I mBaile Átha Cliath, ag 46 Sráid Liosáin Íochtarach, a rugadh é (Arthur Edward) ar 25 Deireadh Fómhair 1879. Arthur Clery, abhcóide, agus a bhean Catherine Moylan a thuismitheoirí. Bheadh an t-athair ina abhcóide sinsearach ar ball. Deir William Dawson in Studies, Márta 1933 gurbh easlán an mháthair agus gurbh é saol anróiteach an teaghlaigh a thiomáin an t-athair chun a bheatha a thuilleamh san India. Deir Patrick Maume (D.P. Moran, 1995) go bhfuair an mháthair bás nuair a bhí sé an-óg agus gur ghaolta a thóg Art. Fuair sé scolaíocht i Scoil na hOllscoile Caitlicí (CUS), i gColáiste Choill Chluana Gabhann (1894-96) agus, ó 1896 ar aghaidh, i gColáiste na hOllscoile, Baile Átha Cliath. ‘The college... became Clery’s home, one might say, as well as his college —not that he “lived-in”; his narrow means did not permit such extravagance but his working and leisure hours were passed as far as possible within its walls’. Is maith mar a thaispeáin sé a chumas sa choláiste. Bhuaigh sé bonn óir an Chumainn Liteartha agus Staire, cumann ar chaith sé bliain ina reachtaire air, agus bonn óir Uí Agáin i gCumann Díospóireachta na Mac léinn Dlí. Ainmníodh ina Scoláire Clasaiceach é in 1898. Thug a ghaolta cúnamh airgid dó agus cháiligh sé mar abhcóide i 1902. I nDaonáireamh 1901 bhí sé ina lóistéir i 49 Bóthar Haddington. Cuireadh a ainm síos mar ‘Arthur Edward Synan Clery’, agus dúradh gur mhac léinn dlí é agus go raibh sé 21 bliana d’aois. Ghnóthaigh sé BA i 1900, LL.B. i 1902, agus LL.D. i 1908. Ceapadh ina ollamh é i Scoil Dlí an Choláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath (Ollscoil na hÉireann) i 1910. ‘Professor of Property and Law of Contracts’ an chaoi a gcuirtear síos air i bhféilire an Choláiste Ollscoile i 1912. Ag 42 Bóthar Haddington a bhí cónaí air go fóill.

Cláraíodh é mar fho-bhall de Ard-ChraobhChonradh na Gaeilge (‘Arthur E. Clery, Catholic University College, was elected an associate’) 25 Deireadh Fómhair 1899 (An Claidheamh Soluis 4 Samhain 1899). Deirtear in A Page of Irish History : story of University College, Dublin, 1883-1909, 1930 gur fhreastail sé ar cheachtanna Gaeilge Phádraig Mhic Phiarais i gColáiste na hOllscoile i 1901-2. Ba mhinic i rith a shaoil a théadh sé a fhoghlaim na teanga i mBéal Átha an Ghaorthaidh ach ní raibh labhairt na Gaeilge go maith aige riamh. Bhí sé ar dhuine de bhunaitheoirí iris Choláiste na hOllscoile, St. Stephen’s, agus, in éineacht le William Dawson agus Thomas Kettle, bhí ina chomheagarthóir ar an Nationist. Dúirt Tom Kettle faoi: ‘Arthur is our modern Goldsmith’. Faoin aimn cleite ‘Chanel’, a ainm cóineartaithe, bhíodh sé ag scríobh in The Leader ó bhí sé ina mhac léinn dlí. In eagarfhocal The Leader 26 Samhain 1932 dúradh: ‘He commenced writing for us about 30 years ago and we venture to say that of the dual capacity “Chanel” was more important than Professor Arthur E. Clery’. Deir Maume: ‘. . . Arthur Clery was the most important contributor to The Leader after Moran himself’. Deir sé freisin: ‘He is probably the only major nationalist intellectual who adopted a partitionist stance as a result of complete acceptance of the two-nation theory’. I 1905 a thosaigh sé ag cur na hargóna sin chun tosaigh. Scríobhadh sé freisin in Freeman’s Journal agus New Ireland Review.

