Goodman, James (Séamus Gudman) (1828–96), clergyman, Irish-language scholar, and music collector, was born 22 September 1828 at Ballyameen near Dingle, Co. Kerry, second son among five sons and four daughters of Thomas Chute Goodman, clergyman, and Mary Goodman (née Gorham). Brought up on a farm where his family had a good relationship with their catholic neighbours, James grew up bilingual and developed a love of traditional music and song. He entered Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in July 1846, won awards in Irish and Hebrew, and graduated Bachelor of Arts (1851) and Master of Arts (1871).
He was ordained a deacon in Limerick (12 October 1851) and a priest in Cork (22 May 1853). His first curacy was in the parish of Creagh, Co. Cork, where he began working in 1852 under the Irish Church Missionary Society. He seems to have stayed there until 1858, though he may have also spent some time during this period working in Dunurlin parish, Co. Kerry, where his father was rector. Between 1858 and 1867 he was a curate in Killaconenagh parish on the Beara peninsula, Co. Cork, residing in Ardgroom. In February 1867 he was made vicar of Abbeystrewry parish in Skibbereen, Co. Cork. In 1875 he was made a canon and prebend of Island in the diocese of Ross. He was appointed professor of Irish in TCD in 1879 but was able to continue as vicar in Abbeystrewry as his residency in Dublin was required only part of the year. He retained both positions until his death. He was also a member of the university's senate during his tenure at Trinity.
Elected to the council of the Ossianic Society in 1853, he had planned to publish an edition of ‘Cath Fionntrágha’, but the demise of the society prevented this and, perhaps having lost some of his enthusiasm for the old literature, he devoted most of his energy to traditional music thereafter. In 1854 he published An duanaire Diadha, a selection of psalms and hymns for the use of Irish-speaking congregations, containing eight pieces he had composed himself. He wrote some original verse in Irish and translated the Old Irish poem ‘St Patrick's breastplate’ into the modern language. He also collaborated with James E. H. Murphy, his successor as professor of Irish in TCD, in translating St Luke's gospel into Irish. This resulted in An soisgéal do réir Naoimh Lúcais (1886).
By 1866 he had compiled an impressive manuscript collection of some 2,000 melodies, mostly traditional Irish in content. It comprised both tunes taken down by himself and also music drawn from other manuscripts and printed sources. His principal source was a piper, Tom Kennedy. The collection has been housed in TCD since his death. The work of editing it was undertaken by Hugh Shields, the first portion being published in 1998 as Tunes of the Munster pipers. Goodman was also an accomplished player of the flute and uilleann pipes, and entertained, among others, John Pentland Mahaffy (qv) in his rooms in TCD. He died at his residence in Skibbereen, 18 January 1896, and was buried in the family vault at nearby Creagh.
He married (1852) Charlotte, daughter of Joseph King, who lived in Ventry parish; they had three sons. An arched gateway bearing an inscription to his memory was erected by parishioners at Abbeystrewry church, which he had helped rebuild a few years earlier.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).