Douglas Hyde: Commentary

W. P. Ryan
T. W. Rolleston
Lady Gregory
W. B. Yeats
J. M. Synge
George Moore
Patrick Pearse
George Birmingham
Mary Hayden
Austin Clarke
Flann O’Brien
Robert Farren
Myles Dillon
Richard Kain
Dominic Daly
Joseph Lee
Declan Kiberd
Léon Ó Bróin
Robert Welch
W. J. McCormack
Hyland & Milne
Cairns & Richards
Breda Dunne
Janet E. Dunleavy
Michael Cronin
R. F. Foster
Diarmuid Ó Giolláin
Rolf & Magda Loeber

Ernest A. Boyd, The Irish Literary Revival (Maunsel 1916)

[ For notes on Joyce and Hyde - see under Quotations, infra. ]

Sundry commentators ...
  • Ernest A. Boyd, The Irish Literary Revival (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1916), pp.64-79 [see extract].
  • Stephen Gwynn, in Irish Literature and Drama (Nelson 1938) [rems. on Hyde’s shift from literature to politics; q.pp.].
  • Tomás de Bhaildraithe, ‘Aguisín le Clar Saothair an Chraoibhín’, Galvia, Vols. I-IV (1954-57), pp.18-24 [Hyde’s contributions to David Comyn’s Irish column in Irishman and Shamrock].
  • Joseph Lee, [remarks on Hyde’s anti-modernism] in The Modernisation of Ireland, 1973, pp.128-39.
  • J. W. Foster, Colonial Consequences (1991) [Hyde’s unamiable and inaccurate account of the Ulster Scots].
See also
Patrick Parrinder, James Joyce (Cambridge UP 1984):
Patrick Parrinder
p.135 - available online.

W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival (London 1894; rep. Lemma Publishing Corp. (NY 1970), ‘Hyde’s lecture of ‘The Necessity of De-Anglicising the Irish Nation [sic]’ [Dublin National Literary Society, 25 Nov. 1892] was a startling revelation of the extent to which we had aped foreign fashions, of a nature the least suited to our character and requirements. It was a diagnosis of one of our worst diseases, one which we would make either literary or national revolutions impossible [4]. Hyde, A Guide [later Story] to Gaelic Literature, among the publication planned by the New Irish Library, dir. Charles Gavan Duffy, in 1893 [70] [When Brooke delivered his address, ‘Irish Literature, &c’ (March 1893)] Dr. Douglas Hyde had a word to say for Gaelic literature through the medium of the Irish language [a speech] accredited with being the force which led to the formation later on of an Irish class [conducted by T. J. Flannery] [73]. Opening series of lectures [incl. Hyde’s] given at Leinster Lecture Hall [129].

W. P. Ryan (The Irish Literary Revival, London 1894; rep. 1970): sketch of Douglas Hyde (pp.139-142): From Trinity we may say Dr Hyde went to the people. We all know the result - the quaint, racy, lovesome, pathetic Gaelic world he has preserved and vivified for us. He shows us the older Ireland in all her moods, by hearth, by home, and field, ere yet she made way for the new. [140] ... Kilmactranny, Co. Sligo is his birthplace, but he lives chiefly at French Park, Co. Roscommon [141] [photo portrait of Hyde, facing p.139]. Hyde ... essentially a worker.... His literary work represents, after all, but a fragment of his Irish services. He does not reserve his strength nor bottle up his Irish propagandism for an occasional book, lecture, or full-dress assembly. With him the desire to induce Irish people to be themselves - to cherish their own literature, [141] music, games, associations, traditions - to be a people with nerve, dignity, initiative, - to wear the native garb that suits them, not the cast-off clothes of the nation they profess to despise - all this is with him a matter of every-day effort and duty. He is a tireless organiser - we might say an organiser of victory [142].

T. W. Rolleston & Stopford Augustus Brooke, A Treasury of Irish Poetry in the English Tongue (London; Smith, Elder, & Co. 1900), speaks prefatorally of the use of ‘that poetical Hiberno-English speech recently made popular by Hyde, Synge, Lady Gregory’.

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Lady [Augusta] Gregory
Lady Gregory was the most important contemporary commentator on Hyde’s Irish and Hiberno-English writings, especially in her Poets and Dreamers (1903) where she devoted a chapter to “An Craoibhin’s Poetry” and another to An Craoibin’s Plays”. The latter incorporates the plays “The Twisting of the Rope”, “The Marriage”, “The Lost Saint&148; and “Nativity”. Her chapter on his poetry is coloured by a pervasive approbation for his collections - especially the Love Songs of Connacht - while her chapter on his plays underscores the importance of “The Twisting of the Rope”, first produced in her drawing-room, as a foundation stone of the Irish Literary Theatre:
“An Craoibin’s Plays” ([Chap. 12] in Poets and Dreamers, 1903, [Intro., pp.196-99; Plays, 200-534.)

 I hold that the beginning of modern Irish drama was in the winter of 1898, at a school feast at Coole, when Douglas Hyde and Miss Norma Borthwick acted in Irish in a Punch and Judy show; and the delighted children went back to tell their parents what grand curses An Craoibhin had put on the baby and the policeman.
 A little time after that, when a play was wanted for our Literary Theatre, Dr. Hyde wrote, and then acted in, ‘The Twisting of the Rope,’ the first Irish play ever given in a Dublin theatre.
 It has been acted many times since then, in Dublin, in London, in Galway, in Galway Workhouse, in Cornamona, Ballaghaderreen, Ballymoe, and other places. It has always given great delight, and its success is very natural; for the Irish-speakers, who are its audience, have an inborn love of drama, as is shown by their handing down of such long dramatic dialogues as those between Oisin and St. Patrick, from century to century. At country gatherings, those old dialogues, and the newer ones between Death and Raftery, or between the farmers of two [p.196] provinces, are followed with a patient joy; and the creation of acting plays is the natural outcome of this living tradition. And Douglas Hyde’s dramas grow directly from the folk-memory. The tradition and the beautiful old air, and the song of ‘The Twisting of the Rope,’ are very well known:—

What was the dead cat that put me in this place,
And all the pretty young girls I left after me?
I came into the house where was the bright love of my heart,
And the old hag put me out by the Twisting of the Rope.

‘If you are mine, be mine by day and by night;
If you are mine, be mine before the world;
If you are mine, be mine with every inch of your heart;
It is my grief you are not with me as a wife this evening.

‘It is down in Sligo I got knowledge of my love;
It is up in Galway I drank my fill with her.
By the strength of my hands, if they do not leave me as I am,
I will do a trick will set these women walking.’

 Mr. Yeats made Red Hanrahan the hero of this song in a story in The Secret Rose; and it is Hanrahan Douglas Hyde has kept in the play, with his passion, his exaggerations, his wheedling tongue, his roving heart, that all but coax the girl from her mother and her sweetheart; but that fail after all in their attack on the settled order of things, and leave their owner homeless and restless, and angry and chiding, like the stormy west wind outside the door. p.197]

 “The Marriage” is founded on the story of Raftery at the poor wedding at Cappaghtagle. It was acted in Galway, at the Feis, last summer. There had been some delay or misunderstanding in the giving of parts; and on the morning of the Feis, it was announced that the play would not be given. But the disappointment was so great, that we all begged An Craoibhin to take the chief part himself, as he had done in ‘The Twisting of the Rope’; and when his kindness made him agree to this, we went in search of the other players. They were all at work in shops or stores, one wheeling sacks on a barrow; and it was a busy market-day, and it was hard for them to get away for a rehearsal. But, for all that, the play was given in the evening; in the very town where some still remember Raftery, and where he and Death had their first talk together.

 It will be hard to forget the blind poet, as he was represented on the stage by the living poet, so full of kindly humour, of humorous malice, of dignity under his poor clothing, or the wistful, ghostly sigh with which he went out of the door at the end. ‘Is fear marḃ do ḃi ann’ - ‘It is a dead man was in it.’

 It has been acted in Dublin since then; and many places are asking for the loan of the one manuscript in which it exists; but I am glad Connacht had it first.