Cé gur náisiúnaí láidir é níor ghlac sé páirt ghníomhach in aon eagraíocht ar leith. ‘Indeed, the Gaelic League and all it stood for commanded the largest measure of his support. Sinn Féin under Arthur Griffith made no appeal to him’, a dúirt William Dawson. Is cosúil gur Réamonnach a bhí ann go dtí gur mhol an ceannaire sin d’Éireannaigh dul isteach i bhfórsaí na Breataine. In aiste dar teideal ‘A Gaelic Idea factory’ scríobh sé: ‘Were I a very rich man I would write a cheque for £25,000 and save the Irish language tomorrow. As it is I must be content with writing an article’ (An Claidheamh Soluis 3 Eanáir 1914). Chuaigh sé isteach sna hÓglaigh ach níor ghlac páirt sa troid. Ba é cosantóir Eoin Mhic Néill é nuair a cuireadh cúirt airm air agus ní ghlacfadh sé le costais. Bhí sé in aghaidh an choinscríofa. Bhí sé ina bhall de Shinn Féin i ndiaidh 1917 agus bhí sé ina bhreitheamh i gCúirt Uachtarach Shinn Féin i gCiarraí go dtí gur cuireadh deireadh le cúirteanna Shinn Féin i mBealtaine 1922. Ba dhóigh le Conchubhar Maguidhir (1889-1971) gurbh é faoi deara comhdhéanamh na gcúirteanna sin (The Clongownian, 1933). Thuigfeá ó thagairtí in Retreat from revolution: The Dáil Courts 1920-24, 1994 le Mary Kotsonouris go raibh sé ar intinn ag Aibhistín de Staic, an tAire Gnóthaí Baile anuas go hEanáir 1922, é a cheapadh ina uachtarán ar an gCúirt Uachtarach. Thug sé údarás dó post breithimh a thairiscint do Cahir Davitt. Ach bhí Art róchúthaileach agus ba é James Creed Meredith a chuaigh sa chathaoir mar gurbh é ba shinsearaí. Deir Kotsonouris: ‘Although he was a respected legal scholar and a staunch republican he would hardly have made an effective president’.

Chuaigh sé go dtí an Róimh in éineacht leis an Dr Con Murphy mar ionadaí dlíthiúil na bPoblachtach chun gearán a dhéanamh leis an bPápa gur eisigh cliarlathas na hÉireann ráitis fhrith-Phoblachtacha. Toghadh é in Ollscoil na hÉireann mar ionadaí poblachtach neamhspleách i 1927. ‘He did not take his seat, nor did he subsequently seek re-election, but remained an active figure in the movement of which he was one of the earliest. It is no part of a notice in a professional journal to deal with political viewpoints, but it cannot be left unsaid that to the political principles which he adopted Professor Clery adhered with an unswerving and almost quixotic loyalty and with an utter disregard of personal considerations which were an honour to the political life of the nation’ (Irish Law Times 26 Samhain 1932). Chuir sé comhairle i dtaobh na n-anáidí talún ar Éamonn de Valera. Bhí sé i dteideal pinsin saoil £700 sa bhliain ach ní ghlacfadh sé le pingin. Ní raibh sé go maith as sa saol: ní raibh sa phost i gColáiste na hOllscoile ach ollúnacht pháirtaimseartha. Ní dhéanadh sé aon obair sna cúirteanna dlí ach thaithíodh sé an Leabharlann Dlí agus dhéanadh obair tíolactha. Dhéanadh sé obair charthanachta le Cumann Naomh Uinsionn de Pól i slumthithe Bhaile Átha Cliath.

Mholadh sé go minic gur cheart Ollscoil lán-Ghaelach a bhunú. Coláiste na Mumhan a bheadh ina eiseamláir, dar leis. Scríobh sé alt dar teideal ‘A Gaelic University’ in Studies, Nollaig 1917. Tugann sé le tuiscint ann nár éirigh leis riamh greim mhaith a fháil ar an teanga. Dúradh in The Leader i ndiaidh a bháis: ‘Clery’s allegiance to what became his greatest interest in life—the Irish language—dates from about 1900 when the clarion call of The Leader rang through the land. Prior to that time, incredible as it may seem, he was nearly a West Briton’. Nuair a mhol Osborn Bergin go mbunófaí an Cuman um Letiriu Simpli ba é Art a chuidigh leis an rún (An Claidheamh Soluis 5 Márta 1910). Chuir sé spéis i gcúrsaí spóirt agus luaitear go háirithe an pheil, an iománaíocht agus an rámhaíocht. Bhí sé ina uachtarán ar An Óige. Measadh go raibh sé ábhairín piúratánach ina dhearcadh. ‘A rigid, even a rabid teetotaler’, a dúradh faoi in The Leader. Níor phós sé.

