Chaith an sagart seo saol corraitheach réiciúil. Bhí sé corrmhéiniúil. Deir Séamus Ó Casaide ina thaobh in Irish Book Lover, Eanáir-Feabhra 1929 gur rugadh é ‘in the townland of Cashlawn an Chummadd and parish of Crossmaccoady, called by the English, Hacket’s Cross or Hacketstown, in the union of Fechan, or Termon Fechan, near Drogheda in the County of Louth’ ach ní deir se cá bhfuair sé an t-eolas sin. I dTearmann Feichín, Co. Lú, a rugadh é agus baisteadh é i bparóiste an Chlochair ar 3 Feabhra 1759. Ba iad Laurence Taaffe agus Mary Gallagher a thuismitheoirí. Tá cuntas air in History of Dublin, 1815 ag Warburton, Whitlelaw agus Walsh. Deir D. J. O’Donoghue in Dictionary of National Biography nár theastaigh uaidh féin dul le sagartacht, gurbh iad a mhuintir a thiomáin sa treo sin é. Tar éis cúrsaí oiliúna i Lováin agus i bPrág oirníodh i bPrág é mar shagart Proinsiasach. Is sa chathair sin a d’fhoghlaim sé Eabhrais ó raibí bocht a bhí sé a chothabháil. Ar a bhealach abhaile go hÉirinn mar mhisinéir casadh i Londain air droch-chomhluadar a chuir ar meisce é agus a ghoid a chuid airgid. Chaith sé seal sa chlochar i nDroichead Átha ach d’éirigh idir é agus na húdaráis; a ainriantacht a bhí sé ba chúis leis. Shéan sé an creideamh Caitliceach Rómhánach go poiblí in Eaglais Naomh Peadar, Baile Átha Cliath, 2 Samhain 1788. Bhí sé ina mhinistir ar feadh tamaill; d’fhill sé ar an eaglais Chaitliceach ach ní raibh post sagairt aige ina dhiaidh sin.

Bhí an fógra seo aige in Dublin Evening Post 18 Meán Fómhair 1791 (i gcló ag an gCasaideach): ‘Irish language—taught grammatically. The Rev. Mr. Taaffe, translator of foreign languages to the Right Hon. and Hon. the Dublin Society, will undertake to instruct young Gentlemen and Ladies in the principles of their own language in a few months, on moderate terms; and at same time will teach Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, High and Low Dutch, if required; as also the Elements of Mathematicks, and likewise Logick, Metaphysick, Ethicks, and some other branches of Science. A line directed to the Rev. Mr. Taaffe, Committee-room, Hawkins-street, will be attended to.’ Ba í an tagairt a rinne an páipéar don fhógra: ‘We are happy to hear that a literary character and a native, steps forward as a teacher of our mother tongue, whose general acquaintance with the European languages, will render his instruction peculiarly interesting and valuable. An Irish-man who speaks not Irish, is a solecism, which our transmarine neighbours justly ridicule.’

Deir Ó Casaide gurbh é, dá mb’fhíor do Sheán Ó Donnabháin, a mhúin Gaeilge do William Haliday agus do George Petrie.

I ngeall ar fhiacha chaith sé tamall i bpríosún Newgate agus thóg sé raic ann. D’iarr an rialtas faoi rún air tacaíocht a thabhairt dóibh lena pheann ach is é a rinne sé a dtairiscint a fhoilsiú don saol mór an lá dár gcionn. Chuaigh sé isteach sna hÉireannaigh Aontaithe. Bhí sé in aghaidh aon chabhair a theacht ón bhFrainc agus dhearbhaigh dá nglacfaidís seilbh ar an tír go malartóidís í ar ‘one of the sugar islands’. Deir Warburton (History of the City of Dublin . . ., 1818 le Warburton, Whitelaw and Walsh) go raibh air teicheadh ó Bhaile Átha Cliath agus, cibé gortú a tharla dó, gur fágadh a lámh chlé gan mhaith. Throid sé in Éirí Amach 1798 i Loch Garman agus bhí sa chath ag Baile Eilís agus i dTobar an Iarainn.

Idir 1795 agus 1804 scríobh sé roinnt paimfléad, an chuid is mó acu in aghaidh Acht na hAontachta nó ag cosaint Éireann agus an chreidimh Chaitlicigh ar naimhde. D’fhoilsigh sé An Impartial history of Ireland from the period of the English invasion to the present time, 1800, iarracht ar stair Chéitinn a thabhairt suas go dáta. In The Sword of Light, 1939 deir Desmond Ryan: ‘Owen Connellan described this now forgotten book very charitably, as written with too much haste, under adverse circumstances, but abounding in brilliant passages of great spirit and beauty, with many powerful invectives against anti-Irish writers.’ Deir Ryan freisin: ‘This quaint character lived in miserable lodgings and dined on penny rolls and glasses of buttermilk.’

Bhí sé ar dhuine de bhunaitheoirí an Gaelic Society in 1806—deir an Casaideach gurbh é an chéad rúnaí é ach b’fhéidir nár chaith sé ach tamall an-ghairid sa phost—agus iarradh air ‘dissertations illustrative of those subjects more intimately connected with the language and antiquities of Ireland’ a ullmhú don chumann. Déanann Ó Casaide tagairt do lámhscríbhinn dar teideal ‘An introduction to the Irish language by the late Rev. Denis Taaffe. —This Essay is in English, but there are a great number of Irish words, collated with the Hebrew, Greek, British, German and other Languages; curious and highly interesting. It forms a large Bundle in folio paper.’ Díoladh é ar £1 ag an gceant a cuireadh ar leabharlann Éadbhard Uí Raghallaigh. Is í an lámhscríbhinn Egerton 116 i Leabharlann na Breataine í.

Bhí sé beo bocht sa deireadh agus ba é easpag Caitliceach Chorcaí, an Dr Mac Cárthaigh, a choinníodh airgead leis. Deir Warburton: ‘And after alternately engaging in scenes of the grossest sensuality and the most abject poverty his powers were exhausted, he became debilitated in mind and body and after an illness of three weeks died a great penitent in August 1813 in the 56th year of his age, a melancholy mix of energy and weakness, of genius and profligacy.’ Deirtear freisin go raibh seachtó bliain d’aois aige. Is ar 30 Iúil 1813 a cailleadh é, de réir alt Sheáin Uí Chearnaigh in in An tUltach, Feabhra 2002, ina lóistin i Sráid San Séamus i mBaile Átha Cliath agus cuireadh sa reilig áitiúil é.

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

Diarmuid Breathnach

Máire Ní Mhurchú