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Douglas Hyde: <lb/> A Maker of Modem Ireland: A Maker of Modem Ireland 

ark:/13030/ft2wl004tq 2635 - 

Distributed by the California Digital Library. 

Originally published by the University of California Press. 

Douglas Hyde: A Maker of Modem Ireland A Maker of Modem Ireland - Janet Egleson Dunleavy 

& Gai^thW. Dunleavy - UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley • Los Angeles • Oxford 
1991 -- 

- For Henry J. Dunleavy In Memoriam 

- Acknowledgments - 

For assistance with this study of the public and private life of Douglas Hyde, we are indebted first of all 
to Sean O'Luing, biographer, translator, poet, and friend, who one August day in 1978 stopped us on the 
steps of the National Library of Ireland and urged that we undertake this task. The following day, on 
these same steps, he placed in our hands two shopping bags full of Hyde materials — letters, interviews, 
cuttings, manuscripts, notes — that he had patiently gathered over the years. At every tum, this book 
bears witness to his invaluable gift and continuing encouragement and advice. 

To the executors of the Douglas Hyde estate, to his late daughter, Una Hyde Sealy, and to all his living 
heirs, we owe a special debt, not only for their generosity in providing access to family holdings, 
answering hundreds of inquiries, and permitting us to quote from Hyde materials, but also for their 

We are deeply grateful for the support we have had from the American Council of Leamed Societies, 
American Irish Foundation, American Philosophical Society, Camargo Foundation, John Simon 
Guggenheim Foundation, and College of Letters and Science and Graduate School of the University of 
Wisconsin — Milwaukee which has made our work possible. We wish also to thank Bemard Benstock, 
Shari Benstock, John Halperin, Eric Hamp, Fred Harvey Harrington, Ann Saddlemyer, David H. 
Greene, Alf MacLochlainn, T. Kevin Mallen, William Roselle, and William V. Shannon, whose 
confidence, expressed at critical junctures in this project, guaranteed its completion. 

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We sincerely appreciate tlie help we have received from scholars, archivists, and others in England, 
Ireland, Canada, and the United States whose special knowledge of or access to much- needed 
information was often crucial to us. Among those who patiently answered our many questions on 
aspects of written and spoken Irish and Hiberno-English, on the nuances of Irish culture, and on lesser- 
known facts of local and national Irish history were Bo Almquist, Dan Binchy, Richard J. Byrne, James 
Carney, Tomas de Bhaldraithe, Padraig de Brun, Bernard Finan, Dorothy Fox, David Greene, Thomas 
Hachey, Maura Harmon, Maurice Harmon, Patrick Henchy, Michael Hewson, Richard M. Kain, Mary 
Lavin, James Liddy, Gerard Long, John Lyons, M.D., Eoin MacKieman, Fionnuala MacLochlainn, 
Deirdre McMahon, Maureen Murphy, Breandan 6 Conaire, Tomas 6 Concannon, Betty O'Connell, 
Maurice O'Connell, Daithi 6 hOgain, D.S.O Luanaigh, Tomas 6 Maille, Nessa ni Sheaghdha, T. P. 
O'Neill, Brid O'Siadhail, Micheal O'Siadhail, Bruce Rosenberg, Michael MacDonald Scott, Colin 
Smythe, and Christopher Townely. 

Our thanks are due also to those who facilitated our research in special subjects and assisted us in other 
areas of professional expertise, especially Jeanne A ber. Lance J. Bauer, Alan M. Cohn, Pierre Deflaux, 
John P. Ferre, James Ford, Patrick Ford, Howard Gotlieb, Herbert Kenny, Helen Landreth, Judith 
Livingston, Ciaran McGonigle, William Moritz, Catherine Murphy, Michael Pretina, Henry Siaud, Lola 
Szladits, Raymond Teichman, Alan Ward, and Russell Y oung. 

From 1978 to 1989, as we steadily expanded the combined collection of notes and documents presented 
to us by Sean 'Luing and previously accumulated by us in connection with earlier projects, we were 
fortunate to have the help of scores of men and women acquainted with Hyde himself, his life and times, 
and his achievements. Among those who shared with us their personal recollections, correspondence, 
and memorabilia were Colonel Thomas Manning and Colonel Eamon de Buitlear, aides-de-camp to 
Douglas Hyde, and their families; Desmond McDunphy, Eileen Monahan, and Brenda Warran-Smith, 
whose father, Michael McDunphy, held the office of secretary to the president during and after Hyde's 
presidential term; Erskine Childers, former president of Ireland; members of the family of the 'Conors 
of Clonalis, especially the Reverend Charles 'Conor Don, S.J., Josephine 'Conor, Eva Staunton, 
Captain Maurice Staunton, Gertrude Nash, and Group Captain Rupert Nash; The Macdermot, Madame 
Macdermot, and other members of the family of the Macdermots of Coolavin; Thomas 

Kilgallen, M.D., of Boyle, physician to Lucy Hyde; members of Hyde's household staff at Ratra, 
including Carrie and Tom Mahon, Annie Mahon, and Peter Morrisroe; Bob Connolly, sexton. Church of 
Portahard; Hyde's American friend Ben Greenwald; and a number of Hyde's former students, including 
Dan Bryan, Eileen Gannon, Christine Keating, and Liam MacMeanman. President Erskine Childers 
showed us through the state rooms of Aras an Uachtarain and described their appearance when Hyde 

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was in residence; President Patrick Hillery autiiorized a second visit tiiat enabled us to recheck specific 
details; Ambassador William V. Shannon and his wife, Elizabeth Shannon, answered our questions 
about the presidency, American- Irish relations, and the history of the official residences in Phoenix Park. 

In north Roscommon and Sligo we talked extensively with men and women whose local memories of 
people, places, and events were significant to the life of Douglas Hyde. Kate Martin and the late Bertie 
MacMaster of Kilmactranny shared with us facts about Hyde's birthplace and local recollections of 
members of the family of the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., who once made their home there. Pa Burke, for 
many years the oldest living resident of Castlerea, recalled for us his first Irish lessons in the early days 
of the Gaelic League. Michael Cooney reminisced about the Frenchpark in which he had lived as a boy 
at the turn of the century. Tommy and Mary Bruen, Kevin and Margaret Dockery, and Mick and Peggy 
Ward shared their knowledge of the oral tradition of north Roscommon as it pertained to local families 
and to local geography, including place-names. The Reverend Robert Holtby and Mrs. Maud Holtby 
searched Church of Ireland records for both Kilkeevan and Portahard for details concerning dates and 
events. And dozens of other current and former residents of Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Galway, and 
Mayo whom we met informally in the course of our research — in shops, in pubs, walking along country 
roads — contributed family memories, anecdotes, tales of local interest, and little- known facts of local 
history to our store. 

Among private collectors of Hyde's books and papers, we are indebted to the late Captain Tadgh 
MacGlinchey, Ciaran MacGlinchey, Aidan Heavey, the Trustees of the O'Conor Papers at Clonalis 
House, and others who prefer to remain anonymous. Hyde figured largely of course in other private 
collections as well. Maeve Morris gave us copies of Hyde items in the Henry Morris Papers. Francis 
Barrett supplied information about the Trinity College Historical Society. C. Joseph Neusse, Provost 
Emeritus, Catholic University, contributed informa- 

tion concerning Hyde's visits to Washington, D.C. G oral dine Willis searched the archives of the 
Representative Church Body. William Flynn, Beverly Goldner, Desmond MacNamara, Frank Martin, 
and John Woolsey tapped other sources, including their own experiences and memories, to provide a 
range of perspectives on Hyde himself, his life and times, and his family background. Among 
representatives of the media in Ireland and Irish booksellers who frequently extended themselves on our 
behalf, we think particularly Andrew Hamilton, Caroline Walsh, and Conor Brady of the Irish Times ; 
the late Michael O'Callaghan of the Roscommon Herald ; Padraig O'Reilly and James Fahy of Radio 
Teilifis Eireann; and the Kenny family of Kenny's Book Shop in Galway. 

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For permission to consult holdings and for assistance in using research materials and facilities we are 
indebted to administrators and staff members of the following libraries and archives: 

In the United States : the Boston Public Library; Bapst Library of Boston College; Mugar Library of 
Boston University; Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Library; Houghton Library of Harvard University; 
Milwaukee Public Library; National Archives of the United States; Berg Collection and Special 
Collections of the New York Public Library; Providence (Rhode Island) Public Library; Morris Library 
of Southern Illinois University; McFarlin Library of the University of Tulsa; University of Wisconsin — 
Madison library; and Golda Meir Library of the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee. 

In Canada : the Harriet Irving Library of the University of New Brunswick. 

In France : the University of Haut-Bretagne at Rennes and the regional libraries of A ix- en- Provence, 
Avignon, Cassis, and Marseilles. 

In England : the British Museum Library, Public Records Office, and Postal Archives. 

In Ireland : the National Library of Ireland; the libraries of the Royal Irish Academy and the Dublin 
Institute for Advanced Studies; the University College, Dublin, library; the Trinity College, Dublin, 
library; and the University College, Galway, library; the Archives of the Trinity College, Dublin, 
College Historical Society and the Department of Folklore, University College, Dublin; the State Papers 
Office; and the Public Record Office. 

In Ireland we profited also from the generous assistance of Peter Beime of the Kilrush branch of the 
County Clare Library, Helen Maher and Helen Kilcline of the Roscommon County Library, Nora Niland 

of the Sligo County Library and Museum, and the staff of the Sweeney Memorial Library in Kilkee. 

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In developing our composite portrait of Douglas Hyde we have depended primarily on Hyde's own 
diaries, letters, mementos, manuscript drafts, and memorabilia and the oral and written testimony of his 
family, friends, associates, acquaintances, and their heirs. Among the published sources we have 
consulted for confirmation of dates, facts, and events, for other images of both the private and the public 
man, and for background, historical context, and multiple perspectives, none has been more useful than 
Dominic Daly's The Y oung Douglas Hyde (1974). We recognize that even in our occasional differences 
we owe much to Daly's pioneer effort; we deeply regret that his untimely death cut short our 
conversations on subjects of mutual interest in the early stages of our work. Many others named above — 
including those personally acquainted with Hyde — also have died in the years since 1978. We mourn 
their passing and regret that they are not alive to see the fruits of their contributions, but we feel 
privileged to be able to preserve here their memories, observations, and opinions. 

In the penultimate stages of our work, Sal Healy of Dublin, Priscilla Diaz-Dorr of Tulsa, and Margaret 
Kendellan of Milwaukee provided cheerful and thoughtful research assistance. Francey Oscherwitz's 
queries encouraged sensible revisions. 

Finally — for his wisdom, patience, and understanding without which we might never have reached this 
point^we are deeply indebted to our editor, Scott Mahler. 

the Generational Imperative - 

In an introductory tale to the Tain Bo Cuailnge , or "Cattle Raid of Cooley," Senchan Torpeist, an Irish 
laureate of the seventh century, convenes the poets of Ireland for the purpose of reconstructing this most 
famous of Irish epics, the centerpiece of ancient Ireland's mythic and cultural traditions. The poets are 
unsuccessful. Asa last hope one of their number is sent to Gaul to recover what he can from a "certain 
sage" there. On the way he stops in Connacht, at the grave of Fergus mac Roich, a major figure of the 
Tain and the last man known to have had the entire narrative in his head. Fergus himself appears; the 
lost epic is recovered; the tradition is preserved intact. 

The concept of a generational link among Irish poets, scholars, heroes, leaders — of the responsibility of 
each, during his or her lifetime, to assure the future by preserving the past — has continued to bind 
successors to Fergus mac Roich and Senchan Torpeist, even to the twentieth century. "When Pearse 

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summoned Cuchulain to his side, what stalked through the Post Office?" asked W . B . Y eats, whose 
poetic vision of modem Ireland etched ancient traditions on the events of 1913-1923. An image from 
the Tain , Oliver Sheppard's Death of Cuchulain , was the nation's answer. Today, guarding the entrance 
to the Dublin General Post Office, it commemorates not only the martyred leaders of 1916 but all of 
Ireland's champions, past, passing, and to come. Bound by tieir generational imperative, poets and 
historians continue to fuse future, past, and present as the years make and remake modem Ireland. 
Visible in the changing pattem — now prominent in the foreground. 

now unnoticed in the background, by tums in and out of focus — is the figure of Douglas Hyde. 

One bright, beautiful day in May 1968 in Frenchapark, county Roscommon — uncharacteristic weather 
for the small west-central Irish village nestled among hill and bog where rains fall generously in the 
spring of the year — a large official vehicle maneuvered confidently along narrow twisting roads and 
through crossroads, attracting the attention of pedestrians and bicyclists engaged in daily errands. 
Beyond the village center, on the road to Ballaghaderreen, it stopped at a churchyard nearly within sight 
of historic Rathcroghan, the plain pregnant with prehistoric monuments where legend has it that the Tain 
began. The familiar-looking stranger who stepped from the car was tall and thin, with the military 
manner befitting a man called "the Chief." Eamon de Valera had come to kneel at the grave of Douglas 
Hyde. With him were his grandchildren. Bob Connolly, the sexton, was the only other person present. 
After a few moments de V alera entered the empty church where the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., rector of 
Frenchpark, had presided from 1867 to his death in 1905. In that church, as a boy, Douglas, fourth son 
of the Reverend Arthur Hyde (third to survive infancy), had listened unwillingly to his father's sermons, 
silently formulating conflicting opinions based on a broader vision of the world. There during his 
adolescent yeans he had obediently but reluctantly conducted Sunday school classes for children of the 
Big House landlords and local squirearchy who comprised his father's flock, and had assisted with other 
church duties. Manhood had taken him to Dublin, to London, to the Continent, and to North America, 
where his own ideas had flourished. Y et throughout his long life he had retumed often to this same 
cemetery of the Church of Ireland in the parish of Tibohine in the village of Frenchpark to kneel at the 
graves of mother, father, daughter, brother-in-law, wife. Here, before Vatican II, in predominantly 
Catholic Ireland, with hundreds crowding near to bid him farewell and thousands more paying tribute 
along the route of the funeral procession from Dublin to Frenchpark, he himself had been buried in 

Far more than an ecumenical gesture, de Valera's 1968 visit to the grave of Douglas Hyde was the 
personal tribute of a younger maker of modem Ireland to his mentor and predecessor; of one old friend, 
old comrade, to another; of modem Ireland's third uachtaran , or president, to its first. It was also an 

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affirmation of the generational link forged by Senchan Torpeist centxiries before, of tlie obligation each 

Irish leader has to Ireland's past and future. Others had come the preceding day to mark the seventy-fifth 
anniversary of the Gaelic League, the organization Hyde had helped to found and had led during a long 
and significant chapter of his life. Churchyard and church had echoed with familiar oratory. But this 
personal pilgrimage Eamon de Valera had chosen to make alone, with only his grandchildren to 
accompany him. He had not come to shout speeches to the crowd, calling out, "People of Ireland! People 
of Ireland!" with the note of urgency characteristic of his public addresses, but to whisper softly to the 
man who, like Fergus mac Roich, had made of himself a link in a great chain of national being, creating 
a commodious vicus of recirculation more accessible than that of James Joyce through which the old- 
new nation, modem Ireland, might be sustained. 

Whispering at the grave of Douglas Hyde in the May sunshine of 1968, de Valera might have recalled 
the mission of the seventh- century poet to the grave of Fergus mac Roich. More likely his memories 
were of his own late-night visits to Aras an Uachtarain when Hyde was president. The purpose of their 
nightly meetings had not been to reconstruct the past but to consider the present and develop strategies 
for the future. Hyde had been de Valera's personal choice for the presidency established under the 
Constitution of 1937. Few had understood why. Even after Hyde's unanimous election in 1938, 
newspapers and gossip mongers had talked of de Valera's "sop" to the Protestant Ascendancy, to the 
Gaelic revivalists, to tiie Trinity intellectuals, and to the Church of Ireland, as if ever in his political 
career this stem man had given weight to such considerations. No, de Valera had chosen Hyde for 
himself — for his experience, his judgment, and his political skills, honed over a period of nearly half a 
century; for his ability to move easily and smoothly in circles of which de Valera had never been part; 
for his shrewd understanding of Americans, Canadians, the British, the French, and the Germans at a 
cmcial time in modem history when an independent Ireland was about to take its place on the world 

By 1938 de Valera, bom in 1882, had been a schoolteacher, a mathematician, a soldier, a leader of the 
republican insurrectionists, and an architect of the Free State. His political strengths had been his 
determination, singleness of purpose, and endurance, his ability to inspire others to degrees of patience, 
fortitude, loyalty, and courage of which they might not have thought tiiemselves capable. Hyde, bom in 
1860, had been a poet, a folklorist, a playwright, a philologist, a literary historian, a university professor, 
an antiquarian, a leader of the Gaelic Re- 

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vival, a pioneer of the Irish Literary Renaissance, and an Irish Free State senator. Cosmopolitan, 
politically sophisticated, and an easy conversationalist comfortable within a wide range of social 
contacts, during fifty years of public life he had proved adept at probing the thoughts and feelings of 
others while revealing little of himself, at signaling from offstage and providing onstage support to 
others who assumed major roles, and at concealing his own confrontational intentions behind a benign 
exterior. On the question of Ireland, the two men had long shared ideals and goals. De Valera was better 
understood, a strong and forceful leader whose life was like an arrow shot through the air. Hyde was an 
enigma, a man whose career, by 1938, had given rise to a myth, an internally inconsistent accretion of 
half-truth, misunderstanding, presumption, expectation, rumor, and opinion that until now has not been 
challenged by evidence. Clues to Hyde's motivation, goals, character, and personality lead through 
public and private records and personal memories to extraordinary conclusions. As in all good detective 
stories, investigation must begin with a review of documented and objective facts, with the public 
scaffolding of the private life. 

- - 2 A Smiling Public Man - 

Douglas Hyde had lived a long and controversial life when, at the age of seventy- eight, he was 
unanimously elected first president of modem Ireland. His seven-year term (1938-1945) coincided with 
that crucial period in modem history when the war that swept Europe and Asia and buffeted the 
Americas not only threatened Ireland's very existence but compounded the social, economic, political, 
and cultural pressures already at work in the self- proclaimed new nation. 

Bom in Castlerea, a market town in county Roscommon seven miles west of the village of Frenchpark 
where he now lies buried, Hyde spent the first six years of his life approximately thirty miles to the north 
in the modest glebe house of Kilmactranny, where his father was rector until 1867. Although still remote 
by modem standards, the county Sligo village already had won the small place in Irish history that later 
fascinated Hyde, for it was here in the early eighteenth century that Donnacha Liath (Denis O'Conor), 
although impoverished during the wholesale confiscations of 1692-1700, had maintained his position as 
descendant of Connacht kings and Irish high kings. In O'Conor's modest cottage Blind O'Carolan had 
played on his celebrated harp the musical compositions for which he was known throughout Europe. 
This same cottage, a refuge for hedge schoolmasters and unregistered priests during Penal times, often 
had sheltered O'Conor's banished brother-in-law, the daring Bishop O'Rourke, who traveled the country 
disguised as "Mr. Fitzgerald" under the nose of English soldiers. 

'The Hill," the handsome Georgian mansion in Castlerea where 

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Douglas Hyde was bom (since altered by later owners), was not his own family home but the glebe 
house of Kilkeevan parish, home of his maternal grandparents, the Venerable John Orson Oldfield, 
archdeacon of Elphin and vicar of Kilkeevan, and Maria Meade Oldfield, daughter of Frank Meade, Q. 
C, of Dublin. Elevated by the hill that gave the house its name, in 1860 it looked across Main Street and 
over the walls and gardens of the Sandford demesne, now Castlerea town park, on the banks of the river 
Suck. A few hundred yards along the same street was the more modest birthplace of Sir William Wilde, 
a distinguished eye surgeon and antiquarian, son of the town doctor and father of Oscar Wilde. Although 
Oscar himself was bom in Dublin in 1854, long after his father had left Castlerea, local memory 
continued to associate the house with the Wilde family. Prevalent in Hyde's boyhood were mmors, 
persistent even today, of a mysterious message scratched on a back window. When its street-level rooms 
were converted to a pub, the name given it was the Oscar Bar. At the time of Hyde's birth historic 
Clonalis — the walled estate at the edge of town on the Castlebar road that is still held by the 'Conors of 
Connacht — was the home of Charles Owen 'Conor Don, M.P., great- great- great- grandson of Donnacha 
Liath of Kilmactranny. Preserved and expanded by 'Conor Don, its extensive library and manuscript 
archive reflected then as today the interests of Donnacha Liath's son and grandson, Charles 'Conor 
("the Historian") of Bellangare and Dr. Charles 'Conor, scholar, translator, and librarian to the Duke of 
Buckingham at Stowe. Distinguished visitors included not only well-known political figures but scholars 
from England and abroad. As a young man invited to visit the forty-four-room mansion with its halls 
and dining room lined with portraits of 'Conor ancestors, Hyde had examined there such ancient Gaelic 
manuscripts as the fourteentii- century Book of the Magauran (now in the National Library) and the 
earliest known fragment of Brehon law. At Clonalis also he had stood wondering before the harp that 
O'Carolan had played in Kilmactranny. 

Hyde's paternal grandfather was the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Sr., vicar of Mohill, a town near Dmmsna, 
where Anthony Trollope, then a post office inspector, had found the germ of his first novel. The 
Macdermots of Ballycloran . As a lineal descendant of Sir Arthur Hyde, whose reward for service to 
Elizabeth I had been a knighthood and letters patent to 11,766 acres of county Cork, he belonged, 
however — through a junior line — to the Cork Hydes of Castle Hyde, a celebrated estate on the 
Blackwater that had remained the family seat until 1851. Father, 

grandfather, and great-grandfather before him had served the Church of Ireland since the seventeenth 
century. Regarded before disestablishment as more social and economic than religious in nature, the 
respectable career the church provided — as Lady Melbourne had advised her son William — was 
particularly suited to younger sons. Indeed, had William's elder brother not died, clearing the way for 
him to become Lord Melboume, he would have had neither the means nor the social position to rise as 
he did to prime minister and so earn his place in English political history. 

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No providential deatli having intervened to raise the eighteenth- century family of Douglas Hyde from 
junior-branch status, son followed father: the heir of the Reverend Artiiur Hyde of Hyde Park, county 
Cork, became the Reverend Arthur Hyde, vicar of Killamey. His marriage to a daughter of George 
French of Innfield established a connection with the Frenches, the family of Lord de Freyne, proprietary 
landlord of Frenchpark. So it was that in 1867, when he was appointed rector of the parish of Tibohine, 
the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., son of the Reverend Arthur Hyde of Mohill and father of Douglas Hyde, 
moved his family to Frenchpark, to live among country squires and landed gentry in a social 
environment more favorable than that offered by Kilmactranny. Neighboring kinsmen in Frenchpark 
included not only Lord de Freyne but his brother, John French, whose Roscommon estate, Ratra, was 
later to become, in 1893, the home of Dr. Douglas Hyde. 

Such a pedigree was not the kind from which controversy ordinarily might be expected, nor was there 
anything apparent in Hyde's childhood or youth that pointed to the many and various careers that were 
later to engage him. When he grew old enough to handle fishing rod and gun, he was included in the 
sporting activities his father organized with his sons. But as Douglas's two brothers, Arthur and Oldfield, 
were in general too old to be his companions and his sister, Annette, who was five years his junior, was 
too young, most of Hyde's days were spent alone with his dog. Diver, or tagging along behind amiable 
workmen, or with the sons of neighboring cottagers from the glebe lands and nearby estates. Crossing 
meadow and bog on these daily rambles, he often stopped for a cup of tea and a biscuit in the thatched 
cabins that dotted the countryside. His welcome was warmest in those in which Irish was the primary 
language, where it was a matter of some amusement that the master's boy had an ear for the language 
and liked to try his few phrases on willing listeners. Douglas's interest in Irish won at- 

tention at home, too, where until he and his brothers were old enough to assert different aspirations both 
the Reverend and Mrs. Hyde assumed that all three of their sons would follow the family tradition and 
enter the ministry. The church, advised the Reverend Hyde, when young Arthur and Oldfield mocked 
Douglas for making a serious study of what they considered a language of servants, was particularly 
interested in young men who might qualify for a living in one of the areas to the west where Irish was 
still dominant. But Douglas — who was educated at home, as were his brothers and sister, in his father's 
well-stocked library — also was given to understand that history, natural science, mathematics, the 
classics, and Continental languages and literature were more important subjects, in which one day he 
would be required to pass entrance examinations for admission to Trinity College. 

Before his sixteenth birthday Douglas had acquired the informal elementary education in the Irish 
language and Irish history and the interest in Irish folktale and song which he then began to pursue 
through self-directed study of texts bought in secondhand bookstores on rare boyhood trips to Dublin. It 

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was in a Dublin bookstore when he was not yet eighteen that he first met members of the Society for the 
Preservation of the Irish Language, an organization of which 'Conor Don of Clonalis was a founding 
member and officer. Through the society he was introduced to the old manuscripts and rare books of the 
Irish- language collection of the Royal Irish Academy and to new friends who encouraged his attempts at 
translating and writing original verse in modem Irish. Before he was twenty- one his Irish poems and 
translations had appeared in periodicals published on either side of the Atlantic, and he had been 
accepted as a cultural nationalist by fellow members of both the sedate and literary society and its 
splinter organization, the more activist Gaelic Union. 

Meanwhile there was Trinity to be concerned about. Admitted in 1880 to the divinity program through 
which, from the sixteenth century, sons of the Ascendancy (including his own father and grandfathers) 
had received their university education, Hyde quickly won a reputation as an outstanding scholar. To his 
father it seemed that for Douglas a career in the church and a living in Irish- speaking Mayo was assured. 
Hyde himself was ambivalent, especially when he discovered that Trinity circles equated an interest in 
modem Irish with nationalism and regarded nationalists as anathema. Despite the disapproval of 
influential faculty, he not only continued his membership in the society and the Gaelic Union but joined 
the beautiful and radical Maud Gonne, 

the flamboyant young Y eats, and other women and men of their age and class in a circle called "the 
Y oung Irelanders" (after the revolutionary Y oung Ireland movement of the 1840s) that clustered around 
John 'Leary, an old Fenian leader retumed from exile. Y et to most people Hyde seemed harmless 
enough, for between 1886 and 1890, having eamed B.A., M.A., and LL.D. degrees, he appeared intent 
on becoming nothing more dangerous than a Dublin man-about-town: a gentleman scholar who spent his 
days in the library of the Royal Irish Academy and his evenings at theaters, concerts, and dinner parties; 
a convivial member of proper clubs; a familiar and socially adept figure at teas and tennis parties who 
talked easily about his travels to English watering holes and the fashionable and scenic gatiiering spots 
he had visited on the Continent; an aspiring candidate for a respectable university post in literature and 

This appearance of indolence and indifference was misleading. By the time Hyde was thirty, his 
scholarly publications (at which he had been working in fact very seriously) were attracting as much 
attention as his published poems and translations; his growing intemational reputation as an authority on 
Irish folklore and as a theorist and methodologist in the new field of folklore scholarship was bringing 
him respectful inquiries and requests for assistance from eminent scholars abroad. Had he not been 
opposed (because he advocated educational support for modem Irish) by such powerful political 
academicians as John Pentland Mahaffy, later provost of Trinity College, he might have had the Irish 

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university post he coveted. But on tiiis issue Hyde was as implacable as his enemies. Alternatives were 
few until an invitation to Canada to serve a one-year term as interim professor of modem languages at 
the University of New Brunswick offered an opportunity beyond Mahaffy's sphere of influence. 

In Fredericton, where life was both pleasant and comfortable, Hyde soon began to weigh the possibility 
of emigrating permanently to Canada or the United States. His duties, which he enjoyed, included 
teaching French and German; he quickly acquired a circle of congenial friends; he became fascinated 
with the language and culture of nearby native American tribes; and he set for himself such compatible 
scholarly tasks as that of comparing native American folklore with the folklore of Gaelic Ireland. Y et at 
the same time, in what seemed a strange departure to acquaintances who knew of such activities, he 
sought contacts with such men as O'Donovan Rossa and Patrick Ford, known Fenians and Irish 
compatriots who were unwelcome in Ireland because of their 

political activities. And in his diaries and in notes that he sent home he attempted to gauge Irish- 
American reactions to contemporary events in Lord Salisbury's England and Pamell's Ireland. Although 
Hyde's letters from Canada cite his father's illness as the deciding factor in his return home at the end of 
his New Brunswick year, they also reflect his strong support of Charles Stewart Pamell and his interest 
in the trials and scandals that had weakened Pamell's position and divided public opinion on the question 
of his reelection. 

By October 1891 Pamell was dead, and with him the energy, excitement, and hope he had generated. 
The Pamellite nationalists were in rout; the entire Home Rule party was in disarray; the populace was 
too discouraged to respond to political attempts to rally them. Back in Ireland, Hyde had retumed to his 
usual circles, where his reputation was enhanced by the success of Beside the Fire, published in 1890 
and the first of his books to establish his work as an important source for the young writers of what was 
soon being called "the Irish Literary Renaissance." Word from abroad was that his poems and 
translations, reprinted in Paris and Rennes, were being enthusiastically received on the Continent, 
especially in Paris and Brittany where Celtic studies had become a growing area of scholarly 
investigation and a pan-Celtic movement was gathering popular strength. He was receiving letters 
soliciting his new work from both popular and scholarly publications. 

Elected president of the newly organized National Literary Society in 1892, Hyde boldly chose as both 
title and theme of his inaugural speech "The Necessity for De- Anglicizing Ireland." Its call for cultural 
revolution raised few alarms among English authorities, apparently because they could not conceive of 

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an effete literary circle that was seditious, or of folktales, folk songs, and traditional games that could 
pose a clear and present danger to the state. Nor did the government take notice a year later, in 1893, 
when Hyde was chosen first president of another new organization, the Gaelic League. Officially its 
policy was to avoid conflict with the British government by steadfastly maintaining a nonpolitical 
stance. Unofficially it engaged in activities expressly designed and publicly proclaimed to have as their 
purpose the fulfillment of the goals Hyde had set forth in his speech on deanglicization. But the prime 
reason why Hyde's tentative plans for a return to Canada were dropped was tiiat his friendship with Lucy 
Cometina Kurtz, an attractive, intelligent, and intellectually independent young heiress to whom he had 
been introduced by his Oldfield aunts, had ripened into engage- 

ment. By 1893 they were married. As the turn of the century and his fortieth birthday approached, 
Hyde's professional and private life were by all appearances both promising and satisfying. 

During the next twelve years Hyde continued composing, collecting, and translating the Irish stories and 
poems that provided, according to Y eats, the "entire imaginative tradition" that stirred the writers of the 
Irish literary revival. His scholarly studies — expanded to include philology and literary history — drew 
inquiries from such eminent academicians as Harvard's Fred Norris Robinson and Georges Dottin of the 
University of Rennes. His circle of friends grew to include the distinguished German Celticist, Kuno 
Meyer. By 1899 Hyde had published A Literary History of Ireland, a full-length pioneer study still 
regarded as authoritative. Persuaded by Lady Gregory and W. B. Yeats to join their newly formed Irish 
Literary Theatre, forerunner of Dublin's famous Abbey, he successfully tried his hand at writing original 
plays in Irish for its repertoire. By 1905 he had composed a corpus of Irish plays performed throughout 
the country and available in print, and he had preserved hundreds of poems and stories from the oral 
tradition in such collections as Beside the Fire (1890), Love Songs of Connacht (1893), The Three 
Sorrows of Storytelling (1895), and Songs Ascribed to Raftery (1903). Extracts of his work that 
appeared in translation in France and in English- language periodicals in the United States and Ireland 
had attracted enthusiastic readers who, writing to editors, were requesting more. So varied and prolific 
were Hyde's activities in the years between 1893 and 1905 that Y eats publicly compared him to Frederic 
Mistral, the Provengal poet and founder of the Felibrige who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1904. 

During these years the Gaelic League, still led by Hyde, also was gathering strength, abroad as well as in 
Ireland, and political and revolutionary pressures for Home Rule were increasing. Despite the clearly 
political implications of many of his activities, Hyde continued to maintain a nonpolitical stance and to 
insist that his own and the league's efforts were confined within a purely cultural framework. In 1899, 
with testimony from eminent scholars from abroad to support him, he defeated the governors of the 
British education system in Ireland on the question of the validity of formal study of the Irish language. 

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In 1900 he took on the British Post Office in an epic battle that ended in a Pyrrhic victory for Goliath, so 
numerous were those who came to the aid of David. Word of these successes traveled, winning new 

for Hyde and the Gaelic League not only in Ireland but also in England, on the Continent, in Canada, the 
United States, Mexico, Argentina, and even in the Phillipines and far-off Australia. 

As through branches and affiliate organizations the influence of the league spread, Hyde's personal 
popularity increased correspondingly. In persuasive letters urging Hyde to present a series of lectures in 
the United States, John Quinn of New Y ork, a wealthy Irish-American philanthropist and lawyer, 
declared that academic and community groups in fifty-two American cities were eager to sponsor an 
eight-month tour, if he would but agree. Among prominent Americans who showered Hyde with 
invitations in 1905-1906, as he crossed and recrossed the United States and Canada by rail, carriage, and 
boat, were the presidents of Harvard, Y ale. Catholic University, the University of Wisconsin, and the 
University of California; the daughters of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; 
Andrew Carnegie; Finley Peter Dunne (Chicago's famous "Mr. Dooley"); and President Theodore 
Roosevelt. All San Francisco seemed to embrace him: its citizens responded generously to his request 
for financial contributions to continue the league's efforts on behalf of Irish culture and the Irish 

The year before his fiftieth birthday Douglas Hyde began a new career as professor of modem Irish at 
University College, Dublin. Among his students were women and men who later taught Irish in this and 
other Irish universities. Some were appointed to the distinguished faculty of the Dublin Institute of 
Advanced Studies. Two months after Hyde's fifty-sixth birthday a small host of brilliant young men 
whom he had inspired and taught went to their deaths in the Easter Rising of 1916. He had opposed their 
action not, as is often stated, because he was against physical force as a means of gaining national 
independence but because he feared that their brave vulnerability would result in just such a blood 
sacrifice at a time when he believed that all alternatives had not yet been exhausted. Armistice in 1918 
provided relief for neither Douglas Hyde nor Ireland. Physically ill, emotionally depressed, and beset by 
personal and family troubles and tragedies, he struggled to regain his equilibrium as Ireland struggled 
through the war of independence (1918-1921) and the civil war (1921-1923) that hampered efforts to 
build the limited self-government permitted under the divisive Treaty of 1921. Called upon to serve in 
the Free State Senate in 1925, Hyde readily assented, hoping to find relief from the sorrows of his 
personal life in renewed political activity and his continu- 

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ing commitment to scholarship, writing, and teaching. What he found instead was a factionalism that 
forced him to expend most of his energies on defending himself from personal attack in a climate in 
which old alliances were often abandoned and new ones were quickly repudiated. At the end of his 
senate term Hyde nevertheless made a bid for reelection — and lost. 

During the next seven years, at an age when most men contemplate retirement, Hyde continued to 
devote long hours of every day to his teaching and scholarship and to Lia Fail, a new literary journal in 
Irish studies that he had launched. Meanwhile anti-Treaty republicans who had been boycotting the Free 
State government reentered politics with the purpose of winning by election what they had been unable 
to gain by guerrilla warfare. Eamon de Valera, American- bom survivor of the Easter rebellion, war of 
independence, and civil war, a committed nationalist who had been one of Hyde's young Gaelic 
Leaguers, soon emerged as the dominant political leader. His success was greeted by some as a sign of a 
new political optimism. To many dispirited citizens of the Free State it seemed that Thomas Davis's 
promise of a nation once again might yet be fulfilled. On de Val era's agenda was the writing of a new 
Constitution that would eliminate the provisions of the treaty he had opposed and establish the 
framework of the republic he had long envisioned. 

In 1937 de Valera persuaded Hyde — then seventy- seven, retired from the university, but still actively 
engaged in scholarship at home in Roscommon — to return to Dublin to serve a second term in the Free 
State Senate. On December 29, 1937, the new Constitution was ratified. In the spring of 1938, at de 
Val era's insistence, Hyde agreed to stand for the office of uachtaran, or president, that had been created 
by the new Constitution. The same document silently abolished the Irish Free State, establishing by fiat 
the independent modem Irish nation called Ireland, or Eire. In May all political factions united to elect 
Douglas Hyde first president of an independent Ireland. For himself de Valera had reserved the post of 
taoiseach, or prime minister. 

Seven years later, in 1945, at the end of a first full presidential term that had spanned the difficult war 
years, Hyde was asked if he would stand for a second term. He was eighty-five years old and he had 
suffered a stroke that had left him unable to walk, but his mind was as young and curious, his wit as 
active, and his commitment to the Irish nation as firm as ever. Nevertheless, he declined: the character of 
the office of president had been shaped under his aegis; it was time, he 

believed, for someone else to take a hand in its future development. This time, however, instead of 

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retximing to his native Roscommon, he wanted to remain in Dublin, characteristically close to the action. 
"Little Ratra," a home in Phoenix Park near Aras an Uachtarain, was made available to him. There he 
died, modem Ireland's first elder statesman. 

Energetic, amiable, eminently approachable, an easy conversationalist and a charismatic speaker in 
several languages, Hyde was the kind of man whom people liked to refer to by nickname. In the Big 
House milieu in which he had been brought up, he was "Dougie." To the millions who knew him best 
through his work on behalf of the Irish language, he was "An Craoibhin," (from An Craoibhin Aoibhinn, 
"the delightful little branch," an Irish pen name he had adopted as a young poet). His sister, Annette, 
called him "Humpy," a name she had given him in childhood, when to her it seemed that whenever she 
wanted his company outdoors, he was bent over book or notebook. To his daughters he was their 
affectionate, prank-loving "Tweet." Yet he was also, contemporaries avow, an enigmatic figure, a 
strange and complex man with a private self kept well hidden from others and a goal-oriented capacity 
for callousness and thoughtlessness that shocked his most intimate co-workers whenever it emerged. 
Remembered by the people of northwest Roscommon as among the kindest and friendliest of the local 
gentry, he was also capable, they admitted, of a petty stinginess. In social circles he was regarded as a 
devoted husband and father, yet to this day private recollections and rumors of both serious and short- 
term romantic attachments persistently circulate. Widely perceived as a man dedicated to a cause, he 
was a puzzle to many who openly wondered at a commitment that, given his class, birth, and social 
status, cost him so much and held so little personal promise. On occasion his emotional involvement 
became so intense as to lead him to betray a friend. At the same time he was amused rather than annoyed 
by associations drawn between his name and that of the protagonist of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. 
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . After his death conflicting statements by others concerning the date and place of 
his birth raised questions about his parentage. Unchecked by formal investigation and published 
evidence, over the years anecdote, rumor, recollection, and opinion have been quoted as fact. 

Known thus to everyone and no one, Douglas Hyde, a maker of modem Ireland, died in 1949, leaving 
behind him no easy explanations of his life story but diaries, letters, copybooks, and joumals, written 

mostly in Irish but also in English, French, German, and occasionally Latin and Greek, to be sifted and 
winnowed in search of tmths. His published writings include not only his own work, translated and 
published in many different countries, but his collaborations with Lady Gregory and W. B. Y eats. 
Among hundreds of correspondents from all over the world whose letters he answered, usually within 
twenty-four hours of receipt, were such disparate figures as Theodore Roosevelt, president of the United 
States; Katharine Tynan, distinguished poet; and Eoin O'Cahill, a native Irishman who had left Ireland 
as a young man but who retumed to it in spirit at the end of his life when, living in Michigan, he 

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refashioned figures from Irish mythology to create stories in Irish of the American Wild West. Hyde 
touched the lives of thousands; hundreds preserved recollections of specific incidents that reveal aspects 
of his character and personality. His wide circle of close friends was as varied as the range of his 
correspondents. To tiie end of his days it included Maud Gonne, whom he had once tried to teach Irish; 
Sinead de Valera, who had played the Fairy to his Tinker in his play The Tinker and the Fairy ; the 
'Conors of Clonalis in Castlerea; An Seabhac (Padraig 6 Siochfhradha), folklorist of Dingle; Thomas 
Lavin, a former Frenchpark neighbor and a contemporary, father of the Irish writer Mary Lavin; old 
comrades from the Gaelic League; and the Mahons and Morrisroes of the cottages just outside the gates 
of Ratra, the home two miles from the center of the village of Frenchpark in county Roscommon that 
had been purchased for him from the estate of John French by the Gaelic League. 

Today an afternoon's ramble that takes as its starting point the remains of the foundation of the now 
ruined Ratra passes over nearby meadow, along bog roads, through farmyards, and by stone cabins, 
many also in ruins, where 128 years ago a clergyman's son learned his first Irish words and the 
transformation from Douglas Hyde to An Craoibhin and an t-uachtaran began. Not far from the cottages 
outside the gates, in which there are still Mahons and Morrisroes who remember Douglas Hyde, is the 
cemetery in which he lies buried, next to the church in which the Reverend Hyde served as rector from 
1867 to 1905. 

Behind these public facts there was a private life. 

- - 3 The Budding Branch - 

February 28, 1940, was brisk and cold. A chill wind swept through Phoenix Park, rattling the great 
windows of its three stately homes, former residences of British government officials. From the 
chimneys of Aras an Uachtarain, official residence since 1938 of the president of Ireland, smoke from 
turf fires rose and quickly dispersed, its unmistakable scent evoking warm recollections of distant 
cottages in hearty Dubliners walking or cycling nearby. During the hard winter months past, to relieve 
distress caused by wartime shortages, the president had ordered that the mansion's coal stores be 
distributed among the people of Dublin. A turf fire was in any case what he himself preferred, nor did he 
mind giving up dusty bins of shiny black coal for the velvet- brown stacks from midland bogs that he 
now had the pleasure of seeing when he took an occasional turn outdoors, striding along purposefully or 
stopping to banter with a workman, his long woolen muffler and the smoke from his pipe both curling 
around and behind the collar of his tweed jacket. 

Built as an eighteenth- century ranger's lodge, Aras an Uachtarain had been enlarged in 1816 to create a 

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proper viceregal residence for tiie British lords lieutenant who then governed Ireland. It was at that time 
that the wings and portico that give the mansion its neoclassical appearance had been added, hastily and 
not yet completely renovated in 1938 to serve as the home of the first Irish president it needed just such 
touches as a turf fire, in its new occupant's opinion, to give it a proper Irish flavor. Similar patriotic 
sentiments, he sometimes ex- 

plained to visitors, his eyes wide and shining with feigned innocence, led him to keep a small flask of 
poteen in the presidential study. Michael McDunphy, secretary to the president, frankly disapproved of 
the poteen — and had not been so sure of the turf. An efficient, conscientious, and serious man favored 
by de Valera for the newly established government position to which he had been appointed even before 
Hyde's election, McDunphy worked hard at the job of hiring and heading the presidential staff, assuring 
its efficient operation, establishing protocol, maintaining liaison between Aras an Uachtarain and other 
branches of the government, and communicating through diplomatic channels and the media with the 
world at large. Stacking turf outside the presidential mansion was just one of many things he had to be 
concerned about, for fear of what the newspapers might make of it. McDunphy was right, of course — 
from previous experience Hyde knew that political cartoonists, like cats, should never be overfed — but 
in this case wartime exigencies allowed the president to have his turf and the people of Dublin to have 
their coal, yet left the caricaturists, good hunting cats all, still lean and hungry. 

Caricaturists and cats both figure in Irish history — probably because, as a monk with an ironic bent 
observed some eleven centuries ago, they employ similar skills: 

I and Pangur Ban my cat, 'Tis a like task we are at: Hunting mice is his delight. Hunting words I sit all 

The original of that old Irish poem — found in Austria, in the margins of a manuscript of a codex of St. 
Paul — was well known to Hyde. Asa young man he had made oblique and playful allusion to it in a 
mock lament he had written in modem Irish, about the loss of a kitten, companion of his study, on which 
a portly friend had sat. Himself a Gaelic scholar, translator, and poet, Hyde admired the way in which 
Robin Flower had hunted and caught the flavor of the poem in a singsong English different from Kuno 
Meyer's earlier and more literal verse translation. The German Celticist, an old friend, had struck a nice 
balance beween scholarly integrity and poetic sensibility, but Flower's greater concern for the spirit of 
the original was more consistent with Hyde's own translation ethic. 

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Better far than praise of men Tis to sit with book and pen; 

Pangur bears me no ill will, He too plies his simple skill. 

On this Febmaiy day in 1940, that was Hyde's task: to ply his simple skill with words. Warmed by the 
turf fire in his study, he sat at his writing desk, his sturdy figure hunched over three sheets of blue four- 
by-six-inch notepaper, his rounded back to the door. 

'Tis a merry thing to see At our tasks how glad are we. When at home we sit and find Entertainment to 
our mind. 

Less able to find time to entertain his imagination since taking office as president, Hyde delighted in 
opportunities such as the one before him tiiat combined duty with pleasure. His task was to make a 
rough draft of what he planned to say to an audience of schoolchildren on the subject of studying Irish. 

Oftentimes a mouse will stray In the hero Pangur's way; Oftentimes my keen thought set Takes a 
meaning in its net. 

Seeking meanings that he might catch in his nets, Hyde looked up from his work to glance through 
French windows, past formal gardens, at the high, white sky beyond. It was an old habit of his, resting 
his eyes on the sky while he was thinking, learned when he was a boy of twelve or thirteen and had 
begun to have the soreness of his eyelids that had plagued him off and on ever since. A nuisance, that 
soreness of the eyes. Fortunately it had never completely disabled him, nor had he ever let it interfere 
seriously with either his reading or his writing, not even at home in Roscommon, where it always 
seemed worse. If some days through habit he found himself looking up at the sky more often than usual, 
it was not always to rest his eyes but to search for — what? 

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'Gainst the wall he sets his eye Full and fierce and sharp and sly; 'Gainst the wall of knowledge I All my 
little wisdom try. 

In his presidential study in Aras an Uachtarain, whenever his glance strayed first round the room and 
then through the French windows to 

the sky above the garden, the sky was full of wheeling gulls. A great country for birds, Ireland. Even in 
the center of the city, in the reading rooms of the National Library, they could be heard scuffling on the 
roof and screaming overhead. In Roscommon, in that same sky continually covered and uncovered by 
scudding gray clouds, a teal might be dropping back to the sheltered ledge bordering the lake near 
Caoile from which the entire flock had arisen, moments before, at the sound of a hunter's first shot. At 
Ratra, if the turlough in the far field were larger today, a lapwing reflected in its shallow waters would 
be an easier target. If not, for the hunter's gun there were always the omnipresent crows silhouetted in 
the leafless trees of late winter. 

Though miles away in Dublin, any Roscommon man would know from the look of the sky how the air 
smelled west of the Shannon, how the wind felt on a reddened cheek. Days toward the end of February 
often were fine there: brisk and cold, with perhaps a light dusting of new snow to limn the prints of a 
saucy hare after a week's thaw. In the early, frosty morning on just such a day as this when he was a boy 
Hyde used to walk down to Cloigionin-a-naosc's in snow that squeaked underfoot; flush a snipe at the 
flash; return home slowly, sometimes stepping in his own earlier footprints, grown large since he had 
left them. On such a day, as a boy, he often went out again after supper, sending Diver to retrieve a 
jackdaw shot close by the house or running along well-worn paths, the dog at his heels, to enjoy for a 
while in the lengthening twilight the comfort of Seamas Hart's turf fire and the warmth of his 

Such thoughts of the past inevitably crowd out the present when a writer faces the kid of task Hyde had 
before him on that last Wednesday in February at the start of his eighty-first year, a winter's day with a 
promise of spring in the air. To think what would draw a response from children requires remembering 
what it is like to be a child. 

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When a mouse darts from its den how glad is Pangur then! what gladness do I prove When I solve 
the doubts I love! 

Hyde wrote and crossed out and wrote again. Sixty-five, seventy years had passed since he was a boy. 
Curious turns and twists of fate separate youth and age. A memory that would bridge the distance 
between himself and the children he soon would meet that was what he needed: something that would 
persuade them that near the end of the journey 

of life the old must look to the young for assurance of that continuity of effort that is their last earthly 
reward. Would the children respond to such a memory? How would they regard him? Would they listen 
to what he had to say? Or would they squirm, suppressing giggles and yawns, wishing the event over, 
the old man gone? If Hyde could have met each youngster separately, coaxed from the eyes of each the 
mirror of his own, surely they would have become friends. Protocol, however, required that the president 
of Ireland address schoolchildren in groups. 

Hyde always had had an easy rapport with children. Summers in Roscommon in the years before his 
wife became ill, while she chatted with other ladies in the drawing room at Clonalis, he used to play 
hide-and-seek with the six 'Conor girls, up and down stairs, behind chairs, under beds, and through the 
forty-odd rooms of the "new" house (so-called to distinguish it from the old one, down by the river, 
abandoned in 1872 after the first wife of Charles Owen 'Conor Don died there of the tuberculosis that 
also had killed his mother). Hyde liked visiting Clonalis with Lucy, even when none of the 'Conor men 
was about, not only for enjoyment of the children but for the pleasure of past associations. Castlerea was 
a familiar seven-mile drive from Frenchpark village; it was just nine miles from Ratra, the old John 
French estate forever associated with Seamas Hart where he expected that one day he would end his 
days. The road through the top of the town passed the nine-hole Clonalis golf course where he still 
sometimes played when he was home, then curved along high stone walls past the great iron gates of the 
estate on its way to Castlebar. When he and Lucy had business to transact in Castlerea they would turn 
left onto Main Street before reaching Clonalis, cross the bridge over the river Suck, and pass the post 
office on the left, to the market square. The road entering from the right a few yards beyond ran down to 
the railroad station. On one side of this road, at the junction of Main Street, was Kilkeevan Church, 
where he had been baptized; on the other was the Hill, then the glebe house of Kilkeevan parish, home 
of his grandparents, where he had been bom. His grandfather Oldfield had died later that year. Sometime 
after, his grandmother and unmarried aunts, Maria and Cecily, had moved to Blackrock, in county 
Dublin. In addition to Maria, Cecily, and his own mother (her name was Elizabeth, but everyone called 
her Bessie), the Oldfield daughters included Ann, wife of Dr. William Cuppaidge, the physician who 

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was always called to treat his chronic soreness of the eyes and other family ailments. 

Charles Owen 'Conor Don, whose first wife had died at Clonalis, 

had known the Oldfield family. He had been a young man serving his third year in Parliament when 
Douglas Hyde was bom. The O'Conors also had known the Wildes, Oscar Wilde's father and 
grandfather. Sir William, who had received his early education at the Elphin Diocesan School, had left 
Roscommon for Dublin long before Oscar was bom, so Oscar and Douglas had not been acquainted as 
children. George Moore, however, who had grown up at Moore Hall near Partry in Mayo, used to tell of 
summertime boating and picnicking, himself and his brother Maurice, with the Wilde boys, Oscar and 
Willie, on Lough Carra. As a young man Hyde had been fascinated by stories of the boys' mother. Lady 
Wilde, who called herself "Speranza" and who had written poetry for the Nation . 

Febmaiy 28, 1940: more than seventy-nine years had elapsed since the Venerable John Orson Oldfield 
had been laid to rest behind the iron gates of the overgrown Church of Ireland cemetery on Castlerea's 
Main Street, across from Kilkeevan Church; almost tliirty-six since Charles Owen 'Conor Don had 
taken his place in the family plot of the Roman Catholic cemetery adjacent to Clonalis, his ancient title 
passing to first one nephew and then another. Oscar Wilde had died in 1900. George Moore was dead, 
too; it was seven years since his ashes had been buried on an island in his silver-green lake. Where were 
the 'Conor girls on this crisp winter morning? Married, some of them — Jo working in London for the 
British Foreign Office. On a postscript to a letter, Hyde had written that he could not send her his love as 
long as she held that job. 

But on this Febmary day Hyde had no time to reflect either on the curious convergence of personalities 
associated with Castlerea or on the whereabouts of the six 'Conor sisters. The work at hand had 
nothing to do with Frenchpark or Castlerea or any other part of his native county. The children for whom 
he was planning his brief talk were not those he had known as Roscommon neighbors and friends. Who 
was he to these young citizens of a new and different Ireland? A symbol — their first constitutional 
president? How old he must seem to them, how distant his memories of the past. Would they understand 
that once upon a time an t-uachtaran had been a child like each of them? Could he talk to them perhaps 
not as their president but as An Craoibhin Aoibhinn, the poet, playwright, and folklorist whose work 
they had read or recited? If he had taught their parents or teachers, some might have heard of him as the 
Dr. Hyde who had been professor of modem Irish at University College. He was often photographed for 
the newspapers, 

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greeting visiting scholars and otlier dignitaries from abroad. But what do children care about scholars 
and dignitaries? What do they care about? Wars, heroes, history? What had he cared about when he was 
a boy? 

Against the high, white sky over Phoenix Park there rose in the mind of Douglas Hyde the image of a 
small boy, not more than ten years of age, who had been taken from his native Connacht bog and 
mountain across the troubled Irish Sea to England. A crowd of other boys surrounded him, mocking him 
because (the written words leaned forward as Hyde wrote, straining to outdistance his pen as they raced 
uphill across the page) "nach raibh me cosamhail leo fein" (I was not like them). One boy — Hyde 
recalled wryly that he was "in the same situation as myself" (that is, another Irish boy in England) — led 
the attack, calling Hyde an "Irish Paddy." Hyde wrote out the scene in Irish, that he might reconstruct it 
for the children he was to address: "Never say that again," he had threatened the boy, raising his fists. 
"Y ou're nothing but a lazy loafer; I can beat you any day. I speak your language as well as you, and can 
you say a single word of mine? Y ou had better realize that I'm twice the man — the double and better of 
yourself. And you, you grinning half- brain, you make fun of me and call me names." 

"I was young then, and hot-tempered." Hunched over as Annette always remembered him, Hyde 
continued his recollection, contracting the size of his letters in his haste to finish before his remembered 
emotions cooled, excusing the fury of the embattled child he had been as he became again the elderly 
president of Ireland. But a blaze is not easily extinguished, even after seventy years, especially when it 
has been kindled by thoughts of injustice; firm and clear were the letters of tiie words with which he 
ended his account: "I still think I was right." 

He had it then, three full sheets of notes and phrases from which to develop what he would say to the 

So in peace our tasks we ply, Pangur Ban, my cat and I; In our arts we find our bliss, I have mine and he 
has his. 

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All he needed to finish his task were a few final words in Irish to encourage the children to continue 
their study of the national language. 

Each of you, every boy or giri among you . . . you can say as courageously and truly as I did that you are 
the better person, twice over! But you can't say it without your own language, so don't lose a bit of your 
Irish, because if you 

do it is history that you lose. Speak Irish among yourselves, for fear of losing it. And don't be timid — it 
won't be long before Irish spreads all over the worid. 

As he worked the little drama into his speech, for a short while Hyde was no longer, as he sometimes 
complained, a bird in a gilded cage. He had rummaged through memories of his childhood to find his 
characters; he had turned the clock back to set them moving and talking. He was a guest again at Coole 
Park, working on the script of a new play that he would read out to Lady Gregory and Y eats after dinner. 
At Coole, when he finished the scene he was working on, he used to walk down to the lake to watch the 
swans before dinner. At Aras an Uachtarain, he might take a turn around the house to enjoy the 
turfragrant air. 

Practice every day has made Pangur perfect in his trade; I get wisdom day and night Turning darkness 
into light. 

Had such an event as Hyde described occurred when he was ten? Did it take place in England? Were the 
circumstances as he related them? In the diary of his eighteenth year he had recorded in retrospect a few 
facts about his brief and only school experience, apparently the kernel of his story. It had taken place 
when he was thirteen: "My brother Arthur went to college in the year 1871 and my other brother 
Oldfield did the same in 1875. 1 stayed all the time safe at home except in 1873 I hurt my left thigh." 
The leg injury had set him back in his studies. He was sent in consequence to a "thieving school in 
Dublin" where he remained about three weeks and "learned nothing." Dissatisfied with the quality of the 
school, his father soon had withdrawn him. 

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Hyde's later accounts of this experience, separately retold by his daughter, Una Hyde Sealy, and his first 
biographer, Diarmid Coffey, suggest other reasons for his withdrawal: on the one hand, a case of 
measles; on the other, the Reverend Arthur Hyde's unwillingness to shoulder the cost of Douglas's 
tuition. Between these two sources there are discrepancies also in just how long Douglas remained at the 
school before he was taken home. The school is not named, but Una Sealy was sure tiiat it was in 
Kingstown, now Dun Laoghaire, a suburb south of Dublin, rather than in Dublin proper. Coffey agreed, 
adding that only the shortness of Hyde's enrollment "prevented his becoming as Anglicised as most 
Dublin schoolboys," for such Irish schools, catering as they did to upper-class families, were modeled on 
English boys' 

schools. Recreating the experience in 1940, Hyde seems to have mirrored reality not as it was but as it 
might have been. Creating a scene reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies, he increased the tension 
between boy and setting by repositioning his remembered self in England rather than Dublin, then 
enhanced the potential for conflict by providing his boyhood persona with the verbal ability to defend a 
principle he but half understood against a half- felt wrong. 

The truth is that in 1873, when Douglas Hyde was thirteen, he could not have made any honest claim to 
being an Irish speaker. His excercise books indicate that what he then knew of the language probably 
was limited to at most twenty or thirty common phrases. These he had but recently begun to record as 
part of a newly serious effort to learn Irish, which until then he had simply parroted. His new method 
was to listen carefully to the Irish speakers who lived and worked on the glebe lands, at nearby Ratra, or 
at the edge of the bog; to repeat the sounds he thought he had heard; then like a magpie to take them 
home and store them in his exercise book, together with their meanings, using a phonetic system he had 
devised for himself. Such a primitive program of study was possible because, contrary to the conclusions 
of 1851 census takers who had identified northwest Roscommon (a sparsely settled midland area west of 
the Shannon, bordering Leitrim, Sligo, and Mayo) as largely English-speaking, when Hyde was a boy 
many men and women of hill, hollow, and bog (including those employed by Hyde's father and other 
local landlords) still spoke Irish among themselves or used a mixture of Irish and English in their daily 
lives. In the cottages of Frenchpark, Fairymount, and Ballaghaderreen, even in some of the houses in 
Castlerea, Irish was therefore the first language of countless very young children and the only language 
of most ould wans — women and men in their seventies, eighties, and beyond who spoke the local north 
Roscommon dialect that has now long since died out and who were revered for their wisdom and 
memory and respected as guardians of cultural lore and traditions. Contemporary scholars suggest that 
their dialect probably was close to the Irish still spoken today in Menlo, in east Galway. 

The content of Hyde's beginning Irish vocabulary was restricted, of course, by the context in which it 

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was learned. The first expressions he reconstructed in his exercise book involved shooting, drinking, 
agricultural chores, marketing, and the weather Sometimes in the shop in Ballaghaderreen or at the fair 
in Bellanagare, he would eavesdrop on other Irish speakers, testing his comprehension. Although Hyde's 

brothers shared his environment, neither took the trouble to learn to communicate in Irish, nor 
apparently did their father. It is almost certain that Hyde's upper-class schoolfellows in Kingstown 
would have known no Irish either. These were the boys whom Hyde apparently set out to impress with 
his bias (fluency), going so far as to pretend not only that he was bilingual, but that Irish was his native 
tongue. With twenty or thirty phrases at the ready to hurl into the contest he set up, there is no doubt that 
he would have had the advantage, if he had found anyone who considered a knowledge of Irish worthy 
of the challenge. Naive as he was at thirteen, with so little experience outside his native Roscommon 
(was this the reason why, in retrospect, he thought the incident in the schoolyard had occurred when he 
was only ten?), possibly he expected that his arcane knowledge would confer upon him the status a new 
boy always needs. His ability to rattle off an expression in Irish had won indulgent attention at home. 
Even his father, a Trinity graduate for whom education meant fluency in Latin and Greek, had shown 
interest in the increasing number of Irish words he was able to use, and Douglas's brother Arthur had 
told him that at Trinity College, Irish speakers were eligible to compete for a sizarship. " Maith an 
buachaill " (good boy) and "Good on you, boy," the country people of Tibohine would say, smiling and 
shaking their heads as if in amazement, whenever he mastered a new phrase. 

Reactions in Kingstown were predictably different. To be sure, scholars did study Irish at Trinity 
College, then a bastion of Ascendancy attitudes and culture in the center of Dublin, but by "Irish" Trinity 
scholars meant the old language of Continental scribes that had been deciphered by European 
philologists, the classical language of bardic poets, or the literary language of chroniclers and historians 
artfully inscribed on parchment or vellum. Regarded not as the heritage of modem Ireland but as 
artifacts of a lost civilization, such manuscripts, many of them collected a century earlier for the Duke of 
Buckingham by Dr Charles O'Conor, the duke's librarian, were accessible only to those who could 
qualify for admission to the libraries and manuscript rooms of Trinity, Oxford, the Royal Irish Academy, 
or the British Museum Library, or to such private holdings as the family archive of the 'Conors of 
Clonalis. But the unrecorded daily language of thatched hut and bog cabin? To suggest that such Irish 
had any relation to the language of the manuscript tradition was, to most nineteentii- century scholars, to 
equate the cries of Italian street vendors with the poems of Catullus and Horace or the superstitions of 
Greek seamen 

with Homer's Iliad and Odyssey . No wonder the Kingstown schoolboys laughed and jeered. 

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By the time Douglas realized that contrary to his expectations, native fluency (real or pretended) in 
modem Irish would not enhance his stature in the Kingstown school — that on the contrary, it would 
actually diminish him in the eyes of the other boys — apparently he had gone too far to reverse himself. 
His spirited defense, if delivered at all (the words remembered in 1940 for delivery to Irish 
schoolchildren may represent only what Hyde wished he had said) no doubt seemed in retrospect the 
right answer to their jeers. In 1873, in a school for Ascendancy boys, it could not have been more than a 
brave front after which Douglas returned to Roscommon and to a life that went on much as it had 

To Dominic Daly, author of The Y oung Douglas Hyde, Hyde's Roscommon childhood seemed idyllic. 
Free from school routine, with a boat and a horse at his disposal, a dog for companionship, and 
unencumbered hours to spend rambling the countryside, boxing with local youtiis in the glebe house 
farmyard, playing cards in the kitchen with gamekeepers, stewards, and farm laborers, or listening to 
Irish stories before cottage fires, it had a Huck Finn quality. These were indeed pleasant days when 
together the rector of Frenchpark and his three sons constructed targets for rifle practice, checked the 
turlough in the meadow for waterfowl, hunted birds and rabbits, and rowed, sailed, and swam in Lough 
Gara. But Douglas's diaries also document tension and unhappiness, especially between sons and father; 
illnesses that eroded family relationships; and an angry resentment of the tyrannical and unpredictable 
behavior of the Reverend Arthur Hyde. 

A microcosm of all that Trollope had portrayed of western Ireland, especially in The Macdermots of 
Ballycloran — its complexities misunderstood by Englishman and Dubliner alike, its way of life alien to 
the anglicized eastern establishment its attitudes and values rooted in cross-currents of written and 
unwritten history — the town of Mohill in county Lei trim where the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., grew up 
in the half century before disestablishment had defined for him the choices available to the son of a 
clergyman bom in Leitrim in 1820 into the junior branch of an Ascendancy family. By heritage he was 
thoroughly Ascendancy, by social and educational background he was thoroughly Anglo- Irish. To 
continue in the family tradition, to become the fourth Reverend Arthur Hyde of tiie Church of Ireland, 
was for him an appropriate choice at a time when the social fabric and economic and polit- 

ical mores of the west of Ireland could be counted on to support his taste for security on the one hand 
and independence on the other. 

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At Trinity College the Reverend Arthur Hyde distinguished himself as an excellent classicist. In the 
churches to which he was assigned he served as a man of the cloth on Sunday; the rest of the week he 
divided between his library, where he enjoyed the role of gentleman scholar, and the fairs, fields, and 
bogs where he was known as a handsome, devil-may-care country squire and sportsman. For his sons he 
wished no more than that they, too, should become country vicars, learn to shoot accurately and drink 
lustily, carry out their responsibilities civilly, and devote themselves, as behooved Hydes of their birth 
and breeding, to a gentlemanly kind of scholarship. 

Scholarship was important to the Reverend Arthur Hyde: Trollopian in many respects, he was a 
dignified man, not a Somerville-and-Ross Church of Ireland minister. Proud of his achievements at 
Trinity (he had been awarded the bachelor of arts in 1839, when he was but nineteen, and a second-class 
divinity testimonium a year later), at home he quoted Greek and spoke Latin to his sons, insisting that 
they develop a similar fluency, especially before servants. (It was this practice, carried over by his sons 
Arthur and Douglas in their diaries, that resulted in entries in which " nova ancilla " signaled the arrival 
of the new housemaid, to be followed shortly by " ancilla expulsa est .") In Kilmactranny he was 
remembered as a man who eageriy studied the natural world, especially the medicinal properties of local 
plants and the habits of birds and animals. No subject was too esoteric to warrant his attention. Additions 
to the library of the glebe house were made regularly. Douglas notes in his diary that invariably the 
packages his father brought home from his frequent trips to Dublin included new books for the library 

But the Reverend Arthur Hyde was neither so patient nor so reflective as his love of reading and 
scholarship might suggest. "Passionate" was the adjective employed by old Bertie McM aster of 
Kilmactranny when he recalled stories that the elders of his generation used to tell, of how the vicar 
bullied the young men of the parish into joining his cricket team, then raged at them during practice 
sessions for their unskilled performance; how he pilloried boys and giris who had not learned their 
Sunday school lesson; how he stopped in the middle of a Sunday sermon to scourge latecomers; how he 
was known for miles around as an exemplary shot — a man who, drunk or sober, could knock a magpie 
off a pig's back with a single bullet or catch a plover in flight. 

In Frenchpark, in the pubs along the road between the village and Tibohine, local people who 
remembered the rector would say of him with a smile and a wink, "He was a playboy, he was. 

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Unorthodox, impetuous, strong- willed, scarcely the reticent and reserved Christian clergyman portrayed 
in some biographical sketches of Douglas Hyde, the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., was not a man to accept 
disappointment or disobedience from his sons nor to encourage meekness by example. Inevitably there 
were clashes. His disagreements with young Arthur, although heated, were usually intellectual. His more 
frequent quarrels with Oldfield at times ended in violence. To the Reverend Hyde a thigh injury would 
not have been an acceptable excuse for Douglas's falling behind in his studies. Capricious as well as 
contentious, he was clearly capable of one day, without warning, packing the boy off to the hated 
Kingstown school — and then withdrawing him just as quickly tiie next, especially if the school failed to 
meet his exacting standards. Chronic attacks of gout (brought on by chronic drinking) did not improve 
his normally irascible nature. If he had no patience with the shortcomings of others, he had less with his 
own: his illnesses were perceived by him to be both a deficiency and a curse. Y et he was also a man of 
boundless energy and ingenuity who could tackle drains and the souls of the damned with similar 
enthusiasm, devise and construct mechanisms for moving rocks, labor alongside the hardiest workmen 
during haying or harvest season, encourage his sons to match and surpass his own ability at sports, and 
in a dozen other ways present himself as a father to admire and emulate. About money he was at times 
miserly, at times generous. Although in private he mouthed a narrow bigotry particularly upsetting to 
Douglas, his behavior toward Catholic tenants, workmen, and neighbors was above reproach. Frequently 
unreasonable, in general (except for one lengthy feud with Oldfield) he did not hold a grudge. 
Frequently penitent, his resolutions to change his ways did not last either. A mercurial man capable of 
softness, understanding, high good humor, pigheadedness, irrational anger, and boorishness, all within 
the space of minutes or hours, he was neither easy to love nor easy to despise, although by turns he 
inspired these and other strong emotions in all three of his sons. 

Following his return from the school to which he had been briefly banished, Douglas appears to have 
coped with his unpredictable father by assiduously meeting his obligations and concealing feelings that 
would not meet with parental approval, meanwhile subtly distancing himself. Y et to most people he 
seemed a typical adolescent, wandering off on his own with his gun and his dog; seizing opportunities to 

into town or to a local fair with Connolly, his father's steward; helping Dockry, a workman, with minor 
repairs; matching his strength and skill in boxing and broad-jumping against that of cottage boys near 
his own age. But in the notebooks in which he faithfully wrote out tiie academic exercises that were 
assigned but rarely reviewed by his father, he also allowed himself opportunities to exercise his 
imagination in ways that provide early clues to the character, personality, and attitudes beneath his 
untroubled mask. 

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Most Striking in Hyde's boyhood exercise books is his playful delight in words — whether in English, 
French, or Irish — and his aptitude for using them to set mood and create character. His earliest 
constructions are easily recognized projections of himself introduced in roles devised for his own ironic 
amusement. Complaining, for example, of chronic soreness of his eyelids, adolescent Douglas chose a 
mock-heroic stance, a popular verse form, and third- person narrative in French to make light of his 

J'ai grand mal aux mes yeux, Dit le brave D.H. J'ai grand mal aux mes yeux, Dit le brave D.H. 

J'ai grand mal aux mes yeux, Aux mes yeux si beaux et bleus, Mais enfin je suis au bout, Dit le brave D. 

Very different although of approximately the same date is the limited diction, wavering tone, uncertain 
rhythm, and unmusical meter of his rhymed composition extolling the pleasures of alcohol, written in 
unpunctuated schoolboy English: 

What drink is so nice Asa tumbler of punch Hot with lemon and spice Just after one's lunch. 

Lordpunch is the loveliest beverage can be Tis the wholesomest sweetest and nicest of all And the 
greatest restorer I ever did see After weakness or illness a shake or a fall. 

Punch must not be made carelessly or badly If you would wish to thoroughly enjoy it The water must be 
boiling fierce and madly For if it is not so you will destroy it. 

Give me punch both hot and strong And I'd ask for nothing more I would drink all evening long Till I 
fell upon the floor 

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Now I feel my head is going Round and round tlie room dotli spin One glass more to overflowing And I 
think I'll turn in. 

Different again is the melodramatic diction and swashbuckling, declamatory style of the voice of his 
rebel patriot: 

Let each son of Erin unsheath his bright blade Let the ruthless oppressor insult us no more We'll avenge 
our houses in ruin low laid We'll avenge the injustice they've done us of yore. 

Because the Reverend Hyde's educational method was to assign lessons, establish the levels of 
achievement he expected, make books available, and then leave his sons to arrange their own study 
schedule in the tradition of the English tutorial system, Douglas was free to play his verbal games 
whenever he pleased, without fear of a schoolmasterly reprimand. From time to time, apparently at 
Douglas's own request, his brother Arthur would review his work, especially his English essays and his 
translations from Latin; Cecilly Hyde, his favorite aunt, helped him with his French. Irish was a 
language he had to learn viva voce, from such tutors as Seamas Hart, Mrs. Connolly, and Biddy 
Crummy, for although many native speakers learned to write English in school, Irish remained for them 
the oral language of cottage and field. Using symbols and spellings from French, Greek, English, and 
(later, when he was introduced to it) German, Douglas devised for himself as a study aid a phonetic 
system through which he could record in writing the useful phrases, wise sayings, and snatches of poetry 
and song that he was then acquiring daily. " Noreya ve dhoul rotin, " Douglas's phonetic rendering of 
nuair bhi an diabhal ro-tinn (when the devil was very sick), a case in point, begins one of many Irish- 
language stories he transcribed in his exercise book, using the system he had developed. A similar 
system was devised by Jeremiah Curtin, the American- bom folklorist and linguist (at his death he 
reportedly commanded sixty languages) who in 1887, 1891-1893, and 1899 collected and recorded Irish 
folktales using symbols and spellings from German, French, and Polish. 

With young Douglas thus occupied to his own and his father's satis- 

faction, life in the glebe house of Tibohine parish settled for a time into a reasonably pleasant routine. 

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Sundays everyone in the family went to church where (unless crippled by gout or otherwise "not well") 
the Reverend Arthur Hyde preached temperance, gentleness of spirit moderation of behavior, verbal 
restraint and other virtues he did not practice at home. Sometimes Lord de Freyne attended the service, 
after which Lady de Freyne often invited Mrs. Hyde to Frenchpark for luncheon or tea. Annette usually 
accompanied her mother and helped entertain Lady de Freyne and other visitors invited in turn to the 
glebe house, but Douglas rarely joined them. In his early adolescence he was particularly wary of social 
situations that required him to be cordial to girls of his own age, especially Lady de Freyne's daughter, 
whose mother seemed intent on their becoming friends. More to his liking were invitations to Ratra, then 
the estate of John French, Lord de Freyne's brother, where open fields that sloped down to Lough Gara 
offered good shooting almost any time of the year. 

