Tolkien's time in 'Erin'
Sir, – It was with great interest that I read Éanna Ó Caollai’s article (Front page, March 12th) concerning the translation of Tolkien’s book The Hobbit into Irish and also his opinions on Ireland and the Irish language.
Tolkien stayed many times in our house on visits to Ireland. These visits started in the 1950s. He came to Ireland for a couple of weeks each year acting as an external examiner of English in UCD. He worked alongside my late father Jeremiah who was professor of English there at the time. A number of letters from Tolkien to us are in my possession.
In these letters, he often speaks of his enjoyment of Ireland and his regrets at not being able to visit more often. He mentions “my constant desire to return to Ireland” and how he “very much desires to return to Dublin”. He continues to say “(I) never cease to regret the ties which prevent me from seeing Dublin again” and how “it has been a blank year without a glimpse of the shores of Ireland”. He also lectured in Ireland: “I should of course be glad at the opportunity of lecturing (at which I am not particularly good), but would willingly endure the ordeal as an excuse for ‘coming back to Erin’, ” he wrote.
He was very pleasant company and very willing to spend time with the young boy I was then.
Finally, I would like to add further to his list of linguistic dislikes; “Portuguese is such an unpleasant language me seems”! – Yours, etc,