‘Stokes, O’Grady and Windisch, that great triad of later 19th century Irish scolars, the men who caught the torch from the hands of Zeuss, O’Curry and O’Donovan and handed it on undimmed to the present generation—the last and in some respects the greatest of them has now passed away’. Ag tagairt do bhás Windisch, in Studies Iml. VIII 1919, a bhí Eleanor Knott.

In Dresden sa Ghearmáin a rugadh é ar 4 Meán Fómhair 1844. Bhí sé ar scoil sa Kreuzschule ansiúd sula ndeachaigh sé a dhéanamh staidéir ar fhocleolaíocht, idir chlasaiceach agus chomparáideach, in Ollscoil Leipzig. Ba é an tOllamh Hermann Brockhaus a dhírigh a aird ar an léann Ceilteach. Bhí a chéad phost aige sa Thomas-Gymnasium in Leipzig agus ansin chaith sé tamall ag clárú lss na Sanscraite in Oifig na hIndia i Londain. Chuir sé spéis timpeall an ama seo sa chonspóid a tharla i bhfad roimhe sin i dtaobh Oisín agus na laoithe Fiannaíochta. Deir Knott go raibh sé ag foghlaim Gaeilge faoi stiúir Standish Hayes O’Grady. Bhuail sé le Whitley Stokes in 1871 i mBaile Átha Cliath agus mhair a gcairdeas ar feadh a saoil.

Bhí post ollaimh aige i Leipzig sa bhliain sin agus an bhliain dár gcionn ceapadh é ina ollamh le focleolaíocht chomparáideach in Heidelberg. Ó 1875 bhí a leithéid chéanna de phost aige in Strasburg agus ansin in 1877 ceapadh mar chomharba ar a sheanollamh féin é ar ais in Leipzig. Comhartha ar an meas a bhí air in Éirinn gur chuir Conradh na Gaeilge dileagra maisithe chuige i 1902 nuair a bhí 25 bliana caite aige sa phost sin. Gan amhras bhí sé i measc na scoláirí ar bhailigh Dubhghlas de hÍde fianaise ar son na Gaeilge uathu le cur os comhair an Choimisiúin um Oideachas Meánach in 1899. Ar na mic léinn a bhí aige in Leipzig bhí Kuno Meyer agus Heinrich Zimmer.

Leis an Meán-Ghaeilge a chaith Windisch a dhúthracht. ‘What Zeuss did for Old Irish Windisch did for the in some ways more complicated study of Middle Irish ... by a painstaking study of all available Irish documents [he] laid in the first volume of his Irische Texte the foundations of a strictly scientific study of the language in which the sagas and earlier poems are written’, a deir Knott. Chuir sé eagar ar an gcéad imleabhar sin in 1880. Is i gcomhar le Stokes agus Thurneysen a chuir sé eagar ar na himleabhair eile. Norman Moore a d’aistrigh a A concise Irish grammar with pieces for reading, 1882; foilsíodh an bunleabhar Kurzgefasste Irische Grammatik in 1874 agus ní raibh aon ní eile dá leithéid ag mac léinn na Sean-Ghaeilge go ceann i bhfad. D’aistrigh J.P. McSwiney an leabhar céanna froin teideal Compendium of Irish Grammar, 1883. Chuir sé féin agus Stokes eagar ar ‘Togail Troí’ faoin teideal The Destruction of Troy, 1884. Ba iad an dá eagrán den Táin Bó Cuailngne i 1905 agus 1912 a shaothar Gaeilge deiridh. Bronnadh féilscríbhinn air i 1914 agus an bhliain chéanna tugadh amach uimhir speisialta de Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie ina onóir. Gan amhras is iomaí saothar eile a rinne sé taobh amuigh de ghort na Gaeilge, sa tSanscrait agus Pali go háirithe. Bhí sé ina eagarthóir ar feadh i bhfad ar Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morganlandischen.

Bhí sé pósta ar iníon leis an eacnamaí Wilhelm Rosche. Cailleadh mac leis sa Chéad Chogadh Mór. D’éag sé féin 30 Deireadh Fómhair 1918. Scríobh Robin Flower agus A.A.McDonnell cuntais air in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1919. Bhí cuntas ag Vendryes in Revue Celtique XXXVIII 1919 agus ag Kuno Meyer in Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie XIII 1919.

Tugtar suas dó nach n-ionsaíodh sé scoláirí eile ná a saothar. In Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Vol. L 1920 deirtear: ‘Those who had the privilege of meeting him will treasure the remembrance of a refined and gentle nature, free from all bitterness and self-esteem’. Bhí an méid seo aige i litir chuig Sir John Gilbert in 1888: ‘You know that I take a very great interest in the old Irish language and literature, though my first enthusiasm is cooled down a little by the feuds and personal attacks among the Celtic scholars’. Ghortaigh léirmheas a rinne Zimmerp ar Irische Texte go mór é. ‘I fully agree that the old valuable texts of Irish literature ought to be made more accessible to the general public by trustworthy translations. I, as well as other Celtologues outside Ireland, will be ready to contribute to the aim as well as they can. But first of all the national Irish scholars ought to apply themselves to the same work’.

Seo é breithiúnas Robin Flower air: ‘It is, indeed, as a sober and cautious collector of material that Windisch will be remembered in Celtic studies. He was not one of these brilliant innovators who leave the impress of their personality upon the studies of their predilection. The great discoveries ... were not his. And he had not the fine literary tact of his collaborator, Whitley Stokes, or the acute and cool judgment of Rudolph Thurneysen. But his texts and collections of lexicographical and other illustrative material rendered an indispensable service to Irish studies ...’.

Tá tuilleadh eolais faoin mbeatha seo ar fáil ar http://dib.cambridge.org/ »

Diarmuid Breathnach

Máire Ní Mhurchú