Among frequent visitors to the glebe house there were always aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, chiefly 
from Mohill, Galway, Cork, and Dublin, whom singly and together Douglas's family visited in return, 
often for days and weeks at a time. Again, as much as possible, Douglas avoided such visits, preferring 
his rambles at home, alone or with Seamas Hart, Lord de Freyne's gamekeeper. Drumkilla, the home of 
the Mohill Hydes, was an exception. Although modest in size by Ascendancy standards, to Douglas it 
was spacious and charming. Neat comfortable, and attractively furnished, built high on a hill 
overlooking a wooded pond, on a fine day it offered a view of four counties from its large and graceful 
windows. By contrast the glebe house of Tibohine stood in a grove of trees that obscured distant views, 
even as it provided shade and shelter from the wind. When Douglas returned from Drumkilla his own 
house always seemed to be unpleasantly small, dark, and cluttered, with books, papers, clothing, guns, 
rackets, balls, and other items — all the paraphernalia associated with the multiple daily activities of its 
occupants — scattered about At Drumkilla, moreover, where servants were not new and inexperienced 
and no one had to endure the Reverend Arthur Hyde's quick temper, household affairs ran smoothly 
under Frances, eldest of the Reverend Arthur Hyde's five sisters, with the help of Douglas's unmarried 
Drumkilla aunts, Cecilly and Emily. Frances's husband, FitzMaurice Hunt archdeacon of Armagh, 
encouraged Douglas's Irish interests, sometimes bringing him books from Dublin. Nearby lived Anne, 
who was married to John Kane of Mohill 

Castle. And in Mohill, in addition to Drumkilla and the Castle, there were other Big Houses, estates of 
family friends and distant relatives, where Douglas was always welcome at luncheons, tennis parties, 
teas, and dinners. 

At home, although Douglas's time was neither scheduled nor supervised, he was surprisingly organized. 
Weekdays he devoted to reading, study, and daily chores, relieved by occasional trips with William 
Connolly to Frenchpark, Ballaghaderreen, or Ballina to buy shot whiskey, ale, stout and other 

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provisions or to attend local fairs. Late afternoons he often boxed with Michael Lavin. In summer he 
spent the long Irish daylight hours at the lake, swimming, boating, and fishing. For sheer pleasure and 
sport, shooting — at targets, birds, wild rabbits, whatever the season could offer^was the glebe house 

In season the Reverend Arthur Hyde and his sons seem to have nearly decimated the Roscommon bird 
population. Hundreds of teal, partridge, lapwing, redwing, snipe, rook, grouse, curlew, and duck fell 
regularly to their guns, according to the family's monthly bird-kill statistics, charted by both gunman and 
species of bird, with additional notes on the number of hares that had been shot. Keeping these records 
was initially Arthur's responsibility. In the fall of 1873, with Arthur preoccupied by his studies at 
Trinity, Douglas was appointed to this task. That same year the Hydes acquired Diver, an excellent 
retriever that was always at Douglas's heels. In late autumn and winter the spirited dog added to the daily 
excitement focused on the rise and fall of the turlough that lured migrating waterfowl to nearby 

Externally at least, except for Douglas's brief enrollment in the school in Kingstown, little disturbed or 
disrupted Hyde family life in the years 1873 and 1874. Aside from Douglas's measles and thigh injury, 
his father's chronic complaints, his mother's asthma, and such minor ailments as colds and unspecified 
aches and pains, family health remained reasonably good. The comings and goings of neighbors, 
parishioners, friends, uncles, aunts, and cousins provided occasional diversion (in season, when there 
were enough to play, cricket and tennis were favorite games) as well as opportunities to enjoy the 
company of others. Father and sons enjoyed — or so it seemed — an easy companionship. 


In March 1874, Douglas Hyde began another journey. This time it was no voyage out, nor did it require 
that he board the 

train from Ballaghaderreen to Dublin as he had when he had been taken to school in Kingstown. Instead, 
by means of a simple diary whose field of exploration was his own consciousness, he traveled inward. 
His vehicle, neither elegant nor new, was an old cash book covered in mottled paper that had been used 
by his mother for household accounts. Along with scratched-out sums and abbreviated notes, its inside 
cover was inscribed twice with her name ("Bessy Hyde," and then "Bessie Hyde"), twice with his own 
("D. Hyde," partly obscured by a large inkblot, tiien "Douglas Hyde," with flourishing capitals). Douglas 
added also a drawing of a snub-nosed witch or dunce with unruly hair. In this first of many diaries Hyde 
was to keep throughout much of his long life, he set out to discover worlds not yet imagined, even in his 

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fourteen-year-old fancy: external worlds that he helped to create; worlds within him that developed 
gradually as, traveling silently and alone through his inner universe, his more daring leaps of dream and 
imagination undetected, he was assured protection from the kind of misstep or misjudgment that in 1873 
had made him the butt of schoolmate jokes and jibes. 

Among educated Victorians, diaries were, of course, commonplace. The nineteenth century, R. L. 
Stevenson had once declared, was the age of the optic nerve in literature. Letters and journals of the 
period typically contain visual observations and descriptions that provide a continuing source of 
information about Victorian society. But the nineteenth century also prized subjectivity: it was an era of 
confession, reflection, and self-examination. In its private and public writings, documentary as well as 
fictional, what appear to be external truths often mask inner responses to outer realities. Toward the end 
of the century psychological novels and tales were increasingly in vogue; even short fictions serialized 
in newspapers as "letters," "journals," or "true accounts" reveal the trend toward subjectivity. 

Books and newspapers were numerous in the Hyde household, yet at first Douglas's boyhood diary, 
unaffected by popular fashion, seems much like that of any country- bred fourteen-year-old: 

Got new boots from Narry on Feb 1 Had two new lambs on March Snow on March 9. Heavy on March 
10 Pa made a double shot at snipe at the flash on March I shot a jackdaw Pa shot two snipe on March 10 
Pa shot a jackdaw Snow & frost on March 11 Pa shot a jackdaw on March 12 

Thaw on March 12 Began thathing [ sic ] the cowhouse Out shooting shot a partridge & field hare on 
Mar 13 Took a ride on the pony Pa went to French park fine day 14 Sunday Fine day 15 Wet day 16 
Fine day 17 Fine day. Shot a seagull, took a ride Pa out shooting. Shot 2 snipe 18 Finished thaching 
[ sic 1 the cowhouse 18 Hart gave me a black-thorn 18 Connolly began harrowing 18 Rough day. Pa out 
shooting shot a snipe. Ma's sheep had two lambs 19 Fine day. Ma's sheep had a lamb. 20 Arthur came 
home from Dublin. Wet day. went to London on the 21 Sunday 22 Arthur out shooting and shot a 
snipe, fine day took a ride on the pony 23 Hart gave Arthur a black-thorn on the 23 Very fine day. Pa 
and Arthur went to Cornwall [the Irish town, not the English district] Connolly harrowing. I sowed some 
oats 24 Connolly branded the lambs. Pa shot a couple of rooks for the oats. Fine day. Connolly bought 2 
calves at Ballagh a derreen [ sic ] for f 12 s 10 25 Connolly harrowing, pretty fine day. Pa went to 
Slievroe [ sic ] & gave cigars to a man who had astma [ sic ] on 26th Had a third lamb. Very wet day. 
Harrowed a little 27 

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Although the voice of these entries — matter-of-fact noncommittal, emotionally remote from events 
observed — strongly resembles the diary voice of Douglas's older brother Arthur at the same age, Arthur 
was far neater than Douglas and wrote with a businesslike dispatch. The diary of his adolescent years 
was also more efficiently circumscribed in terms of purpose: with few exceptions he confined his terse 
accounts to the arrival and departure of housemaids, the daily bird kill, and lessons completed. Typical 
of Arthur's diaiy entries, "7 November 1866. Shot 2 redwings, did 30 lines of Salust" provides, 
characteristically, few clues to anything beyond his immediate concerns. 

Unfocused and unhurried, Douglas's very different chronicle meanders like the river Suck, washing 
impersonally over a broader range of observations: the weather, the activities of others, changes in flora 
and fauna, anything that happened into his stream of consciousness at the moment of writing. At times 
the stream narrowed to a trickle, leaving wide margins and interlinear spaces to be filled with sketches 
and doodles. Some sketches are caricatures. One labeled "owner of this 

book" shows a male figure holding a bouquet Others — detailed drawings of guns, flintlocks, pistols, 
tumblers, and pitchers on tables — display a draftsmanlike skill. Words wind between and around these 
illustrations, their letters difficult to contain within narrowly ruled lines. Wherever Douglas's pen 
paused, ink formed pools that obliterated what he had written, sometimes obscuring half a page or more. 
When the stream moved on he did not bother to rescue what had been lost At times his pen moved 
hastily, uncertainly, impatiently scratching out letters that had not been formed as intended. 
Occasionally he lingered over a page, embroidering his firm, round, open letters, double-inking and 
thickening lines, shading spaces, and enhancing capitals with elaborate flourishes and curlicues. The 
leisure he devoted to these graphics contrasts with the short shrift he gave to the syntax, diction, and 
punctuation of his elliptical sentences and phrases. 

Despite similarities in diary voice, Douglas at fourteen was in fact the opposite of his brother Arthur in 
almost every respect Nor was he much like Oldfield or even Annette, although with his sister he always 
had a strong bond of affection and understanding not evident in his relations with his brothers. As in 
many families, these differences in personality seem related in part to sequence of birth. Arthur, bom 
November 10, 1853, had been named not only for his own father and the three earlier Reverend Arthur 
Hydes who had preceded the rector of Tibohine into the ministry but also for the Arthur Hyde who had 
been knighted by Elizabeth I and had established the Irish branch of the family in Cork. The burden of 
family tradition and expectation fell heavily upon him. Oldfield, bom almost a year to the day after 
Arthur, was so close in age as to be constantly paired with him, as if the two were twins, creating a 

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situation tliat Oldfield often vehemently rejected. Douglas, the fourth son, bom January 17, 1860, was 
separated from his elder brothers not only by an expanse of years but by the intervening birth of Hugh, 
who did not survive infancy. Fifth and last bom May 19, 1865, was Annette, younger than Douglas by 
five years (therefore much younger than Oldfield and Arthur), and the only daughter. Her brothers were 
understood to be the care and responsibility of their father; different attitudes and expectations shaped 
her future and placed her, during childhood and adolescence, under her mother's supervision. 

More removed than his brothers and sister from his father's passions and his mother's concems, Douglas 
had in some respects the easiest childhood. Less closely supervised, he was freer to come and go 

tioned, to let his imagination wander, to speculate on aspects of his own nature and the nature of others, 
and to sketch and doodle and experiment with ways of putting his thoughts and feelings on paper in the 
poems, prose pieces, and drawings of 1873-1876 found in his exercise books and diaries. 

It was in a diary entry of March 28, 1874, that Douglas tested a new voice, different from any he ever 
had used before — his own voice in Irish: "Wet day - Thoine moisther war shane a I'oure ulk de Arthure 
oge [italics ours]. Had a fight with the gloves with Michael Lavin. Pa made a double shot at rooks for 
the oats." He had previously used his phonetic system to copy into his exercise book Irish words and 
phrases that he had heard, but this was his first recorded attempt to put his own thoughts and 
observations into a form of written Irish. 

Among Hyde scholars, Dominic Daly has devoted the most time and effort to analyzing Hyde's phonetic 
script and suggesting readings for key passages. "Thoine moisther," he notes, a recurrent phrase in 
Hyde's boyhood-diary Irish, and the two words with which the March 18, 1874, Irish entry begins, is 
easily identified as ta an maistir (the master is); "shane" is surely se fein (himself), with the f aspirated as 
it usually is in conversation. Less convincing is Daly's suggestion that "a I'oure ulk de Arthure oge" may 
be transliterated as a labhair olc de Arliiure 6g , which Daly translates as "who spoke badly of young 
Arthur." A major problem is "war," for which Daly tentatively offers i bhfeirg (angry), admitting that it 
does not provide tiie link necessary to make sense out of the whole. 

An alternate reading, based on identifying "war" as "bhfuair" and "I'oure" as leabhar , provides - Ta an 

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maistir, an bhfuair se fein an leabhar olc de Arthure 6g? (ungrammatical Irish for "The master, did he 
himself getytake the bad book from young Arthur?"). This not only makes sense but has the virtue of 
credibility, given the Reverend Arthur Hyde's relationship with his eldest son. Omission of the an before 
bhfuair is easily explained by the fact that it is scarcely audible if not dropped altogether in conversation; 
for similar reasons an before leabhar would be reduced to "a." As for the question mark, even in English, 
Douglas was careless about punctuation, so its omission cannot be considered significant. A parlor 
game, however, easily could be made of other possible readings. 

More significant than a literal translation of this uncertain line is the way in which Douglas's new voice 
introduced in his diary entry of March 28, 1874, drops the purely objective, matter-of-fact, and non- 

committal stance imitative of Arthur to express, if only obliquely, perceptions concerning his 
relationships with those around him. This new persona changes figure and ground: it presents him as an 
observer rather than a participant within the family circle. Its diction is that of Seamas Hart, William 
Connolly, Mrs. Connolly, the Lavins, and Dockry, the Irish country people with whom his unsupervised 
days were spent. It interposes distance between himself and selected others. Although Daly regards 
"Thoine moisther" (the master), "Arthure oge" (young Arthur), and (in later entries) "Thoine 
moisthuress" or "moistrass" (the mistress) as merely a result of Douglas's "having picked up his Irish 
from listening to the servants and the local people who had dealings with the Rectory," the effect of 
these terms is to emphasize separation. The Irish equivalents of "Pa" and "Ma," the English terms 
Douglas normally used to refer to his father and mother, are "Da" and "Mam," not "thoine moisther" and 
"thoine moistrass" — and as he never, in English or Irish, referred to his father by his first name, he had 
no reason of course, to add "oge" (Irish 6g , young) to "Arthure" to distinguish brother from father. 

That Douglas's shift in figure and ground is intentional and specific is evident in its selectivity: although 
names of other family members (e.g., "Fiach" for Hunt; "Sisilla" for Cecilly) are Irished, the people 
themselves are not distanced but rather drawn along with Douglas into his new milieu. As Douglas 
developed greater fluency in Irish, his Irish persona (which he later referred to as "Dubhglas de h-Ide") 
used language with an even greater sophistication that reflected on the one hand ambivalence toward felt 
social and psychological relationships within each of the two worids to which he belonged, and on the 
other hand acceptance of the duality of his own attitudes and emotions. Clearly he did not want to 
discard his English persona but to maintain distinctions between the English and Irish selves he had 
identified within him. His treatment of his relationship with James, or Seamas, Hart, is a case in point: In 
English entries the voice of the narrative I is that of the son of the Reverend Arthur Hyde, kinsman of 
Lord de Freyne; the gamekeeper, called simply "Hart," is presented as a minor figure. In Irish entries, 
the narrative I is a country boy; the gamekeeper, called "Shamus," is a major presence, a loved and 

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respected friend, companion, and father figure. 

As Douglas's use of Irish improved and increased, examples of his hidden persona proliferated, 
revealing emotional qualities of hitherto unrecognized perspectives and relationships. Eventually his 
visible and 

invisible selves were reintegrated in the public figure known to the world as An Craoibhin, but in 1874 
and for some years after, only his diaries held evidence of how different young Douglas was from the 
boy his family and friends thought that they knew. 

In the months that followed March 28, 1874, Douglas introduced French in addition to Irish into his 
diaiy entries. When his vocabulary in one or the other did not provide the words he needed, he 
sometimes combined the two languages in a single hodgepodge expedient. At first he advanced faster in 
French, but as a small but steady stream of new Irish words were added to his phonetically written Irish, 
he found new opportunities to use what he called "Gaeliclish." On April 19 he completed in Irish a 
sentence begun in Greek. These verbal experiments signaled not only his future linguistic interests and 
ability but also the extent to which language was for him what paint is to the artist or sound to the 
composer: a means of self-expression, a medium for interpreting life. 

For Douglas, progress in Irish did not come easily. It required repeated modification of the simplest 
phrases as his ear detected new aspects of non-English sounds. Alert to differences in pronunciation and 
intonation patterns among individual speakers, he constantly varied the form in which he recorded 
common expressions. Before he wrote he tried each phrase himself, twisting his tongue around strange- 
sounding phonemes as best he could, searching for English-language sounds that could be combined to 
indicate them. If Irish lines in his diary are sometimes undecipherable, it is because this form of 
mimicry, based on what he thought his ear had heard as well as what his tongue had tried to reproduce, 
at times resulted in strange constructions. 

Like most students of Irish as a second language, Douglas struggled also with syntax. However much he 
tried to guard against intrusions from English, in the process of weaving simple Irish sentences into short 
descriptive passages he inevitably mangled constructions. Some nonstandard expressions that he 
continued to use long after he achieved fluency were not, however, the result of his own linguistic errors 

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or misunderstandings but adoptions from tiie changing idiom of nortli Roscommon which became a 
bogus currency when that dialect vanished. 

By spring of 1875 Douglas was able to sustain a short written narrative in both French and Irish. But 
while French diary entries revealed an acquaintance with literature as well as language, Irish 

entries — which he continued to write phonetically — reflected only the oral culture. For the moment there 
was no remedy for this situation, for he was without either tutors literate in Irish or Irish books from 
which he might learn to read and write on his own. Then in August Hyde found in a storage cupboard of 
the glebe house an Irish- language Church of Ireland catechism left behind by one of his father's 
predecessors. With the English version readily available as a trot he immediately set himself the task of 
learning to form Irish letters, spell Irish words, and understand Irish grammar. 

Asa result of Douglas's experiments linking voice and language, three personae began to take shape in 
his diary entries during 1874-1876. Chief among them was of course his English persona, expressed in 
the public voice so much like that of his brother Arthur. Very much that of a squire in the making, it 
presents him as prosaic, proper, restrained in his expression of feelings, uncritical in his acceptance of 
his own social and economic position, confident and satisfied. The idiom of upper-class English is 
evident in its diction (e.g., "fetched capitally" to describe Diver's performance in retrieving a duck 
downed by his gun). Its interest in the environment is focused on sports and on the practical aspects of 
estate management. It is the voice of privilege and plenty, of the writer of the drinking songs recorded in 
his exercise book, of an Ascendancy lad who regards ample supplies of porter, whiskey, and tobacco as 
perquisites of a young squire's life. 

With this English persona filtering out any hint of unpleasantness, Hyde's diary in English shows little 
evidence of family tension, incompatibility, anger, resentment or even mere disagreement: it paints a 
family portrait in which brothers, sister, mother ("Ma"), and father ("Pa," or "Governor") enjoy a genial, 
stress- free relationship in a benign world. Unmentioned is the agrarian unrest that threatened the Irish 
social order of the 1870s. Awareness of the violent character of nearby confrontations is evident only in 
the report that at the Sligo races four landlords, "Harman King & 3 others," were "stabbed by a man of 
the name of Clancy." Little else suggests concern with contemporary political or intellectual issues or an 
interest in world events. Shooting is the major interest the goal of Douglas's English persona being 
always to increase the number of "things" killed. No empathy for bird or animal, no awareness of one as 
a living creature, is ever expressed. The "things" themselves are regarded as no more than targets. A list 

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at the end of the 1875 diary names the books Douglas has been reading, but 

their texts are not discussed, nor is there any mention of daily lessons or recitations. The general 
impression (accepted by Dominic Daly and Diaimid Coffey) is that as a boy Douglas Hyde was "no 
bookworm." If it were not for his exercise book of 1873-1876 and a later, more detailed diary account of 
his reading and study during this period, it would be easy to assume that, scholastically, Douglas was the 
unidentified dunce who sometimes shows up in his drawings. 

The persona presented in Douglas's diary entries in French is strikingly different. It expresses a 
reverence for life and ambivalent feelings toward the killing of a hare in an account of an incident in 
which he is the boy with the gun: "I tried to take a shot at one of the rabbits, but the gun failed me 
because the powder was wet," begins the French text. Subsequent shots also fail as the rabbit crouches, 
trembling, before him. Finally, "the fourth time I killed him. The poor rabbit was so filled with fear that 
he could not move." Other French entries reveal a persona that is less lusty, more sophisticated than 
Douglas's English persona. Boastful accounts of drinking sessions are reduced to wry references to a 
brief " malade " both caused and remedied by drinking " I'eau de vie ." Response to the natural beauty of 
the world is poetically if inaccurately and ungrammatically expressed in such lines as "lis avait 
beaucoup de astres dans le soir." The French persona celebrates a capacity for tenderness and sensitivity 
that he repressed — for a time at least — in English. It demonstrates also a greater interest in " un livre ." 

Douglas's Irish persona seems shier and less sophisticated. It immediately retreats to sidelined observer 
in situations involving members of his own immediate family but is foregrounded when, alone and 
conscious of the natural world on a frosty morning, it expresses a sense of being at one with the 
universe. In the company of Hart, Lavin, Mrs. Connolly, and other Irish speakers (all referred to by their 
names in Irish), it is described as socially engaged, sitting before the fire, drinking, smoking, and 
talking. Its gregariousness in this company contrasts with the reserve of the solitary persona of English 
entries whose encounters with local people (referred to by English names) occur for the most part by 
accident, when he is out walking witii his brother Arthur or alone with his dog. The cumulative effect 
does not come quite to the point of casting Douglas's Irish persona in the role of local country lad, but it 
does present the narrative I of Irish entries as more at home among country people than with the Anglo- 
Irish of manor and glebe house. 

As Douglas improved his ability to communicate in Irish, his diary 

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entries began to show distinctions between subjects chosen for treatment in English and those recorded 
in Irish. English becomes the language of facts and events related to his Anglo-Irish milieu (his home, 
his father's library, the church in Tibohine, its parishioners, family friends and relations, and 
Ascendancy- class neighbors). Roscommon weather, flora, and fauna are (to the extent that vocabulary 
was available) noted in Irish, as are facts and anecdotes from Irish history, and stories learned from Hart, 
Connolly, andDockry. 

On March 23, 1875, less than six months after he had successfully written his first short, simple 
narrative in Irish, Douglas tackled a complex account of a curious incident in which a pooka, or ghostly 
apparition, resembling his brother Arthur (at that time in Dublin) suddenly opened the door of a room in 
which he and other family members were entertaining visitors, the Lloyds, and then just as suddenly 
disappeared. Annette was close to the apparition; so was Hyde's mother. The account is given 
verisimilitude by the report that this was not the ghost's first visit: it had been seen before by his aunt 
Emily and his mother; by Jane Drury, a former local schoolteacher who had become a member of the 
Hyde household (she is buried with the Hydes in the Tibohine churchyard); and by a painter working 
about the house whom it had so frightened when it appeared on the stone stairs that he nearly had 
collapsed from fright. Although still dependent on his phonetic system, Douglas imbues this story with a 
sense of wonder and suspense. He skillfully arranges details so that he first captures reader attention 
with the announcement tiiat something extraordinary has happened; second, he states his facts simply 
and matter- of-factly, to answer the immediate question of what has happened; third, he names 
unimpeachable eyewitnesses (Annette and Hyde's mother, who were even closer to the apparition than 
the Lloyds) to silence the incredulous; and he concludes with testimony designed to remove any 
question of error or conspiracy (the same thing, observed by a workman, had happened here before). 
Interestingly, Hyde does not call on himself as witness, although he is among those reported to have 
been present. Instead, he presents the entire story (Daly identifies it as possibly one told to Douglas by 
Seamas Hart) through the reports of others. In an interview late in his life Hyde stated that his lifelong 
interest in the art of storytelling had begun when he was a boy. The art of this narrative suggests that by 
1875 this interest was well developed — and that he already had decided that his storyteller would be his 
Irish persona. 


Three months after his fourteenth birthday, on April 22, 1874, Douglas reported in his diary that he 
weighed nine stone six pounds and was growing rapidly: not a bad record for a boy his age. By the end 
of October the new boots he had bought at Narry's on February 21 had to be replaced because they were 
too small. Such evidence of his physical growth and development delighted him. He also liked to test his 
muscular strength and agility. "I jumped about 15 feet on one of the grass walks on pretty level ground," 
he noted proudly two months after he turned fifteen, in his diary entry for March 30, 1875. 

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Y ear by year, Douglas indeed was changing, but life in Roscommon retained the same predictable 
rhythms. In the spring — an exciting time for Douglas, as he was the owner of several sheep — the lambs 
were bom. One or two of the new lambs usually belonged to him. May was the month when all the 
sheep were washed and sheared. In May 1874 he dutifully recorded that Connolly had sold his wool for 
£13 and his new lambs for £3.16. After sheepshearing there were cricket games with Arthur and 
Oldfield, home from Trinity by the third week of May. May was the month also, according to the 
Reverend Arthur Hyde (who had made a particular study of folk medicine), for giving Diver sulphur in 
his dinner and making sure that the dog was "rub'd . . . well with sulphur & unsalted butter" in 
accordance with his prescription. 

Day-to-day chores were a fact of life throughout the year, but especially during the drier months 
between spring and fall, for the glebe lands of the Tibohine church were energetically and efficiently 
worked by the Reverend Arthur Hyde, assisted by his three sons, his steward, and several farm workers. 
The Reverend Arthur Hyde also attended to whatever farm or household objects needed mending or 
fixing, from flower boxes to drains, and together with his sons planned and executed remodeling and 
construction projects, some essential, some associated with one or another of the sporting activities that 
were a regular feature of Frenchpark life. Douglas's diary records one afternoon in June 1875 when 
brothers and father designed and set up a target for gun practice: 

After tea we raised the large stone out of the little yard with ropes and rollers for which we cut down a 
tree. And with great difficulty we placed it in the garden. ... [The next day we] painted the target & 
fired at it. 

Pleased with their success, they began their next task, the building of a summer house, two weeks later; 
they completed it in three days. 

Experienced in handling tools and confident of his skills, Douglas also had his own separate building 
and mending projects. One year he made a swing for his sister, Annette, and painstakingly assembled 
cartridges only to discover, when he went to use them, that they had been torn apart by mice. In his diary 
he noted how he had planed a bow that had splintered and mended a torn stirrup with a piece of hemp. A 
prized possession was a "lucky briar" that he had cut for himself. It was, he declared, "nearly 7 feet long 
& very straight." 

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Boxing was a popular pastime whenever the weather permitted. Usually Douglas's opponent was 
Michael Lavin, with whom he was fairly evenly matched, but sometimes he liked to challenge others. 
One afternoon in 1875 he discovered that putting on the gloves with another neighbor, MacDermotroe, 
was more than he could handle. He fared better on Corpus Christi Day when the Tibohine church 
sponsored an outing attended by about eighty people who "came for cricket & box'd with the gloves & a 
little with naked fists." 

After Corpus Christi, to Douglas's delight, the weather usually turned warm enough for the Hyde boys to 
bathe in the lake. Summer nights, mostiy clear, were filled with the fascination of stars. On one clear 
night, the fourteenth of July, 1875, Hyde was awed by the sight of a comet, plainly visible in the 
northwest sky. As August approached, he added his voice to the general concern that the good weather 
continue through the next two months of haying and harvest time, for the crops would be spoiled if they 
could not be brought in because of a period of prolonged rain. Between August and December shooting 
fever increased, especially when water birds were spotted along the borders of the lake or near the 
turlough. Douglas filled his diaries of these fall months with details of ammunition purchased, birds 
killed, and the rise and fall of the turlough. In accordance with the ritual he and his brothers had been 
taught by their father, he regularly took apart, cleaned, and reassembled his guns. In this way he tracked 
the seasons of the year. 

Next to the Reverend Arthur Hyde, William Connolly bore chief responsibility for managing the glebe 
estate, washing and shearing the sheep, sowing the oats, looking after sick cows, buying and selling the 
Hyde family's livestock at local fairs, and dealing with local suppliers of equipment and provisions. 
Douglas and Annette — either or both — frequently accompanied him on his trips to Ballaghaderreen, 

park, and Castlerea. A staple item always included in the glebe house shopping list was whiskey. One 
day Connolly bought a barrel of porter and a gallon of uisce beatha (whiskey) in Castlerea, then went to 
Boyle for a canister of powder, a potted ham, Worcestershire sauce, pickles — and another gallon of 
whiskey. Arthur, moreover, who had accompanied Connolly to Boyle ostensibly to help with the 
purchase of provisions, had come home with a separate bottle of whiskey for himself as well. 

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Strong drink was consumed in considerable quantities by everyone associated witii tiie glebe house. All 
the Hyde boys were introduced early to porter, hot punch, whiskey, and poteen; all developed a taste 
while still children for these "national" drinks, as Hyde used to call them. Only for Oldfield was the 
habit to become, as for the Reverend ArUiur Hyde, a serious problem. 

Neighboring farmers and workmen came and went informally in the Hyde kitchen, sometimes stopping 
for a cup of tea or glass of ale during the day or a game of cards and tumbler of whiskey in the evening. 
Douglas and his brothers came and went just as informally in the cottages along the lanes that 
crisscrossed meadow and bog. When Dockry's son was short of powder and caps, he came up to the 
glebe house to borrow some from Douglas. Douglas regularly went down to the Lavins to box with 
Michael. Sometimes he rode his pony to Hanly's in the village. Among these local companions, 
especially during the summers of 1874 and 1875, Hyde's Irish persona was strengthened. His brother 
Arthur, aloof and serious, very much the Trinity man, no longer could be counted on to fish with him 
from the iron bridge or ramble around the countryside: he was continually arriving from or leaving for 
Dublin with an air of great importance. Oldfield was in London during much of the summer of 1874. 
Annette, who had just turned nine, was too young to join Douglas in his excursions on foot over 
meadow and bog or by boat on the river, and in any case she was often in Mohill or Dublin or Galway 
with their mother. Douglas did not mind; he preferred his independent life. He could choose if he 
pleased to accompany tiie men and boys from along the road and from the back of the meadow to see the 
"great race" in Bellanagare or, as on one very wet day, he could stay warm and comfortable, chatting 
with old men and old women by a cottage fire. Even on a pleasant morning that might have lured him 
away from his usual haunts, he declined an invitation from a crowd bound for the Sligo races to remain 
with Seamas Hart, helping clear the meadow of sticks and stones. His 

favorite hours were those he spent with Hart in the meadow and on the bogs or sitting before a fire in the 
gamekeeper's cottage, listening to his stories. 

When in 1875 a series of family illnesses disrupted life in the glebe house, Douglas was especially glad 
of Hart's company and the friendship of neighbors. During the Reverend Arthur Hyde's attacks of gout 
he took refuge with them. When Bessie Hyde, weakened by asthma, was too ill to attend church 
services, when both Arliiur and Oldfield were incapacitated by unspecified complaints that required the 
attention of Dr. Cuppaidge, and when the glebe house was silent and gloomy, they provided a 
comforting place in which to spend Sunday afternoons. During this period Douglas complained vaguely 
to his diary in phonetic Irish of his own health: "I am not well" and "I am not well at all." He was in fact 
fine, but he tended to make such complaints when illness focused attention on others, leaving him lonely 
and alone. The only physical problem that repeatedly troubled him was a recurrent muscle pain. 

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unpleasant but not incapacitating, in his right leg; at fifteen he was prone to "growing pains." Other than 
that except for a bruised arm suffered when his gun kicked, a thumb sprain from boxing, a single bout 
with a queasy stomach, and an occasional sore throat, he was a sturdy adolescent, with consistently 
fewer illnesses, accidents, and injuries than anyone else in his family, except possibly his sister, Annette. 

Seamas Hart, with his fluent Irish, his talent for reciting poem and story, his rich store of Irish historical 
and cultural tradition, his knowledge of the natural world of Frenchpark and environs, his Fenian 
sympathies, his calm strength, and his capacity for warmth and affection, was not only a central figure in 
Douglas's daily life but a major influence on his development. Brief notes — that Seamas was here or was 
not here or was ill or had begun to improve; that Douglas had walked down to Hart's or was with him at 
Ratra; that Douglas, Arthur, and Oldfield had gone together to Hart's in the evening — recur throughout 
his 1875 diary. From time to time Hart even stayed overnight at the glebe house, helping out in times of 
illness or other kinds of trouble that required his patience and wisdom. Between May and September 
when Bessie Hyde was seriously and recurrently ill, Douglas's days began to take their character from 
these diary notes, recorded in his phonetic Irish: "Ve Shamus in sho" (Seamas was here); "Neil Shamus 
gummoich" (Seamas is not well); "Shool mae iga tyoch Shamus"; (I walked down to Seamas's house); 
"Ve Shamus liom" (Seamas was with 

me). After August, when he began studying the Irish catechism he had found, his spelling gradually 
changed. First he introduced the long stroke, or fada , over vowels that he had been writing as oa, ab, ee , 
and 00 . He did not always employ tiie mark consistently or correctly, but it was a step in tiie direction of 
conventional spelling. 

In May, when Douglas's mother suffered several long and severe asthma attacks, "Ne ve a Moistrass 
gummoich" (The mistress was not well) and "Thoine Moistrass besuch" (The mistress is improving) 
joined "Ve Shamus in sho" as alternating refrains. Illness struck the farm animals also. "Mo cuira foor 
shee baus" wrote Douglas, after one of his sheep died. Seamas was there, too. Three cows became so 
sick with a common infection called "red water" that the doctor had to be called; one cow almost died. 
Seamas was again present. 

Although dependent on the daily presence of Hart, more and more during the troubled May of 1875, 
Douglas wandered on his own through the fields and bogs of Frenchpark and Tibohine to the 
countryside beyond, often staying out very late at night. He also began keeping enough money in his 
pocket to purchase whiskey and porter in Ballaghaderreen. In July tiiere was great excitement at the 

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glebe house, during a period when Bessie Hyde seemed to be improving, over a sailboat that the 
Reverend Ariiiur Hyde had bought in Carrick-on- Shannon. For a time Douglas, his brothers, his sister, 
and his father grew close again, spending entire days together as, pairing up in various combinations, 
together they learned to manage tiie craft. Sailing briefly replaced shooting as the family sport. When the 
newness wore off, relations returned to normal; Douglas again went his separate way. 

The year progressed: as the voice in which Douglas recorded his day-to-day activities and experiences in 
Irish became more personal, his diary began to reflect not just actions and ideas but fears, 
disappointments, pleasures, interests. The rector's son remains present in entries written in English; no 
ripple disturbed the surface calm of his carefully managed existence. Lines written in Irish, however, 
though briefer and less polished, tell a fuller story. On August 10, Douglas employed both English and 
Irish to describe a boat race on Lough Gara. Oldfield had been appointed sole judge of the event, a 
sensitive situation, since the Hyde boat, with Arthur as steersman, was among the competitors. All went 
well until the last race, which Arthur won by a quarter length. Oldfield's judgment was challenged by 
members of the crowd. "There was near being a faction fight on account of it," wrote Douglas in 
English, distancing himself from the situation by characterizing the 

protest as a kind of brawl among the country people rather than as the howl of indignation it actually 
was. His apprehension, however, was clear from his Irish: The crowd did not regard the Hyde boys as 
merely Ascendancy onlookers. Many of the men who participated in the race were joined by supporters 
from the crowd in what became an increasingly heated protest. A particularly hot-tempered man by the 
name of Mark was loudest; he was to be feared the most. Dockry warned that the situation was 
dangerous. "If one man stoops to pick up a stone, others will also," he warned Douglas; "if one man is 
struck, two hundred will be at it." Cool heads prevailed in the end, and the crowd dispersed without 
incident. Douglas's English persona replaced his Irish persona after the danger was past. 

In September Douglas's mother was again seriously ill. Hart was at the glebe house almost daily, often 
sleeping there. These facts, plus the monthly register by species and number of birds killed, were 
recorded, as usual, in Irish. One day, while shooting the "wild bog," Douglas noticed "a very curious sort 
of ring around the sun such as is round the moon late at night"; it mystified him. In the swamp he spotted 
a strange- looking duck: "his bill was very large and broad and his wings were a kind of greyish blue." 
Diver proved himself an extraordinary dog once again by catching and killing a bat in the kitchen. These 
incidents were noted in English, probably because Douglas's Irish vocabulary was inadequate to their 

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Fine weather had prevailed during September; in contrast October was often dark, windy, and cold. A 
few berries remained on the bushes in the garden, but all other natural signs indicated that the harvest 
season was over. The appearance of large numbers of water birds tempted Douglas outdoors with his 
gun early each morning and late each night. His success was chronicled in a three- page account that 
began under a profile sketch of an unidentified bald, smiling man. The receding forehead, which takes 
its angle from the receding chin, gives the figure a vaguely imbecilic appearance. A sequence of round 
collars, each larger than the one above it, encircles his neck and shoulders. On the facing page there is a 
wine glass and a bottle. Were the round collars intended to signify that the man was a cleric? Was this a 
caricature of the Reverend Arthur Hyde? (His drinking during Bessie Hyde's illness had been troubling 
Douglas; he had figured less and less in his youngest son's life as the father-son relationship between 
Douglas and Seamas Hart had intensified.) Or is this Everyman as Douglas — who himself had been 
experimenting with ale, porter, whiskey, and even poteen. 

usually in the company of one or both of his brothers — then saw him? An incongruous note on an 
adjacent page provides the only evidence that academic studies also had been occupying portions of 
Douglas's time — that he had been reading and rehearsing Horatian odes. 

Toward the end of October, Hart became ill. Douglas took a small bottle down to him. In November, 
Hart was no better. Hyde's diary entries became less detailed, briefer, sometimes containing no 
information beyond the fact that day after day and sometimes several times a day, he visited Hart's 
house. A marked decrease in the proportion of Irish to English restores Douglas's impersonal, public 
persona to control of this portion of his diary, perhaps because he could not take the time to write in 
Irish, perhaps because he could not cope with his feelings. Irish regained ground as Hart improved at the 
beginning of December. On December 9, out walking with Arthur, Douglas had a frightening experience 
that he recounted entirely in Irish, in the first long passage written in months: They had been in the 
potato field near Hart's cottage when Arthur suddenly fell to the ground, suffered convulsions, and 
lapsed into unconsciousness. Certain that Arthur was dead, Douglas did not know what to do. 
Fortunately the incident was witnessed by Thomas Higgins, who quickly obtained from Beime, a nearby 
cottager, a door that could be used as a stretcher, then called others to help carry Arthur home. Arthur 
recovered, but ironically by the twenty- seventh of the month Higgins himself was dead. " Drimma 
mudya ig a suchreca " (I went to his funeral), wrote Douglas in his phonetic Irish, the first such event to 
be noted in his diary. Soon, however, there was another. 

On December 20 Hart was, as usual, at the glebe house. On December 21 he slept there. On December 
22 "ni bhi Semuis go maith," wrote Douglas in an entry in Irish in which everything but Hart's first name 
is spelled correctly: once again. Hart was ill. On December 28 Hart was dead. It was the most 

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devastating loss Hyde ever had suffered — a loss he remembered throughout his life. He expressed his 
sorrow in a simple, direct and moving passage written partly in phonetic Irish, partly in conventional 
Irish script in his diary for December 29: 

Seamas died yesterday. A man so decent and generous, alas, so true and honest, alas, so friendly, alas, 
never will I see again. He was sick about a week and today he is gone. Poor Seamas, I learned Irish from 
you. A man so good with the Irish, never will there be another like you. I can see no one at all from now 
on whom I would love as well as you. May seven angels be with you and may your blessed soul be in 
heaven now. 

- - 4 The Voices of the Fathers - 

Although years passed before Douglas Hyde again wrote of Seamas Hart, their relationship did not end 
at Hart's grave but continued in Hyde's consciousness throughout his long life, even into Aras an 
Uachtarain. Hart had introduced Douglas to Irish history, folklore, myth, and legend; had shared with 
him his own store of poems and stories; had passed on to him, as if he were a son, the seanfhocail — 
fragments of ancient wisdom and folk belief — that he had received from his elders. It was from Hart 
— "the best reciter I ever knew," Hyde later declared — that he had heard his first tales of the Irish spirit 
world: of ghosts and banshees and the alp luachra (newt) which had so afflicted a wealthy Connacht 
farmer that only "the best doctor in the five provinces," The MacDermot, prince of Coolavin, could save 
him. From Hart he had learned love songs, religious songs, drinking songs, and laments. Hart had 
schooled him in histories not found in books but written across the face of the land. Caves, cairns, sacred 
wells, old temples, ancient forts, dolmens, standing stones, a rippled path across a winter lake — all. Hart 
had assured him, could be read; all told of Irish heroes, kings, queens, and celebrated events, of powerful 
poets and enchanters, of a nation that was and a time when Ireland would be a nation once again. 

Douglas loved words: their sounds, the look of them on paper, the different qualities they assumed on 
his tongue, in his exercise book, in the handwriting of anotiier, and on a printed page. Woven in words, 
the combined riches of antiquity and folk imagination to which Hart 

had introduced him had fired his desire to see if he himself could fashion stories spun from them. 
Encouraged by Hart, he had struggled to acquire the Irish language that was the key to these treasures: in 
his daily diary entries he had laboriously practiced the alchemy of its diction and syntax; on the pages of 
his exercise books and the blank back leaves of his diary he had cultivated its wordsong. The miscellany 
he thus accumulated in text and translation included such varied items as "Socraidh na gClein" (Clinton's 
burial), a song for singer and chorus in five verses of five lines each; a thresher's motto of four lines; a 

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five-line charm for exorcising crickets; and tliree verses of "Roisin Dubh" (Dark Rosaleen). In his diary 
and exercise book he had pasted word inventories cut from printed sources, among them a table 
comparing the botanical, Irish, and English names of common flowers. Experimenting with Irish 
dialogue, he had created short scenes in strophe and antistrophe and tested his descriptive, comic, and 
narrative powers in simple prose and imitative verse. One of the last items he had written before Hart's 
death was a short narrative describing a few hours in which, slowly and pleasantly, warmed by whiskey, 
a turf fire, and the evening's camaraderie, he, his father and brothers, and the gamekeeper had quietly 
slipped together into a mellow drunkenness. 

In prefaces and introductions to the works he published throughout his long career, Douglas Hyde 
faithfuly acknowledged Seamas Hart's contributions to his poetry and prose, his folklore studies, and his 
literary and historical scholarship. In his diary he recorded his more personal debt to Hart during a 
difficult period of his life when on the one hand he was struggling free of the constraints of the 
Kiplingesque world of nineteenth- century Anglo- Ireland, while on the other hand he was attempting to 
make of the hyphen between the two cultures that claimed him a mark of connection rather than 

In Aras an Uachtarain, when journalists asked Hyde where and how he had acquired his knowledge of 
Irish, he used to respond by reciting, in the north Roscommon dialect long vanished by the time he 
became president, a quatrain that Hart had taught him — "the first verse of Gaelic I ever learned," he 
would avow. He never spelled the words conventionally but always wrote them out for the inquisitive in 
his own peculiar phonetic Irish, just as he had recorded them in his schoolboy copybook when, imitating 
the voice of the gamekeeper, he had hurried home, repeating the sounds to himself so that he would not 
lose them before he had the chance to capture them on paper: 

Ballagh-a-derreen a chran Bella gon aggus gurtugh, Munna will thu st'yeeh in om Y ucee thu well' a 

Beneath these lines he would write the English translation that Hart had given him: 

Ballaghaderreen of the tree, A town scanty and famine stricken. Unless you are there in time, Y ou will 
come home fasting. 

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Scanty and famine stricken: that was how Tibohine seemed to Douglas Hyde when in January 1876 he 
faced the new year without Hart. For more than a month he wrote no more than a half dozen phrases and 
a few sentences in Irish, taking refuge from the emotions he could not express in the aloof, remote, 
English-speaking persona of his early 1874 diary entries — a persona so like his brother Arthur's, despite 
marked differences in their personalities. Terse and noncommittal, avoiding the people whose sympathy 
might have renewed his pain and the cottages in which talk would have turned, inevitably, to Hart's 
unexpected death, he focused once again on insignificant external events. More than a month went by 
without a single reference to Connolly, Dockry, or the Lavins. His own birthday passed without 
mention. He was a son bereaved; he had lost his Irish father. 

Douglas's actual father, the dominating, mercurial, and passionate Ascendancy rector of Frenchpark, was 
lonely too. Arthur was in his fifth year at Trinity; Oldfield was in his first. Since their childhood he and 
his two elder sons had been almost constant companions. In their absence in the early months of 1876 he 
turned for company to his third son, Douglas. Before long, at his urging, Douglas had begun to join him 
in activities, indoors and out, that in former days he had been accustomed to sharing only with Arthur 
and Oldfield. They went shooting together almost daily. When the two elder boys returned home for 
brief holidays, Douglas was not excluded; father and sons formed a foursome. For a time his father and 
brothers were very nearly the only companions with whom Douglas broke his solitary rambles. In rain, 
heavy dew, and an occasional wet, gray snowfall that quickly turned to ice and mud, through a long, 
damp, chill Januaiy as gloomy and overcast as Douglas's spirits, they tramped, all four together or two 

three at a time, across bog, field, and meadow, along river path and edge of lake, in search of game. 

Shooting was the Reverend Arthur Hyde's favorite sport; his sons had caught the fever from him. 
Normally it was a sport they easily enjoyed together, for the observation, concentration, and action it 
required allowed little opportunity for discussion of subjects on which they disagreed. And all four were 
superb marksmen, skilled in predicting the movements of birds and small animals. In January of 1876, 
however, birds were scarce. One day father and sons came home with but a single snipe among them. 
Another day, alone with Diver, having been disappointed at Ballinphuil, Douglas wandered along the 
Lung River near the Crinaun bridge, straying inadvertently beyond the bounds of de Freyne territory 
until he was confronted by an angry gamekeeper of alien fields. A shilling sent the man home 
grumbling. It was more than Douglas himself got for his time and trouble. 

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What the month did offer Hyde, in addition to companionship in a time of need, was a kind of schooling 
in the manners and mores of the Anglo-Irish squirearchy that he had not had before, partly because he 
had been a third and much younger son, until now excluded for the most part from the social activities of 
father and older brothers, partly because his own temperament had led him to make a separate life for 
himself with Hart, Dockry, Connolly, the Lavins, and other local men and boys rather than tag along 
where he had not felt wanted. Contrasts did not escape him: His father's anecdotes about the races in 
Roscommon and Galway presented a different side to stories he had heard from gamekeeper and tenant 
farmer. Watching his father and his father's peers at a cattle fair, he noted that the talk and techniques 
used by a country gentleman to strike a bargain were not the same as those he had witnessed in the 
company of Connolly and Dockry. Information obtained from readings in natural history provided the 
basis of the Reverend Arthur Hyde's lectures on the habits of birds and other game; Hart's traditional 
lore had been drawn from practical experience, his own and that of the men who had taught him. 
Focusing on time past, the Reverend Arthur Hyde reminisced about cricket fields, his playing 
companions at Trinity, and the team he had organized as a young minister in Kilmactranny. Hart's 
nostalgic recollections, although local in setting, had included stories of wondrous events for which he 
used to cite for authority eyewitnesses who had preceded him to the grave. 

There were similarities, too, between the gamekeeper and the minister. Hart had been a strong-minded 
man. Sometimes Douglas had been 

afraid to question assertions that he did not fully understand, for fear of trying Hart's patience. Equally 
strong-minded, the Reverend Arthur Hyde had unshakable opinions on such subjects as the best method 
for building turf ricks, the best recipe for making whiskey punch, and the best strategies to use when 
playing cards or chess. Telling a story or singing a song. Hart could be soft and nostalgic. Remembering 
the classical scholar he was in his youth, the Reverend Arthur Hyde intoned Homer in a voice not at all 
like that in which he delivered Sunday sermons, barked instructions to his sons, or ordered workmen 
about. Hart had given Douglas lines of Irish poetry to memorize. The Reverend Arthur Hyde lectured 
Douglas on the need for applying himself more diligently to the study of Horatian odes. Evenings in the 
gamekeeper's cottage or at a neighboring hearth Douglas and Hart used to listen to old men's tales of 
past events: the monster meetings of fifty years ago through which O'Connell had demonstrated public 
support for repeal of the laws that had barred Catholics from serving in Parliament; the daily tragedies 
encountered on western roads during the Famine; the land clearances of the 1850s. Since Hart's death 
Douglas often spent evenings at home in the glebe house, hunched over a game of chess or backgammon 
with his father. Intent on the strategies the game required, the Reverend Hyde was less expansive in this 
setting than he was out-of-doors or sitting idly before the fire, telling stories of his youth, a glass of 
whiskey in his hand: to his son's questions and comments he replied monosyllabically if at all. That was 

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a lesson, too. Douglas learned that for an Anglo-Irish gentleman social games were serious business. 

Between the winter and early spring of 1876 father and son developed a mutual tolerance and respect 
previously not evident in their relationship. Perhaps it was the memory of these months that sustained 
them through less companionable, more difficult times ahead. For the moment for Douglas, they helped 
dull the pain of Seamas Hart's death. 

Otherwise unbountiful, nature also provided helpful diversions during these trying months. On February 
9 an unusually heavy snowfall blanketed the ground. Whipped by strong winds it piled itself into drifts 
of a size and depth seldom seen in northwest Roscommon. From the middle of December there had been 
no mention of Connolly's or Dockry's name in his diary, but on this day, rolling huge snowballs into the 
yard with Annette and Connolly, Douglas discovered that he could still enjoy tiie older man's 
companionship. Soon Dockry's name reappeared also, in an entry describing an afternoon's shooting in 
which he had joined Douglas and Arthur. On the night of February 19, at the 

end of a day spent outdoors cutting wood, a spectacular display of northern lights lured everyone out 
again into field and meadow. In awe and astonishment Hyde watched great, glowing curtains of eerie 
blue and green and dark red, the color of drying blood, sweep across the sky. Old men, their eyes bright 
and fixed on the ancient worid they seemed to see in their turf fires, told stories about such skies, which 
in ancient legend usually portended death and destruction. If Douglas, remembering those traditional 
tales, shivered as he watched, it was perhaps only partly from the cold; partly from some instinct he 
shared with Diver, for on such nights dogs seek dark places in which to hide; and partly from a memory 
of the shining eyes of old men. 

Birds, meanwhile, remained as scarce throughout February as the Irish in Douglas's diary. On the fifth of 
the month, in one of but eleven entries between January 1 and March 1 in which he used any Irish at all, 
he complained that, devil a thing, not even a crow or a hare, was to be found. More frustrating was the 
night of the seventh: he had gone out at ten; he had returned empty-handed at two-thirty in the morning, 
unable to bring down a single bird, although the float river had been full of wild geese. On the 
seventeenth, again in Irish, he recorded the killing of a grouse rat in the haggard. In meadow and bog 
and along the riverbank, his luck had been poor, but this incident at least provided comforting evidence 
that his marksmanship was still good. The twenty-fourth brought better sport at last: he bagged a snipe 
and a "very curious bird," a "dipper," that had no tail and was unable to fly. It was a new "thing" to be 
noted on March 12, the next date set by family custom for totaling and recording the monthly kill of 

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birds and small animals. 

Meanwhile, "Bhi Shan an so" (John [Sean] was here), Douglas wrote on Febmaiy 15, echoing "Vee 
Shamus an so" of happier days in the still partly phonetic but increasingly conventional Irish script that 
he had begun to develop just before Hart's death. Seamas Hart had not been replaced, but Johnny Lavin 
with his fluent Irish and Fenian sympathies was gradually becoming a new and needed friend. With the 
end of winter came a physical complaint, the first recorded since December, an aching cheekbone. It 
flared up during the last days of February when changing temperatures and humidity inflamed Douglas's 
sinuses even as they were harbingers of spring. Unpleasant as it was, the pain was homey, familiar, the 
kind of thing that besets only the living. It separated him from the dead. 

In the weeks that followed, Lavin was often mentioned, as "John" 

or "Johnny" in English, "Eoin" or "Sean" in Irish, the uncertainty of his Irish name indicating that he was 
better known to all but Douglas by his name in English. For a time "Bhi Dockry annso" (Dockry — 
sometimes written "Coiducruidh" or "Colducruidh" — was here) was a competing refrain. Employed, like 
Connolly, by the Reverend Hyde, therefore a frequent companion in work and sport, Dockry was a 
Frenchpark Irish speaker with strong Fenian sympathies. Douglas liked him but sometimes became 
impatient with his dogmatism. Johnny Lavin, to be sure, could often be argumentative, especially when 
he had "a drop too much taken" of the whiskey that flowed freely in cottage and glebe house, but he, like 
Hart, brought to political questions a cultural and historical perspective. Dockry, when determined to 
make a point, had no perspective at all. For him there were never two sides to a political question, only 
his own. 

Douglas had been schooled by both his fathers, Seamas Hart and the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., to value 
cultural and historical perspective. From the stories of each he had learned that in appearance the west of 
Ireland in which he was growing up had not changed significantly since the sixteenth or seventeenth 
century. Before then there had been great forests and enormous game animals. Elizabethan axes had cut 
down most of the forests, leaving little beyond the wooded acres of Big House estates spared for the 
benefit of English and Anglo-Irish lords who were their owners. The enormous game animals had 
disappeared completely. Only the great antlered heads mounted in the entrance halls of castle and Big 
House bore witness to the size of the extinct red deer. 

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Cramped, crude stone cottages, many either unroofed and derelict or, tlieir tliatch gone to seed, given 
over to sheltering animals, also had their place in the history Douglas learned, chiefly from Hart and his 
Irish- speaking neighbors. In the folk imagination such cottages provided the setting for many traditional 
tales. It was behind a half-door the like of that, or before just such a hearth, the storyteller, or seanachie , 
would declare, that our kings and queens of old reigned in splendor; it was in a cottage much like the 
one beyond that the king of Ireland's son encountered a visitor from the Celtic otherworld. Both the folk 
memory drawn upon by Hart and the written history on which the Reverend Arthur Hyde relied 
preserved tales of nearby castles in northwest Roscommon, former homes of provincial monarchs more 
powerful than local kings and queens. Douglas knew that Ballintober, just outside Roscommon town, 
had been the seat of the O'Conors; Moygara, near Ballaghaderreen, had been the home of the O'Garas. 

was the more impressive of the two. Covering as much ground as a small village, it had thick, turreted 
walls surrounded by a moat, a spacious courtyard, and a keep so large and well-built that part of it was 
still being used as a residence by descendants of Rory and Turlough O'Conor and Cathal of the Red 
Hand. Moygara, by contrast, was in ruins, for the 'Garas had been forced to abandon their castle in 
1690, following the Battle of the Boyne in which King Billy had routed the leaderless Irish soldiers of 
the renegade James II. 

Douglas learned, not only from his father but also from the lavishly illustrated books written by 
antiquarians that he found in his father's library, that the smaller but thick-walled rectangular fortified 
houses popularly known as "ten- pound castles" had not been built by the Irish. Constructed in the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with ten- pound subsidies from the Crown, they were the former 
strongholds of Saxon knights who had crossed the Irish Sea with commissions from English kings to 
establish English order in rebellious Ireland. In Frenchpark as throughout the country, the wide- 
windowed Big Houses surrounded by lavish gardens that were hidden behind high stone walls also were 
called castles by their cottage neighbors. These, however, were more recent additions to the landscape, 
most going back no further than tlie early eighteenth century, when rebel Irish chieftains having been 
subdued or exiled, a siege mentality no longer dictated Ascendancy architectural fashions. The home of 
Lord de Freyne in Frenchpark and that of Sandford in Castlerea were such Big Houses, Douglas knew. 
So was Castle Hyde, the Hyde family seat on the Blackwater near Cork. A frequent focus of illustrated 
newspaper and journal essays on famous Irish residences, it no longer belonged to the senior Hyde line 
(having been sold in 1851 under the Encumbered Estates Act), yet young Douglas was fascinated by 
pictures of the mansion and demesne as well as by "Sweet Castle Hyde," a composition by a poetaster 
often called "probably the worst ballad ever written." Douglas had memorized it as a boy; as professor of 
Irish at University College, Dublin, and even later, as president of Ireland, he would sometimes amuse 
himself and guests with off-key renditions of such verses as: 

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'Tis there you'd hear the thrushes warbhng, The dove and partridge I now describe, And lambkins 
sporting every morning, All to adorn sweet Castle Hyde. 

To the Reverend Arthur Hyde, who read history as a record of English kingships and calculated years by 
the passing of an estate from 

one owner to another, castles and Big Houses were not a source of amusement but symbols of order and 
hierarchy. Castle Hyde was a case in point. Built on the portion of the earl of Desmond's Cork estates 
that had been granted to Hyde's ancestor. Sir Arthur Hyde, in 1599, in 1851 it had been purchased by 
John D. Sadleir, M.P. Sadleir had sold it to Sir Henry Becher in 1862. As Sir Henry was a descendant of 
Fane Becher, who had been granted the neighboring portion of Desmond's Cork estates in 1599, the 
Desmond lands that had been divided were thus recombined in ways that reinforced for men of the 
Reverend Arthur Hyde's background the concept that aristocratic order and history were philosophically 
related. In 1876 this concept was being challenged by Charles Stewart Pamell, M.P., a young Protestant 
landowner who had aligned himself politically with Joe Biggar and Isaac Butt. A believer in aristocratic 
order, the Reverend Hyde was uncompromising in his opposition to Pamell. 

While absorbing his father's frequent dinner- table pronouncements, Douglas had acquired from Hart and 
Lavin and the talk of others in Frenchpark cottages a different historical perspective on land, its uses, 
and its ownership. Folk history treated time as space, depicting the great pre- Elizabethan forests as 
standing both physically and chronologically between anglicized Ireland and the ancient world of story 
and saga. It compacted centuries to create a measured sequence of myth and historic event. Recent 
history was no exception: eleven years had passed since the arrest, trial, imprisonment, and exile of the 
Fenians, yet stories told around cottage fires gave to Fenian exploits, in Ireland and America, the 
immediacy of yesterday. Nor were otiier events of Irish Ireland's history more remote. Before the 
Fenians, there had been the Bold Men of 1848, their survivors still active in Boston and New Y ork. The 
Great Famine of 1846-1848 had driven abroad sisters and brothers of Frenchpark neighbors and had 
sent countless souls to quicklime graves through the dreaded "Black Gable" of the Castlerea workhouse 
(which stood but twelve yeans and a few hundred yards from the house where, in 1860, Douglas had 
been bom). In 1829 Daniel O'Connell had led to victory the struggle for Catholic emancipation. 

Like leachta cuimne , the memory stones that line Irish country roads, vivid accounts of such events 

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evoked the past creating narrative markers that led, one beyond the other, back through time: to Robert 
Emmet's defiant speech from the dock following the rebellion of 1803; to the rising of 1798, coordinated 
by Wolfe Tone, founder and leader of the United Irishmen; to the hedge schoolteachers who risked their 
lives re- 

sisting laws that threatened to reduce the native population to hewers of wood and drawers of water; to 
the broken Treaty of Limerick and Flight of the Wild Geese in 1691; to the Irish soldiery left leaderless 
by James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690; to the Cromwellian invasions and "plantations" of the 
mid-seventeenth century; to the turbulent reigns of Charles I, James I, and Elizabeth I. Cutting down 
trees, building ships, creating the empire on which for nearly three hundred years the sun would never 
set, the Elizabethans had been the first to bring in "planters": English subjects loyal to the Crown who 
were deeded homesteads from which the native Irish had been driven in order to "pacify" the land. 

In cottage history, Gaelic Ireland, shrouded in Celtic myth, flourished on the far side of this space/time 
continuum, its distant shores preserved for succeeding generations in an oral tradition older than 
England. There where wild boar and great stag roamed, land belonged not to those who bought and sold 
it but to those who used it; justice prevailed under Brehon law. Similar ideas, it was said in tiie cottages, 
were now being proclaimed even by the son of a landlord, the new young Protestant M. P., Charles 
Stewart Pamell. To men like Hart, Lavin, and Dockry who dreamed of an Irish Ireland in which Irish 
women and men would once more till their own fields and no more labor fruitlessly on acres rented from 
English landlords, these ideas were lawful and just; they reflected an historical imperative. Stirred by 
their romance and rhetoric, Douglas embraced them. Only Dockry, in Douglas's opinion, lacked a vision 
of the future. Greedy, short-sighted, and embittered, he regarded all landlords with the same disdain. 
Yet, Douglas noted, he, too, supported Pamell. 

With April came the first swallow of 1876, the first butterfly, and — for Douglas — more progress in 
written Irish. In early May from his uncle in Dmmkilla he received a present of an Irish dictionary that 
gave impetus to his reading and composition. Such items as "La Bealtine," a poem of four alternating 
verses of Irish and English celebrating the first day of May, were added to the miscellany preserved in 
the back pages of his diary. From daily entries in Irish he constructed a continuing discourse that lasted 
almost four weeks. Among the ominous notes of this period was one that recorded the death of Terence 
Carty, a local man who had been killed on May 1, the day of the Ballaghaderreen fair. 

June and July 1876 brought a succession of visitors to the glebe house, among them an unidentified man 

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with whom Douglas had several conversations in Irish. Douglas lunched with the visitors, joined 

their boating and swimming parties, and even went sightseeing with them and accompanied them on 
visits to fairs, although at first with no great show of enthusiasm. They interrupted his studies, he 
complained to his diary; they opposed Pamell; they talked excitedly of the "agrarian crime" reported in 
newspapers and repeated what they had heard of murders and deaths and injuries caused by weakened 
bridge supports and blocked roads in other localities. Some blamed damage to crops on maliciously 
opened sluice gates and vandalized drainage devices; some muttered darkly about the maiming of cattle. 
Distancing himself from such topics, Douglas confined his concerns to the drought, so severe that it was 
thought to have caused the observable decline in the grouse population. When he did join in the 
conversation, it was usually to echo the general sentiment that rain was badly wanted. It was the thing to 
say, of course, but to his diary he confessed that he did not really mean it, despite the grouse problem. 
He had begun to enjoy the continuing fair skies and the diversions — long walks, tennis, cricket, croquet, 
swimming, boating — that fine weather made possible. 

On July 7, 1876, Douglas went with his father to the bishop for a long talk about his future. Together the 
older men outlined a program of home study that would lead to his admission to Trinity, a degree in 
theology, and a career as a clergyman. Douglas listened without agreeing or protesting, but to himself he 
acknowledged that the prospect was not to his liking. Y et there seemed no alternative. His father's 
willingness to support his education was clearly dependent upon his choosing a career in the church. 
Both Arthur and Oldfield had refused to follow in tiie footsteps of father, grandfather, and great- 
grandfather: the Reverend Hyde was determined to have a successor. The onus of avoiding a break in 
tradition was now on Douglas. He could do worse, he told himself; he would consider it, he promised 
himself, in the fall. Meanwhile, so filled were his days with social engagements that for the moment 
there was no possibility of his giving any thought to the schedule of reading and study that he would 
have to adhere to in order to prepare himself properly for entrance examinations to Trinity. He could not 
put off these matters for long, however. He was devilishly weak, he reminded himself, in several 
important curricular areas. Arthur, to whom he sometimes sent his exercises, had identified the subjects 
in which he was deficient and noted those which he had not yet begun to study. Y et summer activities 
were so distracting that he did not even fulfill his promise to himself to keep up his work in Irish. 

On July 8, the day after Douglas's talk with his father and the bishop. 

young Lord de Freyne attained his majority. Frenchpark House festivities were the talk of provincial Big 

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House society. They included dinner under a marquee, music, dancing, and fireworks in which 
Frenchpark servants and tenants were invited to participate. As neighbors and kinsmen, the Hydes of 
course attended. It was difficult to feel threatened by agrarian crime on such an occasion; it was even 
more difficult to think that such a pleasant summer would end and that soon autumn days would be 
filled with lessons and exercises. Throughout the remainder of the month new guests arrived daily for 
luncheon, dinner, or tea. Some stayed on. Lawn tennis, cricket, and boating occupied the young people; 
everyone played croquet. 

On July 29 Douglas and Oldfield went to Dmmkilla for a similar round of social activities. Although 
heavy rains at the beginning of August briefly broke the dry spell, another unusually long stretch of 
exceptionally fine weather followed. Enjoying himself, Douglas remained at Dmmkilla even after 
Oldfield left for Dublin. Perfunctory notes in his diary, mostly in English, record only where he had 
been and whom he had seen, but to Oldfield he wrote long, chatty letters full of enthusiasm for the 
pleasures of Anglo-Irish society. For a time it appeared as if the voice of Seamas Hart had been stilled, 
not by a persuasive bishop and a determined father but by the self-indulgent ease of Ascendancy life 
against which bishop and father fared no better. 

As fine weather meant a good harvest, Douglas was needed at the glebe house in late August to help 
with the haying and with bringing in the oats. Another death had occurred in his absence: Diver, the dog 
that had been his almost constant companion since 1873, was gone. Even this fact was recorded 
unemotionally, in the diary to which Douglas no longer confided feelings but only, like his brother 
Arthur, facts and events. The only exception was an invitation from his two favorite Hyde aunts to 
accompany them on a sightseeing trip through the west of Ireland, which — as his diary reveals — he 
obviously anticipated with pleasure. 

The timing of the trip arranged by Douglas's aunts could not have been better for a number of reasons: 
Away from his father, on neutral ground, Douglas hoped that he would be able to reflect on the present 
and assess the prospects he soon would have to face. Turning sixteen had been a milestone: since the 
summer his social role had changed markedly; agreeable as he found his new position, he had not yet 
digested its implications. Whatever he decided about the future, he felt he must return to work on the 
Irish language. The trip, he told himself, would 

provide a ready-made subject for an Irish journal. At the same time it would give him a chance to see 
more of the Irish countryside. Except for occasional visits to Mohill, Galway, and Dublin, he had 

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traveled very little outside Roscommon. 

Douglas and his aunts set out from Castlerea on September 5. Their plan was to travel north and west 
through Mayo and Connemara, then south through Galway, Clare, and Kerry en route to Killamey; then 
east to Cork for the train home via Portarlington. In his new, neatly lettered Irish script modeled on 
examples of Irish printing that he had been studying, Douglas recorded their departure. Although he still 
had to rely in large part on phonetic spellings, he was pleased and relieved to find that Irish words and 
phrases were coming to him more easily than he had expected. His Irish persona was another matter. 
Occasional associations — a fragment of a story, a place-name, the look of the sky on a particular 
morning, the open door of a cottage — evoked involuntary memories of a gamekeeper and a young boy. 
In other respects, although the language in which he wrote was Irish, Douglas's Irish self seemed to be 
fading with his rapidly receding childhood. 

Never before had Douglas visited the countryside through which he traveled with his aunts, but he did 
know something of its history. The route from Castlerea to Castlebar formed the first leg of the travelers' 
journey: in Frenchpark cottages he had heard about "the Races at Castlebar," a 1798 battle in which the 
British had been put to rout by outnumbered French troops that had been joined by ill-equipped, 
untrained but determined Irish forces. The short-lived victory — when British reinforcements arrived the 
rebels were defeated — had been the beginning of a strange drama, for the British reinforcements had 
been under the command of a Scotsman called John Moore, and among those captured by the British 
was John Moore of Moore Hall, leader of the Irish rebels, who had been proclaimed president of the 
Republic of Connaught. Louisa Browne Moore, mother of the rebel John and a cousin of the marquess 
of Sligo, had tried in vain to use both money and family position to secure her son's release. The man 
who opposed her was her own kinsman, Denis Browne, the "hanging judge" of Mayo; John Moore died 
a British prisoner. Rumor had it that rebel sympathies had continued for a time among the Moores: 
John's nephew, the late George Henry Moore, M.P., was said to have been a friend and supporter of the 
Fenian leader CD onovan Rossa. George Henry Moore had died in 1870; in 1876 his eldest son, George 
Augustus Moore, was an art student living in Paris. Little that was said of the son suggested 

that soon he would become the talk of the Dublin literary world — or that one day he would stage Hyde's 
Irish play An Tincear agus an t-Sidheog (The tinker and the fairy) in his Dublin garden. 

On September 6 Douglas and his aunts set out for Westport, a pretty seaside town and popular touring 
center on Clew Bay in county Mayo. Here, too, the past had its ghosts, the future its shadow of things to 

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come. From Westport House, on the edge of town, Lord Altamont had joined George Henry Moore in 
various schemes to relieve victims of the Famine in 1847-1848. The new Protestant church that soon 
would be built would be served one day by Canon J. Hannay (the novelist George A. Birmingham) who 
would become one of Hyde's close friends and a staunch supporter within the Gaelic League. Nearby 
was Sheeaun, a prehistoric mound doubly famed as the site of one of Daniel O'Connell's "monster 
meetings." Six miles to the south, directly on the bay, rose Ireland's "Holy Mountain," Croagh Patrick, 
its sugarloaf peak on which St. Patrick himself was said to have fasted and prayed for forty days 
dominating the landscape. The site drew thousands of pilgrims during the last week in July. Hyde 
wished he could explore it. His aunts were merely thankful that in September the area was pleasantly 

On September 7 scenic roads leading south toward Connemara offered magnificent views of the coast 
and opportunities to study at close range the antiquities for which west Mayo was deservedly famous: 
ancient churches, dolmens, prehistoric pillarstones, and an intricately carved eleventh-century High 
Cross. By evening the travelers reached Letterfrack, where Douglas met an Irish- speaking schoolmaster 
with whom he carried on a brief but encouraging conversation: in his diary he noted with pleased 
surprise that he had had no difficulty understanding the man or making himself understood. At 
Kylemore his aunts agreed to wait while he climbed part way up a mountain less mystical than Croagh 
Patrick but nevertheless worth the exertion for its spectacular full view of the Atlantic. Clifden was 
disappointing: to Douglas the bustling market town was "dirty and ugly." He was glad to leave it for the 
trip eastward, through the central valley of Connemara and the Joyce country, toward Cong, where in 
1198 Rory, last high king of Ireland and an ancestor of the O'Conors of Castlerea, had died. The route 
took them past picturesque lakes and stony fields still blooming with golden gorse and purple heather, a 
romantic picture viewed against the backdrop of the Twelve Bens and the Maamturk Mountains. They 
were not far from Moytura Castle on Lough Corrib, where Sir William Wilde and his family spent their 
summers, when all romance 

vanished, for Cecilly discovered that she was missing the bag that contained much of her money. Certain 
that the rest of the trip would have to be cancelled, Douglas was miserable. To his relief, the loss 
delayed them but did not change their itinerary, and his aunts' spirits were dampened only temporarily. 

From Cong the travelers boarded a steamer across Lough Corrib to Galway, following a route later 
described in Trollope's posthumous novel. The Landleaguers . From Galway, where one day Hyde 
would play the poet Raftery in the premiere performance of another of his dramas in Irish, An Posadh 
(The Marriage), they continued by boat across the harbor to county Clare and by carriage to 
Lisdoonvama, missing Craughwell, where Raftery lay buried, and Coole Park, the estate of Lady 

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Gregory, sites that would figure importantly in Douglas's future. On September 10, well wrapped for the 
day's expedition, he and his aunts stood on the Cliffs of Moher, scene of the tragedy in Trollope's An 
Eye for an Eye . Mesmerized by the force with which the wind- whipped Atlantic crashed against 
menacing rocks two hundred yards below, Douglas was astonished to discover that he could taste the 
salt spray from the impact. By contrast, the comfortable rooms in which they lodged that evening, 
overlooking the horseshoe bay of fashionable and sheltered Kilkee, seemed to belong to another world. 

The next morning Douglas and his aunts left Kilkee for Kilrush, a few miles to the south on the Shannon 
estuary, to board an eastbound steamer across the Shannon to Foynes, from which they traveled by train 
to Limerick. After touring the historic city associated with both Brian Bom, the high king said to have 
defeated the Danes at Clontarf in 1014, and Patrick Sarsfield, hero of the Siege of Limerick, they caught 
the train for Killamey, arriving at eleven o'clock on the morning of September 12 for a week's stay. 
There, overwhelmed by the majesty of the Tore Cascade, the panorama of the Gap of Dunloe, the beauty 
of the three Lakes of Killamey (explored by boat under fine, clear skies), the picturesque ruins at every 
turn, Douglas's descriptive vocabulary failed him. After four days' sightseeing, "Never saw the likes of 
that scene ever" was all he could record of his impressions in his Irish diary. In Glengarriff on 
September 20 his Irish vocabulary failed him again, until the excitement of finding himself walking 
about on the actual ground that once had belonged to his ancestors inspired him to compose short Irish 
lyrics, or"ranns." 

