Friday, 8 January 2016

8‭ ‬January‭ ‬1915:‭ ‬Cork Corporation voted to remove the name of the great Celtic scholar from Germany,‭ ‬Kuno Meyer [above],‭ ‬from the role of Honourary Freemen of the city due to giving an anti British Empire speech in New York.‭ ‬In September‭ ‬1912‭ ‬he had been presented,‭ ‬on the feast day of St Finbarr,‭ ‬along with Canon O'Leary,‭ ‬with the Freedom of the City of Cork.‭ ‬Meyer's speech was reported in the English‭ ‬Morning Post,‭ ‬Manchester Guardian and other newspapers.

In 1903 Meyer founded the School of Irish Learning in Dublin, and the next year created its journal Ériu, of which he was the editor. Also in 1904 he became Todd Professor in the Celtic Languages at the Royal Irish Academy. In October 1911 he followed Heinrich Zimmer as Professor of Celtic Philology at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin; the following year a volume of Miscellany was presented to him by pupils and friends in honour of his election, and he was made a freeman of both Dublin and Cork. He also catalogued the various entries by different scribes in the Book of O'Donnell's Daughter, a 17th-century manuscript written in Leuven and preserved in the Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels.

The unfortunate gentleman fell foul of the illustrious members of the Corporation of Cork due to his vocal support for the Kaiser and Germany in the recently commenced Great War.‭ ‬Herr Meyer was one of,‭ ‬if not the greatest expert on Early Irish Literature in the years before the War.‭ ‬He was considered a great friend of Ireland but had sailed for America in November‭ ‬1914‭ ‬and became caught up in the excitement of the times‭! ‬In‭ ‬December he lectured to Clan na Gael in New York City details of which were published in the London‭ ‬Times.‭ ‬His speech caused a furore as it became clear that he supported Germany in war‭; he ‬resigned from his position of Honorary Chair of Celtic at the University of Liverpool.

Kuno Meyer returned to Germany in‭ ‬1917,‭ ‬after marrying an American Lady,‭ ‬but died alone in a Leipzig Nursing Home on‭ ‬11‭ ‬October‭ ‬1919.

‭ ‬In 1920, he was regranted the Freedom of the City of Cork, as follows: "Re-elected 14th May, 1920, and order of Council of the 8th January, 1915, expunging his name from the roll rescinded."

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