Tá an dá thuairim ann i dtaobh a aigne i leith úsáid na Gaeilge i ngnóthaí Eaglais na hÉireann. Scoláire léannta agus staraí aitheanta ba ea é; bhí spéis ar leith aige i luathstair na hÉireann agus ina raibh sna sean-lámhscríbhinní. Mar Phríomháidh na hÉireann agus mar Phrotastúnach stóinsithe dílis is é a theastaigh uaidh ná a thaispeáint gurbh í an eaglais leasaithe oidhre ceart dílis luath-Chríostaíocht na hÉireann. Tá fianaise ann go raibh sé toilteanach go mbainfeadh staraithe Caitliceacha leas as cibé lámhscríbhinní Gaeilge a bhí ina sheilbh. Tá cuntas ginearálta air ag R. Buick Knox in James Ussher: Archbishop of Armagh, 1967. Gheofar cuntais ar a shaol eaglasta agus ar chúrsaí eile a shaoil in Dictionary of National Biography agus i bhfoclóirí beathaisnéise agus i leabhair thagartha i gcoitinne. Suíonn an aiste 'James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh' (Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans; Seventeenth century essays, 1987 le Hugh Trevor-Roper) i saol polaitiúil a linne é. Aistí a bhaineann le lámhscríbhinní agus lena aigne i leith na Gaeilge agus an chultúir dúchais is ea 'Archbishop Ussher and Gaelic Culture' le J. Th. Leerssen (Studia Hibernica 22/23, 1982/3) agus 'Ussher as a Collector of Manuscripts' le William O'Sullivan (Hermathena, Samhain 1956).

I mBaile Átha Cliath a rugadh é ar 4 Eanáir 1581. Deirfiúr le Richard Stanihurst (1547-1618), ollamh i gColáiste na Sasanach i Lobháin, ba ea a mháthair Margaret. Bhí post ag a athair Arland mar chléireach Chúirt na Seansaireachta i mBaile Átha Cliath. Bhí a uncail ina ardeaspag ar Ard Mhacha agus bhí cáil ar mhuintir Uiséir i gcúrsaí riaracháin na coilíneachta in Éirinn leis na céadta bliain. Bhí James ar dhuine de na chéad mhic léinn i gColáiste na Tríonóide. Bhí dúil aige i gcúrsaí diagachta agus oirníodh é i mBealtaine 1602. Ba léir dó go luath go dtéadh cosantóirí Caitliceacha ar iontaoibh na staire agus na seanfhoinsí barántúla agus rinne sé staidéar domhain ar scríbhinn i na nAithreacha. 'A dominant theme in the work of James Ussher, the First Professor, was controversy with Catholicism, even from his student days, when he set himself the task of reading the whole of the church fathers, so as to be better equipped to demonstrate the rectitude of the protestant position' (Alan Ford, The Protestant Reformation in Ireland 1590-1641, 1997). Rinne a chumas mar staraí é a dhaingniú sa chreideamh Protastúnach ach deir Knox: 'Nevertheless, his methods of marshalling and assessing the evidence was usually so judicial that he was sometimes accused of favouring the Roman side and of providing a distinguished name and arguments for Roman protagonists against the Reformed Churches.' Ní mór a rá go raibh sé riamh diongbháilte in aghaidh faoiseamh creidimh a thabhairt do Chaitlicigh; bhí de cháil air go raibh dearcadh cúng éadulangach aige ar gach creideamh ach amháin a chreideamh féin.

Lena mbua i gCionn tSáile i 1601 a cheiliúradh chuir Arm Shasana £1,800 ar fáil do Leabharlann an Choláiste agus cuireadh Uiséir anonn go Sasana a cheannach leabhar i 1603 agus i 1606; de réir a chéile bhí sé ag cur eolais ar sheanleabhair agus lámhscríbhinní in Oxford, Cambridge agus Londain. Chuir sé aithne ar an mbailitheoir mór Thomas Bodley agus ar na hársaitheoirí William Camden agus Sir Robert Corton. Bhí stádas ard bainte amach aige i gColáiste na Tríonóide faoi 1605. I 1607 ceapadh é ina ollamh le diagacht agus ba é an chéad duine riamh sa phost sin é: athraíodh a theideal go hOllamh le Conspóidí Diagachta i gceann cúpla bliain. Ba ghairid gur ceapadh é ina Leas-Phropast agus ina Leas-Seansailéir. Ceapadh é ina easpag ar an agus Cluain Mhic Nóis i 1619 agus i 1625 ina ardeaspag ar Ard Mhacha. Is mar gheall ar an drogall a bhí air riamh dul i mbun riaracháin a dhiúltaigh sé a bheith ina Phropast i gColáiste na Tríonóide agus chuirtí ina leith mar easpag gur mhinice i mBaile Átha Cliath agus i Londain é ná ina dheoise féin. Moladh dó gurbh fhearr a dhéanfadh sé leas na heaglaise a bheith mór lena chomharsana Caitliceacha sa deoise ná a bheith ag caitheamh anuas ar a n-ailt chreidimh i mBaile Átha Cliath. Phós sé Phoebe Challoner i 1614.

