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Irish Literary Revival

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Title: Irish Literary Revival  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Irish poetry, W. B. Yeats, Gaelic revival, Samuel Ferguson, Irish literature
Collection: History of Ireland (1801–1923), Irish Culture, Irish Nationalism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Irish Literary Revival

The Irish Literary Revival (also called the Irish Literary Renaissance, nicknamed the Celtic Twilight) was a flowering of Irish literary talent in the late 19th and early 20th century.


  • Forerunners 1
  • Developments 2
  • Fellow travellers 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • Sources 6
  • External links 7


The literary movement was associated with a revival of interest in Ireland's Gaelic heritage and the growth of Irish Monthly), scholars such as John O'Donovan and Eugene O'Curry and nationalists such as Charles Kickham and John O'Leary. In 1882 the Gaelic Union established the Gaelic Journal (Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge), the first important bilingual Irish periodical with the help of Douglas Hyde, with David Comyn as editor.


The early literary revival had two geographic centres, in Dublin and in London, and Douglas Hyde, whose Beside the Fire, a collection of folklore in Irish, was published in 1890. In London in 1892, along with T. W. Rolleston, and Charles Gavan Duffy, he set up the Irish Literary Society. Back in Dublin he founded the National Literary Society in the same year, with Douglas Hyde as first President. Meanwhile the more radical Arthur Griffith and William Rooney were active in the Irish Fireside Club and went on to found the Leinster Literary Society.[2]

1900 portrait of William Butler Yeats by his father, John Butler Yeats

In 1893 Yeats published The Celtic Twilight, a collection of lore and reminiscences from the West of Ireland. The book closed with the poem "Into the Twilight". It was this book and poem that gave the revival its nickname. In this year Hyde, Eugene O'Growney and Eoin MacNeill founded the Gaelic League, with Hyde becoming its first President. It was set up to encourage the preservation of Irish culture, its music, dances and language. Also in that year appeared Hyde's The Love Songs of Connacht, which inspired Yeats, John Millington Synge and Lady Gregory.[3]

Thomas A. Finlay founded the New Ireland Review, a literary magazine, in 1894, which he edited until 1911, when it was replaced by Studies. Many of the leading literary lights of the time contributed to it.[4]

In 1897 Hyde became editor, with T. W. Rolleston and Charles Gavan Duffy, of the New Irish Library, a series of books on Irish history and literature issued by the London publisher, Fisher Unwin. Two years later Hyde published his Literary history of Ireland.

Yeats, Lady Gregory and

  • Yeats: The Life and Works of William Butler YeatsThe National Library of Ireland's exhibition,
  • Irish culture leading to 1916

External links

  • Foster, R. F. (1997). W. B. Yeats: A Life, Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage. New York: Oxford UP. ISBN 0-19-288085-3.
  • Foster, R. F. (2003). W. B. Yeats: A Life, Vol. II: The Arch-Poet 1915–1939. New York: Oxford UP. ISBN 0-19-818465-4.
  • Ernest Boyd. Ireland’s Literary Renaissance. New York: John Lane (1916; revised edition; 1923)


  1. ^ Boyd, Ernest (23 December 1916). "The Irish Literary Revival".  
  2. ^ McGuire, James; Quinn, James (2009). Dictionary of Irish Biography. Volume V. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy-Cambridge University Press. p. 608.  
  3. ^ Ó Corráin, Donnchadh. "Douglas Hyde". University College Cork, Multitext Project in Irish History. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Thomas J. Morrissey, SJ Thomas A. Finlay SJ, 1848–1940, Educationalist, editor, social reformer. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2004. ISBN 1-85182-827-3
  5. ^ Foster (2003), pp. 486, 662.
  6. ^ Welch, Robert (1996). The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. Oxford University Press.  
  7. ^ McCormack, W. J. (ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture, Blackwell Publishing, 28 January 2002. p. 7. ISBN 0-631-22817-9
  8. ^ Carens, James (1979). Surpassing Wit. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 22. 
  9. ^ John Kelly, Ronald Schuchard: The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats, 1905–1907 (2005). Oxford University Press. p. 87
  10. ^ Report (15 September 1913). "Irish Artists "At Home"".  


See also

The movement co-existed with the growth of interest in the Irish language (Katharine Tynan, Thomas MacDonagh, Seán O'Casey, Seamus O'Sullivan and others up to the 1930s. It was complemented by developments in the arts world, which included artists such as Sarah Purser, Grace Gifford, Estella Solomons and Beatrice Elvery.[10]

Fellow travellers

The Irish Review was founded in 1910 by Professor David Houston of the Royal College of Science for Ireland, with his friends poet Thomas MacDonagh, lecturer in English in University College Dublin, poet and writer James Stephens, with David Houston, Thomas MacDonagh, Padraic Colum and Mary Colum and Joseph Mary Plunkett. The magazine was edited by Thomas MacDonagh for its first issues, then Padraic Colum, then, changing its character utterly from a literary and sociological magazine, Joseph Plunkett edited its final issues as literary Ireland became involved with the Irish Volunteers and plans for the Easter Rising. Plunkett published a collection of poems, The Circle and The Sword, the same year.

In 1906 the publishing house of Maunsel and Company was founded by Joseph Campbell.[9] Lady Gregory started publishing her collection of Kiltartan stories, including A Book of Saints and Wonders (1906) and The Kiltartan History Book (1909).

In 1904 John Eglinton started the journal Dana, to which Fred Ryan and Oliver St John Gogarty contributed.[8]

In 1903 Yeats, Lady Gregory, Oliver St John Gogarty, F. R. Higgins, Thomas MacDonagh, Lord Dunsany, T. C. Murray, James Cousins and Lennox Robinson.[7]

Around the turn of the century Patrick S. Dinneen published editions of Geoffrey Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, poems by Aogán Ó Rathaille and Piaras Feiritéar, and other works for the Irish Texts Society and the Gaelic League. He then went on to write the first novel in Irish, while continuing to work on his great Irish-English dictionary.[6] On Easter Sunday 1900 Yeats' friend and muse, Maud Gonne, founded Inghinidhe na hÉireann (English: Daughters of Ireland), a revolutionary women’s society which included writers Alice Furlong, Annie Egan, Ethna Carbery and Sinéad O'Flanagan (later wife of Éamon de Valera), and the actors Máire Quinn and Sara Allgood. The Irish-language newspaper Banba was founded in 1901 with Tadhg Ó Donnchadha as editor. The following year he also became editor of the Gaelic Journal.

and Yeats. Fred Ryan, Seumas O'Cuisin, focused on the development of Irish acting talent. The company produced works by W. G. Fay's Irish National Dramatic Company The Fay brothers formed [5]

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