KILLIMER native, Professor Michael O’Connell will launch a DVD depicting the life of lexicographer Peter O’Connell on Monday in Knockerra Hall at 8pm. The DVD was researched by Brother Seán McNamara, while the accompanying music is by Christy McNamara.
At various periods from about 1786 until his death in 1826, Peter O’Connell, who was from Killimer, travelled throughout Scotland, the Hebrides, Orkneys and Wales in search of material and to study comparative Celtic languages. He lived in Limerick from 1812 until 1819 but his dictionary was not published and he left Limerick, returning home to Carrowdotia, Killimer.
After his death, Peter O’Connell’s nephew, Anthony, brought the manuscript to Tralee and showed it to Daniel O’Connell, who showed no interest in it.
Anthony then sold the work for 10 shillings. Eugene O’Curry eventually retrieved the dictionary, before it was acquired by a Mr Hardiman on the understanding that it would be donated to Maynooth College. Instead, along with other Irish manuscripts, it was sold to the British Museum.
However, according to Br McNamara, the original manuscript has since changed locations.
“A copy of the dictionary went to the British Museum in 1832. But it is gone out of that now and is in the Central Library in London. They transferred within the last year. I haven’t seen it but I was in contact with them and I got a letter back saying that if I wanted a copy, I could get one. I’ll leave that letter with the Killimer-Knockerra Historical Society,” Br McNamara said.
A copy of dictionary is in Trinity College and in the Royal Irish Academy.
Br McNamara says he will present the local historical society with the work he has carried out on the life of Peter O’Connell.
“I’m going to present the Killimer-Knockerra Historical Group all of the research I have done. I will also give them a digital copy of Peter O’Connell’s dictionary. Nobody else has that,” he explained.