Liam S. Gogan

As is widely known, a major 20th century figure associated with Irish Language Lexicography was Fr. Patrick Dinneen, compiler of the well know Irish-English Dictionary (1927), the first comprehensive work of it's kind to be produced under the Irish State. Further information on Fr Dinneen can be found elsewhere in this publication. Dinneen was ably assisted in this work by Liam Gogan, Fr Brian's late father. Employed by the National Museum of Ireland, Liam was noted during his lifetime as a multilingual scholar and prolific poet and writer in the Irish Language. Further information regarding Liam's life and work can also be found elsewhere in this publication. Liam continued tirelessly collecting dictionary material until his death in 1979. His family inherited the collection of over 40,000 dictionary slips written entirely in Liam's own hand. It is this priceless collection which is now being published.

I do not attempt here to make an in-depth analytical appraisal of the richness or intrinsic value of this collection — this could itself be the subject of a at least one third-level thesis. Today's publication will give scholars the opportunity to undertake such. Neither is the purpose to speculate, if, like Dinneen's dictionary, it is likely to be still selling commercially in eighty years time!

Dinneen's 1927 dictionary consisted of some 1,300 pages of double column closely printed text. Liam's collection has the potential of a work of at least similar magnitude. What was originally projected as a supplement to Dinneen in fact evolved into something far more. It should be rather regarded as a companion to Dinneen and a further milestone in the annals of Irish language lexicography, the depths of which have yet to be probed along with Dinneen's dictionary in a manner so ably described here in an accompanying article by Alf Mac Lochlainn. Here is a gift to the Irish nation revealing an important part of our heritage and should not be kept under wraps or hidden away in some obscure archive. Let us give due credit to his son Fr Brian Gogan for ensuring that this was not going to happen.

The present work marks a new departure in the field of dictionary publication. Traditionally a slip collection would be regarded as the building blocks of a dictionary, research records which would be used in drafting the text by the editor. Editorial notes would be added and some slips perhaps discarded. Here we have a dictionary in the raw, an entire example of the lexicographer's ‘work in progress' being made accessible to the student and researcher for the first time. This is now possible through modern electronic technology and hopefully may even provide a prototype for similar projects in the future. It could therefore be regarded as being at the cutting edge of lexicographical research, providing a starting point as well as basic material for students of the subject. Here also is exciting source material for the student and indeed a challenge which may open up areas of our cultural and linguistic heritage so far undiscovered. It is also appropriate that it should stand as a fitting memorial to Liam Gogan, outstanding scholar, poet and patriot, and to his son Fr Brian Gogan who has passed it on to the nation. Or should I say the world? It is after all the World Wide Web.

I am only too familiar with the toil and many frustrations which can be associated with dictionary production and editing. Modern technology has presented new possibilities and new opportunities and also many new challenges. Approaches and methods tend to change and evolve in the course of the work. The present work took about five years to complete which, in my experience, is not too long a period to bring a project of this kind to fruition. It is indeed a credit to all those who have contributed in any way. I should mention particularly the others on the editorial committee, particularly Brian's nephew Mike Gogan, John O'Loughlin Kennedy and all the others who helped in any way, such as Máirín Óman and Róisín Grimley. And we must not forget the technical experts who also made the project possible including Byron Blay, John Lunney, Finn Winterson and others.

Diarmaid Ó hAirt
DipITM, BAMod, HDipEd, MA, PhD
Eagarthóir Liteartha

Feabhra 2009