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

Jasvir Singh, Gurbir Singh, and Tadhg Foley, Historian at the unveiling. Photo by Alan Place

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.”

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“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.