht don dá chinneadh sin agus chuirfeadh Henry Grattan ina leith ar ball gur dhuine é ‘with a metaphor in his mouth and a bribe in his pocket, a champion against the rights of America—the only hope of Ireland, and the only refuge of the liberties of mankind.’ I 1781 chaill sé a phost. Nuair a d’fhill sé ar an bhfreasúra bhí a thionchar ar neamhní. Nuair a chuir Grattan, a bhí anois ina cheannaire ar an bhfreasúra, mí-mhacántacht ina leith (‘I therefore tell you in the face of your country, before all the world and to your beard, you are not an honest man’) dóbair comhrac aonair ach gabhadh an bheirt agus cuireadh faoi bhannaí síochána iad. I 1783 bhí sé ar choiste a d’eagraigh Comhdháil na nÓglach chun cúrsaí parlaiminte a leasú. Bhí sé féin in aghaidh an vóta a thabhairt do Chaitilicigh. Sa bhliain chéanna sin cheannaigh sé suíochán Winchester ar £4,000. Tar éis seacht mbliana ba léir nach n-éireodh leis i bpolaitíocht Shasana agus d’fhill sé abhaile go Callainn.

Ní raibh an tsláinte go maith aige, an gúta air, agus d’imigh sé thar fóir air féin ag iarraidh dóiteán a mhúchadh gur éag 2 Nollaig 1791. Tá sé curtha i reilig an Teampaill Loiscthe. Bhí sé pósta ar Frances Maria Beresford, iníon Iarla Thír Eoghain; ní raibh sliocht orthu. D’fhág sé an chuid ba mhó dá mhaoin le huacht ag Coláiste na Tríonóide le hollúnacht Ghaeilge a bhunú. Is mar seo a thiomnaigh sé an t-airgead: ‘To the University of Dublin . . . to hold in fee and forever . . . I will and direct that they do institute and maintain as a perpetual establishment, a professorship of and for the native Irish or Erse language and that they do appoint, if he be still living, Colonel Charles Vallancey to be the first professor thereof with a salary of not less than £300 sterling, seeing that, by his eminent and successful labours, he well deserves to be first appointed. And I will and appoint that they do grant one annual and liberal premium for the best, and another for the second-best composition in prose or verse in the said native Irish or Erse language, upon some point of ancient history, government, religion, literature or situation of Ireland . . .. And I will that the rents and profits . . .. shall further be employed by the said University for the purchase of all printed books and manuscripts in the said Irish or Erse language, wheresoever they may be obtained and next to the purchase of all printed books and manuscripts of the dialects and languages that are akin to the said native Irish or Erse language.’ Meastar gurbh í an chuid ba mhó de £6,000 nó £7,000, a ioncam bliantúil, a bheadh i gceist agus gur ar bhás a chéile a d’fhaigheadh an coláiste é. Cuireadh an uacht ar ceal nuair a fritheadh gur mhac ‘mídhlisteanach’ Henry. Dódh a pháipéir i ndiaidh a bháis. Anuas go 1817 bhí Coláiste na Tríonóide go fóill ag iarraidh greim a fháil ar ar fágadh le huacht acu.

Deir Warden Flood: ‘It has been said most untruly and believed most absurdly that it was Mr Flood’s design, in his legacy, to bring the Irish language again into general use in this country. But his will shows that his only object was to have it studied by men of letters, there being many curious and valuable records in that language which would throw a considerable light upon a very early era of the history of the human race, as well as relieve this country from the most unjust charge of ignorance and barbarism . . .’.

Tá cúpla véarsa de ‘Harry Flood’s Election Song’ i gcló in More Irish Street Ballads, 1965 ag Colm Ó Lochlainn. Sa chéad véarsa tá na focail ‘Stir up the muses to tune their harpsichords, handle their lutes their flutes and flageolets, Let music rattle gach cúinne den bhaile, Hurroo for Henry Flood, plúr na bhfearchon. Blow drones and thunder out reels’ agus sa dara véarsa tá na línte ‘Hallo! go maidin gheal toast sweet Henry Flood In copious, flowing, logical tide.’ Le fonn ‘An Ciarraíoch Mallaithe’ a deirtí é.

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Diarmuid Breathnach

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