The route to Cork on September 21 had been planned to take in Gouganebarra and Macroom, two of the 
best- known scenic spots of 

the southwest, but the weather was so bad that the three travelers could see nothing but the lashing rain 
from their carriage. Douglas was thoroughly and uncomfortably soaked, the rain having penetrated even 
his heavy overcoat. Nevertheless, awaiting the afternoon train from Cork, he could not resist browsing in 
bookstores and shopping for souvenirs, especially as he anticipated that once Portarlington had been 
reached he would have a hot meal, comfortable bed, and good rest in the hotel in which Cecilly had 
made reservations. When they arrived in Portarlington, however, they found that the hotel had been 
overbooked. By the time alternative private accommodations were arranged, all three travelers were 
exhausted and Douglas was thoroughly chilled. The next day's journey was also long and uncomfortable 
— twice they were delayed for three hours at intermediate stops — but by the evening of September 23, 
Douglas and his aunts were again home in Dmmkilla, where the opportunity to relive their trip by 
talking about it to others revived the excitement of their adventures. September 24 began with a new 
round of picnics, boatrides, tennis, croquet, long walks, and other diversions of Anglo- Irish life. 

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As he had promised himself, Douglas did keep a full account of his tour of western Ireland entirely in 
Irish, but the persona he adopted for the task was that of his English-speaking self: aloof, removed, 
tunnel- visioned. No notice of Irish- speaking communities was included in his written record, although in 
1876 the Gaeltacht stretched along the entire coast, from Donegal to Killamey. Except for his 
conversation with the schoolmaster in Letterfrack, he spoke no Irish but remained physically and 
psychologically within the Anglo-Irish corridor of hotels and guest houses that extended the length of 
the land. It was a narrow, insulated world in which he and his aunts regularly encountered family friends 
and other tourists who, if not prior acquaintances, were known to them by name and family connection. 
Shielded from everyone and everything else, Douglas made no decision — he did not even attempt to 
make a decision — about his future. 

Little changed for Douglas internally or externally during the next three months. If his intention was to 
follow the course that his father and the bishop had laid out for him, he did nothing toward removing 
deficiencies in his academic preparation. If he planned to choose a different course, he did nothing to 
weigh potential alternatives. His few diary entries, mostly about shooting, were written in English. The 
weather ranged from indifferent to harsh, with hard frost by October 10 and days of strong, biting wind. 
In late October one of his Hyde 

aunts, his father's sister Barbara, died in Dublin, where she had lived with her husband and children. The 
Reverend Arthur Hyde and his wife attended the funeral, after which Mrs. Hyde went on to Munster 
while her husband returned to the glebe house where Douglas and Annette had been left in charge. There 
he took to his bed almost immediately with a severe attack of gout. A few days later, at the beginning of 
November, while the Reverend Arthur Hyde was still bedridden, Arthur came home from Trinity with 
first-class honors but also with excruciating pains in his back. By the time Bessie Hyde returned to 
Frenchpark on November 20, Arthur's unrelieved suffering had become a cause for concern. Fortunately, 
Cecilly had come home with her, for Bessie was not entirely well herself and there were two patients to 
nurse. It was an unhappy household, very different from the one that had been the scene of summer 
parties, to which Emily Hyde journeyed from Mohill on November 27, nor had there been much 
improvement when the Lloyds arrived for luncheon on November 30. 

To escape the sickroom atmosphere that permeated the glebe house, Douglas had spent most of 
November outdoors, shooting. On November 19 he had acquired a new companion, on loan from Narry, 
from whom he and Annette had bought new boots: a dog called "Shot," half brother to Diver, and just as 
black. Cecilly stayed on through December. The weather was mostly fine, if frequently cold. By the 

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middle of the month Arthur was up and around at last able to join Douglas, Annette, and Cecilly on 
walks down to the float river. The Reverend Arthur Hyde improved, too, but slowly, with setbacks. 
Meanwhile, under Douglas's careful tutelage. Shot turned out to be a fine hunter; on December 19 he 
retrieved six snipe that Douglas had downed in the rushy fields near Lissachurcha and three more that 
Douglas had caught wheeling overhead as he walked home in the dark. Three days later, "after a great 
stalk, behind a low ditch" near the Lung River, Douglas killed a scotch grey at sixty yards with a green 
cartridge of No. 1 shot. The goose, also retrieved by Shot, weighed about seven pounds, he noted 

Meanwhile, spurred on perhaps by Arthur's academic successes, at last Douglas initiated a formal 
program of study. His diary entries, most of them written wholly or partly in conventionally spelled 
Irish, record his progress in translating Latin verse and conquering elementary German. But they also 
include short paragraphs devoted to observation and description that suggest a reawakening of Douglas's 
Irish persona and old love of words as well as a new conscious attention to Irish prose 

style. Among them the following, dated December 7, is evocative even in English translation: 

Since I was bom I have not seen anything like the look of the lake, nor water so quiet, nor a scene so 
pleasant. The water and the air were as one, and I saw every island in the water so plainly that I did not 
know what was an island, what was water. At the end, as we were going home, there was great fog, but 
we guided ourselves by the one star only. There was great danger in it. 

On Christmas morning it was evident from the gifts Douglas was given (a Gaelic Bible, a history of the 
Church of Ireland) that, whatever Douglas had said or failed to say, his family had assumed that the 
question of his future had been settled. Only from Cecilly Hyde, who perhaps knew him best, did he 
receive a different kind of present: a - Lett's Diary or Bills Due Book and Almanac for 1877 . His 
mother's cast-off household account book — the makeshift journal with its inkblots, its pen-and-ink 
soldiers and knights on guard at top and bottom margins, and its arsenal of swords, daggers, and pistols 
stored along each side in which he had been keeping a record of his inner and outer life since a month 
past his fourteenth birthday — was stored away with other artifacts of his childhood. He was almost 
seventeen; he had decisions to make about his future; he had work to do before he could implement 
those decisions. 

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A new Hyde emerged in the new diary begun January 1, 1877. Serious and studious, he scheduled his 
time carefully, kept track of his daily accomplishments in a neat small hand, and in businesslike fashion 
divided each entry so that half was written in English, half in Irish. More socially confident and 
congenial than in the past, he now went out of his way, returning from a walk along the lake, to speak 
with Marie de Freyne, whose carriage he had spotted on the road. So remarkable was the external 
transformation that at first it seemed as if it could not last. Week after week, however, until well into 
March, Douglas kept to his rigorous program, encouraged by Cecilly Hyde, who had volunteered to stay 
on after Christmas to tutor him in French. To his diary Douglas confessed that he was quite sure that she 
did not know much more of the language than he, but he gladly accepted her help for the companionship 
she provided. She was, he wrote in his diary, his best friend in the family; there was no one, he avowed, 
for whom he had more love. 

Bad weather also helped keep Douglas at work indoors: in all of January there were but four fine days, 
none of them mild. The rest were too cold, too windy, and too wet to spend much time outside. Shooting 

had to be curtailed despite the fact that Douglas's guns were probably in better condition than ever 
before, for he cleaned them over and over in anticipation of good weather that did not come. By January 
30 the turlough, the winter lake in the meadow generally agreed to be the best site for bagging 
waterfowl, had risen so high that nearby cottages had to be abandoned. 

Staying indoors at home day after day was not easy for Douglas, especially as his father, still crippled by 
gout, was usually irritable; his mother was not well, either; and until they returned to Dublin, Arthur and 
Oldfield regularly took refuge from the situation in short visits to Dmmkilla. The management of the 
glebe house was thus left to Douglas and Annette — a considerable responsibility as Annette was then not 
quite twelve years old. On January 15 Oldfield packed books and clothing sufficient for a four-month 
stint at Trinity: results of examinations for which he had to prepare would determine his eligibility for 
honors and a scholarship; therefore, he announced, he had no plans to return home before May. As 
Arthur, too, had returned to Dublin, it was a quiet seventeenth birthday, with just Cecilly and Annette for 
company, that Douglas celebrated on January 17, 1877. His present from Cecilly was a two-volume life 
of Bishop Peterson. She, too, had come to believe that he had reconciled himself to a career in the 
church. He himself was still not sure exactly what he might do. 

A few days after Douglas's birthday a Tibohine parishioner, John Carty, died of natural causes. No one 

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had told the Reverend Arthur Hyde, still housebound because he was too lame to walk, that Carty's body 
had been placed inside the church. When no arrangements for burial had been made by January 21, there 
was "great trouble" within the congregation. The incident embarrassed Douglas, increasing the old 
distance between himself and his father, evident in his diary since late October. 

On January 27 Douglas noted in his diary "considerable talk" of his "going out for an Irish sizarship in 
the college." Such an appointment was attractive because of the independence it would offer him. 
Realistic in appraising his academic capabilities, he observed, "It is not so hard but I . . . have a lot to 
do." Redoubling his efforts in Greek, Irish, Latin, German, and French, he became his own strictest 
taskmaster. No tutor could have been more disapproving when he failed to put in the minimum number 
of hours he had assigned himself or did not complete the work he had scheduled within the time allotted. 
On a typical day his plan of study called for two hours of Latin before midday dinner; 

an hour or two of Irish between dinner and supper; and an hour of Greek, another hour of Latin or 
German, and an hour of French between supper and bed. There were in addition books to read and 
poetry to memorize. 

Roscommon weather continued to be cloudy and wet through February and March. Even on fine days 
there were sudden showers; storms and squalls were frequent. Meadows and fields in which Douglas 
walked regularly became so marshy from the repeated rains that a man could sink in them. Turloughs 
appeared where even the oldest of "ould wans" had never seen them before. Cecilly, who had delayed 
her departure so that she could continue to be of help not only to Douglas but to the entire household, 
left for Dublin and Stillorgan on February 8. The next day a dispirited Douglas, dissatisfied with himself 
and cranky at being confined, complained to Connolly of the way in which he had cut the laurel hedge, 
the ivy, and the fuchsia. The laurel would never grow again, he insisted peevishly. New plants would 
have to be bought at once. On February 10 he wrote petulantly in his diary in Irish, "I have nothing to do 
because there is no fowling, nor games, nor visiting, nor sport at all." Y et, he added, bringing himself up 
short: "I am well settled down now studying." On February 12, feeling tired and unhappy, he diagnosed 
a sore throat as the root of his problem, dosed himself with whiskey, and went to bed. In a similar frame 
of mind, stiff from rheumatism as well as sore from gout, unable to go out shooting or walk along the 
road or even take a turn in his garden, the Reverend Arthur Hyde was making regular use of the same 
medicine, in much larger quantities. 

Lonely and depressed, Douglas began dropping into the Connolly cottage for conversations in Irish with 

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Connolly's wife, a native speaker in her youth who had promised to try to recover her former fluency for 
Douglas's benefit; he also renewed ties with Johnny and Michael Lavin, Cloigionin-a-naosc, and 
Dockry, with whom he had spent little time for more than half a year. Under their cottage roofs he was 
assured of a warm fire, a glass of whiskey, and a friendly chat to counter the gloom of tiie glebe house. 
Johnny Lavin was the man whose company he now enjoyed most. 

Lavin had a sharp mind, in Douglas's opinion, except when he was drinking, when he had no sense at all. 
Like so many other Frenchpark Irish speakers, he was fluent but illiterate in his native language, having 
been taught reading and writing only in English in the local school; but unlike others, he wanted to learn 
to read and write in Irish as well. 

Douglas loaned him the Irish catechism out of which he himself had traced Irish letters and studied the 
spelling of simple words and phrases. Cloigionin-a-naosc, one of the few local people who not only read 
Irish but owned several Irish books, was a different sort. Douglas borrowed a volume of Irish ballads 
from him, lending him in return one of his own books, the Reverend William Neilson's Introduction to 
the Irish Language (a grammar printed in 1843 for the use of Protestant missionaries in Irish- speaking 
districts). The ballad book interested Douglas. He liked not only the ballad stories but their narrative 
modes. Storytelling was an art that enticed him. He was intrigued by connections between the narrative 
techniques used by the ballad makers and those of the traditional storytellers. 

Mrs. Connolly was a good source of oral tradition. Visits with her always yielded interesting stories as 
well as a variety of Irish expressions. Whenever Douglas stopped to see her she had a few new phrases 
which she presented to him as happily as if they were gifts. He was quick to perceive the pleasant truth: 
she enjoyed their Irish conversations as much as he, for in the process of searching her memory for 
words forgotten in her youth she recalled forgotten incidents as well. Douglas took both words and 
stories home with him for phonetic inscription in his exercise book, then tried to work out their standard 
spellings according to the patterns he was learning to recognize and apply. Dockry alone among these 
old companions had become less congenial. Douglas was beginning to find him tiresome, for drunk or 
sober, in Irish or English, he talked of nothing but land and money. 

With two glebe house neighbors, Michael Lavin and Francis O'Ruark, young Hyde sometimes put on the 
gloves for a round of boxing. Francis was an easy man to be with; he and Douglas sometimes planned 
small expeditions together. One day, taking the boat out on Lough Gara as far as Coolavin, they rowed 
across Doctor's Lake, beached the boat, and walked along the railroad tracks until they reached a path on 

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their right that led up the hill to Moygara Castle. The four towers of the old castle, one at each comer, 
were connected by walls fifty yards long and so broad that they were easily able to walk the whole 
length of them as if they were on a country road. Some expeditions were spoiled by Douglas's practical 
jokes. One evening when they were coming home together in the dark, Douglas tried to trick Francis 
into thinking that tiiey had walked in the wrong direction. Against all Francis's protests he insisted that 
they were approaching notTibohine but Castlerea. By the time he acknowledged his joke, Francis 

was confused and upset, but Douglas was neither embarrassed nor contrite. He took his relationships 
with Frenchpark cottagers at face value, never wondering if his welcome was something they could not 
refuse because of their relative social positions, or if under their surface cordiality something akin to 
Dockry's resentments were stirring — not against him personally, perhaps, but against the Ascendancy 
world to which (like it or not, as he himself was learning) he inescapably belonged. Y et the new persona 
that appeared in 1877 did reveal moments of self-awareness and sensitivity. From time to time he took 
stock of himself and his behavior. Often he was dissatisfied. On January 17 — his seventeenth birthday — 
he was particularly harsh: "Alas, alas, the sorrows of Mary," he lamented in Irish to his diary, "I'm 
afraid I'm not what I should be." Shamefacedly he also admitted, "I have written that under the power of 
a bottle I got the courage to write that from whiskey." 

On the positive side, Douglas was, as he himself said, "well settled down" to his studying. Certainly the 
evidence was encouraging: he had completed Virgil's Georgics on January 31; he began the Aeneid on 
February 24. He had started the New Testament in Greek and Irish during the last week in January; by 
February 22 he had finished the Fourth Gospel in Greek. Nor was life so joyless and solitary as he 
sometimes made it out to be. Cecilly, to be sure, had gone back to Dmmkilla, but Arthur had come 
home, and even if he was not Douglas's favorite companion, he could be counted on to go shooting 
when the weather permitted. On one rare day when the weather was reasonably good the two brothers 
took their guns and went out in their boat on Lough Gara. With no particular destination but a place 
where they might find game, they happened upon a bog neither had seen before in which there was a 
little lake, perhaps a turiough, around which eighty to a hundred snipe had gathered. As they considered 
how best to approach the birds across the spongy ground, they were challenged by an old woman who, 
having identified herself as wife of the keeper of tiie bog, scolded them in "Bearlaige," the mixture of 
English and Irish increasingly found in transitional areas where the native language was dying out and 
English was not yet fully established. Using the same talent for caricature evident in his drawings in his 
diaiy and exercise book, Douglas parodied the incident in a lighthearted Bearlaige of his own that 
anticipates the writings of "Myles na gCopaleen" (i.e., Brian 'Nolan): 

I shot a brace in the bog, but after a little time an old cailleach who said she was bean na keeper came up 

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& put triobloid mor on me, blaidaircacht & 

barging, refusing to take airegeod no uiscebeatlia, so tliat in spite of my most soothing sentences in tlie 
teanga blasda milis, I had, air dheiradh, to leave the bog & let a fine gearrfiadh escape ... & come home 

On another expedition by boat that yielded no game but gave Douglas a chance to practice his 
conversational Irish with visitors to Roscommon from Mayo, the brothers stopped so long at a shebeen 
that they did not come home until considerably after dark. 

Political talk, always available at Johnny Lavin's, was another favorite diversion. Like the summer 
visitors to the glebe house, the cottagers were divided on the subject of Pamell, especially as in 1877 it 
now looked as if Biggar and Pamell were taking over Butt's Home Rule movement. There were those 
who, remembering the trial of the Fenians in 1865, were sympathetic to Isaac Butt, who had stood alone 
against Keogh. Otiiers argued that sentiment could not be allowed to interfere: Pamell was the man for 
the job. Still, O'Kelly's election as M.P. from Roscommon was a surprise to everyone. Some said it was 
about time — the old 'Conor Don had been in the House for twenty years, and what, they asked, had he 
done for the tenants. Others defended 'Conor Don's record, reminding the Pamellites that the 'Conors 
had been the best landlords in the area for as long as anyone could remember; that it was an 'Conor 
who had worked with O'Connell for Catholic emancipation; that this same 'Conor had been among the 
first Catholics to be elected to Parliament in 1831; and that it was an 'Conor in Parliament during the 
Famine who had answered the skeptics with facts and figures conceming the sick and dying people of 
the west. 

On Febmary 21, a man who had been ten years old in 1798 when the French sailed into Killala Bay 
spent the evening at Johnny Lavin's. Y oung Hyde sat close to him, near the fire. Fascinated, he listened 
to the old man's vivid recollections of the event. On Febmary 27 Douglas was again at Lavin's for an 
account of a Fenian meeting held in Frenchpark that all present jubilantly hailed as a success. Aware of 
his father's attitudes and those of the neighboring Anglo-Irish, Douglas kept what he leamed about the 
Fenians to himself. Anything he might say almost certainly would reveal sympathies unacceptable to the 
Reverend Arthur Hyde. In the years since his confrontation with Dublin schoolboys Douglas had leamed 
to be discreet in some circles. But on the question of Pamell, Douglas admitted to himself that the flam- 

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boyant new M.P. was a fascinating figure — a Protestant like himself with radical sympathies that 
resembled his own. 

At the end of March the weather turned fine at last. Douglas had adhered to a schedule of seven and 
more hours of intensive study every day while the rain and cold persisted. He was doing well. By the 
middle of March he had finished the Aeneid; by the middle of April he had covered most of the lessons 
in Neilson's Irish grammar. He also had read Pendennis and several books of poetry, including a Latin- 
Irish text by a man from Derry. His Irish was improving dramatically. No longer did he write 
phonetically, using English characters: entries in his diary and exercise books showed the same talent for 
drawing evident in the sketches and caricatures that used to decorate his work, producing a handsome 
imitation of printed Irish in which most words were spelled correctly and formed grammatically, with 
appropriate diacritical marks, and standard abbreviations were used. His exercise books had become 
commonplace books into which he copied portions of texts that particularly appealed to him, sometimes 
with and sometimes without comment. 

Toward the end of April, Douglas's pace slowed. He was drinking more than was good for him, he knew 
— so much, he confessed to his diary, that at times he was unable to work. Even when he had drunk 
nothing at all, he often felt subdued, restless, lacking in his usual vitality. In his diary " mar a riamh " (as 
always) began to replace his previous careful accounting of how his daily time was spent. There were 
things that were botiiering him, he acknowledged, among them questions to which he did not know the 
answers: What if he passed the examinations for Trinity but refused to enroll as a theology student? 
Would his father really cut off the funds he needed to attend college? 

It was not unusual for Douglas to interrupt an afternoon's shooting to explore a prehistoric site. 
Antiquities had fascinated him ever since he had first learned about them from Seamas Hart. Liosairgul, 
not far from Hart's bog. Lough Gara, the Lung River, and Ballinphuil — all favorite haunts within an easy 
walk of Tibohine — always had seemed to him to be "a curious place, all full of raths & holes going 
down perpendicularly in the ground sometimes 20 yards wide & as many deep & always round." Often a 
man cutting turf would find in the bog an artifact of such intricate design that there was no doubt of the 
sophistication of the people who would make or own such a thing. Old Irish castles — not the tower 
houses built by the English with a small subsidy 

from the Crown, but formidable structures of the kings of Ireland, such as Ballintober — fired his 

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Eighteen montlis had passed since the death of Seamas Hart when, on the morning of May 24, 1877, 
telling no one, Douglas silently left the glebe house before six o'clock for a strange and solitary 
expedition. During most of that time he had allowed himself to be carried along by shifting currents. For 
the last four months he had seemed to be following the course set for him by his father and the bishop, 
but without enthusiasm. Taking with him no food, only a candle, he walked to the float river, from 
which he caught the train to Kilfree, then tramped across "rugged country without roads or paths" 
toward Keshcorran, highest of the stony mountains near Bally mote that comprise an extended 
prehistoric cemetery of cairns, promontory tombs, and caves in which it is said that remains of reindeer, 
Irish elk, and other extinct animals have been found. Too tired to reach his objective, the cairn atop 
Keshcorran, Douglas entered one of the caves. Lighting his candle, he made his way along a narrow 
passage as far as he could go — about thirty yards. The central chamber, he reported, was "large enough 
for 10 couples to dance in." He says nothing more about what he did or saw although he does indicate 
that he lingered for a considerable time before returning to Kilfree by way of sparsely traveled roads that 
crisscross Keshcorran, providing a longer but easier descent. At the station he discovered that he would 
have a long wait for the next train back to Ballaghaderreen. 

The mood or thought or doubt or conflict that had precipitated the day's behavior apparently left Douglas 
as he waited for the train. Boyish again, he passed the time, he wrote, amusing himself by "letting on to 
be Catholic" and pretending to know no English to a man whom he engaged in conversation in Irish. 
The man not only believed him, he gleefully confided to his diary, but took him to be a young priest or 
seminarian. Faced with a tired and bedraggled young stranger who spoke Irish with a pronounced 
Ascendancy accent while claiming to be a monolingual native Irish speaker, the Kilfree man no doubt 
had amused himself as well, pretending to believe Douglas's pretenses. But to what extent was the 
pretense which Douglas maintained as if it were just one of his practical jokes related to his behavior 
earlier in the day? 

During the months that followed, nothing more came of either Douglas's strange psychodrama of May 
24 or his father's ultimatum concerning his future, partly because otiier issues, public and personal. 

dominated glebe house conversation, partly because Douglas had made up his mind to try for the Irish 
sizarship. At first, public issues appeared to be the greater concern. Agrarian crime was increasing; it 
could no longer be denied, even by Douglas, who on the one hand feared and on the other hand was 

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fascinated by its potential. Incidents involving tiireats and physical violence were no longer remote. 
Mysterious fires broke out on nearby estates. In Frenchpark at tiie beginning of May, five to six hundred 
angry men had confronted a bailiff, demanding the price of a heifer tliat had been taken from one of 
them. On June 2, Captain Sandford's agent Mr. Young, was shot dead. His body was found close to his 
own house in Castlerea, no more than several hundred feet from town, covered by a large sheepskin. 

Public outcry demanded immediate and swift justice, but local gossip expressed confidence that Young's 
killer would never be named or found. Dockry 's behavior reflected a new militant attitude evident 
among some of the cottagers. A few days after Y oung's death he stood on the back doorstep of the glebe 
house, holding forth about land reform and similar measures, refusing to change the subject or simply go 
away, to Douglas's increasing irritation. The next day word spread that another delegation of angry 
tenants had presented a list of demands backed by felonious threats to Sandford. 

Although never in danger themselves, the Hydes could not help but be uneasy. For Douglas, who felt 
himself a member of both worlds, Anglo- Irish and native Irish, there was tension in what was said as 
well as what was unsaid in glebe house and neighboring cottage. Ambivalent toward both, he tried to 
concentrate on the reading and study schedule he had set for himself in January. He wanted to keep in 
touch with what was happening, yet he knew that if he was going to try for a sizarship at Trinity, he 
could not allow himself to be distracted. It was almost the middle of June and he had begun Euclid, the 
next subject, following Arthur's advice, that he had to cram. Even shooting was curtailed while he bent 
over his writing table for hours at a time, his books and papers scattered about him on the floor. Some 
days his diary contained nothing more than a cryptic record in a newly devised system of symbols and 
abbreviations of how he had allocated his waking hours. One day, in need of a break, he walked to 
Buckhill — a distance of three to four miles, he estimated, possibly a bit more — to talk with Rochesfort, a 
man with scholarly interests, a good library, and a good command of Irish whom he had sometimes 
visited with his father. It was, he declared, a "successful pilgrimage" that gave him a chance to rest 

his eyes and stretch his legs — as well as to discover an unusual Irish poem that he took home with him 
to reread and analyze. 

Meanwhile, Bessie Hyde's long, debilitating illness, later diagnosed as asthma, continued. Day after day 
she stayed in bed or dragged herself around, neither improving nor getting worse despite powders and 
herbal teas and other homegrown remedies. She did not feel up to a journey to Dublin, but everyone 
agreed that there was no alternative: she had to consult a specialist. Douglas was glad to accompany her, 

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for her sake as well as his own. Except for an occasional respite such as the day spent at Keshcorran or 
the afternoon at Buckhill, he had been working hard for months. He needed a change of scene and a 
different pace, if only for a few days. 

The trip to Dublin on June 19 was fortuitous. Douglas and his mother stayed as usual with the Oldfields 
in Blackrock where she could rest comfortably in her sisters' home between doctors' appointments while 
he was free to walk about the city and browse in its bookstores. In a shop on Anglesea Street where on 
previous trips he had purchased Irish books (the owner was John 'Daly, honorary secretary of the 
Ossianic Society, and a well-known publisher of Irish texts), he discovered that a "new society founded 
for keeping up the Irish language" was holding a meeting. He took a seat and listened "for a good 
while," looking around at the small but serious group of articulate and well-dressed women and men of 
different ages who had been drawn together by a subject in which he would not have expected Dubliners 
to be interested. When at last he got up to leave, a tall, muscular man with a small imperial beard also 
stood up and, walking with him to the door, invited him to tea the next afternoon. 

Described by Dominic Daly as "a tireless worker for the . . . language," the man who approached 
Douglas was Thomas O'Neill Russell, a native of Westmeath who sailed regularly between Ireland and 
the United States, serving both his vocation (he was a commercial traveler for a whiskey firm, Hyde 
later learned) and his avocation, the promotion of Irish. He and the others at the meeting, Douglas 
discovered, were members of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language, a respectable 
semischolarly organization to which 'Conor Don, one of its founders, already had introduced him. 

The next afternoon, after accompanying his aunt Cecily Oldfield on a visit to Dublin cousins, the 
Mansfields, Douglas went to Kingstown to have tea with O'Neill Russell and his wife. At first he 
thought that Mrs. 'Neill Russell was French, for that was the language in which 

the couple spoke to each other. Later, surmising that they had met in France where O'Neill Russell had 
lived for a time, he concluded that she was Swedish or Danish. In the hours they spent talking together 
about the fortunes of the Irish language, Douglas heard for the first time that there was strong interest in 
Irish in the United States — that indeed, there were American societies organized for the sole purpose of 
promoting Irish culture — and that some of those societies actually held regular classes in conversational 
modem Irish. 'Neill Russell also chatted familiarly about old Irish books and manuscripts that could be 
read in Dublin, at the Royal Irish Academy, and offered to introduce Douglas to the librarian and show 
him around the library there. 

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At eleven o'clock on June 21, Douglas stood on Dawson, a short street that runs between St. Stephens' 
Green and Trinity College, at the gracious entrance to the neoclassical residence that had been built for 
the Knox family in 1770 and acquired by the Royal Irish Academy in 1852. Itself an architectural gem, 
as Douglas admiringly noted, it was, he soon discovered, but the setting for such treasures as he had 
never dreamed existed. Hearing a friendly shout, he spied the tall figure of 'Neill Russell energetically 
cutting his way through dawdling pedestrians, surveying his walking stick as if it were a companion. 
Russell introduced Douglas to Mangan, director of the library, a kindly man who accepted a pinch of 
snuff and offered to provide Douglas with "every help ... in learning Irish" if he could manage to come 
to the academy regularly. J.J. MacSweeney, the assistant librarian, repeatedly assured him that he was 
welcome to return whenever he liked. To his diary that evening Douglas confessed that the sight of so 
many priceless Irish artifacts — "old books eight hundred years of age, spearheads, harps, swords, the 
Tara brooch, the Cross of Cong, bog butter" — so dazzled him that he could not remember all that he had 
seen and examined. Two weeks later, back home in Roscommon, he received the very first letter ever 
sent to him in Irish, precursor of thousands. It was from 'Neill Russell, asking him for a contribution to 
help support the work of the society. Douglas's response was the first letter he had ever composed in Irish 
— written, he apologized, "as best he was able." 

The Dublin trip with its unexpected outcome was exhilarating. For Douglas it provided a first indication 
that he could pursue his interest in Irish culture and the Irish language without necessarily limiting 
himself as his father thought to the life of a country vicar in a remote village in the west. At home there 
were Rochesfort three or four miles away in Buckhill and 'Conor Don about double that distance at 

Clonalis. That Dublin could gather together in one room so many people of his own class and 
background who shared his interests in modem Irish was a revelation. His excitement, however, was 
short-lived, for other realities soon impinged on his mood. For one thing, despite his mother's 
consultations with Dublin doctors, her condition did not improve. The new carpet with which she had 
come home had cheered her temporarily, but within days she was again weak and dispirited. Well into 
July she often lacked sufficient strength even to go to church on Sunday. Nor was she the only one who 
had to be looked after. Johnny Lavin was sick, too. Douglas made frequent visits to his cottage to try to 
encourage him. And the Reverend Arthur Hyde also was spending much time in bed, although "not for a 
good reason," Annette confided: he had been drinking heavily again. But it was a minor matter that 
seemed to occupy Douglas disproportionately: during his absence the Hyde boat, which had been taken 
without permission, had been scraped in some mishap. Asa conciliatory gesture Dockry (whom Hyde 
suspected of involvement in the unauthorized borrowing) had painted and caulked it. But Dockry also 
had inscribed on its hull a new name of his own choosing: Home Rule . 

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Within tlie two short years since Charles Stewart Pamell had entered Parliament Home Rule had 
become, throughout Ireland, the most divisive political issue of the day. County Roscommon was no 
exception: it had been the rallying cry of the Pamellites who had supported 'Kelly against 'Conor 
Don in the last parliamentary elections. O'Conor Don's position had been regarded as unquestionably 
solid, but to the voters what counted more than trust and tradition was Pamell 's membership in the 
Amnesty Association and his publicly proclaimed belief in the innocence of the Manchester Martyrs, 
who had been hanged in 1867 for their role in a plot to secure the release of Fenian prisoners. Moreover, 
there always had been radicals and political nonconformists in the Pamell family, it was said: in 1800 
Sir John Pamell, Charles Stewart Pamell's great-grandfather, had opposed the Act of Union; Pamell's 
mother was an American; his sister, Fanny, wrote poetry for the Irish People . In the cottages of 
Frenchpark and Castlerea talk of an Irish bloc that could win parliamentary support for Irish interests 
evoked memories of 1850 and arguments for solidarity. If voters would give Pamell the wedge of 
support he needed, many were heard to declare, he could insist that the major parties negotiate with him. 
If the major parties refused, he could bring the govemment to a standstill. Pamell was not just a member 
of Parliament. He was a cause. 

A political rather than a cultural nationalist, Charles Stewart Pamell (1846-1891) had grown up, like 
Douglas Hyde, hearing stories of 1898 and 1848 from his father's tenants, many of them veterans of 
these events. From Avondale in county Wicklow he had gone to Cambridge where (as in the 
Ascendancy school in Dublin briefly attended by Hyde) to identify oneself as Irish was to risk being 
regarded as declasse. Little had changed in the attitudes of most nineteenth- century Englishmen, as 
Sarah Bradford, Disraeli's biographer, points out, since Swift complained of his loss of status when he 
crossed the Irish Sea. In 1877 Douglas was unaware of the particulars of Pamell's education and 
experience. What attracted him was the combination of nationalist sentiment and Anglo- Irish 
background that he saw in himself. For him Pamell was one more man to be admired and emulated in a 
long tradition of nineteenth- century Protestant Ascendancy leaders who had declared themselves for 

Douglas's irritation with Dockry was not caused therefore by Dockry's impudence in naming the Hyde 
boat Home Rule but by his ignorance and lack of interest in Irish history. Dockry, like Lalor and 
Mitchel, saw Ireland as a land divided between landlord and tenant, not unionist and nationalist. His 
philosophy was simple: a good landlord was preferable to a bad one; far better to have no landlord at all. 
If he supported Home Rule it was because Pamell and his bloc were said to be on the side of the tenants. 
For Douglas, Ireland was a land that conferred its unique and ancient heritage on all its people, 
regardless of class or background; both land and heritage were threatened by those who, careless of its 
cultural riches and historic identity, govemed Ireland only to exploit it as a source of money, position. 

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and power. To Douglas, Pamell was the heir of Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and Thomas Davis. 

Douglas was particularly stxmg by Dockry's wholesale condemnation of all landlords, which to him was 
eminently unfair. Even his own father, although thoroughly unionist and inalterably opposed to Home 
Rule, was scarcely a rack-renting landlord. A man of great physical energy and a genuine love for the 
outdoors, he often worked side by side with his tenants and his sons during planting and haying seasons. 
Rector of Frenchpark, he was at the same time a man of the land: he could care for his crops and 
livestock and mend his walls and roads as competently as Connolly and Dockry. In his role of "masther" 
he might refer to Connolly, Dockry, and others as "the lower orders," but he got on well with them. 
Douglas knew that his fattier was not a man who 

would take a family's cow or evict a tenant down on his luck. He was simply an English subject bom 
and living in Ireland who had a one-sided view of Irish history and little or no knowledge or 
understanding of Irish culture. Never did it occur to him that Dockry's target was not landlords as 
individuals but landlords as a class. 

At home in the glebe house the target was the Pamellites. When the government's position on the subject 
was propounded, Arttiur and Oldfield could be counted on to echo the sentiments of the Reverend 
Arttiur Hyde. Visitors entertained in the drawing-room affirmed that similar opinions were expressed in 
the Georgian houses of friends and relatives as far away as Dublin and Cork. Theirs were the views also 
of O'Conor Don and other Catholic landlords. To them the Fenians were dangerous conspirators 
supported by ill-advised Americans who, if unchecked, would bring violence and bloodshed to peaceful 
Roscommon. Pamellism, they avowed, was but another name for parliamentary Fenianism. No one 
seemed to notice that Douglas had little to say on the subject. Discreet among family members and 
friends, he gave full vent to his nationalist sympathies in fiery poems and radical essays written in 
English and Irish— juvenilia, riddled with cliches — that he preserved in his commonplace book and 
diary. Y et he also considered privately all that he had heard of the disappointment and disenchantment 
that had followed the rise of hopeful movements of the past. How had they been undermined? By what 
had they been defeated? If the United Irishmen, the Men of 1848, the Y oung Irelanders, the Repealers, 
and the Fenians all had failed, could the Pamellites succeed? In his young heart, Douglas regarded 
himself as a champion of the Irish people; he too wanted Ireland to achieve nationhood; he too wanted to 
throw off what, following the poetasters of the period, he called "the hated yoke of the Saxon." His own 
personal independence, however, depended not on Pamell but on the Irish sizarship. 

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During the next twelve months Douglas steadily increased the hours he spent studying. He added Euclid 
to his schedule; helped by Cecilly Hyde, he made his way through "twenty or thirty" lessons of 
Ollendorff, a German text. Respites were few, although from time to time he had long talks with 
Rochesfort at either Buckhill or the glebe house. Around him life proceeded as usual: Johnny Lavin was 
soon up and about again, but then Mrs. Connolly fell ill, and his mother and father, if no better, were at 
least no worse. Observing the embarrassing behavior of his father and his brother Oldfield, for a time he 
restricted his own consumption of beer and whiskey. One day when he and An- 

nette were visiting the Hamiltons, he was concerned to find that a bottle of Hollands had left him in 
danger of becoming, as he said, "non compos mentis." He had been out boating with others when he 
began to feel foolish and light-headed. Curling up in the boat's cabin, he went to sleep. By dinner he was 
all right, but he drank nothing more that day. 

O'Neill Russell continued to send Douglas letters in Irish, usually about the progress of the language, but 
sometimes on other subjects. In one letter 'Neill Russell advised Douglas to read Ruskin. It was a great 
pity, Douglas's new mentor declared, that such a man was not Irish. "So ignorant was I at this time," 
Hyde later confessed, "that I had to inquire who Ruskin was!" But even as he had begun to realize how 
much there was to learn, how much he did not know, he was steadily becoming more confident of his 
ability to quantify his academic accomplishments and to set for himself realistic intermediate and long- 
range goals. One intermediate goal before him at the beginning of 1878 was the schedule of work he had 
determined to finish by the end of June. His Drumkilla aunts, Emily and Cecilly Hyde, had invited him 
to join them on a summer tour of France and Switzerland, but he could not allow himself to go without 
first making substantial progress toward proficiency in the subjects in which he knew he would be 
examined when he applied to Trinity. The tour was to begin and end in London. That in itself was an 
exciting prospect. Never before had he been out of his own country. 

- - 5 First Flowering - 

On his first trip to the Continent in July 1878 Douglas continued the love affair with France begun when, 
as a boy of fourteen, he had first tried to compose poems and simple descriptive prose paragraphs in 
elementary French. Now quite competent in the language, he enjoyed reading French literature, 
especially romances. During the spring he had started St. Pierre's Paul et Virginie . He finished it in 
Paris, then browsed in the stalls along the Seine, looking for similar books to buy. 

One disappointing purchase was Voltaire's Lady Babylon and Other Stories, chosen as much for its 
author as for its contents. Voltaire, it was said, was a son who had desired no profession but literature 

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who had been opposed by a father who considered hterature no profession at all. The parallel to 
Douglas's conflict with his own father was irresistible. Voltaire, moreover, had been a champion of the 
oppressed; in his youth, like Douglas, he had secretly written dangerous poems libeling the existing 
political regime and opposing its persecuting and privileged orthodoxy. A striking feature exploited by 
caricaturists who depicted Voltaire was the unusual brilliance of his eyes. Douglas's eyes also were 
unusual in their brightness and intensity. Voltaire reportedly had many mistresses. Douglas had not yet 
had any at all, except vicariously, through identification with the heroes of the romances he liked to 
read. But during the past year he had become increasingly if cautiously interested, from a safe distance, 
in certain women. Only recently it had struck him that Christine Wilson, sister of his friend Mackey, 

was very pretty, while Marie de Freyne was very plain. He particularly enjoyed attention from 
sophisticated older women who did not giggle or blush but showed a real interest in what he had to say. 
Two years ago on his trip to Kerry with Emily and Cecilly Hyde, a chance encounter with his aunts' 
warm and charming friend, Anna White, had left him smitten. In his diary he wrote of her as "Una Ban. 
It was, of course, a direct translation of her name, but it also had a romantic undertone that appealed to 

The similarities Douglas had noted between himself and Voltaire did not extend to the ideas that the 
French author expressed in his fiction. Having taken his newly acquired copy of Lady Babylon back to 
his lodgings, he had opened it — and been repelled by what he read. It was nothing, he avowed, that he 
would ever write. Granted the story was cleverly composed. But to even an advanced thinker like 
himself (he was certainly advanced, he assured himself, in comparison with his father and brothers) it 
was clearly "atheistic, dirty, and ugly." This did not mean, however, that he should stop reading or 
discard the book or not buy more books by the same author: he prided himself on his agreement with 
Voltaire that taste must never become the basis for censorship. (Later, when he tried his pen at satire, 
Voltaire was one of his models.) He also shared Voltaire's belief in educating the masses. His favorite 
Paris landmark was the Bibliotheque Nationale. For him it epitomized France, a country "so fine," where 
"so many books are written that they are put out free." 

After Paris, London at first seemed pedestrian. In France Douglas had observed "a greater measure of 
civility among people, women and men," than he had seen in England or Ireland. He noted, for example, 
that when Frenchmen were spoken to, they raised their hats, a custom he considered adopting. He 
approved of French gallantry, especially the Frenchman's habit of taking off his hat and holding it in his 
hand whenever a woman passed by. But London was agreeably less foreign, a relaxing change from 
France, once he had completed the ordeal of converting his remaining francs back into pounds and then 
translating his record of expenditures into the same currency. London was also fun. In the fashionable 

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district wliere he and his aunts were staying, he kept running into people he had met in Ireland. One 
happy encounter was with none other than Anna White. To his diary he confessed, "I think I am in 
heaven when I am with her." Dashing about London by himself, visiting Anna White, and making 
impromptu appointments with others, Douglas felt that he had become very sophisticated. Alone and 

with groups of two or three or more, he dined out, went to the theater, and shopped for such a number of 
books, gifts, and souvenirs that on his last day in England he had to buy an extra portmanteau to cany 
them all. 

On July 29 Douglas and his aunts began the long journey home, by train through Wales to Holyhead, by 
night ferry to Dublin. Arriving at the North Wall at six o'clock the next morning, they first checked their 
luggage at Broadstone, then separated briefly, his aunts to spend the day with friends, Douglas to wander 
about the city, seeing it with the new eyes of a young Irishman just returned from England and the 
Continent. Strolling about aimlessly, he stopped first for a large, leisurely breakfast, next for a warm 
bath, and then headed for his usual haunts, the bookstores, where he used his leftover travel money to 
buy several pictures of Ireland, a book of prophecies in Irish and English, a history of Ireland, a copy of 
the Proceedings of the Ossianic Society, and a first edition of Donlevy's Irish catechism, published in 
Paris in 1742. In one of the bookstores he encountered Father Nolan, secretary of the Society for the 
Preservation of the Irish Language, who told him that John 'Daly had died and that there was to be a 
grand auction of books from his shop. Father Nolan also announced to Douglas that, in response to a 
memorial on the subject of education in the Irish language that had been sent by the society to the 
National School Commission in June, the commissioners had agreed to grant result fees for student 
proficiency to secondary-school teachers of Irish on the same terms as those that applied to secondary- 
school teachers of Greek, French, and Latin. It was not only a major breakthrough in the struggle to 
preserve modem Irish, Nolan triumphantly declared, but proof of what might be accomplished, for until 
the society had entered the debate on the side of the language, the National School commissioners had 
refused to recognize modem Irish as an academic subject. 

In midaftemoon Douglas hurried to Broadstone to meet his aunts and catch the four o'clock train to the 
west. They reached Dmmkilla before midnight for a happy reunion with Frances, her husband, and 
Douglas's brother Arthur, who had come up from Frenchpark for a visit. Despite the hour they promptly 
began distributing gifts and recalling excitedly everything they had seen and done. In tum they received 
the latest news of Mohill. As usual, it had been a whirl of activity: lunches, dinners, teas, cricket, soccer, 
tennis — even one enormous early-moming-to-late- night party at Dmmkilla to which a hundred people 
had been invited. It was easy to get caught up in such an agreeable so- 

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ciety, Douglas admitted to his diary. It would be pleasant to stay longer. But at the end of a week he 
faced the fact that he had been away from his studies for over a month. 

On August 8 Douglas and Arthur left Drumkilla for Frenchpark. Before them, alas, was a far from happy 
homecoming. Arthur had warned Douglas that both their father and Oldfield had been drinking heavily. 
What he found was worse than he expected. Dinner was not yet over when Oldfield staggered upstairs 
and fell asleep, only to wake up vomiting. At ten o'clock he was back downstairs, obstreperously 
demanding more to drink. Meanwhile the Reverend Arthur Hyde, with a glass before him, obviously 
satisfied with himself for having proved his greater drinking prowess, declared that he felt as if he were 
a college man again. "Indeed, there is a great difference between this place and Drumkilla," Douglas 
wrote tiiat night in his diary, with a wry restraint he was soon to find hard to maintain. 

On August 14 Douglas received an enthusiastic report from Russell on the progress of Irish classes in 
America and the details of the important agreement struck with the National School commissioner about 
which he already had been briefed by Father Nolan. The same mail brought a list of the books and 
manuscripts that were to be auctioned at 'Daly's bookshop on August 19. It was a pity, he thought, that 
he would not be able to take advantage of such an opportunity, but his final reckoning of trip expenses 
confirmed that he had spent the last of his money in Dublin on his return from Europe. To his amazement 
— the Reverend Arthur Hyde was rarely generous with money, even only shillings and pence — his father 
offered him six pounds. Delighted with his good fortune, Douglas immediately made plans to return to 
Dublin on Saturday, August 17, for a pre-auction look at the items that would be included in the Monday 

Before Saturday, however, there was trouble in the glebe house. On August 15 Douglas noted that "Ma 
was not well and the Master was bad enough as usual for the same reason — too much of the full jug." 
Arthur bitterly reproached his father, but the rector, behaving as if he were a Trinity student conducting 
a mock debate with one of his contemporaries, answered "full of sophistia and a kind of slippery 
wisdom." Oldfield did not occupy his usual third position in the old trio; he was despondent for a 
different reason. Without money or prospects that would enable him to make an offer of marriage, he 
had been courting a young woman from Carrick-on- Shannon. Her father, who had previously made clear 
his disapproval, had told him never to come to the 

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house or otherwise try to see the young woman again. Douglas was sympathetic: "I think was hot after 
this girl. ... I think she felt warmly toward him, too." Y et he recognized the hopelessness of Oldfield's 
position and took it as a warning to himself. If he refused to consider a career in the church, what would 
his own prospects be in five or six years, when he was approaching Oldfield's age? His father already 
had raised the question with him, sneeringly suggesting that with his interest in languages, he might 
consider becoming a missionary "to the black men in foreign lands." He realized that it was not just 
some hypothetical future desire to marry but the whole question of how and where he would live that 
was at stake. When he returned from Dublin, Douglas vowed, he would redouble his efforts to qualify 
for the Irish sizarship. At the very least it would give him a measure of independence during the next 
few years. 

On Saturday, August 17, Douglas was up at five o'clock in the morning. Connolly drove him to Boyle, 
where he caught the eight o'clock train to Dublin. As soon as he arrived he went to D 'Olier Street where 
the books to be auctioned had been set out for examination. Both their number and variety astonished 
him. He had determined, however, that he would buy only Irish items, so it was on these that he 
concentrated, moving slowly from one to another, carefully noting the contents and condition of each, 
through a long and tiring yet exciting day. At six o'clock in the evening he left D 'Olier Street to catch the 
train from Westland Row Station to Blackrock, where he stayed with his Oldfield aunts and his 
grandmother. He could hardly wait for Monday morning. Only Sunday intervened. It was not easy for 
him to sit through morning services with his grandmother and aunts, tiien accompany Cecily Oldfield on 
her usual rounds of afternoon and evening sermons in the different churches of the area — especially as 
most of the ministers were not so eloquent as Dr. O'Gallaher, author of the collection of sermons printed 
in English and Irish on facing pages that had become Douglas's usual Sunday reading. In the last church 
they visited on Sunday evening, he had scarcely settled into his seat for the last sermon of the day when 
his head began to nod and, to his aunt's distress, soon he was fast asleep. 

Although the 'Daly auction did not begin until one in the afternoon, Douglas was back in Dublin early 
Monday morning. In his diary he wrote regretfully, "There was many a book on which my heart was set 
but which I had to let go because I could not offer as much as others." At the same time he noted that he 
was lucky to get what he bought as cheaply as he did, for there was more interest in Irish items 

than he had expected, and more money going on them. He had bid five shillings and ninepence for 
Keating's History of Ireland "translated by O'Mahony the Fenian in America" — a good book to show 
Dockry, who prided himself on his Fenianism, but had so little interest in Ireland's past. What would 
Dockry think of his hero, John O'Mahony, a founder of the Fenian Brotherhood, undertaking such a 
task? Among the other eight items he purchased were 'Reilly 's Dictionary with a supplement by John 

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'Donovan, published in 1864; The Celtic Miscellany for 1849; and Oidche Cloinne Uisneach (The fate 
of the sons of Usna) published by the Gaelic Society in 1808. Had it not been for a bookseller named 
Traynor, his strongest competitor throughout the day, he also would have had a copy of the Annals of 
the Four Masters, but his bidding at least had kept the bookseller from getting it for a pound. 

On Tuesday morning Douglas returned to the auction, where he now felt quite at home. A good part of 
the excitement of each day was the chance it offered for discussion of Irish books and manuscripts with 
other members of the Dublin Irish- language circle to which he now felt that he belonged. He found to 
his pleasure that he knew a lot more than he had realized about the subject. He put in his bid for a rare 
Irish catechism published in Rome in 1707, acquiring it "very cheaply entirely at ninepence." He and 
Traynor struck a bargain that allowed Douglas to obtain a lot of ten books at a good price with the 
understanding that Douglas would give the bookseller three if he would stay out of the bidding. Among 
the items Douglas wanted were several in Scots Gaelic, which he had just begun to study seriously, and 
a copy of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress in Irish. The three items he gave to the bookseller were, he wrote 
gleefully, the least interesting of the ten. 

Clearly enjoying the clublike atmosphere of the auction (many of the bidders and observers were people 
with whom he had become acquainted through O'Neill Russell, the Society for the Preservation of the 
Irish Language, or 'Daly's bookstore), Douglas returned again on Wednesday and Thursday, making 
additional book purchases and buying the first manuscripts to be added to his collection. Among them 
was a bound manuscript by John 'Donovan containing many religious poems that Douglas later 
published in his Religious Songs of Connacht . There was no doubt that he had bargained shrewdly. 
Remembering how his father always used to come home from Dublin with packages of books under his 
arm, he looked forward to telling him about his week's experiences. Y et after the auction Douglas 
remained in Dublin 

another sixteen days, visiting friends and relatives in the company of Cecily Oldfield, making the rounds 
of churches with her on Sunday, going to the dentist, sightseeing, shopping. 

One day Douglas went to Trinity to talk about the Irish sizarship with a Mr. Millar and a Mr. Gellett. It 
was an intensely disappointing interview. He had set his heart on becoming a sizar, but he was told that 
his father was too well-off for him to be eligible. He could still try for prizes, of course. Indeed he had 
intended to: he had hoped he could equal Arthur's and Oldfield's record. Arthur had taken his B.A. with 
first honors. Oldfield had earned a university scholarship, the vice- provost's prize for composition, and 

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the vice- chancellor's gold medal for Latin. But honors and prizes would not give him the independence 
he needed. Certainly they had been no help to Oldfield, who was always at odds with the Reverend 
Arthur Hyde now. Remembering what his father had said about his future, he asked Cecily what she 
thought ai)out his becoming a missionary in some foreign land. As she seemed startled by his question, 
he tried to put the Trinity problem out of his head, but with little else to claim his attention beyond daily 
sessions with the dentist — a painful tooth required a series of office visits — that was a hard thing to do. 
Nor did the weather help. Most days were rainy. He caught a cold. He wondered if the weather was the 
same at B undo ran, where his mother had gone with Annette and Emily in the hope that the sea breezes 
might do her some good. He found a book he thought she might like and posted it for her. 

For his mother's sake as well as his own, Douglas wished that the weather might change for the better, 
but it remained wet, cold, and unhappy for all the Hydes of Frenchpark not just in September but for the 
entire rest of the year. Repeated bouts of asthma disabled his mother. Arthur became so ill in October 
that he had to be sent to Dmmkilla, where his aunt Frances and her husband. Hunt, could look after him. 
Oldfield, still disconsolate over the unhappy end of his love affair, was drinking heavily. The Reverend 
Arthur Hyde alternated between staying in bed with the gout and staying in bed with a hangover. Even 
when he was up and around and reasonably well, his mood was black, and he railed against his elder 
sons in whom he had invested so much of himself only to have them disappoint him. Arthur's academic 
record at Trinity had proved both his son's worth and the value of the preparatory education he had been 
given. Now Arthur ungratefully refused to enter the ministry, and Oldfield was taking the same stand. 
Neither would carry on the family tradition; neither cared anything about it. 

The last setback, to which the Reverend Arthur Hyde responded with a burst of temper out of all 
proportion to its significance, was a letter from Lord de Freyne which suddenly and inexplicably ordered 
the Hydes to refrain from shooting partridge on his land. 

Upset by the tensions and problems that afflicted the Hyde household, Douglas tried to bury himself in 
his studies, but every evening his schedule was interrupted by his parents' insistence that he play cards 
with them after supper. Hours of work were left undone if he agreed; there were arguments, 
recriminations, and charges of ingratitude if he refused. Sundays brought more arguments and 
recriminations if he objected to teaching Sunday school. Since his chance of an Irish sizarship had been 
ruled out, his father had again begun his old threats that he would not send to the university a third son 
who did not show more interest in clerical obligations and some clear intention of studying for the 

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One day a letter arrived for Douglas from a Dr. Welland, a professor of divinity in England, in response 
to a request he had received, apparently from Cecily Oldfield, for information about the proper 
preparation of a missionary. There was no escape: Dr. Welland's answer was that Douglas should enroll 
in divinity school, either in Trinity or in some English university. When Douglas tried to discuss the 
letter with his father, the Reverend Arthur Hyde flew into a rage. "T.C.D. be damned!" he shouted. 
"Look at how it made an undisciplined scoundrel of Oldfield and an agnostic of Arthur. I won't let you 
through any college! Y ou can be a preacher to your own Irish-speaking countrymen." Wise enough to 
know that it was useless to point out that even this alternative would require a Trinity education, 
Douglas wrote a long letter to Cecily thanking her for her kindness and returned to his studies. Surely, 
he thought to himself, his father would see him through Trinity if he ranked among those who sat for the 
entrance examinations. 

November brought snow so heavy that at times Douglas could not get out the door to shovel it away. 
Some days he finished shoveling only to begin again immediately, as more snow fell. If he delayed, the 
wet snow formed solid blocks of ice. He was continually troubled now by a soreness in his eyes so 
painful at times that he could not read. Y et if he stopped reading or even reduced his study schedule, he 
would reduce his chances of doing well on the Trinity entrance examinations. With or without a 
sizarship, he had set his sights on Trinity. November also brought word from Dmmkilla that A rthur was 
no better. Twice during the month Frances had summoned Douglas, but he did not see 

how he could get there. One problem was the snow and ice that impeded travel; another was his 
reluctance to leave Annette to look after things at home, with his father half crippled from gout and his 
mother weak from severe attacks of asthma. In the middle of the month he sent Francis 'Ruark to be of 
what help he could. When his father was somewhat better — at least able to get around the house — he 
himself responded to his aunt's second call, on November 25. 

Actually, except for Arthur's condition, which continued to be a source of worry, Dmmkilla was a 
pleasant place to be, with its opportunities for visiting, shooting, and walking. One day on the road he 
met a blind piper from county Galway, a good Irish speaker and, like others of his occupation, an 
inveterate traveler. The piper had been in twenty-seven of the thirty-two Irish counties, he said. Douglas 
walked along with him for a while, asking questions, and carefully listening to his cleverly phrased 
answers. His favorite counties, the piper said, citing his reasons, were Mayo, Kerry, Tipperary, and 
Dublin. He was not too fond of Longford and Limerick. Something of the piper's personality and 
experiences, carefully noted in Hyde's diaries, eventually found its way into his poems, plays, and 

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By December 12 Douglas had left Dmmkilla and was again home in the glebe house. Bitter cold had 
continued; there was still snow on the ground. His mother was better one day, worse the next. His 
brother Oldfield, home for the holidays, quarreled almost constantly with his father. Everyone was 
concerned about Arthur. Except for a pleasant hour or two when he and Annette opened presents together 
— she gave him 'Curry's - Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History, a book by 
Voltaire, another by Schiller; he gave her Alice in Wonderland and I Promissi Sposi — Christmas, 1878, 
was sober and subdued. More snow fell on St. Stephen's Day, leaving a blanket of about ten inches. 
Douglas tried to study, but his eyes hurt so badly that it was becoming more and more difficult for him 
to read. 

On January 7 Douglas joined Oldfield, who was returning to Trinity, on the train to Dublin. 
Arrangements had been made for him to consult Fitzgerald, an eye specialist. Fitzgerald diagnosed 
Douglas's problem as "weak eyes," recommended eyeglasses, and advised that he not try to read without 
them. Douglas bought a pair of eyeglasses at Spenser's for twelve and sixpence, then caught the train to 
Mohill. There Arthur's appearance, so weak and thin and "quite worn away," gave Douglas "a great 
fright." It said more than words about the steady and continuing deterioration of Arthur's health. Most of 
the time now, Frances said. 

he was too weak to get out of bed. On even his best days he could not get downstairs without assistance. 
It was clear that Frances both wanted and needed not only help but emotional support — she could hardly 
speak of Arthur without weeping. Douglas assured her that he would stay on for a few days to do what 
he could to buoy up Arthur's spirits and be generally as useful as possible. To himself he noted that it 
would be necessary to improve his aunt's spirits as well. 

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Everyone talked of Arthur's getting better even as he grew 
steadily and visibly worse. For Douglas, the winter and spring of 1879 was a strange and surrealistic 
time in which he discovered a number of things about himself that both surprised and confused him. At 
first he was genuinely concerned and solicitous, eager to do his part, and grateful for all the unselfish 
attention Frances and Hunt gave to Arthur. In his long talks with Frances he showed a mature 
understanding of Arthur's intermittent peevishness and his aunt's increasing panic as she sensed that all 
her efforts might well be in vain. But, as inside Dmmkilla the battle against Arthur's illness took on the 
quality of a siege while outside everything remained unchanged, Douglas privately found himself coping 
with feelings he could not express. One day when, thoroughly chilled and wet from having fallen 
through the ice on the pond, he started to feel feverish, he realized that, preoccupied as everyone was 

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with Arthur, there was no one to be concerned about him. Twinges of jealousy began to alternate with 
periods of shame and remorse. These feelings increased as he tried to cope with other physical 
complaints which he himself suspected of being aggravated by his state of mind. Pains in his joints kept 
him awake half the night; his eyes were still terribly sore, despite his eyeglasses; he was beset by a 
general sense of malaise. 

At the beginning of February, when Douglas had been at Drumkilla about three weeks, his father arrived 
in response to a message from Frances. She had sent word for him to come as soon as he was able, for 
Arthur had grown increasingly depressed. To everyone's relief the Reverend Arthur Hyde was not 
drinking — in fact, having recently completed a regimen of diet and rest prescribed for a severe case of 
gout, he both looked and felt cheerful and well. There was no doubt that the visit revived Arthur's spirits. 
Douglas also was glad to see his father. He wished he could return with him to Frenchpark. With Arthur 
so sick, however, he said nothing, for he felt his duty was to remain and help Frances. A few days after 
his father's departure he had reason to regret his selflessness. In addition to pains in his joints, he had de- 

veloped an ugly boil on his neck. But as both Emily and Sisilla were now in bed with flulike symptoms 
and Hunt had been called to Dublin to attend to his dying elderly aunt, there could be no question of 
Douglas's going anywhere. The only good news was that for a week or two Arthur seemed a bit better, 
but by the end of February he was worse again. Resigned to remaining at Drumkilla through spring if 
necessary, Douglas took powders morning and evening to help ease the pains in his joints and treated his 
boils (another had appeared on his knee) with compresses. Whenever he could he studied; he tried not to 

Warmer weather came at last at the beginning of March, and with it the opportunity to take long walks 
along a pretty country road that led to a little lake in a meadow. Hunt returned from Dublin with a 
thoughtful selection of Irish books that Douglas could hardly wait to read: 'Donovan's notes on Irish 
annals; a life of Columcille; a Latin life of Adamnam; an old Irish grammar that used Latin declensions; 
and Irish glosses by Whitely Stokes. But if Douglas was slowly recovering, Arthur was now rapidly 
declining. The doctors were agreed on their diagnosis: it was, as everyone had feared, consumption. The 
judgment of the doctors was harsh. They did not expect Arthur to live through the summer, perhaps not 
even through the month. 

In a letter to Oldfield, Douglas described the situation in full detail; to his parents he wrote but a partial 
truth, then went out on the bogs hunting a snipe with which he hoped he might tempt Arthur's appetite. 

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On March 8 he wrcite in his diary in Irish, "I killed a wild pigeon for Arthur." His aunt Anna Kane 
traveled to Frenchpark by carriage to bring back Bessie Hyde, still very sick herself, but determined to 
visit Arthur whom she had not seen since October. A week later the Reverend Arthur Hyde returned. 
Awakened by noises in the middle of the night, Douglas and Hunt found the poor man crying and 
beating on the wall. He was a minister; he had seen enough of death and dying to know that he was 
losing his eldest son. Douglas gave his father half a glass of gin to help him sleep. Back in his own room 
he wrote in his diary, "0 dear Mary, that I may be out of this place! ! ! " 

On March 22 Douglas returned to the glebe house with his father. He was still not well; he had been at 
Drumkilla coping with his brother's slow and inevitable decline, his own needs and wants overiooked or 
forgotten, for more than two months; he was far behind in his work. Never had the glebe house seemed 
so welcoming. By the end of April he was feeling stronger, but the problem with his eyes had become 
worse. There was talk of sending him to a specialist in London. 

Meanwhile, from Lavin, Dockry, and others, Douglas learned that all the misery of the worid had not 
been divided, as he had sometimes thought during the past six months, between the glebe house and 
Drumkilla. The harsh winter and delayed spring of 1879 had taken a terrible toll. In some parts of the 
country crop failure, eviction, and hunger had reached proportions that evoked the nightmare of 1846- 
1848. A general shortage of dry peat had left those lucky enough to escape the bailiff without fuel to 
warm their bones or to cook what little food they had. The government was preparing harsher measures 
against the forces of "Captain Moonlight," who roamed the countryside, intimidating landlords and their 

Arthur died on Wednesday, May 14, at about five o'clock in the afternoon. The Reverend Arthur Hyde 
was at his bedside; Oldfield was in Dublin; Annette was in Frenchpark, taking care of her mother; 
Douglas had just arrived in London to see a specialist named Critchett. Douglas did not know of Arthur's 
death until May 17, the day set for the funeral at Drumkilla, when he heard the news quite by chance 
while paying a call on Anna White: she had just received a letter from Emily Hyde. His diary entries of 
the next few days record his ambivalent feelings: pity for the "poor boy," who was better off dead than 
suffering; awareness that, of his two brothers, he had always preferred Oldfield; sympathy for his father 
and the others at home; hope that Arthur's death might "improve the Master"; sadness that Arthur, who 
was twenty-six, had not been in good health for the last six years; admiration for the excellent academic 
record Arthur had achieved despite his debilitating illnesses; self-pity that the rest of the family would 
be together, he alone would not be present, for the family ceremony mourning Arthur's death; awareness 
that, as brothers, he and Oldfield shared Arthur's loss in a particular way. "I will never see him again," 
he wrote, in one disconnected diary entry. "I abhor lamenting him, but I think he was willing. ... I am 

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very sad . . . to hear that he is gone." Another, more coherent entry, concerned chiefly with details of a 
morning and afternoon church service, an afternoon visit with Anna White, and an evening's 
conversation with a low-church young Irishwoman staying at his lodging house in Bayswater, made no 
direct reference to Arthur's death but ended with a lament written in Irish that was obviously intended 
for him: 

My sorrow that there is nothing for us now In place of the wise man but a lament and a tear 

A tear and a cry and a lament Is all there is for us, and a breaking heart. 

On Tuesday, May 20, Douglas wrote to his mother. He had had "no idea" of Arthur's death, he said, 
describing how the news had reached him; it had shocked him greatly. Strictly speaking, this was not 
true, for he had known when he left Dmmkilla in March that Arthur's condition was hopeless. But as he 
had then softened the blow for his mother, he could not now admit to it. He assured her that his sore eyes 
seemed better already, although he was not sure whether the improvement was due to medication or rest, 
and he sent word through her to Annette, whose birthday was coming, that he had bought for her "a 
beautiful book of Italian poetry." The next day Douglas received a letter from his mother that had 
crossed his letter in the mail. It said nothing about him, his recent illness, his eyes, or Annette's birthday; 
it was full of nothing but Arthur, his last days, and his funeral. Arthur had used his last breath, she wrote, 
to effect a reconciliation between Oldfield and his father; he had been a wonderful boy "greatly loved by 
all who knew him." This last line opened at last the floodgates of pent-up resentment: "Not me," 
declared Douglas to his diary in Irish. "He and the Master seemed made to be the two most opposed to 
my way of thinking than anyone else on the ridge of this world." 

Douglas returned to Ireland at the beginning of June. His eyes were somewhat improved, but he was not 
yet free of the pains in his chest that he had complained of during his long stay at Dmmkilla. The Dublin 
doctors he consulted diagnosed his problem as pleurisy, recommended rest, and gave him some pills to 
help him sleep. Reading the Dublin newspapers on his way back to Roscommon, Douglas learned that 
Michael Davitt had succeeded in mustering support for Pamell among all but the most radical of the 
Fenians. Davitt's idea, outlined in Pamell's speech delivered in Westport on June 7, was that tenant 
farmers could gain relief for themselves if they would but stand together in a massive show of strength 
and commitment to unity. "A fair rent is a rent the tenant can reasonably pay," Pamell declared. But to 
make landlords see this position, tenant farmers would have to demonstrate their determination to hold 
on to their homesteads and lands. "Y ou must not allow yourselves to be dispossessed as your fathers 

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were dispossessed in 1847," he insisted; "you must help yourselves." It was a message that appealed to 
Douglas, but for the moment he was too ill to do more than remember it. Back in Frenchpark he told Dr. 

paidge, his uncle by marriage, what the Dublin doctors had said. Cuppaidge checked his lungs, declared 
them clear, found no sign of pleurisy, and insisted that, despite his continuing complaints, there was 
nothing wrong with him. The next five weeks were a nightmare: Douglas's chest pain became more 
severe; he developed chronic diarrhea. Remembering that these had been Arthur's symptoms in the last 
months of his illness, he was badly frightened, but there was no one to turn to for help. Oldfield had 
gone to England, his mother was in Dublin, and Annette was in Scotland. He and his father were left 
alone, he declared, "in Connacht and in hell." 

Belligerent often to the point of violence, the Reverend Arthur Hyde was refusing to eat but finishing a 
bottle and more of whiskey each day until Douglas managed to get possession of the household keys, 
lock up all the bottles in the house, and gradually reduce his father's drinking to four or five glasses 
daily. Quarrels erupted at all hours of the day and night as a tug-of-war over the keys ensued. Unable to 
study or rest, Douglas grew weaker and weaker until finally his father came to himself long enough to 
realize that something was seriously wrong. Bypassing Cuppaidge, he sought another medical opinion. 
Again the diagnosis was pleurisy; Dr. Cuppaidge was the only one who disagreed. Dr. O'Farrell, the man 
who responded, advised rest and prescribed cod liver oil and iodine, one to be taken after meals and the 
other at bedtime. The best medicine was that the Reverend Arthur Hyde, no doubt fearful that he was 
about to lose another son, managed to get hold of himself and began to moderate his drinking. 

Three weeks after Dr. CFarrell's visit, Bessie Hyde and Annette returned home. Still seriously ill, 
Douglas was unable to leave his bed for another week, but then slowly began to recover. It was during 
his convalescence, while he remained quiet and for the most part too weak to move about or to study, 
that "the spirit of poetry rose" in him, and he composed a number of poems, most of them in Irish, a few 
in English, and at least one of them inspired by Pamell's speech of June 7. His muse, he was now 
convinced, was Irish. It had always been so, he believed, ever since he had learned his first Irish words. 

Douglas gradually recovered from the ravages of the summer; his relationship with his father did not. 
Throughout October, November, and December of 1879 and well into 1880, exchanges over the 
Reverend Arthur Hyde's drunken rampages increased in harshness and frequency. Usually these took 
place at night, but sometimes they broke out in the middle of the day, even with visitors present. 

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Douglas's father and mother quarreled constantly between themselves, usually about Oldfield, whom his 
father had barred from the glebe house. At times these quarrels became so heated as to require Annette's 
intervention. Like Arthur before him, Douglas reproached his father for his brutishness, his lack of 
feeling for anyone in the family, and the hypocrisy of the sinful ways against which he himself preached 
when he was well enough to mount the pulpit. "Ugly is the sinner with us, very ugly," he wrote in his 
diaiy on October 30. By the end of December, when Douglas made his customary summary of the year 
past, an uneasy calm had returned to the glebe house at last: for the time being his father's animosity 
toward Oldfield appeared to have abated; everything seemed "civil and settled" between them. 
Remembering, however, the brief reconciliation that had followed the death of Arthur, Douglas did not 
expect the peace to last. 

Of his own past year Douglas wrote, "It was harsh, harsh, my health to be attacked from the month of 
May until now, but glory be to God that it was short — I am becoming myself again." The truth is that by 
the end of 1879 Douglas was a different self than he ever had been before, not simply because he was 
about to begin his twenty-first year, nor even because the past year had been a crucible in many respects, 
but because he was now a published writer. Two of his Irish poems already had appeared in "Our Gaelic 
Department," a regular Irish-language feature of two English- language weeklies. The Irishman and the 
Shamrock, that were circulated in both Ireland and North America. These columns, edited by David 
Comyn, cofounder of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language, had been introduced in 
response to criticism that the weeklies served only enthusiastic supporters, not speakers, of Irish. They 
proved so popular that Comyn added a third column, "Fainne an lae," to which Douglas contributed not 
only poems but also short prose passages. In his diaries and his correspondence with O'Neill Russell and 
other members of the Irish-language circle to which he now belonged, he often had Irished his name to 
Dubhglas de h-Ide. With the public emergence of what until now had been his private persona, he 
adopted a pseudonym. An Craoibhin Aoibhinn, "the delightful little branch." It was surely not a 
whimsical choice but a deliberate act of discretion. He intended to sit for the entrance examinations at 
Trinity in June 1880. To publicly identify himself by his own name (even his own name translated into 
Irish) with what the Ascendancy would term "Fenian sentiments" clearly would have been unwise. 

Hyde's first published poem, "Shiubhal me la go tuirseach trom" (I 

walk today wearily, with heavy step) — a lament narrated by an impoverished old man, a homeless 

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wanderer, who has lost everything, children, family, and comrades — appeared in both the Irishman of 
Saturday, October 25, 1879 and the Shamrock of November 1, 1879. The Irishman was the more serious 
of the two publications; the Shamrock was humorous and gently satirical. In the latter, Hyde's poem of 
eighteen stanzas — none humorous or satirical, but nevertheless to the public taste — shared space with 
"Mick McQuaid, Alderman," an episode in Major William F. Lynam's famous series about a rascally 
hero, and chapter 31 of "Wilful Pansy; or. The Bride of a Week" by Emma Garrison Jones. Four weeks 
later, on November 29, a second Hyde poem, "Olfamaid slainte na tire" (We drink the health of the 
land), a spirited patriotic drinking song with a rattling rhythm, appeared in the Irishman . The following 
week, on December 6, it was reprinted in the Shamrock . 

On New Y ear's Eve, 1879, the Reverend Arthur Hyde began a period of heavy drinking that lasted for 
two weeks. Douglas and Oldfield joined him to toast the old year out and the new year in, but they both 
went to bed an hour after midnight on the first day of 1880, for each had much reading and studying 
before him. In the weeks that followed the brothers worked on something of a schedule. Both would 
concentrate on their own work much of the day, with occasional rest breaks to check the turlough or to 
take a walk with a gun, on the chance of finding birds; after supper, often in the company of Connolly 
and John and Michael Lavin, they drank whiskey and poteen (Douglas called it '"mm,"') and played 
cards until about one o'clock in the morning. 

On January 17, Douglas's twentieth birthday, there was a hard frost that continued for nearly a week. His 
eyes were again very sore. He did not want to abandon the schedule he had laid out for himself (actually, 
he did not want to abandon all but Euclid, which he had come to hate), but Oldfield advised him to give 
his eyes a rest lest their condition deteriorate further. Oldfield returned to Dublin on January 18; Bessie 
Hyde, her asthma worse, was too tired and weak to leave her bed. Annette was busy looking after her 
mother and overseeing the household. With no choice but to give up reading and studying for a few 
days, Douglas allowed himself to be tempted outdoors by the ice on the turlough, but it was so cold that 
he could not skate more than twelve or fifteen feet before returning to the glebe house, where he 
restlessly cleaned his guns. A letter from Comyn received on his birthday helped dispel the dreariness of 
a week's idle wait for his eyes to 

improve, a third poem was to be published in the Irishman and the Shamrock . Readers had responded 
enthusiastically to his first two poems. Furthermore, everyone — including 'Neill Russell, who was then 
in America — was insisting that Comyn identify An Craoibhin Aoibhinn. O'Neill Russell had declared 
that he was the "best new Irish poet" on the horizon. 

