- Hugh Ward
Hugh Ward ( _ga. Aedh Buidh Mac-An-Bhaird) (c. 1590,
Donegal– 8 November, 1635) was an Irish writer, historian and hagiographer. He is considered the founder of Irish archaeology.
His father, Geoffrey, was
Toparchof Lettermacward, and head of the Tirconnell branch of the ancient family of Mac-an-bhaird. From remote time this family cultivated literature and filled the office of Ollav or chief historian to the O'Donnells. In 1607 he left Irelandfor Spain, and entered the University of Salamanca. Here he made the acquaintance of Luke Wadding, under whose guidance he joined the Franciscans in 1616. After taking his degrees and receiving ordination, he was sent by the general of the order to lecture on philosophy at Paris, and soon after was appointed professor of Divinityat St. Anthony's College, Louvain. On 21 April, 1626, he was elected rectorof the college. Wadding states that Ward possessed great intellectual powers and a profound knowledge of the Irish languageand antiquities; and John Poncepraises highly his lectures on Scholastic philosophy and theology, affirming that in these sciences he was second to none of the great writers of his time. But Ward's chief interest was centred in the history and literature of Ireland. The plan of publishing the lives of the Irish saints and other ancient records of Ireland was his; he was pioneer and founder of the school for Irish archaeologythat arose in the seventeenth century, with its centre in the College of St. Anthony. At Salamanca he discussed his project with Luke Wadding, who promised him all help from the libraries of Spain, and in Paris he met Father Patrick Fleming, a distinguished Irish scholar, whom he urged to visit the libraries of Franceand Italyin search of Irish documents. At the time Ward reached Louvain, St. Anthony's numbered among its inmates several accomplished Irish scholars: MacCaghwell, Antony Hickey, Colgan, O'Docharty, and shortly afterwards Br. Michael O'Clery.
Ward laid before his associates his plan for a comprehensive history of Ireland -- civil and ecclesiastical -- a "Thesaurus Antiquitatum Hibernicarum", and how the work was to be carried out. The first step was to procure original ancient Irish
manuscripts or to have transcripts made of them. Father Patrick Fleming had already begun work in the libraries on the Continent, and it was decided to send Br. Michael O'Clery (Belonging to a family of hereditary scholars) to Ireland to collect Irish manuscripts. In the meantime Ward was employed in arranging and examining the documents which had been transmitted to St. Anthony's. He investigated the sources of the ancient martyrologies and chronicles. He was in constant correspondence with the early Bollandists Henschenius, Rosweydus, Papebroch, etc. on matters regarding the history and the saints of Ireland.
John Bap. Sollerius styles him "Vir doctissimus ac hagiographus eximius", and says that Ward's arguments in proof of the Irish birthplace of
St. Rumoldare unanswerable. At the time of his death Ward had ready for publication several treatises which he intended as "Prolegomena" to his great work. The Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, William Reeves, writing on Ward and his fellow-labourers, paid tribute to the Irish Franciscans for their services to Irish archaeology.
Ward was buried in the college church. The following are the works he left ready for publication:
*"De nomenclatura hiberniae";
*"De statu et processu veteris in Hibernia reipublicae";
*"Martyrologium ex multis vetustis Latino-Hibernicum";
*"Anagraphen magnalium S. Patricii";
*"Investigatio Ursulanae expeditionis";
*"S. Rumoldi Acta".
These works were accompanied by critical dissertations and notes on historical and topographical questions. The "Acta S. Rumoldi" was published at Louvain in 1662, by one of Ward's disciples,
Thomas O'Sherin. Ward wrote Latin hymns and epigrams with elegance; also many poems in Irish of great beauty and feeling. Some of the former were printed in the "Acta S. Rumoldi".
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