File 4 - Copy letters of An tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire

Reference code

IE CA CP/3/4/1/4


Copy letters of An tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire


  • 1906-1915 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4 pp; Manuscript

Name of creator

(24 November 1900-26 July 1970)

Biographical history

John Moynihan, the son of Thomas and Mary Moynihan, was born on 24 November 1900 in Castlegregory, County Kerry. He was educated at Aughacasla National School (eight years) and at St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney (four years) and he matriculated in June 1918. He studied at All Hallows College in Dublin from October 1918 to March 1919. He joined the Irish Capuchin Franciscans in September 1920 taking the religious name of Senan. He took his final vows in 1925 and he was ordained a priest in 1928. Shortly after his ordination in 1928 he was appointed editor of ‘The Father Mathew Record’, a popular monthly publication of the Irish Capuchins which promoted the Order’s overseas’ missions (particularly in Africa) and carried articles supporting the cause of total abstinence. Fr. Senan strove to create a higher grade, more literary publication. He was acquainted with many well-known Irish writers and artists and he secured permission from the Order’s leadership to publish an ‘Annual’ in 1930. ‘The Capuchin Annual’ was published from 1930 to 1977. The publication was very much the work of Fr. Senan and he remained its editor until 1954. In 1955 a decision was made at the Capuchin Provincial Chapter to remove Fr. Senan from the editorship of the ‘Annual’. Soon afterwards he travelled to Perth at the invitation of Archbishop Redmond Prendiville (1900-1968), a fellow Kerry man. Fr. Francis Moynihan, a brother of Fr. Senan, had also been resident in Australia and was parish priest of St. John’s, Clifton Hill, in Melbourne. Fr. Francis was also the editor of ‘The Advocate’, a leading Catholic newspaper in Australia. Fr. Senan arrived in Perth in 1959. He was incardinated into the Perth Archdiocese on 1 April 1959 (as a diocesan priest having left the Capuchin Order). On arrival he took up a position as chaplain to religious sisters at St Anne’s Hospital, Mt Lawley (now Mercy Hospital). He did not, however, act as a chaplain to the patients. Archbishop Redmond Prendiville appointed him the first archivist of the Archdiocese of Perth in July 1962. Fr. Senan died in Perth on 26 July 1970. He is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth.

Name of creator

(30 April 1839-21 March 1920)

Biographical history

Peadar Ó Laoghaire (Peter O’Leary) was born in Lios Carragáin near Macroom in County Cork on 30 April 1839. Born into a bilingual family, he was educated at St. Colman’s College in Fermoy before entering the seminary at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, County Kildare. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1867. He went on to serve in several parishes in the diocese of Cloyne, spending his final thirty years (from 1891) as parish priest of Castlelyons (Caisleán Ó Liatháin) in County Cork. From 1906 he was officially titled Canon Peter O’Leary, but he was more commonly addressed as ‘an tAthair Peadar’ (or ‘Father Peter’). Although he did not begin writing in earnest until he was in his fifties, the foundation of Conradh na Gaeilge (1893) spurred him on to take up a career as a writer. He was particularly eager to compile accessible Irish language reading material, especially for a younger generation. O’Leary completed nearly five hundred pieces of work including essays, stories, and translations of The Bible and ‘Don Quixote’, in addition to modernisations of early and medieval Irish texts. His best-known works are ‘Séadna’ (1904) and ‘Mo scéal féin’ (1915). ‘Séadna’, a folk tale, is considered a seminal work in the Gaelic revival, epitomizing O’Leary’s championing of ‘caint na ndaoine’ or the language of the people. His pioneering autobiographical work, ‘Mo Sgéal Féin’, was published by the Irish Book Company, founded by Norma Borthwick and Mairéad Ní Raghallaigh, with whom he was closely associated. O’Leary’s contribution to Irish language literature saw him honoured as a freeman of both Dublin and Cork, with Cork Corporation referring to him as ‘the greatest Irish writer of his age’ when granting him the freedom of the city in 1912. O’Leary died in Castlelyons, County Cork, on 21 March 1920 and was buried in the local cemetery.

Archival history

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Scope and content

Copies of letters of An tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire to Fr. Albert Bibby OFM Cap. and ‘Sister Joseph’. The copies are on ‘The Capuchin Annual / Church Street / Dublin’ headed paper and were probably compiled by Fr. Senan Moynihan OFM Cap. The letter to Fr. Albert (17 Sept. 1906) reads ‘The word “léighean” comprises every sort of literary speech as distinguished from oral speech, i.e., books of all sorts, whether written or printed’.

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  • English
  • Irish

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