1851. Letter from Dr. John O’Donovan, Antiquarian, to Robert McAdam Esq., Soho Foundry in Belfast, Responsible for Question on Irish in 1851 Census of Ireland.


From Graves Collection, Royal Irish Academy.




Historical Letters:






Letter to Robert McAdam Esq., Soho Foundry in Belfast from Newcomen Place, Dublin 8 (March, 17th, 1851)

‘Dear Sir,

I have received your note of the 14th and cannot but admire your enthusiasm about the census.  I do not think that a clergy of any of our religions could be of any use to us.  The Catholic Church clergy are moving heaven and earth to extinguish the Irish language and therefore it would be useless to trust them.  The Protestants could not get any true returns and I therefore think we ought to test content with the police returns.  Of course most of the Irish speakers will be found in the poor houses!  However I shall be in Belfast very soon again to deliver some lectures on the Celtic dialects.  I do not believe that you or any other friends there will be able to procure me any pupils, and I am therefore afraid to go live amongst you.  When I do see you next I shall tell you various plans of mine for advancing Celtic literature.

Yours very sincerely,

John O’Donovan