HC Deb 08 March 1898 vol 54 cc965-6
MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Donegal, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury what is the cause of the long delay in completing the publication of the ancient laws of Ireland, seeing that the ancient laws of England have long since been published; whether, although prior to 1865 Messrs. O'Curry and O'Donovan had completed 25 volumes of translations of the ancient laws of Ireland, since then only four volumes have been published, and none within the last 18 years; whether the person or persons selected by the Brehon Law Commissioners to complete the translations have agreed to devote their whole time to the work; and, if not, whether such an arrangement could be made with them, or assistance be procured to expedite the publication; whether the present editors are paid an annual or a fixed sum for their services, or are remunerated only in proportion to the output of their labours; and whether the Government will adopt some measures to ensure that better progress shall in future be made towards the completion of the work?


I understand that the delay in the publication of the remaining volumes is owing to the great labour which they involve, and to the fact that the work is being carried out by a single editor, who can only give to it such time as he is able to spare from his professional duties. It is the fact that only four volumes have appeared in the period in question, and that the last of these was published about 18 years ago. But I am informed that the two concluding volumes are now practically completed so far as the text of the law is concerned. The sixth and final volume will include a glossary to the whole body of the laws, and its preparation has absorbed the labours of the editor for a considerable time. The editor, Dr. Atkinson, has not agreed to devote his whole time to the work, and he receives remuneration only for the work actually done. The Brehon Law Commissioners deprecate any interference with the conditions under which the work is now being proceeded with.


Cannot any assistance be possibly given to expedite this work?


No. The work is being very well done, and the Brehon Law Commissioners do not think anything is to be gained by giving the editor an assistant. They prefer to leave the work in its present hands.