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February brought wanner weather but heavy rains. As Bessie Hyde had improved, Annette left on the 
twelfth for a three-month sojourn in France. Douglas accompanied her to Dublin, where he visited 
Oldfield, who had not been well. He also had a long and serious talk about poetry with Comyn, who had 
now received even more fan letters from readers, urging him to continue to publish the poems of An 
Craoibhin Aoibhinn and to identify him. Comyn proposed writing a brief sketch of Douglas for the 
March issue. It was exhilarating news, which countered his father's threats and predictions and added to 
his general optimism about his future. Reviewing the work he had completed in preparation for the 
Trinity examinations, Douglas felt sure that he was ready for college. 

This was Douglas's mood on February 24, 1880, when, walking around outside the glebe house, he 
could not shake the impression that a ghost was following him. It was not a malevolent spirit, he assured 
himself — it did not make him uneasy — but he could not help but wonder why it was there. 

Mixed weather in March provided days suitable for the long walks that helped Douglas rest his eyes 
between reading and study sessions. In the middle of the month his mother went to Castlerea for a week. 
She seemed better when she came back, but within two weeks of her return she began losing blood. 
Before long she was so weak as to seem, to Douglas, "like a stone." Worried about her repeated lapses, 
Douglas tried to remember how long it had been since she was well. When she began to improve again 
early in April, he was relieved, but he could not help thinking that it would not be long before she had 
another relapse. The awful thing was that no one seemed absolutely sure just what was causing her 
illnesses. Repressing his fears, Douglas tried to concentrate on his work. He had received an 
encouraging letter from 'Neill Russell who had been delighted to discover that the young poet he 
admired was none other than his own protege. Praising Douglas's achievement, he had enclosed an 
American newspaper that contained his review of the poems of An Craoibhin Aoibhinn. Reading the 
review had given Douglas's spirits still another boost. Y et he could not help but notice 

that, in the same issue of the same newspaper, another reviewer had printed an attack on Irish writing in 
general and the poetry of An Craoibhin Aoibhinn in particular. Even among nationalists, Douglas 
observed wryly, there was no agreement on the language question. 

Oldfield wrote often, encouraging Douglas to keep up with his studies. He was now in the home stretch, 
Oldfield reminded him; the examinations for Trinity would be held in June. Oldfield also included good 
news of his own. He had taken fourth place in the examination for the Royal Irish Constabulary. 

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Mercurial as always, the Reverend Arthur Hyde was delighted, although just a few days eariier he had 
been abusing Oldfield in a quarrel with his wife. He went immediately to Arthur 'Conor of Mount 
Druid with a note for £100 to pay for Oldfield's official uniform. From Mount Druid he returned full of 
political talk, for Arthur 'Conor was a cousin of 'Conor Don who, along with Meopother, had just lost 
another election. The victors were O'Kelly and Dr. Brennan, both Home Rulers. There was to be a 
victory meeting at the crossroads on May 31 at which both 'Kelly and Brennan were scheduled to 

To the Reverend Arthur Hyde the election results were a shocking turn of events. It meant that the 
Pamellites were now stronger than ever. Douglas, who also had heard the election news, would have 
liked to attend the victory celebration, but he knew that this was impossible. If his father as much as 
suspected his Pamellite sympathies, there would be another uproar in the glebe house. Dockry would go, 
however, and he, Douglas knew, would provide a complete report. 

Annette returned home in the middle of May, bringing with her a concertina. Although he had no ear at 
all for music, Douglas was determined to learn to play the instrument. To everyone's dismay, he spent 
hours practicing, although it was only a month to his examinations. As for his studies, he continued to 
review the subjects on which he would be tested, but he had reduced his schedule in order to save his 
eyes. It was a relief to be able to turn to something as relaxing and inconsequential as the concertina. He 
was also devoting more time to writing poetry, for he was now a regular contributor to the Irishman and 
the Shamrock . As Comyn had promised, a short piece about him had appeared in the March 13 issue of 
the Irishman . Comyn had not revealed his name but with some exaggeration had identified the poet who 
signed himself An Craoibhin Aoibhinn as "one of the founders of the Gaelic Union and of the Society 
for the Preservation of the Irish Language." (Douglas was indeed a member of both organizations, the 
first a new offshoot 

of the second, but he had had no founding role in either.) The item had drawn even more letters from 

The themes of Douglas Hyde's early poems published in the Shamrock and the Irishman were largely 
those he had been working and reworking in his exercise books from the time he was thirteen or 
fourteen: nature, love, drink, English injustice to Ireland, the evils of landlordism, the greatness of the 
Irish past, the glories of the Irish cultural tradition. A few items with more topical references were drawn 
from his 188-page, four-by-seven-inch, black-bound notebook of 1877-1880 in which he carefully and 

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neatly copied in ink, in addition to finished examples of his own compositions, polished translations and 
adaptations from German, French, and Irish which he had completed both for his own pleasure and as a 
way of reviewing the languages and literature in which he would soon be examined. Some of these 
translations were as sophisticated as the use of such models would suggest. Some were as simple and 
naive in manner and expression as "After the Irish," which conveys in English much of the feeling of 
Hyde's own short Irish compositions: 

God grant our country may thrive God devastate England instead Who so does not wish us alive We 
wish that himself he was dead. 

God keep us from famine and ill And grant that we yet may be free. Who does not wish Ireland well It's 
ill that we wish he may be. 

Other poems developed around a central narrative employ different techniques and a variety of voices. 
One, on the subject of hunger, an ever-present specter in nineteenth- century Ireland, presents a scene 
recurrent in nineteenth- century poetry and prose: Death personified appears at the door of a cabin in 
which mother and father lie starving, she in bed, he on the floor Their sole wish is to depart this world 
swiftly so that in heaven they may join their children, who died the night before. Life has been hard and 
cruel. With a greater capacity for pity than Life has ever shown. Death, granting their wish, "stabs them 
both together that selfsame minute and day." Also in this genre is "The Famine," a long narrative poem 
that consists of ninety lines of rhymed couplets in which memories of a fictional survivor of 1846-1848 
are presented through a voice characterized by such unsubtle devices as (in 

Hyde's term) "peasant pronunciation." Y et its subtly shifting attitude, between first line and last, is both 
dynamic and dramatic. Most significant is the obvious debt that the entire poem owes to Pamell's 
Westport speech of June 7. 

The speaker of "The Famine" begins in a low-key conversational tone: with the long, cold nights 
coming, he says, people soon will be telling tales again of such times as the Famine of Forty-eight. He 
poses a musing question: how account for "the quare sort of softness that we found in the great" whose 
sleep was untroubled by the corpses heaped in the graveyards and the "bodies that lay thrown on the 
roadside like stones"? Imagine, he suggests, as if with detached curiosity, people so hungry that they 

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would eat anything, even "an ould sae-gull or a crow or a kite," for whom "an armful of nettles" would 
be "a blessing from God." An undertone of pity gives an unexpected vibrancy to the speaker's voice as 
remembered scenes come into focus: old men of eighty weeping to hear a dying child's cries; a bleak and 
blasted countryside in which there is "no gathering of neighbors, no wakes, no cardplaying at night, and 
no dancing or cakes"; a village "corpse house" filled to overflowing. Suddenly stark and real, all come to 
life in a scene in which even the living are dead: "The people was as quiet as an angel or saint, Och! to 
see them dying off there without a complaint." Resentment stirs slowly as the narrator recalls how docile 
everyone was, himself as well as others: why, he asks, had "we let ourselves starve off like men that 
were crazed" while the landlords "had lashings and lavings, enough and too much"? Fiercely angry at 
last, eloquent in his anger, with little trace of his "peasant pronunciation," he ends with a direct call for 
violence: if castastrophe strikes twice, do not die — organize and seize what you need by force to feed 
yourselves, your wives, your children. 

An unusual series of poems, each discrete, yet together forming a suite, introduces different perspectives 
on the root of Ireland's problems and again suggests a topical source — in this case, the kind of running 
debate that in 1879 and 1880 could be read in the editorial columns and letters to the editor of Irish 
newspapers. In the first poem in the sequence, it is indifferent and uncaring England from which a united 
Ireland, it is said, must break free: 

Y es strong indeed our master The Saxon chain is strong And bind it bind it faster 

Is all the Saxon's song. But writhe no more in pain. Up! rend thy bloody chain. Rise Catholic and 
Protestant. We wait our opportunity To rise and right our land. 

A second poem cites the power of the landlords as the root of Ireland's problems: 

And me sons, now I've told you of the bad times I saw How the people were ejected without thrial or 

A third deplores the greed and selfishness of the Irish people themselves: 

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The Catholic crawhng to social position The wrongs of his nation refuses to heal, The Protestant sneers 
at his petty ambition Regardless as he of the national weal. 

A fourth laments defeatist attitudes: 

Hark Liberty is calling: But we are crushed and broken And sore are we oppressed, And land and laws 
and language And literature are lost. 

Although derivative in form and diction, these early poems reveal a capacity for tonal restraint, historical 
perspective, and poetic abstraction not usually found in juvenilia. 

On a fine evening in the middle of June, less than a week before he was to go to Dublin to take the 
examinations for which he had been working intensively for more than three years, Douglas strolled 
down the sloping meadow to Lough Gara with a group of friends. Mrs. Dockry, whose house was near 
the lake, had just made poteen. The men sat about talking as usual — at times in conspiratorial whispers, 
at times, as political discussions grew heated, in more strident tones — while she filled and refilled tiieir 
glasses. Douglas later estimated that he must have had perhaps five or six glasses before he began to feel 
queasy. A few others were not too well either, whether because the poteen was unusually strong or 
because it was a bad batch, no one could say. Everyone hoped it was the former, for it was well known 
what could happen to a person if the poteen were bad. Even so, an ad- 

verse reaction to even good poteen could lay up a man for a week. All through the night and the next 
day, Douglas was sick, but on the second day, although shaky, he was able to get up and move around. It 
had been a close call, but he went off to Dublin on schedule. His mother took the train with him — 
happily, as she was feeling quite well, not for appointments with doctors but to visit her sisters and see 
Christine Wilson's new baby. With a day or so to spare before he had to sit for his examinations, 
Douglas visited Oldfield in Phoenix Park. Oldfield looked very smart in his new uniform. He was as 
usual very encouraging. 

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On June 21, Douglas's examinations began. On the first day he wrote papers on Euclid, algebra, history, 
contemporary geography, ancient geography, and English poetry. For the subject of his composition in 
English he chose tiie life of Oliver Cromwell "and gave him hell for an hour." He was "dead exhausted" 
when he came out, but on the morning of June 22 he was back at ten o'clock to begin assignments on the 
odes of Horace, four books of Virgil, three books of Homer, and three books of X enophon. In the 
afternoon he took an oral examination in Euclid. On the morning of June 23 his name was on the college 
gate. Out of 16 he had placed fifth; 158 had gone out. On June 24 he wrote three more papers, in classics 
and history, then returned in the afternoon for mathematics. There were sixteen questions on the 
examination. "The moment I saw these I knew I would do no good on them," he wrote in his diary, "so I 
left the hall." On the morning of June 25 his name was again on the college gate. This time — despite his 
obvious failure in mathematics — out of 17 he had placed seventh; 100 had gone out. He had succeeded 
in the required subjects. Next came electives. On June 28 he was examined in Irish. He took first place, 
receiving books from Hodges Figgis as a prize. He was a Trinity scholar at last. The stage was set; the 
next part of his life was about to begin. 

- - 6 Between Connacht and Dublin - 

Although formal admission to Trinity College in 1880 changed Douglas Hyde's perception of his status, 
outlook, and prospects with obvious implications for his sense of self, it had little immediate effect on 
the day-to-day pattern of his life, for like his brothers before him he was enrolled initially in a 
nonresident program popularly known in Trinity jargon as the "steam-packet degree." Instead of living 
behind high stone walls, shielded from the bustle and noise of late Victorian Dublin — instead of walking 
each day along tree-lined paths and across cobblestone courtyards shaped and worn by centuries of 
Trinity graduates, including Berkeley, Burke, Congreve, Goldsmith, G rattan. Swift, and his own 
ancestors — instead of sitting beside marble busts of Trinity notables in drafty, high-ceilinged lecture halls 
— instead of climbing tall, tiiin ladders to reach library books bearing centuries of thumbprints shelved 
under the timbered barrel-vault ceiling of the two-story Long Room — instead of dining beneath portraits 
of dyspeptic provosts now deceased and gathering evenings in gray stone residences for a glass of 
punch, a pipe of tobacco, and an impassioned debate — Douglas continued to study at home in 
Frenchpark on much the same schedule as he had adopted in 1877. Trinity's only requirement was that 
he sit at designated times for the examinations by which his progress was judged and recorded. 

As Dominic Daly explains. Trinity's credit-by-examination "steam- packet" option got its unofficial 
name from its popularity with English students who studied at home and took the Dublin steam packet 

the Irish Sea only when examinations were scheduled. Douglas and his brothers, however, were less 
isolated from college life than this explanation suggests. From both Ballaghaderreen and Boyle there 

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was good railroad service to Dublin. In Blackrock, just south of the city and an easy tram ride from 
Trinity, their grandmother Oldfield and unmarried Oldfield aunts were always pleased to provide a 
warm welcome and a comfortable bed. In nearby Monkstown, Foxrock, and Stillorgan they had standing 
invitations to dinners, evening parties, and Sunday afternoons at the homes of cousins and family 
friends. Certainly Douglas was no stranger to the city, nor were his reasons for frequently spending time 
there — to shop, keep appointments with dentist and eye specialist, visit friends and relatives, have his 
photograph taken — different from what they always had been. Although often transferred from place to 
place, his brother Oldfield, now well established as an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary, often met 
Douglas in Dublin — sometimes casually, as one day when a half hour after Douglas arrived in the city 
they came upon each other quite by accident. For similar casual encounters with fellow members of 
Dublin Irish-language circles, Dubhglas de h-Ide (as he now called himself in letters to David Comyn 
and O'Neill Russell) had only to make the rounds of bookstores that stocked titles in Irish or stop by the 
Royal Irish Academy. Once he was in town, it was easy also for him to drop in at Trinity, consult with a 
professor, browse in the library, perhaps spend an evening with the resident students with whom he was 

But if Douglas Hyde's steam- packet status — so different from that of English classmates dependent upon 
tide and weather and the varying moods of the Irish Sea — allowed him greater participation in Trinity 
life, it did not remove him from Roscommon. At home in Frenchpark, he continued to spend much of 
each day tending the trees, shrubs, and flower gardens around the glebe house; haying and cutting turf in 
season; visiting local cottages where he was always assured of a warm welcome, a new story, and a bit 
of local gossip; or fishing, boating, or shooting. Afternoons and evenings he still boxed with Francis 
O'Ruark, played cards with Johnny Lavin, talked Irish with Mrs. Connolly, and argued politics with 

In 1880, in both cottage and glebe house, Pamell was the main topic of almost every political discussion. 
He had been in the United States at the beginning of the year, making speeches, raising funds for the 
Land League, and holding meetings with tiiose American Fenians whom he could persuade to accept his 
policies of parliamentary reform. 

Forced to rush home when Parliament was unexpectedly dissolved, he won reelection but found himself 
at the head of a divided Irish party. At least a third were Home Rule moderates who deplored his use of 
parliamentary obstructionism and dissociated themselves from the Fenian- supported Land League. In 
Pariiament, Pamell dueled with Gladstone over the question of compensation for victims of eviction; in 
the countryside he delivered speeches threatening to the status quo. On September 19, 1880, the 
implications of his speech to the tenant farmers of Ennis aroused hopes on the one hand and fears on the 

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Other in the entire divided population. 

When a man makes a bid on a farm from which a family has been evicted, declared Pamell, 

you must show him on the roadside when you meet him, you must show him in the streets of the town, 
you must show him at the shop counter, you must show him in the fair and the market place, and even in 
the place of worship, by leaving him severely alone — putting him into a kind of moral Coventry — 
isolating him from his kind like the leper of old — you must show him your detestation of the crime he 
has committed. 

Within days Pamell's "moral Coventry" found a new name when his message was extended to include 
the case of Captain Boycott, a land agent for Lord Erne in county Mayo who had sent eviction notices to 
tenants demanding fair rents. For continuing to advocate these and similar measures, leaders of the Land 
League, including Pamell, were soon arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy, but their trial in 
January 1881 only publicized their cause, especially as witnesses called in their defense were former 
tenant farmers whose families had been forced by eviction into the workhouse in Castlebar, county 

In the Land War that followed, despite passage of a new and more draconian Coercion Act, Pamell and 
his followers used parliamentary obstructionism, legal challenges, and rent strikes in their continuing 
battle for reform. The government retaliated with suspensions, arrests, and armed support for eviction 
squads. Early in the struggle Michael Davitt, founder of the Land League and a convicted Fenian, had 
been released on probation; now he was returned to Portland Gaol. On October 12 Pamell joined the 
Land Leaguers and other followers who already had been sent to Kilmainham. Abroad, especially in 
North America, anti-British sentiment spread as the Ladies' Land League used graphic descriptions of 
tenant conditions to build a relief fund for those who had been evicted. At home, "Captain Moonlight" 
rode the countryside after dark, intimidating and terrorizing landlords and agents. 

This was the situation in the late spring of 1882 when, having established a record as an outstanding 
student, especially in language and literature, Douglas persuaded his father to allow him to spend the 
final term of his second year in borrowed rooms at Trinity. Between 1880 and 1882, relying only on self- 
directed study at home, he had eamed honors twice in German and once in French and had won prizes in 

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both. More significant to his father, he also had been awarded the Bedell Scholarship for future Irish- 
language preachers. But the cost of this achievement had been a recurrence of his old trouble with his 
eyes. By April the soreness was so constant that it was a severe strain for him to attempt to keep up with 
his schedule of readings. Douglas proposed that he stay in town for the last term before the long summer 
vacation. Temporary accommodations were always available, he knew, in the rooms of students not 
currently in residence. The double advantage, he pointed out to his father, was that attending lectures 
would help relieve the burden on his eyes, while being closer to Fitzgerald, the eye specialist, would 
provide him with better medical supervision. 

In these years when Hyde's Anglo- Irish persona was winning academic honors and awards, his Irish 
persona, now publicly identified as An Craoibhin Aoibhinn, was assuming a more active role in the 
Gaelic Union, the impertinent offshoot of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language (SPIL) 
which had been founded in 1880 by members of the SPIL who favored a more activist approach to 
language preservation. Although continuing his SPIL membership, he regularly attended Gaelic Union 
council meetings, frequently taking the chair. Essentially antiquarian in spirit and politically mainly 
Unionist, the SPIL had concentrated its efforts, which Hyde supported, on republishing rare Irish texts, 
promoting the availability of courses in Irish, and encouraging successful students to qualify as Irish 
teachers, thereby assuring the future of the language as an academic subject. Watching the rapidly 
receding boundaries of the endangered Gaeltachts, the pro-language nationalist founders of tlie Gaelic 
Union had concluded that such a program was not sufficient. Their plan, which Hyde also approved, 
called for more active promotion, cultivation, and expansion of the use of Irish as the only means by 
which to avoid complete loss of the living language. 

It was to publicize the goals of the Gaelic Union that Hyde had written "Smaointe" (Thoughts), an 
awkward and wordy open letter to David Comyn which had been printed in the October 1880 issue of 
the Irishman . Labored and deadly dull, it presented Hyde's then simplis- 

tic views in the turgid prose of a pontificating twenty-year-old. More successful were Hyde's lyrical, 
fiery, and humorous poems that had appeared regularly in the Irishman and the Shamrock . Many were 
reprinted in the Celtic Monthly, the Celtic Magazine, the Pilot, the Irish Echo, and other American 
periodicals, often with English translations by Michael Cavanagh. Among those that excited patriotic 
readers on both sides of the Atlantic were a moving address to the Fenian rebel, O'Donovan Rossa, and 
"Come Boys to Camp, We'll Sprightly Tramp," a marching song with a rollicking meter and clearly 
revolutionary message. Predicting that soon there would be an outright call to arms, the speaker of 
"Come Boys to Camp" urges his readers to obtain a "Snider" or "repeater," coat the weapon with oil, 
lubricate the hammer, plug the bore, and bury it in a properly prepared hole in the ground against the fast 

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approaching day when it would be needed, for "The talking line you must resign/And try 'The Good Old 
Way/ boys!" 

At the beginning of May 1882 the no- win political conflict that had placed Pamell, the Irish party, and 
the Land League on one side and Gladstone, William E. Forster, chief secretary for Ireland, and the 
landlords on tiie other was settled by compromise: Pamell promised that the Land League would support 
a modification of the Land Act passed in 1881 and would try to control terrorism; the government 
promised that it would free Pamell, Michael Davitt, and other Land Leaguers and provide relief for 
tenants in arrears. Pamell was released from Kilmainham on May 2. Opposed to all compromise, 
concession, or commutation of sentences, Forster resigned. With a sense of relief Ireland awaited the 
arrival of the new chief secretary. Lord Frederick Cavendish, Gladstone's nephew by marriage. There 
was general agreement that Cavendish would better serve both Ireland and Gladstone than Forster, 
whose reliance on ever harsher and more rigorously enforced coercion laws had so outraged the tenant 
population as to result in two years of unprecedented violence in the Irish countryside. 

On May 6, 1882, for the first time since his brief and unhappy enrollment in 1873 in a Dublin boys' 
school, Douglas again became a student among students, an Ascendancy- class Irishman in an 
Ascendancy institution. Also on May 6 — the day on which Douglas arrived at Trinity — Dublin 
welcomed Lord Cavendish. That evening at sunset, as Cavendish strolled near the Viceregal Lodge in 
Phoenix Park with the permanent undersecretary, Thomas Burke, both were assassinated by a radical 
group that called themselves "the Invincibles." The target of the attack was the undersecretary, the man 
who had been charged 

with responsibility for implementing Forster's coercive policies. Lord Cavendish died attempting to help 
him. Unmoved by the fact that all Irish leaders, including Pamell, Charles Kickham, and John O'Leary, 
denounced the murders, anti- Irish crowds surged around Pamell's London hotel. In London and other 
cities they filled the streets, threatening Irish citizens. In Ireland, where all parties immediately perceived 
that the senseless attack could only result in a return to coercion on the one hand and violent resistance 
on the other, it was a good time for a young man who had published fiercely nationalistic poems to be 

Finding accommodations at Trinity was even easier than Douglas had anticipated, for Cambreth Kane (a 
Frenchpark neighbor who later married Douglas's sister) was not then using his college rooms. At 
Trinity he already had a good friend in Mackey Wilson, brother of Christine. Stimulated by the cultural 

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and intellectual atmosphere of residential college life, Douglas quickly plunged into the give-and-take of 
after-lecture discussions. In the easy atmosphere of hall and quadrangle he forged lasting ties with 
others, among them W. M. Crook, George Coffey, John R. Eyre, F. I. Gregg, Friedrich Lipmann, 
Charles H. Oldham, James Sheehan, and the Stockley brothers, names that began to appear in his diaries 
of 1882 and recurred often thereafter. Many of these Trinity friends belonged to the same college clubs 
and societies as Hyde. Many agreed more or less with what, filtered through his Anglo-Irish persona, he 
cautiously revealed to them of his intellectual and political outlook. His fascination with the language 
and culture of contemporary Gaeltacht Ireland, although unusual, did not strike them as radical, for 
Pamellism was the issue of the day and neither preserving nor reviving the Irish language was a plank in 
Pamell's political program. The question of just where the preservation or restoration of Irish did fit in 
the political spectrum was in fact confusing, since there were language revivalists in almost every 
movement, from those advocating physical force to backers of parliamentary reform. In general those 
who opposed language revival were reformers and revolutionaries concerned with diffusion of effort; 
conservatives and Unionists who believed, with the editor of Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent, that to 
achieve peace between Ireland and England it was necessary for Ireland to lose its separate identity; 
pragmatic nationalists who regarded the Irish language as an anachronism that crippled Ireland's 
relations with the world; and others convinced that the dying language was a lost cause. Those who 
supported language revival were reformers and revolutionaries for whom Irish was a nationalist badge; 

and Unionists with scholarly and antiquarian interests; cultural nationalists who considered themselves 
pragmatists; and others convinced that the language could and should be saved. 

Like Dockry, with whom Hyde had had many arguments on this subject, neither Pamell's lieutenants nor 
the agents of the British government assigned to keep a careful eye out for possible seditious activities 
considered language revivalists relevant to the tensions of 1880-1882. Pamell was the leader of the day; 
he neither spoke Irish nor advocated that it be taught to others: there was little indication that the plight 
of the language concerned him. At Trinity in 1882 there was, therefore, little harm in being regarded as a 
language revivalist (especially one associated with SPIL) — except perhaps to such an obstreperous, 
opinionated, and influential Trinity Fellow as John Pentland Mahaffy. A classical scholar, Mahaffy had 
introduced Oscar Wilde to Greece; he respected only Old Irish. In 1878 he had openly criticized SPIL's 
successful lobby in favor of teaching modem Irish and had vociferously protested its addition to the list 
of intermediate subjects for which teachers were paid result fees. For the moment his animus was 
without consequence, as apparently he was not yet aware of the connection between young Hyde of the 
Gaelic Union and young Hyde, son of the rector of Frenchpark. (In fact, it was he who had administered 
Hyde's entrance examination in German and had rated it as an honors performance.) Certainly in 1882 
neither he nor anyone else on the Trinity faculty knew anything that would connect Hyde with the 
poems by An Craoibhin in Irish and English that advocated physical force. 

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In 1882 W. M. Crook was perhaps Hyde's only Trinity classmate who understood the depth of Douglas's 
interest in Irish. He remembered the dismay with which Hyde had heard of a bewildered German scholar 
who had come to Dublin to perfect his Irish but could find no one, not even at Trinity (much less at his 
hotel, a fact that astonished the poor German) who spoke anything but English. But Crook also recalled 
how impressed he had been by Douglas's broadly based scholarly interests in general. A classics man 
himself, he had not expected to find a student of modem literature, even one with honors, reading the 
Iliad not just for "the grammatical niceties of Greek" but for the "imagination, melody, and beauty" of its 
lines. One day he asked Hyde to name the other languages that he knew. Douglas ticked off French and 
German — languages he read for pleasure, as his diaries show, when he needed relief from subjects less 
to his liking — then added Latin, some 

Italian, and a bit of hebrew. Irish, he declared, was his favorite. He had learned to speak Irish, Hyde had 
said (stretching the truth to fit his wishful thinking, as he often did to everyone but himself), "almost as 
early" as English. It was, he confided, the language of his dreams. Y ears later other Trinity students 
recalled that the young man from Frenchpark who had joined them in 1882 had seemed amiable and 
attractive, interested in but not yet passionate about politics, and on the whole very much like 
themselves. They described him as tall and raven- haired, with a ready smile, a relaxed disposition, and 
gray eyes that sparkled with good humor and enthusiasm. Always among the liveliest participants in 
impromptu debates and late-night parties, he was also, they remembered, hardworking and serious, even 
if he did have what then seemed to them to be an eccentric interest in the language and life of Irish 

As a boy in country Roscommon, Douglas had disliked groups, preferring the company of one or two or 
at most three companions. When visitors descended on tiie glebe house in awkward numbers, he and his 
dog would take to the fields. Trips with his aunts and visits to Drumkilla had armed him with the social 
skills and easy, friendly social manner he now demonstrated at Trinity. Something of these qualities had 
been evident during the summer holidays he had spent at Drumkilla, especially during the years 1876 to 
1878 when he had learned to relax and enjoy his Anglo- Irish persona. Arthur was now dead. Oldfield 
had created for himself a different and remote life in the Royal Irish Constabulary. Douglas's beloved 
Hyde aunts — more friends than female relatives — were no longer present to monitor his behavior. For 
the first time in his life he was his own man, free to assess each situation and skilled at moderating his 
Irish and Anglo-Irish personae as the occasion required. Through his Trinity classmates he met 
interesting young women among whom he quickly became popular. To Oldfield he wrote that these 
young women of Dublin were as pretty and vivacious as the giris he had met in Frenchpark and Mohill, 
but more independent and better read. Among them was Frances Crofton, the "F.C." of Hyde's 1882- 
1890 diaries. 

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As June approached, Douglas did not look forward to returning to steam- packet status in Roscommon. 
On the evening of June 6, a month exactly from the day of his arrival and two days before the end of 
term, Douglas was enjoying an after-dinner glass of punch with Johnson, a fellow student, when the two 
decided to look up another student, Richards. In Richards's rooms they joined a happy crowd, singing 

drinking. At first Douglas (who by all reports could scarcely carry a tune) sat sipping quietly, listening. 
But after he had drunk his share, he rose to his feet, and to the cheers and congratulations of all, offered 
a rendition in Irish of "Beannacht leat, beannacht leat, a chondae Mhuigh Eo" (Goodbye, goodbye, 
county Mayo) which he followed with an encore in French, "Trinquons et toe" (Let us clink glasses, 
so!). After that he was not sure exactly what happened. Lawson, he recalled, threw out some sort of 
challenge concerning their respective drinking abilities. He vaguely remembered buying a bottle of 
claret for seven shillings and sixpence. "I shamed him properly," Douglas wrote triumphantly in his 
diaiy, adding, "I went to bed at about 1:30 in the morning, and when I woke up I had nothing on but my 

It was not until the early autumn of 1883, more than a full year after the end of his temporary term as a 
Trinity College resident, that Douglas persuaded his father to allow him to give up his steam- packet 
status entirely and take rooms of his own. Father and son had been more congenial than usual during the 
academic months of 1882-1883. The Reverend Hyde was immensely pleased with Douglas's academic 
record. To him, Douglas's work in Irish was preparatory to his completing divinity school and obtaining 
a living as rector in an Irish- speaking district. Douglas too felt proud of his academic achievement, 
although outwardly he assumed a cavalier manner, as reflected in his flippant choice of Foghlam Gan 
Eolas (Learning without knowledge) for the title of the bound volume of the examination papers that he 
had carefully saved. Ironically, it was the academic success celebrated by both father and son that 
became the focal point of their dissension. The more prizes, awards, and honors Douglas won, the more 
tensions were exacerbated, for these led to discussions about his future. The Reverend Arthur Hyde still 
insisted that Douglas regard his work at Trinity as preparation for a career in the church. Douglas was 
adamant: never, he declared, would he become a clergyman. Frustrated by Douglas's obstinacy, the 
Reverend Arthur Hyde threatened, bullied, and drank. Resentful and angry, Douglas wrote sneering, 
satiric anticlerical poems that railed against "peace- preaching humbugs" whose "slave's creed" advised, 
"Go cringe, hat in hand, to the Saxon." 

Matters came to a head one showery day in the summer of 1883. Douglas had been to Boyle to leave the 

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smaller of the two family carriages to be painted. When he returned home on horseback the Reverend 
Hyde greeted him with "a droning monologue" on the subject of a minister's life and work. Interrupting 
his father, Douglas 

declared that his conscience never would allow him to enter the ministry. His private reason, he 
explained in his diaiy, was that as a child he had heard and seen too much of ministerial hypocrisy. To 
his father he offered philosophic and ethical arguments. Furious, the Reverend Arthur Hyde unleashed 
an old threat: he would cut Douglas off without a farthing if he did not uphold the family tradition. 
Douglas countered with an old tiireat of his own: he would leave Ireland; he would seek a living in some 
other country; he would become a bohemian, more shame to the father who had left him with no 
alternative. It was a familiar and futile dialogue that neither seemed able to avoid. 

On the evening of July 28, 1883, thoroughly tired from two days of bringing home turf, with the haying 
yet to be done in the week to come, Douglas retreated to his room to watch the still lingering light fade. 
It had been a beautiful day. Earlier he had had a drink with Seaghan na Pinghe and had taken down from 
Martin Brennan a story in Irish, "Monachar and Manachar," to add to his growing collection of Irish 
folktales. Opening his Craik, he dutifully read some fifty pages about English literature. But the 
continuing quarrel with his father rankled inside him. Taking out ink and paper, he began an essay 
entitled "Why I Do Not Want To Be a Minister in the Irish Protestant Church." It was late when he 
stopped writing and went to bed, his head still full of reasons. On August 9 father and son quarreled 
again, this time about belief in the Bible and the nature of angels. So heated was the exchange that both 
were shaken by their mutual vehemence. Neither was prepared to make a permanent break with the 
other. Having buried his eldest and alienated his second son, the Reverend Arthur Hyde could not risk 
estranging the third. Douglas was unwilling to cut himself off from mother, sister, aunts — or even from 
his fatiier, who aroused in him such turbulent feelings, such a mixture of love and wrath and honor and 
shame. Y et neither could find a middle position. 

Retreating to his room, Douglas began a new composition entitled "Reasons for Not Becoming a 
Clergyman in the Irish Protestant Episcopal Church (Late Disestablished)." The parenthetical cynicism 
of his title addressed aspects of his subject that from time to time he had unsuccessfully tried to broach: 
the church of his forefathers that his father wanted him to serve belonged to the past; the future of the 
disestablished church was still uncertain. Douglas's main objective, however, was not to argue about past 
or future but to state his own moral, ethical, and philosophical positions on the question of his becoming 
a clergyman. Choosing dialogue as his format, he argued his 

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case through two characters: a "poor devil of a student not out of college yet" (an obvious surrogate for 
himself) and an abstract figure at first called "Christianity/' then simply "a florid man draped in black." 
Between these two he placed Reason. Reason explains that the man in black has been consulted because 
the student having no inclination to become "a minister rather than a soldier, lawyer, banker, doctor," is 
now "over twenty years of age and of no profession." The student defends his refusal on moral grounds: 
he has always felt, he says, the "utmost repugnance for all kinds of metaphysical and religious 
arguments." From his "earliest years" he has believed "the difference of creeds to be of so slight an 
importance as not to merit any consideration from a man whose trade it is not to expand them." Religion 
and politics are to him "the two great sources of strife and embittered feelings in the world, and the 
fruitful spring from which domestic quarrels and social splits occur." He has concluded that "religion 
divides men more than politics." 

From arguments and assertions intended for presentation to the Reverend Hyde, Douglas shifted his 
focus to matters of internal dispute. The student accuses the man in black of instilling "all kinds of 
prejudices and absurdities" in his brain. Y et he vehemently dismisses the idea of conversion: 

I believe that it is . . . nonsensical and impossible for a man to choose a religion for himself, but that all 
men should remain in that one in which tiiey have happened to be bom, as being probably the most 

consonant to the manners and ideas of that place I happen to have been bom in the Protestant 

Episcopal Church of Ireland, disestablished (rightly as I think) in 1870 [ sic ], and I have no desire to 
change it, since my conscience tells me, or since I think it tells me, that I shall not be punished after 
death for having been bom and brought up in the religion of my parents, even if it be an untrue one, 
since the fault was not mine. 

He is equally opposed to the idea that he might convert others. His responsibility, he declares, is to 
examine for himself only whether he believes in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Thirty- 
nine Articles espoused by his particular denomination. He is not responsible, he avows, for imposing 
belief on anyone else. For himself he can say that he is as skeptical about souls being saved as souls 
being lost. Furthermore he rejects the right of "divines of all classes" to forbid "the reading of 
unorthodox books, as they call them, as a sin, and ... the pemsal of atheistic writings as a wickedness." 
"If a man were from his earliest days to circumscribe his reading ... on religious subjects to 

those volumes only which relate to Christianity," the student declares, "he would soon by continual 

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running in tlie same circle satisfy himself that nothing true or good existed outside. 

Off and on through the few remaining weeks of summer Douglas continued to work on this composition. 
Writing and rewriting in both pen and pencil, he struck out entire pages, inserted explanatory words and 
phrases, scribbled revisions along margins and between lines, repeated himself, deleted repetitions, and 
reintroduced them. When he stopped he had filled nine copybooks — a total of 139 pages — with a 
vehement statement, part essay, part parable, part satire, shored up by authors he had long admired, 
especially Voltaire. Although "Reasons for Not Becoming a Clergyman" was never read by its targeted 
audience, the Reverend Hyde, it did strengthen Douglas's inquiry into his own felt truths concerning his 
philosophical and ethical positions. 

At the beginning of October the Reverend Hyde capitulated: if Douglas could find an appropriate 
alternative to the ministry, he would consider approving it. Douglas's main interests were language and 
literature: like Voltaire's father the Reverend ArUiur Hyde regarded these as but gentlemanly pleasures 
to be pursued during leisure hours, not the stuff of an honest profession. His recommendation was that 
Douglas consider the army. Douglas objected on the grounds that soldiering was an "ungodly and 
immoral profession" (an irony, given the call to violence so often sounded in his poetry). He in turn 
countered with medicine, a career he had proposed several times before. To his surprise and dismay, this 
time the Reverend Arthur Hyde assented, leaving Douglas with a dilemma: He knew he could never 
overcome his "secret aversion" to the clerical life. It had been embedded in childhood, he told himself, 
as a result of his father's "inexcusable conduct." Y et he did not want to study medicine either. "If I were 
sure that my health would not collapse under the strain," he told himself, "I would not hesitate a 
moment." He was, however, "practically sure" that the study of medicine would cause his death. "Hence 
my state of mind," he lamented in his diary, "which is so awful that I would not wish it on a dog." 

The truth, as at one point "the man in black" suggested, was that at the age of twenty-three Douglas was 
not yet far removed from adolescence. He had no strong interest in medicine or in any other profession. 
He had in fact no wish to be anything but what he was — simply a student. He had not proposed medicine 
with either serious intent or with the expectation that his father would find it acceptable. In fact. 

he had anticipated rejection. Now faced with the unhappy prospect of being given what he said he 
wanted, he tried to present second thoughts based on his past illnesses and his weak eyes. He did, of 
course, suffer from eye infections, and in recent years he had had several bouts of pleurisy and other 
respiratory ailments, but it was surely an exaggeration for him to call himself frail or even to suggest. 

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given his academic record, that his eyes would be a greater disability in medical school than in divinity 
or in any other academic program. 

On the morning of October 6, 1883, a month before the beginning of the Michaelmas term, Douglas 
awoke in the glebe house feeling uneasy and unwell. The night before he had been drinking poteen. 
Taking up pen and paper, he described his circumstances and set for himself an ethical question: was it 
proper for him to countenance a trade forbidden by the government? His answer was quick: "the 
government not being a native or self-chosen one, its orders could not be allowed to be valid." In that 
case, he asked himself, what of the precept "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's"? And what 
about St. Paul's advice to those living in Rome, "that one ought to endure the state he is in and not seek 
violently to alter it"? Fitting these ideas into a narrative that relied heavily on the content of both "Why I 
Do Not Want to Be a Minister in the Irish Protestant Church" and "Reasons for Not Becoming a 
Clergyman," Douglas produced a dream allegory of 194 bound handwritten pages that reveals more 
about his struggle with himself than his conflict with his father. 

The new composition begins with Hyde's author persona suffering from a headache. He tries to get rid of 
it by going out fishing "upon a lake that was broad and lovely." There, however, the wriggling of a 
worm on his hook so troubles him that he removes it. He falls asleep in his boat and has "a remarkable 
dream" that leaves "rather a deep and vivid impression behind it" in which he sees himself walking with 
his Conscience and Reason. Conscience proposes that they all live together in his house; Reason offers 
to be the servant; Conscience suggests that tiie dreamer be the host. Two visitors to the house, a Jew and 
a Muhammadan, advise the dreamer that he ought to choose a religion. They are accompanied by a man 
in black, described by the dreamer as one who had "served my family so well" that not only were "both 
my grandfathers ... in receipt of some £800 a year, thanks to him, during the greater part of their lives," 
but they were both assured "a comparative sinecure." Dreamer and man in black debate the relative 
merits of the clerical, medical, and military life but reach no conclusions. 

The Jew, Muhammadan, and man in black leave; Mr. Nogod appears, introduces himself as the 
representative of atheism, and presents the dreamer with a number of books, among them Kant's Critique 
of Pure Reason, Hobbes's Leviathan, and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man . His advice is that the dreamer 
read the last book first because it is "lively" and will "lay a foundation." Before the dreamer has time to 
open it he receives a Chinese visitor and is interrupted by the delivery of notes from earlier visitors who 
ask for second interviews. Uneasy, he refuses the interviews. It would be best, he tells himself, to follow 
Mr. Nogod's advice and read the books he has been given before talking again with those who seek to 
convert him to their respective faiths. At that moment Mr. Nogod returns and, echoing almost to the 
word the student of "Reasons for Not Becoming a Clergyman," argues that religion is only another name 

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for party. Religion and politics, he says, "are the two great sources of nearly all the quarrels social and 
domestic, the two great causes of all the strife and embittered feelings of the world, the two fruitful 
springs of pain and cruelty and heart- scalding all over this earth." Of the two, religion, he declares, does 
the most harm. For the dreamer, denial is difficult. "There is more or less truth in what you say," he 
concedes, although he suggests that the fault is "in the villainous nature of man rather than in the fact of 
his having religion or no religion." In the midst of this discussion a letter arrives for the dreamer from 
the "old family friend," the man in black: 

I have a rather good position vacant just now if you care to accept it. As matters go, it is not bad in a 
monetary point of view, and payments are regular. There is a good house attached, and the farm . . . 
contains 30 English acres of good arable land. ... P. S. I forgot to mention that the work is practically 

The dreamer's boat, which has drifted to the opposite shore of the lake, strikes a rock. The dreamer 
awakens to hear himself say, "I will think about it." 

As the first day of Michaelmas term approached, wriggling like the worm on the hook of his own 
allegory, Douglas continued to declare himself irreversibly against a career in the church at the same 
time as the offer made by the man in black remained before him. In his diary he posed for himself 
questions that were both revealing and speculative: If he turned his back on a living so easily obtained, 
what else might he do? What was he prepared to do? A few days later his father drove him to the 
railroad station. They passed John French's Ratra, a handsome Georgian house overlooking the bogs 
where so often their guns had 

brought down numberless birds. They passed the road to Seamas Hart's house and garden. They passed 
the blue hills beckoning in the distance. Horse and carriage, father and son continued on, toward the 
spire of the cathedral at Ballaghaderreen and the train to Dublin. Saying nothing further about the matter 
to his father, Douglas decided that he would neither apply to the medical program nor drop out of 
divinity school. A major crisis had been averted, at least for a time. The next question was whether 
Mahaffy, who disapproved of Douglas's commitment to Irish, had succeeded in blocking his request for 
rooms in the college residence hall. 

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Back at Trinity, Douglas attended lectures on theology, apparently as the price of the residential status to 
which his father had agreed. "Oh, how my heart sank at hearing the same boring old phrases I had heard 
with loathing so often before," he complained to his diaiy following the first lecture on November 2. 
After the next lecture on November 6 he scribbled angrily, "I hated it, and hated the people who were 
with me." His new anathema was the changing character of the Irish church. Previously he had attacked 
its Ascendancy snobbishness. Now he deplored theology students who were "not refined or well bred." 
One consolation was that, despite opposition from Mahaffy, he had been assigned his own rooms, 
number 24, on the ground floor of tiie residence hall. The walls had just been repapered, and a new grate 
had been installed to replace one that had been on the verge of collapse. He added a "very nice" carpet, 
several cabinets, three or four agreeable pictures to hang on the walls, and an ample supply of 
refreshments. Then very carefully he unpacked the books he had brought with him from his personal 
library in Frenchpark. Among them were works in Irish, French, and German that he had read and reread 
since he was sixteen. Some — among them The Ballad Poetry of Ireland , a collection by Charles Gavan 
Duffy published in 1848 — were prize books that he had been awarded between 1880 and 1882. 

Resident status at Trinity offered Douglas happy distractions that he never had had to resist in 
Roscommon: teas, dinners, and dances to which he was regularly invited; twice-weekly lessons in which 
he learned (or "almost" learned) the cotillion; long walks with James Sheehan (later remembered by 
Hyde's daughter Una as a frequent visitor to Aras an Uachtarain); afternoons and evenings with "F. C.," 
with whom for a long time he shared an emotional tie that seemed destined to end in marriage; meetings 
of college clubs and societies to which he had been admitted. In the Chess Club he was soon recognized 
as a for- 

midable opponent. At Theological Society meetings he was hailed as a talented speaker. But it was the 
College Historical Society, or "Hist" — the most prestigious and influential of Trinity's student 
organizations and the one that, since its founding in 1770, traditionally attracted the brightest minds and 
strongest personalities — that set the tone of his student life. One of thirty- one students elected to 
membership in April 1883, he was deeply stirred by the fact that among those who had preceded him 
were such men as Edmund Burke, Wolfe Tone, and Robert Emmet. "Hist" alumni — renowned scholars, 
barristers, physicians, men of letters, and members of Pariiament — returned frequently to speak at 
meetings. "Hist" debates taught him how audacity and eloquence could become elements of style. 
Throughout his college years Douglas's favorite annual event was the full-dress spring meeting and 
banquet at which "Hist" speakers, judged as much by their talent for humor as by their poise, laid on a 
mixture of serious speech and mischievous bombast. Long after he had completed the last of his Trinity 
degrees, throughout the different times of his life when he was often at odds with his alma mater over 
questions of policy, politics, and the Irish language, Hyde remained an active participant in "Hist" 
affairs. He served as the organization's president from 1932 until his death in 1949. 

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Typical of regular "Hist" sessions was the first that Douglas attended, in which he watched with 
admiration as one member, a man he did not know, played the devil's advocate with humor and skill and 
"stirred up a great row . . . with his fooling." The next meeting was addressed by William Lecky, the 
distinguished Unionist historian. Although still awed by his surroundings, Douglas ventured a comment 
from the gallery. Other comments at other meetings followed. He discovered that he was a witty and 
effective impromptu speaker. In 1884 he was elected to the prestigious position of auditor. He also 
began to take his turn at presenting papers. 

Among the prepared topics on which Douglas Hyde spoke at "Hist" meetings during 1884-1885 were 
"The Classical Temper," "Celts and Teutons," and even, boldly, "Irish Rule in Ireland." At the March 
1885 meeting of the Theological Society he addressed an unsympathetic audience on an even bolder 
topic, "The Attitude of the Reformed Church in Ireland." His thesis — that the clergy of the Irish church 
should express their approval of nationalism — was described in the Dublin University Review , a new 
journal founded in February by Charles Oldham, as having "evoked . . . many hostile criticisms." 
Douglas him- 

self acknowledged that he had been supported only by his friends Stockley and Hackett; others had 
remained silent or had railed against him. Y et the Review also noted, "It is not often that an essay is read 
in College where clearly defined views are expressed in language so beautiful and simple." Y ears later. 
Crook recalled that invariably, on any Irish subject Hyde addressed, he could be expected to take the 
"extreme nationalist viewpoint." However, not all the controversial causes he embraced were Irish. On a 
postcard to Annette written in 1885, Hyde noted regretfully that, although it was one of his "pet" 
subjects, he had spoken "very badly" on another unpopular issue, "Female Emancipation." 

From 1884 to 1887, Crook, Mackey Wilson, and Hyde frequently formed the affirmative team in "Hist" 
debates. Whatever their subject and whether or not their audience agreed with them, Douglas handled 
his part of each program with a rhetorical skill that to some degree he owed, he knew, to the cottage and 
kitchen and dinner and drawing-room debates of his boyhood in Frenchpark. For that he could credit his 
father, Johnny Lavin, and even Dockry. At the opening of the 116th debating session on November 11, 
1885, Hyde was among the speakers chosen to take the affirmative on the question of whether the 
Church of England ought to be disestablished. Although his arguments were unpopular, his eloquence 
was unchallenged. In tiie oratorical competition of 1885 Hyde stood second of thirteen; in 1886 he was 
fourth out of eleven; in 1887 he won the silver medal for oratory. 

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Between 1883 and 1887 Hyde discovered the network of off-campus "clubs" (many, as Breandan 6 
Conaire points out more properly called "soirees") that were attended not only by Trinity College 
students but also by graduates of Trinity and by other Dubliners with political, intellectual, and cultural 
interests. One was the Discussion Club on Y ork Street, meeting place of the Y oung Ireland Society, 
where papers on topics related to nationalism were read and discussed. At Y oung Ireland meetings Hyde 
and Y eats discovered their mutual interests; there too, as well as at the Contemporary Club, founded in 
1885, Hyde and John O'Leary (the Fenian leader convicted in 1867, newly returned from imprisonment 
and exile) often clashed on the subject of Pamell and Home Rule, about which O'Leary was severely 
critical. In time the group that formed the nucleus of both the Y oung Ireland Society and the 
Contemporary Club (the latter met Saturday evenings in Charles Oldham's rooms across from the main 
gate of Trinity) expanded to include women, notably O'Leary 's sister Ellen, Rose Kavanagh, Katha- 

rine Tynan, and the beautiful and sophisticated Maud Gonne. Even before Oldham established his 
Saturday Evening Club his rooms were a meeting place forT. W. Rolleston, George Coffey, Willie 
Stockley, W. B. Yeats, Fitzgerald (Hyde's eye specialist, perceived in a new role), and Hyde, who served 
as a kind of informal editorial staff to discuss with him how best to introduce the Irish national spirit into 
the Dublin University Review . For literary rather than political discussion, Hyde went to the 
Shakespeare and the Mosaic clubs. Sometimes the Mosaic Club's biweekly format was changed to allow 
for a playreading or even an amateur production, in which Hyde frequently was chosen for a leading 
part. Participation in all these groups expanded Hyde's social circle and increased his invitations to teas, 
dinners, evening lectures, and concerts. They also provided him, as Daly suggests, with a school of 
contemporary politics and literature. 

Hyde's diary entries describing Saturday evening meetings of the Contemporary Club (written in a 
mixture of Irish and English punctuated by an occasional German phrase) note that about twenty men 
usually were present. Approximately half were, like Hyde, Trinity students; the other half, from Dublin's 
professional and intellectual community, included Fitzgerald, Hyde's eye specialist; George Sigerson, a 
medical doctor with an outstanding reputation in his own field who was also a notable literary figure, 
language revivalist, and nationalist; Alfred Webb, M.P.; and John O'Leary. Discussion ranged from the 
pros and cons of Pamell's parliamentary strategies and current educational schemes (including one that 
would have turned Trinity over to the Catholics) to the efficacy of English representative government 
and the relative merits of single- and double-chamber legislatures. Michael Davitt came on December 12 
and was questioned on the current position of the Land League; O'Leary, who was almost always 
present, was the self-styled resident expert on almost every political question, but especially anything to 
do with Fenianism. In meetings of the Y oung Ireland Society, Y eats lionized 'Leary. At the 
Contemporary Club, Hyde found the old Fenian tiresome at best, exasperating at his worst. "I never 

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came across so complete a Tory," Hyde wrote on December 20, 1885. "He did not think tiiat tiie masses 
have a right to the franchise; it was not expedient he said, forgetting that he constituted himself the judge 
of expediency." 

Despite his full round of extracurricular activities, Hyde's academic career continued to prosper, even 
though, as always, its direction was difficult to discern. In 1884, when he received his B.A. with honors. 

he was one of only three students to be awarded the vice-chancellor's gold medal. Still undecided about 
his future yet still maintaining that he would not enter the clergy, he continued in the divinity program, 
taking a first in his examinations in 1885. In 1886 he again won the vice-chancellor's medal, this time 
for a thousand-line poem on Deirdre. For the history medal awarded in June 1886, he wrote on Lord 
Comwallis's blunders as viceroy of Ireland. By this time, as Crook observed, it was certain that Hyde 
was "too Irish for the church of an unsympathetic minority." In the fall of 1886 he transferred to law. 
The move — dictated not by aspiration but by necessity — provided both an escape from divinity and a 
reason for his continuing residence at Trinity. Serendipitously, his successes to this point having owed as 
much to passion as to prowess, it also provided him with practice in writing and speaking on subjects in 
which he had little interest. For his examination for the LL.B., awarded in 1887, he was required to state 
the principal rules regulating the descent of an estate in fee simple. For his next major hurdle he had to 
give an account of the law of entail, explain the succession to the Crown of England, and write a short 
historical sketch of canon law. Again he placed first; again he won the vice-chancellor's prize. With a 
sigh of relief and a quatrain — 

With, oh, such a wealth of distinctions And, oh, such a splitting of straw. He must be a patient poor devil 
Who gives himself up to the law — 

in 1888 he was awarded the LL.D. 

Although Hyde's harvest of medals and prizes suggests a single-minded devotion to the programs in 
which he enrolled, he maintained in addition all through his student days a self-directed parallel course 
of study in Irish culture, history, language, and literary and oral traditions from which he drew the 
information he needed for his published essays. The first of these essays was inspired by a treatise by 
Justin McCarthy on Irish language and literature published in August 1885 in the Dublin University 
Review . In it McCarthy argued that not only did the "splendid stories" of Ireland's legendary history 
rival those of the Romans and the Greeks but that Ireland's legendary heroes were "as noble as any to be 

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found in western Europe." 

Cuchulain is as fine a hero as Theseus; Queen Maeve is no less marvellous than Helen; the fate of the 
children of Tureen is as grim as the fortunes of Heraclidae. Nor must I forget that wonderful story of the 
adventures of Oisin in 

the Land of Y outh, a legend which ... has not to my mind its superior among all the legends of the 

Calling on his countrymen to examine these neglected works from their own imaginative tradition, 
McCarthy urged also that they acquaint themselves with the language in which their ancient literature 
had been preserved — a language that might have been theirs, he reminded them, had history been 

Two months later an essay by Hyde entitled "The Unpublished Songs of Ireland" appeared in the 
October issue of the same review. Readily acknowledging his debt to McCarthy, Hyde announced that 
his different but related purpose was to draw attention to an overlooked and "humbler field" of Irish 
tradition found in the songs and folktales of the Irish peasantry. Writing with a sense of style and an idea 
of his reader (neither previously evident in "Smaointe"), Hyde recalls the question Wordsworth asked on 
hearing a Gaelic song in the sweet mouth of a young girl: "Can no one tell me what she sings?" His 
essay, he says disarmingly, will tell something of what she sings about — but will also consider what 
songs are on the lips of her Irish sister in the "Connacht Highlands." However, he cautions, his own 
experience has been that the best songs ordinarily are sung not by a young girl standing alone in a 
harvest field but by old men and old women huddled over the smoke of a turf fire in a chimney comer. 
"Y ou share a piece of twist tobacco with the ban a' tee ," Hyde explains, and "you can pretty easily 
sound her as to her knowledge about the Fianna Eireann, and as to the songs and 'bubberos' [spinning- 
wheel songs] which she used to sing as a girl." Moreover, young girls grow shy at the approach of a 
stranger, whereas an old woman "often . . . will feel rather flattered than otherwise at your noting down 
her verses." Thus he gracefully draws the reader to the subject that is his main concern. 

That Hyde's selection of verses obtained under these conditions was derived from his own personal 
experience is evident from his extensive use of examples from the notebooks he had been filling since 

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boyhood, at first with stories and poems told to him by Seamas Hart, then with those from the mouths of 
others. Each verse or poem or song included is presented within the context of a brief dramatic narrative 
that sets the scene of its telling. Each is accompanied by a comparative analysis of form and content that 
draws on Hyde's knowledge of nineteenth- century poems from the oral tradition, bardic poems from 
centuries past, and analogous writings in the languages and literatures of modem 

Europe. His writing is seductive. Instead of scolding and preaching as in "Smaointe," he now suggests 
and persuades. His ending neither imposes a conclusion nor suggests an action but leaves the reader 
aligned with the forces of insight, reason, and virtue: 

But alas! ... as our language wanes and dies, the golden legends of the far-off centuries fade and pass 
away. No one sees their influence upon culture; no one sees their educational power; no one puts out a 
hand to arrest them ere they depart for ever. 

The essay demonstrates not only how much Hyde had learned about writing since he struggled through 
"Smaointe" in 1880 but also how much he had developed intellectually. It introduces both the idea and 
the substance of what soon would be his first two full-length published books, Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta 
(A book of storytelling) and Beside the Fire . 

Eight months later in June 1886, T. W. Rolleston, now editor of Charles Oldhma's Dublin University 
Review , included in his "Notes of the Month" a few lines on a dinner that had been held in May to 
celebrate the centennial of the Royal Irish Academy. Congratulating the academy on its 
accomplishments of the past 100 years, he took the opportunity to question the aims of its language 
revivalists, including An Craoibhin. 

Do they wish to make Irish the language of our conversation and our newspapers? Impossible, and 
wholly undesirable. Do they wish to make us a bilingual people in the sense that everybody should know 
two languages? But peasantry and artisans cannot be expected to know two languages except at the 
expense of both. Would they separate Ireland into an English-speaking country and an Irish- speaking 
country? But how seriously this would affect the free circulation of thought. . . . What is there left except 
to treat Irish as a classic, and leave it to the Universities? Sufficient endowments will secure their 
attention to its interests. 

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As Hyde was one of the members of the Review 's informal editorial board and Rolleston was among his 
friends, and as the policy of the Dublin University Review was to stir up debate over different facets of 
nationalism, there is every chance that Rolleston's remarks and Hyde's reply — the latter announced in 
July and printed in August — had been planned. The time was right for such a discussion: in February, 
Pamell's position had been strengthened by the results of a new election which the Liberals had won by 
the slim majority of eighty-six (exactly the number of votes in the Irish party). Gladstone, who had 

Home Rule, was again prime minister; Pamell held the balance of power. In April, Gladstone introduced 
his first Home Rule bill. In May the question seemed to be not whether there would be Home Rule in 
Ireland but when. Nationalists predicted that the bill would be passed by the end of summer. Meanwhile, 
as pressure for Home Rule was mounting, language revivalists were planning measures to take to the 
country on the occasion of its first independent election. They were most concerned with answering 
objections from anti-revivalists who, equally aware of the approaching moment, also had become 
increasingly vocal. As things turned out, within days of publication of Rolleston's "Notes," Home Rule 
was defeated. The country was in the midst of a general election when Hyde's reply, "A Plea for the Irish 
Language," was announced. By the time it was published the Tories were back in office. Y et the 
situation was not so upsetting as it might have been: the Liberals were no longer in charge, but the 
Tories could not take credit for either the defeat of the first Home Rule bill or the fall of Gladstone's 
government. Both had been the result of Whig opposition, some of it led by Lord Hartington, brother of 
the unfortunate Lord Frederick Cavendish. Pamell had come through the July election as popular as 
ever, with his strength intact. Lord Salisbury, leader of the Tories, had declared that he would concede 
nothing to the Irish but would in fact reduce if not eliminate Pamell's influence, but observers and 
proponents alike believed that it was only a matter of time before Parliament would find itself 
considering another Home Rule proposal. 

Although predicated on such expectations, Hyde's essay was not merely topical but a reply to Rolleston's 
cui bono based on both philosophic and practical but not materialistic considerations. Witiiin "a few 
short years," Hyde predicted, the dream of centuries would be fulfilled. With that hour approaching, the 
task of preserving tiie language had become more important than ever. For this reason there could be no 
question of leaving Irish to the universities. "We know what that means. We have seen our very 
numerous, very ancient and very interesting MSS handed over to the safe keeping of the colleges. . . . 
There they lie in their companies: 'No one wakes them, they are keeping/Royal state and semblance 
still.'" As these were manuscripts — the work of scholars, many of them Irish- speakers from infancy — 
that preserved the history, the traditions, the culture of the Irish people, they always must be accessible. 

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Hyde insisted, to those to whom they rightfully belong. 

Hyde's argument however, was not for Irish by fiat. There could be no question, he declared, of an 
extreme in which Irish replaced English as the language of newspapers and clubs: "That is and ever shall 
be an impossibility." On the contrary, his prediction was that, almost certainly, social and commercial 
relations would make it necessary for "every man woman and child" in Ireland, even those in the 
Gaeltacht, to learn English sooner or later. But if English was to be not only maintained but fostered, so 
Irish too must have national support, for without it the Irish-speaking population would have little 
chance of surviving the heavy losses inflicted upon it — steadily for hundreds of years; precipitously, in 
their own late nineteenth century. 

A reasonable plan for Irish, Hyde suggested, to avoid separating the people of Ireland from the stored 
memories and imagination of generations, would be for the government to foster a bilingual population 
in Irish-speaking areas on which future generations might draw "as from a fountain." Anticipating 
twentieth- century studies in language and psychology, he cited the importance to a cultural community 
of preserving the "stream of collected thought" shared by all, the traditions embedded in place-names, 
the characteristics of a language that shape a people's perceptions of themselves and their world. Those 
who have had no experience with the death of a national language, wrote Hyde, could have no 
conception of its impact on the thoughts and habits of a people. 

Y et if the Irish people themselves resolved to let the Irish national language die, should it be kept alive 
through "twopenny-halfpenny bounties"? Hyde's answer was no. But had the Irish people ever had the 
opportunity to confront such a decision? Briefly recounting the history of Ireland, Hyde argued that Irish 
in Ireland had not been given either this or any other choice related to their cultural identity for more 
than 250 years. Only abroad, he avowed, had the Irish had the opportunity to promote the language of 
their ancestors: in New Y ork City (he had the statistics from O'Neill Russell) it "has found a more 
congenial soil than in the streets of Dublin." That living Irish language, Hyde asserted, had to be given 
an equally fair chance in Ireland. 

"A Plea for the Irish Language" took Hyde far beyond "Smaointe" if not yet as far as his 1892 speech, 
"The Necessity for De- Anglicising Ireland." As Daly points out, the very task of writing it forced him to 
come to terms with what hitherto had been contradictory ideas of his own about the nature of the Irish 
language and its contribution to the 

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Irish ethos. The result was the development of a perspective later to influence his work in the Gaelic 
League and his plans for a place for the language in Irish education. 

Hyde was not in Dublin in August when "A Plea for the Irish Language" appeared in print. Early in July, 
accompanied by Mackey Wilson, he had gone to Scotland, to make an on-site assessment of the 
comparative status of Scots-Gaelic and Irish, a subject in which he had been interested for some years. 
In preparation for his trip he had read everything about the Scottish language movement that he could 
find and had seized every chance to engage Scots-Gaelic speakers in conversation. One day at Trinity, 
walking with his friend Crook, he had spotted a Highland piper on the cricket field. Crook recalled that 
the pipes were quickly laid aside while the two men, one in a kilt, the other in tweeds, engaged in an 
animated conversation incomprehensible to others. 

Nothing Hyde had learned from his studies, however, had prepared him to find in Scotland such a 
vigorous and extensive commitment to the native language. It exceeded anything he ever had 
encountered at home. He noted that wherever Scots-Gaelic was spoken it was the language of everyone, 
not just the smallest of children and oldest of the elderly. Nor did anyone apologize for not using 
English. On the contrary, all seemed proud of their fluency in their native tongue and eager to help him 
engage them in conversation. There were problems: of vocabulary, because Irish and Scots-Gaelic often 
use different Gaelic roots for common concepts and items; of comprehension, because Hyde had not had 
sufficient ear training to catch correspondences between Scottish and Irish vowel sounds. Nevertheless, 
caught up in the positive spirit of the people, Hyde persisted in his attempts to understand and make 
himself understood. In the essays and lectures he later wrote about his experiences and observations, he 
credited the Scottish Presbyterian church with providing the environment in which Scots-Gaelic was 
thriving. The singing of Gaelic hymns and delivery of extemporaneous Gaelic prayers during church 
service were "a most powerful instrument," he said, "in cultivating the language." 

Hyde and Wilson returned to Dublin on July 31. A few days later he was in Frenchpark, where he found 
his mother neither completely well nor seriously ill. For some years her recurrent asthma attacks had 
been steadily sapping her strength. She had rallied and failed, rallied and failed, in a predictable pattern. 
On August 23, as he was about to go off to the horse show, she suddenly collapsed. For two days she lay 

writhing and unconscious, struggling for breath. Annette was traveling on the Continent; his father was 

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no help at all. On August 25 she died. She was only fifty-two. In his diaiy Hyde described her as a 
woman "as selfless and disinterested ... as ever walked this earth." Fertile next six weeks he remained 
in Frenchpark, alone with his father, awaiting Annette's return. To avoid quarrels he kept himself busy 
looking after the house, supervising the servants, and studying. He made considerable progress on a 
project he had begun, on the literature of the Celts. Evenings he did not allow himself to be drawn into 
conversations that inevitably would end in disagreement. To break the silence his father read out loud to 
him from Lecky and David Copperfield . He listened wordlessly. Occasional visits with the Frenches of 
Ratra helped relieve the tension. He was greatly relieved when at last it was time for him to go back to 
Trinity and the fall term. At Christmas he dutifully but briefly returned home. The prospect of soon 
departing with Mackey Wilson for an extended tour of the south of France helped him endure the gloom. 

Ever since his first visit abroad in 1878 Hyde had longed to return to the Continent, especially to France. 
Y et during his Trinity years his few trips outside Ireland had been limited mostly to England. To keep 
the French experience alive within him he had had to content himself with reading and rereading. For 
years Rousseau's Confessions and the Maxims of Rochefoucauld, both bought on the quays during his 
memorable first tour, had been among his favorite books. Steadily and purposefully, his progress 
recorded in his diaiy, he also had forged his way through the French classics, French philosophy, French 
political thought, and French history. These readings had developed the sophistication he needed for a 
greater appreciation of Voltaire. They had sharpened his appetite for ideas and had aroused new 
intellectual passions. One year the "great book" was Emile . Another year he copied into his 
commonplace books long passages from the works of George Sand. Moliere so fascinated him that he 
filled page after page of his diaiy with a long critical commentary on the French playwright's entire 
dramatic canon. Studying Taine and Carlyle, he declared that never had he read "anything in which 
French good sense and clear eye were more conspicuous." When discussions among members of Y oung 
Ireland turned to new political and philosophical theories, especially those Continental in origin, Hyde 
listened intently. Paris, with which Maud Gonne, Y eats, and others seemed so familiar, was for him a 
City of Light in more than the usual sense. French was a language of new 

values. It often had served as a bridge between his Anglo-Irish and Irish-Gaelic personae. 

In the spring of 1887, following the usual route from Dublin to Paris, via Holyhead, London, and 
Folkestone, Hyde and Wilson set out for France. Hyde regretted bypassing Brittany. Annette had assured 
him that he would find this Celtic province fascinating. In Paris his disappointment vanished as he and 
Wilson spent a few days sipping aperitifs in boulevard cafes, indulging themselves in fine French 
dinners, and making the rounds of the best-known Parisian cabarets. Then, marking sights along the 
way, they set out for the south, following a route that took them through Tours, Angouleme, and 

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Orleans. Bordeaux impressed Hyde particularly: still quite unsophisticated, he had not anticipated there 
being so large a city outside Paris. He had thought that like Ireland, France would have but one truly 
major urban center and the others would be essentially towns. To Wilson he remarked the contrasts in 
the countryside through which they traveled: the central plain rapidly giving way to heavily wooded 
hills; a mountain so broad and so high that the train passed through it instead of over or around it; the 
number of boats on the broad riverways. Wherever tiiey went the punctuality of the French impressed 
him. He noted that even in the picturesque town of St. Jean de Luz at the edge of the Bay of Biscay 
where they stayed nearly a fortnight in the small and charming Hotel de France, morning coffee was 
brought promptly at nine, lunch was served promptly at twelve, and dinner was served promptly at six. It 
was a phenomenon that in some ways seemed more remarkable to him than the perpetual sunshine of 
southern France. 

On his first Sunday morning in St. Jean de Luz, Hyde went to church. Up to this point his Parisian 
French had proved quite adequate for all occasions, but the sermon, he discovered, was delivered in 
Basque. He had not expected it to be so widely used. It interested him to learn that many farmworkers 
knew no French at all. The next Sunday he again went to church — this time, according to his 
information, to a service in French — but so strong was the Basque influence on the local dialect that 
again he could not understand the sermon. Fascinated by these new linguistic experiences, he longed to 
stay on and explore them, but his itinerary did not allow sufficient time. He and Wilson were expected in 
Biarritz, where there was a large British colony. There, in a round of lunches, teas, and tennis 
tournaments, Hyde forgot his curiosity, found new friends, flirted with young ladies who invited him to 
visit them in London, and otherwise allowed his Ascendancy persona free rein to enjoy itself for a full 

On the trip home Hyde and Wilson again interrupted their journey in Paris. Again they sipped afternoon 
drinks in the cafes along the boulevards, dined in style, and made the midnight rounds of cabarets, but 
they also attended a play by Dumas fils at the Theatre Frangaise and a production of Gounod's Faust at 
the Opera, went driving in the Bois de Boulogne, and visited Napoleon's tomb. On his last Sunday in 
France, Hyde attended the morning service at the Madeleine. The sermon, he noted happily in his diary, 
was in fully comprehensible Parisian French. 

By the middle of May, Hyde was back in Frenchpark. In the small cemetery beside his father's church he 
erected a headstone of Sicilian marble to mark his mother's grave. She was the first of the family to be 
buried there. Arliiur had been buried in Mohill; the Oldfield plot was in the Protestant cemetery in 
Castlerea, almost directly across the street from the house in which he was bom. Through summer and 
early fall Hyde remained in Frenchpark, studying law, making uneven progress on assorted writing 

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projects, performing glebe house chores, taking long walks alone and with Annette, visiting Big House 
neighbors who invited them both to luncheons, teas, and tennis parties, and fishing, boating, and 
swimming. On November 9 he returned to Dublin for the "Hist" awards ceremony, at which he received 
a silver medal for oratory and a gold medal for an essay on Celtic literature. He had arrived prepared to 
stay in Dublin for about a month to cram for his examinations for the LL.B. Since these examinations 
were no great worry to him, he made the rounds of his usual clubs, visited friends, and attended parties. 
As always he was vaguely troubled by a nagging concern about what he would do with the rest of his 
life, since law had no more appeal for him than the ministry, but in general his spirits were good. 

On December 7, 1887 — the last day of his LL.B. examinations — everything changed. Word reached him 
that Mackey Wilson was ill; that he was not expected to live; that he had died. Hyde had known him 
long before they entered Trinity. They had shared boyhood adventures and confidences. So warm was 
their friendship that Hyde's daughter Una remembered hearing Wilson's name when she was a child, 
although his death occurred nine years before she was bom. Hyde's response to the tragic news was 
more intense than he himself had expected: 

I was so shattered . . . that I cried like a child, and had to turn to the punch to clam myself. I drank half a 
pint and more, and smoked until my mouth was sore and raw. God, I was miserable. I do not ever 
remember crying so much. 

even when my mother died. Then I began arguing with myself as to the cause of my sorrow . . . and this 
heart- searching left me worse than ever. 

Mackey Wilson's funeral on December 21 at the Wilson home near Enfield was a small affair, with only 
close friends and relatives present. Wilson's body was laid to rest in the grave beside that of his younger 
brother. As soon as the formalities were over, Hyde went home to Frenchpark. Ten days later, in the end- 
of-year review he wrote in his diary, he scolded himself for having whiled away so much of 1887, 
amusing himself when he should have been settling down and earning his living. At the beginning of the 
new term in the new year he returned to Dublin, ostensibly to study for the LL.D., actually to continue 
work on two projects that consumed the greater part of his time and attention. One was his long essay in 
English on the development of Gaelic literature; the other, in Irish, an annotated edition of folktales from 
the oral tradition that he had obtained from the mouths of native storytellers. On April 30, 1888, Hyde 
was informed that he had received a first in his examination for the LL.D. Although the ceremonial 
conferring of his degree did not take place until December 19 (it cost him ten shillings for his hood and 

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gown and £22 — "dear enough/' he writes — for his sheepskin), that last day of April in 1888 was in fact 
the last day of his college life. 

Hyde's transition from Trinity student to Trinity graduate was barely noticeable. Someone had to stay 
with the Reverend Arthur Hyde, and Oldfield's duties rarely allowed him much time at home. In any 
case Oldfield's relationship with the rector was still strained. Douglas's works-in-progress also required 
much time in Dublin, where his day-time hours were spent in bookshops and libraries; evenings he made 
the rounds of his clubs (additions to the list included the Pan-Celtic Society, the Franco-German Society, 
and the Theosophical Society), presenting papers and participating in discussions, or attended dinners, 
theater performances, concerts, and lectures. Responsibility for keeping up the glebe house and grounds 
and looking after the Reverend Arthur Hyde was therefore unevenly shared by Annette and Douglas. 

Between 1888 and 1890, Hyde's club activities revolved chiefly around Young Ireland, in which he had 
been active since 1884, and the new Pan-Celtic Society, founded on March 1, 1888. Membership in the 
Pan-Celtic was restricted to published authors, but as the amount of publication required was minimal, it 
was far from exclusive. The significance of the membership clause was mainly the focus it gave to 

meetings. For Yeats, who was also a member, and whose muse had become increasingly Irish since 
1885, meetings were important. For him the Pan-Celtic offered opportunities to talk about native Irish 
traditions with people like Hyde, whose work he had followed witii particular interest since the 
publication of "Unpublished Songs of Ireland." 

