Gaelic League Donates Archives to NUIG
By Adam Farley, Deputy Editor
December / January 2018
A new chapter in Irish language scholarship is about to begin as the National University of Ireland at Galway has received and plans to digitize the entire archives of Conradh na Gaeilge (the Gaelic League).
The archives, which contain hoards of documents, press clippings, pictures, campaign materials, and letters, including personal correspondence of Douglas Hyde, Conradh na Gaeilge’s founder and the first president of Ireland, are being donated in advance of the league’s 125th anniversary in 2018. The trove of more than 500 boxes also contains previously unseen documents related to the founders of the modern Irish state, including Michael Collins, Patrick Pearse, and Thomas Ashe, as well as cultural figures like Brendan Behan.
“The person who spends time looking through the archive material will recognize immediately that it contains a remarkable insight into a decisive period in the country’s history,” Conradh na Gaeilge president Dr. Niall Comer said in a statement. “Now, with NUI Galway’s plan to catalogue and digitize the material, this jewel will be available widely.”
NUI Galway has long been committed to Irish language learning and scholarship, located as it is near the Connemara Gaeltacht, and the Conradh na Gaeilge archives will only add to it’s reputation as a center for linguistic study and Irish language history, says Dr. John Walsh, senior lecturer in Irish at NUI Galway:
“By studying Conradh na Gaeilge we can better understand contemporary European minority language movements which continue to have such resonance today.” ♦
It is true that Douglas Hyde was the founder of Conradh na Gaeilge, but it is incorrect to state that Hyde was the first president of Ireland because Hyde’s presidency, like that of others who have resided in Áras an Uactaráin, applied Only to the Southern Irish State, which
encompasses about 5/6 of Ireland, NOT the whole nation. One could argue that Padraig Pearse was the First President of Ireland, the whole nation and all its parts.