Risteard B. Breathnach
Dick grew up in Slieverue in the early decades of
the 20th century. He was schooled locally and at Mount Sion from
where he went to University College, Dublin. He had a brilliant academic career
at U.C.D., taking a first class primary degree, M.A. and then Ph.D. Dick was to
become an Irish scholar, linguist, and phoneticist of note. He remained in
U.C.D. as a teacher, first in the Irish Department and, later, in the
Linguistics Department of the college where he taught phonetics.
He wrote ‘The Irish of Ring’, a major work but
one which must have given him much pleasure as he knew and loved the people of
the area. He later wrote ‘Sean-Chaint na nDéise (11)’. He also contributed
many articles to liturgy and scholastic journals including articles on his
fellow parishioner, John O’Donovan, whose works he had closely studied. His
final work, one he did not live to see in print, was a contribution to a
publication for Cumann na Sagart, Maigh Nuad, on Archbishop Michael Sheehan,
who had written the first ‘Sean Chaint na nDéise’.
Dick always kept in touch with his family in his native place. According to his son, Terence, 'he had a total and completely natural conviction, without a wisp of affectation, that Slieverue was the indispensable root of his personal identity and of everything he valued about himself.' He loved to return to Slieverue and was delighted to pay a prominent role, with his friend Donal Foley, in the establishment of Éigse Sliabh Ruadh. Another movement which greatly benefited from his support was 'Confluence', the twinning of the south east with Newfoundland, two very different places with a shared heritage.
He was a man of many interests and could debate on
topics as varied as greyhounds and philosophy, throwing in the odd verbal
grenade to keep the debate lively. He died in October 1992 and is buried in his
native place, just inside the entrance gates to Slieverue Cemetery.