Scríobh sé: The Idea of a Nation, 1907; Dublin Essays, 1920; The Coming of the King (úrscéal). Bhí a dhráma The Abbess (i gcló in Irish Commonwealthc.1919) le cur ar stáitse Amharclann Sráid Hardwicke ach chuir Éirí Amach na Cásca deireadh leis an bplean. Ba é a scríobh ‘Patrick Pearse’s only case’ a foilsíodh i leabhar Lughaidh Breathnach, Old Friends.

D’éag sé 20 Samhain 1932 agus tá sé curtha i nGráinseach an Déin. Bhí na focail seo san fhógra báis: ‘Art Ó Cléirigh, mac Airt, tréinfhear cinnte ceart a thíre. Is as a d’éaluigh an t-anam an 20 lá de Mí na Samhna 1932’. In alt dar teideal ‘Arthur Clery, idealist’ in Scéala Éireann 23 Samhain 1932 dúirt Máire Cháit Ní Riain (Bean Sheáin T. Uí Cheallaigh): ‘His colleagues and close friends in so many different departments of life, in University College, in the Law Library, in Ballingeary and other Gaelic centres, in political life, remember him for his gentle lovable personality, for his abhorrence of self-advertisement, his modesty, his courtesy, his metropolitan suavity and urbanity, his easy, kindly manners, no doubt the natural surface for his excellent mental equipment but even more the expression of his sincere Christian philosophy’. Dúirt Aodh Ó Cinnéide sa pháipéar céanna 22 Samhain: ‘I will only say that he was a man of undeviating adherence to principle and he was prepared to—and did—make great sacrifices rather than waver by one hair’s breath from the principles which he held’.

‘The late Professor Art O’Clery ... left the residue of his property for the endowment of the teaching of subjects through the medium of Irish in the University College’, a dúradh in An Camán 8 Aibreán 1933. Dúirt Conchubhar Maguidhir (1889-1971) in The Clongownian 1933: ‘From an early period however he accepted the ideals and aims of the Gaelic League movement and his life became an attempt to live the Irish-Ireland faith. He directed his talents and energies mainly towards the achievement of an independent and Gaelic Ireland and his best work as a writer and a lawyer were done in the service of that cause’.

Mar mhac léinn bhí C.S. Andrews cairdiúil leis agus tugann sé pictiúr neamhghnách de in Man of no property, 1982. Deir sé, mar shampla, go raibh meas rómhór aige ar shean-uasaicme na nGael agus gur chreid sé go raibh sé féin gaolmhar le Desiree Clary, banríon na Sualainne. Tráchtann sé ar an dúil mhór a bhí aige sa rámhaíocht agus sa rince. ‘He had ambitions to become a singer and had his voice trained but it was too loud for the drawing room and not good enough for the concert platform’. Ní thugadh sé níos lú ná ochtó faoin gcéad d’aon duine i scrúdú an dlí tráchtála. Agus is mar seo a chuireann sé síos ar a dhealramh: ‘In 1924 he would have been in his middle forties with a close resemblance to Humpty Dumpty in appearance. A man of average height he had a very large head and a truly enormous belly’.

B’fhéidir gur bhain uaigneas nó aonaracht leis an gcaoi ar tógadh é agus is fiú tagairt a dhéanamh dá athair. In Glenview, Co. Luimnigh, a rugadh Art Ua Cléirigh 12 Márta 1840. Ba iad Cornelius Cleary agus Catherine Synan a thuismitheoirí. Cháiligh sé mar abhcóide in 1864 agus rinne abhcóide sinsearach de in 1884. Chabhraigh sé le Isaac Butt chun Plea for the Celtic Race, 1866 a chur le chéile agus bhí ina shóisear ag Butt agus Christopher Palles i gcásanna nótáilte sna cúirteanna. ‘Of late years he was a familiar figure in the reading room of the British Museum working on the second volume of his history of Ireland’ (Irish Book Lover VI, Iúil 1915). Nuair a d’éag sé in Bournemouth 5 Bealtaine 1915 tuairiscíodh a bhás in An Claidheamh Soluis agus bhí fógraí i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge sna páipéir náisiúnta. Tuairiscíodh in Freeman’s Journal: ‘In his researches on early Irish history Mr O’Clery earned for himself outstanding distinction and the result of his labours as represented in his best-known work The History of Ireland to the coming of Henry 11, 1908, evidenced how wide was his knowledge of his favourite subject and how appealing was the charm of his style’.

Diarmuid Breathnach

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