Ó hUid, Tarlach (1917–90), Irish-language writer and journalist, was born Augustus Walter Hood on 13 January 1917 in south Deptford, London, one of three sons and two daughters of munitions worker and later carpenter, Augustus Walter Hood, and his wife, Ada Brockwell. He changed his name to Tarlach Ó hUid while still a young man. His grandmother, Mary Anne Martha Henry, was a native of Cork. It is noteworthy that although this was their only connection with Ireland, of the six children, two joined Conradh na Gaeilge, two became members of the IRA and two were involved in Cumann na mBan. Ó hUid received his earliest education in the local kindergarten situated in the Goldsmith's College, London University, on Lewisham High Road. A year later he transferred to the local parish school and subsequently to the public primary school on Childeric Road when he was eight years old. Around 1929 he obtained a scholarship to attend Greenwich secondary school. Although his mother was a baptist, he grew up a methodist as a result of attending a methodist Sunday school. He became a catholic, however, in 1937; two of his other siblings also became catholics.
Ó hUid's first job was as a clerk in a tailor's shop in Piccadilly and afterwards a clerk in the Abbey Heating Co., Westminster. Continuing as a clerk he then worked with Albert E. Bevan in Shadwell, east London and then in the Skelton Sleat factory in south Bermondsey. During his youth he worked as a volunteer for the Lewisham branch of the greenshirt movement for social credit.
He was greatly influenced by Ireland, its scenery, characters etc., (1842) by Mr and Mrs S. C. Hall. While still a teenager he learned Irish with the assistance of the first book in Eugene Ó Growney's (qv) Simple lessons in Irish series. This book influenced him to become involved in Conradh na Gaeilge and in 1935 he became active in the organisation's London branch. Three years later he obtained a scholarship from Conradh to spend time in the gaeltacht. Around this time he joined the IRA in London and eventually moved to Dublin. He took part in the IRA campaign that began in January 1939 and was editor of its publication, War News, writing under the pseudonym ‘Terry Wilson’. He was arrested in the autumn of 1940 after having been on the run since the beginning of that year and was interned in both Crumlin Road and Derry prisons. Along with other prisoners, he was transferred to Derry prison in autumn 1942 and remained there for two years. The following year he decided to resign his IRA membership but refused to renounce his association with the republican movement. During his time in prison he acted as head of the internees, organised classes, produced plays and published a magazine for inmates entitled Faoi Ghlas. His aim was to promote the use of Irish within the prison and along with six other Irish speakers he managed to ensure that Irish was the principal means of communication among approximately 500 prisoners from Belfast. While in prison he also began writing articles on a wide variety of subjects published in Inniu under the pseudonym ‘Tarlach Bhillí'. He joined the Glúin na Buaidhe movement in 1944.
Ó hUid was one of the final internees to be released from Crumlin Road on 8 December 1945 and then worked as part-time secretary for the Belfast branch of Conradh na Gaeilge. He continued his literary endeavours and between November 1945 and January 1946 published a number of short stories and an article ‘Cúig bliana i mBraighdeanas' in the journal An Iris, edited by Séamas Ó Néill (qv). By the time he moved to Dublin, around 1948, he was writing a radio comedy entitled ‘Ruaig ar roicne'.
He published three novels entitled An bealach chun an bhearnais (1949), An dá thrá (1952) and Adios (1975); a collection of short stories entitled Taobh thall den teorainn (1950), and a collection of poems, Rachtanna feirge, bróin agus grá (1978). In addition, he wrote two adventure stories for children, Eachtra Nollag (1960) and Éalú (1961), as well as translating approximately twelve short books by Mary Purcell on religious subjects for An Gúm. This was most likely done in his capacity as founding member of Na Teaghlaigh Gaelacha. He also wrote two autobiographies Ar Thóir mo Shealbha (1960) and Faoi Ghlas (1985), which provided an account of his life up to 1945. In the former work he condemned the IRA and apologised for having been part of the organisation. He also stated that an article published in the Leader on 14 September 1946 by Ernest Blythe (qv) had motivated him to attempt the autobiography. The book was strongly condemned by Máirtín Ó Cadhain (qv) in Feasta (July 1960), who particularly criticised Ó hUid's account of the London Conradh na Gaeilge branch and the IRA military campaign. The criticism greatly upset Ó hUid and he believed that Ó Cadhain was particularly annoyed he had become a catholic and that the republican movement would have preferred him to remain ‘a pet protestant’ within its ranks. The publisher Routledge & Kegan Paul expressed an interest in publishing the work in English but Ó hUid was unwilling to allow this.
In the spring of 1948 he joined Inniu as assistant editor and functioned in that capacity until 1972 when he took over as editor from Ciarán Ó Nualláin (qv). He remained editor of the paper until its demise in 1984. In a tribute to Ó Nualláin after his death, Ó hUid stated that he learned from Ó Nualláin the necessity for anyone intending to write in Irish to read works in the Irish language as well as the need for accuracy in speaking the language and in the grammar (Inniu, 4 Mar. 1983, 1). Although both men shared an office for thirty-five years, they rarely spoke to one another apart from discussing work-related issues.
On his release from prison, Ó hUid married Eilís Ní Earáin, the daughter of an IRA comrade. Assisted by her husband, Eilís wrote a regular column entitled ‘Trí shúile na mban’ for Inniu. They had a son, Tarlach, and a daughter, Gráinne. Ó hUid died 30 October 1990 and is interred in Glasnevin cemetery.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).