Centenary of 1916 made ‘profound statement’ about Irish identity

Roscommon celebrates Douglas Hyde Conference with speakers Garry Hynes, Sean Kyne

Douglas Hyde the poet, philologist, historian and a founder of the Gaelic League (1860 - 1949). Photograph: Getty Images

Douglas Hyde the poet, philologist, historian and a founder of the Gaelic League (1860 - 1949). Photograph: Getty Images


Last year’s 1916 centenary celebrations “made a profound statement about our identity, our culture and our values as a modern nation,” Minister of State for Rural and Community Development Seán Kyne has said.

“We never could have imagined the extent to which it - the centenary - would be embraced by the Irish people, at home and abroad,” he added.

Mr Kyne was speaking at the Douglas Hyde Centre in Portahard, Co Roscommon at the opening of the annual Douglas Hyde Conference.

The conference continues on Friday at the Regional Assembly Building in Ballaghaderreen.

He said the celebrations “reminded us all of the transformative power of our unique culture - something that was so well understood by that remarkable generation to which Douglas Hyde belonged.”

“Hyde in many respects signifies our cultural diversity and strengths - scion of an Anglo-Irish family, the son of a Church of Ireland rector, yet immersed in the bardic culture, legend and folklore of this part of Ireland, ” he said.

“His love of the Irish language, of Irish culture and Irish traditions was one he absorbed from this very landscape - itself a palimpsest of many different traditions.”

Following his address he laid a wreath at Douglas Hyde’s grave in the nearby churchyard.

The theme of this year’s Douglas Hyde Conference is ‘What Price Culture?’ Speakers include Garry Hynes - the Tony award winning artistic director and co-founder of Druid Theatre - who will give a talk on how so much of her career was inspired by her childhood in the west of Ireland.

“My family left Ballaghaderreen when I was only six years old but everything in my imagination comes from that place and those people,” she has said.

“It is my emotional hinterland and the place I go to in my dreams.”

Other speakers will include Arts Council director Orlaith McBride on ‘There is No Republic without Art’; National Library director Sandra Collins on ‘Innovative Approaches and New Directions’; author Cormac Moore on ‘Douglas Hyde and the GAA’ (who removed the then president Hyde as patron for attending a soccer match); and Los Angeles author Scott Timberg on ‘Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class’.

Further details can be found at www.roscommoncoco.ie/en/Services/Community/Arts