French Legion of Honour awarded to Irish Priest
At a ceremony in the French Embassy, Ailesbury Road, Dublin, on Wednesday, November 14th, the Ambassador of France, M. Gabriel de Bellescize, invested with the insignia of Officier of the Légion d’Honneur Mgr. Brendan P. Devlin, Rector of the Collège des Irlandais de Paris and Emeritus Professor of Modern Languages in the National University of Ireland at Maynooth. This honour is the highest normally given to a non-French national (it was recently awarded to Mr John Hume M.P.), and was awarded to Mgr. Devlin for his services to cultural relations between France and Ireland. The citation mentioned in particular his work for the restoration of the Irish College in Paris, his development of French studies at Maynooth, and his work as translator of several of the classics of French literature into Irish.
Mgr. Devlin was born in the parish of Gortin, Co. Tyrone. He was educated at Aughnamerrigan P.E.S.; St. Columb’s College, Derry; Maynooth; The Irish College in Rome (where he was ordained priest for the Diocese of Derry), and the Sorbonne University in Paris. He was Professor of Modern Languages in Maynooth from 1958 to 1996. Appointed Rector of the Irish College in Paris in 1984 by the late Cardinal O’Fiaich, he was given the mission of saving this centuries-old seat of learning for the Irish people, and from 1991 to 2000 he was secretary of the Fondation Irlandaise, the trust in which the College is now vested. Mgr. Devlin is also well-known as a writer in the Irish language, as novelist, dramatist and literary critic. He founded the Maynooth school of literary criticism in Irish in the 1960’s. He translated the Book of Isaiah from the original Hebrew for the Irish language version of the Bible, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church of the Second Vatican Council. He has also published translations into Irish of Pascal, Montaigne, La Fontaine, Saint-Exupéry, and an anthology of French lyric poetry.
Mgr. Devlin was already Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, and was appointed a Domestic Prelate in 1997.
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