Is de bharr thionchar Uiséir a ceapadh William Bedell ina Phropast ar Choláiste na Tríonóide i 1627. Deirtear in DNB: 'Their relations became strained soon after Bedell's elevation (1629) to the sees of Kilmore and Ardagh. Ussher disapproved of Bedell's leniency to Roman catholics, and was averse from the policy of encouraging the Irish language as a means of religious instruction.' Insíonn Nicholas Williams (I bprionta i leabhar : na Protastúin agus prós na Gaeilge 1567-1724, 1986) scéal an easaontais: bhí iarrtha ag Uiséir go dtabharfadh Bedell beinifís dá iarshéiplíneach Nicholas Bernard ach ní raibh Bedell sásta sin a dhéanamh ar roinnt cúiseanna, ina measc nach raibh Gaeilge ag Bernard. Scríobh Bedell chuig Uiséir um Shamhain 1633 i dtaobh an phlean a bhí aige don Bhíobla agus chun ABC, an Ár nAthair, an Chré, agus na hAitheanta i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge a thabhairt amach. Deir Knox: 'Ussher's initial sympathy for the plan soon ended; upon further consideration, aided perhaps by the prompting of Bernard he came out against any plan which would tend to preserve or foster among the Irish an awareness of their own nationality.' Is fiú léirmheas William O'Sullivan ar bheathaisnéis Knox in Irish Historical Studies, XVI, 1968 a léamh, ach go háirithe a bhfuil le rá aige faoin míléamh a déantar ar aigne an ardeaspaig i leith úsáid na Gaeilge san eaglais; deir sé go nglactar leis gur chuir sé moill ar oirniú Shasanaigh áirithe go dtí go raibh ar a chumas seanmóir Ghaeilge a thabhairt. Bréagnaíonn Leerssen freisin tuairim sin Knox: 'It is especially Ussher's supposed opposition to Bishop Bedell's translation of the Old Testament into Irish which has branded him, in the eyes of posterity, as one of the most implacably anti-Gaelic among the pre-1641 Anglo-Irish. Thus, it is mainly as Bedell's adversary that Ussher is mentioned in widely-used textbooks of Irish literary history such as Douglas Hyde's Literary History of Ireland which tells us that Ussher's “desire to see the Irish and their language crushed and in extremis was stronger than the desire to make Protestants of them” .... The allegation is, in fact quite untrue and is based on what is obviously a misinterpretation of a letter from Ussher to Bedell by his nineteenth-century biographer and editor, C.R. Elrington.' Tugann sé ráitis John Richardson mar fhianaise ar a bháúla a bhí Uiséir le plean Bhedell agus tarraingíonn sé as litir Laidine a scríobh Ussher chuig scoláire Ollannach go raibh ardmheas ag Uiséir ar an nGaeilge mar theanga ('Ussher's sincere regret at the obscurity of, and lack of interest in, Irish as one of the European venaculars is expressed quire forcefully; his praise of Irish as an elegant and opulent tongue reflects an attitude closer to that of the Franciscan grammarians .. .'). Dar le Leerssen go raibh cáil chomh mór sin san Eoraip ar Uiséir mar theangeolaí, go háirithe maidir le teangacha an domhain thoir, gurbh amhlaidh a mhúscail sé spéis sa Ghaeilge: 'Ussher should be recognised as the man whose achievements and prestige as antiquary and philologist, both within and outside Ireland as well as his scholarly disinterestedness, created not a few of the conditions necessary to salvage a cultural heritage from the ruins of the disintegrating Gaelic order: In Dr. Bedell and Mr. King: the Making of the Irish Bible, 2001 deir Terence McCaughey: "There is no reason to think that Ussher, insofar as he focused on it, was other than supportive of Bedell's language policy during the latter’s provostship .... It was not until Bedell became Bishop of Kilmore and had responsibility for providing an adequate clergy that divergences in emphasis between the two men began to appear.'

