Tuesday 18 March 2014

Seán Mac Mathúna 1876-1949: Diarist and Dedicated Recorder of Clare Tradition - a talk by Pádraig Ó Héalaí

The North Clare Historical Society concludes its current lecture series on Monday 24th March with a talk entitled “Seán Mac Mathúna 1876-1949: Diarist and Dedicated Recorder of Clare Tradition” by Pádraig Ó Héalaí.

Seán Mac Mathúna was born 1876 and grew up in Ennistymon where his parents had a pub. The business did not prosper, and when Seán was eight years old, the family moved to their farm at Lúch, Dúlainn. He later moved to his sister’s house where he spent most of his life working on the farm with her husband, Peter Barrett. Séamas Ó Duilearga, Director of the Irish Folklore Commission, visiting the Doolin area in 1929, met Seán, and was so impressed by his interest in folklore that he immediately asked him to set about doing some collecting work.

Seán occupies a very special position among those who collected folklore in County Clare by reason of his own intimate acquaintance with the material, and also because of the extensive range and volume of his collection. His entire work is now held in some 50 volumes in the archives of the Delargy Centre for Irish Folklore at UCD, commonly referred to as the Irish Folklore Collection. These comprise some 11,000 pages written in his own hand, of which a little under 4,000 are diary entries, covering the period from June 1937 to February 1942. This talk will focus to a large extent on the diary entries which offer some fascinating insights into life in North Clare in that period and also reveal interesting aspects of his own personality.

Pádraig Ó Héalaí is retired for some years now from his position as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Irish at NUIG where he specialised in the area of Irish folklore. He has numerous publications on a range of topics in this field especially relating to legends of the supernatural, religious tradition, and rites of passage. The venue is the Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon, at 8pm. Admission is €5. The Society would like to hear from any relatives of Seán Mac Mathúna, (Seán Mártin or Johnny McMahon as he was known locally). Contact O86 8493089.

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