Polish, Romish, Irish: The Irish Translation of Quo Vadis?

Alan Titley
University College, Cork


During the height of literary translation into Irish in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, I can only think of two Polish books that were translated into Irish. One of these is Henryk Sienkiewicz’s famous Quo Vadis?, which helped him secure the Nobel Prize for Literature, and which has been translated into numerous languages, and made into several films or series of films for television. It was translated into Irish by An tAthair, or Fr. Aindrias Ó Céileachair (1883–1954) in 1935. There is a long journey from Henryk Sienkiewicz’s travels into the mind of ancient Rome and turning a vicious and genocidal Latin culture into a more civilised Polish, to an English version of this great book by an Irish-American linguist who himself collected stories and tales in Irish, to a learned priest who used the ingenuity of his own people, and particularly the native knowledge of a great storyteller, to fashion one of the finest translations that has been done into modern Irish. I am not sure what Sienkiewicz would have made of it, but I am sure he would have been very pleased.

Studia Celto-Slavica 5: 47–58 (2010)


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