Kuno Meyer, head and shoulders, front facing portrait

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When: 01 January 1903

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An Irish Political figure I must confess to never having heard of before. Kuno Meyer does not sound too Irish but then again neither did DeValera. I shall be watching with bated breath to see what light can be thrown on this man and his role in Irish history?

And so we learned from our contributors (and indeed the Wikipedia article on Kuno Meyer) that Herr Doktor Meyer was a German academic who specialised in Celtic studies, and was part of the Gaelic revival movement. His stance at the outbreak of WWI was seemingly controversial at the time - though it looks like his 'good name' was posthumously restored by later Irish governments. This perhaps explains the inclusion of his portrait in the 'political figures' collection (most of which date from the same 1920s period....)

Photographers: Various (Alexander Bassano)

Collection: Irish Political Figures Photographic Collection

Date: December 1903


You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 18871
irishpoliticalfiguresphotographiccollection nationallibraryofireland politicalfigured ireland politicalfigures german academic alexanderbassano kunomeyer drkunomeyer savant celticphilology scholar gaelicrevival rollsofhonoraryfreemen keltologieceltologycelticstudies eu

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    Bernard Healy

    • 27/Sep/2017 08:49:35

    Maybe someone better informed can add something, but I've always thought of Meyer as a cultural and academic figure rather than a political one. He was one of those German academics who did so much for Celtic studies in the late 19th & early 20th century.

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    O Mac

    • 27/Sep/2017 08:49:53

    The photographer Alexander Bassano took the famous photograph of Lord Kitchener seen on the "Lord Kitchener Wants You" WW1 recruitment poster.

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    • 27/Sep/2017 08:56:38

    This is apparently Kuno Meyer (20 December 1858 – 11 October 1919), a German scholar, distinguished in the field of Celtic philology and literature. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuno_Meyer See also article in The Saint Paul globe., July 31, 1904, Page 28 (with photo) "One of the most powerful personalities in connection with the Gaelic revival is Dr. Kuno Meyer, a German savant. Entirely at his own expense he goes through Ireland delivering lectures on the treasures of its ancient literature and revealing to the Irish themselves the value of the heritage which many of them so lightly prized." (last column) chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90059523/1904-07-31/ed-1/

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    • 27/Sep/2017 09:22:28

    Flickr is sometimes amazing ... In 1912 (?) via www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/ [https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14594870508/] Trove has many contemporary references - trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?q=%22Kuno+Meyer%22

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    • 27/Sep/2017 09:28:48

    Dr Mayer's view of the English - includes terrific anecdotes - trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/101400669 (1918)

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    • 27/Sep/2017 11:25:40

    Off with his head ! It looks like the image came from this one originally - same tie etc. The National Portrait Gallery gives "circa 1910", and "25 Old Bond Street, London". www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw192296/Kuno-...

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    • 27/Sep/2017 11:41:36

    Well, Herr Meyer taught. "In 1920 he succeeded Kuno Meyer as professor of Celtic Philology in Berlin." uir.ulster.ac.uk/13044/

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    • 27/Sep/2017 15:16:25

    Once again another door on history has been opened. Fascinating. Great work by all involved!

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    • 27/Sep/2017 16:05:25

    Kuno Meyer was one of the many scholars and Mystics who visited the Aran Islands during the late 19th century. The great national revival owes a lot to men like Kuno and other German scholars. His definition of the words "Fir Bolg", who were said to have built the great fort Dún Aengus, is accepted by most as probably correct. He defined it as " breeches wearers". Thanks for the photo and all the information.

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    Frank Fullard

    • 27/Sep/2017 22:31:33

    He was not Irish, but German, being born there and he also died there. He was a major figure in the field of Celtic studies and was responsible for translating many ancient Irish texts. Possibly the best known of these is St. Patrick's Breastplate. Most people will be familiar with his translation, but I expect few know that he was responsible for it. What follows is a part of his translation: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 28/Sep/2017 00:15:52

    Thanks all. I've updated the description to reflect the (likely) reason for his inclusion in the 1920s 'political figures' collection. His portrait was perhaps included following the reinstatement of his 'good name' by post-war/post-First-Dáil governments! I've definitely learned something new today.

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    • 28/Sep/2017 04:54:39

    I think this is the more pressing question: Why Do Germans Study Celtic Philology? www.jstor.org/stable/30094570

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    • 24/Oct/2017 09:06:18

    Ja , Keltologie studieren.....maybe they realised Celts or Gauls pre-dated them in Southern Germany & Austria...? An American with a German surname is also big in Celtic studies in mid Wales: John T. Koch... www.wales.ac.uk/en/CentreforAdvancedWelshCelticStudies/St... Another German Celtic scholar was Julius Pokorny he was into the whole Indo-European languages. Perhaps the most important German-speaking Celticist is the Swiss scholar Rudolf Thurneysen (1857–1940). A student of Windisch and Zimmer, Thurneysen was appointed to the chair of comparative linguistics at the University of Freiburg in 1887; he succeeded to the equivalent chair at the University of Bonn in 1913. His notability arises from his work on Old Irish. For his masterwork, Handbuch des Altirischen ("Handbook of Old Irish", 1909), translated into English as A Grammar of Old Irish, he located and analysed a multitude of Old Irish manuscripts. His work is considered as the basis for all succeeding studies of Old Irish. In 1920, Julius Pokorny (1887–1970) was appointed to the chair of Celtic languages at Friedrich Wilhelm University, Berlin. Despite his support for German nationalism and Catholic faith, he was forced out of his position by the Nazis on account of his Jewish ancestry. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_studies