The Hyde-Y eats relationship was complex from the start. Y eats was fascinated with Hyde's developing 
translation ethic, which subordinated literal meaning to the character of a language and found evidence 
in oral expression of linguistic influence on the mind and imagination of native speakers. Although 
Y eats himself knew little if any Irish, he recognized not only the soundness of Hyde's concepts but also 
the success of their application to Irish rhythms and diction. To Katharine Tynan and John Millington 
Synge he recommended the study of the Irish quality of Hyde's translations into English. For himself he 
found in them qualities that he adapted in the development of his own poetic voice. Y eats also 
recognized Hyde as a source of information for the articles on bardic poetry that he had agreed to write 
and as a potential contributor to the Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, a small book scheduled 
for publication in late 1888. In a letter to Hyde written on July 1 1, Y eats described his search for "little 
books of fairy tales to be found in peasant cottages brown with turf smoke." Listing the categories he 
planned to use in his collection, he asked if Hyde would help. Hyde agreed; consultations followed; and 

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four days later Y eats wrote again: "I will be thankful for any stories. The more the better — I have just 
discovered my book to be 60 or 70 pages short." Hyde obliged with three stories, among them one that 
Yeats later described as the "best tale" in the collection: his "style is perfect — so sincere and simple — so 
little literary/' he confided to Katharine Tynan in a letter written in September. Meanwhile, early in 
August Y eats had asked Hyde, "Will you be even more generous still and consent to look through my 
proofs so as to give me some short notes?" And on August 25 he wrote again to say that he was sending 
Hyde his first batch of proofs, so that Hyde might correct any mistakes Y eats had made in them. 

Attracted to each other by certain common goals and values, Y eats and Hyde differed in their attitudes 
toward Irish Ireland and anglicized Ireland. Different also were their respective concepts of self. Richard 
Ellmann's insight into the dominating consciousness of Y eats's poetic self is underscored in the titles of 
his biographical- critical studies: The 

Man and the Masks and The Identity of Y eats . Y eats understood that even a minor poet could be driven 
by a sense of poetic mission. What he did not understand was the apparent lack or subordination of it (he 
was never sure which) in a poet as talented as Hyde. In fact, when he first met Hyde, he did not 
recognize him as a poet or even as a member of the social class to which he mentally assigned all poets, 
by virtue of their profession. Recalling that encounter, Y eats wrote in 1922: 

I have a memory of ... a very dark young man, who filled me with surprise, partly because he had 

pushed a snuffbox towards me I had set him down as a peasant, and wondered what brought him to 

college, and to a Protestant college, but somebody explained that he belonged to some branch of the 
Hydes of Castle Hyde, and that he had a Protestant Rector for father. ... He had already . . . 
considerable popularity as a Gaelic poet, mowers and reapers singing his songs from Donegal to Kerry. 
( The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats, 145-46) 

Suspicious that Hyde never spoke his real thoughts, Y eats complained to his diaries of Hyde's "super 
affability," "diplomatizing," and tendency toward "evading as far as he could prominent positions and 
the familiarity of his fellows," which he attributed to a fear of "jealousy and detraction." Y ears afterward 
it still troubled Y eats that the tenant farmers and villagers whose sparse communities were to him but 
wide places on a country road, having "picked up, perhaps" a "habit of Gaelic criticism" from "the poets 
who took refuge among them after the ruin of the great Catholic families," sang Hyde's words without a 
clue to his true identity — and that (the story may be apocryphal) "an old rascal was kept in food and 
whiskey for a fortnight by some connaught village under the belief that he was Craoibhin Aoibhin 

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[ sic ]." For a poet to choose a pseudonym and therefore anonymity was for Y eats as incomprehensible 
as a poet's choosing to subordinate his talent to the creation of "a great popular movement/' however 
important "its practical results." Bewildered by the course of Hyde's career, he came to mourn "the great 
poet who died in his youth." 

For his part, Hyde admired Y eats's single-minded dedication to poetry, often demonstrated in his 
generosity not only to younger writers but to those of a slighter talent; he had no doubts about Y eats's 
abilities. But impatient with Y eats's ego, he often expressed his irritation with the "blather" with which 
Y eats monopolized the company of others. To Hyde it was an impediment to serious talk. Hyde was 
particularly irritated one afternoon when having come, out of affection, to see his friend and former 
Trinity professor Edward Dowden, 

he found Y eats there, trying to impress Dowden with his "blather." He also criticized Y eats's social 
climbing, his condescending behavior toward anyone he regarded as not his social equal, and his 
patronizing attitude toward Irish men and women whom he knew only collectively as "the peasantry. 

Y eats and Hyde frequently saw each other at meetings of the Y oung Ireland Society and the 
Contemporary Club, where Y eats always deferred to John 'Leary. Impatient with the unshakable biases 
and inflexible attitudes of the old Fenian leader, Hyde preferred George Sigerson. Y eats was prickly and 
argumentative with John F. Taylor, a barrister, orator, and biographer of Irish subjects; to Hyde, Taylor 
was a silver-tongued "king among men." Both Y eats and Hyde were single-minded in their pursuit of the 
development of an idea. Hyde would spend hours tracking down elusive bits of information. Y eats 
would devote the same time to writing letters to able people like Hyde who could root out and present 
him with what he required. Hyde did not mind Y eats's steady stream of research requests, although they 
often took hours to fill, because he found the subjects intrinsically interesting He was therefore merely 
amused to receive two letters from Y eats in December 1888, asking for help in finding "some ragged 
peasant ready to sell his rags cheap." A pencil sketch of what Y eats had in mind accompanied the 
request. The clothes were needed by the Royal Irish Academy, Y eats explained, for an artist by the name 
of Nash who had been commissioned to illustrate John Todhunter's Tom Connolly and the Banshee . 
Hyde obliged, and in February 1889, having received the "peasant rags," Y eats asked Hyde's advice on 
what should be sent to the "old fellow": "clothes, money, tobacco?" Never fully understanding Hyde's 
tongue-in-cheek replies but nevertheless thankful for his help, Y eats welcomed opportunities to do him a 
good deed in return. He praised Hyde's work to the editor of the Academy; he introduced him to David 
Gamett of Fisher Unwin; he urged young poets to read his essays and translations. 

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Both Hyde and Y eats were infatuated with the tall, beautiful, articulate, and cosmopolitan Maud Gonne, 
a self-acknowledged Irish revolutionary who was as much at home in Paris as in Dublin. Hyde declared 
in his diary that her presence in a room was a signal for all the men to gather around. Charles Oldham 
had introduced her to the Contemporary Club, until then an all-male preserve, without a word of protest 
from anyone. Hyde, who had met her earlier at George Sigerson's declared her "the most dazzling 
woman I have ever seen." 

Courtier- like, Y eats incorporated her into his mythologizing poetry that celebrated his devotion to her 
beauty. Hyde offered to teach her Irish, but their "tutoring sessions" ranged over such a number of topics 
that there was never time to try to discuss them in anything but English. Nevertheless, he continued to 
come to her flat on Nassau Street, convenient to the daily haunts of Pan-Celtics and Y oung Irelanders, 
first at the appointed weekly hour, then several times a day — sometimes when, musical- comedy style, 
other admirers were also swarming around her. Watching them all, Maud Gonne recalled in her 
autobiography, were two Special Branch men assigned to surveillance outside her building. "The tricks 
we used to play on those unfortunate sleuths," she wrote, "would fill a volume." 

A less spectacular but more comfortable woman in Hyde's life during this period was Ellen O'Leary, 
coeditor with her brother, John 'Leary, of an important volume in the history of nineteenth- and 
twentieth- century Irish literature. Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland . Contributors to the book were 
the Y oung Irelanders of the 1880s; its contents followed the principles of the Y oung Irelanders of the 
1840s; who had proclaimed that Irish poetry should be the servant of political nationalism. Ellen 
'Leary was almost thirty years Hyde's senior. Their warm relationship was reminiscent of Hyde's 
boyhood affection for Anna White, his "Una Ban." On New Year's Day, 1889, he presented her with a 
brace of game birds that he had shot for her. In April he sent her his photograph and expressed his 
concern about her declining health. By summer she was too ill to have visitors, but when she could she 
answered his long letters, full of gossip and small talk. A few months later, all was over. Tuberculosis, 
that ghastly scourge of nineteenth- century Ireland, had again struck down someone he loved. Deeply 
shaken by her death, Hyde asked John O'Leary to return the letters he had written to her, promising on 
his part to return those she had written to him. Mourning Ellen, Hyde and O'Leary established their own 
friendship deeper than the differences of opinion that previously had divided them. 

Meanwhile the initials "F.C." continued to weave through Hyde's diary. A close friend and frequent 
companion since their first meeting in the spring of 1882, Frances Crofton often walked with Hyde in 
the morning, lunched with him at noon, dined with him in the evening, and accompanied him to after- 
dinner lectures, concerts, and club meetings. At Hyde's insistence they sometimes talked of marriage. In 
1886 she had deflected rather than refused him by saying that she simply had 

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no intention of ever marrying. In one way her answer made it easier for him to continue their 
relationship, since his prospects and financial situation were not yet sufficient to permit him to make a 
formal proposal. In another it left him socially and emotionally in an odd state, neither attached nor 

In June of 1889 — an important year for Hyde, as at last he had put his name to a major publication, 
Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta (A book of storytelling) — Hyde, Frances Crofton, and Hyde's sister Annette 
made a two-week trip to Paris. Hyde was then striving to secure a university teaching position 
somewhere in Ireland. Had he succeeded he might well have pushed his suit with Frances, but his 
prospects remained uncertain. The only offer he received was from his friend Willie Stockley, who was 
then teaching at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. What Stockley proposed was an interim 
professorship for Hyde that would suit them both. With Hyde to replace him, he explained, he could take 
a year's leave in 1890-1891. Hyde meanwhile would have the advantage of an academic base from 
which he might launch a search for a more permanent post. Hyde immediately realized that it was an 
attractive idea, especially as his second book. Beside the Fire — a collection of folktales translated by 
him into the English that Y eats had so admired — was scheduled for publication in December 1890. By 
June 1891 he would have two published books and a year's teaching experience behind him. The fact 
that he had been teaching English, French, and German would expand the kind of position for which he 
might apply. Stockley was right: there was little doubt that such a move would improve his credentials 

- - 7 To Canada - 

The purser on the Allan Line's Polynesia out of Liverpool, westbound for Quebec and Montreal, 
September 11, 1890, Captain R. G. Barrett, master, had "Dr. Douglas Hyde" on his list of saloon 
passengers. Hyde's destination was Montreal. He had paid eighteen guineas for his passage — "six too 
much," he complained to his sister, as he made his customary pre- trip reckoning of anticipated costs and 
money already expended. Easily singled out in the crowd of passengers boarding the ship, most of them 
more concerned about the whereabouts of their belongings than each other, Hyde was, at thirty, tall, 
dark- haired, broad-chested, and attractive, with eyes tiiat sparkled with an intense intellectual curiosity 
and a demeanor that bespoke energy, enthusiasm, and a genuine liking for people. Fellow voyagers who 
became better acquainted with him during the crossing later remembered him as altogether a pleasant 
young man, courteous, well mannered, and well informed; an amusing conversationalist; an inveterate 

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If Hyde seemed confident and self-contained to his traveling companions, he himself was filled with 
excitement to be aboard a ship on his way to Canada. Stockley 's warnings that life in Fredericton might 
be dull after a decade in Dublin did not trouble him. Dull? With all of Canada and the United States to 
explore, in whatever time he would be free from his teaching duties? His only concern was his sister 
Annette. He worried that she might face a difficult time in the months ahead; he felt guilty about leaving 
her home alone to cope with his father's tantrums and recurring attacks of gout. They had agreed before 

his departure that they would stay in close touch. She would send him all the domestic news, personal 
and political; he in turn promised to provide her with a full picture of life in the New World. He hoped 
that in his absence his brother Oldfield would offer some support. 

But all that was now behind him — the question was, what lay ahead? Stockley had told Hyde that in the 
few years that he had been in Canada he had taken the opportunity presented by the Christmas holidays 
to go to Boston, where John Boyle O'Reilly — one of the Fenians who had escaped from Australia to 
America in 1869 — presided over a lively circle of old revolutionaries and young nationalists. He had 
suggested that Hyde do the same. It had been an interesting prospect: he and Boyle O'Reilly were 
acquainted by mail: several of Hyde's poems had been published, in the respectable company of work by 
T. W. Rolleston, Katharine Tynan, and W. B. Yeats, in the newspaper Boyle O'Reilly edited, the Boston 
Pilot . Boyle O'Reilly was, moreover, a staunch Pamellite. It was he who had presented the welcoming 
address when Pamell visited New Y ork. But just weeks before Hyde's departure, word reached Ireland 
of Boyle O'Reilly's unexpected death at the age of forty-four. Hyde was dismayed by the loss yet sure 
that he would still be able to count on a warm welcome in Boston, if he chose to follow Stockley's 
advice. He was not yet certain that he would go to Boston. He knew that winters in Fredericton had not 
always been so dull as Stockley now professed. Until recently, in fact, Stockley had written 
enthusiastically of his Canadian life, enlivened as it was by a young Fredericton woman. But then 
Stockley had proposed, and the young woman had refused him. It had been such a blow that in order to 
recover he had decided to take the year's leave of absence from which Hyde was now profiting. 
Remembering his brother Oldfield's unhappy affair of the heart some twelve years before, Hyde was 
sympathetic. Oldfield had loved the girl dearly but had been without prospects, so the father of the girl 
had forbidden him to see her. Oldfield's disappointment had been bitter. He was still unmarried. It was 
only with difficulty that Hyde himself had avoided entangling alliances, following his rejection by 
Frances Crofton, for he was a man who greatly enjoyed the company of women. In Dublin even now 
there were eligible and attractive young ladies whom he counted among his closest friends. He had been 
fiercely attracted to more than a few. But without being settled in any profession, without adequate 
independent means of support, he could not risk losing either his heart or his head. Discreet notes in his 
diaiy suggest that only recently he had been in danger of losing both. That 

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had been another good reason, he told himself, for accepting the invitation to Canada. If, as he hoped, 
the year's interim professorship led to a more permanent position in an Irish university — if not in Dublin 
then perhaps in one of the Queen's colleges established in 1845 in Belfast, Cork, and Galway — it would 
improve his future prospects. For now there was only the present and the coast of England fading behind 

The Polynesia bucked mountainous seas and September gales of near hurricane force on the westward 
crossing. Again and again the call went out to batten down the hatches. For a time many of the other 
passengers were seasick. Watching through the windows of the passenger lounge as wave after wave 
rose and crashed against the ship, or reading or writing in the smoking room, Douglas rejoiced that he 
was not afflicted. When the weather improved and the others emerged from their cabins, he spent much 
of each day on deck, often in the company of two fellow passengers. Miss Ede and Miss Nicholls, 
watching the roll of the ocean, alert for signs of iceberg, whale, and porpoise, delighted with each 
sighting. Evenings he read, smoked, played quoits and cards, sang an Irish song at a shipboard concert, 
learned to drink "that most insidious but excellent drink," the cocktail — and enjoyed a shipboard 
flirtation with Miss Ede (the romance all from her side, he insisted). His drinking companions included a 
German ("generally drunk") who, finding that Hyde spoke German, "unbosomed himself" with "awful 
lies" and stories of slave- dealing in Constantinople; an elderly English general traveling with his 
daughter who set up his headquarters in the smoking room; and "a fool of a young conceited idiot" who 
became the good-natured butt of everyone's jokes. The consensus with which Hyde heartily agreed was 
that never had anyone struck a pleasanter crowd. 

The Polynesia docked at Quebec on the twentieth of September and at Montreal on the twenty-second. 
Hyde had arranged to stay at the Windsor Hotel — the equal of the Metropole or the Grand, he assured 
Annette — with the Tayleurs, a "curious couple," brother and sister, who were friends of Maud Gonne. 
After some time at the railroad station, seeing off several of his new acquaintances, he joined others who 
were celebrating their safe arrival in Canada with cocktails. The next morning he himself set out on the 
430-mile journey by rail through dense forests to Fredericton, seat of the Province of New Brunswick 
and home of its university. 

Then as now, Fredericton lay on the banks of the St. John, at a point where the river, a half-mile broad, 
flowed in wide, sweeping turns to- 

ward the Bay of Fundy. By European standards it was a new city, but already the various architectural 

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Styles of its houses, which ranged from pre- 1820 Georgian to Queen Anne Revival, gave it a sense of 
history. The town's dominant structure, the decorated Gothic Christ Church Cathedral, was the mother 
church for the Anglican diocese of Fredericton. In the center of town on Phoenix Square, built of red 
brick and granite, stood Fredericton's city hall. Its 11 5- foot tower housed a clock and bell; its second 
floor was called the Opera House. Nearby on neatly laid out streets were the shops Hyde visited almost 
daily: Chestnut's Apothecary, Hall's bookstore, and James Hawthorne's confectionary. 

Hyde spent his first three weeks in Fredericton at the old officers' barracks on Queen Street. Built in 
1825, it was an imposing reminder of the British military presence before Confederation. The location 
suited him for a number of reasons, not the least being that, as the Scott Act prohibiting the sale of 
alcohol was "rigorously enforced" in Fredericton, Colonel Maunsell (a Limerick man and a relative of 
Stockley's who had strong nationalist sympathies) had thoughtfully placed Hyde's name on the officers' 
mess list so that he could purchase an occasional glass of rye whiskey. At the edge of the city — easily 
reached on foot, as it was no great distance from the center — rose dense timberlands, "the endless 
Canadian woods" of his letters to Annette, that were virtually uninterrupted except by isolated small 
farms with wooden houses and checkerboard fields outlined by wooden snake fences. The forests of 
Ireland might have been just so dense and tall before they were cut down by the Elizabethans, the 
landscape as majestic. Along picturesque gravel roads that led out of town, timbered bridges spanned 
fast- running creeks and small rivers in which the tops of the tall trees were reflected. 

The people of Fredericton were for the most part Protestants of English birth or background. French 
Canadian farmers, called "habitants," lived in outlying areas, where there was also a scanty but 
significant population of native Americans of the Milicete tribe. Other Milicetes lived in nearby 
settlements or in the forests. Taking his attitude, no doubt, from that of the townspeople with whom he 
soon became acquainted, Hyde ignored the Milicetes for the first several months of his stay. Not until 
late December did he make the fascinating discovery that they had a tenacious commitment to their 
separate language and culture and to an oral tradition through which they kept alive their native lore. 

Before the first of October — the first day of Michaelmas term — Hyde 

moved from the officers' barracks to Willie Stockley's "nice and comfortable" rooms in the Arts 
building. There he could prepare his own breakfast and lunch and keep on hand some items appropriate 
for tea or a late evening snack. The prices of some of his purchases surprised him. In a letter to Annette 
he listed those that struck him as excessively high: 25(1; for marmalade, IScf for a piece of soap, $3.50 for 

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100 cartridges. Apples, however, were both cheap and good. For dinner he arranged to go every evening 
at six o'clock to the home of one of his colleagues who lived but a ten-minute walk from the university. 
This very satisfactory arrangement he told Annette, cost him $1.75 a day. As after he had moved from 
the barracks the officers continued his membership in their mess, he often joined them evenings in the 
bar they called the Casema, the only place in the city where he could get a proper nightcap. 

In 1890 the University of New Brunswick had three buildings — Arts, the Jack Observatory, and the 
Neville homestead. The eighty-six students enrolled for the academic year were boarded in private 
houses in town. Although described as nondenominational, it offered elective denominational religious 
classes taught "by those whose proper province" it was "to give such instruction." There was a faculty of 
eight. The president was Thomas Harrison, a man Hyde botii liked and admired, who in turn was botii 
friendly and encouraging to him. In general Hyde did not find his fellow faculty members quite so 
congenial, but with Alexander William Duff, professor of mathematics and physics, he formed a close 
and lasting friendship. To Annette he wrote that Duff was "the only person around here who thinks and 
has a mind of his own; being educated in Edinburgh as he was, he is, like all Scotchmen, a real thinker 
and I can exchange thoughts with him." That Hyde felt inhibited about expressing some of his ideas in 
the company of other members of the faculty is evident from his repeated statements in his diaiy and in 
his letters to Annette that Duff was the only man with whom he could "exchange a thought freely." 

By the tenth of October, Hyde was well settled in. He noted with pleasure that his name appeared on the 
faculty roster of the 1890-1891 calendar. His schedule required that he give three lectures a day, on 
French, German, and English literature, five days a week, between nine and one o'clock. His German 
classes, he reported to Annette, were made up chiefly of "ladies who know nothing." His second-year 
French classes were "ditto," although some of the ladies were "very pretty indeed, but not clever or in 
any way intellectual like the giris in the Mosaic Club, for example." His third- and fourth-year students 
in French and 

English seemed brighter but nevertheless "troublesome" in terms of their lack of preparation. English 
was his largest class, because it was compulsory. His lectures were attended by upwards of fifty 
students. Consequently it was difficult to provide unprepared students with the special attention they 
needed. Responding to Hyde's complaints, James Sheehan, writing from Dublin, puckishly advised that 
Hyde forget trying to educate his women students and concentrate simply on amusing them. "Take them 
on shooting expeditions as a group," he said lightly, yet with a warning based on long acquaintance: 
"never solus cum ." 

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New Brunswick skies were often blue at tiie beginning of October, very different from tiie high white 
overcast and dark scudding under- clouds of Frenchpark. Hyde marveled at the frequent full days of 
sunshine, the absence of lashing rain, and the brightly colored fall leaves, so different from the gray 
skies and yellow and brown foliage of Ireland and England. Within a short time fall was over. A 
relentless cold crept stealthily across the land. In letters to Annette he expressed his astonishment at 
finding that by late October the birds had gone and the woods were silent. At night he watched the 
northern lights, vast flickering bands of forest-green, orange- red, and cloudy white that played across the 
Canadian sky. All through the fall and into the winter he spent his free hours at the end of almost every 
week fishing and shooting. Although he was often joined by other friends from town or barracks, his 
usual companion was Forester, an English officer who formerly had been a banker, "a good decent 
man . . . without much knowledge of literature," whose companionship Hyde enjoyed. At home during 
fall and winter Hyde often fished and shot the bogs and skated on Lough Gara with Annette. He now 
filled his letters to her with details of his New Brunswick experiences, plodding through swamps thick 
with alder and lignum vitae, breaking through bushes fifteen feet high, seeking elusive game. Dismissing 
the Canadian preference for hunting the ruffed grouse (to him, he said, it was no sport at all), he 
regarded snipe and woodcock as the greater challenge. His best bag, on "one of the pleasantest days of 
my life," he declared, was eleven birds, which he proudly displayed to his admiring friends. He 
encouraged Annette to go out shooting also, in the fields where they had learned their gunsmanship as 
children and often had hunted together, and he urged her to be sure that in general she was getting 
sufficient outdoor exercise: "Fresh air seems to be the great secret of health. No one here seems to get 
old. The bishop is 86, the chief justice 80, the judge, 75." 

Hyde's principal concern, in the cold weather that now gripped New 

Brunswick, was "to keep my blood in motion," he wrote, in temperatures to which he was not 
accustomed. His regimen included taking a cold bath each day; walking for at least an hour; protected 
from frostbite by a fur or sealskin cap; and skating. On the twenty-fifth of November the St. John River 
froze solid, and there was a whole week's "capital skating" before the first heavy snowfall. He regaled 
Annette with descriptions of the scene: "A lot of people went down through the thin ice the first day or 
two, some had miraculous escapes. I skated for miles up the river and it was delicious." A friend froze 
his ear. For Douglas the cold surpassed anything he had ever felt, the temperature falling to seventeen 
below zero at night and rarely rising above ten degrees below in the daytime. By early December, travel 
was possible only by sleigh since wheeled vehicles could not move in the eight inches of snow. To 
Annette he wrote, "It is rather exciting when a number of sleighs come tearing through the town, the 
bells jangling and the horses trotting madly." With his usual penchant for keeping records, Hyde noted 
in his diary tiiat after early December the snow cover remained at between one and two feet, drifting to 
three or four, until nearly the middle of March, while temperatures remained below freezing nineteen 
days out of twenty. Snow fell on the average about once or twice a month, he observed, often changing 

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tx) rain that melted the upper layer which then hardened to ice, forming a strong crust. Before February 
he recorded "three cold 'snaps' as they call them here" in which "the thermometer fell to 35 below zero. 
The winter of 1890-1891 was proving "exceptionally cold/' he was told. 

Between the start of the Michaelmas term and the beginning of the Christmas holiday, Hyde's weekdays 
were fully taken up by preparing for and presenting his lectures. At times these were interrupted by 
incidents of a curious kind that both startled and amused him. One morning a skunk wandered out of the 
forest that half-circled the school. As everyone watched from the windows it waddled across the 
quadrangle, directly toward the Arts Building, bringing all lectures to a halt. Another morning, to the 
consternation of some of his students, a "giant of a man" appeared in the hall in which Hyde was 
lecturing, held out a piece of paper containing a mysterious string of words, and insisted that Hyde 
explain them. In as many languages as he could muster, since the man's English seemed limited, Hyde 
tried to tell the man that he had no idea what the words on the paper said — or even in what language 
they were written. He could only explain which languages they were not. The man vanished, never to be 
seen again, but the incident 

surfaced years later in a similar scene involving a giant of a woman who pushed her way past porters to 
confront a group of Trinity professors in Hyde's satiric - Pleusgadh na Bulgoide, or The Bursting of the 
Bubble . 

Except for Sunday school in Roscommon, Hyde had had no prior teaching experience, so it was with 
enormous pleasure that he listened to President Harrison's assurances that all his classes liked him. It 
was important to him that his first job go well. But he also discovered that he enjoyed teaching and that 
in fact he had been quite well prepared for it by his presentations and debates in meetings of the College 
Historical Society at Trinity and by his stint on the Dublin amateur stage. When he realized how earnest 
his naive students were, his Pygmalionlike role no longer troubled but simply amused him. For Annette 
he compiled a list of the howlers he found in their written work: "Portieres," wrote one, "a street on 
which the aristocracy walked"; "A chignon" wrote another, "is a leg of mutton." An instruction to his 
English literature class to list some of Milton's archaisms garnered "arch-enemy" and "arch-fiend." 
Asked to comment on Abbot Sampson's linguistic accomplishments, one student offered, "He said little 
but kept up a great thinking." To tiie question, "What is the regular habit?" another replied, "an ordinary 
coat." One essay he received contained the statement that "Milton had studied the writings of Homer 
whose plays he much admired," because "he had an apithy for the stage." But they all were learning, 
Hyde assured Annette, even as he too was learning to be more tolerant of their inexperience. Early on he 
had written his sister that the college magazine, the University Monthly, was "a detestably edited clearly 
dull little affair," but when the students who published it, members of the Literary and Debating Society, 

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elected him honorary president he was sufficiently flattered to accept their invitation and even to 
contribute some poems and essays to future issues. His first contribution, a satiric poem, was published 
at his request under a pseudonym, because "any little thing creates a furor here." Expecting that there 
would be "great canvassing as to the author," he did his best, he declared, to "screen" himself "from 
knowledge." In December his name did appear under the title of a short story, "The Knight of the Trick,' 
which he had translated from the Irish as he had taken it down "from the telling of an old peasant." The 
January number contained his translations of "The Judgment Day," a poem by Tadgh Gaolach 6 
Suiliobhain, and "Eachtra Chloinne Lir" (The children of Lir). To Annette he sent copies of all three 
issues of the University Monthly in which his work appeared. 

All through November and December Hyde impatiently awaited author's copies and newspaper notices 
of Beside the Fire, his collection of stories told in Irish that was scheduled to be published in London by 
David Nutt before the end of the year. It was almost Christmas when he finally received the issue of the 
London Daily Express that contained a very satisfactory lead review article, a full column and a half in 
length, but to his frustration books themselves did not arrive. He was of course eager to see a copy 
himself but he also wanted to give copies to the university and to friends. The book may have been 
available in Boston bookstores, but he could not be sure, as he had decided against following Stockley's 
advice on how to spend his holidays. Instead he set out on St. Stephen's Day in the company of two 
young Fredericton traders and three Milicete hunters for what was to be one of the memorable trips of 
his life — a shooting expedition in the Gaspereaux, a region some "forty to fifty miles from Fredericton 
where there were said to be lots of caribou." 

On the first day of their journey, enthusiastically described by Hyde in both letters and diary, he and his 
companions were pulled forty-two miles in a large sleigh by a team of horses. With them they brought 
food and other necessities, a tent, and toboggans. So tricky were the rutted, icy drifts along the snow- 
covered roads that although they started at eight o'clock in the morning it was midnight before they 
reached their destination — the home of an old Irishman from Kilkenny who came out to greet them 
"stark naked without a screed on him." The next day, despite a snowstorm, they again set out early for 
the location deep in the woods where they made camp. There they remained for twelve days while the 
temperature remained at ten or fifteen degrees below zero. Y et, wrote Hyde, 

in the woods where I was camped I never felt it cold. We pitched a beautiful tent and left about three 
inches of snow on the ground, then covered it thickly with spruce boughs, spread our blankets and skins, 
and slept as soundly and comfortably as if we were at home. 

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There was no question of roughing it Hyde assured his sister, as they had brought "quantities of 
provisions" with them. 

Unfortunately for the hunters, there was also no chance of getting a caribou, although plenty were 
sighted. The crust on the snow was too thick. Moreover, "rain had fallen and made the top of the snow 
like ice." Consequently, "the sounds of . . . snowshoes clattering on it and crackling could be heard a 
mile away." They were unable to creep 

up on the herd or otherwise get close enough to any of the animals to shoot. In the twenty-five to thirty 
miles that they snowshoed, however, hoping their luck would change, Hyde did bag a couple of 
partridge, a ruffed grouse, and three large porcupines "weighing 25 or 30 lbs. each." 

In the evenings Hyde, the two traders, and the three Milicete hunters sat around their campfire smoking 
and telling stories. It was then that Hyde first heard Milicete tales, among them "The Story of Heb-a-da- 
hone." It was a true tribal tale, insisted the tellers, but as Hyde remarked in his notebook, in his opinion 
it had filtered into local native American lore from a Gaelic source, perhaps through one of the Irishmen 
or Scotsmen who worked for the Hudson Bay Company and who had taken a native American wife. The 
story was, he acknowledged, "clad in Indian or rather Canadian dress," by which he meant that 
descriptions of such activities as log cutting, traveling by sled, driving a team of horses, building a camp, 
and duck hunting reflected Indian life. Other features of plot, character, event, and narrative style were 
to him recognizably and indisputably Gaelic. During the twelve days of his trip Hyde heard and 
discussed with traders and guides otiier Milicete stories that also struck him as Irish and acquired "a 
couple of hundred" Milicete words — not enough, he regretted, "to reduce the language to any kind of 
grammar, or even to learn the conjugation of its verbs," but a sampling that at least gave him an idea of 
phonemic patterns. He would have stayed longer had he been able, but as the new term began on 
January 8, he had to return to Fredericton. 

Back in Fredericton, Hyde discovered that two of his friends. Colonel Maunsell and a government 
surveyor, Edward Jack, were able to provide a fair amount of information about the Milicetes. From 
them he learned that Milicete stories were so well known in the Lake Superior region as to raise 
speculation that the tribe originally had come from there. Although the tribes had not clashed for a long 
time, he was told, an old feud between the Milicetes and the Micmacs was still smoldering. He heard 
that, once numerous in New Brunswick, the Milicetes had declined in number to fewer than seven 

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hundred, yet the tribe had remained so fiercely protective of its language and cultural traditions that 
these were not only alive but in constant use. Both Maunsell and Jack agreed that the squaws 
represented the strongest force for the retention of the language. Many refused to speak English. 
Working men picked up English for use on their jobs, but at home and among themselves tiiey spoke 
only their own language. In his notebook Hyde noted 

the analogy to Connacht where the women kept Irish alive in the cabins while the men who went out to 
work learned English. In his letters to Annette he remarked other similarities: As in Ireland Irish- 
speakers learned English but the English living in Ireland did not learn Irish, so in New Brunswick the 
Milicetes learned English but no one of European stock in or around Fredericton seemed competent in 
the Milicete tongue. As in Ireland when the English-speaking government adopted an Irish place-name, 
it frequently blundered, so in New Brunswick the Milicete word for camping ground was erroneously 
used in a text in which the reference was to the St. John River. Between Ireland and New Brunswick 
there were also differences: the Irish regularly absorbed common English phrases and even English 
syntactical structures into their language, but listening to the Milicetes, Hyde "could never catch an 
English word being used amongst them when conversing with one another, unless occasionally, the 
name of a place." It impressed him particularly that they had their own words "even for such imported 
articles as guns and stoves and whiskey and never seemed to have to fall back on English words, as . . . 
people do when conversing in Welsh or Irish." 

So fascinated was Hyde with the Milicetes that he set for himself the task of learning more about their 
stories, in order to compare them with Irish tales that he had collected and published in 1889 in Leabhar 
Sgeulaigheachta and most recently in Beside the Fire . The very strength and endurance of their 
language handicapped him, however, for most stories were circulated only in Milicete. Concentrating on 
"The Story of Heb-a-da-hone," otherwise known as "The Adventures of Closkarp and the Great Turtle," 
Hyde asked a Milicete whose father was French Canadian if he would recite it in English. The man 
agreed, although he told Hyde that he himself had never heard the story "except in Indian," and there 
were those who maintained that it could not be told properly in any other tongue. Hyde wanted to take 
notes as he listened, but he was concerned that his storyteller might be discomfited by the idea of having 
his words written down on paper. His solution was to seat himself behind a caribou skin. He regretted 
that he could not take fuller advantage of the cooperation of the Milicetes, who would have told him 
more stories had he but had a better grasp of their language. "I could not follow them," he wrote, "so lost 
something that promised to be very interesting. It is only one more proof that the folklorist must know 
the language of his victims if he is to draw any reliable harvest from them." 

Two things apparently puzzled Hyde about "The Story of Heb-a-da- 

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hone." One was the matter of the name of the central character. In the first part of the story he was called 
Heb-a-da-hone but in the last part he was given the name of Closkarp, a figure so "known and 
reverenced all along the St. John River" that there was at least "one place sacred to him" where the 
native Americans of the region flung "a bit of tobacco or some other small propitiatory offering" when 
they passed. Another was tiie matter of the story's origin. Hyde's first theory was that Milicete elements 
had been woven into the fabric of an essentially Irish or Gaelic story. But as he was unable to find a 
single identifiable Irish source that matched "The Story of Heb-a-da-hone," he concluded that the Gaelic 
elements he had recognized in it were prototypical rather than specific, very likely absorbed over a 
period of time from a number of sources rather than from one story taken whole from a single "story- 
telling Gael": 

I imagine that some of the Milicetes travelling to the northwest to the Hudson Bay country on a hunting 
or furring expedition picked up this story and brought it back with them and that in process of time the 
national hero of the Milicete race, this Closkarp or Glus-cap, was made the hero of this tale too, by the 
natural enough infection or "association." 

Within weeks of Hyde's return from his caribou hunting expedition he wrote an essay on Milicete 
folklore that appeared on April 12, 1891, in the Providence Journal, a publication that previously had 
printed other examples of his work. 

Meanwhile, with holidays over and classes again in session, the Fredericton winter social season had 
become hectic. As Douglas Sealy notes in his summary of Hyde's New Brunswick diaries, there were 
dances and balls (despite the disapproval of "the confounded Puritans and Methodists"), card parties, 
dinners, teas, lectures, concerts, tennis in the drill shed at the barracks, moonlight sleigh rides, and 
snowshoe parties, all enlivened by flirtations. Early in the fall Miss Ede of the Polynesia had written and 
sent her photograph from Vancouver; at first Hyde had responded, even sending his photograph in 
return, but after a few weeks he had let the correspondence lapse, in part because his interest had been 
lukewarm at best, but mostly because he was enjoying the company of a good many agreeable young 
Fredericton women who, in contrast to women in Ireland, seemed remarkably independent and 
unchaperoned. Shortly after his arrival he had noted in a letter to Annette that Canadian women were "as 
far as society goes . . . quite emancipated." He was astonished, he told her, that one young woman, quite 

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on her own, had invited him to come to see her. "Y ou can go driving with a girl here, alone, or visit her, 
or I think go out walking with her (but of this last I am not sure) at nearly any hour." Although Hyde 
deplored tiieir lack of intellectual interests (he complained that, unlike Annette, they knew nothing of 
Spencer's First Principles ), he found New Brunswick women "very pretty, . . . lively, and talkative." To 
his Dublin friends as well as his sister he declared that they would create "quite a furor at home." With 
them, he avowed, he had "danced, talked, laughed and flirted more in a month" than "in six months in 

By the third of December, Hyde's letters suggested that he was concentrating his attentions particularly 
on one young woman, "an interesting oddity in her way" whom he referred to as "the Italienerin," but his 
diaries make clear that this was by no means to the exclusion of others. In January he wrote Annette that, 
after the holidays, in addition to tiie circles in which he continued to be in demand, he had "come on a 
new stratum of Fredericton society" that consisted of "half a dozen families who seem to mix chiefly 
with themselves." Like other Europeans accustomed to a more easily identified social stratification, he 
was struck by the ease with which he himself was accepted, on an intimate basis, in such groups. To 
Dublin friends and to his diary he reported dancing with pretty girls, squeezing their hands, feeling his 
own hand squeezed in return, and exchanging significant glances and photographs. So many pictures 
were pressed upon him, in fact, that he was obliged to sit for his own photograph in order to have a 
sufficient number of copies on hand to go around in return. Often he was out until three or four in the 
morning in subzero temperatures; rarely did he go to bed before one or two. At times he chided himself 
for having been carried away in a "vortex of dissipation." 

By mid- February Hyde had found still another way to keep his blood in motion during the long cold 
New Brunswick winter. Out of the round of dances, parties, and teas there emerged a young woman 
whom he referred to in his diary as "the Fraulein." She was first mentioned in January 1891 after she and 
Douglas had spent several hours together, talking and reading. Better acquainted with books and far 
more intellectual than the other young women with whom he had flirted, she was also less coy. By early 
February their meetings had become longer and more frequent; by mid- February visits that had begun 
sedately, over a cup of tea or a book that they took turns reading to each other, were ending in ever more 
ardent embraces. Afraid that she was falling in love with him, Hyde sometimes scolded himself for 
treating her dishonestly. 

as he knew he was not in love with her. Sometimes he excused himself: if he could just get his old 
Dublin love out of his head, perhaps he would feel more deeply for the Fraulein. Sometimes he was 
callous and flippant: he could like her more, he was sure, if only her feet were smaller or her breath less 
unsweet. The affair intensified, with less resistance than ever on her part and less restraint on his, even 

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as he continued his round of parties and lighthearted flirtations with others, berated himself for acting 
like a cad, and blamed the late Canadian spring for the state of his emotions, poured out in a poem as 
unpunctuated as the alternating melting and freezing ground cover of late March: 

dreary weary wintry snow The dreary weary months go round And thou art yet upon the ground More 
white more bright and more profound Will nothing make thee go 

I dream of green the livelong night Of wavy woods, of grassy wold I wake and what must I behold Ah 
Canada thy breath is cold Thy face is cold and white 

As always, Hyde's inner troubles were soon accompanied by vague complaints of developing illness. He 
felt fine after an innocent tussle with Miss Gregory or a playful party on snowshoes, squeezing Miss 
Fisher's fingers; his sick headaches and sore throats became most severe after his evenings with the 
Fraulein. It was nearly April before he acknowledged to himself that the hot encounters which were now 
stopping just short of a full sexual relationship were the cause of his weakness and exhaustion. On April 
1 he felt quite ill after a late night in which he had come closer than ever to "going too far" — so ill, in 
fact, that he cancelled all other commitments that he made, refused invitations that he wanted to accept, 
and simply stayed in his rooms. There would have to be an end to the affair, Hyde told himself. It could 
go on no longer. His year in Canada was nearly over. 

On the sixteenth of April after no mention of the Fraulein for nearly two weeks, Hyde accepted her 
invitation to afternoon tea but did not tempt himself by staying beyond teatime. On the seventeenth he 
noted that he was feeling better. On the twenty- fifth they went out walking together in the morning but 
he returned to his rooms after midday dinner with her and her family. On the sixth of May after an 

day in which he and the Fraulein had talked frankly to each other, he trying to explain himself, she 
railing bitterly against her father, he felt really well for the first time in months. He had taken a load off 
his heart, he declared; "he had shown her clearly that he was only a man of the wind." Y et one more 
dangerous encounter occurred on May 10, before the end of the semester, during a walk that ended with 
Hyde feeling frightened and unhappy, aware that she loved him, aware that he had compromised 
himself, regretting his foolish behavior. 

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Hyde's on-and-off struggle to extricate himself from his affair with the Fraulein had implications and 
temptations unrelated to his emotional and sexual turmoil. Her father was influential: she was said to be 
rich. If he allowed the relationship to take its course, inevitably they would marry and he would remain 
in Canada, no doubt in a post arranged by his father-in-law. In one diary entry he chided himself for not 
being thankful to have won such a gentle, well-off girl; in another he wondered if what he had heard was 
true, if in fact she did have substantial financial assets of her own. If she was as well-off as everyone 
said, could he make his home in Fredericton? He was enjoying his academic year — of this he had no 
doubt — but there were aspects of life in the capital of New Brunswick (tactfully confided only to letters 
to Annette, to his diary, and to his friends Alexander Duff and Colonel Maunsell) — that troubled him. 

Hyde's biggest objection to Fredericton was its "absolute want of cultured and literary people." He 
longed for the long talks about books and history and European travel that were so much a part of life at 
home. He missed Annette, his friends, Frenchpark, Dublin. But he also tried to present a balanced 
picture: He contrasted the generosity of the Canadians, who seemed to look on hospitality to strangers as 
a duty, with that of the Anglo- Irish "who live in sets and cliques and think only of themselves." He 
enjoyed Fredericton's dinners and balls, sumptuous by Irish standards, but could not get used to the idea 
that the only drink served at them was ginger beer It was pleasant to be in a "free country where rank 
counts absolutely nothing and efficiency is everything"; unfortunately what it produced, in his opinion, 
was a "contented lot of Philistines." At first it had seemed to him that the people of Fredericton were 
deeply religious. To Annette he wrote, "I don't think the spirit of Rationalism has touched them at all. 
They . . . have no thoughts on unpleasant subjects of the soul but follow their good bishop and go to 

church and sing, oh sing, hymns on all occasions possible It is quite refreshing to be among them." 

After a few months it troubled him that 

in Fredericton he never heard discussions of Huxley, Darwin, or Spencer He suspected that most people 
had never heard of them. Still later, complaining of the way in which the president of the university, 
Tom Harrison, had censored an essay he had written, striking "passage after passage . . . lest it give 
offence somewhere," he concluded tiiat most of the people were in fact not religious but only 
"grandmotherly stick-in-the-muds who cling to the outside husk, the dry form" while others made 
Fredericton "a very hot-bed of religious prejudices." Creeds, Hyde insisted, made absolutely no 
difference to him. "I have been living on terms of intimacy with Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and 
everyone but Catholics who are almost non-existent in the higher classes here, and I never know the 
difference," he wrote in his letters to Annette. "If a man is good and kind it is all you want — and for that 
matter all that God wants." 

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But if Hyde did not want to remain in Fredericton, what of some otiier place in Nortii America? With a 
teaching record, the prospect of good references, and a growing reputation as a scholar, poet, and 
essayist, he felt more confident about obtaining a post. Earlier he had been approached about an 
appointment paying one thousand dollars a year at McGill University in Montreal. In April, O'Neill 
Russell wrote to tell him that a new university was being established in Chicago: if he applied for a post 
there, he might earn three thousand dollars a year. When his sister protested at the idea of his not 
returning home, he pointed out that, after all, "one must do something and one cannot very well spend 
the rest of one's life idling and starving." Y et knowing only too well the situation in which he had left 
her, he felt guilty at the thought of abandoning her. He tried to respond with sympathy to the continuing 
gnawing, nibbling problems that she faced. The old trouble with housemaids arose periodically, after 
each tirade by the Reverend Hyde against servants that he accused of being two-faced and backbiting. 
With genuine concern he urged her to play vigorous tennis with John French, to ride, and to break the 
"terrible monotony" of the glebe house with visits to neighbors. He encouraged her literary efforts. 
Warning that Canadian newspapers "are insufferably bad and do not pay," he promised to try to place a 
story in one of them and speculated that he might manage to get others into the American papers when 
he went to the States. In his letters to her he included passages in Irish, French, and German and 
encouraged her to keep up her language skills by doing the same. He repeatedly recommended new 
books for her to read and asked for her opinions on Spencer, Cellini, and Emerson. He 

appraised frankly for her confidential information what he considered to be negative aspects of the social 
and cultural structure of Fredericton and the university that he dared write to no other. 

Throughout the year Annette had been responding to her brother's letters not only with details of 
household affairs and discussions of literature but also with news of Irish politics, particularly the rise 
and fall of Pamell, which both followed with similar concern, as the O'Shea divorce case proceeded 
through the courts. On this subject Hyde of course also received both information and comments from 
friends in Dublin. In a letter dated December 20, 1890, Charles Oldham had described the effect of the 
Pamell affair on the people he knew: "The dividing line runs through all one's acquaintances. . . . 
Everybody feels under a fierce unavoidable pressure to take sides ." If he were in Ireland, Oldham had 
assured Hyde, he too would feel the pressure, and "like all the purely national elements among the Irish 
people," he would be for Pamell. "All purely national Ireland," Oldham avowed, was looking to Pamell. 
"as the only hope of an independent party for Ireland in our generation." "He must win," declared 
Oldham, "if his health does not break down." The only Irish force against him, Oldham reported, was the 
power of the priests. December letters from James Sheehan were less sanguine. He suggested that "if 
Pamell had had the decency in the face of this strong feeling to retire," the whole thing would have 
blown over, "and he could marry Mrs. O'Shea all the time directing the party though not nominally 

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leader." Hyde wrote to Annette: 

I am greatly cut up over Pamell's business. I think I would support him if it were not for the clergy 
proclaiming against him. My sympathies were strongly aroused by his manifesto, but if the priests 
remain hostile to him I do not see what is to be done except to sacrifice him. 

In Fredericton, Hyde discussed the situation with Fred St. John Bliss and Colonel Maunsell, both Pamell 
supporters. Often the three men spent long evening hours in the barracks over a glass of whiskey 
discussing alternate strategies that Pamell might follow. With others mindful of the strong pro- English 
history of the city, the damage a pro-Pamell position could inflict on his aspirations, the power of rumor, 
the speed with which it can be inflated, and the nature of New Brunswick politics, he was cautious. A 
potential confrontation was avoided when a St. John newspaper published an article accusing him of 
having refused to drink the queen's health at a public dinner. He denied the 

charge and succeeded in convincing the Fredericton newspaper not to copy the item. 

Observing a political campaign in New Brunswick in March 1891, Douglas declared himself appalled at 
the corruption. "The bribery is shameful," he wrote Annette, describing an incident in which, having 
learned of one man whose vote was purchased for fifteen dollars, he was assured that such spending was 
proper, for victory for the Liberals would mean free trade with the States and taxes on English goods. 
Even Hyde's own friend Captain Forester saw nothing wrong with canvassing votes for his father-in-law 
ninety miles up the St. John River, bribing one hundred people and returning with the votes of sixty or 
seventy. The local newspaper condemned bribery and voters who took bribes — but in the same article it 
reproached those who failed to stand by their promises and voted on the "wrong" side. Meanwhile in 
Ireland, the price of a vote was being paid in a very different currency. When Annette's letters and 
clippings detailing Pamell's "great defeat at Sligo" reached Hyde in April, he could only say "I am 

New Bmnswick was greening early in May; the red buds of the maples were swelling, the birches 
beginning to leaf, when Douglas wrote Annette that following the end of the semester he was planning 
to spend two weeks in Boston, New Y ork, and Niagara, and tiien sail home. "Have the tennis ground 
sown and well-rolled," he instmcted, promising that he would stay close to home for most of tiie coming 

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On the twentieth of May, to his students' applause, Hyde gave his last lecture at the University of New 
Brunswick and turned to the reading and marking of 130 examination papers. In his spring report to 
President Harrison he summed up his year's pedagogical achievement: "I beg to report that since the 
opening of the University in October I have delivered an average of fifteen lectures a week on English, 
French and German literature and have found all my classes made satisfactory progress." His task had 
not been easy, however, as half his freshmen studying French and all his freshmen studying German had 
proved "utterly ignorant" of these languages. With the latter, he said, the situation had been so bad that 
he had been unable to do anything except work on grammar. On occasion, however, he had departed 
from the prescribed readings in the calendar to "intersperse the course with occasional lectures on topics 
of literary interest." Y ears later in a reminiscence prepared for the editor of the University of New 

yearbook, Hyde, who never himself found any language less than fascinating, still recalled with 
exasperation the difficulty he had had with his first foreign language classes: "I used to divide the 
students into the Sheep and the Goats! i.e. Honours and Pass students," but "I liked them all very much. 

The students liked Hyde, too. The Literary and Debating Society held a night meeting to which he "went 
unsuspiciously." There he found "the whole college, ladies and all," who presented him with pipes, 
stems, a case, and other items, then "crowded round . . . and shook hands and said good-bye most 
cordially." The Alumni Society invited him to their banquet where "healths were drunk in air or water 
until one o'clock, the chairman saying each time, 'now gentlemen I want you to fill up your glasses and 
drink,' which was adding insult to injury." To Annette he confided, "I have probably been the most 
popular professor amongst the students who was ever there! At least so people said. Y ou see I have 
become Americanised sufficiently to blow my own trumpet." His commencement address drew tears 
from his women students. "Henceforth," he said, "you face life no longer as a body, but as units. Y our 
May is before you still, but when the diplomas were handed to you I distinctly and with a feeling of 
sadness heard the clock strike the last hour of your April." 

Unofficial farewell parties, with plenty of whiskey, followed, the last on May 31. He staggered home, he 
wrote in his diary, falling "200 times before I got into bed, where I lay without taking my coat or 
anything else off. It is years since I was as bad as that." Then finally, on the third of June, with all 
Fredericton good-byes said (including a tearful but not yet final good-bye from the "Fraulein"), Hyde 

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boarded the train for Boston. He had been pleased with the cheap rail fare he had managed to obtain and 
the dollar- a- night room he had reserved at the Crawford House, he wrote to Annette, until he was 
charged two dollars for the transfer of his luggage from the Boston railroad station to his hotel. The 
flippant note hid deeper feelings. Until the end of his life, his grandsons remember, he always kept on 
display a photograph of himself in bearskin hat and fur coat, holding snowshoes, along with some items 
that had been made by the Milicetes. He continued his friendship with Alexander Duff by mail. And 
even after his departure the University Monthly printed items that he had submitted to the Literary and 
Debating Society. One, a fondly if wryly sentimental poem entitled "To Canada," published in 1892, 
was reprinted in a number of Canadian newspapers, both in New Brunswick and in other provinces. 

The ravaging winter is over. The Wizard of Silence is fled. And violets peep from their cover. And 
daisies are raising their head. Earth blushes to life like a lover. And wakes in her emerald bed. And she 
and the heavens above her In torrents of sunshine are wed. Forgetting the swoon of the snow. 

By the pole slope that Canada faces The ice giants hurtle and reel. For her seven months winter she 
cases Her land in a casket of steel. Y et I pine for her mighty embraces In the home of the moose and the 
seal. And I pine for her beautiful places And sad is the feeling I feel When snow flakes remind me of 

- - 8 A Different America — A Different Ireland - 

"Y our May is before you still," Hyde had assured the ambivalent graduating class of 1891 on May 28, 
as, torn between anticipation and uncertainty, he and they prepared to part from one another and the 
University of New Brunswick. Few beside his sister Annette understood that it was the kind of assurance 
that he, too, needed on Wednesday morning, June 3, when having packed clothes, books, and 
memorabilia and made his last farewells but one, he was again torn between anticipation and uncertainty 
as he boarded the 7:45 train for Boston. It had been one thing to count the ways in which Canada had 
been good for him and to assert, as he had in letters written shortly before his departure, that he was not 
the same young man who nine months earlier, with no definite prospects, had gratefully seized Willie 
Stockley's suggestion of a temporary appointment. At that time — only weeks ago — daily anticipation of 
favorable news concerning the possibility of a university post in Toronto, Montreal, or Chicago had 
buoyed his spirits, increased his optimism, and given him a sense of control over his own destiny. The 
anticipated news, however, had not arrived. Fredericton would soon be behind him. Before him lay — 

Even as Hyde's anxieties mounted with the increasing speed of the train that carried him out of Canada 

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into Maine and through nortiieast New England, tliese were countered in some measure by the prospect 
of spending the next three weeks among the brash and volatile American Irish. In New Brunswick he 
had met few countrymen — almost none of 

his own class — and even fewer aside from his friends in the officer's barracks who shared his nationalist 
sympathies. Historically, Fredericton was Tory territory. Between 1776 and 1812 it had absorbed a 
number of American colonists, Irish and English (the census rarely distinguished between them), who 
had sided with the British. During the same period such cities as Boston, New Y ork, and Charleston had 
developed a continuous Irish presence that, although chiefly Ascendancy in class and Protestant in 
religion, was not pro-British and in fact included a number of Irishmen whose opposition to English rule 
had made them persona non grata at home and patriots in the New Island. 

The first major change in this Irish presence in the United States had occurred in the 1830s when, 
tuberculosis and cholera having become serious threats at home, a small but steady stream of families, 
extended families, and even neighbors from Irish villages had arrived in search of economic security and 
a healthier environment. Mostly Catholic and of modest means, thrifty, hardworking, and respectable, 
these new immigrants had proved to be such desirable citizens that communities had begun to compete 
for them, advertising incentives in American Irish newspapers for Irish families willing to settle in the 
inland states of the East and Midwest. A second major change had occurred in the late 1840s with the 
appearance of the earliest refugees from the Famine. Y ear by year, month by month, and day by day 
their numbers had multiplied with the arrival of "coffin" ships so packed with the penniless, homeless, 
unskilled, and illiterate tiiat public perception of the "typical" Irish immigrant family had become the 
dockside tableau favored by artists, of a skeletal man standing beside an exhausted woman nursing an 
emaciated infant, her other half-clothed, half-starved children clinging to her knees. Y et, largely 
unnoticed by the public, the earlier pattern of emigration — of families of modest means and marketable 
skills and of unmarried males seeking opportunity, adventure, or a stake in the New World — had 
continued. Among them always were also the rebels and reformers whose participation in the various 
movements that marked late-eighteenth- and nineteenth- century British and Irish relations had placed 
them in jeopardy. Safe in the United States, in frequent communication with their counterparts in Paris, 
Canada, and other established places of refuge, they continued their efforts on the part of their 
countrymen, while in Ireland stories about them circulated at crossroads meetings, in tenant cottages, on 
the steps of city tenements, and in local pubs. 

By the 1860s the profile of the American Irish was very different from that of the turn of the century. 
Except for those involved in the Irish nationalist cause, Anglo- Irish Protestants were generally neither 
distinguished nor distinguishable from their English-bom neighbors. Others who had cut their cultural 

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and emotional ties to the old country sought a similar assimilation. There was now, however, a visible 
and vocal majority — mostly Catholic and largely working-class, but consisting also of successful 
business and professional men — that considered themselves both Irish and American. The bulwark of 
Irish- American social, fraternal, and cultural societies, they openly expressed their resentment of British 
rule in Ireland; enthusiastically provided refuge for escaped patriots; encouraged anti- British activism; 
and funded Irish nationalist organizations. 

It was in New Y ork in 1858 that after a few tentative starts two Irish immigrants, John 'Mahony and 
Michael Doheny, both veterans of revolutionaiy and reform movements of 1848, had founded the 
Fenian Brotherhood. Its chief purpose was to support the militant Ireland-based Irish Republican 
Brotherhood, but it provided also the quixotic headquarters for impossible dreams that set up an Irish 
government in exile in Philadelphia and sent its "Fenian army" to bring Great Britian to its knees by 
invading Canada through sporadic "battles" mounted between 1866 and 1871. Named to evoke 
nationalist feelings through association with the Fianna of the ancient Celts, the Fenian Brotherhood was 
perhaps the best known of the Irish- American political and paramilitary organizations for some thirty 
years (it gradually was superseded by the Clan na Gael), during which time "Fenian" was a term applied 
specifically to the American- based Brotherhood and its counterpart in Ireland, the IRB, but also 
generically to any anti-British Irish attitudes, actions, agents, agencies, and goals. Thus John O'Leaiy 
was known as "the old Fenian" who had been jailed for his part in "the Fenian conspiracy" of the 1860s, 
but in the Frenchpark cottages of Hyde's boyhood and among the Canadians and Americans who 
proclaimed their "Fenian sympathies," "Fenian" was used in both the particular and the extended sense. 
Hyde, therefore, was going to Boston to see the "Fenian" editor of the Pilot, James Jeffrey Roche; in 
New Y ork he hoped to encounter such "old Fenians" — veterans, like John 'Leary, of the 1860s — as the 
celebrated CD onovan Rossa, the daring patriot of heroic tales circulated in Hyde's Connacht, to whom 
Hyde himself had addressed a poem published in Irish and English in the Irishman of April 1880: 

I drink to the health of CD onovan Rossa, Where will I find his like at home or abroad. Who would drive 
the people without arms or uniforms Into the midst of the soldiers, the swords and the bayonets. Who 
bought and kept the powder and the guns Which he could not send to the poor defenceless people. Who 
nevertheless urged our poor unarmed peasantry To drive the Saxon soldiers away across the sea. 

By the time the train from Fredericton reached Boston at 9:30 P.M. on June 3, 1891, Hyde had been 
traveling for almost fourteen hours, watching the changing landscape and reflecting on his changing life. 
These thoughts had reawakened the Irish persona which had had little more than an epistolary identity 
for almost nine months. Making his way to the Crawford House on Court Street in the center of the city, 
he settled himself in his rooms. Then, before going to bed, he sat quietly in the lounge, sipping whiskey 

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and considering what the next few days would bring. Boston would prove to his liking he was sure. His 
name was already known to the Boston Irish community through its two newspapers, the Pilot and the 
Irish Echo . The Echo, edited by P. J. O'Daly, had begun publication in 1886 as the organ of the Boston 
Philo-Celtic Society. In its December 1887 issue Hyde had published a special message to its readers, 
written in Irish and signed "An Craoibhin Aoihbhinn," that had exhorted them to enroll in the 
semiweekly Irish-language lessons offered by the society and to promote the Echo 's new "Irish 
Language Department." In January of 1888 tiie Echo had printed an English translation by Michael 
Cavanagh of one of his shorter poems. Entitled "Craoibhin Aoibhinn's Song" and ironically described by 
O'Daly as a typically Irish Christmas carol, it ended in characteristically Fenian rhetoric: 

. . . though our hateful foemen. Through tyrant force and guile By English laws and "yeomen" Should 
threaten us meanwhile (The thought my heart doth lighten), I think we yet shall see Our country's future 
brighten — The Saxon forced to flee. 

In August 1888 the Pilot, the older and better- known of the two publications, also had printed one of his 
poems, for which he had received two pounds and a friendly note that John Boyle O'Reilly had written 

before his death. Remembering 'Reilly, Hyde promised himself that the very next day he would hunt 
up James Jeffrey Roche, O'Reilly's successor as editor of the Pilot . 

On the morning of June 4 Douglas Hyde was warmly greeted by Roche who, delighted with his visit, 
was eager to show him about Boston and introduce him to other leaders of the Boston Irish community. 
They began with lunch at the St. Botolph Club, described by Hyde as a meeting place for "the elite of 
the cultured Bostonians," "a nice set of men, . . . unassuming, perfectly educated, quiet and for the most 
part wealthy, but somewhat lacking in wit and readiness." There they joined a group whose major 
business of the day focused on proposed plans for a statue of John Boyle O'Reilly. As they warmed to 
their subject, Hyde's mind was on other concerns. It really was not at all against his best interests, he had 
begun to realize, to return home rather than settle in Nortii America. It was in fact, as he later confided to 
his diary, much better that he did return home, for certainly he could not leave Annette with full 
responsibility for the supervision and maintenance of the glebe house or the care of their aging father. 
As for his future, in Fredericton he had been accepted not simply for his Trinity or family connections 
but as a man of creditable accomplishments in his own right. On parting, the president had spoken in the 
most complimentary way of the fine reputation he had earned as teacher, author, and scholar. In 
ballrooms, drawing rooms, and dining rooms he had been regarded as an interesting and charming 

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gentleman, a versatile conversationalist a desirable guest at dinners, soirees, and teas. Describing to 
Annette the farewell parties that had been given in his honor, he had written modestly, "Y ou see I am 
getting slightly over the shyness which . . . life among the bogs afflicted me with." He knew this was an 
understatement, for at the university he had discovered that he was as comfortable in the lecture hall as 
he had been on the Dublin amateur stage or among his peers in the "Hist." The role of professor suited 
him well, in fact. Students ranging from rather dull to very keen not only had liked him but had shown a 
satisfying improvement under his tutelage. He had developed, moreover, a successful classroom manner 
— a combination of banter, anecdote, gentle chiding, and entertaining digression that had held their 
attention and piqued their curiosity. His relations with most of his colleagues had not been close, but he 
had made no enemies, he was sure, and he had managed to get on capitally with the president. Surely, 
given all these facts plus his reputation as a writer and scholar — his work was now being read not only 
in England and Ireland but in 

North America and on the Continent — there would be an academic post for him in Dublin, Cork, or 

Day after day, during Hyde's short stay in Boston, Roche continued to serve as host, friend, and guide. 
One evening after the two men had dined together, they walked all around Back Bay, discussing a 
subject of importance to Roche, the status of the American Irish, in which Hyde also had become keenly 
interested. In his notebook Hyde recorded his opinion that Roche and O'Reilly, through the Pilot, had 
helped the Irish displace the "Puritans" and increase their own political power in Boston. On another 
evening Roche invited Hyde to accompany him to the home of his brother-in-law in a suburb "far out of 
town." After tea the three men sat talking, drinking beer, and smoking cigars until midnight. Curious 
about the American educational system, Hyde questioned them on the subject of the comparative costs 
of parochial and public school tuition. Their reply, he noted, had less to do with money than with what 
each described as a trend toward "un-Irishness" among the Boston Irish in particular and the American 
Irish in general. Corroborating their statements, a Boston bookseller with whom Hyde talked complained 
of the diminishing demand for Irish books. Hyde attributed the situation to the improved social and 
economic status of affluent Irish Americans. Other immigrant groups, he knew, were having similar 
experiences. Y et among the Irish poor, there seemed to be no shame in or wish to shed their national 
identity. Was this, he asked himself, thinking of the tenant poor in Ireland, because they were giving up 
other distinguishing characteristics? 

One morning Hyde took the trolley to Cambridge where faculty and staff whom Fredericton friends had 
told him to look up showed him "all over that mass of luxury. Harvard College." In his notebook he 
recorded the institutional statistics that they provided: the student body numbered 2,100, the professors. 

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180; fees for the Arts course totaled $150; the cost of rooms was $120. He also outlined the curriculum, 
noting the physical development requirement and elective system, and observed that all the people he 
encountered on campus were very friendly. Some he knew by reputation from their work; he was both 
pleased and amused to discover that he, too, was known by reputation. In fact, on one occasion, having 
been introduced to a folklorist who was unaware that Douglas Hyde was An Craoibhin Aoibhinn, he had 
been proudly shown a new book that he was urged to examine: his own Beside the Fire . 

During the weekend the Fraulein arrived. On Sunday morning Hyde 

escorted her to Trinity Church to hear a sermon by Phillips Brooks which he criticized as having been 
delivered "like a torrent for speed." They spent the afternoon at the home of a Miss Conway, where he 
became engrossed in a conversation witii Louise Guiney, an American poet and essayist bom in Boston 
of Irish parents who had visited Ireland and was a friend of Katharine Tynan. On Monday he and the 
Fraulein lunched at his hotel, then went to the new library and museum where he pronounced the 
pictures "worth nothing, all daubs." The obviously unsuccessful rendezvous ended before dinner 
"without tears on either side," leaving Hyde free to spend Tuesday with Louise Guiney, who had invited 
him to lunch. She was, he wrote to Annette, "one of the most fascinating creatures I ever met, a pleasant 
giri, full of talk and enthusiasm," although "a bit deaf." Of the Fraulein he said nothing but offered the 
general comment that Boston girls are pretty but have bad complexions ("owing to the changeable 
weather"), while Canadian women have "lovely" complexions — a last gallant remark, perhaps, regarding 
the woman to whom it could not be delivered directly without fear that his intention might be 

On Tuesday evening, June 9, Hyde took the train to Fall River, where for four dollars he boarded "an 
enormous floating palace of a steamer" for the overnight journey to New Y ork City. Arriving at seven 
o'clock in the morning, he booked into the Everett House in Union Square and immediately set about 
sightseeing, accompanied by a man from Ohio who was a guest at the same hotel. First they took a day 
steamer to the Statue of Liberty, which impressed him mostly by its size: "so large that 12 men could 
stand round the torch held in the right hand." Then they boarded the elevated railway for Central Park. 
Meanwhile Thomas O'Neill Russell, who had kept up his correspondence with Hyde during the entire 
Fredericton year and had been scouting out possible university appointments for him, waited impatiently 
at the Everett House with Padraig 6 Beim, another language activist. As soon as Hyde returned, Russell 
and 6 Beim, eager to introduce him to members of the New Y ork Irish community, whisked him off to 
the Manhattan quarters of the Gaelic Society just over half a mile to the nortii on Twenty- eighth Street. 
There they remained until midnight, Hyde cautiously drinking little on account of his fatigue. 

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Early the next morning, June 1 1, Russell was again at the Everett House, to breakfast with Hyde and 
take him back to the Gaelic Society. There — his search interrupted by Russell, who insisted on showing 
him off as though he were "a prize fighting cock" — Hyde looked in vain 

for 'Donovan Rossa and "another man" whom he did not identify but clearly had expected to meet. Of 
Russell's possessive behavior he complained to his diary, "This I don't like but can't help." Russell was 
"far too touchy" to address on the subject. Had he been less irritated, Hyde might have admitted that 
Russell was also far too helpful to alienate. Hyde did manage, however, to get away on his own for the 
evening, which he spent "very pleasantly with Padraig [6 Beim], drinking and talking" until nearly 

The next morning, June 12, Hyde breakfasted with two old Trinity friends. Carman and Gregg, then 
wandered downtown on his own to the foot of Manhattan to see the Brooklyn Bridge, which he sketched 
for Annette, and to look over the stock of several gun shops before returning as promised to the rooms of 
the Gaelic Society. There he passed the late afternoon and early evening sipping tea with Russell and 
joining others in a long and serious discussion of current affairs in Ireland. On June 13 Hyde at last had 
the chance to visit 'Donovan Rossa in his lodgings. After drinking and talking most of tiie morning, the 
two men went together to the office of the Irish World where, sitting close together around the desk of 
the Galway-bom editor and founder, Patrick Ford, they continued to talk, mostly about the Irish 
language movement. It was a subject in which Ford, an ardent Land Leaguer, was not particularly 
interested. Hyde and 'Donovan Rossa tried to convince him of its strong political implications without 

The morning's business over, Hyde planned to spend the afternoon at a baseball game in Harlem. 
However, with the temperature at ninety degrees in the shade, he soon left the ballpark to take refuge in 
the cooler lounge of the Gaelic Society. There discussion continued to focus on Irish politics. In the 
evening he and Russell dined together, after which they joined members of the society at a concert of 
Irish music by McGilvey's band at "Madison Hall" (Madison Square Garden) — "the biggest hall," Hyde 
declared, that he had ever been in. The next day was Sunday. Hyde, Russell, Gregg, and Carman 
lingered together over breakfast until half past twelve. Then, as the temperature was again over ninety in 
the shade, Russell and 6 Beim suggested that Hyde go with them to a country house owned by the 
Gaelic Society on Long Island. 

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On Monday, to Hyde's dismay, the heat wave continued, interfering with many of his sightseeing plans. 
The thermometer now registered 113 degrees in the sun and 95 degrees in the shade — temperatures 
unheard of in Ireland. He had complimented himself on his ability to endure the winter cold of 
Fredericton; the summer heat of New Y ork 

required a far more difficult adjustment. Y et with only ten days remaining before he sailed for Ireland, it 
was time to shop for the purchases he wanted to make before his departure and the trip to Niagara Falls 
that he had promised himself, even before he left Canada. Returning to one of the gun shops he had 
visited earlier, he bought a Colt revolver and bullets for twenty dollars. After checking the commitments 
he had on his calendar — a feis in his honor that evening, a speech on the state of the Irish language the 
evening after — he booked a three-day excursion to Niagara on June 17. His round- trip ticket, noted in 
his expense book, cost sixteen dollars. 

The feis was a cheerful affair attended by about twenty people, all Irish speakers. A good supper 
accompanied by chilled wine and plenty of punch held them, despite the heat, through six speeches in 
Irish and as many more in English, all in praise of Hyde's work. The party went on until three in the 
morning, after which some six of the guests returned with Hyde for a nightcap at his hotel. On June 16 
he awoke close to noon and sat on his bed, looking at the thermometer which had risen to 100 degrees in 
the shade, uncertain how much more he could endure. At just that moment a storm broke, bringing the 
relief for which everyone had been waiting, and assuring the success of the evening's Gaelic Society 
meeting at which he was scheduled to present a speech in Irish and English. The next day he journeyed 
by boat and train up the Hudson River to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. 

Published in the Gaelic American for June 27, 1891, Hyde's speech of June 16 on the present state of the 
Irish language was not just the right thing at the right time but a preview of things to come. Identifying 
himself to his partly bilingual audience as no expert on his topic but only a late observer of a situation 
with which they were equally if not more familiar, he declared that the views he expressed were those he 
held personally, not as a spokesperson for any association concerned with the revival of the Irish 
language. Then dramatically balancing negative against positive, he established his facts: Irish was in 
"bad health" but not dead; it was not a patois nor tiie "poor, mean, limited language" described by those 
who for selfish and political reasons would have it destroyed but "a vast, varied, very opulent one" that 
"stands upon an equal footing with Greek, Latin, and Sanscrit"; it was the direct descendant and 
moreover the key to an "enormous mass of Irish literature, . . . lying at present in manuscript," which 
"has not only never been equalled but never been approached either in age, variety, or value by any 
vernacular language in Europe"; it was "the language of the 

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Bards and Brehons, of the Saints and sages/' which must not be "kicked contemptuously aside" or 
allowed to crawl away, as it were, with a broken leg, to die like a hunted dog in a ditch, a vile and 
lingering death." Nevertheless, acknowledging the damage that had been done to Irish by well-meaning 
friends as well as enemies of Irish Ireland, Hyde assured his listeners that he recognized that he was 
"standing in a practical country amongst practical men" to whom he felt required to give "some adequate 
reason for continuing to keep alive the Irish language" and therefore "to state clearly" what he wished to 
see done. 

His reasons, Hyde told his audience, were fourfold: it was not good for any race "to throw sentiment to 
the dogs"; for the Irish their language was the key to their "great national heritage"; language was one of 
the most effective means that could be used to bring a people together; a bilingual race was always and 
in every way "infinitely superior to a race that speaks only one language." Acknowledging that for the 
Irish in America much of what he had said about language applied to Catholicism — that indeed, for 
many, "Irish" and "Catholic" had become synonymous terms — Hyde questioned whether Catholicism 
alone could prove a satisfactory bond in the future, given the influx of other European Catholics even 
then in progress. Better to have also the advantages of bilingualism, he avowed, for "bilingual races" 
were "doubly men, and . . . double in sharpness and mental capacity." 

Hyde next raised the question, at first quietly, of how the Irish language had been allowed to sink to its 
current sorry state. "It is a most disgraceful shame the way in which Irishmen are brought up," he then 
thundered, "ashamed of their language, institutions, and of everything Irish." Softly again he described a 
recent encounter with two young Irishmen. Asked where they were from, one had replied deprecatingly, 
"I come from a little village over there called Ireland." Hyde's voice rose again as he pointed to the self- 
deprecating but common practice of translating and anglicizing Irish names. Ashamed to bear the 
surnames of their saints and heroes, Hyde declared, there were Irish who adopted instead for themselves 
and their children such non- Irish names as "Stiggins or Hunk or Buggins." Nor had "one single word of 
warning or remonstrance" been raised "against this colossal cringing, either by the Irish press or by Irish 
public men." In the face of such facts the Irish of Ireland had good cause to be thankful to the Gaels of 
America, Hyde avowed, for without them the Irish language movement would not have achieved its 
present position. 

