Ó Caoimh, Eoghan (c.1656–1726), poet and scribe, was born at Glenville, about 16 km north of Cork city, one of three sons of Caomh Ó Caoimh, a prosperous farmer. He received a good education and was literate in English and Latin, as well as Irish. He married (February 1681) Eleanor Nagle; they had four sons and three daughters. He was a prolific scribe; the evidence of his manuscripts suggests that after marrying he settled in Co. Kerry, where his patrons included Daniel O'Donoghue of Glenflesk.
More than twenty poems by Ó Caoimh are extant. His earliest datable composition is a lament for Conn Maol Ó Caoimh (d. 1680), the Irish provincial of the Dominican order, who may have been a relative. In 1692 Ó Caoimh was ejected from his holding at ‘Port na Máighe’ – possibly a north Kerry location close to Abbeyfeale – by a protestant ‘fanatic’ named Sam Abbot. In the poem beginning ‘Ar treascradh in Eachroim de shíol Éibhir’ Ó Caoimh associated his personal adversity with the misfortunes of Ireland in the aftermath of Aughrim and looked forward to the return of James II (qv), who would wreak vengeance on the English. The work elicited a sympathetic but pessimistic response from his godson, Liam an Dúna Mac Cairteáin (qv). Ó Caoimh next appears to have settled in the neighbourhood of Cork city, where he assisted Fr Conchobhar Mac Cairteáin, parish priest of Glanmire, to translate a catechism from Latin to Irish, and copied manuscripts for John Baptist Sleyne, catholic bishop of Cork and Cloyne. He condemned the bishop's long incarceration from 1698 in the poem beginning ‘Iomaí teist údair ar Eoin’ and deplored his final expulsion from Ireland (1703) in ‘Mo bhrón mo mhilleadh anois mo léan go luan’.
Ó Caoimh's wife died in 1707 and he mourned her in a moving lament beginning ‘Mo chás cumha mo chúngach’. In 1709 his eldest son, Art, went to France to study for the priesthood but contracted smallpox within a month and died at La Rochelle. Ó Caoimh subsequently engaged in an ill-tempered exchange of verses with Uilliam Mac Cairteáin an Dúna (his own godson and Art's godfather), an exchange that was prompted by resentment at Mac Cairteáin's dilatoriness in composing an elegy for his son. In 1717, at the age of 61, Ó Caoimh took holy orders. In a poem composed before he set out for Connacht, where he was ordained by Hugh MacDermot, bishop of Achonry, he described himself as ‘an fear déanach don mheithil’ – an allusion to the labourers who arrived late for work in the parable of the vineyard. By 1720 Ó Caoimh was parish priest of Doneraile, Co. Cork. Some time later he entered into another acrimonious exchange of verses with Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill (qv) – an exchange that began when Ó Caoimh disparaged the younger poet's learning.
Ó Caoimh died at Doneraile on 5 April 1726 and was interred in the cemetery at Oldcourt. A small number of poems by two of his sons, Art and Joseph, are extant.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).