Lane, Timothy O'Neill (1852–1915), lexicographer and Irish scholar, was born at Templeglentan, Co. Limerick, third son of Timothy Lane, farmer, and Mary Lane (née O'Neill), who also had four daughters. As a child he spoke Irish and English, and was a pupil at Templeglentan national school; from 1877 he was a teacher there. He later passed the civil service entrance examinations; but when it was discovered that he was lame, he was regarded as ineligible. Instead, he accepted a clerical position with the Incorporated Law Society, London; he is recorded in the 1881 census as living in lodgings in Argyle Square, London, as a widower, along with his cousin Aeneas O'Neill. He next worked as a correspondent for the London Times. He moved to Paris for a time, again living with his cousin, and became a correspondent for several English newspapers before returning to Limerick by 1884. On 29 July 1888, at the pro-cathedral, Kensington, London, he married again; his second wife was Dorette Annie, daughter of William Ayley of Charlton, Kent.
Lane had a great desire to bring Irish culture to a popular audience. He published a 300-page travellers’ guide, Round Erin: or, Highways and byways in Ireland (Abbeyfeale, 1900). He was then commissioned by London publishers to write The way about the Irish rivers and lakes (n.d.) and The way about Ireland (n.d.), a 216-page pocket guide for travellers. Encouraged by the national cultural revival, Lane compiled his best-known work, an English–Irish dictionary (1904) of over 500 pages, the product of youthful vocabulary-collecting, lexicographic study in the British Museum and other repositories, and five years’ travel through Ireland. He had begun the work in earnest by 1885. His stated aims were to assist students and writers in learning and using the Irish language, while also recording near-obsolete words. He expressed confidence that the Irish language would evolve a technical vocabulary for modern needs. The Dictionary was welcomed as a popular Irish-language learning aid; six hundred bishops, priests, and nuns, most of whom would have been involved in education, bought advance copies. However, others, including Michael O'Hickey (qv), reviewed it very unfavourably.
From 1904 to 1915 Lane devoted himself, at a cost of some £2,500, to updating his Dictionary, and in 1912 a Limerick-based committee appealed to the public to send 10s. 6d. subscriptions to help publish the work. In 1913 Lane received a government grant of £250 towards a revised and enlarged edition, published in 1916 and reprinted by a variety of publishers in Ireland and New York between 1917 and 1922.
In public Lane always wore a dress suit, high silk hat, long claw-hammer coat, and striped trousers, with a gold watch chain across his breast. Because of his limp he had footwear specially made and carried an ornamentally decorated walking stick. He died 8 June 1915 at Tournafulla, Co. Limerick, close to his birthplace, and was buried at Brosna, Co. Kerry. Nothing is known of any children.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).