Admhaítear coitianta nach ligeadh aon chlaontuairim dó cabhair a dhiúltú do scoláirí Caitliceacha mar Chonail Mac Eochagáin, Stephen White, Michél Ó Cléirigh, Thomas Messingham, Luke Wadding, David Rothe agus na Froinsiasaigh i mBaile Átha Cliath lena linn. Scríobh Thomas Strange, fear a bhí ard sna Froinsiasaigh chuig Wadding 20 Samhain 1629: 'I apprised you a while ago of the esteem in which you and your works arc held by the Primate Ussher .... He has a famous library of manuscripts; let me know whatever you would have me search out in the said library for he allows me access to it.' An t-ainm 'Nicholas Laffan' a chuireadh sé lena litreacha chuig Wadding and Rothe chun a choimeád faoi cheilt cérbh é féin (O'Sullivan). Deir Leerssen: 'We can therefore only draw the conclusion that whatever Ussher's views as a churchman were concerning the position of protestantism in the Kingdom of Ireland his views as a scholar and antiquary were marked by genuine collegiality and respect for learning and scholarship - a respect that was obviously stronger than any religious prejudice and which does credit to all those scholars concerned.' Luaitear minic go leor Leabhar Mór Leacáin a bheith tugtha ar iasacht aige agus gur leis Leabhar Bhaile an Mhóta. Luaitear freisin go dtugadh Fearghal Ó Gadhra cabhair dó i gcúrsaí lámhscríbhinní Gaeilge a fháil. Ba é, deirtear, a d'adhain spéis Sir James Ware san ársaíocht an chéad lá. Deir McCaughey: 'James Ussher may well have had a knowledge of Irish, but he certainly relied on others to construe the texts in older forms of the language found in manuscripts which he acquired or borrowed.' Tuairimíonn an t-údar céanna go raibh an caidreamh a bhí aige ar Mhac Eochagáin ar aon dul leis an gcaidreamh a bhí ag Ware leis an Dubhahach Mac Fhirbhisigh.

Bhí sé i Sasana nuair a tharla Éirí Amach 1641 agus níor fhill sé ar Éirinn. Cé gur ríogaí é bhí meas ag Cromail air; Piúratánach ba ea é agus mhol sé uair go ndéanfaí réiteach idir an easpagóideachas agus an Preispitéireachas. D'éag sé in Reigate, Surrey, 21 Márta 1656 agus Cromail a d'ordaigh gur in Westminster a adhlacfaí é. Bhí a leabharlann le cur ar ceant agus spéis inti ag an gCairdinéal Mazarin agus ag Rí na Danmhairge. Ach d'fhéach Cromail chuige go gceannódh an stát é ar £2,200; arm Chromail in Éirinn a dheonaigh cuid den suim sin agus ní annamh a deirtear gurbh í seo an t-aon chomaoin a chuir Cromail riamh ar Éirinn. Is chuig Coláiste na Tríonóide a tháinig an bailiúchán luachmhar sin ar ball, Leabhar Mór Leacáin ina measc.

Scríobh sé cuid mhór agus tugadh 17 imleabhar dá shaothar amach in 1847-64. A Discourse of the Religion anciently professed by the Irish, 1631 an leabhar is minice a luaitear. D'fhoilsigh Charles Vallancey [86] tráchtas a scríobh sé i 1609 dar teideal 'Corbes, Erenachs. and Termon Lands' in Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, 1770. Bhí cáil tairngire air agus foilsíodh cuid dár gheall sé, más fíor, in Strange and Remarkable Prophecies and Predictions, 1678. Ach ba é an rud ba mhó a thabhaigh clú dó gur éirigh leis a dhéanamh amach, in Annales Veteris et Novi Testomenti, 1650-4, gur ar 23 Deireadh Fómhair 4004 roimh Chríost a chruthaigh Dia an domhan, comhaireamh ar glacadh leis. Pléann Cathaldus Giblin an tuairimíocht i dtaobh a iompaithe ina Chaitliceach in 'Aegidius Chaissy, O.F.M. and James Ussher, Protestant Archbishop of Armagh' (Irish Ecclesiastical Record LXXXV, 1956). Deir an t-údar: 'That he possibly died a Catholic as suggested in the Commentarius Rinuccinianus is not borne out by any evidence at our disposal. Indeed, an anonymous document in the Barberini collection of manuscripts to which reference has seldom been made when treating of Ussber's last months on earth confirms the accepted view that he died a Protestant.' Is léir ar alt Uí Ghibealláin go bhfuil bunús leis an tuairim go raibh machnamh á dhéanamh aige ar dhul i dtreo na Róimhe.

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