A lifelong promoter of Irish language and culture


SEAMUS DE BRUN: Séamus de Brún, who has died aged 91, was a former teacher, president of Comhaltas Ceotóirí Éireann and member of the Seanad.

A native Irish speaker, he was inspired by the example of Pádraig Mac Piarais and worked tirelessly throughout his life to promote Irish culture and language.

A lifelong member of Fianna Fáil, he served at every level of the party. He was chairman of Coisde na Gaeilge, a sub-committee of the national executive.

As a member of the committee that organised the celebrations to mark the centenary of the birth of Éamon de Valera in 1982, he commissioned Máirtín Ó Direáin to mark the event with a poem that was first read at a gala concert at the Abbey Theatre.

By this time he was a member of Seanad Éireann, having been nominated by the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, in 1977. He was later elected as a member of the Cultural and Educational Panel. A member of the Seanad for 12 years, he availed of every opportunity to promote the use of Irish by his fellow senators and with a colleague, Michael Cranitch, initiated Irish-language classes for members of the Oireachtas.

He was born on October 1st, 1911, one of the six children of Tadhg de Brún and his wife Kit (née Burke), of Cornamona, Co Galway. He was educated locally and won a scholarship to Coláiste Connacht, Tourmakeady, Co Mayo, where he qualified as a múinteoir taistil.

He taught first in Sligo and in 1944 was employed by Co Roscommon VEC to teach in Elphin. The following year he began teaching at Castlerea Vocational School where he remained until 1977.

His work included organising feiseanna, céilithe and evening classes as well as plays in both Irish and English.

Ar feadh tríocha bliain, ó 1958 amach, bhí sé ina léachtóir ag an Roinn Oideachais ar chúrsa Samhraidh don Teastas Timire Gaeilge - cúrsa speisialta ar mhodhanna múinte teanga agus imeachtaí cúltúrtha.

Dob é aidhm an chúrsa treoir agus spreagadh a thabhairt do chéimithe agus do mhúinteoirí óga a raibh rún acu dul le múineadh na Gaeilge faoin gcóras gairmoideachais nó faoi aon chóras eile.

Bhí meas nach beag air mar léachtóir, mar chomhairleoir, agus mar scrúdaitheoir. Bhí baint aige le Coláiste Chonnacht, mar mhúinteoir agus mar chomhairleoir ar chúrsaí Samhraidh Gaeilge ar feadh blianta.

An early member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, he was a founder of the Castlerea branch. He held positions at local, provincial and national level, serving as national president from 1970 to 1973.

As president he led the first Comhaltas tour of the US in 1972, which was singularly successful and gave a great boost to the organisation in North America.

In the course of the tour he was presented with a replica of the key to the door of New York City Hall by the mayor, John Lindsay. He subsequently accompanied Comhaltas tours of Britain and Libya. Chuir sé Eolaire ina bhfuil téarmaíocht agus foclóir mar chuidiú le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge san eagras - agus i gcoitinne - ar fáil don Chomhaltas.

A member of the national council of Oireachtas na Gaeilge, he adjudicated at music competitions and was recognised as an authority on sean nós singing.

He was a member of Comhairle Raidió na Gaeltachta for 15 years and in the 1970s sat on Co Roscommon VEC.

Throughout his life he remained loyal to his native county, holidaying in Carraroe and supporting the Galway hurling and football teams. Deeply religious, he was closely involved in his local church and community affairs.

He is the only person to have received the three major awards for services to Gaelic culture and language - Gradam an Phiarsaigh in 1993, Gradam an Oireachtais and Gradam an Comhaltais (both in 2002).

Predeceased by his wife, Bríd (née O'Hara) in 1998, he is survived by his daughter, Máirín, and sons, Tadhg and Finín.

Séamus de Brún: born, October 1st, 1911; died, March 5th, 2003