Tá alt i dtaobh an fhile seo ag Pádraig de Brún in Studia Hibernica 12 (1972) (‘Forógra do Ghaelaibh 1824’). Mar shagart thug sé cabhair ar leith do Dhomhnall Ó Conaill maidir leis an gCíos Caitliceach agus throid go dian in aghaidh bíoblóirí. Scríobh Eoghan Caomhánach agus Séamas Ó Caoindealbháin dánta ina onóir. Dealraíonn gurbh in Eas Géitine a bhí a mhuintir lonnaithe go dtí gur díshealbhaíodh iad agus gur aistríodar go Baile Caisleáin Mhic Innéirí (Baile an Chaisleáin inniu). De mhuintir Cheallacháin a mháthair. Bhí sé ina shagart paróiste i gCnoc an Doire in 1819-22 sula raibh sé ina shagart paróiste sa Chaisleán Nua, Co. Luimnigh.

In Irish Book Lover, Meán Fómhair-Deireadh Fómhair 1936 d’fhoilsigh Tomás de Bhál dán a scríobh an sagart seo ag iarraidh ar fhilí mar Shéamus Ó Caoindealbháin, Donncha Woulfe, Eoghan Caomhánach agus Seán Ó Domhnaill cabhrú leis in aghaidh na ‘New Lights’, gluaiseacht Phreispitéireach, agus chuir a thuilleadh eolais ar fáil faoi san iris chéanna Bealtaine-Meitheamh 1937. Cumadh leathdhosaen amhrán ag tacú leis; an fonn céanna bhí leo go léir, ‘Lomaire crochta as crann’. An scoil mhór a bhí ag Eoghan Caomhánach ar an gCnocán lámh leis an gCaisleán Nua in 1824, 346 daltaí ann, is dóigh gur bunaíodh í mar chuid den troid a bhí an sagart a dhéanamh in aghaidh na mbíoblóirí. In 1825 sa chéad tuarascáil a d’fhoilsigh na coimisinéirí oideachais dúradh gur lorg sé cúnamh ar Chumann Phlás Chill Dara. Ceann de rialacha an Chumainn go léifí na scrioptúir sna scoileanna a dtabharfadh siad cúnamh dóibh. Bhronn an Irish Society bíoblaí Gaeilge air agus bhíothas á léamh gach lá sa scoil; bhí súil aige le bíoblaí Béarla freisin.

I nGaeilge a thugadh sé a sheanmóirí: ‘His exertions during the years 1821 and 1822 in allaying the ferment which then prevailed in his neighbourhood, had evinced a laudable anxiety for the restoration of good order; and his sermons in the national language of our country always tended to soothe and direct the feelings of the humbler orders of society to the ways of peace’ (de Bhál). ‘Seanchuimhne eile a mhair ina thaobh ná go gcaitheadh an cléireach gabháil timpeall an bhaile agus cloigín láimhe aige á chur in iúl do dhaoine go raibh in am aifrinn go dtí gur chroch sé sin clog mór as crann i gclós an tseipéil agus thug dúshlán Phrotastúnaigh an bhaile é a stop’ (de Brún). Anuas go 1829 bhí cloig á mbualadh i séipéil Chaitliceacha in aghaidh an dlí.

D’aistrigh sé go Gaeilge aitheasc Dhomhnaill Uí Chonaill in aghaidh na gcumann rúnda. Scríobh sé chuig an gCumann Caitliceach um Meán Fómhair 1824: ‘I have had conversation with many of my brother priests in this district on the subject of Catholic Rent and they are determined to exert themselves to collect it. I have been requested to attend the different meetings which are to take place in my neighbourhood and you may rest assured that I will make the best use I can of the persecuted language of Ireland to stimulate my auditors, ardently and unaminously, to collect the Catholic Rent, and, believe me, that if my means were sufficient to bear me out I would willingly volunteer to preach in the Irish language in every parish of Ireland where it is understood, and by so doing, I am confident, and do boldly assert, that I would add as much to your funds as any other member in Ireland could; and should the Catholic Association encourage me, I will publish an Irish address to the peasantry of Ireland on the subject of Catholic Rent.’

Labhair Ó Conaill faoin aistriúchán úd ag cruinniú den Chumann Caitliceach. Shíl sé nár den chríonnacht ag an gcumann é a fhoilsiú; bhainfeadh costas leis agus ba bheag duine a bheadh in ann é a léamh. Moladh go léifí ón altóir é. Dúirt Ó Conaill an méid seo freisin: ‘Mr Fitzgerald was a zealous and active clergyman; he detected two Paddy McKews [agents provocateurs Oráisteacha]; they were both well-dressed fellows and affected to be Frenchmen; they spoke broken English and said they came to get the peasantry to assist the King of France and the Catholic Association (laughter). Mr Fitzgerald and his parishioners went in pursuit of these Frenchmen, who got to the Shannon, took a boat, steered to the County Clare side and escaped’ (tuairisc ar chruinniú den Catholic Association a tionóladh 30 Nollaig 1824 in Dublin Weekly Register 1 Eanáir 1825 i gcló ag de Brún) .

D’éag sé Lá Nollag 1826 (IBL, Bealtaine-Meitheamh 1937). Deir de Bhál: ‘A flat recumbent tombstone over the grave of this priest in Baile an Teampaill, beside Newcastle West, “erected by the Catholics of the Parish” recalls in English his many virtues. The greater portion of the sesquipedalian words of this tribute are obliterated by the elements and the feet of passers by. But his name, “Rev. Wm. Fitzgerald,” appears and the fact that he died at the early age of 37. He departed this life 25th December 1826 . . .. The grave of this priest and the few relics we have of his Gaelic verses may serve to recall the Hidden Ireland to those in that area who strive to revive an Irish Ireland.’ D’aimsigh de Brún 26 Nollaig mar dháta báis i dtaifid an pharóiste, agus 24 Nollaig i bpáipéar Thrá Lí, Chute’s Western Herald 30 Nollaig 1826.

Diarmuid Breathnach

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