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James Delargy and the Storymen of North Clare by Michael MacMahon


Leabhar Stiofáin Uí Ealoire

The material collected by Delargy himself in Clare added up to a substantial archive. Although various items from this collection appeared in print from time to time, mostly in the journal Béaloideas, several years were to pass before Delargy himself could devote the time necessary to sift through all the material and prepare it for publication. According to his friend, Máire MacNeill, this task was a major pre-occupation with him in the final years of his life and one about which he worried a great deal in case he might never see it completed. It was a cause of much relief to him, therefore, when in 1975-76 the young scholar, Daithí Ó hÓgáin (later Associate Professor of Folklore in UCD), began to work with him on the collection. This harmonious collaboration greatly helped to move the project forward, but time was already running out for the ageing Delargy. He died in 1980, the year before the first volume of the collection appeared in print. This was Leabhar Stiofáin Uí Ealaoire - the tales and tradition of Delargy’s friend from Ballycullaun - the first major collection of Clare folklore in the Irish language. It was officially launched on 8 December 1981 in Newman House, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, by Stiofán’s namesake and fellow Clareman, Dr. Patrick Hillery, President of Ireland. It was the third publication in a series devoted to the collection of one individual published under the auspices of the Folklore Commission.[42]

This important assemblage of oral tradition, rescued from the embers of the last Gaelic firesides of Doolin, is a monument to two remarkable men – James Hamilton Delargy and Stiofán ‘Cháit Dheannchair’ Ó hEalaoire. Go dtuga Dia a luach dóibh beirt.


Seán MacMathúna