Ó Lochlainn, Colm, 1892-1972

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Ó Lochlainn, Colm, 1892-1972

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Colm Ó Lochlainn was born in Dublin as William Gerard O’Loughlin to an Irish-speaking father who was a Kilkenny businessman-printer, and a Limerick mother from a family of printers. Having studied Irish in University College Dublin under Eoin Mac Néill from 1910 to 1916, and acted with the Theatre of Ireland, Ó Lochlainn taught in Patrick Pearse’s school St Enda’s and was at the time deeply involved in the Independence movement, especially as a publisher and printer. After the 1916 Rising he continued his Gaelic studies, graduated MA, continued his involvement in printing and publishing, and from 1933 to 1943 was an assistant lecturer in Irish and librarianship in UCD. In 1926 he founded the Three Candles Press in Dublin, which would become for decades a leading Irish imprint as well as a general printer, and which specialised in history, biography, topography, bibliography, music and Irish studies. Ó Lochlainn travelled and studied printing techniques on the Continent and designed an Irish-language type-font. From about 1928 to 1957 he was also editor, printer and publisher of the bibliographical journal The Irish Book-Lover. Co-founder of An Óige, the Irish youth hostelling organisation, in 1960 he was awarded an honorary D.Litt.Celt, from the National University of Ireland. He was married to Ailish McInerney; they had three children.

In music Colm Ó Lochlainn is remembered particularly for his two famous collections of English-language songs Irish Street Ballads (1939, reprinted 1946, 1952, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1978, 1984) and More Irish Street Ballads (1965, reprinted 1968, 1978, 1984), which were the chief source-books for the 1960s revival of interest in Irish traditional song. He himself was a singer, often appearing with his sister Úna on national radio in the 1920s, and a musician on piano, uilleann pipes, warpipes and harp. In the 1960s he introduced the traditional song series As Zozimus Said on the new Irish television service. He was also interested in Scottish Gaelic songs and edited and published a collection: Deoc-Sláinte nan Gillean: Dórnan Óran a Barraidh (1948). He was also the author of Anglo-Irish Songwriters since Moore (n.d., post-1947), later Song-Writers of Ireland in the English Tongue (1967), and occasionally composed song words and melodies. His Irish-language song publications are considered below.



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At the Sign of the Three Candles (1926-)

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IE ITMA C00043

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At the Sign of the Three Candles is the business partner of Ó Lochlainn, Colm, 1892-1972

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IE ITMA P00037

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1 August 2010




Beathaisnéis vol. 4, Diarmuid Breathnach & Máire Ní Mhurchú eds (Dublin, 1994), pp. 132–4; Dictionary of Irish Biography from the Earliest Times to the Year 2002 vol. 7, James Maguire & James Quinn eds (Dublin & Cambridge, 2009), pp. 648–9; and The Three Candles: A Bibliographical Catalogue, Éamonn de Búrca ed. (Dublin, 1998).

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