De Barra, Dáibhí (Barry, David; Dáth an Ghleanna) (1757/8–1851), prose writer, scribe, and poet in Irish, was born in Woodstock, Carrigtohill, Co. Cork, son of Dáibhí, a tenant farmer on the earl of Barrymore's estate. He was educated locally and could read and write both Irish and English from an early age. He was known as a scholar and a poet during his lifetime but is admired latterly for his prose writings and translations. As a scribe he was industrious, devoting much of his Sundays to learning after working his farm all week, and thirteen complete manuscripts have come down to us from his hand, mainly from the period 1821–35. There were periods of inactivity, however, the longest being 1791–1821, perhaps explained by farm work, family responsibilities, and ill-health. The decline of the status of Irish in the region during the nineteenth century cannot be ruled out as another factor. De Barra worked a holding of approximately twenty-nine acres in 1833. Religious material, poetry, and traditional tales are among the range of subjects found in the transcribed manuscripts. Over 100 original poems still await definitive editions, including religious and occasional verse and also barántais. His prose writings include an account of a tithe affray in Carrigtohill, written in the traditional style associated with romantic tales, and a translation of Edward Ward's ‘Female policy detected’ (1695) which de Barra may have undertaken in the years 1775–80. Bad health plagued him for the last thirty years of his life and he worked on his last manuscript from 1847 to 1850. Uilliam Haicéad of Midleton gave him a book and pen to write a manuscript in 1830, but he had little or no other patronage. Indeed, 1829 saw him trying to sell a verse translation, to no avail. De Barra corresponded with Pilib Barún in Waterford, but his productivity is remarkable in that he had little or no contact with other scribes and no means of acquiring a patron. He married Eilís Ní Chaoimh sometime at the turn of the century; they had four sons and five daughters. He died 7 April 1851 and is buried in Carrigtohill graveyard. His manuscripts are held in the NLI; Coláiste Cholmáin, Fermoy; RIA; NUI, Maynooth; and UCC.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).