Limerick Post – Plaque unveiled to West Limerick man honouring his contribution to Sikh Culture and Religion

Alan Jacques

Limerick – County Limerick – Eire. 12 September 2019. A plaque has been unveiled to mark the ground breaking work of a West Limerick man who translated the holy book of the Sikh religion into English.

In 1909 Max Arthur MacAuliffe, completed the classic translation into English of major parts of the Guru Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs. Oxford University Press published the first edition of his celebrated masterpiece, The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors, in six volumes and running to almost 2,500 pages, and since then it has never been out of print.

The unveiling of the plaque follows representations from the Dublin Interfaith Forum including members of the Sikh community and historians to Limerick City and County Council on how best Max MacAuliffe could be remembered in his homeplace.

Sikhism now has some 28m followers worldwide, 2,000 of whom live in Ireland, 500 of whom live in the Mid-West region.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony in Templeglantine Community Centre today [11 Sep 2019], attended by His Excellency, Mr Sandeep Kumar, Indian Ambassador to Ireland, Cllr Jerome Scanlan, Cathaoirleach of the Newcastle West Municipal District said: “It is important that Limerick remembers and honours its own, to celebrate those who have made an important impact on the lives of others.

And Max deserves this for his work in bringing knowledge and understanding of the Sikh religion to the English Speaking world. From his humble beginnings in Monagea and later Templeglantine, Max became an important conduit in developing a deeper understanding between entire communities in Europe and India.”

Gordon Daly, Director of Community Development with Limerick City and County Council, who funded the project added: “We are delighted to be involved in the honouring of Max MacAuliffe.

Who would have known that 181 years ago a boy from West Limerick would grow up to become arguably one of the most influential people in the Sikh community. He was a man of extra ordinary intellect, whose seminal work The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors remains as relevant today as it was when it was initially written.”

“Limerick City and County Council is delighted to be part of this ceremony, in honouring this famous West Limerick man.”

Max also known as Michael MacAuliffe was born 181 years ago to the day [11 Sept 2019] in Glenmore, Monagea, County Limerick, the eldest of John MacAuliffe and Julia née Browne’s 12 children.

The family moved to Templeglantine when he was eight years old after his father took up the post of “Master of the School’.

Max won a scholarship to attend Springfield College Ennis (now known as St. Flannan’s College) before studying at Queens College Galway (NUI Galway), where he graduated with first class honours in Modern Languages in 1860.

In 1862, he joined the Indian Civil Service and arrived in the Punjab in 1864. Over the course of his 30-year career, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner before later becoming a Divisional Judge. It was here his love affair with the Sikh religion began.

He died in London on 15 March 1913 aged 74.

Plaque unveiled to West Limerick man honouring his contribution to Sikh Culture and Religion

The Limerick Post – The Limerick man at the centre of Sikhism

Alan Jacques

Newcastle West – County Limerick – Éire, 15 March 2019. A county Limerick man renowned for his translation of Sikh scripture and history into English is set to be commemorated in his native West Limerick this year.

The work of Michael Macauliffe has influenced the growth of a religion that has an estimated 27 million followers but his prolific achievements are relatively unknown in his native county.

Also known as Max Arthur Macauliffe, he was born in Newcastle West in September 1841, the eldest of seven sisters and four brothers. His parents, John and Julia Macauliffe, moved their family to the national school in Templeglantine when he was eight as his father took up the post as master of the school.

After completing his college education at Queen’s College in Galway, Macauliffe was selected in 1862 for Indian Civil Service with assignment to the State of Punjab in 1864.

He was promoted to deputy commissioner of the district of Ferozpur in 1882 and became a divisional judge two years later. He then retired from the Indian Civil Service in 1893 to undertake writing on Sikhism.

Max Macauliffe went on to complete the classic translation into English of major parts of the Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs. In 1909 Oxford University Press published the first edition of his celebrated masterpiece, ‘The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors’, in six volumes and running to almost 2,500 pages.

It has never since been out of print.

His deep understanding and sympathy for the people of Punjab and their religious traditions made him a popular civil servant with the people of Punjab, but it also brought him into conflict with the English community in India. He converted to Sikhism in the 1860s and died in his London home on March 15, 1913.

Councillors in Newcastle West Municipal District, last week heard plans to commemorate Macauliffe in his native West Limerick.

Anne Rizzo of the Council’s Social Development Directorate spoke of plans to install a commemorative plaque on the grounds of Templeglantine National School where Macauliffe spent his formative years.

Other plans to honour this County Limerickman include a one-day seminar on his life and works and an exhibition of Sikhism will also be included in the celebrations.

Local representatives were also informed of the launch of a book by Professor Tadhg Foley on the life of Max Arthur Macauliffe.

“I support this project. I would just ask that as much of the commemorations as possible take place here in Newcastle West or in Templeglantine,” said Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin.

“It is a fascinating story. I would also support calls to keep the commemoration in the locality,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Collins.

Sinn Féin councillor Seamus Browne considered the project as an “important” one for the Newcastle West Municipal District. “The man is from here and people might not be aware of that. It is important the commemorations are kept local,” he told the council executive.