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Dubhghlas de hÍde
or the nickname
An Craoibhín Aoibhinn
)(17 January 1860 – 12 July 1949) was an Anglo-Irish scholar of the Irish languagewho served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. He founded theGaelic League, one of the most influential cultural organisations in Ireland.
Hyde was born at Longford House in Castlerea in County Roscommon, while hismother was on a short visit there. His father, Arthur Hyde, was Church of Irelandrector of Kilmactranny, County Sligo from 1852 to 1867, and it was here that Hydespent his early years. In 1867, his father was appointed prebendary and rector ofTibohine, and the family moved to neighbouring Frenchpark, in CountyRoscommon. While a young man he became fascinated with hearing the oldpeople in the locality speak the Irish language. He was influenced in particular bythe gameskeeper Seamus Hart and the wife of his friend, Mrs Connolly. He wascrushed when Seamus Hart died (Douglas was 14) and his interest in the Irishlanguage, which was the first language he began to study in any detail, andwhich was his own undertaking, flagged for a while. However, he visited Dublin anumber of times and realised that there were groups of people, just like him,interested in Irish, a language looked down on at the time by many and seen asbackward and old-fashioned.Rejecting family pressure that like past generations of Hydes he follow a career in the Church, Hyde instead became an academic. He entered Trinity College,Dublin where he became fluent in French, Latin, German, Greek and Hebrew. Hispassion for Irish, already a language in severe decline, led him to found theGaelic League, or in Irish,
Conradh na Gaeilge
, in the hope of saving it fromextinction.
Conradh na Gaeilge
Hyde's Irish language movement, initially seen as eccentric, gained a massfollowing throughout the island. He published a pamphlet called
The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland
, arguing that Ireland should follow her own traditions inlanguage, literature and even in dress.In 1893 he helped found the Gaelic League. It was set up to encourage thepreservation Irish culture, its music, dances, and language. Many of the newgeneration of Irish leaders who played a central role in the fight for Irishindependence in the early twentieth century, including Patrick Pearse, Éamon deValera (who married his Irish teacher Sinéad Flanagan), Michael Collins, andErnest Blythe first became politicised and passionate about Irish independencethrough their involvement in Conradh na Gaeilge or
. His use ofIrish to fill in the 1911 census form, provides a primary source confirming hiscommitment to this language (Census 1911 - de hÍde). Interestingly, his position,entered on the census form as (
) or professor at the National University ofIreland, (and its later constituent college University College Dublin), has been(intentionally?) mistranslated by the enumerator as "teacher"Hyde himself, however, felt uncomfortable at the growing politicisation of hismovement (which had been infiltrated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, just