Conradh na Gaeilge

Conradh na Gaeilge

Logo of Conradh na Gaeilge
Abbreviation CnaG
Formation 31 July 1893 (1893-07-31)
Founder Douglas Hyde
Type Non-governmental organisation
Headquarters 6 Harcourt Street
Dublin 2
Fields Irish language promotion
Gaelic revival
Secretary General
Julian de Spáinn
Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill
Subsidiaries Raidió Rí-Rá
Formerly called
Gaelic League

Conradh na Gaeilge (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkɔn̪ˠɾˠə nə ˈɡeːlʲɟə]; historically known in English as the Gaelic League) is a social and cultural organisation which promotes the Irish language in Ireland and worldwide. The organisation was founded in 1893 with Douglas Hyde as its first president, when it emerged as the successor of several 19th century groups such as the Gaelic Union. The organisation would be the spearhead of the Gaelic revival and Gaeilgeoir activism. Originally the organisation intended to be apolitical, but many of its participants became involved in Irish nationalism.


Advertisement for the Gaelic League in the Gaelic Journal, June 1894. The English text reads "This Association has been founded solely to keep the Irish Language spoken in Ireland. If you wish the Irish Language to live on the lips of Irishmen, help this effort according to your ability!"

Bruce Stewart suggests that an address by Douglas Hyde "led to the formation of the Gaelic League" with Hyde as the president.[1] The address titled ‘The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland’ was delivered by Hyde to the Irish National Literary Society, on 25 November 1892. (Thereafter, it was published in The Revival of Irish Literature, 1894.) Conradh na Gaeilge was founded in Dublin on 31 July 1893 by Douglas Hyde, the son of a Church of Ireland rector from Frenchpark, County Roscommon with the aid of Eugene O'Growney, Eoin MacNeill, Thomas O'Neill Russell and others. The organisation developed from Ulick Bourke's earlier Gaelic Union and became the leading institution promoting the Gaelic Revival, carrying on efforts like the publishing of the Gaelic Journal. The League's first newspaper was An Claidheamh Soluis (The Sword of Light) and its most noted editor was Patrick Pearse. The motto of the League was Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin amháin (Ourselves, Ourselves alone).[2]

The League encouraged female participation from the start and a number of women played a prominent role. They were not restricted to subordinate roles, but played an active part in leadership, although males were in the overwhelming majority. Local notables, such as Lady Gregory in Galway, Lady Esmonde in County Wexford, and Mary Spring Rice in County Limerick, and others such as Norma Borthwick, founded and led branches in their communities. At the annual national convention in 1906 women were elected to seven of the forty-five positions on the Gaelic League executive. Executive members included Máire Ní Chinnéide, Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh (who wrote pamphlets on behalf of the League), Bean an Doc Uí Choisdealbha, Máire Ní hAodáin, Máire de Buitléir, Nellie O'Brien, Eibhlín Ní Dhonnabháin and Eibhlín Nic Néill.[3][4]

Though apolitical, the organisation attracted many Irish nationalists of different persuasions, much like the Gaelic Athletic Association. It was through the League that many future political leaders and rebels first met, laying the foundation for groups such as the Irish Volunteers (1913). However, Conradh na Gaeilge did not commit itself entirely to the national movement until 1915, causing the resignation of Douglas Hyde, who felt that the culture of language should be above politics. Most of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation were members. It still continued to attract many Irish Republicans. Sean MacStiofain, the first chief of staff of the Provisional IRA was a prominent member in his later life.

League in the Free State

After the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the organisation had a less prominent role in public life as Irish was made a compulsory subject in state-funded schools.[5] It did unexpectedly badly in the Irish Seanad election, 1925, when all the candidates it endorsed were defeated, including Hyde.[6]

Contemporary times

The organisation successfully campaigned for the enactment of the Official Languages Act, 2003 which gave greater statutory protection to Irish speakers and created the position of An Coimisinéir Teanga (The Languages Commissioner). Conradh na Gaeilge was among the principal organisations responsible for co-ordinating the successful campaign to make Irish an official language of the European Union.[7]

Conradh na Gaeilge, Dublin.

In 2008 during the presidency of Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh, Conradh na Gaeilge adopted a new constitution reverting to its pre 1915 non-political stance restating its aim as that of an Irish-speaking Ireland "Is í aidhm na hEagraíochta an Ghaeilge a athréimniú mar ghnáththeanga na hÉireann" and dropping any reference to Irish freedom.

Most recently, the organisation has become embroiled in a dispute with Irish political party Fine Gael over the party's policy to end the status of Irish as a compulsory subject for the Leaving Certificate. Conradh na Gaeilge have responded by asking voters in the next general election to vote only for candidates who are in favour of Irish's required position remaining.[8]


The organisation has branches in several parts of Ireland and abroad and is closely involved in the development of the Seachtain na Gaeilge promotional campaign. Conradh na Gaeilge has recently opened free legal advice centres (Ionaid Saor-Chomhairle Dlí) in Dublin and Galway in partnership with Free Legal Advice Centres. The Gaelic League publishes a magazine called Feasta, founded in 1948. This magazine, while it promotes the aims of the League, also has an important role in promoting new writing in Irish.


See also


  1. Stewart, Bruce (2000). "On the Necessity of De-Hydifying Irish Cultural Criticism". New Hibernia Review / Iris Éireannach Nua. 4 (1): 23.
  2. Murphy, Brian P. (2005). The Catholic Bulletin and Republican Ireland: with special reference to J. J. O'Kelly ('Sceilg'). London: Athol Books. pp. 51–53. ISBN 0-85034-108-6.
  3. New Hibernia Review. 6:1 Spring 2002. pp 57–62
  4. Irish Peasant, 18 August 1906
  5. "The Gaelic League in the Irish Free State in the 1920s and 1930s". The Irish Story. 28 November 2015.
  6. Coakley, John (September 2005). "Ireland's Unique Electoral Experiment: The Senate Election of 1925". Irish Political Studies. 20 (3): 231–269. doi:10.1080/07907180500359327.
  7. Cinneadh an AE: Céim fhíorthábhachtach stairiúil don Ghaeilge, go hidirnáisiúnta agus in Éirinn (Irish language) Foras na Gaeilge press release, 13 June 2005.
  8. CAITH DO VÓTA AR SON PÁIRTITHE ATÁ AR SON NA GAEILGE (Irish language) — Conradh na Gaeilge press release, 22 May 2006
  9. "Ã Cearbhaill elected as President of Conradh na Gaeilge".


  • Mac Aonghusa, Proinsias (1993). Ar son na Gaeilge: Conradh na Gaeilge 1893-1993. Conradh na Gaeilge. ASIN B001A49CUY. 
  • Mac Fhearghusa, Pádraig (1995). Conradh na Gaeilge i gCiarrai. Conradh na Gaeilge. ASIN B0010DRN88. 
  • Mac Giolla Domhnaigh, Gearóid (1995). Conradh Gaeilge Chúige Uladh ag tús an 20ú chéid. Comhaltas Uladh de Chonradh na Gaeilge. ISBN 0951726412. 
  • O'Riordain, Traolach (2000). Conradh na Gaeilge i gCorcaigh 1894-1910. Cois Life Teoranta. ISBN 1901176177. 
  • Ó Súilleabháin, Donncha (1989). Conradh na Gaeilge i Londain 1894-1917. Conradh na Gaeilge. ASIN B009QZETH0. 

External links

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