Professor Tadhg Ó Donnchadha

Prof. Tadhg Ó Donnchadha (4/9/1874-21/10/1949)
Known as 'Torna', Professor of Irish, UCC, 1916-44

Irish writer, poet, editor, translator and prominent member of Conradh na Gaeilge and the Gaelic Athletic Association. Tadhg Ó Donnchadha (born Timothy Donoghue) was the son of Donnchadh Ó Donnchada (farmer) and his wife Julia Hegarty of Glashaboy (ED Carrignavar). He attended the North Monastery school in Cork, and in 1892 went to St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin. He worked for a time as a teacher in Dublin, including a time at the Dominican school at Eccles Street. He was also very involved in events surrounding the Irish-language revival and gave classes in the city through 1893 and 1894. He was a founding member of the Keating branch of the Gaelic League in Dublin and also edited the journal Banba for a time. In 1902 he became editor of Irisleabhar na Gaeilge, a position he held until 1909, and, when the Gaelic League decided to cease its publication, Ó Donnchada was left unemployed.

He then travelled to the University of Heidelberg in Germany to study Old Irish under Ludwig Mülhausen. Ó Donnchada already had a knowledge of the various Celtic languages, as well as German and French. On his return to Ireland he was appointed professor of Irish at St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin. In 1916, he was appointed professor of Irish at UCC, a position he held until 1944. Not long after his arrival at UCC, he was awarded the honorary degree D.Litt. by the National University of Ireland. Tadhg Ó Donnchadha married Nóra Ní Fhoghluda on 02/10/1919 at the Lough Church, Cork (she died from cancer on 13/12/1925, aged 45). Nóra was sister to Risteard Ó Foghludha (Fiachra Eilgeach).

In 1947 Féilscríbhinn Torna: essays and studies presented to professor Tadhg Ua Donnchadha (Torna) on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, September 4th, 1944, a festschrift edited by Séamus Pender (1906–90), was published [contents]; it includes a list of the fifty books and several hundred pieces of poetry that he wrote or translated; this includes Leoithne andeas (1905), his first book of poetry. His first published poem was ‘Iarghnó ar bhás Sheagháin Pléimionn’ in Irisleabhar na Gaeilge (March 1896). He won a poetry prize at the first Oireachtas competition in 1897. Ó Donnchada also wrote numerous scholarly books on Irish writers. His brothers were Canon Denis O'Donoghue (1886–1962), PP of Bandon, Co. Cork, who edited Filíocht Mháire Bhuidhe Ní Laoighaire (1931), and Éamon Ó Donnchadha (1876-1953), who lectured in the Department of Irish, UCC (part-time from 1905, full-time from 1909).

Tadhg Ó Donnchadha died on 21 October 1949 [‘Famous Irish scholar dead. Prof. O’Donoghue of U.C.C.’, Cork Examiner, 22/10/1949, p.7]. He is buried in St Finbarr’s cemetery, Cork.

Seamus Murphy RHA sculpted a portrait bust of Torna, which was acquired by University College Cork in 1951 (see Cork University Record 23 (Christmas 1951), p.5: "The funds for the erection of this memorial were subscribed by his former colleagues and students and by many of those who worked with him in the Gaelic Movement over the past fifty years."



'An tOllamh Tadhg Ó Donnchadha (Torna) D.Litt.', Cork University Record, 2 (Christmas 1944), 19-21

Breatnach, Diarmuid, and Máire Ní Mhurchú 'Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (1874-1949)',

Murphy, John A., The College: a history of Queen's/University College Cork (1995), 220–48

Rouse, Paul, 'Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (‘Torna’), Dictionary of Irish Biography


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