A Brief History of Conradh na Gaeilge

cnag Origins

The Gaelic League, or Conradh na Gaeilge, was founded in Dublin on July 31, 1893 by Douglas Hyde (Dubhghlas de hÍde in Irish), a Protestant from Frenchpark, County Roscommon with the aid of Eugene O'Growney, Eoin MacNeill, Luke K. Walsh and others. The league developed from Ulick Bourke's earlier Gaelic Union and became the leading institution promoting the Gaelic Revival. The league's first newspaper was An Claidheamh Soluis (which translates as "the sword of light") and its most noted editor was Pádraig Pearse.

Though apolitical, the league 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, the League 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.

From 1922

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, however the organsation is still one of the most active voluntary Irish language organisations campaigning for an urgent review of the teaching of Irish in our education system, and for the rights of Irish speakers in general. For example, Conradh na Gaeilge 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, or language commissioner.

The organisation has branches in several parts of Ireland and is closely involved in the development of the annual cultural festival An tOireachtas as well as Seachtain na Gaeilge, Ógras and An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha. Conradh na Gaeilge has recently opened free legal advice centres - Ionaid Saor Chomhairle Dlí - in Dublin and Galway in partnership with FLAC. The organisation was also among the principal organisation responsible for co-ordinating the successful campaign to make Irish an official language of the European Union.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge