Tá cuntas gairid ar a shaol ag T. F. O’Sullivan in The Young Irelanders, 1944 agus tá aiste dar teideal ‘John E. Pigot and Thomas Davis’ ag Denis Gwynn in Studies, Meitheamh 1949. Ar 28 Feabhra 1822, dar le cuntas a scríobh Georgina Clinton agus Sinéad Sturgeon sa Dictionary of Irish Biography, igCill Uird, Co. Chorcaí, a rugadh an tÉireannach Óg seo a chuir ceol le bailéid náisiúnta agus a rinne bailiúchán de sheanfhoinn na hÉireann. Ba é an mac ba shine é ag David Richard Pigot (1797-1873), an chéad Chaitliceach le blianta fada a ceapadh ina Phríomhbharún ar an Státchiste. Ba í Catherine Page a mháthair. I Mainistir Fhear Maí a bhí sé ar scoil sula ndeachaigh sé go Coláiste na Tríonóide (1839-43) mar ar éirigh sé cairdiúil le Thomas Davis. Glaodh chun an bharra é in 1844 agus bhí ar dhuine de na habhcóidí a chosain na hÉireannaigh Óga. Bhí baint aige leis an Nation ó thosach agus bhíodh idir phrós agus fhilíocht aige ann faoin ainm ‘Fermoy’; luaitear go háirithe an dá bhailéad ‘Up for the Green’ agus ‘Erin—Our Own Little Isle’. Chuir sé ceol le cuid de na hamhráin in Spirit of the Nation, ‘The Men of Tipperary’ ina measc. Bhí baint aige leis an Irish Archaeological Society agus bhí ina chisteoir ag an gCumann Ceilteach. Mar bhall d’Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann bhí sé ina rúnaí ar choiste an fhoclóra Gaeilge ann: in 1859 ba é a d’ullmhaigh an ‘Memorandum on the way in which the new dictionary of the Irish language should be prepared, under the direction of Dr O’Donovan and Mr Curry’. Bhí sé ina bhall de choiste Chumann Reipéil, gan amhras, agus ar chomhairle an Irish Confederation. Deir Gwynn gurbh é a bhí mar ‘special correspondent on military preparations’ sa Nation in 1848 agus, nuair a bhí Smith O’Brien ‘faoi ghlas’ i dteach na Parlaiminte i Londain, go raibh sé ar dhuine den toscaireacht a thug cuairt air, iad go léir in éide ghlas na nÉireannach Aontaithe.

Ní raibh baint aige le hÉirí Amach 1848. Scríobh Charles Gavan Duffy in Four Years of Irish History: ‘I undertook this book resolved to evade no truth, however painful; and it must be written that the bright young enthusiast, who we were accustomed to liken to Robert Emmet, and to describe as a better St. Just, failed us in this extremity. Not through pusillanimity, or egotism, but because he was not able to resist the tears and despair of his family. His father was a just and considerate man, but he was blinded by the responsibilities of an official position to the true interest of his son.’ Is ceart a rá gurbh iad an tírghrá agus an náisiúnachas faoi deara nár éirigh leis dul chun cinn a dhéanamh sa dlí in Éirinn, an fáth, b’fhéidir, a ndeachaigh sé go Bombay in 1865. Shaothraigh sé fortún ann sular fhill abhaile tar éis cúig bliana. Bhí sé pósta ar Anne Prendergast, ceoltóir oilte. Is cosúil nár fhóin an tamall san India dá shláinte agus d’éag sé i dteach a athar ag 15 Cearnóg Mhuirfean Thoir 1 Iúil 1871. Cuireadh é i nGlas Naíon.

Thug sé cabhair d’Eoghan Ó Comhraí nuair a bhí léachtaí ollscoile á n-ullmhú aige; ghabh an scoláire mór buíochas leis in Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History, 1861. Chuir William K. Sullivan eagar ar an gcuid eile díobh in On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish agus sa réamhrá scríobh: ‘In undertaking this task, so foreign to my ordinary pursuits, I knew that I could rely on the help of my dear friend, the late John E. Pigot, who besides being thoroughly acquainted with everything connected with the history, literature and arts of Ireland, was also intimately acquainted with the special subjects of all O’Curry’s Lectures, having aided him in their preparation. I looked upon myself indeed as only the nominal editor, feeling sure from my friend’s love of the subject, and his respect for the labours and memory of O’Curry, that he would spare no labour or trouble in this matter, as indeed he never did whenever a patriotic object or an act of friendship was in question.’

Chaitheadh sé laethanta saoire an tsamhraidh ag scríobh amhrán ó bhéal na ndaoine. Chuir an Dáibhíseach litir chuige ó Chorcaigh in 1843: ‘I wish you were here to take down words and music from every second person I meet.’ Nuair a d’éag an bailitheoir William Forde in 1850 is chuig Pigot a tháinig a lámhscríbhinní ceoil. Chuirtí achainíocha i gcló in The Nation ag iarraidh ar léitheoirí foinn a chur chuig an oifig acu. Tuairimíonn Breandán Breathnach (Ceol agus Rince na hÉireann, 1989) gur ar an gcuma sin a thosaigh Pigot ag bailiú ceolta. Chabhraigh sé le Seán Ó Dálaigh chun ceol a réiteach le haghaidh The Poets and Poetry of Munster, 1849. Bhí sé ar dhuine de bheirt rúnaí an cheolchumainn a d’fhoilsigh The Ancient Music of Ireland, 1855 le George Petrie. Deir Breathnach go bhfuil tuilleadh is 3,000 fonn sa bhailiúchán a rinne sé ach, toisc nach raibh aon scrúdú déanta air, deir sé: ‘ . . . ní féidir a rá go barainneach cé mhéad den cheol a ndearna sé tarrtháil air.’ D’fhág a dheirfiúr an bailiúchán ag P. W. Joyce. Chuir seisean 157 de na foinn i gcló in Old Irish Music and Songs, 1909 agus d’fhág an bailiúchán le huacht ag Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann.

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Diarmuid Breathnach

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