 “The Lost Saint” was written last summer. An Craoibhin was staying with us at Coole; and one morning I went for a long drive to the sea, leaving [p.199] him with a bundle of blank paper before him. When I came back at evening, I was told that Dr. Hyde had finished his play, and was out shooting wild duck. The hymn, however, was not quite ready, and was put into rhyme next day, while he was again watching for wild duck beside Inchy marsh.

 When he read it to us in the evening, we were all left with a feeling as if some beautiful white blossom had suddenly fallen at our feet.
It was acted the other day at Ballaghaderreen; and, at the end, a very little girl, who wanted to let the author know how much she had liked his play, put out her hand, and put a piece of toffee into his.

 The “Nativity” did not appear in time for Christmas acting; but Ireland, which now and then finds herself possessed of some accidental freedom, has no censor; and a play so beautiful and reverent, and so much in the tradition of the people, is sure to be acted and received reverently.
An Craoibhin has written other plays besides these - a pastoral play which has been acted in Dublin and Belfast, a match-making comedy, a satire on Trinity College.

 Other Irish plays have been acted here and there through the country during the last year or two, some written by priests; the last I saw in manuscript was by a workhouse schoolmaster; and all have had their share of success. But it is to the poet-scholar who has become actor-dramatist that we must still, as Raftery would put it, ‘give the branch.’

Bibl.: Poets and Dreamers, by Lady Gregory (Dublin: Hodges & Figgis; NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1903) - is available in RICORSO Library of Irish Classics - under Lady Gregory - via index - or direct as pdf and docx.]

Lady Gregory (on Love Songs of Connacht): ‘That does not sound like the beginning of a revolution, yet it was one. It was the discover, the disclosure of the folk-learning, the folk-poetry, the folk tradition. Our Theatre was caught up in that current and it was that current, I believe, that has brought it on its triumphant way. [...] it has made a living thing by excitement of that discover [...] The return to the people, the reunion after separation, the taking and giving, is it not the perfect circle, the way of nature, the eternal wedding ring?’ (Our Irish Theatre [1913], Roger McHugh, intro., Colin Smythe 1972 [rep. edn.], pp.50-51; cited in Una Kealy, diss. on George Fitzmaurice, UUC 2002 [in prep.].)

Lady Gregory also writes intermittently and more-or-less extensively about Hyde in Our Irish Literary Theatre (1913) - as where she says of the first three years of productions at the new theatre: ‘This time also we produced Casad-an-Sugan, (The Twisting of the Rope) by the founder of the Gaelic League, Dr. Douglas Hyde. He himself acted the chief part in it and even to those who had no Irish, the performance was a delight, it was played with so much gaiety, ease, and charm. It was the first time a play written in Irish had ever been seen in a Dublin theatre.’ (Our Irish Theatre, London & NY: G. P. Putnam 1913), p.29; available at Internet Archive online [28.03.2023]; also in RICORSO Library - as attached.)

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W. B. Yeats (on Love Songs of Connacht, 1893): ‘Dr. Hyde’s volume of translations, Love Songs of Connacht (T. Fisher Unwin), is one of those rare books in which art and life are so completely blended that praise or blame become well nigh impossible [.../] These poems are pieced together by a critical account, which is almost as much a fragment of life as are the poems themselves. Dr. Hyde wrote it first in Gaelic, of that simple kind which the writers of the poems must have thought, and talked, and then translated poems and prose together, and now we have both English and Gaelic side by side. Sheer hope and fear, joy and sorrow, made the poems, and not any mortal man or woman, and the veritable genius of Ireland dictated the quaint and lovely prose. The book is [91] but the fourth chapter of a great work called “The Songs of Connacht”. The preceding chapters are still buried in Irish newspapers. (rep. in Robert Welch, ed., W. B. Yeats: Irish Folklore, Legends and Myth, Penguin 1993, pp.91-94; pp.91-92.) [Quotes beginning of third chapter, and lament of a young woman, as given under Quotations, infra.] (Cont.)

W. B. Yeats (on Love Songs of Connacht, 1893) - cont.: ‘As the mourning sentences accumulate in our ears, we seem to see a heart dissolving away in clouds of sorrow. The whole thing is one of those “thrusts of power” which Flaubert has declared to be beyond the read of conscious art. (‘untraced’: ftn. [RW].) Dr. Hyde is wise in giving it to us in prose, and in giving, as he does, prose versions of all the poems, but one would gladly have had a verse version of also. He has shown us how well he can write verse by his versions of some of the more elaborate poems, especially the wonderful “My love, O, she is my love” [quotes 5 stanzas.] This translation, which is in the curious metre of the original, is, without being exactly a good English poem, very much better than the bulk of Walsh’s and beyond all measure better than any of Mangans in the Munster Poets.’ (Bookman, October 1893; Welch, op. cit., p.91-92; see further, under W. B. Yeats, Quotations, infra.)

W. B. Yeats - on Love Songs of Connacht: ‘he prose parts of that book were to me, as they were to many others, the coming of a new power in literature’. (Quoted on Hyde page of the UCD Archive - online; accessed, 15.01.2013.)

W. B. Yeats (on The Twisting of the Rope): ‘Dr. Hyde’s little play was a very wonderful piece of folk art, something quite unique, something that reminded me of an old mystery by its simplicity, by the lack of modern influences.’ (John Kelly & Ronald Suchard, eds., The Collected Letters, Vol. III, Clarendon Press 1994, p.622.)

W. B. Yeats, in Introduction to Fairy Folk and Legends of the Irish Peasantry (Walter Scott 1888) - writes:

‘[...] Mr Douglas Hyde is now preparing a volume of folk takes in Gaelic, having taken then down, for the most part, word for words among the Gaelic speakers of Roscommon and Galway. He is, perhpa, most to be trusted of all. He knows the people thoroughly. Others see a [5] phase of Irish life; he understands all its elemes. His work is neither humorous nor mournful; it is simply life. I hope he may put some of his gatherings into ballads, for he is the last of our ballad-writers of the school of Walsh and Callanan - men whose work seems fragrant with turf smoke. And this brings to mind the chapbooks. The are to be found brown with turf smoke on cottage shelves, and are, or were, sold on every hand by the pedlars, but cannot be found in any libery of this city of the Sassanach. The Royal Fairy Tales, The Hibernian tales and the Legends of the Fairies are the fairy literature of the people. [...]’

—Rep. in Robert Welch, ed., W. B. Yeats - Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth, London: Penguin 1993, pp.1-7; 5-6.

W. B. Yeats: Yeats called Hyde ‘Proteus’ in the Autobiographies (Macmillan 1955, p.16), and further, ‘the cajoler of crowds, and of individual men and women’ (ibid., p.219). Vide also, ‘Dear Craoibhin Aoibhin, look into our case ...’ (“At the Abbey Theatre”, 1912).

W. B. Yeats: ‘He had much frequented the company of old countrymen, and had so acquired the Irish language, and his taste for snuff, and for moderate quantities of a detestable species of illegal whiskey distilled from the potato by certain of his neighbours’ (Autobiographies, p.217); ‘the cajoler of crowds, and of individual men and women ... and for certain years young Irish women were to display his pseudonym Craoibhin Aoibhin in gilt letters upon their hat-bands’ (ibid., p.219; both quoted in A. N. Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, pp.94-94, with add. remark that Hyde ‘wrote out of imitative sympathy; he was to create a popular movement (the Gaelic League) but Yeats nonetheless mourned for ‘“the greatest folklorist who ever lived” and for the great poet who died in his youth’.

Cf., Yeats’s line ‘There Hyde before he had beaten into prose / That noble blade the Muses buckled on ...’ (“Coole Park, 1929”), and note commentary on Hyde supplied in A. N. Jeffares, A New Commentary, 1984, pp.94-95; p.285; ‘his style is perfect - so sincere and simple - so little literary’ (Letters, ed. Wade, p.88.)

