17 December - An indulgence to the natives? William Beddell's translation of the Bible into Irish

Dr Bláithín Hurley, History of Art UCC & Central Library Waterford

Thursday 17 December 2020, 16.00 (4 PM)


The paper will take place through MS Teams. To obtain an invitation, please, contact Dr Jérôme aan de Wiel (School of History, UCC): j.aandewiel@ucc.ie 

Born in Essex, England in 1571, the young William Bedell was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, before being ordained for the Anglican Ministry in 1597. Already Bedell was known for his scholarship in theology, the Bible and the classics, and was proficient in Arabic, Chaldean, Greek, Latin and Syriac. In 1607, he was sent to Venice as Chaplain to Sir Henry Wotton, English Ambassador to that City State. While in Venice Bedell added Italian and Hebrew to his language repertoire, as he quickly realised that in order to teach people about religion and to communicate properly with them, one needs to speak their language. This was a tenet he kept with him for the rest of his life and which came to fore when he moved to Ireland to take up the position of Provost of Trinity College Dublin in 1627. Throughout the remaining 14 years of his life he strove to put into practice what he had learned in Venice – that is to speak to people in their own language. This culminated in his greatest labour, the translation of the Bible into Irish. Sadly, he did not live to see the work published, but his legacy remains an important building block in Irish history. In this paper I will take a step back from the Bible itself, to examine the influence Venice exerted over the young cleric, especially in relation to his determination to print an Irish language version of the Bible.

College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences

Coláiste na nEalaíon, an Léinn Cheiltigh agus na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta

College Office, Room G31 ,Ground Floor, Block B, O'Rahilly Building, UCC