Higgins praises Conradh na Gaeilge’s role in independence
Organisation, initially known as the Gaelic League, has celebrated its 125th anniversary
Minister of State for Irish Joe McHugh said Conradh na Gaeilge played a vital role in the development of the language.
Conradh na Gaeilge “created the context in which the independence movement could succeed”, President Michael D Higgins has said on the 125th anniversary of its foundation.
Douglas Hyde, the Republic’s first president, founded the organisation, initially known as the Gaelic League, on July 31st, 1893, with Eoin McNeill, who would later go in to set up the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and attempt to call off the Easter Rising in 1916.
“Conradh na Gaeilge was to the forefront of the language and cultural revival that in many ways created the context in which the independence movement could succeed,” Mr Higgins said. .
“We are all indebted to the far-sightedness of founders Douglas Hyde and Eoin MacNeill who recognised the existential danger facing the Irish language, and Irish culture more generally, in the decades following the devastation of the Great Famine.
“They strove to keep safe Ireland’s linguistic heritage, and an ancient living language which connects us to our forebears over thousands of years.
“For the last century and a quarter, Conradh na Gaeilge has been at the centre of efforts to promote and strengthen the language and to encourage Governments, public authorities and the wider community to embrace the language and provide it with the support that is required.”
The milestone was marked by a special event at the organisation’s headquarters on Harcourt Street in Dublin 2 on Tuesday.
An online version of An Claidheamh Soluis, an Irish nationalist newspaper published by Conradh na Gaeilge in the early 20th century, was opened by Minister of State for Irish Joe McHugh.
Its first editor was Eoin MacNeill from 1899 to 1901.
“Not only has the organisation reached 125 years, but I am launching Conradh na Gaeilge’s complete collection of An Claidheamh Soluis online today as part of the celebrations,” said Mr McHugh.
“Much of the work of the revival of Irish and the momentous historical events which occurred between 1898 and 1932 were discussed, moulded and inspired by writings in An Claidheamh Soluis and in Fainne an Lae.”
Also speaking at the event, Conradh na Gaeilge president Niall Comer said that, after its foundation, Conradh na Gaeilge would go on to “profoundly influence” the history of Ireland from a linguistic, cultural, and social perspective.
“The Irish language was in grave decline at that time, but through the efforts of members of Conradh na Gaeilge at community and at national level and those of other Irish language and Gaeltacht groups which have since come into existence, the Irish language is still spoken and thriving today,” he said.
“There are many challenges to overcome, however, particularly in the Gaeltacht, but there is no question anymore that the Irish language will not survive.
“We are now ready to take the next step towards the living vision of the renaissance – that is to encourage the use of Irish and to disseminate it proudly and all over the country and the world.”