But how now to proceed beyond the position — and, more impor- 

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tant not lose any ground that had been won? Again, Hyde was practical and reasonable. He saw only 
two possible ways of keeping up "the Irish spirit of the people and a due regard for the language of tie 
past." One was to win Home Rule; the other was to "put the Irish language in all institutions and 
examinations upon the same footing or a little more favorable footing than French, Latin, and Greek, and 
to insist on having Irish- speaking functionaries and schoolmasters in Irish- speaking parts of the 
country." Lest he be misunderstood, however, he stated clearly that in no way was he suggesting that 
Irish should replace English: 

I do not for a moment advocate making Irish the language of the country at large, or of the National 
Parliament. I do not want to be an impossible visionary or rabid partisan. What I wish to see is Irish 
established as a living language, for all time, among the million or half million who still speak it along 
the West coast, and to insure that the language will hold a favorable place in teaching institutions and 
government examinations. 

In conclusion he outlined briefly a practical program through which he believed that the goals he had set 
forth might be accomplished. 

Following publication of Hyde's complete speech in the Gaelic American, excerpts appeared in 
newspapers in Ireland. Among those who read with interest and later recalled what Hyde had said were 
John MacNeill, 24, at his desk in the Accountant General's Office in Dublin; John Dillon, 40, in Galway 
Prison; Lady Gregory, 39, in her home near Gort overlooking the Seven Woods of Coole; and W. B. 
Yeats, 26, in Dublin. Unaware of Hyde, hearing only, like Joyce's Stephen Dedalus, the quarrels over 
Pamell that were dividing families and estranging friends, were two others whose world would later be 
changed by the implications of Hyde's speech: Patrick Pearse, 12, soon to be enrolled in the Christian 
Brothers school on Westland Row in Dublin, and Eamon de Valera, 9, a National School boy living in 
Bruree, county Clare. 

On Hyde's return from Niagara Falls, O'Neill Russell and 6 Beim took him to the Irish school on the 
Bowery about which he had heard extraordinary reports. About thirty people were in attendance. All 
were speaking Irish; all had, it was clear, an immense interest in the language. When Hyde addressed 
them in Irish, they responded enthusiastically and with obvious understanding. He questioned Russell 
and 6 Beim about the methods and materials that were used at the school, the cost of instruction, and the 
background of the people who were attracted 

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to Irish classes. If such a school could flourish in New Y ork, he asked himself, why not in Dublin, 
Galway, Limerick, or Cork? 

On June 23, with but two days to finish all his business in New Y ork, Hyde again went to visit 
'Donovan Rossa. After a drink and a long talk, they set out for the top of the Herald Building, from 
which they had a view of the entire city, and then parted. Hyde's afternoon was spent at the British 
Consulate filling out forms and attempting to obtain the necessary approval concerning the shipment of 
his gun and his books. Shortly after six-thirty he arrived at the Gaelic Society where, he discovered, a 
feast had been prepared in his honor. After dinner there were speeches and dancing and drinking and 
talking far into the night. Most of the guests went home at about two-thirty in the morning. Six or seven 
remained behind, discussing Pamell, until six in the morning. 

The news of the day was that on June 25 Pamell was to marry Kitty O'Shea. Details of the civil 
ceremony scheduled to take place at Steyning near Brighton had been published by the Irish- American 
newspapers. They had all given full coverage to the O'Shea divorce trial. Most had opposed Pamell. The 
Irish Worid had been particularly bitter in its invective. Y et reluctant to desert him, the American Irish 
were as divided as the Irish at home. Even so, few believed that Pamell could recover the political 
support needed for him to continue as head of the Irish party. At the same time, as some pointed out, if 
the Pamell era was over, what would take its place? 

At noon on the twenty-fifth of June, Douglas Hyde boarded the State of Nevada bound for Moville and 
Londonderry, his portmanteau bulging with bottles of rye whiskey and other gifts from the Irish- 
American community. He stood at the stem of the ship as it eased past the tip of Manhattan under the 
eyes of the Statue of Liberty, then headed through the Narrows into New Y ork's outer harbor toward the 
open Atlantic. Nine months had gone by since September 10, 1890, when, bound for Montreal, he had 
boarded the Polynesia in Liverpool. Political observers of the time had then been speculating not on 
whether but on when and how there would be Home Rule in the country that at the time they were 
calling " Pamell 's Ireland." Expecting the year to be historic, Hyde had anticipated that he would retum 
to an Ireland very different from the one he was leaving. But neither he nor anyone else had foreseen 
what that difference would be: an Ireland in which Home Rule had again slipped out of reach and 
Pamell was fighting for his political life. Once before, over an earlier incident, the Tories had almost 

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succeeded in containing tlie man known to his party as "tiie Chief" and to the voters who supported him 
overwhelmingly as "Ireland's uncrowned king." But the attempt to discredit him publicly by implicating 
him in the Phoenix Park murders had only boosted his popularity when evidence presented to the 
Special Commission had proved that the incriminating letters on which charges were based were 

Small wonder that the divorce suit filed in December 1889 by Captain William 'Shea against his wife, 
Katherine, in which Pamell was named as co-respondent was at first widely regarded as just another 
doomed anti- Pamell plot designed "to recover in the Divorce Court/' in the words of Winston Churchill, 
what had been "lost before the Special Commission." Even when the divorce was granted on November 
17, 1890, there was little to suggest the trouble to come. Rallies on behalf of Pamell had drawn large 
crowds in Ireland, England, and America. On November 25 he had been unanimously reelected 
chairman of the Irish party. But after Gladstone called for Pamell 's resignation on November 26 and the 
Catholic hierarchy followed with a similar message on December 3, the anti-Pamellites within the party 
had seized the initiative. The vote had gone against Pamell by a margin of almost two to one. For the 
next six months, as Pamell stumped the countryside, taking tiie issue to the voters, controversy had 
raged. The latest announcement that he would now marry Kitty O'Shea in a civil ceremony had again 
raised a clamor. From what Hyde had been hearing from the Irish in America who knew much more of 
the situation than he himself had been able to fathom in New Bmnswick, Canada, it was unlikely that 
Pamell would be able to recover the support he needed to regain control of the party. 

- - 9 A Bridle for Proteus - 

Annette had driven the trap from the glebe house to Ballaghaderreen to meet Douglas at the station. He 
stepped down from the train into July sunshine and his sister's smile. Eager to maintain their mutual 
involvement in each other's life through their long separation of 1890-1891, they had kept up a 
thoughtful and detailed correspondence. Y et as always when they were face to face, there was still so 
much to say that their conversations flitted from subject to subject like butterflies in a meadow. They 
were, they agreed, the best of friends as well as members of the same family. The only other person with 
whom Hyde had ever shared a similar friendship was his father's youngest sister, Sisilla Hyde. 

Some things, of course, had not been put in letters, because neither wanted to upset the other. Douglas 
was sure that Annette had refrained from telling him half or more of the trouble she had had with "Der 
Alte," the term he now used instead of "the Master" or "the Govemor" to refer to his father. It was an 
indication of his changing relationship with the Reverend Hyde. Annette suspected that Douglas was far 
more disappointed than he acknowledged to retum to Roscommon with no prospects of future 
employment. It would not be easy for him, she knew, to face Der Alte's questions on the subject. No 
matter: in his last letters from North America, Douglas had promised that he would not go off again for 

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at least a few weeks. In the days to come there would be time enough to talk things over. For the 
moment the pressing problem was to get all his bags into the trap without breaking any of 

the bottles of whiskey that had been given to him in New Y ork or crushing the photograph he had 
brought home for her of himself in his Canadian backwoods hunter's outfit. It was his favorite picture of 
himself, he said. Everything he was wearing or carrying, he assured her — fur hat fur coat fur gloves, 
the snowshoes clutched under his arm — were necessities for anyone planning to spend time outdoors in 
the fierce Canadian winter. 

But now it was July, and the sun was pleasantly warm rather than unremittingly hot as it had been in 
New Y ork. Small white clouds propelled by a constant but gentle breeze rippled the shadows of the 
landscape. It was a day for tennis. Annette assured him that in accordance with the instructions he had 
given her in his letters, she had attended to the spring rolling of the tennis court and had had his tennis 
clothes washed and pressed. She also volunteered that her game was perhaps now the equal of his, 
thanks to the hours tiiat she had been spending on the courts at Ratra. In any case he would have an 
opportunity to practice his skills against a variety of partners, for invitations to rounds of social activities 
had come from Boyle, Frenchpark, and Castlerea. Other mail, she knew — for she had stacked it there 
herself — was also on his writing table. She could not help but wonder about letters from Fredericton 
addressed in an unfamiliar feminine hand. Which of the young women about whom he had written in his 
long, descriptive letters could these be from? Of greater curiosity were the other envelopes, for perhaps 
one of these might contain the news for which they were both hoping, of the possibility of a university 
appointment in Ireland. 

For the moment however, Hyde's questions concerned the smaller world of glebe house and village. 
There was no major work to be done indoors, Annette assured him. Nor was there any reason for him to 
involve himself in seasonal chores. Connolly had everything in good order; the prospect for a second 
hay crop was excellent. As for the fortunes and misfortunes of glebe tenants and neighbors, there had 
been the usual sicknesses and a few predictable deaths, but nothing much different from other years. 
Annette was pleased that she could give him so favorable a report. As the trap rolled up the drive to the 
glebe house, with its avenue of trees and glimpses of ripening fruit behind the orchard wall, Douglas's 
spirits could not have been higher. He was genuinely glad to see the Reverend Hyde, who came to the 
door to greet them, his limp rather more pronounced, but whether from arthritis or gout Douglas could 
not tell. As father and son sat down 

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together indoors, Annette disappeared to give tiie ancilla (as tiie housemaid still was called in the Hyde 
household) instructions for the disposition of Douglas's boxes and bags. 

To Douglas's relief his father did not quiz him about his prospects for the future but listened attentively 
to his description of Phillips Brooks's sermon in Trinity Church in Boston and the magnetic appeal of 
Thomas DeWitt Talmage who had packed some four thousand people into a church in Brooklyn on a hot 
Sunday morning. Later, while the Reverend Hyde was resting and Annette was occupied with household 
affairs, he went for an old-fashioned ramble, stopping as usual at some of the cottages he passed, then 
returned home to read his mail and look over the invitations Annette had mentioned. She was right: if 
the weather held, there surely would be great times during the next few weeks. The prospect pleased 
him, not only for himself but also because he still felt a little guilty about having left Annette solely 
responsible for their father and the glebe house for such a long time, with so little chance to get away on 
her own. Oldfields's visits apparently had been, as always, infrequent. 

On July 14 Douglas and Annette went to a tennis party at French- park House. The next day they had to 
choose between a dance in Boyle and tennis and dinner at Ratra; tiiey decided to skip the dance. But two 
days later, on the first day of the annual Boyle tennis tournament, they left home early and stayed so 
long after the last game, dining and visiting, that they were not back at the glebe house until nearly 
midnight. The tournament continued on July 17, witii both Annette and Douglas participating. After a 
few good games Annette and her partner, Mr. Fagan, lost to a Miss White and a Mr. Smith. On July 20 
there was a cricket match at Frenchpark which drew a number of people, including many Hyde had not 
seen since his return home. The finals of the Boyle tennis tournament were on July 21. The weather was 
very wet. Despite heavy showers Hyde and his partner, a Miss Marsh, played tiieir match but were 
soundly beaten. Hyde kept up a good face about it at dinner at the Hamiltons, but in his diary he rather 
ungallantly blamed his loss on his having drawn Miss Marsh, whose game was not up to his standards. 
The weather improved by July 27 in time for another cricket match — Castlerea against the garrison — at 
Frenchpark. Playing for Castlerea, Hyde fielded fairly well but was disappointed that he got in only one 
or two runs. 

On Monday, August 3, despite a steady cold rain, Hyde set out for a five-day visit to Cork at the 
invitation of Charlotte Grace O'Brien. 

Daughter of William Smith O'Brien (leader of the last battle of the rising of 1848, which had ended in 
Tipperary, in the widow McCormack's cabbage garden), Grace O'Brien had a modest reputation as a 

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writer, having published a number of poems and a well-received novel. Hyde admired her not just for 
her writing but for her commitment to relief work among the poor, especially single women and young 
girls who for lack of any other means of support were forced to emigrate to America. Her home was Ard- 
an-6ir in the Blackwater Valley near Foynes, the same area in which Hyde's ancestors had settled and 
built Castle Hyde. The journey by rail to Foynes was long and roundabout. It began with one train to 
Castlerea and another to Athlone and Athenry. There he was forced to endure a long delay before he 
could continue on through Gort, Ardrahan, Cratloe, and Ennis to Limerick, where he spent the night at 
the George Hotel. Tuesday morning, after several drinks with an old friend who by chance was also 
staying at the George, he proceeded by train to Foynes and by carriage to his destination. 

As Miss O'Brien had become seriously hearing- impaired in recent years, Hyde talked with her, as he 
noted in his diary, "on my fingers." With her when he arrived was Lord Monteagle's sister. In the 
afternoon they were joined by Willie Stockley, not yet returned to New Brunswick, and a Miss 
Osboume. On Wednesday, except for Lord Monteagle's sister, who had another engagement, the entire 
party went to Monteagle's home. Mount Trenchard, a mansion that Hyde found quite dazzling. On 
Thursday, having been invited to the estate of Sir Stephen de Vere for some shooting, Hyde took a boat 
to Foynes Island. A classicist and a poet with a lyrical talent as well as a fine sportsman, de Vere, second 
son of Sir Aubrey de Vere, was an agreeable companion. At the time of Hyde's visit he was close to 
completing an edition of his own translations of the odes of Horace, a task at which Hyde himself had 
tried his skill informally some years before. 

Hyde's bag for the day was scarcely his best: a white rabbit, killed at forty yards, and a crow. 
Nevertheless, given host and scenery, he enjoyed himself immensely. When he returned to Mount 
Trenchard he discovered that the party had been increased by a Miss Knox. The entire week had been 
like that — agreeably relaxed and informal, with people coming and going as they wished, and much 
good conversation. On Friday, after walking a couple of miles or more through the spectacular 
countryside, Hyde dined with Lord Monteagle and his family. After dinner he had a long talk with Miss 
Butcher, Monteagle's wife's sister. 

who was both intelligent and independent — like Grace O'Brien, the kind of woman whose company he 
most enjoyed. 

Back in Roscommon, with summer drawing to an end and with it the diversions that had kept him from 
dwelling on the bleakness of his prospects for the future, Hyde's spirits began to sag. Remembering the 

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prizes and awards he had won at Trinity, the reviews his published work had received, and the respect 
with which he had been treated in Fredericton, Boston, and New Y ork, it was difficult for him to accept 
the fact that he had had no offers at all, in Ireland or anywhere else, since he had returned home. The 
political news was unbearably depressing. With Tim Healy and other jackals after him, Pamell was 
losing one by-election after another. In September, to occupy himself profitably and take his mind off 
the current political situation, Hyde began the study of Anglo-Saxon, a subject certain to enhance his 
qualifications for a university post, should one become available. He also continued his own writing and 
translating — he was then at work on poems from the Irish to be published in Love Songs of Connacht — 
but he noted ruefully that successful as his publications had been, earning a literary reputation was not 
earning a living. 

Hyde's best work was always that which he completed rapidly, during periods of inspiration. In the four 
days between the seventh and the eleventh of September he produced nine verse translations. These 
eventually appeared in Love Songs of Connacht, but while the manuscript was still in progress he 
allowed some to be published in the Weekly Freeman, where they attracted an enthusiastic response 
from readers. One of his translations of this period was "Ringleted youth of my love," the most popular 
poem in the collection and the one that has been reprinted most often. For all of his creative and 
scholarly labor, however, Hyde received no payment, only the Freeman 's promise that he could have the 
plates of everything they published without charge. 

At the end of September Hyde was deeply saddened by the news that Pamell was seriously ill. By 
October 6, 1891, Pamell was dead, and half the nation was in mouming. From Pamell's home in 
Brighton his body was brought back to Ireland. Crowds of supporters met carriage, train, and boat at 
every point of transfer, despite weather as black as their mood. Thousands filed past his coffin as it lay 
in state in the City Hall in Dublin. A torchlight procession accompanied the hearse that took him to his 
grave in Glasnevin. Someone — probably Lord Wolseley, but the story has been attributed also to Arthur 
Balfour, among others — is reported to have said that the only crowds of which 

he ever was afraid were those that gathered to pay silent tribute to the man people called their 
"uncrowned king." The Pamell era was over, and with it all hope of Home Rule in the foreseeable 
future. But Hyde was certain that, like the phoenix that many had used as a symbol of the Irish nation, 
hope would rise again. Y et he could not prevent his thoughts from retuming to his memories of how 
agreeable life had been in Canada, how well he had been treated in Boston and New Y ork, how futile it 
seemed, at least for the present, to remain in Ireland. 

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It was with anticipation, tiierefore, of perhaps some interim improvement in his own particular situation 
that Hyde learned in December that O'Neill Russell's advance information had been correct: a formal 
announcement had been made of an opening in language and literature at the new University of Chicago. 
At the same time he received word of an opening at Queen's College in Belfast which called for the 
qualifications in history and English literature that he could provide. Setting aside the poems on which 
he had been working, Hyde concentrated on preparing a six-page summary of his academic record and 
other accomplishments to accompany letters of application to both Chicago and Belfast and on obtaining 
persuasive letters of recommendation. 

Hyde's application to Belfast addressed to the Earl of Zetland, was written by necessity in the formal 
and obsequious language of the day: 

May it please your Excellency, 

I have the honour to offer myself as a Candidate for the Professorship of History and English Literature 
now vacant in the Queens College, Belfast. 

I beg to enclose a list of degrees and honours which I obtained in Trinity College, Dublin, both [sic] in 
English, Celtic, and Foreign Literature. 

I am not ignorant of University teaching, having lectured during the year '90 '91 on English and Modem 
Literature in the State University of New Brunswick. 

A presentation was made to me by the Students when leaving, and I enclose the testimonial of the 
President of the University. 

Although I have chiefly worked at English and Modem Literature I am also fairly acquainted with the 

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Greek and Latin Classics, with Anglo-Saxon, and with the Language and Literature of the Gaels of 
Scotland, and have some knowledge of Hebrew. 

Praying that this Memorial may receive your Excellency's favourable consideration, 

I have the honour to be your Excellency's most obedient servant. 

Douglas Hyde, LL.D., M.R.LA. 

Among those who wrote cautiously to Chicago and Belfast on Hyde's behalf were George Salmon, 
Hyde's former professor in the 

divinity program, now the Provost, and Edward Dowden, professor of English literature at Trinity. 
Salmon endorsed Edward Dowden's letter as consistent with what he knew of Hyde and added that he 
himself considered the candidate "a good linguist, a man of minute and various reading, and a very 
diligent Student." He pointed to Hyde's reconl of publication as evidence that he had "not been idle since 
the termination of his college course" and drew attention to Hyde's experience as an interim professor of 
modem languages in New Brunswick. 

Calling Hyde "one of our most brilliant and distinguished scholars of recent years," Dowden was no less 
laudatory. He enumerated Hyde's areas of expertise ("English, French, German, Italian, Celtic, History, 
Law, Literature, Theology") and noted that, "in all the wide range included by what these names imply," 
Hyde had "proved his ability and attainments." Like Salmon, Dowden pointed out that already Hyde's 
scholarship "had produced fruit in works . . . widely and favourably known to Celtic students." With this 
"abundance of learning," Dowden declared, "Dr. Hyde has retained his brightness and freshness of 
intellect and his geniality of temper; he has not lost touch with actual life and reality." Hyde would 
make, he avowed, "an admirable Professor" who "would augment his present roll of distinctions by 
works of scholarship which would do credit to the great Institution with which he would be connected." 

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Maxwell H. Close, treasurer of the Royal Irish Academy, did not send his letter directly to the provosts 
of Chicago or Belfast but addressed it to Hyde for inclusion with his applications. Close testified to his 
personal knowledge of Hyde's academic qualifications, his literary sensibility, and his attainments; he 
expressed his belief that Hyde would succeed particularly in the task of imparting to students the 
benefits of his intellectual capacity and cultured taste. He had the highest esteem, he declared, for Hyde's 
"power of acquiring Languages" — a "great advantage," he noted, "in dealing with the genius and 
individual character of the English." 

Although everything else was put aside during the last month of 1891 as Hyde concentrated on 
presenting the best possible case for his appointment to both institutions, there was no further mention of 
these applications either in his diary or in tiie letters and papers that have survived to suggest the kind of 
acknowledgment or response, if any, that he received. What seems certain is that he was never seriously 
considered for either] ob, but there is no indication as to why. In later years Hyde often spoke bitterly of 
Mahaffy, whom he apparently 

suspected of continuing to undermine his efforts to secure a university position, but whether or not 
Mahaffy was implicated remains, in the absence of any other evidence, a matter of conjecture. Certainly 
Mahaffy did nothing to help Hyde's candidacy for these and other posts, and relations between them 
remained strained, with occasional eruptions, through the years. But the fact is that Salmon, Dowden, 
and Close were not much help either — perhaps because they could not be. Try as they might to 
emphasize the excellence of Hyde's academic background in modem history and literature, English and 
European, it was clear from Hyde's record of publication that his scholarship was limited to Celtic 
subjects, a factor that might have worked against him. Moreover, by 1891 the connection between Dr. 
Douglas Hyde, the public man, and An Craoibhin, the public persona of Hyde's private Irish self, was as 
well known to the Ascendancy as to Irish Ireland, although the extent of his Fenian connections and 
sympathies seems not to have been recognized outside nationalist circles, even by some who were 
closest to him. No one thought of Hyde as a danger, but to any alert university administrator, his dossier 
would have suggested that he could be an embarrassment and might be a nuisance. 

New Y ear's Day, 1892, found Hyde again at work on the manuscript of Love Songs of Connacht . On 
February 1 1 in the library of the Royal Irish Academy he made the acquaintance of a young priest from 
county Meath who, like himself, had as a boy learned Irish from local native speakers. At Maynooth, 
Eugene O'Growney had spent his holidays mostly on Inismaan (the Aran Island later visited by John 
Millington Synge) but he had also made the rounds of other Gaeltachts, to get a good feel for spoken 

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Irish wherever it survived in Ireland. Ordained in 1889, he had served for a while as curate of a small 
parish in Westmeath. He had contributed to the Gaelic Journal and Irish Ecclesiastical Record . In 1891 
he had succeeded John Fleming as editor of the Journal and had been appointed professor of Irish at his 
alma mater. Hyde described O'Growney in his diary as "a young man with a large head and thick lips," 
"kindly and slow-speaking/' who was "nice looking without being handsome or well-groomed." Their 
shared interests and experiences emerged in a long conversation tiiat occupied most of their afternoon. 
Among the ideas on which they agreed was that the time had come — the country was ready — for a plan 
that would restore the Irish language to the people of Ireland. But it would have to be offered as an 
aspect of their culture that was theirs by choice; they would have to be assured that it would augment but 
not replace English; and they would have 

to be convinced that it would enhance rather than detract from Ireland's position in the worid. These 
three concerns had been addressed by Hyde in "A Plea for the Irish Language" (1886), in his preface to 
Beside the Fire (1890), and in his speech on the present state of the Irish language (1891) that had been 
printed in full in the Gaelic American . These same concerns had informed an essay entitled "The 
National Language" that Eugene O'Growney had published in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record of 
November 1890. 

As Hyde was scheduled to leave on the night boat for London, he could not continue his conversation as 
long as he liked with O'Growney, but he assured his new friend that he would look him up at Maynooth 
immediately upon his return. That evening, in one of his occasional bursts of hyperbole — piqued 
perhaps by his conviction that his own failure to obtain a post in an Irish university was the work of such 
men as Mahaffy and Atkinson — Hyde declared in his diary that O'Growney was "perhaps the only 
learned man in Ireland today who speaks Irish correctly." He also could not help but wonder: Had he 
himself been a Catholic graduate of Maynooth instead of a Protestant graduate of Trinity, would he now 
be in O'Growney's position? Had his Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta been about German tales, had his Beside 
the Fire been translated from the French, had his poems and essays celebrated the eloquence and 
independence of English yeomanry — had he assumed the accepted Anglo- Irish role of Englishman bom 
in Ireland and written about almost anything but the Irish heritage, Irish language, and native traditions 
of his own country — would he have been more attractive to Cork or Queens or even Trinity? 

In London, Hyde's sense of himself returned. He had an agreeable interview on the day of his arrival 
with David Nutt, publisher of Beside the Fire . The next day, quite by chance, his old friend W. M. 
Crook from Trinity College stopped him on the Strand and invited him to a meeting of a new Irish 
society that had been founded on a "wet and windy" night in December by W. P. Ryan, W. B. Y eats, T. 
W. Rolleston, D.J. O'Donoghue, J. G. O'Keefe, and John Todhunter — all well-known veterans of other 

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short-lived Irish organizations. Various schemes and programs designed to promote the new society (the 
term "club" was rejected) had been discussed, Hyde learned, in a series of subsequent meetings which 
had resulted in the choice of a name, the "Irish Literary Society," and an agenda that included a 
missionary drive for an enlarged membership. The February 6, 1892, issue of the Freeman's Journal had 
published an article outlining the new society's 

aims: first, to resume the long- neglected work of Y oung Ireland, take up the unfinished schemes of 1842 
and 1845, and voice the aspirations of 1792; second, to promote the publication of a series of books on 
Irish history, biography, poetry, and folklore and reprint old editions and valuable out-of-print books; 
third, to bring Irish books within easier reach of London readers and to improve the distribution of Irish 
books in Ireland. Among the difficulties encountered had been the counterproductive efforts of well- 
meaning members less interested in literature, the diluting effect of competing organizations that drew 
on the same membership pool in England and Ireland, and the skepticism of publishers. (One, quoted by 
W. P. Ryan in his account of the organization, had written, "I should be inclined to say that it would put 
another St. Patrick to the pin of his collar to convert the Irish people into a book- reading and book- 
buying nation".) To counter these difficulties, the organizers adopted the strategy of encouraging loyalty 
and involvement by assigning titles and tasks to as many different people as possible. At the February 13 
meeting to which Crook had invited Hyde, twelve vice-presidents were chosen. Hyde's reputation as 
poet, scholar, and active participant in the language movement made him a desirable person for such a 
post. He was given two tasks. One was to translate a selection from the sagas sufficient to fill eight or 
nine volumes of a new Irish Saga series to be published by Fisher Unwin. The other was to write a guide 
to Gaelic literature for a second series, to be undertaken by a proposed subsidiary of the society 
tentatively called the Irish Publishing Company, of which Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (the Y oung Irelander 
of the forties, editor- founder of the Nation, and former prime minister of Australia) had agreed to serve 
as director. 

On February 17, Y eats arranged a luncheon at which he introduced Hyde to David Gamett, the reader 
for Fisher Unwin who was interested in the idea of the Irish Saga series. Attentive, courteous, and 
grateful for Hyde's cooperation, Y eats insisted that in the evening Hyde visit his home in Bedford Park 
to meet Dr. Todhunter. With Todhunter, described in Hyde's diary as "a thin, distinguished looking man, 
of medium build, with finely chiselled features" whose wife's sister was a Dublin acquaintance, Hyde 
spent a pleasant few hours discussing folklore in general and Irish and Norse tales in particular. On the 
way back to his hotel he stopped at tiie National Liberal Club where he hoped he might have a cigar and 
a glass of punch with Crook. To his dismay Tim Healy was also at the club. Reluctant even to lay eyes 
on the man he regarded as the scoundrel who had brought down Pamell, 

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Hyde studiously avoided speaking to him. But notiiing could spoil his elation at feeling himself involved 
in the future once again. 

The following week Miss Butcher, whom Hyde had met at Lord Monteagle's, had arranged for him to 
stay at the home of her friends, the Protheros, in Cambridge. The Prothero home seemed to him to be 
constantly filled with a variety of interesting and talented people whom he would have been content to 
stay and talk with, but Miss Butcher insisted on taking him to meet Sir Edward Bume-Jones. Although 
no more than sixty, the English painter seemed at first to Hyde to be "an old, grey-haired man, kindly, 
child-like, with a faraway look in his eyes." Hyde was therefore astonished to discover not only Bume- 
Jones's extraordinary interest in Ireland and Irish literature but the extent of his Irish library. Both of 
Hyde's books and almost every other recent publication of Irish interest were on the shelves, as well as 
the complete works of the French Celticist, d'Arbois de Jubainville. Moreover, to Hyde's great 
enjoyment, Bume-Jones talked at length on the current status of Irish literary studies, a subject on which 
he was also astonishingly well informed. 

A week later Hyde returned to Dublin. Within a few days he kept his promise to himself and O'Growney 
to pay a visit to Maynooth. After an excellent lunch accompanied by champagne during which the two 
men discussed a recent essay by John MacNeill on the role of the clergy in preserving the Irish language, 
they toured the campus. So impressed was Hyde that he made notes for his diary: Total enrollment, 500. 
Students attend three lectures each day and study for over five hours more. They cannot have fires or 
friends in their rooms, or smoke, or speak at meals or in the quadrangles. During each of the first three 
years they are required to take both O'Growney 's class and a class in English literature. Hyde could not 
help but admire the results: all the students spoke Latin competently and seemed well schooled in 
Shakespeare, Milton, and Macaulay. He wondered what would happen if such a regimen were instituted 
in New Brunswick. He was particularly interested in O'Growney 's estimate that about two hundred 
students (forty percent of current enrollment) had some knowledge of Irish. 

Before returning to Frenchpark, Hyde called on another friend, the historian and novelist Standish James 
O'Gray. Several other people, including a man named O'Clery, were there before him. With plans for 
new publishing projects on Irish subjects fresh in his mind, Hyde listened thoughtfully to their 
conversation, which included a discussion of the Irish novels based on early history and mythology on 

'Grady was then working. Mrs. 'Grady, who read Hyde's hand, said that among the hundreds of hands 

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she had examined she had never seen one more interesting or more unusual. She took an ink impression 
of it and urged him to "have great courage and self-confidence" for he had it in himself "to do great 
things." He left at about two o'clock in the morning, with curlews crying over his head. Whether from 
the bottle of wine he had drunk or the words of Mrs. 'Grady or the talk of promising prospects (he was 
not sure which), he was, he acknowledged, "a little tipsy." 

Back in Frenchpark, Hyde sat down to work on Love Songs but also began making a list for Gamett of 
the titles he would recommend including in the Irish Saga series. With June came the sad news that the 
Frenches were leaving Ratra. A neighbor for twenty-five years, John French had been for Hyde a direct 
link with Seamas Hart. Asa small boy Hyde had often followed Hart over Ratra meadow and bog, 
asking interminable questions, receiving Hart's laconic answers. As he grew older he and Hart and John 
French often went shooting together, sometimes accompanied by Hyde's father and two brothers. Ratra 
had been the place that he had missed most — especially in fall and spring — when he was in Canada. 
During the entire time that he was away in Dublin, London, and North America, it had reassured him to 
know that the Frenches would cheer up Annette if she grew lonely and would invite her for tennis or tea. 
He himself, in fact, had always been glad to receive an invitation from Ratra when Annette was on 
holiday and he was the one who was staying alone with his father in the glebe house. The loss struck 
him particularly in the middle of summer when his Oldfield aunts and his sister went off to Killamey for 
several weeks. On the one hand, with so much to do, Hyde was glad that there was little to tempt him 
away from his writing desk. On the other hand, it was strange to be without the people and activities that 
had been so closely woven into the fabric of his Frenchpark life. 

Meanwhile, in Dublin, W. B. Yeats, John O'Leaiy, Dr. George Sigerson, Maud Gonne, J. F. Taylor, 
Alice and Mary Furlong, and others had been meeting informally to discuss plans for an Ireland- based 
affiliate of the Irish Literary Society, to be called the National Literary Society. They named a 
provisional committee and organized a June meeting in the Rotunda, attended by Hyde, at which they 
issued a statement of purpose which read in part, "Every Irish movement of recent years has drawn a 
great portion of its power from the literary movement started by Davis, but that movement is over, and it 
is not 

possible to live for ever upon the past. A living Ireland must have a living literature." A slate of 
candidates for office was drawn up and distributed, officers were chosen, and at an August meeting 
Douglas Hyde was elected president. 

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Hyde knew that he had not been Y eats's first choice for the top leadership role of the new society. Y eats 
had made no secret of the fact that he preferred John 'Leaiy for his managerial skills, but he had 
recommended Hyde for one of the vice- presidencies because of his persuasive powers and his 
prominence in the growing Gaelic Revival. The membership, however, resisted Y eats's political 
maneuvering (even 'Leary complained of the tactics that had been used to support him) and opted for 
Hyde as president — "not for any merit" on his part, Hyde wrote to James Jeffrey Roche, but because he 
was "a good neutral figurehead." Y eats accepted the rebuff more or less gracefully until Duffy arrived, 
dismissed the statement read at the Rotunda, and substituted his own publication choices for the list of 
books and authors that had been drawn up in London. The first was to be an historical essay by Thomas 
Davis. To Y eats this meant creating a memorial to the Y oung Ireland of the forties at the expense of 
Y oung Ireland of the nineties in complete opposition to everything the National Literary Society had 
planned. However, since Duffy's plans were not contradictory to tiie prospectus of the Irish Literary 
Society that had been printed in the February 6, 1892, issue of the Freeman's Journal, they were not 
rejected out of hand. A bitter debate developed. 'Leary sided with Y eats; Taylor and Sigerson sided 
with Duffy. For months heated arguments broke out at every National Literary Society meeting, often 
lasting well into the night. Some nights the participants came close to blows. "I was in the chair," Hyde 
complained, "and I had a hopeless task of trying to keep order." Y eats had a different view of the 
situation. Perceiving himself as a young David battling the old Goliath, he wanted neither neutrality nor 
order — he wanted support. Later he wrote scathingly of how he had been bested by Taylor while "Dr. 
Hyde, 'most popular of men,' sat dreaming of his old white cockatoo in faraway Roscommon." In the 
end all arguments proved moot, for Duffy was not able to raise the money needed to fund the proposed 
publishing company; all that could be salvaged of the project were a few titles that were undertaken by 
Fisher Unwin at the recommendation of Gamett in consultation with Rolleston and Hyde. Among these 
— it looked like a compromise but more likely was based on what was then complete or nearly complete 
and readily available — were Davis's Patriot Parlia- 

ment of 1689, the selection by Duffy that had begun the dissension, and Hyde's Story of Early Gaelic 
Literature . 

In the fall of 1892 — already overcommitted, with Love Songs of Connacht in its final stages and The 
Story of Early Gaelic Literature in progress — Hyde's third pressing task was to compose a presidential 
address to be delivered in Leinster House on Molesworth Street on November 25. Sponsored by the 
National Literary Society, the event was to be open by subscription to the public. There was really no 
time left for refereeing shouting matches and giving pep talks to individual men and women who had 
expressed an interest in knowing more about tiie society. There was no time either, to Hyde's regret, for 
the Dublin or Big House social life that ordinarily he enjoyed. Even shooting, usually his principal 
recreation of the season, had to be curtailed. Summer tennis and teas had provided the usual 
opportunities, but he allowed no flirtations to occupy him. The women mentioned in his diary or letter 
book were primarily old friends such as Frances Crofton and Maud Gonne or members of the London or 

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the Dublin literary society. From time to time he received a note from the Fraulein in Canada. 

In October the Oldfields gave a large party. Hyde could not excuse himself without offending them. He 
chatted agreeably with aunts, uncles, and cousins, exchanged personal news with people he had not seen 
for a time, and met a young Englishwoman, Lucy Cometina Kurtz, a new friend whom Annette had 
encountered the previous summer in Killamey. From then on until November 25, except for meetings, 
his time was spent almost exclusively in the library of the Royal Irish Academy or at home at his writing 
desk. Tickets for the National Literary Society event were going well at a shilling apiece, he had been 
told. Hyde was pleased. He felt that he had selected a good topic for the occasion. Dr. Sigerson's 
inaugural address, delivered in August, had been "On the Origin, Influence, and Environment of Irish 
Literature." Entertaining and informative, it had been an education for many people who had been 
unaware of the extent of their ignorance on the subject. Hyde had welcomed it as a good introduction to 
his own lecture, "On the Necessity for De- Anglicising the Irish People." Particular interest in his topic 
had been generated by notices and news items in the United Ireland and Weekly Freeman which 
suggested that in their twin presentations he and Sigerson were in fact setting the tone and establishing 
the level of discourse of the new Literary Society. A few correspondents from the press had expressed 
curiosity about the meaning of his title. 

He had declined to go into detail, and now they stood ready, their pencils poised, to examine what he 
had to say. 

Although Hyde had revised his address again and again, he was still not satisfied with it on the morning 
of November 25. In the academy library he sat writing and rewriting almost to the moment when he had 
to leave for Leinster House. There he immediately saw that the turnout was good. He had been told that 
over a hundred people had subscribed in advance. The press was present. So were a number of people 
whose reaction and response would be very important to him personally as well as to the society. The 
moment came for him to speak. He heard the sound of his own voice. It carried well in the hall, rolling 
into the far comers and spreading to the side walls without a hint of a resonant echo. One hour and 
twenty minutes later his voice stopped. It was over. No one had fallen asleep; no one had walked out. 
The applause was satisfying. He had done a good job, he told himself. Then, smiling and shaking hands, 
he prepared himself to hear the opinions of others. 

W. P. Ryan called Hyde's address "sensational," a statement on which he elaborated positively two years 
later in his overview of the period. The Irish Literary Revival . W. B. Y eats reported that as the audience 

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left the hall he heard someone say that it was "the most important utterance of its kind since '48." 
Reviews in the nationalist newspapers ranged from approving to enthusiastic. On December 3 the United 
Ireland carried an editorial in which the writer declared, "I have no hesitation in saying that it was one of 
the best and, what is better, one of the most practical lectures on a National topic I have heard for a long 
time." Most of the other nationalist newspaper concurred. Many called for immediate publication. Even 
the usually hostile Irish Times — then very much a Castle paper — could find nothing more biting to print 
than the curiously ambivalent statement that nowhere else in the world would "an able, well-educated 
man" get away with saying the things that Hyde had said. The reviews had a healthy impact on public 
perception of the National Literary Society. Meetings to further its aims increased in different parts of 
the country; other cultural societies sought affiliation; and (largely through the efforts of Maud Gonne) 
the planned book distribution project was launched. Nor was Hyde's success attributable simply to his 
heady rhetoric. On the contrary, according to W. P. Ryan, Hyde's lecture had gone "to the heart of a 
national evil which was preying on Irish life like a cancer." 

What Hyde meant by deanglicization, the idea that captured his listeners' imagination, was simple, 
subtle, and bold. Giuseppi Mazzini 

had said that the Irish ought to be content to belong to the United Kingdom, as they had lost their "notes 
of nationalism" — language and custom — and consequently no longer had an identity of their own. Hyde 
challenged the people of Ireland to prove that the Italian patriot was wrong. Item by item, he reviewed 
with them the evidence that appeared to support Mazzini 's remark and established that nothing had been 
lost beyond recovery, that where the Irish "notes of nationalism" had been suppressed they survived 
beneath a veneer of anglicization that was easily removed. Nor did he advocate an immediate and 
wholesale stripping of this veneer from Irish life. On the contrary: it would be foolish, he declared, to 
give up the best of what Ireland had borrowed from England and made its own. The English language 
and English customs could live in harmony with the native tongue and native traditions, if that was what 
people wanted. But to have a choice, both English and Irish had to be openly and freely available to 
everybody, with no false value being attached to one or stigma to the otiier. 

What had to end, Hyde avowed, was the self- destructive and contradictory simultaneous hating and 
aping of the English that had been going on for two hundred years and more. What had to stop was the 
self-defeating clamor to be recognized as a distinct nation even as the distinguishing characteristics of 
Irish nationality, language, and custom were being discarded. If an Irishman could become a good 
Englishman, he thundered, there would be no problem. But as hard as some tried, as often as others had 
been stripped of their Celtic characteristics, they had not been able to divest themselves of the mantle of 
the past. It was now time for both Unionists and nationalists to accept that mantle, to transform their dim 

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consciousness of the shaping force of place and tradition into an active and potent feeling, and thus to 
increase their sense of self-respect and of honor. 

To the question of how to proceed, Hyde had practical answers: by arresting the decay of the Irish 
language and rediscovering its honorable roots in antiquity so that native speakers might use it with 
pride; by linking past with present by employing traditional Irish personal and place names; by enjoying 
traditional Irish music and games; by preserving traditional Irish customs and habits of dress; by reading 
Irish and Anglo- Irish books. In conclusion he appealed to everyone, whatever his or her politics, 
whether unionist or nationalist, to help the Irish, "even at the risk of encouraging national aspirations," to 
become again what they once were: "one of the most original, artistic, literary, and charming peoples of 

Practiced in the art of arousing an audience, Hyde made his points not once but several times, each time 
from a different perspective, thus reinforcing without repeating. He anticipated questions and objections; 
he provided anecdotal evidence; he appealed to emotion as well as intellect. Deanglicization would not 
be easy, he warned: it would require that his listeners examine themselves for the latent West- Britonism 
that some had allowed to settle inside themselves. He promised, however, that out of their efforts would 
come the reward of recovering their personal and national identity — first and most easily, perhaps, in 
their music, then in their customs and games, then in their history and literature, and finally in their 
minds and hearts. 

What Hyde proposed offered something for everyone within a national context. It touched the common 
sensitive nerve concerned with belonging. It allowed even the most committed Irish Unionists, who 
traced their lineage through generations of English ancestors living in Ireland, to distinguish themselves 
from the English of England and explain their Irish roots through place rather than race. It provided a 
more acceptable alternative to Irish nationalists who hitherto had had to choose, both actually and 
metaphorically, between throwing rocks and hiding under them. It required no either/or commitment but 
suggested a range of individual nationalist behavior that could be as nonassertive as singing an Irish 
song or playing an Irish game or as assertive as immediate and thorough self- deanglicization. Because it 
was not coercive, it did not invite a coercive response. 

The essential point of Hyde's address was that national identity was not something that had to be awaited 
through long and patient suffering or seized by violence but was available to every Irish man or woman 
who would simply deanglicize — that is, give up imitating the English. It was foolish, he declared, to 

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express a hatred of the Enghsh and at the same time adopt Enghsh names, Enghsh customs, and Enghsh 
culture. It was equally foolish to reject a bilingual, bi cultural solution when, as in the case of language, it 
might be necessary to employ English in certain contexts without there being any reason to use it in 
another. In discarding what was their own, he pointed out, the Irish had thrown away the best claim they 
had to the right to be recognized as a separate and equal nationality. To regain that claim, they now had 
to discard what they had not made their own and indeed what they did not want or need. 

For Douglas Hyde, the radical and revolutionary doctrine of deanglicization, delivered at a time when 
for many people the alterna- 

tives appeared to be only acquiescence or violence, made his National Literary Society presidential 
address the most important speech of his career. He was immediately invited to talk on the same subject 
in Cork on January 23, 1893. Two weeks after the Cork lecture, on February 9, Hyde spoke to the 
literary society in Dublin about Irish books that had been published during the past year. A week later he 
presided at a lecture presented by Standish 'Grady. On February 28 he took the night ferry to London 
to attend a March 1 meeting of tiie Irish Literary Society. At the meeting he was introduced to Alfred 
Perceval Graves and Stopford Brooke. Brooke's lecture to the society, on the English language as a 
medium for the Irish people, interested Hyde particularly. He like Brooke, who invited him and 
Rolleston to dinner and who turned out to be not only a good lecturer but an intelligent and amusing 
conversationalist. Unfortunately, Hyde's days were so full that they had no chance to meet again during 
this London trip, but they vowed that they would make a point of seeing each other in the future. 

March 3 was filled with appointments with publishers; March 4, with a meeting of the council of the 
Irish Literary Society; March 5, with an afternoon lecture and dinner with the Todhunters; March 6, with 
an examination by a new eye specialist, a visit to the British Museum, and a dinner party at the home of 
Fisher Unwin. The next week had fewer meetings but more social engagements: lunches, dinners, 
theater; a visit to the British Museum and Parliament and to the Grafton Galleries to see an exhibition of 
Impressionist paintings; long talks with Lady Wilde, Francis Fahy, and John Redmond; and social calls 
on the Protheros, Miss Butcher, and others. On March 17 Hyde "drowned the shamrock" in champagne 
with Rolleston. On March 23 he returned to Dublin. By the end of the first week in April he was relieved 
to be again in Roscommon, enjoying the unhurried quiet of Frenchpark after months of frantic activity, 
and putting the finishing touches to the manuscript of Love Songs of Connacht , which was about to go 
to press. Already the days were longer, and there was a pleasant warmth to the sun that appeared 
between April showers. Annette had invited Lucy Kurtz for a visit. Hyde remembered meeting her in 
October at the Oldfi elds' party and hearing much about her from his sister and his aunts, but he had not 
seen her since. 

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Lucy Kurtz was tall and slim, with a mass of wavy hair, an oval face, high cheekbones, large and 
expressive eyes, a slender, acquiline nose, and full womanly lips. Annette had been particularly eager tx) 
introduce her to Douglas not only because she herself enjoyed Lucy's company 

but because she knew that he liked educated, clever, and independent women. Their Oldfield aunts also 
approved of her, which Annette took to be a good sign. Her brother Oldfield, unmarried and remote 
from his family, seemed cynical and lonely on the rare occasions when they met. She knew he had been 
disappointed in love as well as in other aspirations; she remembered his dismay in 1887 when he did not 
succeed in his application for an appointment as resident magistrate. Both she and her aunts agreed that 
little could be hoped from him. But for Douglas, who was charming and gregarious and who enjoyed the 
company of women, marriage to a compatible wife would be an advantage. Surely it would relieve their 
anxieties if he were married and settled in Ireland, for then perhaps there would be no more talk of his 
going back to America. A good marriage, they assured each other, might even help him secure the 
university position in Ireland that continued to elude him. 

Annette had anticipated the situation correctly: Douglas and Lucy were immediately attracted to each 
other. At the end of Lucy's April visit Annette prevailed on her to return in May, before she went home 
to England. After their fortnight together in May, Lucy and Douglas began to exchange letters, usually 
in German. She was a witty and charming if sometimes saucy correspondent. "Mr. Know-it-all," she 
called him, when he insisted too much on his own ideas. Hyde's diary was neglected as he devoted his 
time to their increasingly frequent playful and teasing correspondence. The only entry he made in June, 
on the twenty-fifth, began exuberantly, "ANNETTE AND MISS KURTZ CAME HOME." During July 
there was again not a single entry in his diary until two days before the end of the month when he wrote: 

I do not remember exactly what we did. . . . However, things took their course, between hope and 
despair, certainty and uncertainty, doubt and assurance, anxiety and confidence, but each day the net was 
closing about my neck until we decided firmly and finally that we were going to get married, and we 
were publicly engaged. 

As the news spread, cousins, friends, and neighbors flooded the couple with invitations to luncheons, 
dinners, and teas. To Douglas's delight he was able to arrange a lease with John French that would allow 

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them to live at Ratra, from the beginning of 1894, for fifty pounds a year. Eager to become a full partner 
in Douglas's life, on July 21 Lucy accompanied Hyde to Athenry, where they stayed with the Roches 
near Monivea and she enjoyed the company of the neighboring Dalys, 

Frenches, and B lakes while he wrote stories and songs from the mouth of an old man and spoke Irish 
with him and with other local people. On July 29 Hyde and Lucy went to Dublin. There, between 
shopping for furniture, sitting for photographs, and more visits to friends and relatives, Hyde managed to 
spend the evening of July 30 with Sigerson and O'Neill Russell and attend the short afternoon meeting 
on July 31 in Martin Kelly's rooms at 9 Lower Sackville Street * at which, almost parenthetically, the 
Gaelic League was founded. 

On August 1, Lucy sailed for England, and the furious letter writing resumed. Now their correspondence 
(usually beginning "Dear Muffin" and still almost entirely in German) was less playful, more serious. In 
one letter Lucy discreetly referred to Hyde's relationship with the Fraulein of Fredericton; in another she 
responded emotionally — "Y ou must not go to Canada without me! " — to news that again Hyde was 
considering a position in North America. Hyde filled his letters to her with a complete account of all his 
activities. Interested in everything that involved him, even the Irish language (proudly she scattered the 
phrases he had taught her through her letters and assured him that he would be astonished when he saw 
how rapidly she would learn more), she responded with comments and questions and a full account of 
her own, including her latest successes in the investment market. She had been dabbling in stocks, she 
told him — initially to the horror of her brothers — for several yeans. But as her cautious and astute 
analyses had brought her a considerable return on her money (in addition to her other attributes, she 
clearly had a good head for business), they no longer said a word against it and indeed sometimes asked 
her advice. 

Although someone had said that Lucy was "half Austrian, half West Indian," and Hyde had later 
repeated this description to John O'Leary, she was in fact, according to Diarmid Coffey, a descendant of 
"a distinguished Wiirtemberg family" that had settled for a time in Odessa before coming to England in 
1815. Among the Kurtzes who had arrived in 1815 were Lucy's great-uncle, a distinguished research 
chemist, and her father, Charles Kurtz, who was then only a boy. Charles Kurtz had been educated at 
Trinity College, where he studied chemistry; he then had gone to work for his uncle, also as a research 
chemist. According to Coffey, Lucy's great-uncle and father had prudently invested the comfortable 
fortune they earned from their profession in works of 

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* Unofficially called O'Connell Street between 1882 and 1922; officially O'Connell Street since 1922. 

art. Charles Kurtz had married a Miss Hill whose father was "an English West Indian planter of good 
family." When Kurtz died in 1880 (apparently preceded by his wife, as nothing is said of her having 
survived him) his art collection had been valued at £27,000. He had left four children, of whom Lucy 
was the only daughter and the youngest child. At the time when Lucy and Annette met in Killamey, 
Lucy already had inherited three thousand pounds from her father; still pending when she and Douglas 
married was a share of profits from property sold by the court that she would later receive. Eventually 
she became the beneficiary also of substantial amounts from the residual estates of her three brothers, 
Charles, Alexander, and Harold. 

Hyde remained in Dublin, mostly on Gaelic League business, for a few days following Lucy's departure. 
The session on July 31 (so casually mentioned in his 1893 diaiy, so significant later in restrospect) had 
been the outcome of efforts, principally by John MacNeill, to bring together a number of men with new 
ideas about how and why the Irish language ought to be preserved, it was he who had sent out a printed 
letter on June 12 to a number of people, including Hyde, asking if they would attend a planning session 
for the development of an organization to "maintain and promote the use of Gaelic as a spoken language 
in Ireland ." Hyde had responded immediately and affirmatively, in a letter that included specific 
recommendations drawn from his 1891 observations of the Irish language study groups he had visited in 
Boston and New Y ork. The emphasis, he declared, must be on the spoken language: "There is no other 
way to revive Irish," he insisted, "than for a crowd of people to spread it." He preferred, he said, five 
people speaking Irish to ten people trying to read it. 

Hyde and MacNeill met by preairangement to introduce themselves to each other in the library of the 
Royal Irish Academy shortly before the July 31 session in Kelly's rooms. Hyde was impressed not only 
by MacNeill's Irish but also by the fact tiiat while waiting for him MacNeill had been reading the Book 
of Leinster. The others they joined on Sackville Street were Martin Kelly, C. P. Bushe, J. M. Cogan, the 
Reverend William Hayden, S.J., P.J. Hogan, Patrick O'Brien, andT. O'Neill Russell. As president of the 
National Literary Society, Hyde volunteered to arrange time and space for future meetings in the 
society's quarters at 4 College Green. At the first of these, held on August 4, Hyde was elected president 
and J. H. Lloyd honorary treasurer. The first order of business, everyone agreed, was to enlarge the 
membership, so for a time they proposed to retain their Dublin base. 

Nevertheless, all sessions were to be Irish- speaking, and to encourage conversations in Irish and 

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Otherwise emphasize that Irish was a living language, the organizers agreed on a format that would 
include free admission to readings and lectures in Irish at each weekly meeting. Even before Hyde left 
Dublin to return to Frenchpark, George Sigerson, David Comyn, and Michael Cusack had been added to 
the membership list. Their support was expected. More heartening to the organizers, in the weeks and 
months that followed, was that there were raw recruits as well. This was by no means insignificant in a 
city in which, as W. P. Ryan observed, new Irish societies rose and died "with perplexing regularity." 
Writing in the Gaelic Journal in August, John MacNeill attributed the instant success of the league to the 
fact that the idea had been in the air for a long time. He cited particularly the arguments that had been 
"put forward by Dr. Hyde in New Y ork" just two years before. He emphasized that literature in Irish 
would be left in other hands — that the league would concentrate on spreading Irish as a spoken 

Before leaving Dublin, Hyde made sure that everything was in order in both the league and the Literary 
Society. By mid-August he was in Roscommon, arranging his own affairs, enjoying the shooting season 
that he had missed during the previous year, and contemplating his future. He had taken care in July, 
when he had struck his bargain with John French, to guarantee his shooting privileges over the meadows 
and bogs familiar to him from the time he had learned to hold a gun. The July 20 agreement was drawn 
up to last, with renewals, until 1910. It gave Hyde exclusive rights to shoot certain bogs near Ratra. In 
return the tenants and "occupiers" promised to preserve the game on their land for him and to keep off 
all others. For these privileges he agreed to pay eight pounds immediately and three pounds each year 
for the next four years to twenty-five tenants, all but one of whom signed with an X . 

Six weeks after his return to Frenchpark, Hyde was back in Dublin; on October 9 he sailed for 
Liverpool, where he was met by Lucy, who brought him to the home of the Caroes, the family of the 
Danish consul, with whom he was to spend the night. Hyde's diary for October 10, 1893, begins, "MY 
WEDDING DAY ." A carriage arrived to take him to the church, then returned to pick up Lucy. The 
priest, a Mr. Winslow, married them "straight out of the book" despite Hyde's request that he omit 
certain parts of the Church of England ceremony. "I got my own back on him," he wrote in his diary, 
"when I signed my name in Irish in the register." 

Douglas and Lucy spent their honeymoon in France, the country he loved best after Ireland. They went 
first to Paris where tiiey visited Douglas's favorite places, the bookstalls on the Seine and the 
Bibliotheque Nationale, as well as the new Eiffel Tower, erected for the exposition of 1889. From Paris 
they traveled south by rail to the Riviera, in part along the route he had first seen with Mackey Wilson, 
to whom he dearly wished he could introduce his new bride. In Nice they visited Sir Charles Gavan 
Duffy who was hungry for political anecdotes about Ireland. Duffy had moved to France with his wife 

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and three daughters in 1880, following his retirement as prime minister of Australia. From Nice they 
went on to Monaco for a few days and then began their return. On their way home they stopped in 
England to attend the London theater and visit Lucy's brothers. 

By November 17 Lucy and Hyde were in Dublin, visiting Hyde's Oldfield aunts and again making the 
rounds of luncheons, teas, and dinners in their honor. On November 22 Hyde recited the Irish text of 
"Monachar and Manachar," a folktale he had translated for Y eats's Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish 
Peasantry , at a meeting of the G aelic League. The next day he and Y eats attended a meeting of the 
council of the National Literary Society. A paper he had promised to read to the Gaelic League on 
November 29 had to be cancelled on account of a cold, but he attended the meeting. Thus having taken 
care of his Dublin obligations, on December 1 Hyde bought a brougham for thirty-three pounds. On 
December 3 he and Lucy received a warm welcome in Roscommon. "WE CAME HOME," began his 
diary entry for December 3. At the first crossroads out of Ballaghaderreen hundreds of people were 
waiting to welcome them with music and cheers. Across the road an arch covered with ivy carried a 
green banner reading " Failte " (welcome) in large letters. Similar arches and crowds greeted them at 
other points along the way. At the road into Ratra, under another green arch, the crowd unharnessed the 
horse and themselves drew the brougham into the yard with "such shouting and hullabaloo you never 
heard." Douglas responded with half- barrels of porter, sent out to the crowds gathered at each arch, then 
went to the glebe house to see his father. The Reverend Arthur Hyde was not well. He had been 
spending most of his time in bed, Douglas was told. One hand was badly swollen, and he had a touch of 

In December 1893, in his usual summary inserted in his diary at the end of each year, Hyde wrote, "The 
greatest thing I did in the past year — indeed, the greatest thing I ever did in my life — was that I got 

married." For the moment it seemed, at least to his sister Annette and his Oldfield aunts, that this happily 
uxorious man would remain content at home, writing his books, perhaps eventually teaching in Dublin, 
where there were again rumors of a possible future appointment. What they had not reckoned with was 
the Gaelic League, now nearly six months old and growing, against all the conventional wisdom that had 
predicted its early demise. In March 1894, when an Irish Language Congress was held in the Mansion 
House in Dublin, under the presidency of Lord Mayor Valentine Dillon, more than half the addresses 
were delivered in Irish by Gaelic League members. In September 1894 the league's first annual report 
showed that membership had grown from the nine founders who had met in Dublin on July 31, 1893, to 
three hundred men and women scattered throughout the country — and that its budget came exclusively 
from members' dues. By the beginning of its second year the Gaelic League had branches in Dublin, 
Cork, Galway, Derry, and New Ross. By its third year it had seventeen branches in Ireland, four in 

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England, and one in Scotland, while in the United States three Irish societies (in Chicago, Boston, and 
San Francisco) had all come under its umbrella. It was this continuing phenomenon that later led Y eats 
to write, in a poem addressed "Dear Craoibhin Aoibhin": 

Y ou'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? 

- - 10 The Happiest of Men - 

In January, 1894 Douglas Hyde was the happiest of men. He was married to a charming and intelligent 
young woman, a friend of his sister and a favorite of his aunts, who was interested in everything that 
interested him and whose personal income placed no strain on his own financial resources. Their home 
was Ratra, a bright and spacious Georgian house overlooking Lough Gara that he had loved as long as 
he could remember. From its windows he could see in the distance Rathcroghan, the Sligo mountains, 
and the steeple of St. Nathy's cathedral in Ballaghaderreen. The meadows and bogs that he surveyed 
were his to shoot; the neighboring cottages were those in which he had grown up, sitting by the fire, 
sipping poteen, listening to stories and gossip and song. His father was failing, but along with old age 
and infirmity had come a milder disposition that was almost gentle at times. Sitting beside his bed, 
talking about Trinity, cricket, well-known sermons by well-known clergymen, and the Cork relatives — 
the latter, vivid memories to his father, to himself scarcely more than names — Douglas often wondered 
if the stormy days of his youth had really happened or were just bad dreams, the result of eating too 
much beef or mixing wine and whiskey. 

From the day of their return home in December the Hydes were flooded with mail. Much of it was 
social, consisting of invitations and good wishes to which Lucy in her charming way quickly directed 
her attention. As soon as she could she also set about arranging the furniture, working with the 
seamstress who was making new curtains and 

cushions, writing long lists of items that were needed to stock kitchen, pantry, and cellar, and otherwise 
turning this house that Hyde had always loved into their home. His large and comfortable study was 
conducive to work. He soon had it arranged just the way he liked it, with a semiorganized clutter of 
books and papers piled on the floor around his desk, where he could easily reach them. There was no 
problem with the housekeeping staff, no series of novae ancillae . The Mahons and Morrisroes, an 
extended family of old friends whom he had known since he was a boy, lived just outside the gate or in 
the cluster of neat little houses with pretty gardens along the road. They had taken care of Ratra, house 

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and gardens, inside and out for almost as long, he imagined, as it had stood there. 

Mail that could not be answered by Lucy included letters from publishers and reviewers, people seeking 
assistance or recommendations or proposing new projects, professional friends, and fellow scholars, plus 
memoranda and notices from the various organizations to which Hyde belonged. Among the new books 
received were his Love Songs of Connacht and Contes Irlandais . Both had been published in 1893, a 
year that had gone by in such haste that even now, looking back on it, Hyde was astonished that he had 
been able to accomplish anything at all. Before him was the evidence to the contrary: reviews of Love 
Songs ; reports of business that had been transacted in accordance with resolutions that had passed at 
meetings he had attended; ongoing correspondence concerning work in progress. The earliest of the 
reviews he had in hand had appeared in the Speaker on July 13. It had been followed by reviews in the 
Spectator (August 12), the Daily Chronicle (August 21), the Belfast Irish News (August 28), the Daily 
News (September 1), United Ireland (September 2), the Weekly Sun (September 3), Truth (September 
14), the Star (September 14), and Literary World (September 29). Others he had not yet received 
included some that had been published in America. 

Earlier — last year, in fact — Hyde had received advance copies of Love Songs that he had sent to the 
usual list of friends and professional associates. Contes Irlandais , a handsome book in a gray-green 
wrapper, was one he had not previously seen. A French companion to (but not copy of) Beside the Fire, 
it contained Georges Dottin's translations of selected stories from Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta , printed 
together with the Irish on facing pages. A lecturer at Rennes and editor of the Annales de Bretagne who 
had been trained by the famous French Celticist dArbois de Jubainville, Dottin had first written to Hyde 
in 1889 or 1890, 

to compliment him on both the contents and methodology of his Irish "book of storytelling" and to 
propose a collaboration: he would, Dottin said, translate the stories of Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta into 
French for publication with the original Irish texts in successive issues of the Annales, if Hyde would 
check his French translations and read proofs of the Irish. The first fruit of this joint endeavor had 
appeared in Dottin's journal in 1892, the second in 1893. Meanwhile, Hyde himself had translated half 
the stories into English for Beside the Fire, a bilingual edition published by David Nutt in which Irish 
and English were printed on facing pages. (This was the book he had had so much trouble getting a copy 
of when he was in Canada.) Dottin, with his usual efficiency, had had his own copy sent to him in 
Rennes and — even before Hyde himself had seen Beside the Fire — had written to suggest to Hyde a 
similar French- and- Irish edition of the remaining Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta stories. This, then, was the 
handsome book in the green wrappers that Hyde had just received. Glancing through the French 
translations of his Irish texts, Hyde was again reminded of the affinity that so often in the past — first. 

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when he was just a boy — he had perceived between French and Irish. As the Irish stories had shpped 
easily into French, so his collaboration with Dottin had ripened quickly into a warm friendship. 

Little had Hyde realized when he first began working on Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta how much his "book 
of storytelling" would bring back to him. In its way it had some characteristics of the magical tales to be 
found between its covers. The publication of Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta had initiated his correspondence 
with a number of other scholars abroad, in addition to Dottin. In 1889 it had had an unusually good 
beginning sale for a book of its kind. Even now, five years after publication, it was still selling steadily, 
although of course not so well as the newer Love Songs or the bilingual Beside the Fire . He had the 
facts before him in his publishers' year-end statements for 1893. He knew, moreover, that there well 
could be an increase in its readership in the future, if the Gaelic League developed and prospered: 
O'Growney already had discussed with him his concern that, to maintain emphasis on spoken Irish, the 
league would need texts from the oral rather than the literary tradition for its beginning Irish classes. The 
Reverend Edmund Hogan (the latter's book Distinguished Irishmen of the 16th Century had just been 
announced) had written to him some years ago, before the founding of the league, about the suitability of 
Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta as a text for new students of Irish. It was a subject to discuss with 

O'Growney, who had been in Scotland in July 1893 when the league was founded, but whose 
commitment to the revival of the Irish language was so well known that he had been appointed vice- 
president in absentia and was now working on exactly this question of appropriate texts. 

The publishing project that required Hyde's attention at the moment, however, was The Story of Early 
Gaelic Literature, one of the few titles that had been salvaged from the Y eats-Duffy debacle that had 
ended with the decision to abandon the Irish Publishing Company proposed in 1892. The manuscript 
was now with Fisher Unwin; publication was scheduled for 1895. Also slated for publication by Fisher 
Unwin in 1895 was Hyde's translation The Three Sorrows of Storytelling : it was all that had come of 
the ambitious "Irish Saga series in seven or eight volumes" that he and Y eats had discussed with Gamett, 
Fisher Unwin's reader, at a long lunch in February 1892, when the Irish Literary Society had just been 
organized and everyone was optimistic about what it might accomplish. 

Some of the mail Hyde had received concerned the London-based Irish Literary Society as well as the 
National Literary Society in Dublin and the Gaelic League. Many members of the London- based 
society, it seemed, reviewing the optimistic plans of 1892, were unhappy about its current lack of 
activity. There were problems: Duffy was still president, but he lived most of the year in Nice, and in 

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any case he had become somewhat disaffected during the controversy over the Irish Pubhshing 
Company. T. W. Rolleston, who had been an efficient and active secretary, had moved to Dublin last 
summer to manage the Irish Industries Association. Rolleston had been succeeded by Alfred Perceval 
Graves in the post of acting secretary, but as so many council members were scattered far and wide 
(including Hyde himself, W. B. Y eats, and others, who were usually to be found in Ireland), Graves 
lacked a clear mandate to do anything of real significance on his own. Meanwhile the National Literary 
Society, which Hyde continued to serve as president, was apparently thriving, and he had had good news 
also of the first-year growth of the Gaelic League. Hyde believed that it would succeed, for as John 
MacNeill had said in his report of the league's first two meetings, the idea for a "more popular and 
practical" movement to revive Irish had "long been in the air." The emphasis on speaking Irish rather 
than simply talking about it, as had been the practice in the Society for the Preservation of the Irish 
Language and even to a certain extent in the Gaelic Union, had received a good response. 

So had the focus on texts from the oral rather than the literary tradition. There had not been, as some 
feared, a dearth of qualified people willing to present a short recitation or reading in Irish which others 
attending might listen to and discuss. The format adopted on August 4, 1893, provided both ample time 
for such discussion and — more important, perhaps — a common subject that subtly prescribed, for the 
benefit of beginners, the limits of vocabulary needed. The long-range plan, toward which the organizers 
wanted to move as soon as it was feasible, was to establish a branch wherever there were enough people 
to carry on a similar program, with Dublin headquarters providing whatever help was needed. 

What was popular and practical about the Gaelic League was not only its modus operandi but its 
decision to leave the preservation of the literary tradition to others and (following the course that Hyde, 
MacNeill, and O'Growney had been advocating) focus on the neglected and more seriously endangered 
state of the oral Irish tradition of native speakers. This was an aspect of revivalism with which Hyde had 
been consistently concerned even as a young member of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish 
Language, for in the Frenchpark of his boyhood he had witnessed firsthand the last days of a dying 
Gaeltacht in which each year the number of Irish speakers declined dramatically, and with them the 
number of stories, songs, and poems that were part of their heritage. Teaching Irish grammar to English 
speakers in Dublin and providing them with exercises that helped them speak Irish the way it was 
written in books was of little use in preserving the language; it did nothing at all to save the Gaeltacht or 
keep ordinary Irish people in touch with their ancient and honorable cultural heritage or provide them 
with the sense of a nation. Whatever well-meaning antiquarians and romantics might proclaim to each 
other, it could not compensate for the fact that in Irish-speaking districts, everything possible was being 
done to make native Irish speakers ashamed of their language, ashamed of the poverty and ignorance 
they were told that they brought on themselves and their children by continuing to use it, ashamed of 
belonging to an Irish nation. By encouraging the use of Irish among people of all classes, ( not as a 
replacement for English, for as Hyde had said over and over again, this was obviously both impossible 
and undesirable for practical reasons), the Gaelic League hoped to reverse the trend tiiat otherwise was 

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sure to lead to extinction of tiie language within the next generation and with it all sense of a nation, all 
personal experience as a member of a uniquely Irish civilization. 

It was the threat of this irreversible loss that Hyde had deplored privately in his diaries and publicly in 
speeches and essays ever since he himself realized what had gone from the world with the death of men 
like Seamas Hart. Its implications had led him first to collect and then to preserve through publication 
the endangered stories, songs, and poems of the Irish oral tradition. Even this, of course, was an 
expedient, as he had explained many times. In his notes to Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta, he had described in 
detail the problems of translating spoken language into the language of print. In his preface to Beside the 
Fire (1890), he had documented the ways in which "the waves of materialism and civilization combined" 
were destroying oral tradition. In his preface to Love Songs of Connacht, he had lamented the 
"unavoidable ignorance of the modem Irish idiom" among the educated Irish that had left the 
transmission and interpretation of Irish culture to native speakers, who were becoming fewer every day. 
Asa result even the "great philologists and etymologists" were now prevented, he said, from having 
direct contact with the tradition. 

What the Gaelic League proposed to do — what Hyde had advocated in many of his speeches and essays 
— was, first, to provide the kind of opportunity for instruction and practice in spoken Irish that would 
result in its more natural use outside the Gaeltacht; second, to involve the people of the Gaeltacht in this 
project; and finally, to pressure the government into improving the quality of education in the Gaeltacht 
by providing instruction in Irish for Irish- speaking children. The goals of other nineteenth- century 
societies had focused on the printed word. Whether or not these innovative ideas would work remained 
to be seen. 

In the first few years as league president, Hyde's principal task was to travel to communities that sought 
to establish a branch, address its members, meet its committees, consult with its priests, teachers, and 
civil servants, and talk informally with everyone involved, especially the young men and women. It was 
also his responsibility to identify in each community a qualified teacher of Irish who would provide 
weekly instruction for a moderate set fee. If no such teacher was available, Hyde had the authority to 
arrange for a substitute, preferably from the Gaeltacht, to come once a week to give the necessary 
instruction. Eugene 'Growney already had begun work on lessons in Irish for use by league members. 
These were being published first in the Weekly Freeman (later, in the Gaelic Journal ) and then in book 
form under the title Simple Lessons in Irish . The first books appeared in 1894, at about the same time as 
the doctors identified the cause of 'Growney 's declin- 

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ing health as tuberculosis. In October he was sent by Maynooth to Arizona where it was hoped that the 
dry air and sunshine would help his recovery. He did not improve, nor was he happy in America. In 
September 1895, after receiving the second of two sad and discouraged letters from him, Hyde wrote 
asking O'Growney to come to Ratra, where he would be well looked after and would have a home as 
long as he wished. By then, however, the disease had gone too far to permit the long and tiring journey 
back to Ireland. Thus sentenced to exile, in 1896 O'Growney resigned his post at Maynooth. He tried 
also to resign his league vice- presidency, but the Coiste Gnotha (executive committee) refused. During 
the next three years league travelers to America made a point of a going to see him if they possibly 
could. Although their reports were distressing, O'Growney did manage to continue writing occasional 
articles for the Weekly Freeman . He died in Los Angeles on October 18, 1899, leaving all rights to 
Simple Lessons to the league. For a number of years these books, continued by John MacNeill, provided 
the league with a handsome source of income. Grateful Irish Americans who knew how painful his exile 
had been raised a subscription to return O'Growney 's body to Ireland. When he was reburied at 
Maynooth in 1901 a mourning Hyde, publicly overcome by private sorrow, kissed O'Growney 's coffin 
and wiped tears from his eyes. Only the deaths of Seamas Hart in 1875 and Mackey Wilson in 1887 had 
affected him so strongly. 

In the early months of 1894, however, no one considered the consequences of losing O'Growney ; 
concern focused on the need to respond to rapidly growing public interest in the Gaelic League. Much of 
the responsibility fell upon Hyde as league president. Since she enjoyed traveling and did not like to be 
left home alone, Lucy at first accompanied him on some of his trips around the country. But she was 
now no longer particularly keen on the league. During their courtship, enthusiastic about Hyde's lectures 
and books, she had been interested in learning Irish. But at that time she had seen herself as a woman of 
independent intellect and opinion, the future wife of a scholar, moving within socially and intellectually 
sophisticated circles. Then she began to meet members of the Gaelic League who clearly did not belong 
to these circles. She had difficulty feeling comfortable among them. Their familiar manner disconcerted 
her. She could not get used to the way in which shopkeepers, civil servants, and country people spoke to 
Hyde, as if he were one of them. It astonished her that he did not mind at all. For herself, she chose to go 
to Dublin whenever he had to be away. 

But soon such travel was no longer an option, for she was expecting their first child. Isolated and 
unhappy, she developed a dislike of Ratra, Frenchpark, the whole of Roscommon, and especially of the 
Gaelic League that she never got over as long as she lived. Delighted with the prospect of parenthood, 
Hyde attributed Lucy's low spirits to the discomfort of pregnancy. He assured himself that when the 
baby was bom her spirits would improve and with it her attitude toward her surroundings. Meanwhile he 
promised her that he would again make inquiries about a possible university appointment in Dublin, 
Cork, Belfast, or Galway. Nothing developed, and after Nuala was bom Lucy did indeed feel better, but 
she remained visibly discontented in Frenchpark. Occupied with his writing and his work on behalf of 

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the league, cheered by the happy personahty of his outgoing little daughter, Hyde did not realize how 
deep-rooted Lucy's feelings were. 

