Item #4981 The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…. Hugh IRISH LANGUAGE. MacCurtin, John Dowley, Bonaventura O’Hussey, 1680?–1755, fl. 1664, c., Aodh ‘Buí’ Mac Cruitín, Giolla Brighde O'Heoghusa.
The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…
The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…
The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…
The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…
The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…
The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…

The elements of the Irish language, grammatically explained in English. In 14. Chapters. [with, as issued]: Suim bhunudhasach an Teaguisg Chriosdaidhe a Bpros agus a nDán…

Louvain: by Martin van Overbeke, 1728.

Price: $8,800.00

Octavo: 18.5 x 11 cm. [15], 12-158, [2] p. Collation: A4, *2, B-V4

FIRST EDITION.

Bound in contemporary calf (upper joint and corners mended). The text is in in excellent condition.

First edition of this Irish grammar, printed in English and Irish at the Irish Franciscan College in Louvain, by the Irish poet and antiquary Hugh MacCurtin (Aodh ‘Buí’ Mac Cruitín). MacCurtin tells us that he came to publish this work after forty years of studying the Irish language and finding all available grammars and instructional texts wanting. However, the text is largely taken from an unpublished “Grammatica Anglo–Hibernica, or a brief introduction to the Irish language”(ca. 1713) by the Gaelic scribe and lexicographer Francis Walsh (Proinsias Bhailís)(1654-1724). MacCurtin omitted “certain passages with which he possibly disagreed, such as Walsh's suggestion that the Latin character was more suitable than the Irish character for printing purposes as it was less expensive and common to all nations.”(Ní Mhunghaile, Dictionary of Irish Biography)

The second part of the book, attributed to James (or John) Dowley, was first printed at Louvain in 1663. It includes an Irish Catechism by the poet and recusant Franciscan Giolla Brighde Ó hEoghusa a.k.a. Bonaventure O’Hussey (1574-1614).

The book is printed in the type known as “Louvain A”(to distinguish it from the later Louvain Gaelic font), modelled on the handwriting of the aforementioned Bonaventure O'Hussey (1574-1614). It was first used (Antwerp, 1611) to print O'Hussey’s Irish catechism. The type was next used by the Irish Franciscan press at Louvain, where O’Hussey resided. “E.W. Lynam has observed that the type was the first legitimate printed letter designed for Irish scholars from Irish manuscripts, probably by an Antwerp man who may have taken italic type as a guide.”(McGuinne, “The ‘Louvain Irish’ printing type” in De Gulden Passer, Jargang 68 (1990), p. 121)

MacCurtin’s stated purpose in publishing the grammar was to revive the Irish language, which was “now in its decay and almost in darkness, even to the Natives themselves.” MacCurtin encourages members of the Irish gentry and nobility to learn the language, which most have abandoned and “disdain’d to learn or speake these 200 years past.” He hopes that they will reflect “how strange it seems to the world that any people should scorn the language wherein the treasure of their whole antiquity and profound sciences lie in obscurity, so highly esteemed by all lovers of knowledge in former ages.” There are still, MacCurtin argues, Irish manuscripts to be studied, “sufficient to revive and advance our language and antiquity.”

In addition to rejecting Walsh’s preference for printing Irish in Latin characters, MacCurtin adheres to traditional Irish orthography, opposing the Welsh Celticist Edward Lhuyd, who proposed a new, simplified orthography. MacCurtin asserts that “the dialect and idioms of the language necessarily require to keep close to its ancient orthography.” If the simplifications proposed by Lhuyd were employed, “our ancient histories and poetry would soon grow useless and altogether unknown to posterity”; the changes would “clearly destroy the true dialect insomuch that in the process of time it would prove strange to the very natives themselves.” In Ch. XIV, MacCurtin explains -and illustrates with an engraving- the ancient (4th-7th c.) Irish writing system known as Ogham.

The last use of the Louvain Gaelic type:

“Printed in 1728, the book entitled Elements of the Irish Language by Hugh MacCurtin was the last work to use either of the Louvain Irish types. In this the early ‘A’ type appears composed with a more reduced line spacing than heretofore, which feature may have resulted, as Fr. O Sheerin had suggested was possible, from the type having been recast from the remaining matrices on a smaller body, resulting when set in a more orderly and even appearance on the page. This book was printed at Louvain by Martin van Overbeke. This distinguished printing family continued to work in Louvain and it is considered that the Irish type may have passed to them and through disuse may have been melted down for the purpose of casting other type.”(McGuinne, “The ‘Louvain Irish’ printing type” in De Gulden Passer, Jargang 68 (1990), p. 121)

MacCurtin later compiled The English Irish dictionary (Paris, 1732).

ESTC T90681