Prayers of an Irish Mother


I’m indebted to jaykay for kindly sending these extracts from Prayers of an Irish Mother, which give a splendid insight into Irish popular piety in pre-conciliar times.

Posted on June 30, 2011, in Blessed Virgin Mary, Conversion, Devotions (miscellaneous), Ecumenism, Irish Church-State Relations, Irish History, Irish Language, Motherhood, Novena, Patrick Pearse. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I notice that in this book, published in 1934, the prayer in Irish on the page opposite the title page uses the old script that was used up to the 1950s and maybe even 1960s while the prayer in Irish in the body of the book used the Roman script. I learned the old script when I started school in 1947 but around 1956 I voluntarily switched to the Roman. I’ve heard people say that the old Irish script wasn’t authentic. I don’t know.

    The publisher was Brian O’Higgins whose greeting cards were enormously popular, with designs based on those in the ancient monastic manuscripts. His son, the late Fr Fergus O’Higgins, was the curate for many years in the section of Aughrim St Parish, Dublin, in which I grew up. He preached at my First Mass on 21 December 1967, the old feast of St Thomas the Apostle – tomorrow is the new date, though not observed this year – and we kept in touch till he died. He was known among the priest of the archdiocese as ‘Father Zealous’. We were blessed with good priests, thank God. Father Fergus was ordained, I think, in 1935 or thereabouts. May he and his father, and Mary Dolan and her mother all rest in peace.

    • My mother passed away and in her things I found this book. I was wondering the history of it. It is dated 1934 and it states it was published in Ireland.

  2. Father, books and schools used the old script but I’ve seen the Roman alphabet used (particularly in magazines) long before the 50s. It was a modernization of earlier Irish script. Note that some of the words used in the Prayers of an Irish Mother use the pre-Caighdeán spelling (eg. urnuidhe, ghrádha).

  3. Yes, the Caighdeán spelling came into effect in the late 1940s, I think, when I was starting off my academic career. (For Shane’s American readers, ‘Caighdeán’ means standardised. The spelling of the Irish language was officially simplified.)

    Scottish Gaelic still retains the old spelling and has always, as far as I know, used the Roman script. Manx Gaelic, on the other hand, was an oral rather than a written language and a phonetic spelling was developed at different stages by a Welshman and an Englishman. It’s an awful ‘dog’s dinner’!

  4. My father had this prayer book of which he was very fond of. Does any one know where I may get a copy

  5. John, reprints can be purchased in the National Bible Society of Ireland – 41 Dawson Street – DUBLIN 2.

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