Bhí sé ar dhuine de na múinteoirí náisiúnta ab aitheanta i measc lucht na hathbheochana i dtús an chéid. I Machaire na Coille, Ráth Maoláin, Co. Dhún na nGall, a rugadh é 12 Deireadh Fómhair 1868. Feirmeoir ba ea a athair John agus ba í Mary MacAtire a mháthair. Bhí ar a laghad triúr deirfiúracha agus beirt deartháiracha aige. Sa bhailiúchán de ghearrthóga Sheáin Mhic Fhloinn sa Leabharlann Náisiúnta tá litir dar dáta 7 Aibreán 1890 ó Euseby Cleaver ag lorg a sheoladh—bhí Domhnall ar dhuine de chomhfhreagraithe Sheáin sa Tuam News. In 1894 fuair sé teastas le haghaidh múineadh na Gaeilge le linn dó bheith ag obair i scoil Cheathrú Domhain, Ráth Maoláin (Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge, 1 Aibreán 1895). Bhí sé ina phríomhoide i scoil an Spidéil i gContae na Gaillimhe ina dhiaidh sin. Bhí sraith dar teideal ‘Irish words and phrases’ i gcló in Tuam Herald aige in 1899. Chuir foilsitheoir i Londain, Alfred Nutt, a bhailiúchán de scéalta béaloidis i mBéarla amach, Peasant lore from Gaelic Ireland, 1900 (tháinig an dara heagrán amach cúpla bliain ina dhiaidh sin). I gConamara agus i nDún na nGall a bhailigh sé na scéalta seo. ‘The majority of them, however, were related to me in the Béarla briste of a western peasant who was invariably obliged, whenever he found it necessary to emphasise any point and to impress it upon my mind, to have recourse to the vernacular’. In Today and tomorrow in Ireland dúirt Stephen Gwynn: ‘One of the latest [observers of the Celtic life], Mr Daniel Deeney is, at a guess, a schoolmaster; whoever he is, his little book ... is excellently done and full of queer tales’.

Bhuaigh sé duaiseanna Oireachtais i 1906 agus 1907 ar bhailiúcháin de sheanscéalta nár cuireadh i gcló riamh. Chuir sé eagar ar léitheoir scoile Shéamuis Uí Bheirn, Páistidheacht, g.d.

I 1900 bronnadh duaiseanna an Chliabhraigh ar a scoil mar gheall ar a fheabhas a bhí an teanga ag na daltaí ab fhearr ann (An Claidheamh Soluis 31 Márta 1900). Bhí sé ag múineadh ranga i gcraobh na Gaillimhe de Chonradh na Gaeilge an bhliain chéanna. Faoi 1902 bhí sé ina rúnaí ag Craobh an Spidéil. Toghadh é bliain amháin ina bhall den Choiste Gnó. Bhí sé an-ghníomhach i rith an ama i ngnóthaí Chumann na Múinteoirí. I 1901 bhí sé ina theachta chuig mórchomhdháil múinteoirí in Great Yarmouth agus bhí an Méara ag fáiltiú roimh mhúinteoirí ó náisiúin éagsúla ina dteangacha féin. Bhí an Duibhneach ina bhall de pháirtí an ardáin. D’éiligh sé go bhfáilteofaí i nGaeilge roimh na hÉireannaigh agus géilleadh dó (ibid 18 Bealtaine 1901).

Bhí cáil air mar mhúinteoir a raibh dul chun cinn ann. Bhaineadh sé úsáid as laindéar draíochta ina chuid rang (ibid 5 Lúnasa 1905). Bhí sé ar dhuine den seisear timirí a ceapadh faoin mBord Náisiúnta Oideachais i 1907. Chreideadh múinteoirí na scoileanna eile sa comharsanacht go mba bhuntáiste ag oidí Scoil an Spidéil an Tiarna Chill Aithneann bheith ina bhall den Bhord.

Thug Stephen Gwynn cuairt ar an scoil sa Spidéal chun bualadh le Domhnall agus d’fhág againn cuntas ar an gcuairt sin in A Holiday in Connemara, 1909: ‘The school was a good-sized one, and at the end farthest from the door a monitor was teaching the map of Ireland to a group of small boys—in Irish. It was pleasant to hear the answers coming pat, and to know that the children understood what they were saying. It was a lesson really in English as well as in geography, for the question was often put a second time in English and answered in English. Then, in response to a request of mine, the blackboard was put up, and the monitor went through a proposition in Euclid; it was interesting to see how the vocabulary adapted itself to this purpose. And finally a small frieze-coated native, barelegged and barefooted like the rest, stood at the board, and in his turn went steadfastly through the proposition that I called for—in Irish’. Agus tá an méid seo le rá ag Gwynn faoi cheapachán Uí Dhuibhne: ‘People about Spiddal will begin to say to one another that the Irish which they have so plenty, and by which in many cases they set so little store, must be good for something after all, since the schoolmaster is after getting a fine post under the Board because he was so great for the Irish’.

Sa tuairisc ar bhás a mháthar in Western People 26 Aibreán 1919 deirtear gur i gCaisleán an Bharraigh a bhí sé lonnaithe. Tá sin ag teacht lena bhfuil ráite ag Séamus Ó Fiannachta in It all happened: reminiscences of Séamus Fenton, 1948. Bhí seisean ar dhuine de na cigirí i Maigh Eo ó 1907 go 1915: ‘Mr Deeny, one of the six, who had as centre the town of Castlebar, performed much strenuous work for the language revival, not indeed without a good deal of opposition. However, we were able to let the parents see that with skilful bilingual teaching, the status of English did not deteriorate in the school, and it began to dawn slowly on most people that the learning of Irish evoked a spirit of national self-respect in teachers and pupils’. Luann Aindrias Ó Muimhneacháin an Duibhneach in Dóchas agus duainéis mar dhuine de na timirí a bhí ag obair faoi Dháil Éireann le bliain roimh Fheabhra 1922 ach ní thugann aon tagairt mar fhianaise. Is í an tuairisc a bhí in Misneach 25 Feabhra 1922: ‘Rinneadh cigirí scoile de cheathrar timirí Gaeilge a bhí ag obair le blianta faoin mbord náisiúnta dhá lá ó shin, Domhnall Ó Duibhne, Pádraig Mac Suibhne, Tomás Ó Colmáin agus Micheál Ó Dochartaigh’.

D’éag sé 4 Deireadh Fómhair 1923. Bhí cónaí air ag 22 Iona Drive, Glas Naíon, Baile Átha Cliath, ag an am. B’as Dún na nGall dá bhean Annie, Pósadh iad tuairim 1895.

Nuair a bhí ag teip ar a shláinte dúradh in Irish School Weekly 25 Lúnasa 1923: ‘Mr Deeney was a success as a teacher, as an organiser of Irish and as an inspector. He was teacher of Spiddal N.S. down to the middle of the first decade of the new century. Here he was a pioneer of Irish teaching when it was neither fashionable or even safe to be associated with its propagation’.

Bhí sé ar chomhaois nach mór le fear eile Ráth Maoláin, Cathal Mac Garbhaigh. Gan amhras bheadh aithne mhaith acu ar a chéile agus b’in é an fáth, is dóigh, go raibh sé in éineacht, an chéad Satharn i mBealtaine 1906, le seanchustaiméirí an Staid ag 24 Sráid Uí Chonaill nuair a bronnadh comhartha measa ar Chathal.

Diarmuid Breathnach

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