Duine tábhachtach é i gcúrsaí logainmníochta agus teangeolaíochta, i gCúige Uladh go háirithe, agus, i gcás chanúintí an Bhéarla, sa Chabhán, i Liatroim, Dún na nGall, Muineachán agus . Bhí cur amach aige freisin ar ainmneacha pearsanta agus sloinnte Uladh. Gheofar eolas air, maille le liosta a shaothair, in The English dialects of Ulster: An Anthology of articles on Ulster Speech by G.B. Adams, 1986, in eagar ag Michael Barry agus Philip Tilling. Maidir lena eolas ar theangacha deir an bheirt sin: ‘One of his principal interests from the first was language and he was fluent in French and Flemish, had a working knowledge of Irish and German, besides an acquaintance with more exotic languages such as Berber, Coptic and Chinese.’ Deir Deirdre Flanagan: ‘By academic inclination he was a linguist – indeed, a veritable polyglot, with a fluent command of seven modern languages (including Modern Irish) and varying degrees of mastery of some further fifteen languages, ancient and modern’ (Bulletin of the Ulster Place-Name Society, 1981-2).

Ag 2 Ashville, Ascaill Sceitheog an Iarla, Béal Feirste, a rugadh é ar 11 Meán Fómhair 1917. ‘Yarn salesman’ an cur síos ar a athair George sa taifead beireatais. Ba í Edith Isobel Nelson a mháthair. Cuireadh oideachas air in Acadamh Ríoga Bhéal Feirste. Anuas go 1964 is mar cheannaí i dtionscal an lín a bhí sé ag obair. Mar bhall gníomhach den Belfast Naturalists Field Club (Cumann Mhachaire Nádúraithe Bhéal Feirste) bhí deis aige eolas leathan a chur ar chanúintí Béarla an cheantair. I gcomhar le Richard Hayward, a bhí pósta ar a aintín Elma Nelson, bhunaigh sé an Roinn Béaloideasa agus Canúna sa Chlub. D’fhoilsigh Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann an Introduction to the study of Ulster Dialects, 1948. Ó 1964 bhí post lánaimseartha aige mar Chartlannaí Canúna san Ulster Folk and Transport Museum agus as sin amach bhí sé in ann díriú go hiomlán ar na canúintí agus ar na hábhair eile ba spéis leis. ‘An unusual competence to deal with both phonological and lexical aspects of the two languages in Ireland, Irish and English, meant that the Museum’s committment to dialect studies could not have been initiated by any one person more able’ (Alan Gailey in Ulster Folklife, imleabhar 28, 1982).

Chuir sé eagar ar Ulster Dialects, 1964. In Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Nomina, Ulster Dialect Archive Bulletin, Ulster Folklife agus in Bulletin of the Ulster Place-name Society is mó a foilsíodh a shaothar. In An tUltach, Méan Fómhair 1962 tá alt leis, ‘Cartlann Chanúna Chúige Uladh’. Rinne sé staidéar ar staid na teanga Gaeilge mar a léiríodh sin sna daonáirimh 1851-1911 agus ar na logainmneacha iontu. Is toradh air sin gur féidir a thaispeáint cá raibh cainteoirí dúchais in Ulaidh i 1911. Aistríodh staidéar a bhí déanta aige ar théarmaíocht a bhaineann le triomú an fhéir go hUngáiris ‘for ready reference by students in Budapest’ (Gailey)!

Bhí ballraíocht aige in Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann, in The North of Ireland Family History Society agus in The Ulster Society for Medieval Latin Studies. Bhí sé ina chathaoirleach ar The Council of the Ulster Place-Name Society. Deir Deirdre Flanagan: ‘We shall remember him not only for the breadth of his scholarship and his willingness to share his expertise with the many who sought it, but also for his unaffected friendliness, his infectious good humour, his obvious enjoyment of life, his hospitality... and, indeed, for his Irish calligraphy. We are privileged to have had at our helm, as chairman from 1968 to 1981, Brendan Adams, dialectologist, linguist, onamastician – saoi ilteangach ilcheardach, ilghnóthach.’ Bhí sé ina bhall de Chomhairle Ealaíon Thuaisceart na hÉireann agus de Chomhairle Ealaíon na poblachta freisin, rud neamhghnách. Ní raibh coinne lena bhás 9 Deireadh Fómhair 1981. Tá tuairisc a bháis in The Irish Times 12 Deireadh Fómhair 1981. Bhí sé pósta agus iníon óg aige.

Diarmuid Breathnach

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