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Kerry priest scholar to receive prestigious US award

By Sean Ryan - 13 December, 2015

Mgr Pádraig Ó Fiannachta

Mgr Pádraig Ó Fiannachta

A Kerry-born priest and scholar is following in the footsteps of Seamus Heaney, Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson as the recipient of a prestigious Irish-American award.

Mgr Pádraig Ó Fiannachta is the 16th recipient of the American Irish Historical Society’s Cultural Award.

The 88-year-old will travel to the Society’s headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York next week to receive the award, which was launched in 1998 in recognition of the contribution of individuals to the cultural life of the Irish in Ireland, America and globally.

Previous recipients include Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, actors Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne and Vanessa Redgrave, singer Elvis Costello, and musician Martin Hayes.

Born in Ballymore, Ventry in Co Kerry in 1927, Mgr Ó Fiannachta entered Maynooth in 1944 and was ordained a priest in 1953.

He became Professor of Early Irish in Maynooth in 1960, and also lectured in the Welsh language.

He was made professor of Modern Irish at Maynooth in 1982, the same year his translation of the Bible into Irish was published.

Mgr Ó Fiannachta retired from Maynooth in 1992, returning to Dingle in West Kerry as a parish priest.

In 2013, he was made a Companion of the Order of Clans of Ireland.

He is involved in many Dingle events such as the blessing of the boats and participated in the Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis name change debate He was awarded the title of monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

Speaking on local radio, Mgr Ó Fiannachta said he was “honoured to be chosen” for the award.

“I think it is wonderful really and I feel like a giant around such wonderful people. I am really grateful to the committee for choosing me as this year’s recipient,” he commented.

The American Irish Historical Society is a centre of Irish American life in the United States.

Housing one of the largest collection of Irish historical materials outside of Ireland, the AIHS’s objective is to record, preserve and tell the ongoing story of Ireland and Irish people in America and worldwide.

The AIHS hosts a full schedule of public programming which includes lectures and literary readings, visual art exhibitions and concerts throughout the year.

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