I mBaile Átha Cliath a rugadh an staraí seo. Ní bhaineann de thábhacht leis i gcomhthéacs na Gaeilge ach gur cuid den chonspóid a d’éirigh i dtaobh foinsí dúchasacha is ea a shaothar agus go raibh baint aige le scoláirí na Gaeilge. Tá cuntas air ag Norman Moore in Dictionary of National Biography agus cuntais eile in Anthologia Hibernica, Márta 1793 (‘Memoirs of life and writings of Thomas Leland . . .’) agus in Brookiana, in eagar ag Charles Wilson. Bhí sé ar scoil ag an múinteoir cáiliúil Dr Thomas Sheridan roimh dhul isteach i gColáiste na Tríonóide dó. Rinneadh comhalta de i 1746, agus ghnóthaigh sé dochtúireacht sa diagacht i 1757. Ceapadh é ina Ollamh le Stair ann i 1761, ina Ollamh le Óráidíocht i 1762 agus ba é an Archbishop King Lecturer é i 1766. Deir J.V. Luce in Trinity College Dublin: the first 400 years gur scoláire maith Gréigise é. D’fhoilsigh sé roinnt leabhar, ina measc Life of Philip of Macedon; The Principles of human eloquence; agusTranslation of Orations of Demosthenes. Luaitear úrscéal leis freisin, a deirtear a scríobh sé i gcomhpháirt le Hall Hartson,Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, 1762 ach níor admhaigh sé riamh páirt a bheith aige ann.

Theastaigh ó John Hely Hutchinson, propast an Choláiste, go dtoghfaí a mhac féin mar ionadaí thar ceann an choláiste i dtoghchán parlaiminteach 1766. Thacaigh Leland leis. Bhí Leland pósta, rud nár ceadmhach ag comhaltaí, ach chun an comhar a íoc leis, b’fhéidir, a d’éirigh le Hutchinson dispeansáid a fháil dó.

Bhí sé ar dhuine de phátrúin Mhuiris Uí Ghormáin agus ina shéiplíneach ag an mBíocunta Townsend, an Tiarna Leiftenant, nuair a sheol Muiris dán fáiltithe chuigesean. Bhí an-bhaint aige leis an leabharlann sa Choláiste agus chuidigh go mór lena chara Cathal Ó Conchubhair chun teacht ar lámhscríbhinní ann. Scríobh Ó Conchubhair chuig Tomás Ó Gormáin i 1767: ‘I could have lent a shoulder to your present undertaking had I been in Dublin, where by the care of Dr Leland, we have undoubtedly the best collection of the Annals now in this island. That learned and worthy gentleman made me free of the College library.’ Bhí Leland molta aige cheana féin in Dissertations: on the history of Ireland, 1753. Leland a cheannaigh Annala Loch Cé agus a bhronn ar leabharlann an Choláiste é. Sa réamhrá lena eagrán de na hannála seo in 1858 deir William Maunsell Hennessy gur cheannaigh Leland é ag ceant leabharlann an Dr John Fergus (c.1700-c.1761). Deir Norman Moore: ‘This was perhaps his greatest service to Irish history.’ Scríobh sé An Examination of the arguments contained in a late introduction [by James Macpherson] to the history of the antient Irish and Scots, 1772. Ceapadh ina bhiocáire ar Bhré é agus thosaigh sé ag obair ar History of Ireland from the invasion of Henry II ...,1773. Tá le rá ag Norman Moore faoi seo: ‘This history contains few references to original authorities and is in great part based on the writings of Moryson, Ware, Cox, Harrison and Carte. It is a dry narrative and contains little of topography or of literature.’ Foilsíodh leagan Fraincise i Maestricht i 1779. Chuir an chaoi ar dhéileáil sé le héirí amach 1641 olc ar Chaitlicigh. D’ionsaigh Sylvester Ó hAllmhuráin an obair in Ierne defended: or a refution of such passages in the Rev. Dr L’s and the Rev Mr Whitaker’s works as seem to affect the authenticity of antient Irish history. Ní léir gur mhol aon duine an saothar. Ba é tuairim scríbhneora in Anthologia Hibernica: ‘By this publication Dr Leland never could entertain a rational hope of extending his fame, for he never evinced the smallest specimen of a fondness for original researches into Irish Antiquities: unless we can call such his An Examination of the arguments contained in a late introduction [by James Macpherson] to the history of the antient Irish and Scots, 1772.’ Dúirt sé freisin: ‘In this history, on which his friends with ill-judged fondness dwell, we find very trifling intimations of the constitution, government and laws of Ireland; nothing of its learning, commerce, coin or shipping; nothing of its architecture, poetry, or music, though admirable specimens of these exist; nothing of the language, dress, diversions, diet and customs of the Irish. What then, it may be asked, does it contain? I answer, a dull, monotonous detail of domestic convulsions, a weak government, and a barbarous people.’ In Transactions of the Gaelic Society scríobh Theophilus O’Flanagan: ‘The inadvertancies here noticed could not certainly be observed (from his utter ignorance of the Irish language) by the undoubted reviler of Irish literature; the Anti-Antiquary of Ireland, the Reverend Edward Leland ...’.

Deir Nollaig Ó Muraíle in The celebrated antiquary: Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh ..., 1996: ‘With the support of Edmund Burke, he [Cathal Ó Conchubhair] urged Leland to undertake a fairminded history of Ireland. To assist him he translated extracts from the Annals of the Four Masters and from other Irish sources for Leland, but the latter made disappointingly little use of these in his three-volume History of Ireland.’

I 1773 bhí sé ina bhiocáire ar Eaglais Naomh Áine i mBaile Átha Cliath agus dhá bhliain in a dhiaidh sin thug sé suas a chomhaltas i gColáiste na Tríonóide agus ghlac le beathúnas Ard Sratha i gContae Thír Eoghain. Bhí de chlú air gurbh é an seanmóirí ab fhearr i mBaile Átha Cliath é. Dúradh freisin gurbh é an duine ba charthannaí amuigh é. D’éag sé i mBaile Átha Cliath ar 22 Lúnasa 1785. In History of the University of Dublin, 1889 deir John William Stubbs go labhraíodh Samuel Johnson le meas agus le cion air. Ba chara le Edmund Burke é, agus bhí sé ar an dream a thugadh cuairteanna ar an Tiarna Charlemont in Marino. Phéinteáil Joshua Reynolds a phortráid. Duine dá shliocht ba ea propast Choláiste na Tríonóide, an staraí Francis Stewart Leland Lyons (1923-83).

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