W. B. Yeats: ‘The man most important for the future was certainly Dr Douglas Hyde. I had found a publisher while still in London for his Beside the Fire and his Love Songs of Connacht and it was the first literary use of the English dialect of the Connacht country people that had aroused my imagination for those books. His faculty was by nature narrative and lyrical, and at our committees [...] he gave me an impression of timidity or confusion. His perpetual association with peasants, whose songs and stories he took down in their cottages from early childhood when he learned Irish from an old man on a kitchen floor, had given him. though a strong man, that cuning that is the strength of the weak. He was always diplomatising, evading as far as he could prominent positions and the familiarity of his fellows that he might escape jealousy and detraction. [...] He never spoke his real thought [...] for his mind moved among pictures, itself indeed a premise but never an argument. In later years the necessityies of Gaelic politics destroyed his sense of style and undermined his instinct for himself. He ceased to write in that delicate, emotional dialect of the people, and wrote and spoke, when he spoke in public, from coarse reasoning’ (Memoirs, ed. Donoghue, 1972, p.54; quoted [in small part] in Lorna Reynolds, ‘The Irish Literary Revival: Preparations and Personalities’, in Robert O’Driscoll, ed., The Celtic Consciousness, Dolmen/Canongate 1981, p.390.)

W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies (1955): ‘He was to create a great movement, far more important in its practical results than any movement I could have made, not matter what my luck, but, being neither quarrelsome nor vain, he will not be angry if I say - for the sake of those who come after us - that I mourn for the greatest folklorist who ever lived, and for the great poet who died in his youth. The Harps and Pepperpots got him and kept him until he wrote in our common English [...]. and took for his model the newspaper upon his breakfast table.’ (pp.218-19; Reynolds., op. cit., p.391. )

W. B. Yeats: ‘I found myself [...] grudging to propaganda, to scholarship, to oratory, however necessary, a genius which might in modern Irish or in that idiom of English-speaking country people discover a new rgion for the mind to wander in [...] I wish too that he could put away from himself some of the interruptions of that ceaseless propaganda, and find time for the making of translations, loving and leisurely, like those in Beside the Fire and the Love Songs of Connacht.’ (Samhain, 1903; rep. in Explorations, pp.93-94.)

W. B. Yeats: ‘Nothing in that language of his was abstract, nothing worn out; he need not, as must the writer of some language exhausted by modern civilisation, reject word after word, cadence after cadence; he had escaped our perpetual painful purification’ (cited by Louis MacNeice, W. B. Yeats, 1944, p.212.) Note also, ‘The mass of the people cease to understand any poetry when they cease to understand the Irish language of their imaginations.’ (Letter to the Editor, Leader, Sept. 1900; cited in Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures, Cork UP 1996, p.142.)

W. B. Yeats: ‘Dear Craoibhin Aoibhin, look into our case. / When we are high and airy hundreds say / That if we hold that flight they’ll leave the place, / While those same hundreds mock another day / Because we have made our art of common things, / So bitterly, you’d dream they longed to look / All their lives through into some drift of wings. / You’ve dandled them and fed them from the book / And know them to the bone; impart to us — / We’ll keep the secret — a new trick to please. / Is there a bridle for this Proteus / That turns and changes like his draughty seas? / Or is there none, most popular of men, / But when they mock us, that we mock again?’ (Poems, Variorum Edn., p.264; quoted in part in Paul Murray, UU MA Diss., 2004.)

W. B. Yeats, ‘A Discussion of Style’, in New Republic (7 April 1936)

Douglas Hyde was at Coole in the summer of 1899. Lady Gregory, who had learned Gaelic to satisfy her son’s passing desire for a teacher, had founded a branch of the Gaelic League; men began to know the name of the poet whose songs they had sung for years. Lady Gregory and I wanted a Gaelic drama, and I made a scenario for a one-act play founded upon an episode in my “Stories of Red Hanrahan”; I had some hope that my invention, if Hyde would but accept it, might pass into legend as though it were a historical character.

In later years Lady Gregory and I gave Hyde other scenarios and I always watched him with astonishment. His ordinary English style was without charm; he exploited facts without explaining them, and in the language of the newspapers - Moore compared one of his speeches to frothing porter. His Gaelic, like the dialect of his “Love Songs of Connaught,” written a couple of years earlier, had charm, seemed all spontaneous and joyous, every speech born out of itself. Had he shared our modern preoccupation with the mystery of life, learned our modern construction, he might have grown into another and happier Synge. But emotion and imagery came as they would, not as he would, somebody else had to put them together; he had the folk mind as no modern man has had it, its qualities and its defects, and for a few days in the year Lady Gregory and I shared his absorption in that mind. When I wrote verse, five or six lines in two or three laborious hours were a day’s work, and I longed for somebody to interrupt me. But he wrote all day, whether in verse or prose, and without apparent effort. Effort was there, but in the unconscious - he had given up verse writing because it affected his lungs or his heart - Lady Gregory kept watch, to draw him from his table after so many hours; the gamekeeper had the boat and the guns ready; there were ducks upon the lake. He wrote in joy and at great speed because emotion brought the appropriate word. Nothing in that language of his was abstract, nothing worn-out; he need not, as must the writer of some language exhausted by modern civilization, reject word after word, cadence after cadence; he had escaped our perpetual, painful, purification. I read, translated by Lady Gregory or by himself into that dialect which gets from Gaelic its syntax and keeps its still partly Tudor vocabulary; little was, I think, lost:

I was myself one time a poor barnacle goose;
The night was not plain to me more than the day
Till I got sight of her.

That does not impress me today; it is too easy to copy; too many have copied it; when I first read it, it was fresh from my struggle with Victorian rhetoric. I began to test my poetical inventions by translating them into like speech. Lady Gregory had already, I think, without knowing it, begun a transformation of her whole mind into the mind of the people, begun “to think like a wise man” but to express herself like “the common people.”

On October 2, 1901, Diarmuid and Grania preceded by Douglas Hyde’s The Twisting of the Rope, was produced for a week by the Benson Company in the Gaiety Theatre. London theatre managers must have thought it failed, or that the newspapers’ comments had taken freshness from it, for the London managers who had admired it in manuscript were silent. Yet it did not seem to fail; when Maud Gonne and I got into our cab to go to some supper party after the performance, the crowd from the gallery wanted to take the horse out of the cab and drag us there, but Maud Gonne, weary of public demonstrations, refused. What was it like? York Powell, Scandinavian scholar, historian, an impressionable man, preferred it to Ibsen’s Heroes of Heligoland. I do not know. I have but a draft of some unfinished scenes, and of the performance I can but recall Benson’s athletic dignity in one scene and the notes of the horn in Elgar’s dirge over the dead Diarmuid. The Twisting of the Rope, Hyde as the chief character - he had always acted his speeches - the enthusiasm of his Gaelic Leaguers for the first Gaelic play ever acted in a theatre, are still vivid. But then Lady Gregory’s translation of the Gaelic text has renewed my memory.

See full-text version in RICORSO Library > Irish Classics - via index or as attached.

J. M. Synge, in The Aran Islands (1907): ‘This young man [a friend of Michael’s] had come up to bring me a copy of the Love Songs of Connaught, which he possesses, and I persuaded him to read, or rather chant me some of them. When he had read a couple I found that the old woman knew many of them from her childhood, though her version was often not the same as what was in the book. She was rocking herself on a stool in the chimney corner beside a pot of indigo, in which she was dyeing wool, and several times when the young man finished a poem she took it up again and recited the verses with exquisite musical intonation, putting a wistfulness and passion into her voice that seemed to give it all the cadences that are sought in the profoundest poetry. / The lamp had burned low, and another terrible gale was howling and shrieking over the island. It seemed like a dream that I should be sitting here among these men and women listening to this rude and beautiful poetry that is filled with the oldest passions of the world.’ (Collected Works, Vol. II [Prose], OUP 1966, p.112.)

J. M. Synge, ‘The Old and New in Ireland’, in The Academy and Literature (6 Sept. 1902) [conclusion]: ‘At the last representations of the Irish Literary Theatre a little drama by Dr. Douglas Hyde was acted in Irish and in this little drama there was a trace - a first rather tentative trace of the real Irish humour.’ (Rep. in Coll. Works, II, Alan Price, ed., Prose, pp.383-86; p.386.)

