‘Is aisteach gur gá an cheist a chur, cérbh iad muintir Neachtain. Cé chuirfeadh an cheist i Sasana, “cérbh iad na Brontes?” Agus is tábhachtaí, de mhórán, Seán Ó Neachtain i litríocht na Gaeilge ná na Brontes, ná Southey, ná Herrick i litríocht an Bhéarla’: is mar sin a bhaineann Donn Piatt an ceann dá aiste ar mhuintir Neachtain in Mhaireadar san ardchathair (1957). Scoláire, máistir scoile, aistritheoir, scríobhaí bisiúil, scríbhneoir cruthaitheach próis agus file ba ea Seán: ba é féin agus a mhac Tadhg croílár an ghrúpa de scoláirí, d’fhilí agus de scríbhneoirí a bhí lonnaithe i mBaile Átha Cliath i leath tosaigh an 18ú haois. Tá cuntais air: ag Nessa Ní Shéaghdha in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, 1989 (‘Irish Scholars and Scribes in Eighteenth-century Ireland’); ag Cathal Ó Háinle in Éire-Ireland, geimhreadh 1986 (‘Neighbours in Eighteenth-century Dublin: Jonathan Swift and Seán Ó Neachtain’); ag May H. Risk in Studia Hibernica 15, 1975 (‘Seán Ó Neachtuin: an Eighteenth-Century writer’); in Ag cruinniú meala... (1988) le Alan Harrison. Ag Breandán Ó Buachalla in Aisling ghéar: na Stíobhartaigh agus an t-aos léinn, 1603-1788 (1996) tá cuntas ar dhearcadh Seacaibíteach Uí Neachtain mar is léir ar a dhánta is a scéalta é. In A chronological account of nearly four hundred Irish writers (1820) liostaíonn Éadbhard Ó Raghallaigh 42 dán dá dhéantús. Tá dosaen dá dhánta curtha in eagar ag Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh in Filidheacht Sheagháin Uí Neachtain... Cuid a hAon (1911).

I gCluain Oileáin, paróiste an Droma, Co. Ros Comáin, a rugadh é. Tadhg ab ainm dá athair. Tá Risk sásta gurb in iad an Tadhg céanna agus a cheathrar mac, ar dhuine díobh Seán, atá liostaithe in Books of survey and distribution for Roscommon (1949). Chaill a mhuintir a dtailte le linn Chromail agus ba é an Tiarna FitzHarding a cheannaigh cuid díobh i bparóiste an Droma agus i bparóiste Chill Tuama. Coigistíodh an 130 acra a bhí ag Seán. Chaith sé tamall ag spailpíneacht i gContae na Mí sular aistrigh sé go Baile Átha Cliath. Phós sé Úna Ní Bhroin a raibh gaol aici, dhealródh sé, le hArdeaspag Bhaile Átha Cliath, Edmond Byrne. In Field Day anthology of Irish Writing IV (2002), sa chaibidil (‘Courts and Coteries II’) in eagar ag Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha, deirtear i dtaobh an dáin ‘Ó thugas mo ghrá dhuit, mo lámh is mo ghealladh’ gurbh í a bhean Úna Ní Bhroin a chum é ach go leagtar ar Winifred [Úna]de Nógla freisin é. ‘However, this tradition is probably spurious as Winifred Nogle and her putative marriage to Ó Neachtain are otherwise unknown.’ Is léir ar aiste Chathail Uí Áinle (‘Seán agus Tadhg Ó Neachtain: Cleamhnas agus Gaol’ 1. Úna de Nógla in Éigse XXXV, 2005) gur dá bhean Úna Ní Bhroin a chum Tadhg ‘Rachainn fón gcoill leat, a mhaighdean na n-órfholt’ agus nár phós sé Úna de Nógla. Deir Risk: ‘The poem in this manuscript has appended the words: “Finit agus fuair Seán an bhean”.’ Rugadh Tadhg in 1671 agus bhí beirt eile acu, Lúcás agus Anna. I gceantar Shráid Thomáis a bhí cónaí orthu. D’éag Úna ar 5 Feabhra 1706/7. Tá an dán caointe a chum Seán roghnaithe ag Breandán Ó Buachalla in Nua-Dhuanaire II (1976).

