On This Day 31 July

By TheBoldAge. Published 2020-07-31
In 1703 Daniel Defoe was put in the pillory; in 1786 Robert Burns was published; in 1914 the NYSE closed for the first time since 1873; in 1965 the UK banned cigarette adverts on TV and in 1969 the halfpenny was no longer legal tender. In 1893 the Gaelic League was founded to promote the Irish language

Conradh na Gaeilge was founded in 1893 by Douglas Hyde

Born in 1860 Douglas Hyde was the leading figure in the revival of the Irish language. An alumni of Trinity College he was fluent in French, German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He was most passionate about the Irish language and pursued its revival, leading to him founding the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) in 1893. Hyde would go on to become the first President of the Republic of Ireland.

Listen to an ode that was composed by Douglas Hyde

By 1891 the number of speakers of Gaelic in Ireland had reduced to 680k from about 4m in 1835. This was a result of poverty and the famines as well as mass emigration from Ireland.

The League was founded with the aim of promoting the use of Irish around the country. It was founded as an apolitical association, however with the increasing movement for independence it attracted nationalists and quite a lot of the future political leaders of the country would meet through the League.

The League have continued their push to revive the Irish language throughout the world. In the 1970s they spearheaded the establishment of several TV channels, they campaigned heavily for the languages act of 2003 which also had Irish becoming an official language of the European Union.

The 2016 census showed 1.8m speakers of Irish in the South, however only 111k speak Irish on a weekly basis outside of the academic environment.

It's never too late

The Guardian published an article highlighting three people in their later life who decided to take up a new language. "There is no evidence to suggest that adult learners are slower in terms of absorbing new information..." said the Head of Languages of SOAS.

Listen to the podcasts by Motherfocloir through iTunes or your preferred podcast listener. It's a great listen, even for those of us with no Gaeilge and they discuss not only Gaeilge but other topical issues related to minority languages; and you're bound to laugh at least a couple of times through the podcast.

Other events on this day

  • 1703: Daniel Defoe was put in the pillory for offending the government and church; he was pelted with flowers
  • 1786: "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect" by Robert Burns published
  • 1893: Gaelic League formed to encourage Irish people to speak the language
  • 1914: New York Stock Exchange closed for the first time since 1873 due to the Great War
  • 1965: cigarette advertising banned on TV in the UK
  • 1969: the half penny was no longer legal tender in the UK
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