Ernest A. Boyd, The Irish Literary Revival (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1916): Douglas Hyde [sect. pp.64-79]

[...] In a famous lecture delivered to the Irish National Literary Society in Dublin, shortly after its foundation, he pleaded for “the necessity of de-Anglicising Ireland,” and his constant purpose has been to effect the object which he defined on that occasion. He has been the organiser of a vast propaganda on behalf of all that is Irish, music, literature, games and customs of every kind. He was careful in 1892 to explain that work of de-Anglicisation was not “a protest against imitating what is best in the English people,” but was “to show the folly of neglecting what is Irish, and hastening to adopt, pell-mell, and indiscriminately, everything that is English, simply because it is English.” Since then, however, his more enthusiastic disciples have swept away these limits, and [65] have championed everything that is Irish, simply because it is Irish. Consequently, they incline to view with suspicion the growth of Anglo-Irish literature, on the ground that it is written in an alien language, and has. In some cases, been primarily addressed to the British, rather than the Irish public. Language, it is argued, is the sign and symbol of nationality, and there can be no literature expressive of Irish nationality which is not composed in the Irish language.
 Whether Hyde himself is entirely in agreement with this application of his teaching, it is impossible to say. If we may accept the statements of competent critics, his best work, plays, poems, and fairy tales, has been in Gaelic, while such of it as has been conceived in English is devoted to the history and vindication of the claims of Gaelic literature. Exception must be made of the three original poems published in 1895, together with some verse translations, under the title The Three Sorrows of Storytelling. The first of these, Deirdre, was a prize poem, which obtained the Vice-Chancellor’s prize in Dublin University, and possesses all the merits and defects peculiar to that order of composition. The same may be said of the other two stories. The Children of Lir, and The Fate of the Children of Tuireann, which were written about the same time. Perhaps the most significant feature of Deirdre is that a poem upon an essentially Irish theme should have been presented and found favour in a University which, at that time, was definitely hostile to de-Anglicised Ireland and, in the person of two of its most distinguished professors, had publicly expressed its contempt for the ancient literature of the country.


The desire for accuracy which prompted Hyde to reproduce the original language of the Gaelic folktales, and the consequent method of giving parallel translations, are factors of greater significance than might at first sight be imagined. This constant juxtaposition of Irish and English has profoundly affected the form of modern Anglo-Irish literature. Instead of the haphazard, and usually quite false, idioms and accent which at one time were the convention in all reproductions of English as spoken in Ireland, the Literary Revival has given us the true form of Anglo-Irish, so that our literature represents perfectly the old Gaelic spirit in its modern garb. This great change has been brought about by two complementary influences. The restoration of the Irish language has reaffirmed the hold of Gaelic upon the mind of the people, and emphasised the modifications of English as moulded by the Irish idiom. At the same time the scientific care with which Hyde and the translators have sought to render exactly the Anglo-Irish equivalents of their texts has tended to fix more effectively and more precisely the language of an English-speaking, but essentially Gaelic race.  Beside the Fire, so far as it is [73] written in English, is a careful study of that language as it is used under the limitations and modifications imposed by the older tongue. In the preface Hyde expresses his desire to avoid literal translation, and his determination to introduce only such Gaelic idioms as are ordinarily introduced into their English by the people. Within these limits he has succeeded in giving the true Irish flavour to his translations, he avoids all tenses not found in Irish, and by using those similarly wanting in English, as well as the phrases commonly substituted for the unfamiliar tenses, he produces a pleasant sense of reality. This book is as far from the imaginary and ludicrous English of the traditional Irishman, as from the stilted and artificial, or too literary, style of its predecessors. It is the first attempt to render the folk-literature of Ireland in the true Anglo-Irish idiom, and marks the beginning of an influence which Hyde’s later work has done so much to strengthen.

Continuing the method initiated by Sigerson, Hyde attempts in more than half of these translations to reproduce the rhyme and metres of the original Gaelic. His verse renderings are frequently very beautiful, and, although his best poetry has been written in Gaelic, these translations prove that he can use the English language with real skill and delicacy. The Love Songs of Connacht were supplemented some years later by Songs Ascribed to Raftery in 1903 and in 1906 by The Religious Songs of Connacht.  These volumes [76] represent a most valuable treasury of folk-poetry, and will rank with the work of Mangan and Sigerson as the repository of the best that could be saved of the old Gaelic tradition while still living. The gathering of these portions of a great heritage was the saving of the still smouldering ashes from which a new flame could be kindled.
 Important, however, as is this aspect of Hyde’s work, these Connacht songs have a special significance for the student of contemporary Anglo-Irish literature. Here he will find the source of what has come to be regarded as the chief discovery, and most notable characteristic, of the drama of the Literary Revival, the eflfective employment of the Anglo-Irish idiom. In his verse Hyde approximates, in spite of himself, to the style of the orthodox translators who preceded him, and excellent as is this part of his work. It is not to be compared, either in beauty or importance, with the prose translations, which are frequently substituted for rhymed versions, and sometimes accompany them. These are his finest and most original contributions to Anglo-Irish literature, and have proved to be the starting point of a new literary language. Casting aside the hesitations which restricted him in his English rendering of Beside the Fire, Hyde translated his Songs of Connacht, not into formal English, with here and there a Gaellcism, but into the language nearest the form and spirit of the original, the English of the country people, in whose speech the old Gaelic influences predominate. Both his own prose commentary and the text are rendered in this idiom, and the freshness and vigour of the one, coupled with the poetic charm of the other, demonstrated at once that a new medium of great strength and flexibility lay to the hand of Irish literature [77]:

“If I were to be on the Brow of Nefin and my hundred loves by my side, it is pleasantly we would sleep together like the little bird upon the bough. It is your melodious wordy little mouth that increased my pain and a quiet sleep I cannot get until I shall die, alas!”
“If you were to see the star of knowledge and she coming in the mouth of the road, you would say that it was a jewel at a distance from you who would disperse fog and enchantment.” {Love Songs of Connacht.)

Such passages abound in these translations, and are obviously the forerunners of the eloquent, rhythmic phrasing now identified with the style of J. M. Synge. Under Hyde’s guidance, he achieved in this speech effects which have consecrated the Anglo-Irish idiom as a vehicle of the purest poetry. The extravagant, amorous speeches of The Playboy of the Western World are obviously contained, in their essence, in Hyde’s versions.

“If you were to see the skywoman and she prepared and dressed
Of a fine sunny day in the street, and She walking,
And a light kindled out of her shining bosom
That would give sight to the man without an eye.
There is the love of hundreds in the forehead of her face,
Her appearance is as it were the Star of Monday,
And if she had been in being in the time of the gods
 It is not to Venus the apple would have been delivered up.”

If we did not know the above to be a verse from the Songs of Raftery we might easily imagine that it was a fragment of The Playboy, Christy Mahon’s, eloquence.
 The name of Douglas Hyde has naturally been more prominently associated with the Gaelic Movement than with the Literary Revival. As a Gaelic writer he has attained a distinction which considerably enhances the force and value of his propaganda. The Revival, however, must always count him a  [78] powerful influence. It has derived strength and support from the collateral effect of Hyde’s labours for the restoration of Gaelic, and to his direct collaboration it owes in part, if not entirely, some of its most fortunate achievements. The fundamental importance of the Songs of Connacht in the evolution of our contemporary literature has been insufficiently understood by the general public. Once Hyde had set the example, the possibilities of GaelicEnglish were realised by the other writers, and greater credit has fallen to the better-known work of his successors. Lady Gregory, notably, employed his method in Cuchulain of Muirthemne and The Book of Saints and Wonders, with such effect that it is frequently forgotten how O’Grady preceded her by a quarter of a century. In the field of legend, and Hyde by ten years, in the use of Anglo-Irish idiom. It is interesting, therefore, to refer to the testimony of W. B. Yeats, who wrote some fifteen years ago, when Douglas Hyde was helping to create an Irish theatre:

“These plays remind me of my first reading of The Love Songs of Connacht. The prose parts of that book were to me, as they were to many others, the coming of a new power into literature. ... I would have him keep to that English idiom of the Irish-thinking people of the West. ... It is the only good English spoken by any large number of Irish people to-day, and one must found good literature on a living speech.”

If peasant speech has now become an accepted convention of the Irish theatre, it is because the younger dramatists have confined themselves almost exclusively to the writing of peasant plays, both these mutually dependent facts being due to the prestige conferred upon the genre by Synge. His plays removed this speech from all the associations of low comedy and buffoonery which clung to it, and [79] established the dignity and beauty of Anglo-Irish. While he consummated the rehabilitation of the idiom, the process had been definitely inaugurated by Douglas Hyde. The Love Songs of Connacht were the constant study of the author of The Playboy, whose plays testify, more than those of any other writer, to the influence of Hyde’s prose. In thus stimulating the dramatist who was to leave so deep a mark upon the form of the Irish Theatre, Douglas Hyde must be counted an important force in the evolution of our national drama. Without injustice to the labours of W. B. Yeats, it may be said that the success of his efforts would not have been complete but for Synge. Had it not been for Hyde, the latter’s most striking achievement might never have been known.
Boyd, op. cit., pp.64-79; see full copy in RICORSO > Library > “Critical Classics” - as attached.

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George Moore characterised Hyde as ‘cunning, subtle, cajoling, superficial and affable’ (Hail and Farewell, p.587; cited in Declan Kiberd, ‘Deanglicisation’ [chap.], Inventing Ireland, 1995, p.153.)

Patrick Pearse, ‘I love and honour Douglas Hyde [....] and I hope I will always follow him.’ (’From a Hermitage’, in Political Writings [Phoenix ed.]) Further, Pearse wrote in 1915: ‘the Gaelic League is a spent force’, and ‘the Gaelic League will be recognised in history as the most revolutionary influence that has ever come into Ireland’ (Political Writings and Speeches, Dublin 1922, p.91); See further comments on the Gaelic League under D. P. Moran [q.v.]

George Birmingham (as J. O. Hannay) wrote to Hyde that he had the ‘chance of becoming a great Irish leader, with the alternative of relapsing into the position of a John Dillon’ and further that he could ‘lead [the movement he started] or take the part of a poor Frankenstein who created a monster he could not control.’ (Letter to Douglas Hyde, 15 April 1907; Tadhg McGlinchey papers; cited in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, 1995, p.149.)

Mary Hayden & George A. Moonan, A Short History of the Irish People (1921) - Chap. XXVIII: Literature and Language in the Nineteenth Century - The Language Revival - Resignation of Dr. Hyde [final sect.]: ‘The victory of the University agitation fixes the high-water mark of the direct influence of the Gaelic League. The positions won for the language were retained, but no new development has since occurred. The arduous struggle had absorbed the attention and energies of most of the leaders of the movement; others were engaged in the work of the “Colaistí”. Meanwile, in the ranks of the League, a new feeling was developed in favour of a definite manifestation of sympathy with the growing school of advanced National politics. This feeling affected the entire organisation, [559] and became particularly marked amongst the delegates who attended the annual “Ard Fheis.” Matters came to a crisis at the Ard Fheis in Dundalk in 1915, when Dr. Hyde, believing, apparently, that the attitude being adopted by the organisaiton was inconsistent with that which it had hitherto maintained towards political schools of thought, resigned the Presidency which he had held since the creation of the League. Since that event intensity of political feeling and sweeping political changes have obscured the importance of the purely language movement. On the other hand, however, the language has now definitely become the charge of the nation. Recognised and honoured as the national language by a political party which has secured the adhesion of the great mass of the people, the Irish language now occupies a stronger place than it has held for centuries in the mind of the Irish Nation. (A Short History of the Irish People, Longmans &c., 1921, pp.558-59; The End.) [Available online; accessed 06.05.2024.]

Austin Clarke (?‘On Learning Irish’ (Irish Times, 1943); Clarke remarks on influence of the influence of Hyde’s lecturing: ‘On the morning of our first term [sic], he spoke of the aims and ideals of the language revival; we were all equal, all united in the Gaelic movement. There was no vulgar competition, no showing off, no twopence-halfpenny looking down on two-pence. Those plain words changed me in a few seconds. The hands of our lost despised centuries were laid on me.’ (Quited in Alan Warner Guide to Anglo-Irish Literature, 1981; no ref.)

Note: Warner also quotes the Clarke’s verses on “Burial of Our President (Dr Dougals Hyde)”: See also Clarke’s poem “Burial of Our President (Dr Dougas Hyde)”: ‘The tolling of St Patrick’s ... At the last bench / Two Catholics, the French / Ambassador and I, knelt down ... The vergers waited. Outside. / The hush of Dublin town, / Professors of cap and gown, / Costello, his Cabinet / In Government cars, hiding / Around the corner, ready / Tall hat in hand, dreading / Our Father in English. Better / Not hear that which for who/And risk eternal doom.’

Robert Farren, ‘Douglas Hyde the Writer’, in Irish Press (14 July 1949) [obituary notice on the day following his death; sic]: ‘We need not claim that in quantity and quality of achievement he was great as a writer; but we surely can say that he did write well, that he did help others to write greatly - that he did help Irish letters, in all its branches, to be native, continuous, rooted, branching and fruitful.’ (Cited in Dominic Daly, 1974.)

Flann O’Brien: ‘The exhibition, which is the result of years of training by kindness and a carefully thought-out dietary system, comprises, among other achievements, the recitation of verse. Our greatest living phonetic expert (wild horses shall not drag it from us!) has left no stone unturned in his efforts to elucidate and compare the verse recited and has found it bears a striking resemblance (the italics are ours) to the ranns of ancient Celtic bards. We are not speaking so much of those delightful lovesongs with which the writer who conceals his identity under the graceful pseudonym of the Little Sweet Branch has familiarised the bookloving world but rather (as a contributor D. O. C. points out in an interesting communication published by an evening contemporary) of the harsher and more personal note which is found in the satirical effusions of the famous Raftery and of Donald MacConsidine to say nothing of a more modern lyrist at present very much in the public eye. We subjoin a specimen which has been rendered into English by an eminent scholar whose name for the moment we are not at liberty to disclose though we believe our readers will find the topical allusion rather more than an indication. The metrical system of the canine original, which recalls the intricate alliterative and isosyllabic rules of the Welsh englyn, is infinitely more complicated but we believe our readers will agree that the spirit has been well caught. Perhaps it should be added that the effect is greatly increased if Owen’s verse be spoken somewhat slowly and indistinctly in a tone suggestive of suppressed rancour.’ (q. source; putatively At Swim-Two-Birds.)

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Myles Dillon, ‘Douglas Hyde’, in The Shaping of Modern Ireland, ed. Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1960, p.60: ‘Hyde’s judgement on the Rising was understandably coloured by his own experiences. He told a friend that his work since the foundation of the Gaelic League had been aimed at restoring to Ireland her intellectual independence, and he would have completed it if he had been let. The IRB had [mixed] the physical and intellectual together, interpreting his teaching in terms of bullets and swords before the time, and this reduced him to impotence. He had been asked to return to the Gaelic League, but why, he asked, should he allow himself to be browbeaten and outwitted on every question of politics, and be held responsible by the public for acts of flaming indiscretion ...? He could see what a nice figure-head he would make to be overthrow by Eoin MacNeill when it suited the IRB men. Like Yeats, he had accepted the view of the majority of Irishmen that Irish nationalists should cooperate with England in the European conflagration ... / Over three years later Hyde was still writing in that strain. He admitted however, that he had not foreseen the utter and swift debacle of the IPP [Irish Parlaimentary Party] and the apotheosis of Sinn Féin’. Further [Dillon:] ‘By keeping strictly and sternly to non-political we earned the good-will and good words of ... Forde of the Irish World, Devoy of the Gaelic American, Cardinal Logue, and the best of Unionists, Horace Plunkett.... the trouble was to keep out politics of the Wolfe Tone or the Fenian type. These, growing stronger by degrees, came on with a rush in 1914 and 1915 and ended by capturing the League, its officers, its machinery and its money. It was they that Hyde had committed hari-kari with as good grace as possible, and settled down to the work of the College [TCD]’ (Quoted in Léon Ó Bróin, Protestant Nationalists in Revolutionary Ireland, 1985, pp.107-08.)

Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972): ‘As a Trinity undergraduate, Douglas Hyde had astonished a don who inquired whether he knew Irish by his quiet reply: “I dream in Irish”. His dreams color the exquisite renderings of the verse, both in poetry and prose paraphrase. In reading the book lady Gregory was delighted to learn that “while I thought poetry was all but dead in Ireland the people all about me had been keeping up the lyrical tradition that existed in Ireland before Chaucer lived.” Hyde’s prose translations have that enchanting idiom, now so familiar to readers of modern literature in Ireland: “I think it long from me the highroads are,” or “it is courteously, mannerly, beautiful, she said to me.”’ (p.31-32; see further under Lady Gregory, supra.)

Dominic Daly The Young Douglas Hyde (Shannon: IUP 1974): ‘Hyde was never really at one with Yeats, Synge, Lady Gregory and the others in their aim to create a national literature in English [however] Hyde was not hostile to them as other Gaelic enthusiasts such as DP Moran of the Dublin Leader were. Insofar as the Anglo-Irish writers were reflecting some aspect of the native culture Hyde was in sympathy with them, and as President of the Gaelic League he expressly directed the editor of An claidheamh Soluis ... not to attack their work as Moran did in the Leader.’ See Donal McCartney, ‘Hyde, D. P. Moran, and Irish Ireland’, in Leaders and Men of the Easter Rising, Dublin 1916, ed., F. X. Martin OSA (London 1967) [p.xvi]. ‘Hyde’s passionate interest was not the anti-imperial struggle personified by O’Leary, nor the mainly political, propagandist Anglo-Irish literature to which O’Leary introduced Yeats and his other disciplines, but the native language which he saw dying thoughout the country and the traditional lore that must die with it, unless the language could be saved at the eleventh hour or, at least, the songs and stories enshrined in it could be collected before they disappeared forever.’ [83] &c. This work comprises a literary history of the early revival, and provides an extensive bibliographical account of Hyde’s sources as a critic and bibliographer, and well as much information on his contemporaries in the literary revival and language revival movements. Hyde’s poetical ‘toast’ to O’Donovan Rossa [Daly, 45; see further under O’Donovan, q.v.]. (Cont.)

Dominic Daly (The Young Douglas Hyde, 1974) - cont.: Hyde gives paper on ‘The Attitude of the Reformed Church in Ireland’ to Theological Society, 1 March 1885, recording in his diary, ‘Salmon in particular said he would not have come had be known what I was going to read.’ His paper won favourable notice in Dublin University Magazine [ recte ?Review]: ‘The first part of the paper was a historical account of the rise and development of the three largest Christian bodies in this country - the Roman Catholic, the Presbyterian, and the Church of Ireland. The latter part of the Paper gave the essayist’s own opinions as to the position of the Irish Church clergy ought to take up with regard to the present Nationalist movement. This position, according to Mr Hyde, should be one of approval, implicit if not avowed.’ The opinions were declared not very common, and the style especially [admired] as ‘beautiful and simple.’ [55] Daly quotes a diary entry for 28 Aug 1900 in which ‘Yeats set me [Hyde] writing a play on “The Twisting of the Rope”; and I wrote a good part of its from a scenario which he drew up for me.’ [134; n., p.216]. Diarmuid and Gráinne premiered on the 31 Aug. 1900. The play was produced by F. R. Benson’s Shakepearean Company on 21 Oct. 1901 [with Casadh an tSugáin, prod. by William Fay]. Frank Fay wrote in a review of the evening, in United Irishman (26 Oct. 1901): ‘Monday evening was a memorable one for Dublin and for Ireland. the Irish language has been heard on the stage of the principal metropolitan theatre, and “A Nation Once Again” has been sung within its walls, and hope is strong within us once more.... To my mind the greatest triumph of the author lies in their having written in English a play in which English actors are intolerable ... All through the play the English voices grated on one’s ear, and the stolid English temperament was equally at variance with what we wanted.’ [c.315; for longer extracts, see attached.]

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Joseph Lee, Modernisation of Ireland 1848-1918 (1973), p.138ff.: ‘Apart ... from his insistence on the importance of reviving the Irish language, Hyde derived his inspiration primarily from Anglo-Irish rather than Gaelic concepts of Ireland, Moore and Davis owed little to native literary tradition, substituting sentiment for the sharp edge of ‘traditional’ Ireland, his concept of the ‘continuity’ that had been broken, simply involved the imposition of his boyhood recollections on 2,000 years of history.... Hyde in fact populated his ideal Ireland with a nation of stage-Irishmen, mimicking reality in Irish instead of English. He dreaded the threat of a modernised Gaelic Ireland as intensely as the prospect of a modernised Anglicised Ireland. The whole infra-structure of modernisation appalled him, and he assumed that the Irish could not survive in a modernised world. They should therefore, unlike every other European people, opt out from the modernisation process and continue to dwell in a mythical world of kneebreeches, free suits, and martial ballads.’ Lee goes on the argue that in fact Ireland was ‘no more anglicised in 1892 than in 1848’, following the transformation of the tenurial system and the euthanasia of the aristocracy (pp.128-39). In Lee’s analysis, generally, it was not the idea or the reality of ancient nationhood per se but the economic failure of the United Kingdom system of administration to provide Government aided industrial development schemes during the nineteenth and early twentieth century which caused the political separation of Ireland from the Union. He takes the view - shared by David Thornley (Isacc Butt, pref.), et al., that nationalism was simply one strand in the political events of the period leading up to Independence, and that Independence was not an inevitable conclusion of the economic and political history of Ireland, anymore than of Wales or Scotland. In regard to land tenure, according to Lee, the main effect of the partial measures of land reform such as the Unencumbered Estates Act of 1849 was to stimulate rethinking about property rights to the land, leading to ‘the revolution of historical consciousness which allowed many farmers to be convinced a generation later that they, as the rightful heirs of the despoiled celtic landowners and not the landlords, were the legitimate owners of the land, a revelation granted to few as early as 1849. (ibid., p.139; see Quotations as infra.)]

Gareth W. Dunleavy, Douglas Hyde (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1974): ‘The prevailing image of Douglas Hyde in post-1916 Ireland has been of a man who relied only on moral suasion and foreswore force and violence; who was dedicated solely to a reanimiation of the ethnic spirit of his country; who was dedicated only to making his country intellectually interesting, not politically free of British shackles; who was selected as Ireland’s first president because he was “above the struggle”. But when the inevitable reappraisal of this over-simplified view is made, it is almost certain that Hyde will emerge as a man who showed deeper, more subtle and timely responses to his country’s needs than some of his more colourful contemporary. / The fiery young Trinity undergraduate from Roscommon came under the influence of a powerful personality midway in his Trinity years. John O’Leary had returned to Dublin in 1884 from five years of British imprisonment and exile in France for his part in the 1867 Fenian rising. For Hyde, Yeats, Katherine Tynan, Maude Gonne, and other young nationalists, O’Leary was the veteran patriot and they flocked ot him. But O’Leary decried violence - “there are things that a man must nbot do to save a nation” - and instead pressed for the building of what he called the national morale. Pessimistic about Ireland’s chances for early independence and strong in his hatred not so much for England as for English rule in Ireland, O’Leary preached basically unpolitical [29] precepts: first that an Irishman should feel that he was an Irishman;a second, that Irish unity must be secured; and third, that each man should amke some sacrifice for Ireland. There seems little doubt that O’Leary’s philosophy was embraced and followed by Hyde for the rest of his life. / After 1884, the Hyde of the schoolboy patriotic poems became a disciplined and practical realist working to raise the Irish cultural conscience. This he achived most notably through his leadership of the Gaelic League for twenty-one years after its founding in 1893. That by 1923 he fairly understood the role the League had played in bringing about Irish independence is clear in his essay first printed in the Manchester Guardian and reprinted in John Devoy’s Gaelic American of August II: “The Gaelic League grew up and became the spiritual father of Sinn Féin and Sinn Féin’s progeny were the Volunteers who forced the English to make the Treaty. The Dáil is the child of the Volunteers, and thus it descends directly from the Gaelic League, whose traditions it inherits.’ (pp.29-30.)

