Letter from Liam O'Rinn to Piotr Kropotkin (1912)

Archive: State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

Reference: Fond 1129 Opisi 2 Entry 2127

Date Range: 18 February 1912

Number of sheets: 4

Number of letters: 1

Liam Ó Rinn (20 November 1886 – 3 October 1943), also known by the pen name Coinneach was a civil servant and Irish-language writer and translator, best known for "Amhrán na bhFiann", a translation of "The Soldier's Song", the Irish national anthem. The date on the letter is slightly unclear, and could be interpreted as either 1912 or 1917. Sources indicate Liam O'Rinn started translating Kropotkin's Fields, Factories and Workshops and publishing it in Irish Freedom (an Irish nationalist publication with significant anarchist connections) in 1912 but it seems a full translation book was still being prepared in 1920. However, as he asks for permission to translate the work in this letter 1912 seems far more likely.


O'Rinn starts translating in 1912:

O'Rinn starts translating in 1912 (Including a partial translation of Fields Factories and Workshops into Irish):

The advert on page 118/132 of this book in 1920 states that the translated book is still 'in preparation':

Liam O'Rinn to Piotr Kropotkin, 18 February 1912

I have translated your Fields, Factories and Workshops into Irish and have spoken to your publisher Nelson and Sons and they have no objection. I'm not sure if legally I have to ask you for permission but I thought it courteous to ask. Please let me know if I have your permission. If I have to pay a royalty it would be impossible to publish. The number of readers in Irish is so limited. 'Your work was received very favourably here, the "seditious rags" in particular giving very fine reviews of it.' My translation will create new interest in the original, which will be bought by my readers for comparing the translation. Furthermore it will get into the hands of those most keenly interested in developing Irish agriculture, i.e. the language revivalists and may cause some efforts to be made in the way of introducing improved agricultural methods into those places they are most needed - in the often poor and barren districts in the north west and south coasts where Irish is the spoken language. I will be urging many writers in this district to stop writing stories and country sketches in favour of doing for their neighbourhoods (in Irish) what Mr Rider Haggard has already done in English for England. My translation will be the first economic work of any importance to appear in Irish. Owing to historical circumstances, Irish literature has failed to keep abreast of European literature for the past 300 years, so that my translation was a work of unprecedented difficulty. It will however make the road much easier for other writers. My idea at present is to get 500 subscriptions of 5/- each towards cost of printing and publication. I shall probably issue the book in Royal Octavo (a type of size for a book) at 5/- per copy. I have struggled with a couple of technical terms in your book which I failed to understand and cannot find in any dictionary I possess. Could you explain them to me? At the bottom of p62 you mention the 'total daily capacity of ingots or direct castings'. Are these one and the same thing or does direct castings mean something different from 'ingots' and would 'leaghtain tosaigh' (first castings) do as a translation of 'direct castings'. The only Irish word I know for direct is 'direach' which also means straight and used adverbially means exactly. If I used the word it might lead to some confusion. As for 'double turn', I am, as we say in Irish, 'blind' as to its meaning. I think I had some difficulty with coppice also (p83 note and p102) and would love the precise meaning of this. I suppose 'leeks' are what we call 'scallions'. Please reply when you have time!

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