Many lives, one connection

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 1(Jan/Feb 2012), News, Volume 20

Many lives, one connection 1The contents of are based on the nine-volume series Beathaisnéis by Diarmuid Breathnach and Máire Ní Mhurchú (1986–2007). It is a valuable research tool comprising almost 1,700 biographies dating from 1560 to the present day. Each of the featured lives has made a unique contribution to the Irish language over the last five centuries. The people featured hail from every corner of Ireland (and in some cases from much further afield), and some were active in a wide field of endeavours. While the Irish language forms the common thread, the entire narrative is multi-faceted and will be of great interest to historians, local communities, the families of the people featured, Irish-language academics and the Irish diaspora.The metadata on the website facilitate searching and browsing on a scale not possible in print. The enhanced features available include alphabetical listing of biographies; cross-referencing; full-text search of keywords and phrases; and a timeline. Selected themes are tagged in the biographies (place-names, works, organisations, references to Conradh na Gaeilge, educational institutions) and the site also includes a featured ‘biography of the week’ and an interview with the authors. The two biographies, Mairéad Ní Ghráda (1896–1971) and Pádraig Ó Fágáin (1922–2011) abridged and translated versions of the entries on, give a flavour of the entries.Did you know?

  • There are 1.3 million words in the original printed work, the Beathaisnéis series.
  • 118 of the subjects featured lived to the age of 90.
  • contains the biographies of 1,536 men and 157 women.
  • An Claidheamh Soluis* is the most frequently cited Irish-language publication.
  • Blackrock College* is the most frequently mentioned school.
  • Trinity College, Dublin,* is the most frequently mentioned university
  • Maynooth* is the most frequently mentioned town.
  • Dublin* is the most frequently mentioned county and city.
  • Short lives: James Cogan (1874–98); William Haliday (1788–1812).
  • Long lives: Colm de Bhailís (1796–1906); Bríd Uí Dhireáin (1894–2003).
  • Ó Súilleabháin is the most common surname (36 subjects) among those featured on

*These statistics are based on current records. Work on tagging the database is ongoing.  HI
Mairéad Nic Lochlainn is Research Editor at Fiontar, DCU.


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