Chaith sé dua le haistriú scríbhinní cráifeacha ó Bhéarla agus ó Laidin. Is é breithiúnas Chathail Uí Áinle: ‘He was an abominable translator and nothing further need be said of this aspect of his work’. Le cúrsaí an lae agus leis an bpolaitíocht a bhaineann cuid dá dhéantús fileata. Meastar gur dánta coinbhinsiúnta iad ó thaobh stíle agus mothúcháin de, cé is moite de ‘Rachainn fón gcoill leat’. Deir Risk: ‘He shows, however, considerable dexterity in his handling of a variety of metrical forms and a degree of wit and felicity of phrase which compensate at times for a lack of real poetic talent. He reveals himself as a man of convivial tastes and Rabelaisian humour hiding for the most part behind a mask of conventional piety. He was very much a man of his time’. Is é tuairim Uí Áinle: ‘His more personal poetry – love-poems, laments for his dead wife and for departed friends, satires, messages of sympathy to his imprisoned clerical friends, complaints to the priests ofCook Street that his gloves had been stolen in the church, etc, etc, – tends to be rather shallow and not to achieve a sense of true involvement.’ I measc na n-aortha tá cinn ar Dhiarmuid Ó Conchubhair agus ar Chathal Ó Luinín. Seacaibíteach ba ea é agus scríobh sé in aghaidh na sagart a shéan na Stíobhartaigh in aibiúráisean 1709 (‘Dhá fhear déag is Píobaire’ in eagar ag Pádraig Ó Fágáin in Éigse na hIarmhí, 1985) agus in aghaidh na Banríona Áine agus Rí Seoirse I a theacht i gcoróin. Chum sé caoineadh ar Mháire, an dara banchéile ag Séamus II, in 1715.

Chuir Eoghan Ó Neachtain eagar ar Stair Éamuinn Uí Chléire de réir Sheáin Uí Neachtain (1918). Ba é tuairim Robin Flower go raibh sé bunaithe ar a shaol féin: Deir Éadbhard Ó Raghallaigh faoi seo: ‘... written, it would appear, for the purpose of turning into ridicule persons learning the English language.’ Deir Declan Kiberd (Irish Classics, 2000): ‘The author, caught between the desire to mock the old heroes in a hilarious parody and the wish to supply a more complex, modern psychological motivation, opted for a mock-heroic strategy.’ Is é a deir Ó Háinle: ‘This question of whether the story is autobiographical or not is probably completely irrelevant: certainly it does not affect our appreciation of Ó Neachtain’s skill in handling his material, particularly the various elements of allegory involved in the tale. Unfortunately the end of the story is mangled. The hero, having recovered his well-being and his dignity sets up school and it is here that he meets the youth who speaks the unintelligible English. An appendix is then stitched on in which is presented the other lad who speaks richly fluent Irish. This material is ... poignantly relevant comment on the developing linguistic situation in Ireland, but coming at the end of Stair Éamoinn Uí Chléirigh it only serves to confuse the conclusion of what, up to that point, had been a relatively flawless narrative.’ Scríobh sé scéalta eile: ‘An Gleacaí Géaglonnach’, ‘Imeachtaí Cúigear’ agus an tríú scéal, ‘Jacobides et Carina’, atá bunaithe ar shaol James Fitzjames, Diúc Berwick, mac neamhdhlisteanach Shéamuis II. Deir Alan Harrison in Oxford DNB gur éag sé i dteach Thaidhg, a mhac, i Sráid an Iarla sna Saoirsí, 9 Márta 1729 ag 9.00 a.m. Dúirt Tadhg gur ar leaba a bháis a chum sé ‘Do ghuidh mé Muire Mháthair’ (in eagar ag Risk).

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