Ó Braonáin, Seán
Thirty-nine of his poems survive (three of them of doubtful ascription), twenty-four in autograph copies (including a few lines of English). Most of his poems can be dated only approximately. Sixteen occur in manuscripts from 1814 or earlier, the remainder in copies dated 1829 or later. He was much concerned in the 1820s with the use of Irish for evangelical purposes, and five poems of his are directed against Thomas Dowling, a neighbour and one of the best-known inspectors of the Irish Society for Promoting the Education of the Native Irish through the Medium of their Own Language, or against Dowling's supervisor, the arch proselytiser, the Rev. John B. McCrea, active in Kerry between 1824 and 1828. One of these poems extols the stand taken (probably in 1826) by Fr Michael Walsh (d. 1866) (then a curate in Ardfert, later – when parish priest of Sneem – the celebrated ‘Father O'Flynn’ of the song by Alfred Perceval Graves (qv)) against McCrea's attempts to interfere with popular devotions at Tobar na Molt, where the poet himself was reputed to have been cured of a serious illness – perhaps the event commemorated in a poem of thanksgiving found in an autograph copy of 1831. Another poem celebrates Daniel O'Connell's (qv) triumph at the Clare election in 1828. Nine manuscripts or fragments in his hand have been located, and those bearing dates were transcribed in 1804–8 (at Ballymacandrew), 1831, and 1841 (for a priest in Ardfert).
Five of the poems are aislingí, and several others are similarly concerned with the state of the country (and the Irish language) and with millenarian prospects, as well as with sectarian matters. His surviving transcripts show that he had access to a range of manuscript texts in Irish, in contrast, for example, to his south Kerry contemporary Tomás Ruadh Ó Súilleabháin (qv) (1785?–1848), whose knowledge of the literary tradition was confined to printed material, to judge from his ‘Amhrán na leabhar’. Ó Braonáin's references to the decline of Irish thus embrace more than the spoken language, as in ‘D'ionnarbaigh danair ar dteanga ‘s a heolas’ (poem 39, line 15). At least one of his manuscripts was in the possession of a neighbour or relative by August 1849, and he may have died at about this time.