Note: Dunleavy goes on to described a revealing “dream allegory of 1,904 pages” which Hyde wrote after enrolment in the School of Divinity in TCD, and in which he expresses under altered signs his fears of taking a sinecure post as as an Anglican clergyman in the service of the Ascendancy. (pp.30-31.)’

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Declan Kiberd, Synge and the Irish Language (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979, 2nd edn. 1993), on Hyde’s English literal trans. of The Love Songs of Connacht: ‘The translation was included simply to help the student who found difficulty with the Irish, for the object of the work was to popularise the spread of Irish literature. It soon became clear, however, that the main appeal of the book to Yeats and his contemporaries lay in Hyde’s own translations, and especially in those translations written in Anglo-Irish prose rather than in verse. The very success of the book caused the defeat of its primary purpose. Instead of popularising Irish literature, it made the creation of a national literature in English seem all the more plausible. (p.197; quoted in Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures, Cork UP 1996, with comment: ‘Declan Kiberd expresses the tension between the intention and effects of Hyde’s translation activity’, p.137.)

Declan Kiberd, Irish Classics (London: Granta 2001): ‘Hyde’s collection [Love Songs of Connacht] was an attempt to wreset Gaelic culture from the conformism threatening to overtake it. Much of the mainland had been so anglicised that what passed for a Gaelic revival was no more than a translation of Victorian values into the Irish language.’ (p.321; quoted in Joseph Lynch, MA Dip., UU 2003.) Further, ‘In the intermittent prose cribs done in Hiberno-English, Yeasts found the literary dialect that might enable a cultural revival to be conducted in an English that was as Irish as it would every be possible for that language to be.’ (Ibid., p.310; Lynch, op. cit. 2003.)

Léon Ó Bróin, Protestant Nationalists in Revolutionary Ireland (1985), ‘On his honeymoon in Nice [1893], he [Hyde] visited Charles Gavan Duffy. In Mise agus an Connradh, he recalled the night of his Literary Revival speech, “There was an audience of a hundred or a hundred and fifty but what I had to say did not seem to impress them particularly. A friend of mine heard two young men talking as they left the hall. One said to the other, ’Do you think that anything of that kind would ever catch on in Ireland?’ ’No’, his companion replied. ’It’s just a lot of rubbish’.’ Further: ‘Hyde met McNeill in the library of the RIA and found him reading the Book of Leinster which was something he could not do. In his diary for 31 July 1893 he wrote in Irish, “We established a Gaelic League to keep the language being spoken among the people. There were present about ten or twelve people, among them MacNeill, O’Neill Russell, Cogan, O’Kelly, Fr Hayden SJ, and Quinn. I was in the chair. I made a long statement in Irish and English and everything went off well.” He induced the Literary Society to let two rooms for one night a week. Wuotes Hyde’s Diary for 4 August: ‘I went to the Gaelic League. I was in the chair and they made me President. I spoke in Irish and English. I stood Sigerson and O’Neill Russell a drink. I spent the night in P. J. McCall’s rooms in Patrick street drawing up an account of the proceedings of the Literary Society for the previous year.’ Pearse said Hyde inspired enthusiasm. (O Broin, p.10.)

W. J. McCormack, The Battle of the Books (Dublin: Lilliput 1986): ‘Though the later revivalists of te Gaelic League (who includes a few “Anglo-Irish”, like Douglas Hyde) doubtless thought themselves in touch with a still living reality, the results of their efforts might persuade us that pastenss was what they sought for Gaelic culture also. Indeed, in passing, it is worth suggesting if the primary ideological function of the Gaelic movement was not to realise a contemporary redundancy, dance of death?’ (p.41.)

Robert Welch, A History of Verse Translation from the Irish 1789-1897 (Gerrards Cross 1988), Chap. 3, ‘Walker and Brooke’, [pp.28-43]. In a summary of the address (’De-Anglicising &c’) among his notes, Hyde writes, ‘The whole gist of that address was to point out how indefensible and illogical it is for people who profess to abhor England and the English to be nevertheless going out of their way to imitate that country ... I pointed out the suicidal policy we are pursuing in allowing our language with the great literature behind it to become extinct ... I showed the abyssmal infamy, cowardice, snobbery and stupidity of dropping Ó and Mac and changing ... honourable Milesian names into any villainous and ugly appellation as long as we were only English sounding.’ (Quoted in Ó Luing, ‘Douglas Hyde and the Gaelic League’, in Studies, Summer 1973, p.128, from the MacGlinchy Collection of Hyde’s MSS) [149].

Aine Hyland & Kenneth Milne, Irish Educational Documents, Vol. 1 (Dublin: CITC 1987), IV.4(b): Evidence of Douglas Hyde LLD, President of the Gaelic League, to the Pallas Commission [1899]. The editors write: ‘The Gaelic League emphasised the important role of the educational system in reviving Gaelic civilisation and provided a strong pressure group towards this view. In the evidence to the Palles Commission, a number of witnesses spoke of the importance of Gaelic or Irish in the examinations of the Intermediate Board and sought to have higher marks allocated to this subject. Others, including Dr Mahaffy of TCD, had negative views on the matter and had questioned the place of Irish on the intermediate examination programme. The evidence of Dr Douglas Hyde, President of the gaelic League, who sought to contradict the negative approach, as carefully prepared and presented. Dr. Hyde had written to a number of prestigious Celtic scholars in other European countries - notably, Dr. Kuno Meyer of Liverpool, Professor Zimmer of Greifswald, Prussia, Dr Ernest Windisch of Leipsig, Dr. Stern of Berlin, and Dr. Holger Pedersen of Copenhagen - he produced letters of support for the Irish language as a serious linguistic study from these experts. Extracts from his evidence follow, ‘Now, the raising or the lowering of the status of the national language in the national education, and especially of the intermediate Board, will have a powerful indirect influence, either of discouraging or encouraging the growth of such a sentiment as obtains in Ireland, and which we attempt to neutralise. A feeling of snobbishness, a want of national self-respect and national self-reliance - these are the great enemies of the Irish language, and the Board, by raising the national language to its proper place in the national system of education, will gain a vistory over these. The study of it will create among Irish bous, more than any other study, perhaps, feelings of national and personal self-respect, in which they are at present deplorably wanting, but without which we, of the Gaelic League, believe no healthy prosperity is possible.’ [215; cont.]

Aine Hyland & Kenneth Milne, Irish Educational Documents, Vol. 1 (Dublin: CITC 1987): In further extracts, he argues that a) there is widespread support for the language, and b) that the language is intrinsically worth preserving, ‘Then, too, it must be remembered that Irish is a very beautiful and highly inflected language, one regular, for the most part, in its declensions and conjugations; its is very subtle and accurate in its idioms, and fully as well adapted for education purposes as any modern European language. It is now once again putting forth new leaves and buds, and day by day assimilating fresh words to bring it into touch with the requirements of the present day.’ Here he introduced Zimmer’s testimonial, characterising Irish as a language highly instructive for the schoolboy as indicating he system of aspiration and eclipsis peculiar to the Celtic languages. [216] A further lengthy quotation from Eleanor Hull urges that ‘The natural genius of the people can flow freely only through their own vernacular. The Irish character is highly poetic and imaginative, and the expression of strong feeling is conveyed by means of very delicate and subtle similes, which cannot be expressed at all in English, but for which the Irish tongue seems to be specially fitted. See what a number of very lovely poems have been written within quite recent times by peasants in their own language, which would certainly never have been composed in any foreign tongue [...] I have seen no English lyrics of recent years that can approach them in grace and tenderness and in lovely melody. Surely the language that inspires and expresses thoughts like these should be encouraged by every means in the power of the State or of private individuals.’ (Hull) [Evidence to the commission on intermediate education (Ireland) (Pallis), 1899, C.9512, xxiii, 1., in Hyland, p.217]

