Further to that photocopied letter of Art Bennett’s that Tom McKeown found among his papers – a story we published here last month.
It seems that Bennett did indeed write a History of Ireland: that he did, indeed, write it in Irish; but sadly it disappeared immediately without trace.
That is, until a full century after his death, when Father Raymond Murray chanced upon the manuscript and happened to recognise Art’s writing.
The bitter irony here is that the Gaelic League – committed to the revival of the Irish language and literature – was formed less than a decade after Bennett’s death. Such a recent and original work, from one widely acclaimed as the last of the Ulster scholars and poets of the era, would have proved of immense benefit to their cause and their teaching.
And underlined the essential continuity of the Irish language in everyday life.