Hyde calls on unity to promote Irish language
Dr. Douglas Hyde, pictured on the right here in 1913, has warned that unless schools in Connemara place Irish above English, the Irish language will be dead in the region within twenty years Photo: National Library of Ireland, HYD5

Hyde calls on unity to promote Irish language

Gaelic League leader claims success for the organisation in halting the erosion of Irish instruction in secondary schools

Published: 3 August 1913

Rumours of discontent with the role of Dr. Douglas Hyde as President of the Gaelic League did not harden into a formal opposition at the opening of the Gaelic League’s annual convention in Galway this week.

Dr. Hyde denied knowledge of any attacks on him personally during a speech made when re-elected as President of the Gaelic League.

He did acknowledge, however, that there had been ‘a little trouble between two parties holding different political views in the League.’

Calling for an end to such dissension, Dr. Hyde said he wished to see Gaelic Leaguers of every creed and politics – Catholics, Protestants, Orangemen, Sinn Feiners and Parliamentarians – working in unity to promote Irish.

He was proposed for re-election by The O’Rahilly and seconded by Eamonn Ceannt, and Dr. Hyde was returned unopposed. Eoin Mac Néill and Fr. Matt Ryan were elected as vice-presidents, having been proposed by Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh and seconded by Pádraig Ó Máille.

Describing the position of Irish in the country’s primary schools as ‘rotten’, Dr. Hyde said that they needed to make English subordinate to Irish, especially in the schools of Connemara.

Dr. Hyde said that in his travels around Connemara he had been struck by the enduring strength of the language, but that strength was no better than it had been in Ballinasloe fifty years previously. He said that he believed that unless the schools in Connemara placed Irish above English, that the Irish language would be as dead in Connemara in twenty years time as it was in Ballinasloe.

Reviewing the work of the Gaelic League over recent years in terms of education, he praised its exalted position in the universities and celebrated the fact that an additional 800 secondary school students had studied Irish over the past year.

In primary schools, however, he said the language has ceased to be a subject of instruction in two thousand schools where it had previously been taught and in response the Gaelic League has led a ‘fierce and strenuous agitation’ against the National Board of Education and its inspectors.

The result of this agitation was that ‘the anti-Irish inspectors were frightened, the teachers were encouraged, and Irish had again become a subject of instruction in most of the schools where it had been dropped.’

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