Tomás Ó hÍcí

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Tomás Ó hÍcí, aka Tomás Ó Iceadha and Thomas Hickey (17751856), was an Irish scribe.

Scribe person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession

A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing.


Ó hÍcí was born inBaile an Ghraeigh, Killenaule (Cill Náile), in County Tipperary, the oldest child of Seán Ó hIcí and Máire Ní Bhraonáin. According to his own account "I led the life of a country peasant until I was forty two years of age, labouring hard at learning to read and write the language of my forefathers. I at last became so fond of it that I determined not to read anything but Irish, even at Mass; for I thought I could not pray fervently in English ..."

County Tipperary County in the Republic of Ireland

County Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster. The county is named after the town of Tipperary, and was established in the early thirteenth century, shortly after the Norman invasion of Ireland. The population of the county was 159,553 at the 2016 census. The largest towns are Clonmel, Nenagh and Thurles.

He moved to Waterford, where he was active in teaching and scribal work till his death. Some of his manuscripts are held at Mount Melleray.

Waterford City in Munster, Ireland

Waterford is a city in Ireland. It is in County Waterford in the south east of Ireland and is part of the province of Munster. The city is situated at the head of Waterford Harbour. It is the oldest and the fifth most populous city in the Republic of Ireland. It is the eighth most populous city on the island of Ireland. Waterford City and County Council is the local government authority for the city. According to the 2016 Census, 53,504 people live in the city, with a wider metropolitan population of 82,963.

Mount Melleray is a townland situated in the Knockmealdown Mountains near Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Ireland.

In 1821, Father Síomón Breathnach wrote to James Hardiman,

James Hardiman (1782–1855), also known as Séamus Ó hArgadáin, was a librarian at Queen's College, Galway.

"If you should want another to help write out the Irish Minstrelsy, I don’t know any man more capable of succeeding James Scurry (Séamus Ó Scoraidhe) than Thomas Hickey whose name you heard me mention so often and whose name poor Scurry mentioned in his essay. He is by far the best Irish scholar I ever met, except poor Scurry — he read and wrote more Irish than Scurry, though Scurry knew the language radically and grammatically better ... N.B. Thomas Hickey was the collector and writer of the Leabhar Dubh."

His obit in The Nation of 25 October 1856 stated

"Mr Hickey was Professor of Irish for upwards of twenty years in St John’s College, Waterford, during which time he was respected and esteemed by the professors and students of that college. Very many priests of the diocese of Waterford and Lismore studied the Irish language under his direction. Among the books he translated are the Roman Missal, the Glories of Mary and the greater portion of the Bible."

Roman Missal Book used for Catholic Liturgy

The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

An earlier edition of the same paper (27 March 1852) said of him:

"He is one of the last of the great Irish scholars of whom the editor of Donleavy’s catechism [an tAthair John McEncroe in 1822 agus 1848] remarks that they were able by “stratagem” to keep themselves in existence. This is literally true of him for he is buried alive in a stable loft where he can say with holy Job 'soror mea vermibus'."

Ó hIcí was quoted on his situation

"Now, Sir, as to my present condition, it is my own choice . . .. Nor would I change my condition for a situation in the best university in England or anywhere else without the permission and approbation of Dr. O’Brien, from whom I never wish to be separated as long as he is pleased to keep me."

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