Is mar seo a thiomnaigh Tomás Dáibhís leabhar dó: ‘To the best man and the best Irishman I know—W.E.H.’ B’fhéidir gurbh é an duine is féile é sa leath tosaigh den 19ú haois a chaith a mhaoin ar mhaithe le cumainn agus foilseacháin chultúrtha. Ag T.F. O’Sullivan in The Young Irelanders, 1944 atá an cuntas is iomláine ar a shaol. Is dóigh gurbh as cuntas a scríobh C. Milligan Fox in iml. X de Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society a fuair sé an buneolas. As cuntas le Seán Ó Dálaigh in Iml. a V de Transactions of the Ossianic Society, 1856 a fuair sise é. Mac ba ea é leis an máinlia fiaclóireachta Edward Hudson a raibh cónaí air in ‘The Fields of Odin’ (‘The Hermitage’ ina dhiaidh sin) i Ráth Fearnáin, Co. Bhaile Átha Cliath. Sa teach sin a bheadh Scoil Éanna ag an bPiarsach agus luadh Hudson i réamheolaire na scoile i 1910. Ann a rugadh é an 18 Lúnasa 1796. Deartháir dó an bailitheoir ceoil Henry Hudson (1795-1889) agus bhí deartháir eile leis ina Dhéan i ndeoise Ard Mhacha. Is follasach go raibh siad go maith as agus gur fágadh airgead le huacht acu.

Bhain sé céim BA i gColáiste na Tríonóide in 1816, MA in 1832 agus glaodh chun an bharra é in 1818. Bhí sé ag obair ar Chuaird na Mumhan ar dtús agus chruthaigh go maith mar abhcóide. In 1834 rinne sé iarracht ar shuíochán parlaiminte a fháil i Muineachán. Bhí sé tamall ina Abhcóide Cúnta do Chontae Cheatharlach. Ceapadh é ina Mháistir Fómhais agus chaith an chuid eile dá shaol sa phost sin. Theastaigh uaidh uair a bheith ina bhall den Chumann Reipéil agus bhí sé sásta éirí as a phost, ach thug Domhnall Ó Conaill air gan sin a dhéanamh. Bhí sé mór leis na hÉireannaigh Óga, le Tomás Dáibhís agus Séarlas Gabhánach Ó Dubhthaigh go háirithe. Scríobh Ó Dubhthaigh ina thaobh: ‘William Elliot Hudson . . . did, out of his private fortune in a provincialised city, that which opulent nobles and princes have sometimes done in free States, largely fostered native literature and art.’ Cara ba ea é freisin le Seán Ó Dálaigh agus Seán Ó Donnabháin. Ar 13 Feabhra 1845 scríobh Ó Donnabháin chuig John Windele: ‘We have opened an Irish class in the Royal Irish Academy, without the FULL consist [sic] of the Council, but I fear they will dissolve it, as the students are principally radicals and papists. We have W. Smith O’Brien, Esq., M.P., Mr Hudson, Dr Kane, T. Davis, Editor of the Nation, &c &c, twentyone in all’ (i gcló ag Pádraig de Brún in Éigse XVII, Cuid II, 1977-79).

Ba é ba mhó faoi deara an Cumann Ceilteach a bhunú in 1840 ina theach ag 39 Sráid Mhic Liam, Baile Átha Cliath, mar a raibh an triúr eile a luaigh Ó Donnabháin sa láthair, agus an Irish Archaeological Society in 1845, agus an dá chumann a chumascadh le chéile sa Chumann Oisíneach in 1853. D’íoc sé cuid mhaith de ghnáthchostais agus de chostais fhoilseacháin na gcumann sin, agus de chostas foilsithe The Spirit of the Nation agus na sraithe Library of Ireland. Thug sé síntiús mór don Acadamh Ríoga chun foclóir Gaeilge a chur le chéile agus gheall £1,000 eile dá mbeadh gá leis. Air a thiteadh an chuid ba throime de chostas The Citizen, iris pholaitiúil agus liteartha a bunaíodh in 1839. Bhí sé ina eagarthóir air agus a dheartháir Henry ina eagarthóir ceoil. Is léir ar alt leathmhagúil a bhí aige in Dublin Monthly Magazine in 1841 (i gcló ag Séamus Ó Casaide in The Irish Book Lover, Bealtaine-Meitheamh 1932) go raibh eolas aige ar an nGaeilge. San alt sin bhí sé ag fonóid faoi Thomas Moore toisc gur sa chló rómhánach (‘Anglo-Italian characters’) a bhí focail Ghaeilge aige. ‘Henceforth, then, we bid farewell to all Anglican attempts at expounding Irish words. Irish letters for Irish words and nothing else. If you can’t read them—learn! If you can’t pronounce them—learn! If you can’t understand them—learn!’ Seans maith gurbh i rang Edward Farmer i Sráid Charlemont a d’fhoghlaim sé an teanga; is ann a théadh a dheartháir Henry. Tá fianaise ar an eolas a chuir sé ar léann na Gaeilge sna nótaí in eagrán Uí Dhonnabháin de Leabhar na gCeart, 1847.

An fáth ar minic a ainm á lua inniu gur chum sé foinn na n-amhrán ‘Who fears to speak of ’98?’ (cé go luaitear ainm John Edward Pigot leis freisin), ‘Paddies evermore’ (nó ‘The Felons of our Land’), ‘The Men of Tipperary’, ‘Oh for a steed’, ‘The Sword’, ‘Bide your time’ . . .. I gcuntas Uí Dhálaigh tá an méid seo: ‘Amongst his other accomplishments, W.E. Hudson early displayed a taste for music and a musical talent of the highest order. That he had acquired a practical and theoretical knowledge of the science far beyond his compeers was often tested, and especially by Dr Russell, a highly-gifted clergyman, and himself a great theorist. This gentleman, aware of the acuteness of W. E. Hudson’s ear in distinguishing sound, put him to the severest proofs, without a single instance of failure; this induced him to test, through young Hudson, the accuracy of a theory which he held, that every natural sound, such as the roaring of a furnace, the howling of the storm, thunder, water falling in unison, were all one and the same note—the great A of nature. Day after day for nearly three months Hudson accompanied Dr Russell from place to place to catch what he called “natural sounds”; and so elated was he with the proofs given of the perfection of his own theory, that it required the utmost vigilance of his physicians to prevent his intellect becoming impaired. In after years W.E. Hudson was the composer of a Te Deum and several chants, none of which were ever published.’

D’éag sé ag 39 Sráid Mhic Liam, Baile Átha Cliath, an 23 Meitheamh 1853. Bhí teach ag a mhuintir in Ard na Gaoithe i nGleann an Phréacháin, Co. Chorcaí, agus is i reilig Ard na Gaoithe atá sé curtha. Níor phós sé. Deirtear in Irish Monthly in 1886 gur iompaigh sé ina Chaitliceach Rómhánach in Eanáir 1853. D’fhág sé 800 imleabhar, comhad de The Nation, 80 lámhscríbhinn agus airgead le huacht ag Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann. Scríobh sé A Treatise on the elective franchise and the registration of electors in Ireland under the Reform Act, with an appendix, containing all the acts in force and unrepealed relative to electors and elective rights in Ireland, 1832 agus The History of the rights and privileges of the Irish people and all the laws relative to their elective franchise under the Reform Act, 1847.

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Diarmuid Breathnach

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