Windele, John (‘Trismagistus MacSlatt’, Seághan Bhindele) (1801–65), antiquarian and collector, was born in Cork city. His family is said to have come from Kerry where their name was spelt ‘Windle’. Working in the sheriff's office in Cork, from an early age and largely self-taught he developed an interest in languages and archaeology, particularly the archaeology of Ireland, visiting local monuments and sketching them. His earliest publications may have been in The Bagatelle (1821), a Cork weekly. Other early contributions were to the Dublin Penny Journal. He edited Bolster's Cork Quarterly Magazine (which ran February 1826–March 1830) and in which he published an early article. The magazine's premises were a bookshop and club through which he came into contact with others with the same interests and made excursions with them. He was one of the few members of the South Munster Antiquarian Society (forerunner of the Cork Archaeological Society) and of the Anchorites Club in Cork, and was a founder-member (1836) of the Cork Cuvierian Society, which concentrated on natural history and antiquities. With other society members he made excursions, mainly on foot, throughout Cork and Kerry. They occasionally executed small excavations and, with Father Matthew Horgan (qv), built round towers. A long, serio-comic poem, Cahir conrí, written in Irish by Horgan, describes a visit by them and other antiquarian friends to the Dingle peninsula; Windele edited the poem (translated by Edward Kenealy (qv)) and had it privately published (1860). A pioneer in the study of ogham, he saved many ogham stones for posterity by taking them to his home (one is now in the quadrangle of University College Cork (UCC), while many others were acquired by the National Museum of Ireland). He studied Irish and, up till his death, was working on a translation of Agallamh na seanoiridhe for the Ossianic Society. He collected many manuscripts, paying some of the last scribes, such as the Ó Longáin family, to make copies, and encouraging friends to patronise them. He also built up a library of printed works, and compiled scrapbooks of cuttings from newspapers, articles, catalogues, and the like. Entitled Irish researches, volumes iii to viii are in private possession, while others are in the Royal Irish Academy (RIA); a selection of these, drawn from a journal of his archaeological expeditions, was published in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (May 1897–March 1898).
Windele's Historical and descriptive notices of the city of Cork … (1839) was significant, running to several editions and forming the basis for subsequent guidebooks to the city. He also wrote A guide to Killarney. He contributed (1849–56) to the journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society (see list in Irish Monthly, cited below), of which he was a founder member, and to the UJA. His last article, ‘Irish medical superstitions', was published posthumously in the Kilkenny society's journal (1865). He lived at Blair's Hill (also known as Blair's Castle), on the outskirts of Cork. He was married, with a family of three daughters and four or five sons. After suffering paralysis, he died at his residence on 28 August 1865, and is buried in the Matthew cemetery, Cork, where a lofty Celtic cross marks his grave. Despite his not having achieved membership of any wide-based learned society, his valuable contribution was recognised by the RIA, which on his death immediately set up a purchasing fund which succeeded in buying the bulk of his extensive collection. This consisted of Gaelic manuscripts accompanied by his translations of some of them, his own researches and sketches, poems and songs in English probably of his own composition, and correspondence.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).