Brian Ó Luanaigh (O'Looney)

(28/08/1828 - 01/12/1901)

Brian Ó Luanaigh (O’Looney) was a distinguished Celticist and professor born on August 28, 1828, in Móin Riail near Ennistymon, Co. Clare.  He moved to Crumlin in 1870 and lived with his family in Grove Villa(now demolished), which was situated on Old County Road, near the entrance of Ashling Close estate until his death in 1901.

He hailed from a relatively affluent family, with his father, Uilliam Ó Luanaigh, serving as an agent on the Stackpoole estate, and his mother, Máire Nic Ionnrachtaigh, bringing a substantial dowry of £1,000 to their marriage.

Ó Luanaigh’s early education took place at the model farm school in Cathair Seirgin, where he excelled in various subjects including farming, agricultural engineering, and English literature. Despite uncertainties surrounding his acquisition of classical Irish and manuscript reading skills, his scholarly pursuits became evident early on.

At the age of twenty, Ó Luanaigh participated in the failed Young Ireland uprising led by William Smith O’Brien in 1848. Following O’Brien’s defeat, he fled to Limerick and eventually sailed to the USA, where he briefly stayed in New York as a guest of Sir Otho O’Brien.

Upon his return to Ireland, Ó Luanaigh worked as the director of rural industry with the Co. Clare agricultural board before assisting Smith O’Brien in examining Irish-language manuscripts in Brussels.  Appointed as Professor of Irish and Archaeology at Newman’s Catholic University in Dublin after Eugene O’Curry’s passing, O’Looney continued his scholarly pursuits. He delved into ancient manuscripts like the Leabhar na h-Uidhri and the Book of Leinster, contributing translations and insights into Irish history. O’Looney’s contributions extended beyond academia; he actively promoted Irish culture through societies like the Royal Irish Academy and the Ossianic Society. His efforts in preserving Irish literature and history earned him recognition and accolades, including honorary memberships and editorships.

This collaboration led to Ó Luanaigh transcribing numerous manuscripts, half of which were bequeathed by O’Brien to the Royal Irish Academy upon his death.

In addition to his scholarly contributions, Ó Luanaigh was actively involved in promoting the Irish language and literature. He edited collections of poems, including those honouring the Mac Donnell family, and provided translations of significant works like the Táin for poet Aubrey de Vere. His efforts extended to advocating for Irish language education in schools and colleges, exemplified by his role as a founding member and honorary secretary of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language.

In 1870, Ó Luanaigh settled in Crumlin, Co. Dublin, where he married Siobhán Nic Chuirtín in June 1871. The couple had four children, two daughters, and two sons. Brian Ó Luanaigh passed away in Crumlin on December 1, 1901, leaving behind a legacy of scholarly achievement and dedication to the preservation of Irish culture and language.

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Connection with area: Celticist who lived and died on Old County Road.