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David Cairns & Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland: Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture (Manchester UP 1988), Such an idyllic evocation of an Irish essence [cf. Gavan Duffy], which is being corrupted by the aping of English fashion, games, music, periodicals, is the hallmark of the most significant of these many rallying calls of the 1890s, Douglas Hyde’s ‘The necessity for the De-Anglicising of Ireland’ ... to de-Anglicise Ireland was an objective whose implications had almost to be denied at the very moment when it was proclaimed.... while opening and closing with the declaration that “De-Anglicisation” was not an issue for nationalists alone but also for Unionists who wished ‘to see the Irish nation produce its best’ (Duffy, Sigerson, Hyde, op. cit. supra, p.161), he went on the assert the essence of that nation in exclusive terms, ‘we must strive to cultivate everything that is most racial, most smacking of the soil, most Gaelic, most Irish, because in spite of the little admixture of Saxon [64] blood in the north-east corner, this island is and will ever remain Celtic at the core’ (p.159); tried to erect a concept of the nation as distinctly Irish yet capable of assimilating these Anglo-Irish [65]; [with Yeats] urged that [65] “pure” nationality was above politics; Malcolm Brown has suggested that such an objective was fraudulent, ‘Non-political poets do not for societies; they abhor societies ... with Yeats, with Hyde, the question that lingered was, What kind of politics is it?’ (The Politics of Irish literature, 1973, p.356) [66]. AE’s spiritualism fused with the anti-materialist bias of Hyde as he proclaimed the modern age was riven with ‘psychic maladies’ arising from the cosmopolitan spirit, while only in Ireland ‘are we not yet sick with this sickness’ [70]. The promise of the Irish Literary Theatre to give Dublin the best of European culture was abandoned, Joyce argued in 1901, in the decision to stage The Twisting of the Rope and Diarmuid and Grania in 1901; this was a betrayal of their protest against servility and falsehood’, a ‘surrender to the trolls’, those nationalists who measured everything by their ideology~ [82]; element of mockery of Douglas Hyde in Yeats’s ‘At the Abbey Theatre’ (’most popular of men,/But when they mock us, that we mock again?’) [99]. Further: Casadh an tSugáin [The Twisting of the Rope], written and performed in Gaelic to a scenario by Yeats (and translated into English by Lady Gregory), it was staged in 1901 by the Gaelic Amateur Dramatic Society with Hyde in the principal role ... The play is set in a Munster farmhouse and concerns the efforts of the community to protect One from the attentions of Hanrahan whose fascination threatens to entice her away from her intended, Sheamus. The parallels with Synge’s Playboy of the Western World [and Shadow] are clear, but here the community reveals itself to be intelligent and resourceful [in] working together to exclude Hanrahan, leaving the final word with Sheamus’s assertion of communal values, ‘Isn’t it a fine thing for a man to be listening to the storm outside, and himself quiet and easy beside the fire?’ (In Lady Gregory, Poets and Dreamers, 1974, p.148) [86]. Note also, Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Blackwells 1983), ‘Nationalism usually conquers in the name of a putative folk culture. Its symbolism is drawn from the healthy, pristine vigorous life of the peasants’ (p.57) [cited in Cairns and Richards, Writing Ireland, 1988, p.51).

Breda Dunne, An Intelligent Visitor’s Guide to the Irish (Mercier 1990), citing Hyde: ‘It has always been curious to me how the Irish continue to apparently hate the English, and at the same time continue to imitate them [...]. In the absence of developing our own identity, language and culture, we will become a nation of imitators, lost to the power of native initiative and alive only to second-hand assimilation.’ (Necessity &c., quoted in Lyons, Culture and Anarchy 1982, p.42.)

Janet Egleson Dunleavy & Gareth W Dunleavy, Douglas Hyde: a Maker of Modern Ireland (California UP 1991), 472pp., 28 ills. ‘Hyde’s growing proficiency in Irish went with the creation of a native Irish personal, complete with an appropriate world view and modes of expression. This persona moreover co-existed with Hyde’s authentic Anglo-Irish identity - both being employed by Hyde in appropriate social contexts’ (Book review, Fortnight No. 306, May 1992). [Note: full text version of Douglas Hyde: A Maker of Modern Ireland, 1971, is available at California University Press - online.]

Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures (Cork UP 1996), quotes Hyde on ‘the exigencies of publication in a weekly newspaper’ as necessitating his translations into English [. &c.; see infra]’, and remarks: ‘[...] The old and new audiences for translation, foreign philologists and natlve readers, are juxtaposed. Translation that down the centuries has featured in periods of political change in Ireland is once more present. Taking a just pride in one’s native language has political implications that are made explicit in Hyde’s Irish “Fuagradh” to the collection where he calls on God to free Ireland - “go saoraidh Dia Eire”.’ (Abhráin Grádh Chúige Connacht, 1892, n.p.). The political caution of the antiquarians is no longer in evidence. However, it is interesting to note that in one sense Hyde’s translation theory does not represent a radical break with his scholarly predecessors. Hyde himself was a much respected scholar and when he offers a “literal translation” to his readers, he is echoing Sullivan’s belief that any deviation from the original form is a mistake. Patrick Rafroidi failed to realise this when he discussed the birth of a new literature in English through translation [quotes and translates:] “The criterion used [to judge success in literary translation] is the exact opposite of the one used by the Celtic scholar. The necessary prerequisite though not in itself always sufficient - is at the very least a certain distance with respect to the original if not unfaithfulness.’ (l’Irlande et le romanticisme, Paris 1972, p.247). / The criterion used by the Celtic scholar and the literary translator may, in fact, be remarkably similar. Thus, literalism in translation can be seen to have both a conservative and a subversive function. The literal translation of texts into the functional prose of formal English can minimise the aesthetic effects of the original, while scrupulously respecting meaning. The translation contains the source language and conserves the target language. Literalism becomes subversive when, as in Hyde’s case, the target language itself is undermined or altered by a different syntax, sound-system or lexicon. In both cases, the translations are driven by similar concerns to [136] be faithful to the onginal, but it is the fate of the target language rather than fidelity to the source language that will determine the outcome of the translation effort. (pp.136-37.)

R. F. Foster, The Story of Ireland [Inaugural lecture ... Univ. of Oxford, 1 Dec. 1994] (Clarendon Press 1995), remarks that ‘stories such as “Deirdre” were in circulation, through Theophilus O’Flanagan in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society, as early as 1808, [and t]hat this was much used by Douglas Hyde in his Literary History of Ireland (1899), which was more accessible to many of the popularises of the Revival.’ (p.13, n.28.)

Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (Cork UP 2000): ‘Douglas Hyde’s seminal address to the National Literary Society in 1892 was informed by a similar concern. He argued that the Irish had “at last broken the continuity of Irish life” and were “cut off from the past yet scarcely in with the present”. They had “lost all that they had - language, traditions, music, genius and ideas” Listing the different Irish traditions which were being lost - language, Gaelic personal names and surnames, place names, music, dress, games - he derided their anglicized replacements. However, he had a revolutionary proposal to reverse this decline, which was bo leave an enduring imprint on subsequent Irish life.’ (The reader is directed to Chap. 4, viz., ‘Irish Pioneers’.)

Rolf & Magda Loeber, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006), p.: ‘The reorientation within certain members of this class from British to Irish interests fostered a new cadre of Irish authors in the English language with strong interests in Irish history. This did not mean that the initial advocates insisted on expressing themselves in Irish rather than in English. [W. B.] Yeats firmly believed that English could be the language for an Irish national literature. [66] Many of the English-speaking literati interested in Irish Ireland appear to have agreed. However, dissent emerged slowly during the second half of the nineteenth century. As pointed out by Foster, in 1858 the weekly periodical The Celt published a leader which stated that “To be Anglicised is to lose our national and characteristic identity, to merge everything Irish and Celtic in, not a British union, but a British supremacy.” (The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making it Up in Ireland, London, 2001, p.68.) Thirty-four years later, Douglas Hyde famously advocated the de-Anglicization of Irish literature. Foster speaks of the emergence in the 1890s of an Anglophobia, which was to persist for decades. (Foster, op. cit., p.77.) The second Irish literary revival which started in the 1890s, however, produced mostly English-language poetry and plays (the latter not known in old Gaelic Ireland) and few works of fiction.’ (p.lx; also cites Joep Leerssen ‘À la recherche d’une littérature perdue: Literary history, Irish identity and Douglas Hyde’ in M. Spiering, Nation building and Writing Literary History, Amsterdam, 1999m pp.95-108, , p.96.)

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