Death of Clerk of Dáil.

Is mór an brón a chuir sé ar Chomhaltaí an Tighe seo a chloisint gur cailleadh Colm O Murchadha, Cléireach na Dála.

Is maith is eol dúinn agus ba mhór againn go léir an obair mhaith do rinne sé i gcúis na hEireann agus an bhaint do bhí aige leis an Tigh seo ar feadh na mblianta fada. Iarraim ort-sa, a Chinn Chomhairle, a thabhairt go gcuirfear sios in Imeachta an Tighe seo a mhéid is méala linn a bhás, an meas mór atá againn ar a shaothar, agus a thruaighe linn a bhaintreach agus a ghaolta.

Colm O Murchadha devoted a large part of his relatively short life to the service of the national cause. Both in a military and in a civil capacity his record in the struggle for independence was a distinguished one.

During the period of almost 18 years in which he has been the Clerk of the Dáil, he was known for his quiet and thorough competence and his profound knowledge of Parliamentary procedure, as well as for his unremitting devotion to his duties. He has justly earned the highest praise for his scholarly knowledge of Irish and for his work as a teacher and a writer in the language. As the directing mind behind the work of the translation staff of the Oireachtas he achieved a remarkable success in adapting the language to modern usage and, in particular, to the extremely technical and difficult work of translating Acts of the Oireachtas and other legal and official documents into Irish. The value of his work in this regard was not, I think, as fully appreciated in his lifetime as it deserved to be, but I am confident that the future will prove him to have been a pioneer of unusual foresight and tenacity. It will, I believe, be found that, in the unassuming way which was characteristic of him, he made what is probably the greatest individual practical contribution of our time to the development and advancement of the language.

I ask you, a Chinn Comhairle, to have the appreciation of Dáil Eireann recorded in the Journal of the House.

May I be allowed, Sir, to add my tribute to a great servant of this House and of the State and a great patriot? The late Clerk of the Dáil, whom many of us met only in 1919, after the Dáil Cabinet was set up, was a man of very remarkable attainments, who had a unique combination of qualities Born, reared and educated in Dublin, he was not only an enthusiastic Nationalist, but an enthusiastic supporter of the Irish language. He learned that language thoroughly. Persons competent to judge consider that no other person whom they had met had ever acquired so deep and rich and natural a speaking knowledge of a second language. To fluency and accuracy of speech he added profound scholarship and an acquaintance with the literature of early modern and of modern Irish rivalled by only a few persons, and these professional specialists. He was counted one of the coming writers of Irish when his duties, it seemed, took him entirely into the administrative sphere. When in 1922 it was decided to centralise all Government translation work in the Dáil office, Colm-O Murchadha was the ideal director. He found scope here for his linguistic attainments. He worked unceasingly at the difficult task allotted to him and displayed not only scholarship, but originality and tolerance in dealing with many thorny problems.

For his part in the Rising he lost a position in the British Civil Service here. Later he gave valuable service to the Dáil Cabinet, often at the risk of his life or liberty. In 1922 he volunteered for Army service, but was withdrawn from the Army to become Clerk of the Dáil in September, 1922. He proved a splendid administrator, active, accurate and resourceful in the conduct of his business. He was a good judge of men. He had a high standard for himself and demanded a high standard from those who worked under him. At the same time he was not only just to his staff, but sympathetic and appreciative. In the building up of this House, in all the meanings of those words "building up," he took more than his due share. He had to organise a staff in difficult circumstances and at a critical moment. He developed the administrative work here on sound traditions which, we hope, will be of lasting benefit to the Dáil. He had to advise Deputies and to advise the Ceann Comhairle. He was always approachable, always unruffled, and always helpful to private Deputies. From members of the House, of all Parties and of no Party, he won praise and gratitude. Apart from all this work he was deeply interested and competent in the actual physical reconstruction of the premises which the growing work of the Dáil entailed.

We have lost in Colm O Murchadha a man who had a unique combination of intellectual qualities and a great character. He died at a comparatively early age, when there was still much work that he might have done in the service of his country and of the Irish language. We honour his memory; we hope the traditions he made will be preserved, and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to his widow and his relatives. God rest his soul.

May I be permitted to express on behalf of my Party our very profound sympathy with the relatives of the late Colm O Murchadha in the very sad loss which they have sustained by his untimely death. Colm O Murchadha's services in this House were marked by a very high standard of dignity, by a thorough and never failing efficiency. His personal qualities were marked by a quiet courtesy and an unassuming demeanour and high scholastic attainments. To these virtues, essential in the service of a House like this, he added the further qualities of courtesy and sympathetic understanding of all men and Parties in the House. Probably no civil servant in this country made a greater contribution to the growth and to the evolution of Parliament and Parliamentary procedure than did Colm O Murchadha. I agree with the Taoiseach when he said that probably only history will adequately appraise the gigantic contribution which he made to the growth of Parliamentary institutions here. By his death Parliament has lost a faithful and efficient servant who gave in full measure of the high talents and administrative capacity which he possessed. I should like, on behalf of this Party, to be associated with this vote of sympathy to his relatives and to express the regret that the first Irish Parliament to assemble after 700 years of subjugation should have lost at so early a stage in its career one who served it to the fullest possible limits of his ability.

Deputies rose in their places.

The Ceann Comhairle stated that he would have the expression of the Dáil's regret and appreciation recorded in the Journal and would convey to the widow and relatives the sympathy of the House.