On the eleventh of February, 1896, less than four weeks after his own thirty-sixth birthday, Hyde 
received word of the death of his brother Oldfield. Although they had not seen much of each other in 
recent years, Hyde was saddened by the news. He could not help but remember Oldfi eld's brilliant 
academic record, how easily he had excelled at sports, his gentle understanding when young Arthur lay 
dying in Dmmkilla. Three brothers they had been, and now two were gone. Of his father's five children 
there remained only himself and Annette. Thinking of his own children — Lucy was pregnant again, the 
baby was expected in June — he wondered what it must be like for his father to grow old and feeble 
watching his children die before him, one by one. 

In March 1896 Hyde received word of still another professorship at Trinity. Keeping his promise to 
Lucy, he applied. He had, in fact, high hopes of succeeding, for his publication record was now much 
stronger than it had been in 1891, and this time the appointment was not in modem European languages 
and literature but in Irish. George Salmon, who had provided one of Hyde's letters of recommendation in 
1891, was still provost at Trinity; Hyde fully expected that Salmon would support his candidacy. To his 
astonishment, again his application was not given serious consideration. This time, however, he was not 
left wondering why. His appointment, he learned, had been opposed by both Salmon (whom he had, he 
thought, no reason to distrust) and Robert Atkinson, professor of languages. Although willing to concede 
Hyde's scholarly qualifications, Salmon based his opposition on the fact that Hyde's chief interests were 
known to be political rather than philological. He had no doubt, he said, that if Hyde were appointed, 

he would use his position to advance his nationalist views. Atkinson's criticism was cloaked in 
professionalism. He knew nothing whatever of Hyde's political position, he maintained, but the language 
Hyde spoke was simply "baboon Irish," not anything that could be taught in a classroom. Against them, 
to no avail, Hyde mounted a barrage of supporting opinion from outstanding Celticists and historians. 
The list included Edward G wynn and William Lecky of Trinity, Kuno Meyer of Liverpool, Standish 
James 'Grady, and Georges Dottin and Joseph Loth, French scholars who had been trained in Paris by 
d'Arbois de Jubainville. Their letters were uniformly not merely approving but full of high praise. 
Evaluating Hyde's reputation in the international academic community, Meyer wrote that his 
appointment "would confer a great honor on Celtic research throughout the world." 'Grady declared 
that Hyde had the Irish language "practically and as a living tongue." When the appointment of James 
Murphy was announced in May, Hyde wrote wryly to Y eats: "They would not have me at any price and 
I fancy the worse the man was the better pleased they were, so that no attention could be drawn to Gaelic 
studies by him. Y et I had the most excellent letters from the great Gaelic scholars." 

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Stung by this rejection from what he called the "English fort in Ireland," Hyde understood at last why he 
had had no interested response from either the University of Chicago or Queens University in 1891. 
There was litUe doubt that Salmon had poisoned the waters before he had been given a chance. Y et he 
was doubly stung for the effect his defeat would have on Lucy, who, unable to conceive of Hyde's 
rejection, had been looking forward to a move to Dublin. At the same time Hyde could not help but be 
relieved that he would not have to give up Ratra. Nuala was a lovely, friendly, outgoing child. The new 
baby was approaching term. Soon, with tiie pregnancy over, Lucy would feel better. Surely it would be 
an advantage for the children to have a Frenchpark summer on the shores of Lough Gara. 

Hyde's second daughter, Una, although quieter and shyer than her sister, was an agreeable, even- 
tempered child. Hyde could not have been happier. Lucy was pleased with the baby, but her 
disappointment with her husband's failure to secure the Trinity appointment was hard to conceal. 
Characteristically, Hyde himself did not dwell on the matter but concentrated on the league, on 
additional translation projects, and on his literary history of Ireland, the long-range project on which he 
had been working consistently (although at some times with more leisure than at others) for almost 
twenty years. Rearranging priorities after 

having spent so much fruitless time on the Trinity application, he revised the welcoming speech he 
usually presented at the ceremonies that opened new branches and wrote hundreds of letters to 
organizers, priests, friends, and academic associates in Ireland, England, America, and on the Continent. 
In May 1897 the Gaelic League's first countrywide festival was held in Dublin. The purpose of this 
oireachtas was to "stimulate public interest in the Irish language movement and to encourage the 
cultivation of modem Irish." It was both a popular and a public- relations success. Hyde awarded Gaelic 
League prizes to successful competitors in seven categories, including best poem, best essay, and best 
recitation in Irish. 

Visiting the orieachtas with her family was young Mary Butler. Soon she joined Agnes O'Farrelly, 
Nellie O'Brien, Molly Kennedy, and the other Gaelic League women who for most of the term of his 
presidency provided Hyde with a strong and dependable source of friendship and support. Fifty years 
later, Mary Butler recalled her first impressions of the 37-year-old Hyde and the four-year-old Gaelic 

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I heard one of the officers of the Central Branch saying to Dr. Hyde, "I should like to introduce some 
new members to you." ... In a moment we were shaking hands with the President of the Gaelic League 
while he was saying cordially, "Welcome to Irish Ireland." . . . Strange to say, he was not very Irish 
looking. He had straight jet black hair and a heavy black moustache. His complexion was sallow, and he 
had rather high cheek bones. The eyes were the only attractive feature in his face and they made one 
forget all the rest! Their colour seemed to change like his expression, according to his mood. They 
would blaze with anger when he spoke of Ireland's wrongs, or be tender when he pleaded for the saving 
of her soul; a moment later they would be twinkling mischievously as he poked fun at some "West 

British" affectation of country people He really seemed to possess some gift of drawing people and 

captivating them, whatever it was. 

Not all those who joined the league were captivated by Hyde. Nor were they all revivalists or 
nationalists. The very success of the league, like that of the bicycle and the new European theater, meant 
that it had a faddish attraction for hundreds of young men and women drawn to it more for its collateral 
social activities than for its language classes. Some dropped out early; some got caught up in its 
activities and remained. There were also those who joined for serious reasons and left because of minor 
scraps, such as the one that divided supporters of Fainne an Lae and supporters of An Claidheamh 
Soluis, when the league shifted its official allegiance from one newspaper to the other. And then 

there were those who, from Pa Burke of Castlerea to the poet AE (George Russell), simply could not 
master the language despite their genuine enthusiasm for it. AE wrote to Hyde, "I think I will join the 
Gaelic League and learn Irish in my old age. Why the blazes was I not taught it in my childhood? I 
would like to fight in its battles and write in Irish if I could learn." Pa Burke, looking back on the ninety- 
odd years of his life from his customary vantage point, the bridge on Main Street over the river Suck that 
had been built the year he was bom, used to reminisce about the day Douglas Hyde rode into town on 
his bicycle and recruited members for a Castlerea branch of the Gaelic League. Hyde was so cheerful, 
said Pa Burke, and he had such a lively look in his eye, that all the young men thought the league would 
be great crack. And it was, partly. But the other part was hard work of a kind that, like Russell, Pa Burke 
could not do, so in the end, he declared, he left it to the scholars. 

Despite this flux and reflux the league continued to prosper beyond anyone's hopes or expectations. By 
1897 it was attacting attention abroad as well as at home, partly as a result of its own achievements, 
partly because of Hyde's scholarly reputation, especially in Celtic studies circles. Links developed 
between the league and similar organizations in Wales and Scotland. Fraternal delegations were 
exchanged with the Welsh Eisteddfod and An Mod in Scotland. In France the prospect of an Irish-led 
pan- Celtic movement appealed to Breton language revivalists who had modeled their own new 

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organization, L 'Union Regionaliste Breton, on tlie Gaelic League. (An interesting irony is tiie fact that 
tliere is evidence to suggest that the structure and goals of the league had been loosely modeled on the 
Felibrige that Mistral had founded in midcentury in Provence). In October 1898 Anatole Le Braz, 
Dottin's colleague at Rennes and another of Hyde's correspondents, was elected its director. Meanwhile 
the league's treasurer, Stephen Barrett, had had letters from two young Breton nationalist students who 
confirmed having received requested copies of O'Growney's Simple Lessons in Irish . What they now 
needed, they explained, were an inexpensive Irish dictionary and grammar and copies of the league's 
newspaper. An Claidheamh Soluis . "Like yourselves in Ireland, we have great pains and difficulties in 
the struggle for our land and our tongue, " wrote Frangois J aff renou, who shortly after became editor of 
the weekly Breton nationalist journal Le Resistance . The contribution of his co-worker, Frangois Vallee, 
was La Langue bretonne en 40 logons, an adaptation of O'Growney's Simple Lessons in Irish . 

International cooperation was the goal of the Pan-Celtic Association, whose major project in 1898-1899 
was to plan a Pan-Celtic Congress to be held in Dublin in 1900. All organizations concerned about the 
future of any one of the Celtic languages were invited to send a representative. Douglas Hyde was urged 
particularly to attend. The situation, as he knew, was delicate: some members of the Pan- Celtic 
Association were old friends of such leaders of the Gaelic League as himself, MacNeill, and Patrick 
Pearse; others had enemies on the Coiste Gnotha. Proceeding with a caution that some say only invited 
the complications that followed, Hyde asked the Coiste Gnotha for permission to accept tiie invitation he 
had received, on the grounds that it was the province of the executive committee to name league 
delegates, not the privilege of the president to assume that he was one of them. Blown out of proportion, 
the question became a matter of debate which ended with the Coiste Gnotha refusing to dispatch any 
official representative but permitting Hyde's attendance if he would establish clearly that he was present 
only as a private person. Expressing an attitude that was to continue to plague the league and often cause 
divisions from within, the executive committee issued a statement that it "would be sorry that any of 
their members should give time or money to an enterprise that could not help the Irish language." 
Determined to avoid internal dissension, Hyde reluctantiy refused the invitation to the 1900 Pan-Celtic 
Congress but privately maintained close scholarly relations with as many of the participants as he could. 

For some time before he became embroiled in the controversy over the Pan-Celtic Congress, Hyde had 
been quietly searching for the work of a blind Connacht poet, Anthony Raftery, who died in 1835, 
leaving the story of his life and the fate of most of his compositions to the oral tradition. This research 
was partly a recreational activity, as it gave Hyde the opportunity to cycle the scenic roads of Galway in 
the area of Gort. There he learned that some of Raftery 's work had been written down by Raftery 's 
admirers. Often Hyde was put on the trail of a notebook said to contain a number of poems and songs 
only to have it end at the edge of the Atiantic, the notebook having sailed with its latest owner to 
America. Then in 1897 Hyde met Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory of Coole Park, who shared his interest 
in Raftery and successfully traced one of the notebooks to the home of a stonecutter not far from her 
estate near Gort. Meanwhile, Hyde's own sleuthing in the Royal Irish Academy library rewarded him 

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with an unindexed and therefore previ- 

ously unnoticed sheaf of poems. He and Lady Gregory obtained still other poems and songs viva voce 
from storytellers who included them in their repertoire and from ordinary people who enjoyed reciting 
and singing them. One result of their efforts was Hyde's Songs Ascribed to Raftery (1903), a bilingual 
edition of Raftery 's compositions, with translations by Hyde, that included an account of Raftery 's life. 
More important perhaps were the friendships, collaborations, and working relationships that developed 
as a result of Hyde's and Lady Gregory's search, with their far-reaching implications for both the Gaelic 
Revival and the Irish Literary Renaissance. 

Lady Gregory of Coole Park was the widow of Sir William Gregory, a former colonial governor of 
Ceylon whom she had married when she was twenty-eight and he was sixty-three. Widowed at forty, she 
had during her short marriage lived a life of privilege and plenty in the highest circles of society, 
politics, and art. Although in appearance a rather plain and properly Victorian gentlewoman, as her 
recent biographer, Mary Lou Kohfeldt, reveals. Lady Gregory was in fact something of a bohemian well 
before she achieved world recognition as founding mother of the modem Irish theater, the "Presence" of 
the famous Green Room of Dublin's Abbey Theatre, a successful writer of short plays and significant 
books, and in many other respects, as Kohfeldt calls her, "the woman behind the Irish Renaissance." 
There had been at least one discreetly conducted yet wildly romantic love affair, with the poet Wilfred 
Scawen Blunt, during her short marriage; there would soon be another, with John Quinn. She was 
already Y eats's patroness, a reader well acquainted with Irish writing in English, and an admirer of 
Hyde's Beside the Fire and Love Songs of Connacht when they met. Her preference was clearly for 
masterful, charismatic, and energetic men. Her politics reflected the conservative convictions of her late 
husband, except when she was confronted directly by their implications, as often happened when she 
visited the tenants on her estate. When, as a young woman, she had listened to Gladstone's views on 
women's emancipation, and, more recently, when she had heard Balfour on the Irish Question, her 
conservatism had asserted itself. But she had come to accept if not approve the idea of Home Rule, and 
she embraced cultural nationalism wholeheartedly, having developed in her teens a rebellious taste for 
the poems of Y oung Ireland. Twice in the years before she met Hyde, on two different and widely 
separated occasions, she had tried to learn Irish and had given up. With Hyde to encourage and assist her 

O'Growney's Simple Lessons to guide her, she finally succeeded to the point of publishing her own 
English translations and adaptations of Irish literature. 

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Not since his courtship of Lucy had Hyde enjoyed such a correspondent as Lady Gregory. Her letters 
had the same sparkle, the same playful, teasing quality. "Now don't you think I deserve credit as a 
detective?" she wrote on October 23, 1897, describing how she had tracked down a shopkeeper who 
owned a manuscript in which Hyde had expressed an interest. Describing a visit to Spiddal, she told him 
how much she had regretted her ignorance of Irish when she had to enlist the help of two Irish- speaking 
schoolmasters to obtain stories for him. One of the schoolmasters had told her that he was assembling 
material for a collection of songs that he hoped to publish. She had sent him a copy of Hyde's Love 
Songs of Connacht to use as a model. To encourage her reading in Irish, Hyde sent her a copy of his 
recently published second volume of An Sgeuluidhe Gaodhealach, which contained five Irish stories 
— "very simple, and at the same time in good classical Galway Irish, so that if you are really thinking of 
learning to read the language you will probably find this as easy a stepping stone to it as you could 
have." He also promised to help find subscribers for the "Celtic theatre" that she and Y eats were trying 
to establish. 

In late December 1898, at Lady Gregory's invitation, Hyde and Norma Borthwick (who was then 
tutoring Lady Gregory in Irish and giving classes to local people in Lady Gregory's Coole Park 
gatehouse every afternoon) presented an Irish- language Punch- and- Judy show at a Christmas party for 
workhouse children. Hyde triumphed in scenes in which he scolded the baby in Irish, for many of his 
young listeners had often heard the very same words used in the scoldings they themselves had received. 
In early January of 1899 Lady Gregory sent a brace of cock to Ratra, to which Hyde replied, "Y our 
kindness pursues me even when out of sight and out of reach." On January 9 at the Kiltartan School, 
with Father Fahey, the Irish- speaking priest from Gort, in the chair, the Kiltartan branch of the Gaelic 
League held its first meeting. Hyde addressed the new branch in Irish and English in his capacity as 
league president. Although she listened carefully. Lady Gregory admitted that she had not been able to 
understand his Irish. However, when he said in English, "Let English go their road and let us go ours, 
and God forbid their road should ever be ours," she heard only too well and was in fact a bit shocked, as 
she had been assured that the league was nationalist but nonpolitical in its sympathies. If her response 

seemed naive, Hyde knew that it was also self- protective, as nationalist but nonpolitical was how she 
described her proposed Irish theater. 

Hyde encouraged Lady Gregory to keep up her study of Irish, to avoid losing the progress she had made, 
even when she was in London for extended visits. His letters to her in the spring of 1899 were well 
punctuated with Gaelic words and phrases which (like Lucy, during their courtship) she then picked up 
and made use of in her letters to him. In an eight-page letter of January 1899, he sent her a long 
anecdote, completely in Irish, about a peasant woman who lay in fear on her deathbed lest her soul be 

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taken in charge by an English-speaking priest She understood what he was doing and why it was 
successful: getting through the amusing story had been a bit of a struggle, but this kind of learning was 
pleasure, not drudgery. 

Wherever she went Lady Gregory became an ambassador for the Gaelic League. In London with W. B. 
Yeats in 1897 she wore the Gaelic League badge that she had received from O'Growney. Taking Hyde's 
advice she had brought Simple Lessons with her to work on in her spare moments, and she also had a 
copybook, inscribed "Agusta Gregore," her name in Irish, in which she faithfully wrote out her Irish 
exercises. When in 1899 the league's newspaper. An Claidheamh Soluis, began sniping at the Irish 
Literary Theatre for staging Irish drama written in English, Hyde wrote a stem note dated May 7 to John 
MacNeill, the paper's editor: "I beseech you please to say nothing in Claidheamh against the Literary 
Theatre. Many of our friends, especially Lady Gregory, are on the Executive Committee, so don't go 

against them They are not enemies to us. They are a half-way house." As proof of this statement he 

pointed out that they had also planned Gisin and Padraig for the same time, in the same theater. 
MacNeill complied with Hyde's request, but it was not the last time Hyde had to act as arbirator between 
adherents of the Irish Literary Renaissance and those committed to the Gaelic Revival. Belonging to 
both, seeing each as a support for the other, Hyde not only deplored but feared their rivalry. It was one 
reason why he had undertaken his long and serious study, nearly twenty years in work, of the literary 
history of Ireland. In this book he hoped to present evidence that all Ireland, city and country. Big House 
and cottage, Gael and Gall, had cause to identify itself with Irish culture and history. 

A work of permanent value that would do most to establish Hyde's reputation as an outstanding scholar 
but that had proved most difficult for him to bring to a close, A Literary History of Ireland was 

in 1899. As he reviewed the manuscript he was about to deliver to the publisher in April 1898, it seemed 
to him, as he complained to his friend Alice Milligan, that he was undermining all his long yeans of 
research and preparation in the haste with which he was now rushing toward publication. Confessing 
both his impatience and his ambivalence, he declared that on the one hand he hoped that he might finish 
putting the manuscript in final form by the end of the month, on the other hand he feared that fault 
would be found. In that case, he said, the book would just have to make up in volume what it lacked in 
quality. It was evident that Hyde was beginning to feel the burden of work and emotional strain that he 
had been carrying since his annus mirabilis, 1893. 

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Hyde need not have worried about the hterary history. Within a year of publication over nineteen 
favorable reviews had appeared in French, English, Irish, and American newspapers and magazines. One 
of the earliest in the New Ireland Review for July 1899, congratulated him on the "imperial manner" 
with which he had placed his work before the public, so that it could make its own judgment. His verse 
translations were praised as "uniformly excellent." Public judgment was swift: purchased, read, 
borrowed; quoted by hundreds of bank clerks, schoolteachers, priests, nuns, and civil servants; 
hyperbolically described by Patrick Pearse and others as the equal in effect of Uncle Tom's Cabin, it was 
a book for its time. Its central thesis, adapted from d'Arbois de Jubainville, was (a) that cultural 
influence conquers, and (b) that the imposition of a language on a people obliterates both heritage and 
history, for it governs the very "form of thought during every instant ... of existence." Hyde sent copies 
to 'Conor Don, MaudGonne, members of the Young Ireland group that had met in Dublin in the 
1880s, and a host of others who showered him with further words of praise for his achievement. A few 
close friends and neighbors recognized its personal stamp. They noted the names of ancestors of 
'Conor Don scattered throughout as well as allusions to places near his boyhood home, as in: "There is 
never a camping- ground of Maeve's army on their march . . . from Rathcroghan in Roscommon to the 
plain of Mochmime in Louth, and never a skirmish fought by them that has not given its name to some 
plain, or camping- ground or ford." Later, in her published memoir, Maud Gonne recalled the Literary 
History as an "inspiration" that supplied "the intellectual background of revolt." Reviewed again after 
republication, it has been described in recent years as "still unsurpassed." 

Although the period of its gestation began long before the founding of the Gaelic League, Hyde 
dedicated A Literary History to the organization that was for him "the only body in Ireland which 
appears to realize that Ireland has a past, has a history, has a literature, and the only body in Ireland 
which seeks to render the present a rational continuation of the past." The book itself he called "an 
attempt at a review of that literature which despite its present neglected position" is felt and known to be 
"a true possession of national importance." 

The restrained tone and note of sadness evident in the dedication of A Literary History no doubt 
reflected Hyde's anger and frustration with another battle in which, during 1899, he and the league were 
engaged. This time the field was education. The government had raised no great objection to the league's 
program of evening classes that by 1899 had put O'Growney's Simple Lessons in the hands of roughly 
40,000 members. But Hyde, MacNeill, and O'Growney had agreed that until access to Irish was 
guaranteed in the national schools, only a fraction of the population would have the opportunity to learn 
it — and meanwhile, with English still the medium of instruction and that instruction provided by 
teachers who spoke only English, education in the Gaeltacht was effectively no education at all for 
children who knew no language but Irish. "Hence it became," as Tomas 6 Fiaich noted in The Gaelic 
League Idea, "a primary objective of the League to ensure that the teaching of Irish would find a place in 
the normal educational system of the country, at both primary and secondary level, and if possible at 
university level as well." 

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There had been no progress with this problem at the intermediate level since 1878, when the Society for 
the Preservation of the Irish Language had successfully petitioned the Board of Intermediate Education 
to include "Celtic" as a subject (along with classical and modem languages) in which students could 
present themselves for examination. Although the decision itself had seemed a triumph at the time, 
"Celtic" was allotted fewer points than classical and modem languages, and fewer teachers of Irish were 
qualified to prepare students for examination. 6 Fiaich estimates that as a consequence rarely did more 
tiian five percent of students presenting themselves in any given year choose to be examined in Irish. 
The situation in primary schools was far worse. Although (again, largely thanks to SPIL) it had been 
established in 1879 that Irish could be taught as an extra subject outside of regular school hours, in 
practical terms so few schools offered this option that little more could be said for it than that Irish had 
been put on the books. 

In 1899, in response to pressure from the league, the government named a royal commission to conduct 
an investigation and make recommendations for change. 

To those who had been campaigning against Irish, chiefly on the grounds that enrollment figures proved 
that the public did not want such instmction and in any case the program clearly was not cost-effective, 
the appointment of a commission provided an opportunity to eliminate Irish from the curriculum. The 
assault was led by Hyde's old enemy, John Pentland Mahaffy, now professor of ancient history at 
Trinity. Mahaffy testified that teaching Irish was an impractical waste of time supported only by foolish 
sentimentalists and wild-eyed separatists anachronistically committed to repeal of the Act of Union. He 
concluded with a statement for which, Hyde surmised, Robert Atkinson had been his source: "I am told 
by a much better authority than any of them in Irish that it is almost impossible to get hold of a text in 
Irish which is not religious or which is not silly or indecent." Hyde counterattacked by sending press 
reports of Mahaffy's testimony to an imposing list of Celtic scholars in England and on the Continent, 
inviting their rebuttals. Disbelief and outrage were expressed by, among others, Owen Edwards and 
York Powell at Oxford; E. C. Stem and Ernst Windisch in Germany; Georges Dottin at Rennes, and 
Holger Pedersen in Copenhagen. From the University of Liverpool Kuno Meyer wrote that to refrain 
from teaching Irish to Irish youths who talk it as their mother tongue must be regarded as "a grotesque 
educational blunder." York Powell at Oxford concurred: "It is a good subject, a useful subject, and a 
subject that far from being discouraged, should be encouraged by any who really care for Education in 
the tme sense in Ireland." Armed with these and similar carefully measured opinions from reputable 
scholars who all attested to the educational value of Irish, Hyde appeared before the commission, 
attacked Mahaffy's allegations, and questioned the qualifications of his unnamed expert. Thus drawn 
into the fray, Atkinson came before the committee, giving a new tum to Trinity's campaign with his 

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assertion that Irish must be considered deficient as it lacked standardization of its spelling and grammar. 
He also renewed Mahaffy's charge that early Irish literature was indecent and that Hyde's collected 
folklore was "low" since "all folk-lore is at bottom abominable." The fracas spilled over onto the pages 
of the Freeman's Journal and the Daily Express . In the league's paper, An Claidheamh Soluis, Father 
Peter O'Leaiy wrote a series of articles in which he found Atkinson woefully ignorant of Irish grammar, 

larly the verb is (to be). To Atkinson's embarrassment, excerpts from his earlier published works were 
used to counter his own testimony before the commission. 

In the midst of the fray, Hyde confessed that he was afraid that Trinity's attack would "wipe out the 
language all together," but as the tide began to turn he wrote Lady Gregory in Febmaiy 1899 that "the 
intermediate battle has been fought, and I think won." He was correct in his estimate, but at least two of 
his Trinity foes remained defiant in defeat. George Fitzgerald, professor of philosophy and a former 
commissioner of education, wrote Hyde: "I will use all my influence as in the past, to ensure that Irish as 
a spoken language shall die out as quickly as possible, for I consider the G aelic League in their endeavor 
to preserve Irish as a spoken language are enemies of their country whose mischievous sentimentality 
should be denounced by all friends of Ireland." Mahaffy fired his last shot in an essay in the August 
1899 number of the Nineteenth Century entitled "The Recent Fuss about the Irish Language," in which 
he attacked "genuine enthusiasts"; politicians and "political ladies" who want to humor the people to 
whom they refused Home Rule; professional Welsh nationalists; "misguided Prelates"; and "self- 
developed enthusiasts" who teach Irish because they hope to earn their living and achieve fame by 
leading the new movement. The opposition press also had its several diehards, notably Irish Figaro, 
which on April 21, 1900, declared that Irish was "worthless" and that the victory had gone to professors 
and students of Gaelic who were greedy for jobs and remuneration: "Away with sentiment and puerile 
nonsense," it advised, "and leave the mouthing of Irish to the Douglas Hydes and George M cores of the 
day or hour or minute." 

With Irish secured in the curriculum by the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Amendment Act of 1900, 
the numbers of students presenting Irish at examinations more than trebled between 1899 and 1902. By 
1908 roughly half the secondary school students of the country were taking Irish as an examination 
subject. Never again would Irish education be the same. The implications of the league's victory over the 
Trinity dons extended into other areas as well. Aided by the nationalist fervor ignited by celebrations 
commemorating the rising of 1798, the agitation of such nationalist newspapers as Griffith's United 
Irishman and Moran's Leader, and a widespread yearning for some cause that could heal the rift 
occasioned by the fall of Pamell, public opinion had mobilized behind the language. Victory had its 

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effects on the league's lean treasury. From Patrick Ford in New Y ork came a bank draft for 

£300 in reader donations collected through his paper, the Irish World, to further the league's work. Hyde 
seized the day in a widely quoted speech in which he declared, "The cry of the next ten years must be 
'nationalise Irish education.' If our education is national, our nationality is safe and sound, if it is un- 
national, nationality is lost." Few who listened to him doubted that his next goal — whatever it was — 
would be won. Usually cautious and mild-mannered, Edward Martyn wrote Hyde that he had worried 
lest he had been too "violent" in his own letter to the press regarding the education bill, but he had now 
decided that he believed in violence when dealing with the British government. "Unless we shake up our 
rulers, they never attend to us . . . the only argument with such people is fear." 

With the literary history off his hands and Irish safely established in the schools, Hyde turned back to 
Raftery. Lady Gregory had identified the exact spot where he lay buried in a small cemetery near 
Craughwell; she also had located some additional poems. "What an extraordinary energetic scholar you 
are to find Raftery 's grave and to lay hold of those manuscripts," Hyde wrote to her. He invited her to 
compose a preface for the collected songs of Raftery, now planned as the fifth volume of his continuing 
Songs of Connacht series, to appear after periodical publication in the Weekly Freeman . When she 
declined, he dedicated the book to her and described her contribution to the collection in the preface that 
he wrote himself. Another publishing task before him was the manuscript of Ubhla de'n Chraoibh 
(Apples from the branch), a collection of thirty-three of his own poems in Irish that had appeared in 
weekly newspapers. In the preface to these poems he wrote in Irish, "I would like better to make even 
one good verse in the language in which I am now writing, than to make a whole book of verse in 
English. For should any good be found in my English verses, it would not go to the credit of my mother 
Ireland but my stepmother, England." The year had ended well, even if the themes of his little book were 
emigration, exile, defeat, and death. 

- - 1 1 Plays and Players - 

Before her marriage to Sir William Gregory of Coole Park, Lady Gregory had been Augusta Persse and 
her home had been Roxborough, a neighboring estate. Another near neighbor was Edward Martyn of 
Tullira whose distant cousin was George Moore, an established literary figure well-known in Paris cafes 
and London salons. Moore's home was Moore Hall in county Mayo, but since 1873 he had spent little 
time there, living instead first in Paris, then in London, where he saw much of Martyn. By 1900 Moore's 
published work consisted of more than twenty separate books and a number of items that had appeared 
in fashionable English periodicals. He also had written, alone and with others, a number of plays and 
librettos. In 1895 a play on which he had collaborated with Mrs. Pearl Craigie, Journey's End in Lovers' 
Meeting , had been a success of the London theater season. Martyn, who also had written plays, none as 
yet produced, often talked to Moore about play writing, showed him his works-in- progress, and even 

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invited his suggestions. One evening in Moore's London flat during a conversation about the Gaelic 
League, Martyn confessed that he wished he could write a play in Irish. As Martyn talked, Moore found 
himself increasingly fascinated by the possibilities of "a new language to enwomb new thought." 

Two years later, on one of his frequent visits to Moore, Martyn was accompanied by Y eats. They had 
come together to show Moore a proposal for an Irish literary theater which Y eats had dictated and Lady 
Gregory had typed at Coole Park. Lady Gregory's typewriter had be- 

longed to Sir Henry Layard, Sir William Gregory's closest friend; it had been given to her but a few 
months before on her forty-fifth birliiday, March 15, 1897, by Sir Henry's widow, Enid. The proposal 
Martyn showed to Moore was but the first of many items that would have astonished the conservative 
Sir Henry, a staunch defender of everything English, had he seen the uses to which his old friend's wife 
had put his prized typing machine. It described a new Irish theater society that every spring would 
perform in Dublin "certain Celtic and Irish plays" chosen to appeal to "an uncorrupted and imaginative 
audience" capable of understanding that "Ireland was not the home of buffoonery and of easy 
sentiment ... but the home of an ancient idealism." Following the example of the Gaelic League, the 
organizers appealed to all Irish people for support for a work which was "outside all the political 
questions" that might divide them. Signed by Y eats, Martyn, and Lady Gregory, it was intended to 
solicit the support of potential subscribers. 

Moore ascertained, as he questioned Martyn and Y eats about their new Irish theater, that in its first year 
it would not yet "enwomb new thought in a new language," since none of the organizers could speak (let 
alone write) more than a couple of words of Irish, yeats and Martyn assured him, however, that Irish 
plays would follow. Lady Gregory was discussing the subject witii Douglas Hyde. Not two months 
eariier at the end of the summer Hyde had joined them at a "Celtic party" at Tullira. Meanwhile, they 
avowed, there were many other English-speaking Irish like themselves who would provide an audience 
for a language, a literature, and a theater tiiat reflected their own distinctive voice. For Y eats his meant 
writing in English "with an indefinable Irish quality"; for Lady Gregory, bringing into such writing a 
consciousness of the Irish folk tradition; for Martyn, weaving together Irish past and present and 
viewing the particulars of Irish life from a broader European perspective. Moore responded especially to 
this last point. He had been trying to educate his ascetic and reclusive "dear Edward" in the ideas of 
Ibsen, Zola, and the like; in The Heather Field he thought he had seen a spark. 

The Irish Literary Theatre was the formal name of what Hyde knew and already had subscribed to as 

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Lady Gregory's "Celtic Theatre." He had promised to provide her with a list of people who might be 
interested in contributing to such a project. He also had been intrigued with her idea that the flair for 
drama and ear for dialogue that she had perceived in his poems, prose, and speeches might be used to 
produce a simple one-act play written in Irish. A series of such plays might serve 

one of the league's most important yet most difficult goals: to bring its members into closer contact with 
native Irish speakers of the Breac-Ghaeltacht those areas bordering the Gaeltacht where a degree of 
bilingualism could be found among both English-speaking and Irish-speaking Irish. It also might 
provide English speakers with insights into aspects of true Gaeltacht life that their stereotypes obscured. 

Lady Gregory's eagerness to involve Hyde in the Irish Literary Theatre stemmed in part from her 
conviction that Hyde had exactly the talent skills, and knowledge that were needed to add an Irish- 
language component to its program, in part from the fact that she genuinely liked him. She could not say 
the same, she confessed, of her neighbor Edward Martyn. The trutii is that although Lady Gregory might 
not have been fond of Martyn, he was more practical — more like herself — than she admitted. His visit to 
Moore in London, about two months after his Celtic party, had been undertaken for the specific purpose 
of drawing into the circle now consisting of himself, Y eats, and Lady Gregory a man who, like Hyde, 
could serve the proposed Irish Literary Theatre in ways that they could not. Both Y eats and Martyn had 
been involved in theater in only a marginal way. In 1894, at the Avenue Theater in London, Y eats's 
Land of Heart's Desire had been performed as a curtain raiser, first for Todhunter's Comedy of Sighs and 
then for Shaw's Arms and the Man . It had "roused no passions," Y eats readily admitted, but it had 
"pleased a sufficient minority" for it to be kept on stage throughout the period for which it had been 
booked. Of Martyn's plays. The Heather Field , although not yet produced, had been considered 
promising by Moore and others. Lady Gregory had had no previous involvement at all in the world of 
the theater, but she did have good contacts and she knew something about fund-raising. What was 
required, all agreed, was someone with practical professional theater experience — someone like Moore. 
By the time their visit was over, Martyn and Y eats had added another subscriber to their list and aroused 
Moore's skeptical if ambivalent curiosity — in the Gaelic League, as it turned out, as well as in the Irish 
Literary Theatre. 

In the months that followed, the proposal dictated by Y eats, typed by Lady Gregory, and approved by 
Martyn became their blueprint for the future. Response to their circular letter soliciting subscriptions 
was prompt and encouraging, but not yet sufficient to support production. Encouraged by Moore's 
generally favorable reaction both to the idea of the theater and to his own projected part in it, Martyn 
underwrote a first season in which his Heather Field and Y eats's Countess Cathleen 

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were offered. The week-long run in the Antient Concert Rooms in Dublin beginning May 8, 1899, was a 
success, despite problems in production (resolved by Moore) and public protests: Y eats's play was 
denounced as heretical by some members of the Catholic clergy and hierarchy because in it tiie countess 
of the title sells her soul to feed her starving people; Gaelic Leaguers objected to Irish theater produced 
entirely in English. The important thing was that crowds were at or near capacity all week and reviews 
reflected the general enthusiasm of the theatergoing public. T. P. Gill, editor of the Daily Express , gave 
a dinner in honor of the event to which, in addition to Lady Gregory, Martyn, and Y eats, were invited 
Douglas Hyde, George Moore, John O'Leaiy, T. W. Rolleston, J. F. Taylor, John Eglinton, william P. 
O'Brien, Max Beerbohm, and many others. The founders agreed that a second season scheduled to open 
on February 19, 1900, in Dublin's larger Gaiety Theatre was clearly indicated. 

Hyde could not help but be impressed by these developments and a bit sorry that he had been unable to 
contribute anything to them. Remembering the success of the Irish play that he and Norma Borthwick 
had attended in the Donegal Gaeltacht in November and the Punch- and- Judy show that they had 
presented for the workhouse children of Gort in December, he recognized the potential value of theater 
in Irish. But the phenomenal growth of the Gaelic League was taking all and more of his time. What had 
started with a single branch in July 1893 and expanded to more than forty branches by the end of 1897 
had tripled by the middle of 1899. It was difficult to keep up with just the task of officially 
commemorating the establishment of new branches, but in addition there were problems that required 
his attention. A rift was developing between the Coiste Gnotha (the executive committee in Dublin) and 
some of the larger branches that were insisting upon greater autonomy. There was continual squabbling 
among members of different Gael tachts over whose dialect set the standard by which modem Irish might 
be judged. Publication of printed material for the use, information, and enjoyment of league members 
had roused related arguments over typeface and orthography. Stung by the testimony of Trinity scholars 
at the royal commission hearings — that Irish was not a language but an inferior patois lacking in 
uniformity and consistency — zealous educators were advocating conformity to the "correct" grammar 
and usage of printed texts, although the founding purpose of the league had been to dignify and promote 
the spoken word. It was one thing to put what had been said into print, as in the Gaelic League 

pamphlets: even now the one about to be issued drew on a speech Hyde had made concerning university 
education; others scheduled to follow contained the arguments that had been presented on behalf of the 
language by himself and others before the royal commission. It was another tiling, Hyde believed, to 
make printed texts the authority for "correct" conversational Irish. 

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Lady Gregory continued to press Hyde on the subject of a little play in Irish — perhaps for the 1900 
program. He continued to make his excuses: There was Ubhla de'n Chraoibh , the little book of poems to 
which he was now putting the finishing touches; there was the continuing task of editing and translating 
Raftery's songs and poems. There was also, although he said little about it the matter of Lucy's chronic 
poor health. Remembering his own experiences with local doctors (including his uncle- by- marriage, Dr. 
Cuppaidge), Hyde was unwilling to accept their judgment that nothing was tiie matter with her. He had 
asked George Sigerson, an old friend and respected Dublin physician, a specialist in neurology, to 
examine her. 

In August of 1900, six months after the Irish Literary Theatre scored its second success (albeit without a 
play in Irish), Lady Gregory invited Hyde and Lucy to spend a few days at Coole. She had ordered a 
headstone for Raftery's grave; she needed help in arranging a ceremony that would establish an annual 
feis in Raftery's honor; she wanted to discuss the Celtic sagas that she had agreed to retell in English for 
book publication. She also intended to talk again to Hyde about his contributing a play in Irish to the 
repertoire of the Irish Literary Theatre. There would be but a small house party, she had indicated, in 
response to Hyde's concern over Lucy, perhaps just the three of them and Willie Y eats. But Hyde knew 
that at Coole it was never possible to predict just how many would arrive in the morning or sit down 
together for an evening dinner or come and go unexpectedly in the middle of the afternoon. It was only 
possible to say that the conversation, whatever its source, would be interesting. The tablets and powders 
Sigerson had prescribed seemed to be having a good effect. He pressed Lucy to accompany him and was 
pleased when she agreed. 

Early on August 26 the Hydes set out by train for the meeting at Craughwell and the visit to Coole Park. 
As tiieir carriage reached the familiar road leading to the Coole estate, Douglas identified for Lucy the 
lanes he had cycled while collecting the poems of Raftery. Along the avenue the carriage passed under 
arching ilex trees reminiscent of the arching boughs draped with the banner reading " Failte " that had 

welcomed Hyde and Lucy over seven years ago, when they had arrived in Frenchpark to take up 
residence in Ratra. He told her of the Seven Woods with their phonetically spelled Irish names: Kyle Na 
No ( caoile na cno , "nutwood"), Shanwalla ( seanbhaile , "old home"), Kyle Dortha ( caoile dorcha , 
"dark wood"), Pairc Na Tarav ( pairc na tairbh , "bull field"), Pairc na Carraig ( pairc na carraige , "rock 
field"), Pairc Na Lee ( pairc na lao , "calf field"), Inchy ( inis taoide , "tidal island"). Then suddenly, as if 
it had appeared on cue, there was the house itself, its geometric lines contrasting with the curving drive, 
the arches of ilex, and the unpruned fullness of the beeches. Taking Lucy's hand, Hyde helped her from 
the carriage. Very elegant she was, as always, in her stylish hat and well-tailored traveling suit that 
emphasized her slender waist. Like Lady Gregory, Lucy favored black, but the cut and style of her 

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clothing made clear that her choice was based on fashion in dress, not convention in mourning. 

Lucy and Hyde found Coole both gracious and charming. Its spacious, airy rooms were fragrant with 
flowers from the splendid gardens of which Lady Gregory was justly proud. Willie Y eats was there 
before them. Tall, thin, and nervous with dark, unruly hair, a pale complexion, and an abstracted look in 
his eyes, he seemed acutely conscious of the fact that he was both resident poet and housepet. Lucy took 
an instant and permanent dislike to him, which he in his absentminded manner probably did not notice. 
In any case, as neither had any reason to be concerned with the other beyond polite nods of greeting or 
parting, her dislike of him hardly mattered. She preferred the small, plump, slightly imperious but 
unfailingly cordial Lady Gregory. Her house was pleasant; her servants were well-trained and attentive; 
and the guests who came and went during the next few days were friendly and agreeable. Hyde, 
immediately at home, plunged into discussions of Irish folklore, principally with Y eats, and of Irish 
saga, principally with Lady Gregory. When talk turned to matters that did not interest her, Lucy sat 
outdoors, reading a book, or excused herself and went to her room to lie down. She no longer entered 
into conversations with the same enthusiasm and self-confidence that had made her such a favorite with 
Hyde's sister Annette and his Oldfield aunts when they had met her in Killamey. It was better in any 
case that she not get involved. It was sometimes hard for her to repress the tinge of sarcasm that now 
often colored her remarks. She had come to resent these Irish members of literary and nationalist 
organizations who took so much of Douglas's time yet gave so little in return. She often complained to 
him that he 

had allowed himself to be exploited to the detriment of his professional career. 

By August 27 Y eats and Hyde had narrowed their subject to one Irish folktale in particular, "Casadh an 
tSugain" (The twisting of the rope), which both admired but each interpreted differently. Y eats had 
incorporated references to its well-known story (of how the people of a Munster village tricked a 
Connacht poet bent on seducing a village woman) into his Red Hanrahan poems; Hyde had printed a 
version of it in verse in his Love Songs of Connacht . By August 28 Y eats had sketched a scenario based 
on their discussion. Taking Y eats's scribbled notes to his room, Hyde closeted himself for two days, 
forgoing shooting, conversation, walks of them. Lake in the afternoon of August 29 he put the finishing 
touches to his manuscript. Then, so tired from this concentrated effort that he confessed to himself that 
he felt rather ill, he dressed and joined the others for dinner. A bottle of champagne provided by Lady 
Gregory to celebrate the event helped restore him in both body and spirit. On August 30 and 31, 
translating into English, Hyde began dictating his play to Lady Gregory, who had offered to make a 
clean copy of it on Sir Henry Layard's typewriter. That evening Martyn came to dinner and Hyde read 
him the translation of his play; Martyn was pleased with it. On August 31, Lady Gregory having finished 

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her typing, Hyde returned to his room and wrote part of another play. 

Hyde's simple one-act dramatization of the story "The Twisting of the Rope" combined Hyde's and 
Y eats's differing concepts of the folktale in a comedy first published in the October 1901 issue of 
Samhain and first produced — together with Diarmuid and Grainne , a collaboration between Y eats and 
Moore — on October 21, 1901, in the Gaiety Theatre. Diarmuid and Grainne was played by Benson's, a 
company of professional actors. Hyde played the part of Hanrahan in Casadh an tSugain . Other roles 
were performed by members of the Keating branch of the Gaelic League. 

Hyde was happy with the results of this first pi ay writing effort. In his diary for October 21, 1901, he 
noted that the Keating branch actors had become so personally involved in making the play a success 
that they had supplied or made their own costumes. He himself, despite his usual frugality, paid four 
pounds to a man who supplied the scenery. When the curtain rose, he wrote, still filled with the 
excitement of the event, "we could see nothing, but went gaily through our piece without a trace of 
nervousness and the audience loved it. The house 

was packed to the doors, and they all said that they preferred 'Casadh an tSugain' to 'Diarmuid and 
Grainne' Reviews were generally excellent. The nationalist papers were wildly enthusiastic. Writing in 
the United Irishman of October 26, 1901, Frank Fay declared the evening "a memorable one for Dublin 
and for Ireland." The Irish language had been heard on the stage of its "principal metropolitan theatre"; 
"A Nation Once Again," Thomas Davis's rousing lyric set to music, had been sung within its walls. In 
contrast, he wrote of Diarmuid and Grainne , "the greatest triumph of the authors lies in their having 
written in English a play in which English actors are intolerable. . . . The stolid English temperament 
was ... at variance with what we wanted." It was a message not lost on the organizers of the Irish 
Literary Theater, soon to be re-formed as the Irish National Dramatic Company and then the Irish 
National Theatre, who thereafter used only Irish actors. As for Hyde, he was of course delighted with 
these reviews but what particularly pleased him were the comments on his acting. It had been more than 
ten years since he had appeared on the stage of the Mosaic Club in The Heir-at-Law and The Liar . He 
had had good notices then. Now the Freeman's Journal saluted him as "a bom actor . . . whose eloquent 
tenderness to Una threw into strong relief the fierce savagery and scorching contempt with which he 
turned on Seamus and his friends." 

Hyde's Casadh an tSugain was an immediate popular success. It drew on the Irish tradition of paying 
extravagant respect to a poet; it echoed the people's fear of the poet at the bottom of that respect — the 

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same fear later described by Tomas 6 Crohan in The Islandman : "He's a great poet and maybe he'd 
make a rann on you that would stick to you forever, if you were to anger him." It invoked the memory of 
Finn, a popular hero of Irish folklore, with its description of Hanrahan as like "Ossian after the Fenians." 
In Hanrahan's derisive song about Munster people who "cannot even twist a sugaun," and Seamus's 
triumphant final line ("Where's Connacht now?"), it played up, to the amusement of its audiences, 
provincial rivalry and pride. Its artifact from the Gaelic past — the straw rope with which the Munster 
villagers tricked the Connacht poet — offered an ironic element lost on neitiier country nor town 
audiences. The linking of Una's name with that of Helen of Troy ("my fine Helen," Hanrahan calls her) 
and allusions to the elopement motif in the Ulster tale of Deirdre and Naoise presented Gaelic myth as 
the equal of that of the Greeks, a comparison Hyde never had failed to make even before he had heard 
Standish 'Grady's persuasive arguments on the subject. 

In the years that followed, Casadh an tSugain was frequently presented by both professional and amateur 
players in the original Irish and in English translation. It was but the first of Hyde's plays, yet it had all 
the qualities that assured his success as a playwright: his delicate sense of the parameters of language; 
his ability, evident in childhood, to orchestrate language for maximum effect; its introduction at a time 
when thousands of leaguers who had progressed through O'Growney's Simple Lessons were eager for 
Irish plays that they could enjoy and tiiat also could give them the sense that through language they were 
now truly in touch with their Irish culture. The simplicity of Hyde's plays also encouraged other aspiring 
playwrights to try their hand at writing skits and one-act plays and eventually full dramas in Irish. 
Amateur dramatic societies welcomed the chance to perform in such plays, which also became a popular 
feature of the annual oireachtas . 

Meanwhile, noting the direction in which the cultural life of his native country appeared to be moving, 
George Moore, still living in England, began to take a greater interest in both the Irish Literary Theatre 
and the Gaelic League. In 1898, moving quickly to avert disaster, he had taken over as director of 
Martyn's Heather Field , then in rehearsal in London (together with Y eats's Countess Cathleen ) for the 
Irish Literary Theatre's 1899 Dublin season. After the success of The Heather Field he had spent the 
summer of 1899 at Coole Park, working with Y eats on a much-needed revision of Martyn's Tale of A 
Town , scheduled for production in February 1900 in the Literary Theatre's second annual program. To 
Martyn's dismay, both Y eats and Moore had judged it hopeless in its present state. With Martyn's 
permission — he insisted only that his name not be used — it appeared as The Bending of the Bough by 
George Moore. By that time, outraged by the British army's conduct in the Boer Wars, Moore had 
decided to move to Dublin. He was still fascinated with the idea of a new language to enwomb new 
thought. Whether or not he could learn Irish himself (he had begun to have his doubts), he would, he 
avowed, continue to embrace Hyde's concept of a country enriched by its two languages. Giving up his 
flat in London, he installed himself in a charming house with a very large garden on Dublin's Ely Place, 
within easy walking distance of Stephen's Green and the Shelboume Hotel. 

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Within montlis of the premiere of Casadh an tSugain , Hyde finished his second play in Irish, An 
Tincear agus an tSidheog (The tinker and the fairy), begun on August 31, 1900, when the excitement of 
having written his first play was too strong to allow him to concentrate on 

much else. Based on a folktale, it tells the story of a fairy queen condemned by a jealous rival to old age 
and death unless she could, in her last hour, persuade a man to kiss her. In a bold move, Moore proposed 
to turn his beautiful garden for one day into an outdoor theater for the premiere performance of An 
Tincear . He would also, he said, host an elegant by-invitation-only reception for more than three 
hundred guests; review the English translation of tiie text; suggest substantive revisions on the basis of 
his reading of the English translation; and direct the production. The purpose of his plan (amusing to 
some, diabolical to others) was to force recognition of the Irish language by taking it out of the cottages, 
huts, and hovels of the Gaeltacht and making it the focus of a major event of the Dublin social season. 

Delighted with Moore's plan as well as his purpose, Hyde at first looked forward to the event, set for 
May 19, 1902. It was arranged that Belinda Butler would translate the Irish script into English for Moore 
to read. Hyde, as agreed, began to rehearse the part of the Tinker; he was joined by Sinead Ni 
Fhlannagain (later the wife of Eamon de Valera) in the role of the Fairy. But as May approached, Hyde 
began to dread Moore's almost daily letters. At first these contained only suggestions for minor changes 
in the text and such queries as whether the meter should be preserved in the English translation and if the 
dialogue might not be lengthened: the sort of thing, Hyde told himself, that one might expect from a man 
who was first and foremost an experienced and successful writer whose particular interest for many 
years had been aesthetics. Hyde not only accepted much of Moore's advice but acknowledged that his 
opinions had merit. He only wished there could be fewer letters. Real difficulties arose when it became 
obvious that the two men differed in their concept of the Tinker and therefore on the content of the 
Tinker's final soliloquy. Of the final scene, Moore wrote, "He is abstract humanity, and you can make 
him say what you like regardless of individual limitations." Hyde was patient witii Moore, but he 
understood his audience. What he needed, he knew, was not an abstraction but a flesh-and- blood tinker. 
Finally, just as Hyde was running out of patience, peace returned, for details of the reception diverted 
Moore's attention. Tincear was performed as scheduled on May 19, 1902, in a much- publicized and 
highly successful by-invitation-only social event. Play and reception, author and director, were warmly 
praised. The Tinker and the Fairy were congratulated on their performances. Irish- language theater had 
come of age in Ireland. 

In quick succession, from 1901 to 1905, Hyde wrote the series of 

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plays that he had conceived as forming the core of a repertoire for Irish-language drama. Each was also 
available in English; many were printed in both Irish and English in current periodicals. An Posadh (The 
marriage) was presented at the Connacht feis in Galway in August 1902, witii Hyde in the role of Blind 
Raftery. The idea for it had come from a tale told to Lady Gregory, about how Raftery had come to a 
poor cottage where two young people were to be married, and how by his song and laughter he "had 
made a feast where no feast was." Like Casadh an tSugain , the play calls for a country setting (a cabin 
kitchen) and three main characters plus "the neighbors." An Posadh , again like Casadh an tSugain , 
focuses on the traditional fame and power of the Gaelic poet, a rich source of story and history familiar 
in Ireland that owed nothing to English culture. Observing Hyde in the role of Raftery in a Rotunda 
production in February 1903, the inveterate Dublin theatergoer Joseph Holloway recalled that he 
"looked the part to the life" and enacted it "capitally," even to the "natural" way in which he ate a boiled 
egg. (Hyde credited the verisimilitude to the fact that he had gone on stage without having had a chance 
to eat dinner.) 

In late August of 1902 Hyde was again in Coole Park. His diary entry in Irish for August 25, 1902, 
reads, "They shoved me into my room and I wrote a small play in three or four hours on Angus the 
Culdee." Entitled An Naomh ar larraid (The lost saint), it was published in the 1902 issue of Samhain 
and performed in early 1903. A first attempt to adapt for popular theater themes and characters from the 
Irish manuscript tradition, it drew upon Hyde's reading and research in ninth-century monastic 
Christianity, especially the legends that had been woven around the figure of Aongus Ceile De (Gengus 
the Culdee). In Hyde's simple and stirring modem miracle play, a reworking of an incident from the 
saint's life as recorded in early Irish hagiography, the "holy saintly man" disguised as Cormacin (a "poor- 
looking, gray old man" who grinds meal and minds ovens) intercedes with God on behalf of a slow- 
witted student who has been kept at his desk because he was unable to recite correctly a verse from the 
saint's ancient feilire , or calendar. Admirably suited for performance by children, it adheres to a formula 
developed by Hyde especially for amateur productions: its simple setting is a country schoolroom, and 
the action is carried by three main characters (two adults and one child), yet the stage instructions 
provide the opportunity to include as many "other children" as there are players available. Encouraged 
by the ease with which An Naomh had almost written itself, Hyde decided that his next subject 

would be the Nativity; his source, a medieval miracle play. Although now it seemed that his muse 
resided in what had become "his room" at Coole, he could not begin it at once. Guests already were 
arriving for the feis at Raftery 's grave that had been scheduled for August 3 1 . 

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The feis was itself a theatrical production of soris on which Lady Gregory, assisted by Hyde, had been 
working for two full years, although this fact was discreetly concealed on the handsome program that 
contained only the names of the local committee. It was, as it was designed to be, an Irish affair, 
complete with prizes for Irish singing, dancing, storytelling, and flute playing. Its stated purpose, printed 
near the top of the program, was "to perpetuate the memory of Raftery, the Connacht poet, and aid the 
revival of the Irish language." Added at the bottom was the hope that this "little Feis" might "do 
something to keep alive ... the language of Patrick, Brendan, and Colman MacDuagh, of Brian 
Borumha, Owen Ruadh, and Sarsfield, and to drive from our homes the tongue of Henry VIII, Elizabeth, 
and Cromwell." In the crowd that gathered, in addition to Lady Gregory and Hyde (by now familiar 
figures in Craughwell), were W. B. Y eats, his brother. Jack B. Y eats, his father, John Butler Y eats, and a 
stranger — an American lawyer by the name of John Quinn who was making his first trip to Ireland and 
who was avidly interested in Irish writing, theater, and art. After the program at the graveside these 
guests of Lady Gregory returned with her to Coole, where Hyde read his play in Irish and John Quinn 
was invited to add his initials to those which other favorites of Lady Gregory had carved in the bark of 
the Coole Park beech tree. Eager to return to his playwriting, Hyde was not yet aware of the significance 
those initials would assume in the lives of everyone present, including himself. 

Drama Breithe Chriosta , Hyde's nativity play, was finished within the month that followed and 
published in the Christmas, 1902, double number of the Weekly Freeman , accompanied by a translation 
in English by Lady Gregory. There was trouble about it almost from the start. A 1904 performance 
scheduled for Christmas had to be cancelled when it became the subject of a resolution passed by priests 
in Kilkenny, criticizing some questionable passages that they perceived as causing possible confusion 
between superstition and dogma. Continually refused for six years thereafter. Drama Breithe Chriosta 
finally had its premiere at the Abbey Theatre in January 1911, with Sara Allgood as the First Woman, 
Maire O'Neill as the Second Woman, and Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh as Mary. The Abbey sets were 
designed by Robert 

Gregory, Lady Gregory's son. The production charmed both audiences and reviewers. Other productions 
followed. For almost a quarter of a century — until the offending passages were blacked out in a school 
edition of the play printed in 1935 — no one took notice of the problem that had troubled the Kilkenny 

Hyde's next play, also written at Coole in 1902, was Teach na mBocht (The poorhouse), a short, 
appealing comedy which Lady Gregory translated as The Poorhouse and later reworked and expanded to 
produce The Workhouse Ward . It was followed in 1903 by a maverick in Hyde's canon, a sharply 
satirical bilingual play not unlike the later bilingual satires of Brian 'Nolan (especially those written 

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under his pseudonyms, Myles na gCopaleen and Flann O'Brien). - An Pleusgadh na Bulgoide, or The 
Bursting of the Bubble was cleariy intended not for Hyde's usual audiences but for more sophisticated 
theatergoers familiar with the opposing sides in the continuing battle over education in Irish; its targets 
were easily identified by them as Mahaffy and Atkinson, the Trinity professors whom Hyde had 
correctly identified as prime enemies of tiie Irish language. "Bulgoide/' in fact as the "notes" to Hyde's 
Irish text point out is suspiciously similar to "Trionoide," Irish for "Trinity/' and two of the major 
characters of the play are called Magaffy and Hatkin. Moreover, in their dialogue with the lord 
lieutenant Magaffy and Hatkin are given lines that only slightly exaggerate the charges made by their 
real-life counterparts in their 1899 testimony before the Intermediate Education Commissioners, of the 
implausibility of identifying Irish as a bona fide language and the vulgarity and obscenity of its 
literature. The play's Sean Bhean Bhocht or Poor Old Woman (a traditional symbol of Irish Ireland), 
whose curse ("that the thing which in this world ye most loathe and dread shall instantly come upon 
you") forces all the Bulgoide professors to speak Irish, is not the old hag of Y eats's Countess Cathleen 
(who becomes a beautiful young queen when she wins the pure and devoted love of the young men of 
Ireland) but the fierce woman of "The Shan Van Vocht" a nineteenth- century ballad that commemorates 
the rising of 1798. 

Hyde's next play, also written in 1903, was based on a folktale account of James II's escape from Ireland 
in a barrel. Although it was first published in the Christmas 1903 number of the Weekly Freeman and 
had since been reprinted in both Irish and English, there is no record that Ri Seamus (King James) was 
ever performed, perhaps because by then Dublin Castle had identified the league as a subversive 
organization and had begun to keep a file on its activities. Lady 

Gregory's The White Cockade , however, a dramatization of the aftermath of the Battle of the Boyne and 
the cowardly flight of James II, first produced by the Abbey in 1905, contains a central comic scene 
clearly modeled on Hyde's Ri Seamus in which King James hides in a barrel from the Irish soldiers he 
has deserted. 

In An Cleamhnas (The matchmaking), first published in two parts in December 1903 and January 1904, 
Hyde returned to the life of the Irish cottager, the subject of his first play writing successes — but with a 
difference. Half-serious, half-comic, it takes a sharp, satiric look at the hard bargaining that goes on 
between a country father, Patrick 6 Malain, and his old crony, Peter 6 Gioblan, over a proposed match 
between Patrick's daughter, Kate, and Peter's son, young Peter. Kate's own wish, ignored by her father, is 
that she might marry Diarmuid, a young man who also has the approval of Maire, Kate's mother. Kate 
gets her wish, but only because of a transparent trick played by Maire that emphasizes how differently 
things turn out in real life. The same bitterness is evident in Hyde's last play written before 1905, 

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Maistin an Bhearla (The mastiff of the Enghsh language), in which the target is again the Irish 
educational establishment this time at the primaiy-school level, represented by the cruel schoolmaster 
who beats Irish-speaking children, bullies their parents, and justifies his behavior as merely fulfilling 
government requirements. Unsuccessful as a play, this diatribe is evidence of how deeply bruised Hyde 
felt by other events, outside the theater, with which he had been coping between 1900 and 1905. 

- - 12 The Larger Stage - 

For Douglas Hyde, preoccupied with the new Irish theater, the success of his plays, and the growth of 
the Gaelic League, recognition that some things were going awry dawned slowly. Between 1893 and 
1899 he had come to think of himself as the happiest of men. On January 17, 1900, when he turned 
forty, he was, in the opinion of those who knew him well, a practical, adaptable, resourceful, and 
optimistic leader. His best asset, as described by one acquaintance, was his "superb and adroit capacity 
for making the best of an opportunity." He might have been more wary of the twentieth century had 
flashes of lightning or claps of thunder instead of minor cracks and distant rumblings signaled that his 
life was about to change. 

There had been, for example, the hearings before the Royal Commission on Intermediate Education in 
1899. Everyone had thought that their purpose was to strengthen an 1878 ruling concerning instruction 
in Irish that was not being enforced. Then Mahaffy, attacking the small ground that had been won 
twenty-one years before by the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language, had suddenly 
succeeded in changing the issue to whether there should be such a ruling at all. Momentarily caught off 
balance, complainant had unexpectedly become defendant, but Hyde had recovered quickly and 
marshaled such support from so many distinguished scholars that in the end the Intermediate Education 
(Ireland) Amendment Act of 1900 seemed to have put the Irish language in a better position than ever 

Then, even as Hyde had incorporated this experience into the 

speeches he made, welcoming new branches into the League — even as he was editing for a Gaelic 
League pamphlet the arguments in favor of the language that he and his blue-ribbon referees had 
presented to the commission — there were distant rumblings. They came from restless leaguers who, 
agreeing with Hyde's estimate of the league's strength and accomplishments, challenged his continuing 
policy of nonconfrontation with British authorities. True, they said, nine men had met on July 31, 1893, 
in Martin Kelly's rooms at 9 Lower Sackville Street to found the Gaelic League, and current membership 
stood at between 10,000 and 12,000. Y es, even with only nine members the league had not defined itself 

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narrowly but had sought to represent a cross section of Irish society, and now at the turn of the century 
its strength was its broad base of Catholics and Protestants, nationalists and Unionists, landlords and 
tenants, civil servants and schoolteachers, old and young, women and men, all working together. And 
yes, when these women and men looked at what they had accomplished in seven short years, what they 
saw, as Hyde proclaimed, was a network of organizers, traveling Irish teachers, strong local committees, 
and rank-and-file members who had by their own efforts set up classes in spoken Irish and Irish music, 
dancing, and sports. It was indeed the general membership, these leaguers confirmed, that had fostered 
the spread of literacy in Irish in both Irish- speaking and English-speaking areas. It was they who, 
working together, had established a publishing program that included a league newspaper, league texts 
to help them learn, improve their Irish, and teach their families and neighbors, and league pamphlets that 
countered the propaganda of their enemies and kept their members informed. Through local and regional 
feiseanna and through the annual oireachtas the league had brought to its members enjoyment and pride 
in being Irish and living an Irish life. If Hyde himself had said that all these things were so, why, these 
discontented leaguers asked, did he insist that they must continue to avoid confrontation with the British 

Many leaguers could not understand why Hyde opposed the mail-in-Irish campaign. They deeply 
resented tiie ruling enforced by the British postal system in Ireland that all letters and packets must be 
addressed in English. Speaking from his lecture platform, Hyde had urged his fellow members of the 
league to keep alive their language and culture, to speak Irish among themselves at every opportunity, to 
sing Irish songs and tell Irish stories, and even to write to each other in Irish. But, they asked, must tiiey 
then send their Irish letters to each other in enve- 

lopes addressed in English? If the Gaelic League could fight for education in Irish in the schools, why 
not, they asked, fight for the right to send letters and packets addressed in Irish through the Post Office? 

For Hyde the answer was, as the old storytellers would say, ni hansa — not difficult to relate. The 
Intermediate Education (Ireland) Amendment Act had been worth the risks presented by the royal 
commission hearings. Victory had assured the Irish people that within the educational system Irish could 
grow and spread in response to popular demand. Whatever it had cost to wage the battle against the 
Trinity dons had been an investment in shaping the attitudes of the young and therefore the future of the 
Irish nation. He was not willing, however, to jeopardize the league's prospering position for any lesser 
cause, especially one that could be used against them to their detriment. To be sure, the mail-in-Irish 
campaign that restless leaguers were advocating (indeed, already had begun on their own) had raised an 
issue that some day would have to be confronted. But if the Post Office refused to handle letters and 
packets addressed in Irish and league members insisted that only Irish be used on league mail, the result 

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would be a disruption of communications among league branches and a crippling of league efforts to 
raise much- needed funds. 

Earnest leaguers eager for another victory could not understand such caution in the man who had been a 
founder of their organization and the author of its policy of deanglicization, especially as among 
themselves they were discovering new, young leaders who disagreed with him. They continued their 
mail-in-Irish campaign. It was the first serious challenge to Hyde's policies and leadership. 

What Hyde understood, of course, but could not convince protesting leaguers to accept was that by 
insisting on the right to address envelopes in Irish, they were touching a sensitive nerve that affected not 
just British government in Ireland but the entire British Empire. One of the strengths Hyde brought to 
his position as president of the league was that he had only to repress An Craoibhin and assume 
momentarily the persona of the son of the rector of Frenchpark to see how the Ascendancy viewed such 
matters. For decades, for example, as he knew well, the British postal system had prided itself on the 
speed and efficiency of its worldwide service. It was the primary channel of communication in the 
largest and most widely dispersed bureaucracy the world had ever known. It employed thousands of 
civil servants with titles such as postmaster, sub- postmaster, inspector, surveyor, surveyor's assistant, 
clerk, telegrapher, and sorter who obtained their jobs through a political 

patronage system that rewarded loyal citizens of country, colony, and distant outpost. It was an 
instrument of British policy through which the government provided support for factions and classes that 
it wanted to foster and denied it to those it wanted to weaken or render invisible. There was no doubt 
that a campaign to allow addressing in Irish would be seen by the Post Office as an overt threat to the 
entire system in all its ramifications. Bilingualism in Ireland was not British policy. Irish might be taught 
in schools — a postal clerk who knew Irish might be useful in an Irish- speaking area when a monolingual 
person needed assistance or the odd letter addressed in Irish slipped through the cracks — but it was not 
officially recognized for government use. If the Irish were to win the right to mail letters and packets 
addressed in Irish within Ireland, it would mean that they would be able to send such letters and packets 
through the entire British postal system. The Post Office would have to hire people competent in reading 
and writing Irish not just to assist an occasional customer but to sort and deliver mail. It would have to 
violate government policy, which did not recognize Irish as an official language. 

Leaders of the mail-in-Irish campaign were not persuaded by Hyde's argument that because the league's 
policy of avoiding direct confrontation with British authorities had proved so successful in the past, it 

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should not be abandoned in the future. Many openly resented his declarations on the subject. Underneath 
all, some quietly reminded others, An Craoibhin was, of course, not really one of them but the son of the 
Protestant rector of Frenchpark. He was, moreover, a kinsman of Lord de Freyne, whose treatment of the 
Frenchpark tenantry had become a public scandal. And in his youth he had been a protege of Charles 
Owen 'Conor Don, the man descended from an ancient and honorable Celtic family who once had had 
the respect of his countrymen but now, in his opposition to land reform and tenant relief, revealed, they 
said bitterly, the soul of a landlord. It was not that they suspected Hyde's loyalty — they were confident 
that he was a committed nationalist (many said he was a sworn Fenian) — but all the same, they told each 
other, there was no mistaking the fact that he still had a lot of the country squire in him. How much 
further could they follow him, they asked themselves, if he continued to insist on avoiding open 

At home in his study at Ratra, Douglas Hyde was disturbed by the distrust and dissension that seemed to 
be increasing all around him. At the same time he was preoccupied with the implications of Lucy's 
persistent illnesses. Through the winter, spring, and summer of 1900 her 

condition had steadily declined. Her numerous symptoms, which had puzzled other doctors, had 
prompted Dr. Sigerson to prescribe a bewildering variety of remedies, including steaming, tincture of 
iodine, Vichy water, poultices of turpentine and mustard, a tonic, and a half-drop of belladonna every 
quarter hour until six or eight in the evening. What was to become of her, of him, of their children, and 
tiieir home at Ratra, Hyde asked himself, if she continued in this semi-invalid state? He had been assured 
that there was no question of life or death. That, at least, was a comfort. But poor Lucy was so miserable 
most of the time. Where would he turn if Sigerson's prescriptions did not bring some relief? In 
December 1900 Hyde sent Lady Gregory a packet of his early work: "Irish songs I made, some of them 
twenty years ago, and printed in various places." With it was a wistful request tiiat she, his trusted friend, 
keep these manuscripts for him until such time as he felt he could retrieve them, for he liked to think that 
he might rewrite and republish them some day. 

Three months later, on Monday, March 25, 1901, the skirmishing of the mail-in- Irish leaguers expanded 
into what became a long and costly battle between the Post Office and the Gaelic League. The first shot 
was fired when Thomas O'Donnell, an Irish M.P., stood up in the House and asked why a circular had 
been issued to Post Office officials, directing them to regard all letters with Irish superscriptions as 
insufficiently addressed. O'Donnell, who previously had signed his name in Irish on the parliamentary 
roll and had attempted to give his maiden speech in Irish, had not long to wait for the government's 
reply. Austen Chamberlain, secretary of the treasury, later postmaster general, condescendingly 
explained that the authorities presumed that senders of such letters in Great Britain were able to write 

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directions on their envelopes in English. It was to those patrons, he said, that the circular had referred. 
He conceded, however, that letters bearing addresses in Irish that were mailed from Irish- speaking 
districts would be delivered. Not satisfied, 'Donnell pressed the government with a second question: 
"Does the honorable gentleman know that there are thousands of Irishmen who prefer to write their 
letters in Irish?" Chamberlain replied that anyone might write in Irish if he pleased, but that the Post 
Office required that all addresses be written in English "by those who presumably know English." 

Aware that 'Donnell 's question probably signaled an intensification of the mail-in- Irish agitation which 
the Post Office had tried to ignore by treating it as a series of unrelated incidents, postal authorities 

instructions that henceforth all press reports on the controversy together with internal Post Office 
correspondence, directives, and memoranda be preserved and filed. In the London Post Office an 
anonymous civil servant was assigned responsibility for monitoring the daily British and Irish press, 
underlining or bracketing with blue pencil pertinent passages of all news items pertaining to the mail-in- 
Irish agitation, cutting out and pasting these items in bulky folders labeled "Correspondence Addressed 
in Erse," and filing these folders with others labeled "Irish Minutes." As Hyde had warned, no longer 
would any action of the Gaelic League go unnoticed or unrecorded. It was only a matter of time before a 
second order of surveillance was issued by Dublin Castle. 

Meanwhile, in a written answer to O'Donnell's query (copies of which were dispatched to postmasters in 
Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Bradford, and other cities with large Irish colonies), the postmaster 
general rejected "special arrangements for the translation of addresses in Irish into English, especially in 
the case of letters posted in England." Like Chamberlain, he offered a concession: that "in the event of a 
letter in Irish passing through an office where it can be deciphered, the address shall be translated into 
English and the letter sent on to its destination." 

Even as this reply to 'Donnell was written and publicly distributed, it was underscored by the internal 
circulation of an unsigned memorandum based on the only facts that mattered to the Post Office: the 
number of people in Ireland who could write Irish and only Irish. Armed with statistics from the 1891 
Statesman's Y earbook that established this figure at 40,000, the unnamed author declared that this was 
not a constituency whose demands justified changing rules that had earned the Post Office its name for 
economy and efficiency. Questioning whether special arrangements should be made for educated people 
who could just as well write in English, he recommended that letters addressed in Irish be treated as 

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undeliverable and dealt with in the Returned Letters Office. This was, in the writer's opinion, the simple 
solution to the problem — the same solution, he noted, that was used in Germany where writers 
understood that letters addressed in Polish would be treated as undeliverable. As for the matter of 
requiring Post Office appointees to have a knowledge of Irish, it would so limit the field of choice, he 
believed, "as in some instances to raise a grave danger of leaving the Department without any candidate 
fit for appointment." 

This unsigned memorandum established official Post Office policy for years to come. 

The mail- in- Irish campaign continued. On October 13, 1901, Mr. J. MacNamee of Navan complained to 
the Post Office that the local postmaster had refused to cash a postal money order. Always quick to 
follow up complaints, the Post Office queried Navan. On October 18 the inspector reported that 
MacNamee had endorsed his postal order "with his signature written in Irish characters" and, on being 
asked, had refused to sign his name in English. Furthermore, MacNamee had stated that he was making 
a test case, that he intended to have the matter taken up by "the central executive of the Gaelic League," 
and that in his opinion postal officers should understand the Irish language. The Navan report 
concluded: "None of the officers at Navan are conversant with the Irish language." Not until December 
23, 1901 — and then only after prolonged consultation among the Post Office, the comptroller, and the 
accountant general — was it decided that MacNamee's order could be paid if the words "described as J. 
MacNamee" were added below his Irish signature. 

The first Gaelic League "Language Week" was held in March 1902 in conjunction with a long 
procession commemorating St. Patrick's Day. Hyde, of course, was among the principal speakers. He 
was relieved that little was said about the mail- in- Irish campaign, which he still hoped to confine before 
it brought the trouble he had predicted. His main concern was the annual fund-raising drive set for this 
time of year and conducted largely through the mails. Sporadic complaints concerning the handling of 
letters and packets addressed in Irish continued to be received by the Post Office. All were handled 
routinely, with reference to the official policy statement drawn up in 1901. On Monday, November 6, 
1902, an Irish M.P. by the name of Tully rose in the House to ask the postmaster- general whether, given 
complaints from the Gaelic League in London about nondelivery of letters and postcards addressed in 
Irish in Sligo, he would "consider the advisability of insisting on persons obtaining Post Office 
appointments in Ireland having some knowledge of the Irish language." Back came the unequivocal 
answer: "In my opinion there is no sufficient reason for requiring a knowledge of the Irish language 
from entrants into the Post Office service in Ireland." On Monday, December 1, 1902, the subject came 
up again when Patrick O'Brien, M.P., asked if the postmaster general would supply copies of an Irish 
dictionary to each post office to 

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facilitate delivery of letters in Irish. Chamberlain's response was again immediate: "I do not think the 
circumstances are such as to justify the provision of Irish dictionaries at Post Offices." 

