Synge, the Gaelic League, and the Irish Revival

  • Declan Kiberd


In the speech which led to the founding of the Gaelic League, Douglas Hyde outlined his aim. He hoped ‘to keep the Irish language alive where it was still spoken’, adding the significant words, ‘which is the utmost at present we can aspire to’.1 His most important collaborator in this work, Eoin MacNeill, told of how the League was founded on 31 July 1893 in a room at 9 Lower Sackville Street by a handful of men who ‘resolved themselves into a society for the sole purpose of keeping the Irish language spoken in Ireland’ and ‘of preserving and spreading Irish as a means of social intercourse’.2 The emphasis at the beginning was on ‘preserving’ the language in those Gaeltacht areas where it was yet spoken. Only later in the 189os, when the movement had gained immense popularity, did the desire of ‘spreading Irish as a means of social intercourse’ supersede the aim of mere preservation.


National Theatre Social Intercourse Irish Language Deaf Mute Language Movement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Eoin MacNeill, Gaelic Journal, No. 4 (November 1893) pp. 226–8.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Stanislaus Joyce, My Brother’s Keeper, ed. Richard Ellmann (London, 1958) p. 213.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Allan Wade (ed.), Letters of W. B. Yeats (London, 1954) p. 286. Letter to John O’Leary, the veteran Fenian.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Frank O’Brien, Filiocht Ghaeilge na Linne Seo (Dublin, 1968) pp. 96–7.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    Quoted by Sean de Fréine, The Great Silence (Dublin, 1965) p. 161.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Quoted by Douglas Hyde, A Literary History of Ireland (Dublin, 1899) p. 636.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    W. B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions (London, 1961) p. 515.Google Scholar
  8. 22.
    W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies (London, 1955) p. 504.Google Scholar
  9. 25.
    W. B. Yeats, Memoirs, ed. Denis Donoghue (London, 1972) p. 177.Google Scholar
  10. 27.
    M. W. Heslinga, The Irish Border as a Cultural Divide (Assen, 1971) p. 90.Google Scholar
  11. 30.
    Quoted by Desmond Ryan, The Sword of Light (London, 1939) p. 319.Google Scholar
  12. 31.
    Daniel Corkery, The Fortunes of the Irish Language (Cork, 1954) p. 136.Google Scholar
  13. 33.
    R. A. Breatnach, ‘Revival or Survival? An Examination of the Irish Language Policy of the State’, Studies, XLV (1956) pp. 129–45.Google Scholar
  14. 35.
    Tim Healy, Gaelic Journal, No. 4 (July, 1892) p. 156.Google Scholar
  15. 36.
    Stephen Gwynn, Today and Tomorrow in Ireland (Dublin, 1903) p. 79.Google Scholar
  16. 40.
    George Moore, ‘The Irish Literary Renaissance and the Irish Language’, New Ireland Review, Vol. XIII, No. 2 (April, 1900) p. 72.Google Scholar
  17. 41.
    P. H. Pearse, ‘The Case for Bilingualism’, An Claidheamh Soluis, 7 April 1906, p. 6.Google Scholar
  18. 45.
    Quoted by Corkery, Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature (Cork, 1931) p. 44.Google Scholar
  19. 46.
    E. R. Dodds (ed.), The Journal and Letters of Stephen MacKenna (London, 1936) p. 39.Google Scholar
  20. 48.
    Lady Gregory, Our Irish Theatre (London, 1913) p. 124.Google Scholar
  21. 51.
    P. H. Pearse, ‘To Douglas Hyde’, Scribhinni (Dublin, 1924) p. 253.Google Scholar
  22. 52.
    Sean O’Casey, Drums Under the Windows (London, 1945), P.73.Google Scholar
  23. 55.
    Lady Gregory, Seventy Years (Gerrards Cross, 1974) p. 318.Google Scholar
  24. 57.
    Quoted by Robin Skelton, John Synge (Bucknell, 1972) p. 58.Google Scholar
  25. 69.
    Denis Gwynn, Edward Martyn and the Irish Revival (London, 1930) pp. 27–8.Google Scholar
  26. 70.
    Robert Kee, The Green Flag (London, 1972) p. 429.Google Scholar
  27. 77.
    P. H. Pearse, Three Lectures on Gaelic Topics (Dublin, 1898). Address to the New Irish Literary Society, 1897.Google Scholar
  28. 88.
    Peter Kavanagh,The Story of the Abbey Theatre (New York, 1950)p. 36.Google Scholar
  29. 91.
    Quoted by Lady Gregory, Our Irish Theatre (London, 1913) p. 104.Google Scholar
  30. 107.
    Quoted by James W. Flannery, Miss Annie F. Horniman and the Abbey Theatre (Dublin, 1970) p. 27.Google Scholar
  31. 113.
    Peter Kavanagh, The Story of the Abbey Theatre (New York, 1950) p. 50.Google Scholar
  32. 118.
    Quoted by George Moore, Vale (London, 1937) pp. 135–7.Google Scholar
  33. 123.
    Micheal MacLiammóir, introduction to J. M. Synge, Plays, Poems and Prose (London, 1972) p. viii.Google Scholar
  34. 124.
    John Eglinton, Irish Literary Portraits (London, 1935) p. 5.Google Scholar
  35. 128.
    Robert Farren, The Course of Irish Verse in English (London, 1948) p.125.Google Scholar
  36. 130.
    Joseph Hone, W. B. Yeats 1865–1939 (London, 1942) pp. 219–21.Google Scholar
  37. 132.
    Quoted by S. B. Bushrui, Yeats’s Verse Plays: The Revisions 1900–1910 (Oxford, 1965) p. 171.Google Scholar
  38. 138.
    James Kilroy, The ‘Playboy’ Riots (Dublin, 1971) p. 51.Google Scholar
  39. 152.
    Gerard Fay, The Abbey Theatre: Cradle of Genius (Dublin, 1958) p. 125.Google Scholar
  40. 159.
    W. B. Yeats, Plays and Controversies (London, 1935) P. 194.Google Scholar
  41. 160.
    George Roberts, ‘A National Dramatist’, The Shanachie, 2, (1907), p. 160.Google Scholar
  42. 167.
    The Anglo-Irish Dramatic Movement’, Irisleabhar Muighe Nuadhad, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Easter 1910) p. 7.Google Scholar
  43. 170.
    P. H. Pearse, ‘From a Hermitage—June 1913’, Political Writings and Speeches (Dublin, 1924) p. 145.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Declan Kiberd 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Declan Kiberd

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations