Liam S. Gogan

D.Ó hAirt, Eagarthóir Liteartha

We give below the text of two letters which were part of correspondence between Fr Dinneen and the Council of the Irish Text Society during August 1927, as the publication date of Dinneen’s Dictionary drew near. It is apparent that Dinneen had sent a draft of the dictionary title page to the Council which included Liam Gogan’s name as an important contributor and assistant and that Dinneen as editor of the dictionary sincerely wished that Gogan’s name be so included.

It appears also that the Council rejected this request in, what appears to me, a somewhat ungenerous fashion. Their starchy adherence to what may have seemed to them as a convention may have been typical of the period. Such recognition would no doubt have been well deserved and a valuable asset to Gogan at the time. Dinneen as editor of the project would have been in the best position to make such a judgement and certainly the value and significance of the work would have been in no way diminished. Interesting also is the Council’s desire to play down reference to Fr Denis O’Flynn (An tAth. Donnchadh Ó Floinn) who was also a noted Gaelic scholar at that time.

While Fr Dinneen seems to have had no choice but to comply with these directions from the Council he certainly left them in no doubt in his reply of the 22nd August that he did not agree with their decision and gave cogent reasons for his opinion.

We are grateful to Dr Seamus Helferty, to UCD archives and to the Irish Texts Society for making the text of these letters available.


18th August, 1927

Dear Father Dinneen,

“Title Page and Preface”.

 As regards Title Page, which I have made up for the printer, you will of course recognise that, in accordance with our formal agreement with you that the Council of the Irish Texts Society engaged you, and your alone, to edit for them the new edition of their dictionary and therefore only your name and the names of the Society and the Publisher must appear on the Title Page. The Council, of course have no objection to your giving in the preface the fullest recognition to Mr Gogan for his assistance, but, as editor for them, they know him not.
 Preface, Page 8, Paragraph 1. Whilst the Council are very pleased to see you have been so ably assisted in your work as editor and have no desire to curtail your expressions of gratitude to Mr. Gogan and your other helpers, they consider in this paragraph it is inappropriate for you to express their indebtedness to Mr. Gogan and they also ask you to omit the reference to your having had to work apart.
 Page 8, Paragraph 2. The reference to the Reverend Denis O’Flynn should surely be cut down as suggested.
 Page 8. Penultimate Paragraph. I may, when the preface comes to me as galley, add one or two names to this paragraph.
 Page 1 of the preface. 1.3. This should read “destroyed in the Dublin fires of 1916”.
 Page 1. Paragraph 4. Suggested variations for the word “net”.
 Page 4. See one or two suggestions.
 Page 10. See one or two suggestions.

 You will notice that I have prefixed to your preface a note by the Council.

 Kindly send title page, table of contents, note by Council and your own preface to the printer with the enclosed note asking for proofs in slip.

Yours sincerely,
BH [?]
Joint Hon. Secretary



A Chara,

I gave an undertaking to Mr Gogan that I would put his name on the title page in the form in which I sent it –“assisted by”. It was not intended that his name should go to back of book or in advertisements, catalogues etc., but just where I put it. It has nothing to do with the Council or anybody else. It is just my own appreciation of his services. The council asked me early in the work to find an assistant who could carry on the work in case of my indisposition, etc. It was a reasonable step to take. I found it exceedingly difficult, owing to the state of things to find anybody approaching my requirements. Mr Gogan however turned up as by a miracle and he has vastly more than fulfilled the necessary conditions. He is put on the title page as a helper, not as ‘editor’ or anything of that sort. And such names on title pages are growing increasingly common. I have a book by a learned man before me with three names on the title page, only one of which gets publicly connected with the book. I believe, and still believe, that I have it in my gift to put his name as I did on the title page. There is nothing sacred in a title page. An examination of the great dictionaries in the main languages, and other such works, reveal the fact that helpers are often as not minutely and carefully named in the leading pages, and not merely in the prefaces. I inserted the Council’s name among those who owe Gogan thanks, tentatively and presumptively, believing it would be your natural wish, but of course if you are not so minded let it out. I need scarcely say that the Council has been well aware all these years of Mr Gogan’s activities and that they incur no obligation whatever by the appearance of his name as I put it.

I stated in my preface that Mr Gogan and I had to work a good deal apart. My object was to excuse or palliate possible discrepancies, idiosyncrasies, etc. that may be revealed in a book where workers are separated. I think it is necessary to meet that situation. Of course it applies to most of my helpers and could be stated in more general terms something like: “It should be observed that a good deal of work by my assistants on the dictionary was done at a distance”. If you think of any better formula we can insert in slip proofs.

I am sending to printer the dedication, reduced as you suggest.

Sincerely yours,

[Signed] P.S. Dinneen