The Nordic Connection


On two occasions, over twenty years apart, two different scholars from the Nordics, interested in aspects of Irish culture, came to Ireland — and were directed to Máire Ní Ghuairim.

Ole Mørk Sandvik

The primary source for this item is Chapter 6 of the excellent Gaelic Grace Notes, written by Séamas Ó Catháin and published by Novus Press, from which interested readers are encouraged to learn more. In Ireland, it can be purchased from Four Courts Press.

A Norwegian from Helgøya, Sandvick was a musicologist and collector of folk songs. On 17th July 1927 he embarked on a three month field trip to study Gaelic song. Most of his research was done in Ireland. He spent time in Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, in the Múscraí Gaeltacht of County Cork; in Cathair Dónaill and Baile ’n Sceilig, both in the Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht of County Kerry; and made one or two excursions elsewhere into those counties and to Cork City.

He concluded his Irish researches with five days in Dublin, where Máire was one of his informants. Arriving there on 16th September 1927, he met with a number of his contacts in Irish academia the following morning and had the first of several meetings with Máire that same day, at 24 Blessington Street.

Sandvick left Ireland on 21st September, moving on from Dublin to Barra in the Outer ­Hebrides, where he stayed from 23rd to 26th September before returning home.

Olle Lagerlöf

The Saga of a Swedish Gentleman

By Ciarán Brady.

Written on 3rd October 2019.

First published on 25th March 2024.

An unexpected visitor arrived at our house in Ranelagh one day, and introduced himself politely as Dr Lagerlöf from Stockholm. He was a tall, distinguished-looking man who had the air of quiet confidence becoming a professional of some standing. He spoke English effortlessly. We gathered around to hear his tale and grew to like him as he spoke.

It seemed that after graduation, the Swedish Government decided to remit the fees of certain students, and he was the fortunate recipient of a lump sum to spend as he pleased. Having been married as a student to a Finnish nurse, he could not afford a honeymoon — now, suddenly, this became possible.

“Where would you like to go?”

“I’ve always wanted to see Scotland.”

Straight to the travel agent they went.

“I’m sorry, we’re out of brochures on Scotland — but we have literature on Ireland, and it’s pretty much the same.”

With characteristic thoroughness, he bought a complete set of Linguaphone records and studied Irish diligently, only to find it was not a requirement. One of Olle’s contacts asked him if he would like to meet a member of the team who made the original records — and that happened to be my mother. They were soon on first-name terms and got on well with one another. Before leaving, he said if any of us would like to visit him, we’d be welcome.

At the start of the Autumn Term a notice went up in the foyer of UCD saying that a new course in Swedish would be starting shortly, so I joined. History repeated itself, however, because the following Summer I found on reaching Sweden, that all the people spoke English, having learnt it from age five.

Olle could not have been more hospitable. I stayed in his home, and his summer house on an island in the Baltic, in time for the Mid-Summer barndance.

Extract from Ciarán’s original manuscript.


Sadly, Ciarán died on 10th March 2023 at the age of 91.

He didn’t specify in this account the year in which Doctor Lagerlöf’s visit took place but Máire’s daughters, Martha and Sister Eileen, state that it must have been in either 1949 or 1950 (Ó Loċlainn, 2023). Ciarán went to UCD when he was twenty — therefore in 1951 — and they believe he would have been about nineteen when Lagerlöf called.

Ciarán Brady

Scríbhneoireacht Chiaráin

Foilsithe: 21ú Mí Bealtaine 2024.

Ó foilsíodh Ceol na Mara an mí seo a ghaibh tharainn, luaigh roinnt mhaith daoine a áille is a bhí lámh Chiaráin agus mheasas go mba dheas an rud é sampla dá scríbhneoireacht i nGaelainn a chur leis an leathanach seo.

Léiríonn gach a scríobh sé sa chló Gaelach an slacht céanna a fheictear ina chuid láimhscríbhinní Béarla — cé gur éagsúil iad an dá stíl.

Leitir í seo go Seosamh Ó Guairim, col ceathrair leis i Roisín na Maithniach, is dá mhnaoi Naoko.

Scríbhneoireacht Chiarán sa chló Gaelach.

Gabhann eagarthóir Cheol na Mara buíochas le Naoko Ó Guairim, a chuir cóip den an litir ar fáil dò; le Mícheál Ó Gionnáin, a réitigh an bunléiriú digiteach de; is le muintir Bhrady.


Ó Catháin, S. (2014). Gaelic Grace Notes. Oslo:Novus Press.

Ó Loċlainn, M. (2023). Interview with Martha Máire Brady and Sister Eileen Brady on 16th August 2023. Unpublished.