Osborn Bergin

Osborn Bergin

Osborn Joseph Bergin (25 November 1873 – 6 October 1950) was a scholar of the Irish language and Early Irish literature. He was born in Cork and was educated at Queen's College Cork (now University College Cork), then went to Germany for advanced studies in Celtic languages, working with Heinrich Zimmer at the Friedrich Wilhelm University of Berlin (now the Humboldt University of Berlin) and later with Rudolf Thurneysen at the University of Freiburg, where he wrote his dissertation on palatalization in 1906. He then returned to Ireland and taught at the School of Irish Learning and at University College Dublin. He died in Dublin at the age of 76; he never married.

He published extensively in the journal for Irish scholarship, Ériu. He is known for Bergin's Law, that while the normal order of a sentence in Old Irish is verb-subject-object, it is permissible for the verb, in the conjunct form, to be placed at the end of the sentence.[1] His friend Frank O'Connor wrote humorously that while he discovered the law "he never really believed in it".[2]. He wrote poetry in Irish and made a number of well-received translations of Old Irish love poetry.

He is celebrated in Brian O'Nolan's poem Binchy and Bergin and Best, originally printed in the Cruiskeen Lawn column in the Irish Times and now included in The Best of Myles .He was noted for his feuds with George Moore and William Butler Yeats, but had a lifelong friendship with George William Russell. Frank O'Connor, another good friend, describes Bergin's eccentricities affectionately in his memoir My Father's Son.[3]


  1. ^ Collinge, N.E. The Laws of Indo-European John Benjamins Publishing Co 1985 p.230
  2. ^ O'Connor ,Frank My Father's Son Macmillan and Co London 1968
  3. ^ Macmillan and Co London 1968

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