Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/David O'Bruadair

From volume 11 of the work.

An Irish poet, b. about 1625, most probably in the barony of Barrymore, Co. Cork, but according to many authorities in that of Connello, Co. Limerick; d. January 1698. He was well educated in the Irish, Latin, and English language. His historical poems show the influence of Geoffrey Keating, his favorite Irish author. He wrote elegies on the deaths of many historically prominent members of the leading Munster families, especially the Bourkes of Cahirmoyle, the Fitzgeralds of Claonghlais, and the Barrys of Co. Cork, who later befriended him in his poverty. All his poems, whether historical, social, or elegiac, are marked by a freshness rare in the seventeenth century and they furnish many interesting details about the life and manners of his time. Two of his epithalamia, a form of composition rare in Irish literature, have been preserved. They were written to celebrate the marriages of the sisters, Una and Eleanore Bourke of Cahirmoyle. His satires when directed against the Cromwellian Planters ;or the Duke of Ormonde and his flatterers are bitter, but lighter and more humorous when treating themes of local interest, as in the case of his witty proverbial "Guagan Gliog", or his mock-heroic defence of the smiths of Co. Limerick. His religious poems exhibit great beauty and depth of feeling, especially the poem on the Passion of Christ. Others like those on the schismatical movement of the Remonstrants (1666-70) and on the Oates Plot (1678-82) are polemical and contain details not found elsewhere.

His political poems treating the events of Irish history from the Cromwellian Plantation (1652) to the end of the War of the Revolution (1691) reveal his great political foresight and independent views. His "Suim Purgadora bhfear n-Eireann" summarizes the history of Ireland from 1641 to 1684, and a series of poems commemorates the exciting events of the reign of James II (1685-91). Being written from a national and Catholic standpoint, these poems, owing to a dearth of Irish documents relating to that period, are invaluable for the light which they throw upon the sentiments of the Irish nobles and people during that half-century of war, confiscation, and persecution. Despite his enthusiasm for the national cause, O'Bruadair is no mere eulogizer, and in "An Longhriseadh" (The Shipwreck, 1691), he criticizes the army and its leaders severely. He warmly defended the conduct of Sarsfield in the negotiations preceding the close of the war (1691). His views upon this subject, when compared with those of Colonel O'Kelly in his "Macariæ Excidium", enable us to appreciate better the divergence of opinions in Irish military circles in regard to the acceptance of the terms offered. O'Bruadair was a master of the art of versification, and wrote with ease and grace in the most varied and complicated syllabic and assonantal metres. His style is vigorous, his language is classical, and his vocabulary extensive; but a fondness for archaic expressions prevented most of his poems from being popular in the succeeding centuries. He is copious in illustration, careful to avoid repetition, and never sacrifices reason to rhythm. Though he was an expert scribe and an industrious copyist of ancient historical MSS., the only existing manuscript in his handwriting seems to be H. 1. 18 fol. 4 to 14 in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. It contains three of his latest poems (1693- 4), some genealogical matter taken from "Leabhar Iris Ui Mhaoilchonaire" and the "Rental" of Baron Bourke of Castleconnell, Co. Limerick. Most of his poems are preserved in three early manuscripts: 23 M. 25-23 M. 34, by Eoghan O Caoimh (1702), and 23 L. 37, by Seaghan Stac (1706-9), both in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, and Add. 29614, by Seaghan na Raithineach (1725), in the British Museum. Others are to be found in various MSS. In the above-mentioned libraries and in those of Trinity College, Dublin, Maynooth, while a few are preserved in MSS. In private hands. A complete collection of his writings with translation, of which the first volume has appeared (1910), is in course of publication by the present writer for the Irish Texts Society, London.

O'Grady, Catalogue of Irish MSS. In British Museum, 517, etc., contains many extracts from the poems; O'Reilly, Irish Writers in Transactions of the Iberno-Celtic Society for 1820, I (Dublin, 1820), i.p. cxcvi; Hyde, Literary History of Ireland (London, 1899), 592-4: Hull, Textbook of Irish Literature, II (Dublin and London, 1908), 188-97.

John MacErlean.