Saturday, September 18, 2010

Séamus Ó Coigligh, R.I.P.

Language, literature expert and former curator of Cork Public Museum

(The Irish Times)

Séamus Ó Coigligh: SÉAMUS Ó Coigligh, polymath, expert in European languages and literature and former curator of Cork Public Museum, has died at the age of 94. During the Cold War, he wrote a column in The Irish Times , An Eye on Russia and An Eye on Eastern Europe, from 1959 until 1972. He was a frequent book reviewer on Russian affairs in The Irish Times , and also contributed articles to various European and Irish language journals.
His specialty was mostly in Irish and in European languages, but this caught my eye:
Ó Coigligh lived among his thousands of books in all rooms of his house, books which he referred to as his “friends”. He was able to read all current European languages, as well as a number of extinct languages such as Manx. As well as understanding Aramaic and Hebrew, he had a good grasp of Urdu and Arabic. He usually introduced himself to a new language by first studying the Bible in that language.

I do that too. I also do it to keep up languages that I already know. For example I read the Arabic New Testament some years ago when I wanted a break from Qur'anic Arabic.

Requiescat in pace.