By March 1903 Dublin Castle had begun to keep its own files on Douglas Hyde and other "key 
agitators" of the Gaelic League. Long clippings from the Independent and the Weekly Freeman 
containing passages from their speeches underlined in blue pencil were added to a file labeled "Irish 
News Cuttings." From September through November the Post Office was kept busy investigating the 
complaint of a leaguer from Galway, the Reverend A. J. Considine, concerning a postal money order 
that a clerk had refused to cash because the order was made out in some form of Irish that he could not 
understand. After investigation, the Galway Post Office reported to London that the Irish in Considine's 
order was unintelligible — and that he had admitted that his was a test case. On December 2, 1903, a 
postal service customer by the name of Hugh Graham complained in a letter written in Irish to the 
secretary of the Dublin Post Office that the postmistress of his branch would not release a registered 
letter posted to him in England after he had signed his name in Irish on the receipt. "Is it not proper, 
allowable and right for an Irishman to write down his name correctly in his own language?" asked 
Graham. During the same month Henry Morris, Gaelic League organizer in the Dundalk area, editor of 
the Gaelic department of the Dundalk Democrat , and Hyde's close friend (albeit one who disagreed with 
him on this matter), published some words of advice to leaguers engaged in the mail-in- Irish campaign. 
Their twin aims, he declared, should be recognition of Irish as a national language and the addition of 
Irish to the list of obligatory subjects required of all candidates for all departments of the postal service. 
To achieve these he recommended increased use of Irish, since Post Office policies were based on 
statistical evidence of language use: "Those . . . who can write the whole letter in Irish should do so, but 
those who cannot do that much should at least address the letter in Irish — and in Irish only — except in 
cases where great dispatch is necessary." 

Pleased with their escalating provocation and unaware of the files that were being kept in the London 
and Dublin headquarters of the Post Office and in Dublin Castle, leaders of the mail-in-Irish campaign, 
now in its fourth year, did not fail to draw attention to the fact that it had not resulted in the kind of 
crushing retaliation predicted by Douglas Hyde. Even the sallies on the floor of Parliament had evoked 

the outraged protest or condescending rebuke that might have been expected but only a matter-of-fact 
repetition of official policy. The British government had not mellowed; it was otherwise occupied. 
Cabinet minutes from August 1899 through 1903 reflect continuing concern over the conduct of the 

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Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion, the negotiation of an agreement with the United States to create a 
transoceanic canal in central America, and the possibility of a Russo-Japanese war. When Parliament did 
turn its attention to Ireland, the debate was usually over the Land Purchase Acts and other legislation 
concerning the Land Question. 

Throughout the years 1900 to 1905 the Land Question also concerned Douglas Hyde on a personal level. 
The de Freyne estate in Frenchpark had become a battleground as Lord de Freyne, irate over land 
reform, infuriated by tenants who were withholding their rents, enraged by the "interference" of the 
United Irish League in his disputes with these tenants, carried out draconian evictions that were fully and 
graphically reported in London, Dublin, and provincial newspapers. In 1904 the Congested Districts 
Board, with its authority to buy up and redistribute uneconomical holdings, moved against de Freyne. 
Although no doubt spurred by the evictions, the action of the Congested Districts Board was not 
necessarily punitive but merely part of a process of land reform that had started in 1870. Despite help 
offered through O'Conor Don by the Committee of Landlords, which saw the reform process as 
disastrous to Ireland's agricultural economy, de Freyne finally gave up and set a price at which he was 
willing to sell his tenanted and bog land. It was only a matter of a very short time, Hyde knew, before 
the Congested Districts Board would be pressing him to buy or leave Ratra. How could he even 
contemplate parting from these meadows and fields, the lake, those distant hills? Lucy was insisting that 
they must go. 

Meanwhile, the Gaelic League was faced with a funding crisis. The situation could not be blamed 
entirely or even chiefly on the mail-in-Irish campaign, but it had not helped. Even Henry Morris had 
advised that urgent letters should be addressed in English, not Irish, but having committed themselves to 
the mail-in-Irish campaign, league fund- raisers were addressing solicitations in Irish, with consequent 
incidents of nondelivery and delay. The biggest drain on the budget, however, as Hyde had written in 
October 1903 to his friend William Bulfin, Irish emigre to Argentina and publisher and editor of the 
Buenos Aires Southern Cross , was an increase in workload that required additional paid staff. 

League membership had passed the 50,000 mark and was still growing. Full-time organizers were now 
needed to handle the paperwork involved in adding new branches in Ireland and affiliates abroad. The 
subsequent demand for new language books had resulted in larger and larger printing costs. Determined 
that all 1903 debts would be paid before the end of the league's fiscal year in February and the new 
collection in March, Hyde asked Bulfin if there was any possibility of obtaining a second contribution 
from the sources usually tapped by the Southern Cross . In a speech to a large audience in Dundalk in 
February 1904, Hyde proclaimed what he called "the Battle of Ireland." The underlying subject was the 
funding crisis — his point was that growth and achievement were costing more money tiian was being 

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received — but his appeal stressed what the league had been accomplishing. The mail-in- Irish campaign 
was now frankly acknowledged to be one of the league's activities. 

The fact was that measured by the number of items addressed in Irish that were being processed by the 
Post Office, the mail-in-Irish campaign actually was succeeding. Official British Post Office policy had 
not changed; it remained the same, in fact under three postmasters general (the Marquess of 
Londonderry, 1900-1902; Austen Chamberiain, 1902-1903; Lord Stanley, 1903-1905) and their 
secretaries (Sir George Murray, 1899-1903 and Sir H. Babington Smith, 1903-1910). Official 
communications consistently and publicly maintained that there was no reason why the workings of the 
British postal system should be jeopardized for the purpose of serving a handful of Irish monoglots. But 
the Post Office had not achieved its woridwide reputation for speed and efficiency without having had to 
make practical adjustments. In the case of Irish this meant that by early 1905, with the Dublin Post 
Office receiving over two hundred letters addressed in Irish daily, Charles Sanderson, the Dublin 
postmaster, had taken from their regular assignments four junior clerks and telegraphists with "an 
adequate knowledge of the language" and set them to work translating Irish addresses. In a letter to his 
superior, however, Sanderson expressed concern that these measures would not be sufficient if, as 
expected, he received a huge mailing addressed in Irish "by a particular organisation." The effect he 
warned, could be costly and surely would cause delays. 

The organization to which Sanderson was referring was of course the Gaelic League; the huge mailing 
that he was correctly anticipating was the annual "collection," which provided the greater part of the 

league's financial support. Hyde had emphasized to Patrick 'Daly, secretary of the league since 1901, 
that this year more than ever a successful collection was a vital need. Even as Sanderson wrote, O'Daly 
was halfway through the task of supervising the assembly of hundreds of packets containing 
announcements of Language Week and the fund-raising kits to be used by canvassers in the local 
branches. By the first week of March, 'Daly's crew had addressed 600 parcels with the recipient's name 
and address in Irish. But if at times the Post Office might bend, it would not allow itself to be broken. 
On March 1 the Irish secretary of the Post Office wrote to his British counterpart in London: "It must of 
course be borne in mind that there is no necessity for these letters to be addressed in Gaelic. There is no 
pretense in Dublin at any rate that Gaelic is a common language. So far as necessity goes the letters 
might just as well be addressed in Greek or Hebrew." 

Since parcels addressed in Irish had been accepted at the General Post Office eariier in the year, O'Daly 

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was outraged when several hundred parcels were refused on the grounds that they were unacceptable for 
mailing and would have to be readdressed in English. O'Daly wired the Dublin postmaster on March 7: 
"250 parcels addressed in Irish refused last night are lying here. Will they be accepted today?" His reply 
came from London: "Parcels addressed in Irish cannot be accepted without English translation of 
addresses." Indignant both O'Daly and Hyde refused to believe that the problem was caused by the 
addresses in Irish. The Post Office officials were fully aware of the purpose of the contents of the 
packets, Hyde declared. These officials also knew that if the collection was destroyed the league would 
be left virtually without the money it required for operating expenses for the coming year. For him there 
was no doubt: the sudden imposition of a work-to-mle order was made "with ill will and full 
knowledge." As the rule, however, was being applied only to bulk mailings, O'Daly sent out a call for 
Irish speakers to come to an emergency meeting. Two hundred responded. Each was given a packet and 
all went down to the main post office. "They took over the place entirely," O'Daly reported. "Each Irish 
speaker there offered his own packet to the officer inside. Each person did this one after the other, 
calmly and quietly in Irish. No more work was done in the Post Office while this was going on. It put a 
stop to the work that is the ordinary business for an hour, the place was so busy." 

Realizing, however, that a prolonged impasse with the Post Office could destroy the 1905 collection and 
surely would raise costs (the rates 

for individual mailings were greater than those for bulk mailing), Hyde decided to try personal 
diplomacy. He immediately sought an interview with Lord Stanley, the postmaster general, in London. 
Using his best Ascendancy manners, Hyde was persuasive and persistent; cloaked in governmental 
invulnerability, Stanley was courteous and attentive. Stanley promised nothing. 

Although his interview with Stanley came to little, Hyde was quick to seize the opportunity to generate 
public sympathy for the league. The motives to which he had ascribed the Post Office's refusal to handle 
the bulk mailing addressed in Irish already had made headlines in Dublin and London newspapers. In an 
interview with the Irish Independent of March 3, 1905 (duly cut and pasted in the Post Office file 
labeled "Correspondence Addressed in Erse"), Hyde struck back: "It is nothing short of a scandal that 
the Post Office authorities have not made Irish a subject of examination for Post Office officials 
considering the number of letters that pass through the post addressed in Irish. ... I hope the authorities 
will soon discontinue their foolish opposition, which will serve no good purpose but to irritate the 

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On March 4 the Freeman's Journal printed a lengthy account of the battle between the Post Office and 
the league, stressing the capriciousness of the postal authorities who had, after initial refusal, reversed 
themselves and accepted six or seven packets, only to reverse themselves again and refuse on the next 
day over two hundred parcels that had been picked up by Post Office van. According to the writer of the 
article, the reversal had occurred when a minor official in the Dublin post office had been overruled by 
the Irish secretary who, in a memo to London sent on March 4, had complained that "the whole thing is 
an attempt to force the Department into having a Gaelic-speaking staff throughout the country, a matter 
as impracticable as useless and wasteful." 

On March 6 the matter reached Parliament where Boland, an Irish M.P., asked if the Gaelic League 
parcels had been refused at the order of the postmaster general or without his knowledge. Pursuing the 
same line of questioning, John Redmond rose to inquire whether the postmaster general knew that the 
Gaelic League had been handicapped by this refusal, because the packets contained material about the 
annual collection. He also asked flatly if, now that the matter had been brought to his attention, the 
postmaster general could assure him that the parcels in dispute would be dispatched in due course. 

By March 12, the day set for the Language Week procession, the 

conflict between the Gaelic League and the Post Office had attracted the attention of thousands. Since 
the government crackdown already had affected the annual collection, Hyde's strategy was to win at 
least a propaganda victory. He spoke openly before crowds and to newspaper reporters of the clash 
between the Post Office and the language movement. The result, reported the Freeman's Journal, was 
"one of the most imposing public demonstrations that . . . ever passed through the streets of Dublin." 
Editorializing on the situation on March 13, the Freeman's Journal continued: 

No greater proof could have been given of the strength of the language movement. . . . There was hardly 

any element of Irish life that was not yesterday influentially represented The aggressive and bitter 

vendetta of the English Post Office Department against the movement gave the opportunity for a really 
most extraordinary and effective promulgation of public opinion. 

Placards and bannerettes proclaimed, "No Surrender to the Post Office. Address all your parcels and 
letters in Irish." When the Irish-language section passed the General Post Office, the procession paused 

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to render a rousing chorus of "A Nation Once Again." On tlie side of a tableau wagon someone had 
scribbled, at the bottom of a prominently displayed white banner bearing the familiar red insignia of the 
Post Office over the monogram of Edward VII, "We Don't Like Irish." On this same open wagon an 
Irishman ("in typical Gaelic costume/' according to the Freeman's Journal ) and a Post Office clerk 
played a perpetual Beckettian dumbshow. The Irishman picked up a parcel and offered it to the clerk at 
the counter, who looked at the parcel, shook his head, and handed it back to the Irishman, who 
immediately picked up another parcel and offered it to the clerk, who shook his head, and handed it back 
to the Irishman: "all most effective and excellent comedy at the expense of the Post Office," the 
Freeman's Journal reported. 

The procession wound its way to Smithfield where Hyde shared the speaker's platform with the 
archbishop of Dublin. Standing before a shouting, cheering crowd, smiling and waving as he waited for 
a quiet moment to begin his speech, Hyde began slowly: "First — First — First, I want to tell you — First I 
want to tell you of — First I want to tell you of the wonderfully mean and miserable, petty and paltry 
attempt that was made to spoil our collection last week by the General Post Office." He paused. The 
crowd groaned loudly. He accused the Post Office of trying to break the spirit of the league. The crowd 
booed. He described his attempt to negotiate with Stanley: 

I asked ... to make Irish not, mind you, a compulsory subject at all, but an optional subject for entry 
into the Post Office. And what was their answer? They not only refused me, but they have made Irish 
penal in the Post Office. They will not be allowed to do it. There are only seventeen letters in the Irish 
alphabet, and there are only three of those that are not the same as in English, - and the Post Office 
people are not able to learn those three. 

Loud laughter was followed by more cheers. "This struggle was forced upon us by them and was none 
of our making or our seeking. It has been forced upon us. We have no desire whatever to quarrel with 
these people. It is they themselves who have brought the quarrel upon themselves." Amid laughter and 
applause the archbishop, following Hyde, announced that he himself would not have attended the 
Language Week celebration but for the Post Office refusal that had threatened to make the League's 
procession a failure. There was more laughter and cheering as everyone, looking around, saw nothing 
but crowds in every direction. 

On March 13 the secretary of the Post Office for Ireland sent London his report accompanied by the 
account in the Freeman's Journal of the procession and rally. "It is to be regretted," he wrote, providing a 

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fitting final line to the comedy, "that tiie action of tiie Department should be looked on as hostile to the 
League itself. What the promoters of the movement fail to understand is that a translation must be 
affixed to a parcel before dispatch and there is no reason why the additional work should be thrown on 
the Department." 

Five days later the words of Henry Morris writing from Dundalk were more somber. 

The Post Office has declared war against the Irish language and the Gaelic League. The Gaelic League 
could not refuse to accept this challenge. So now it behooves every Gaelic Leaguer to take a share in the 

battle Irish Ireland insists that Irish . . . being the national Language ... be dealt with in the Post 

Office exactly on a par with English. 

The public, Morris avowed, must force the Post Office to provide a bilingual staff. It must address all 
letters, cards, telegrams, and parcels in Irish until the Post Office is blocked and everywhere there is 
evidence of chaos and delay. Readers must complain in writing (preferably in Irish) to the secretary of 
the Post Office each time a delayed piece of mail is received. They must demand an explanation for the 
delay. (What Morris knew was that Post Office rules required a written response to every complaint, 
including those in Irish.) All these moves should be 

followed, concluded Morris, "for the express purpose of asserting our own right to use our own language 
in our own country. Dr. Hyde has sounded the tocsin . . . and every Irish Irelander should take a genuine 
part in the fray." 

By April 2 the continuing pressure on the Post Office had begun to have its effect. The number of letters 
addressed in Irish that passed through the Dublin Post Office had climbed from 313 on March 20 to 600 
on March 26. Within a single week over thirty hours had been spent translating a total of 2,498 items 
from Irish to English. In his 1905 report to London the Irish Secretary warned that the dispute had to be 
settled in some way, as the work of translation had become "formidable." Y et he did not know what to 
propose, for if anyone were specially assigned to translation as his regular duty, he had no doubt that the 
Gaelic Leaguers would consider that they had gained their case in principle and would press home their 
advantage by multiplying the number of letters addressed in Irish. The secretary assured his superior in 
London that "the general expression of feeling which reaches me is a hope that the Postmaster- General 

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will not give way in the matter." 

Believing that the time was right for such communication, on April 3 Hyde wrote two letters for delivery 
to Lord Stanley. The first was typed. He called it his "official letter." The second, a "private letter/' was 
written in his own hand. In the five-page "official" letter, a combination of a carrot and stick, Hyde 
repeated the arguments he had made to Stanley in person but referred to the case of the packets 
addressed in Irish only once. He focused instead on acceptance of Irish as an optional subject for Post 
Office examinations. He argued that Irish already was accepted as either a compulsory or optional 
subject in many business, professional, and educational areas of Irish life. To facilitate the work of the 
Post Office, he offered to send Stanley copies of a directory compiled by the league of postal towns and 
stations in Ireland which gave on one side the "correct" Irish form and on the other "the corrupt or 
translated forms by which these places are known." He also offered Stanley a Gaelic League volume in 
press that showed the correct form of Irish surnames being widely adopted. "With these two volumes at 
its disposal," he declared, "the Post Office will experience little or no difficulty dealing with the new 
order of things." Hyde closed with the pointed reminder that 50,000 people had marched in the 
Language Week procession of March 12, forming a line witnessed by 200,000 people that wound 
through the streets for two miles — proof "that the whole country is solid behind Dublin in respectfully 

this . . . reasonable request of the Post Office." "We feel confident," he concluded pointedly, "that it is 
only necessary to put these plain facts before you for your compliance." 

In sharp contrast ( Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a story that Hyde found amusing) was the conciliatory 
tone of the handwritten "private letter," which expressed the hope that Lord Stanley, without any 
inconvenience to himself or to the working of the Post Office, might find it possible to comply with 
Hyde's "requests." "I beg of you," wrote Hyde, his sharply slanted writing bearing uphill, "not to treat 
this question from the narrow point of view of the Post Office, but from tiie standpoint of a statesman." 
If the Post Office rejected the league's demands, Hyde wrote. 

I see with alarm the prospect of an agitation in Ireland which however it may end will at least have a 
certain effect ... to still further alienate English public opinion from the English government, and to 
turn into opponents of the government a great portion of the Gaelic League who have up to this never 
touched politics in any way but have turned into a wholly laudable channel a very great deal of energy 
which would but for it have been used in a different direction. 

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Calling for use of "the oiled feather on both sides and a little give and take," Hyde warned Stanley that if 
the controversy were not stopped, it could prove "a very nasty business later on" — one that might even 
turn the Gaelic League into a channel Hyde himself was most anxious to avoid. Clearly separating the 
Jekyll-and-Hyde alternatives he had offered, Hyde closed with the reminder that his handwritten letter 
was private, his typed letter official. 

What Hyde could not know, of course, was that his "official" letter had confirmed the suspicions of the 
secretary of the Post Office for Ireland that the real issue was not the matter of whether the Post Office 
henceforth would allow letters and packets to be addressed in Irish but how the Post Office henceforth 
would be staffed. Six weeks passed before Hyde received Stanley's official reply rejecting all his 
proposals: the requirement that parcels and registered letters addressed in Irish be accompanied by an 
English translation stood; the request to make Irish an optional subject for Post Office candidates was 
denied; the demand that Irish- speaking postmasters be appointed in Irish- speaking districts was rejected. 
Ignoring Hyde's veiled threats and other ploys, Stanley's personal reply of May 15, 1905, was no less 
adamant: "I am afraid," he wrote, that "you must take the views that I expressed in my official letter as 
being the line of conduct which I propose to take with regard 

Douglas Hyde at twenty. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Hyde's sister, Annette (later Mrs. John Cambreth Kane). (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Hyde's father, the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

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Dr. Douglas Hyde, Trinity scholar. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Hyde in New Brunswick, Canada (1890-91). (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Lucy Cometina Kurtz, shortly before her marriage to Douglas Hyde in 1893. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Douglas Hyde with sister, Annette, and wife Lucy, in his carriage in front of his county Roscommon 
residence, Ratra. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Douglas Hyde with Miss O'Kennedy, in "Casadh an tSugain" (The Twisting of the Rope). (Courtesy 
Colin Smythe, Ltd.) 

Douglas Hyde with Miss O'Kennedy and Teig O'Donahue, in "Casadh an tSugain" (The Twisting of the 
Rope). (Courtesy Colin Smythe, Ltd.) 

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Douglas Hyde at Ratra, between daughters Una (left) and Nuala (right), with family dog. (Courtesy 
Sealy collection) 

Douglas Hyde with pet cockatoo. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Douglas Hyde, professor of Modem Irish, University College, Dublin. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Senator Douglas Hyde, 1937. (Courtesy the Irish Press) 

Postcard photo of first president of Eire, 1938, with signature on reverse in Irish and English. (Courtesy 
Sealy collection) 

Douglas Hyde addressing Dublin crowds in June 1938. (Courtesy the Irish Press) 

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Douglas Hyde with Eamon de Valera and Sinead de Valera, June 1938. (Courtesy the Irish Press) 

Douglas Hyde on steps of Aras an Uachtarain with John Cudahy, American minister to Ireland (left) and 
Douglas Corrigan (center), following Corrigan's "Wrong Way" flight to Ireland in July 1938. (Courtesy 
Sealy collection) 

President Douglas Hyde with daughter Una and grandchildren, Christopher, Douglas, and Lucy Sealy. 
(Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Tongue-in-cheek sketches by daughter Una Sealy: Hyde reading, Hyde "learning to play 
golf." (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Sean O'Sullivan drawing of Douglas Hyde, reproduced and distributed by Irish Press, Christmas 1938. 
(Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Douglas Hyde at work at his desk in Aras an Uachtara;in. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

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Douglas Hyde with French minister, a few months after stroke in 1940. Hyde note, back of photo, reads 
"I am a whited sepulchre for underneath my coat I have only a blanket! " (Courtesy the Irish Times) 

Douglas Hyde chatting with P. L. Doyle, Lord Mayor of Dublin, July 1941. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Douglas Hyde at reception marking 1943 opening of Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. With him 
are Erwin Schrodinger, first director (far left), Eamon de Valera, (far right), and other scholars and 
dignitaries. (From the Bulletin of the Department of Foreign Affairs No. 1037 [May/June 1987]:14) 

1944 portrait by Sean O'Sullivan. Confined to a wheelchair following his stroke, Hyde sat for head and 
shoulders; his aide-de-camp, Eamon de Buitlear, served as model for the standing figure — an 
arrangement that became a source of amusement between them. (Courtesy Sealy collection) 

Ratra, unroofed and derelict. (Courtesy the Irish Times) 

Frenchpark church where the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., was rector, 1867-1905, with graves of Douglas 
Hyde (foreground) and other family members. (Courtesy the Irish Times) 

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Schoolboys at grave of Douglas Hyde. (Courtesy the Irish Times) 

to this subject." Hyde's failure to move Stanley was a bitter pill, as he was sorely in need of a coup to 
counter continuing threats to his position within the league and worries about the league's financial 
situation. It had not been an easy spring, nor did it look as if summer would bring an improvement. 

Scarcely the most important yet another one of the upsetting situations Hyde had had to face in the early 
months of 1905 involved accusations from Father Brennan of Killamey, a member of the Coiste Gnotha, 
or executive committee, that stemmed from the dismissal of a reporter named Kelly from the Weekly 
Freeman staff. Brennan alleged that Hyde, Agnes O'Farrelly, and Edward Martyn had carried on a 
campaign against Kelly on account of his failure to use Connacht Irish in his Irish- language columns and 
had succeeded finally in getting him fired. Stung by what he called "this horrid insinuation against my 
personal honor," Hyde repeatedly denied the charges against himself as well as 'Farrelly and Martyn, 
to no avail. Brennan persisted, creating tension at a time when Hyde could least spare the hours or 
energy to cope with it. 

Then in early May there was another flare-up in Dublin in a continuing dispute over the right of owners 
to paint their names in Irish on their carts. Like the mail-in-Irish campaign, the crusade of the cart 
owners was a cause that all Hyde's instincts told him to avoid. When someone in the league had 
suggested that the statute prohibiting such signs should be challenged, Hyde specifically had ordered 
that the matter not become an issue for the law courts. To Hyde's dismay, Patrick Pearse, whom he 
regarded as a close friend and protege, had ignored Hyde's pronouncement and had himself gone to court 
to plead on behalf of the "cart martyrs," providing the Weekly Freeman, which reported the May 19 trial, 
with ample material for a dramatic profile of the passionate young barrister. What was worse, Pearse lost 
the case, assuring a future escalation in demonstrations, charges, and trials, and the Weekly Freeman 
profile of Pearse was added to the files in Dublin Castle. Additional clippings were generated in May, 
when the Cork Examiner reported rumors of "revolutionary tendencies ... in certain districts" in 
connection with league activities. There were rumors that the chief secretary had ordered the county 
inspectors of the Royal Irish Constabulary to keep a careful eye on branches in their districts. 

Meanwhile another source of dissension came from Protestant members of the league, many of them 
Hyde's closest friends and earliest supporters, who had begun complaining of bias in the organization- 

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evident they said, in attitudes toward tiie Craobh na gCuig Cuigi, or "branch of the five provinces," 
which some leaguers had dubbed the "branch of the five protestants/' since it was this branch that most 
Protestants joined. Far worse was the news, as the spring of 1905 became summer and figures from 
Dublin showed the league barely able to meet its monthly expenses, that the depleted treasury might 
present Hyde with no choice but to reduce the corps of league organizers and teachers — a serious blow, 
as the league's next major objective, the founding of a new university in Ireland, stood little chance of 
achievement unless substantial funds materialized. At the very moment of swelling grass-roots interest 
in looked as if the work of the league might have to come to a halt unless a source of substantial new 
funding could be found. But the most difficult of Hyde's problems as summer became fall required 
decisions that affected his personal life and an embarrassing situation that involved John Quinn. 

In December 1903, with the first indications that a threatening financial crisis could stall the league's 
progress, Hyde had sent out urgent cries for help to friends and affiliate organizations abroad. One of his 
appeals had been addressed to John Quinn. In the treasury, he had told Quinn, there were but two 
hundred pounds to carry the organization until March. Two thousand dollars voted for league support 
nearly two years before by the Ancient Order of Hibernians had never been sent; he had asked 
repeatedly when the league might expect this needed contribution, but the AOH president kept putting 
him off. Quinn responded at once with a $100 donation which, as it was lost in the mail, generated a 
continuing exchange of letters. In one of these Quinn suggested to Hyde that they meet during Quinn's 
next trip to Ireland and discuss the possibility of an American fund-raising tour. "Y eats has no doubt told 
you of his trip here and how badly you are needed to organize the country on behalf of the League," he 
wrote. Hyde and Quinn met in Dublin in October 1904. Quinn presented his plan, assured Hyde of 
success, and — extending his personal guarantee against any possibility that the tour could result in 
Hyde's personal loss — promised to organize the details. 

Meanwhile, as soon as the Congested Districts Board had taken over the tenanted land of Frenchpark 
(which of course included Ratra), Lucy had begun to urge Douglas to sell their lease and move to Cork 
or Dublin. She was still a clever woman with a good business sense. She did not share Charles Owen 
'Conor Don's commitment to preservation of local control or concern for the future of Ireland's 

economy; she did not have Douglas's sentimental attachment to Ratra. It was said that those who were 
selling to the CD B were getting prices well above market value. As for the prospect of a trip to America, 
it was not at all attractive to her. On the contrary, skeptical of John Quinn's assurances of success and 

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anxious about leaving her daughters for eight months, she was adamantly opposed to it. For one thing, 
she worried what her role would be when Douglas was lionized and feted across a country that many 
English and Irish travelers of her acquaintance regarded as in large part a primitive wilderness. For 
another, she suspected Quinn (a handsome, wealtiiy bachelor ten years her husband's junior) of being 
something of a ladies' man; she had heard much whispering about the freedom of American women; and 
she remembered that there had been a "Fraulein" in Fredericton with whom Douglas had had something 
of a romantic attachment. Her opposition to the American tour became an obsession when in the spring 
Douglas received word that there was to be a vacancy in the university at Cork. Her disappointment at 
her husband's previous failures to win a university post had been as keen as his own. If he let this 
opportunity pass, there might never be another. Moreover, with a university position he could gracefully 
resign his presidency of the Gaelic League, which to her mind had brought him nothing but anxiety, 
infelicitous associations, and the disapproval of the kind of society that was their proper sphere. 

Hyde could not really reassure Lucy on the matter of the American tour, as he himself was having 
reservations about it — mostly because of the possible university position, but also because he still had 
many correspondents in America, and from them and others he had been hearing disconcerting stories of 
feuds and animosities both within and between Irish- American groups. What would become of his 
lecture tour if, right at the start, in New Y ork, he inadvertently offended an influential group with 
national connections or if anywhere in the country he was caught between competing societies? He 
wished he could discuss his concerns with Quinn, but how could he, when Quinn's letters were filled 
with enthusiastic reports of ever-increasing bookings and predictions of success? In February he thanked 
Quinn for a gift of rye whiskey and assured him that Lucy was looking forward to escaping the Irish 
winter. As for himself, he said that he had been doing what he could to spread the word of his upcoming 
tour: from the Reverend Peter Yorke of San Francisco he had received assurances that invitations from 
the universities in California would be forthcoming. He did not know 

quite how to say that at the same time his old Trinity friends, Stockley and W indie, were urging him to 
apply for the vacant chair in English literature at Queens College, Cork — or that he had solicited letters 
of recommendation from Stopford Brooke and others to support his application. 

On March 31, in response to repeated requests, Hyde wrote to Quinn from England, enclosing, along 
with a letter describing large turnouts at successful meetings, a list of his books and other major 
publications and titles for the lectures he might give at American colleges. For himself he wrote a 
memorandum with the mocking title, "Self- Laudatory," in which he set down what he considered to be 
his outstanding achievements, beginning "I was without doubt the first person into whose head it ever 
came to deanglicise Ireland, or gave utterance to this idea. The Gaelic League is practically built upon 

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my lecture to that effect in 1892." He continued: he was, he said, the first person to write a book in 
modem Irish; the first to collect folklore in Irish; the first to "collect the poetry of the people from their 
own mouths"; the first "to write a play in Irish and act in it myself"; the first to write a literary history of 
Ireland; the first to address a mass meeting in Irish; the first to ask the Irish to keep speaking Irish to 
their children, "in New Y ork before ever the Gaelic League was started"; the first to say go to "the poor 
people, the Macs and 's and the priests, and if they are for letting the language die — then let it and be 
damned to them." 

In a letter of April 30 Hyde revised his lecture topics on the advice of Seamas MacManus ("who knows 
the ropes," he assured Quinn). Formerly a Donegal schoolteacher, Hyde explained, MacManus had gone 
to the United States in 1899 and had found there a receptive audience for the stories he told of his own 
parish. Hyde also advised Quinn thatTomas Ban 6 Concannon (Thomas Concannon), a native speaker 
of Irish from the Aran Islands and a league organizer in Connacht, would accompany him as he toured 
rather than go on ahead as an advance man as Quinn had suggested, as he felt that in this way he might 
help Hyde "make a bigger impression." Concannon "wants to use glamour. What do you think of this?" 
wrote Hyde, obviously amused at the idea. Quinn's answer had he given it might not have been 
flattering. An advance man was needed, and if Hyde did not have glamour enough on his own, it was 
unlikely that Concannon would be able to help him. Quinn did not like amateurs interfering with his 
careful planning. For months he had been devoting two to six hours daily to the organi- 

zation of Hyde's tour. His New Y ork apartment had become an office for the project, with a special 
secretary hired to handle the heavy correspondence. 

On June 22 Hyde cabled Quinn that the American trip was off. In the letter that followed he explained 
that he could not go because the Cork position would begin in October. "This is too good an offer to let 
go," he apologized, suggesting that instead he might be able to make a short trip in the spring of 1906, 
appearing only at events arranged by Irish- American groups and excluding the university lectures. He 
concluded plaintively, "Will you ever forgive me?" On June 28 he wrote again. The Cork position was 
in fact not yet assured, his letter implied, but still might be. However, his responsibilities as president of 
the league were overwhelming him: "My last post brought me five different requests to go to programs 
in various parts of the country." He also confessed his fear of being caught in the notorious power 
struggles of quarreling Irish- American organizations. He described conflicting statements in letters he 
had received from America. He had been visited at Ratra by the secretary of the New Y ork Gaelic 
League who had impressed him favorably but against whom he had since received written warnings. He 
had canceled the tour, however, primarily on account of Lucy: "My wife's delight knows no bounds at 
escaping the American journey and I really think she could not have borne it. She had almost got into a 

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State of nervous collapse thinking of it and she would not let me go by myself. 

Quinn could not have been less than mystified and distressed by this curious and continuing sequence of 
contradictory letters so uncharacteristic of the man he thought he knew and of whom he had spoken 
highly to such people as Martin J. Keogh, an eminent jurist with cultivated tastes and a broad knowledge 
of history and literature whom Quinn had invited to chair the committee appointed to serve as Hyde's 
official hosts. He also had been placed in a difficult position, for months of work that had gone into 
scheduling lectures and rallies in over fifty cities now had to be unraveled. 

On July 7 Quinn received still another letter from Hyde. Having at first indicated that he had been 
offered the Cork appointment and then altered that statement to say that he was being seriously 
considered for it he now wrote that in fact he had decided not to apply for it but would accept it if it was 
offered to him! As for withdrawing from the American tour, he blamed that decision on a crisis 
involving Ratra. 

If he did not buy it he would be evicted by the Congested Districts Board; he did not want to give it up 
but Lucy hated it and was "most anxious ... to leave." 

Obviously torn by aspects of his situation he had not revealed to Quinn, Hyde turned to Lady Gregory. 
In a private letter he confessed that he needed to find his way out of a "muddle." She knew something of 
the reasons why he was close to being overwhelmed by problems and responsibilities: she had heard that 
the Reverend Arthur Hyde had been failing; she assumed that as usual Lucy was not happy or not welt- 
she knew of the internal dissension within the league, its shrinking treasury, and its problems with the 
Post Office; she had seen newspaper reports that tiie league was now under Castle surveillance; she 
suspected that there was more. Nor had Hyde's feelings of panic been improved by the fact that every 
day he was receiving a stream of reports from Padraig O'Daly, Nellie O'Brien, and Agnes O'Farrelly — 
loyal members of his inner guard — about the league's latest internal controversies. Whatever transpired 
to change Hyde's mind has not been recorded, but on July 19, in an unexplained reversal as astonishing 
as his abrupt cancellation on June 22, he cabled Quinn that he was "available after all for November." In 
the letter that followed he explained that he had settled the Ratra matter and had persuaded himself that 
"preaching" to American universities would raise the prestige of the Gaelic League. 

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Some ten to twelve days later a smiling Hyde stepped off the train in Foynes to which he had come to 
attend the annual Shannon feis . There to greet him were friends who, like himself, were nationalists of 
Ascendancy stock. Most had learned their Irish from O'Growney's Simple Lessons . Among them were 
Alice Stopford Green, whose historical research had lately focused on Irish topics (only recently Hyde 
had written to her complaining of the difficulty he had been having finishing his lectures for America); 
Sir Horace Plunkett, son of Lord Dunsany, like the poet A E a pioneer in the Irish agricultural 
cooperative movement; Sir Roger Casement, who had just established, with Hyde's support, an Irish 
language school atTawin Island near Galway; Lord Monteagle and his daughter, Maiy Spring- Rice (she 
now called herself Maire Spring Ris); and Mary Elizabeth Massey of Killakee House, Rathfamham, 
described by Desmond Macnamara as so "handsome fair- haired, beguiling and by inference, attractive 
and demanding" that she encountered no difficulty in spreading Irish culture among the Ascendancy by 
introducing Irish dancing at hunt balls and house parties. 

Exactly how long Hyde may have known Mary Elizabeth Massey is not certain, but it appears that they 
had met some time before 1903, for on February 21 of that year, at the Dublin performance of Y eats's 
"The Pot of Broth," he had inscribed on her program a verse in Irish that plays on the first four lines of a 
sensuous lyric entitled "An Chuilfhionn" (The fair maiden), which Hyde had published in Love Songs of 
Connacht . Others had made less personal signed and unsigned contributions to the same program: 
Yeats, a couplet; Lady Gregory, a flourishing signature; F. A. Longworth, an eight-line verse on 
dancing; a reference to a jig class; some lines in Arabic; some sketches. Hyde's prose translation of the 
verse published in Love Songs reads: 

Mist of honey on day of frost over dark woods of oak. And love without concealment I have for thee, 
fair skin of the white breasts. Thy form slender, thy mouth thin, and thy cooleen [tresses] twisted 
smooth. And first love, forsake me not, and sure thou hast increased my disease. 

On Mary Elizabeth Massey's program Hyde had altered the lines of the Irish verse. Translated, they 

Mist of honey on day of frost over dark woods of oak. And love without concealment I have for thee, 
that I may see you again, your bright eyes, your slender form, fair skin of the white breasts, and your 
blue dress, a dark mist on me, young woman of the yellow hair. 

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Unsigned but unmistakably in his own hand on another part of the same sheet Hyde had provided what 
Desmond Macnamara describes as a "somewhat bowdlerised and sentimentalised" translation: 

Like a honey mist on a day of frost o'er a grey wood of Desire of thee in the heart of me at thy gay mood 
woke, frock of blue, pointed shoe, and laughing rogue face. Have you found my heart, bound my heart, 
and left grief in its place? 

Two years later at the Shannon feis of 1905 Hyde wrote in Mary Elizabeth Massey 's autograph book an 
untranslated signed sequel to the 1903 lines. Beginning with a near repetition of the fourth line of the 
1903 verse, it evokes the dark mist of the blue dress; continues with a description of the blue dress 
fluttering behind and around her; and ends with a lament that were it not for the worldly cares that have 
left him disheartened he would follow her to the ends of the earth. Gossip continued to link their names 
sporadically for some time thereafter. 

At the beginning of August the Reverend Arthur Hyde, a semiinvalid for much of the time, began to fail 
noticeably. Dr. O'Farrell was 

called. He diagnosed the elderly man's problem as "the natural complications of old age" and left some 
powders. Had the patient known, he probably would have rejected the powders. In his Kilmactranny 
years the rector had been a serious student of folk medicine, particularly herbal cures. Folk medicine and 
the classics had been his favorite subjects of study. Above his bed, like dominoes in the dust, were his 
Latin and Greek grammars, Lucian, Livy, and Horace. Some stood upright, some leaned against others, 
some were laid flat. Among his books and papers was the induction oath administered to him by his 
bishop in 1867: "to take real, actual and corporeal possession of the one rectory of Tibohine in the 
Diocese of Elphin together with all singular tythes, glebes, profits and appurtenances to the said and one 
rectory"; "to teach and instruct, or cause to be taught and instructed in the English Tongue ... the 
children of said rectory." The oath's emphasis on rent and profits and its charge that the children be 
instructed in the "English Tongue" had always troubled Douglas. Still, Douglas's criticism of the church 
had focused primarily on his father's interpretation of doctrinal matters and beliefs, not on the church 
itself, which he continued to attend. 

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Douglas reached up and removed from the shelf his father's Commentary on the first twenty psalms, 
written in October 1851. On its verso pages were the prescribed Church of Ireland daily morning and 
evening prayers. Its binding disintegrating, its pages discolored, the home-made prayerbook was filled 
with the stem and self-righteous marginal glosses the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., had thundered at his 
flock over the years. Alongside Psalm 4 the rector had written: "Do not the great bulk of mankind go 
astray as soon as they are bom, speaking lies so that amongst domestics in families one seldom finds one 
whose honest lips will speak the simple truth upon every occasion?" Douglas had read and reread this 
passage written by his father in 1851. Did it help explain the " novae ancillae, " the maids who had 
barely been taken on before they fell under his father's suspicion? From verses in Psalm 12 that condemn 
those who beg instead of work and score flatterers and deceivers, the Reverend Hyde had found 
corroboration for his view of the Irish tenantry and had written in a marginal note, "This part of David's 
description is painfully like the lower order of Irish Romanists." 

His father stirred and Douglas heard his harsh breathing over the sound of Annette's approaching steps. 
Annette had married Douglas's old friend Cambreth Kane in 1902, but as she and Cam lived in tiie 
Frenchpark glebe house, sister and brother still saw much of each other. 

They sometimes took tea at their father's bedside. Douglas rose and replaced his father's prayerbook on 
the shelf with a glance at its last page, "The Office for the Burial of the Dead." 

The obituary in the Weekly Freeman was succinct: It noted that both the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., and 
his father before him had been Protestant rectors, that An Craoibhin himself had earned a bachelor of 
divinity in Trinity College, and that he had won in fact a theological exhibition before "Irish Ireland had 
claimed him" for its own. 

On August 1 1 Hyde wrote again to remind Quinn that he wanted Concannon to be with him during the 
American tour. Describing the Aran Islander as "a bom diplomat," Hyde assured Quinn that 
Concannon's "transparent honesty and simplicity" would win over everyone. Nothing more was said 
about either Hyde's own erratic behavior during the summer or Lucy's state of mind. Hyde was busy 
with his usual tasks as president of the league. He set up with Agnes O'Farrelly, Nellie O'Brien, Padraig 
O'Daly, and Stephen Barrett procedures that would enable them to carry on in his absence. He wrote and 
revised his lectures for the American tour and completed work on Religious Songs of Connacht, 
scheduled for publication in 1906. 

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During this same month, after a period of printing mostly innuendoes, the newspapers again began 
carrying items concerning government surveillance of the league, its president, and some of its 
members. The Irish News reported that the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force for all Ireland 
outside the Dublin metropolitan area, had been given instructions to look into the question of whether 
the Gaelic League was the peaceful educational organization that it professed to be or "a revolutionary 
party, meditating the overthrow of English supremacy in Ireland." In September the Church of Ireland 
Gazette attacked both Hyde and the league for activities inimical to the interests of Irish Protestants. 
Nellie 'Brien leaped to the defense with a strong rebuttal in a long letter to the Gazette printed on 
September 29: "We have no secrets in the Gaelic League," she declared, "whatever those may say who 
look on it as a dark and dangerous conspiracy." Stephen Gwynn proposed a public meeting on the topic, 
"Protestant Attitudes Toward the Gaelic League" to get all the accusations and counteraccusations out in 
the open once and for all. Patrick Pearse, Joseph Lloyd, O'Neill Russell, Stephen Gwynn, Nellie 
O'Brien, and Agnes O'Farrelly were among those who came prepared to speak. Hyde chaired the 
meeting, held in October. When it was over, Joseph Lloyd approached him again with the complaints 
and threats that had been marring their re- 

lationship for some time. He was a founder of the league, he insisted (he had been present at the second 
meeting of 1893, at which time he had been named honorary treasurer), and he was being mistreated by 
the Coiste Gnotha. If Hyde could not put an end to the mistreatment, he would quit and emigrate to 
Manitoba. Hyde began to look forward to his American tour. It would be good, he acknowledged to 
himself, to get away for a while. 

Hyde's last messages, including a hurried note to Roger Casement, had been sent off; Lucy had reviewed 
last- minute instructions with housekeeper, nurse, and maid. On November 5, scarcely two months after 
the Reverend Arthur Hyde, Jr., had been buried in the graveyard of the Portahard Church where he had 
been rector for thirty-eight years, Douglas and Lucy exchanged tearful farewells with Una, Nuala, and 
nurse Jane. As the carriage passed through Ratra's gate and along the eight miles to Ballaghaderreen, 
Connollys, Lavins, Mahons, Morrisroes, and Dockrys (Hyde was pleased that the families of his old 
Frenchpark neighbors were staying on the land) raised their hands and caps and shouted messages of 
good health and good luck. There was a low mist over cropland and bogs; the previous night had been 
chilly. In town the brougham passed St. Nathy's, the neo-Gothic Revival Catholic cathedral whose spire 
was visible from Ratra. It continued past Dillon's shop to the railroad station where a crowd of Gaelic 
leaguers from Mayo and Roscommon joined students from St. Nathy's College to send up a shout as the 
carriage came into view. Hyde waved to the young men and women he had coached in the spring of 
1903 in response to their request for help in staging two of his Irish plays. The Marriage and The Lost 
Saint . There was scarcely time for the recitation of a poem in Irish to wish him success in America and 

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for Hyde's response when, amid a round of cheers, the train pulled out. 

- - 13 With the Irish in America - - 

- Ireland's living symbol was now a big-headed, dark, bigmouthed man, loud-voiced, with a weighty 
moustache that gave a bend to his shoulders, and curtained off the big mouth completely; a man who 
was hilarious with everyone that seemed to matter, who was ever shouting out, with his right arm lifted 
so that its shadow seemed to stretch from one end of the land to the other; shouting in a strange tongue. 
Come and follow me, for behind me marches the only Ireland worth knowing. Sean 'Casey, Drums 
Under the Windows 

On Monday, November 6, 1905, the day of the Hydes' departure from Ratra to Dublin, the featured news 
items in the Irish Times (then the leading Ascendancy newspaper) were the massacre of Jews in Odessa, 
a banquet held in London to celebrate the conclusion of an Anglo-Japanese treaty, and an account of 
student demonstrations — headlined "The Disorders at the Royal University" — that had broken out in 
Dublin when "God Save the King" was played at a Royal Irish University convocation. Not mentioned 
was the fact that a reception at the Gresham Hotel on Sackville (0 'Connell) Street and a giant torchlight 
procession, planned to bid farewell to Douglas Hyde on the eve of his departure for a lecture tour in 
America, were scheduled for 7:15 in the evening. Inside the Gresham, reporters for the Evening Herald, 
the Irish Independent, and the Weekly Freeman scribbled notes 

as Hyde responded to the well-wishers who took turns at the podium, among them representatives of the 
Dublin Corporation, the Trades Council, the students at Maynooth, the Gaelic Athletic Association, and, 
of course, the Gaelic League. The stories filed by the reporters later that evening described Hyde as a 
pale-complexioned man in his forty-fifth year (actually forty-sixth, as he had had his forty-fifth birthday 
in January), middle of height (group photographs show him as taller than average), dressed in dark blue 
serge, standing before the crowds in the glare of the gas lamps. They took note of his Gaelic League pin 
gleaming in his buttonhole; the gleaming silver streaks in his drooping, dark mustache; the same silver 
streaks in his thick, dark hair, worn a bit longer than fashion dictated; and his small but bright blue-gray 
eyes, set in his broad, bony, round forehead. They quoted his words of thanks to his assembled well- 
wishers and his assertion that the principle behind tiie Gaelic League was the resurrection of Ireland. 
"Our movement is founded on the bed-rock principle of nationality," he had proclaimed to the excited 
audience's cheers. The stories also included details of how the Hydes looked on their departure: he 
seated next to Lucy in the lord mayor's carriage, waving to the crowd from the depths of a greatcoat with 
collar and cuffs trimmed with the fur of Irish otters (a talisman from thirty devoted friends), a hard 
bowler hat upon his head; she in an outfit made exclusively of Irish lace and wool by Irish dressmakers. 
As the lord mayor's open coach bearing the Stars and Stripes front right, the Irish harp front left, drew 
away from the curb, tiie complementary colors of the two flags were illuminated by the flaring torches. 

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At either side of tiie coach a file of marching hurlers shouldered their sticks as if they were rifles, to the 
cheers of dreaming men. 

Preceded by an advance guard of hurlers and representatives from the different branches of the Gaelic 
League, carriages bearing the Hydes, the lord mayor, and the Coiste Gnotha headed a procession that 
wound its way from the Gresham on Sackville Street to Kingsbridge Station. Leaning forward in the 
coach, his bright eyes shining even more when they lingered momentarily on a familiar face, Hyde 
waved now right, now left, to those who lined the route. They were followed by the hurling and football 
leagues of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Trades Council executives, temperance bodies, boys' 
brigades. Friendly Societies, the Old Grand Union, and the Foresters. Separating the marching units 
were five Dublin bands. 

Marching close beside Hyde's carriage that evening, wryly taking in the fine display, was a young 
laborer for the Great Northern Railway, 

twenty-five-year-old John Casey, better known to his friends in the Drumcondra branch of the Gaelic 
League in which he was learning Irish as Sean 6 Cathasaigh. Forty-one years later the playwright and 
prose writer Sean O'Casey would publish a semifictionalized account of the night that Dr. Douglas Hyde 
wentoff to America: 

The hurlers of Sean's club were chosen to be the bodyguard around the coach bearing him to 
Kingsbridge Station. . . . Sean, in full dress of the club's jersey, of hooped bands of alternate dark blue 
and dark green, walked beside the protestant Chief of the Gael, in the midst of thousands of flaming 
torches carried before and behind the carriage, followed by all the hurling and football clubs of the city 
and its suburbs. Horsemen headed the cavalcade, carrying the Stars and Stripes, the French Tricolour, 
and the green banner of popular Ireland. . . . Everywhere the drums beat again their lusty rolls, making 
the bright stars in the sky quiver, and bands blew Ireland's past into every ear, and called forth her 
history of the future. ... On we all went slow along the meanlooking flanks of Anna Livia Plurabelle 
singing songs of Eireby by the dozen that would rouse up even the stone outside Dan Murphy's door. 

Momentarily blocked by the Dublin Metropolitan Police from the station platform, hurlers and 
footballers, tactical experts in such situations, rushed and broke through the line. 

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There was the big beaming face of Hyde, topped by the globular skull, with the bushy moustache like an 
abandoned bird's nest filling up a carriage window, nodding, nodding to the excited crowd, while a band 
outside played When shall the day break in Eirinn with extreme dignity and unction. 

Watching the spectacle along with 'Casey were Dubliners who wondered how it was that this country 
squire with his Ascendancy manners and his old-fashioned Roscommon Irish had such a grip on Dublin 
crowds. Y et a grip it was, according to the Irish Independent, not just in Dublin but all over Ireland. In 
the Independent 's recent poll Hyde had been declared the fourth most popular man in the country, 
preceded only, in 1905, by John Redmond, Cardinal Logue, and Archbishop Walsh. The young laborer 
on the Great Northern Railway, wondering too, listened and remembered: 

"Look, there." He's waving a last farewell! The guard's green flag was waving, the engine gave a few 
steamy snorts, strained at the carriages, and began to slide out of the station through a storm of cheers. 
Hyde was high on Ireland's shoulders, and his carriage window framed the big head, the bunchy 
moustaches, the staring eyes, draining down the last drop of the mighty farewell and godspeed, till 
distance hid the crowd, and stilled the stormy sweltering roar of the gathered Gaels. 

In the Irish Times for November 7, twenty lines at the bottom of a page in the middle section (next to the 
day's racing selections at English tracks and an announcement by the Post Office of a new form for 
postal orders) briefly noted what it clearly considered to be a nonevent that had ended when "a 
procession was formed outside, and Dr. and Mrs. Hyde were accompanied to Kingsbridge. Many of the 
processionists carried torches." The Evening Herald and Weekly Freeman were more generous with 
their space and attention. The Irish Independent carried an interview with Hyde in which he credited his 
June 1891 observation of Irish classes in America, sponsored by the Bowery branch of the New Y ork 
Philo- Celtic Association, with having given him and through him MacNeill and others the idea of 
founding the Gaelic League. He was going back to America, he said, to carry the creed of the Gaelic 
League to Irish Americans, to let them know what they had started here at home. What Hyde did not 
explain fully was exactly what had started at home. That the Times should regard the public celebration 
of his departure as a nonevent; that the Independent should regard him as an ambassador from the Irish 
of the United Kingdom to the Irish of the United States; that the other newspapers should accurately 
depict the size and extent of his popular support: all this was in his favor. The correlative of Thomas 
Davis's proposition — "a nation without a language is a nation without a soul" — was implicit in the 
founding principles of the Gaelic League: to restore the soul of a nation it was necessary to recover its 

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language. Whether the Gaehc League would be able to continue on its course would depend on how 
much support, for its spirit and its treasury, it could obtain from America. For the moment spirits were 
high — certainly there had been plenty of evidence of that in Dublin on the evening of November 6 — but 
the treasury was nearly depleted. 

Young 'Casey understood better than most Hyde's immediate purpose: he was to tell the Americans, of 
course, "of Ireland's honour, nobility, and undying devotion to her ancient language," but above all he 
was to "rake in the needful, argent and or, at all costs." That had been John Quinn's understanding as 
well. In a frank letter to Lady Gregory written from New Y ork on October 27, 1905, he had stated his 
own reasons for arranging Hyde's tour: "I am after money for Hyde. Hyde and his work need money. I 
wouldn't have got Hyde to come out if I thought he couldn't get money and I don't hesitate to say so." 

Whatever personal misgivings Hyde had had during the past ten months about the trip on which Quinn 
had so firmly insisted, on the 

even of his sailing he kept them firmly under control. Y eats had assured him that he was doing the right 
thing by going — that it was important to Ireland to keep the friendship of Irish America, and important 
to Irish Americans to have a sense of the dignity and antiquity and continuity of their culture before all 
was lost in the melting pot. It was Y eats who had spoken of Hyde to his own audiences on his trip to 
America and had urged Quinn to bring him over. Wherever he went in America, Y eats had made a point 
of arousing interest in Hyde and the Gaelic League. The train chugged slowly out of the station, 
gradually picking up moderate speed; at each stop between Dublin and Cork people gathered to cheer 
him on his way. The journey that ordinarily took five hours stretched out for two days, with an overnight 
stop at Limerick Junction and trackside meetings on November 7 in Tipperary and Mallow where, 
addressing enthusiastic crowds, Hyde warned that it was "a hard and difficult task to build up a nation 
from the inside." It was also a hard and difficult task to get through Cork, where an immense crowd that 
included the Cork branch of the Irish Drapers' Association, as big or bigger than the one that had cheered 
him out of Dublin, had assembled at the station to form the procession that would escort him to City 
Hall. There, at the lord mayor's reception, the Reverend Father Augustine extolled Hyde as "our pride, 
our joy, our hope, our glory, and the uncrowned king of Ireland." 

That night Hyde and Lucy stayed at the home of Willie Stockley, Hyde's old friend from Trinity, the 
man for whom he had served in 1890-1891 as interim professor of modem languages at the University 
of New Brunswick. Now on the faculty at Queens College, it was Stockley who had tried unsuccessfully 

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to secure for Hyde the vacant chair in English. On the morning of Wednesday, November 8, Stockley 
accompanied the Hydes on the 9:50 mail train to Queenstown (now Cobh) for one last mass meeting on 
the dock before they boarded the tender that took them to the SS Majestic, where in a sitting room 
reserved for his use Hyde held a last informal reception. 

As the tender bearing the last of his well-wishers edged from the liner's side to return to the quay, Hyde 
felt the throb of the Majestic 's engine through the planks of the deck. For better or worse the future of 
the language movement now lay in the hands of John Quinn and himself. It was curious, the partnerships 
that had evolved out of this work. Who would have thought that he, bom in Castlerea, brought up in 
Kilmactranny and Frenchpark, educated at Trinity, would one day, for the sake of what he had learned 
as a boy in Roscommon cot- 

tages, be drawn into an alliance with the man he was now on his way to meet? 

A prominent lawyer, son of Irish-Catholic parents, who had been brought up in Ohio, John Quinn, B. L. 
Reid's "Man from New York," was a sophisticated lover of literature and art, a hardheaded, anticlerical, 
narrow-minded, opinionated American, an admirer of efficiency, optimism, and pragmatism and a hater 
of brashness, boorishness, and low taste, who for a time, at least, excepted the Irish from his 
stereotypical prejudices because he had a soft spot in his heart for Ireland. His support of the populist 
Gaelic League was especially unlikely, as it was the beautiful, lofty Ireland in which Lady Gregory, 
Y eats, and Hyde made their lives to which Quinn on his first visit had responded in 1902. To the circle 
of literary and cultural nationalists that had then become his friends he was unfailingly patient, generous, 
and loyal. No doubt there still would have been an Irish Literary Renaissance without Quinn; with him it 
came more easily. An irony of history is that, although Quinn mistrusted extremists of either political 
persuasion and abhorred coercion and physical violence, it was his masterful organization of Douglas 
Hyde's United States tour in 1905-1906 that secured the funds critically needed for the league's survival 
— funds that thereby nurtured, sublimated the force that ten years later Quinn deplored. Had there been 
no fund-raising tour of America on behalf of the impoverished Gaelic League, no doubt there still would 
have been an insurrection. But when would it have occurred, who would have been its leaders, and what 
would have been its outcome? 

Characteristically, Quinn had taken personal charge of arrangements for Hyde's arrival. In a letter to 
Lady Gregory, he explained why: 

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If I let it go it would be miserably bungled. ... One Gaelic Leaguer here wanted Hyde to be met at the 
dock by the 69th Regiment (all Irish), by a band (all German, I suppose), and by a platoon of policemen 
(all Irish, of course). I had to kill that. Then another wanted a "ladies chorus" (all singing through their 
noses as they usually do) "just so his lecture wouldn't be so dry." 

Nothing was either bungled or in bad taste when Quinn was in charge. For Hyde's arrival he had 
arranged a dignified reception. Absent from the dockside event were the enthusiasts ("nothing is more 
dangerous than enthusiasm," he assured Hyde). In their place he had assembled a small party of 
handpicked "representative Irishmen," by which Quinn meant men like Martin J. Keogh, justice of the 
New Y ork state supreme court. 

When Quinn was in charge, there was also never a moment wasted. The itinerary he had set for Hyde for 
the next seven months made that clear. It called for Hyde to crisscross the country as follows, with one 
or more lectures and fund- raisers in each location, depending on the proximity of colleges and 
universities and the popular audience potential, and with some locations marked for a second or third 

November: Boston; New Haven, Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; Hartford, Connecticut. 

December: Boston again; Manchester, New Hampshire; Springfield, Massachusetts; Ansonia, 
Connecticut; Lowell, Massachusetts; Boston again; Waterbury, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; 
Philadelphia; Worcester, Massachusetts; Lawrence, Massachusetts; Brooklyn; and New Haven, 

January: Pittsburgh; Chicago; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago again; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; 
Indianapolis; Cincinnati; St. Louis, Missouri; South Bend, Indiana; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul and 
Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

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February: Omaha, Nebraska; San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, and Oakland, Califomia. 

March: Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara, Califomia; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, 

April: Spokane, Washington; Butte and Anaconda, Montana; St. Paul again; Chicago again; Memphis, 
Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Baltimore; Ithaca and Elmira, New York; and Scranton, Pennsylvania. 

May: Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York; Toronto, Canada; Washington, D.C.; 
Bridgeport, Connecticut; Paterson, New Jersey; New York. 

Lucy, meanwhile, was to be entertained in the major cosmopolitan centers along Hyde's route. 

From Wednesday, November 15, the day of his landing, until November 19, Hyde's days and nights 
were spent in the Manhattan Hotel with newsmen whom Quinn had thoroughly briefed in advance. The 
week before the Majestic docked, Quinn personally had visited the offices of the Sun, World, Journal, 
Tribune, and Times to arrange interviews, discuss pictures, and issue reports of Hyde's visit and its 
purpose. For those papers that could not (or would not) spare a reporter, he provided for distribution to 
news writers a printed "interview" that required only that they strike out the questions and put the 
answers in narrative form to have an item that would fill one- and- a- half newspaper 

columns. Wonderfully wise in the ways of publicity and the necessity for, as he said, "beating the drum,' 
Quinn repeatedly reminded Hyde to talk up the program on which he would lecture on Sunday evening, 
November 26, in Carnegie Hall at every chance that he got. Other lectures were to precede it, but this, 
Quinn pointed out, was the first major fund-raising event on Hyde's schedule. 

Hyde was nervous at first about talking with the American press: the reporters at home were all people 

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he knew, who would write what they wanted whatever he said; the fact that he did not know what to 
expect of American repori;ers intimidated him. Quinn, however, was pleased with the results of Hyde's 
interviews. Although Hyde was not always sure that he was "beating the drum" appropriately, Quinn had 
been satisfied that he had an instinct for the right phrase at the right time when, in response to a 
potentially delicate question from a New Y ork Times reporter on November 19, Hyde had explained: 

We have worked a tremendous revolution in Ireland. It has no political significance yet. It is simply an 
intellectual fight at this stage. What it may lead to can be conjectured. ... The English government is 
doing everything possible to suppress the movement. It wants a benighted Ireland. 

It was true that Hyde quickly perceived the wisdom of Quinn's advice: with the American press, being 
accessible, amusing, intelligible, and waiy yet quotable obviously paid off. Only once did he falter in 
those first few tense weeks, when after an exhausting day he fell into bed late at night, only to be 
awakened by an insistent newsman's continuous knocking on his door. His remarks to the reporter were, 
according to Maurice Leahy, "not in the nature of a benediction," with the result that the next day Quinn 
was faced with the necessity of having to correct a fictitious account of a forthcoming event which the 
offended reporter had submitted to his paper in place of the interview he had tried to obtain. 

Hyde's first commitment before the fund-raiser in Carnegie Hall was a lecture at Harvard on Monday, 
November 20. Remembering the pleasant day in 1891 that he had spent on the Cambridge campus 
located close to metropolitan Boston, Hyde looked forward to being there again. For his topic he had 
selected "The Folk Tale in Ireland," described in his publicity notes as "founded on more than sixty tales 
taken directly from oral sources and never before collected." On the day of his lecture Hyde took tiie 
train from Grand Central Station in New 

Y ork to the Back Bay Station in Boston, where he was met by Fred Norris Robinson, a medievalist with 
Celtic interests with whom he shared a mutual regard. Hyde and Robinson had little time to talk on this 
occasion, as Hyde had only moments to spare for a quick bite and a change of clothes before he had to 
be delivered to the office of the dean of the college, who was to introduce him. Time was short, the dean 
was shy, and Hyde was full of nervous energy as together they started up the stairway to the lecture hall. 
"We stuck halfway up the stairs," Hyde wrote to Annette, "as we could not decide which of us was to go 
first nor . . . whether I was to be on his right hand or on his left hand, as though that made any matter. 
But," he added impishly, "they are much more formal in America." 

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Hyde's Harvard lecture drew about five hundred students and faculty. It was for him a reassuring 
experience. After all his months of worrying and rewriting, he discovered that he had hit just the right 
note. His audience not only listened attentively but laughed in all the right places. Robinson hosted a 
reception following the lecture at which Hyde took the opportunity to study the "matrimonial tastes," as 
he put it of Harvard society. "As the ladies seem better looking than any I have yet seen/' he noted in 
his diary, it "speaks highly in favor of Harvard culture." The next day, as he had mentioned to Robinson 
that he was very anxious to see the place from which the shot heard around the world had been fired, 
Robinson's brother was enlisted to provide a tour of Concord by motorcar. The statue of the Minuteman, 
he confessed to his diary, had the greatest effect on his imagination. He made a point of reading the rolls 
on stone monuments and working out how many of those who had fallen were Irish. 

The Concord tour included a visit to the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson. There Hyde talked at length 
with Emerson's daughter and tried to imagine what it would be like to use Emerson's library, "a dark, 
dingy, square room, very puritanic in style, no ornaments and very litUe brightness of any kind to relieve 
it." He saw the Old Manse on Monument Street that had been Hawthorne's house and talked with 
Longfellow's daughter and the daughter of the Harvard ballad collector, Francis James Child. In the 
evening he was taken to meet the editors and writers of several Boston newspapers. At their request he 
wrote greetings in Irish to the Boston Irish community which were printed in facsimile in the next day's 
papers. There was so much to see and do in Boston and everyone was so congenial that Hyde hated to 
leave. Robinson 

cheered Hyde with the reminder that he was due back for a "great Boston meeting" at which Robinson 
himself was scheduled to introduce him on December 3. 

After a day's rest in New Y ork, on Thursday, November 23, Hyde went to New Haven to lecture at Y ale. 
No one met him at the station — his train had arrived early — and for some moments he stood looking at 
the unfamiliar surroundings and feeling disconsolate. Then suddenly he found himself surrounded by a 
group of local Irish Americans who appeared with apologies and elaborate explanations of what had 
happened, delivered with much good-natured pushing and shoving and laughing. They took him at once 
to the university, where his Irish- American escort was overcome with awe to discover that Hyde was to 
be presented by President Hadley himself. It was a thing, these young Irish Americans said, tiiat Hadley 
never did for any visitors. The topic Hyde had chosen for Y ale was fortuitously "The Gaelic Movement: 
Its Origin, Importance, Philosophy, and Results." New Haven, he discovered, was the home of "a lot of 
fine old veterans . . . who had fought in the Civil War and then had become Fenians and gone to 

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Ireland." Politically sophisticated and nostalgic, they provided him with the core of an ideal audience. 
Later, at the New Haven Irish Club, a Captain O'Brien regaled everyone with an account of how after 
weeks of filing through the bars of his window he had broken out of jail in Clonmel, in County 
Tipperaiy, just as he was going to be condemned to death or penal servitude. 

New Haven was but one of many American cities in which Hyde encountered Fenians who had fought 
as officers in the American Civil War. He was acquainted as a result of his 1891 visit with the old 
Fenians of Boston and New Y ork. As many had died, their numbers had been reduced. He knew or knew 
of others — with some he had exchanged correspondence — through Frenchpark connections. In 
Philadelphia he was startled to learn that one of his dinner partners, "an ascetic looking Episcopalian 
clergyman" with an English accent whom he was prepared to dislike, turned out to be a grandson of 
John Mitchel who hated England "as deeply as ever his grandfather" did. The clergyman had, moreover, 
family connections with the O'Conors of Clonalis House in Castlerea, through collateral relatives of 
their American cousin, Charles 'Conor of New Y ork. Another guest at the same dinner was an ex- 
Fenian Catholic priest. In Milwaukee, Hyde met Jeremiah Quinn, a leader of that city's Irish Third Ward 
and a bitter anticleric because of the Church's attitudes toward Fenianism. All the way to California, 

Hyde would continually cross and recross the Fenian trail that extended between Ireland and Australia, 
with the United States and Canada forming part of the bridge in between. Sometimes, as he sipped 
whiskey and talked far into the night of Fenian exploits and Fenian heroes, the years slipped away and 
he felt as if he were a boy again sitting with Seamus Hart, listening to the men from Mayo in a cottage in 

On Friday, November 24, accompanied by John Quinn, Hyde took the night train to Washington D .C, 
where Quinn had booked rooms for them at the Willard Hotel; Lucy remained in New Y ork, shopping 
and dining with Quinn's friends and attending the theater. The next day Hyde made his first call on 
Theodore Roosevelt, then president of the United States. Hyde and Roosevelt liked each other 
immediately. He was invited to have lunch with the president and his family. "Roosevelt was delightful, 
perfectly genial, and very gracious," Hyde wrote in his diary. "There was no formality whatsoever about 
him." Like Jeremiah Curtin before him, Hyde discovered that Roosevelt had a strong interest in 
everything related to Ireland and an unexpectedly broad knowledge of Irish folklore and history. They 
talked of present conditions in Ireland, especially education. Hyde told him about the government's 
attempt to cut off result fees for the teaching of Irish. "Extraordinarily wrong and stupid," Roosevelt 
said, shaking his head. Assuring Hyde that he understood what the Gaelic League was trying to 
accomplish, he promised to appeal to monied Irish Americans to see if he could persuade them to endow 
chairs in Celtic literature in American universities. Relaxing and smoking together after lunch, they put 

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problems aside and talked of Curtin (whom Roosevelt had known but Hyde had never met), of folklore, 
of Irish and Norse sagas, and of the great heroes of Irish literature. Roosevelt explained that he had been 
brought up by Irish nurses and that Cuchulain and Finn MacCool had been familiar and vivid figures to 
him before he ever saw their names in literature. His children, he said, had been brought up by Irish 
nurses, too. They parted reluctantly, with Roosevelt insisting that Hyde try to arrange a return to the 
White House before going back to Ireland. 

So far Hyde had been in the United States for ten days and he had begun to feel a little foolish that he 
had allowed himself to be upset by talk of feuding and backbiting in the Irish- American community. 
Everyone he had met had been warm and generous, interested in talking with him, eager to be friends. It 
seemed to him, in fact, that he had encountered nothing in America to match the sniping and backbiting 

and feuding that he had left behind him in Ireland. The mail would catch up with him eventually, he was 
sure, but for the moment it was a pleasure not to receive the daily communications from the Coiste 
Gnotha with their chronology of petty problems or the clippings from newspapers that still showed a 
frustrating ignorance of the Gaelic League's goals and aspirations. There in the White House sat the 
president of the United States, that great and famous man, and he had an immediate and perfect 
understanding of why the league had been founded and what it was trying to accomplish. But Hyde had 
no time to think about these tilings as the train took him back to New Y ork. It was Saturday, November 
25, and on Sunday he would have his first big test of his ability as a fund- raiser in New Y ork's famous 
Carnegie Hall. Quinn had told him just to relax and concentrate on delivering his lecture with his usual 
combination of humor and seriousness, a good mix. For his topic he had chosen, with some additions, 
his old warhorse on the necessity for the deanglicization of Ireland. 

The Carnegie Hall lecture followed a pattern with which Hyde unfortunately was soon to become 
familiar as, in his travels across the country, he found himself in territory where the long knives of 
factionalism had been drawn between competing Irish- American groups. To his dismay he slowly 
discovered that the roots of this factionalism were in part much the same as they were in Ireland 
(parochialism, social and economic status, attitudes for or against language revival). In part they were 
peculiarly Irish American, in that attitudes differed depending on such factors as time of and reason for 
emigration. In general, he observed, a higher status was conferred on those whose families had been in 
the United States for one or more generations. 

As Hyde described the situation that developed at Carnegie Hall, the first indication that all was not well 

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came moments before the time announced for the program to begin. A man named Finn had arranged to 
buy the entire tier of boxes, thirty-one or thirty-two in number, and at the last moment he had canceled 
these reservations, apparently with the sinister intention of spoiling the event. He also returned 150 
tickets, apparently for the same reason. Quinn was at the door within moments. The immediate task, he 
instructed the ushers, was to mask what had happened, and the only way to accomplish that was to fill 
the visibly empty boxes with those who arrived from that moment on, without regard for the original 
price of the tickets they were holding. Quinn himself stood at the door to make sure that this was done as 
expeditiously as possible. His quick thinking resulted in some grumbling. 

as it delayed the start of the program for half an hour, but it saved the day, although it could not recover 
the lost revenue represented by the returned tickets. 

The chair of the program was Judge Keogh of the New Y ork supreme court, the man Quinn had chosen 
also to chair the host committee. An eminent, much- respected, and much-loved figure in the city, 
especially in Irish- American circles, as a young man Keogh had been introduced to Charles 'Conor of 
New Y ork — a man honored in his state, as he told Hyde, as the father of both the appellate court and the 
bar association. Keogh kept his introductory remarks to a minimum, then stepped aside to allow Bourke 
Cockran to make the opening speech. A popular political figure with a reputation for spellbinding 
oratory, Bourke Cockran would have the task, Quinn had explained, of wanning up the audience. 
Bourke Cockran had promised to hold his remarks to fifteen minutes but he talked for over half an hour 
— a feat Hyde found both entertaining and remarkable, as he spoke not just convincingly but even 
"eloquently" upon a subject he "knew nothing about." 

When Hyde finally rose to take his place at the podium, he saw that the delegations from each of the 
Irish- American clubs were seated separately, each beneath its own large identifying green banner. Small 
green pennants with words of greeting in Irish had been hung in rows around the perimeter of the 
auditorium. The most numerous and prominent were those that carried Thomas Davis's famous message 
to the Irish people: "A nation without a language is a nation without a soul." It was a stirring sight, all 
those people and all those banners and all those messages from Thomas Davis, but Hyde knew that it 
would be better if the banners, too, had been hung around the perimeter and the people were sitting 

Hyde began his speech, he later confessed in his diary, "with fear and trembling." The success of his 
entire trip depended on whether what he had to say would fire the imagination and reach the hearts of 

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the people before him. It was an entirely different experience from that of speaking to Irish men and 
women who were already committed to his cause or to lecturing about folklore or early Irish literature. 
For five minutes he spoke only in Irish, dumbfounding the majority of the audience who obviously 
thought that they were going to have to sit quietly and listen to an hour or more of sounds that were 
completely unintelligible to them, unable to leave because the purpose for which they had come was to 
raise money for the preservation of this language 

that they did not understand. When he switched to English there were audible sighs of relief and wild 

Although Hyde had said to himself that he would adapt his talk, as Quinn had advised, from his old 
speech on deanglicization, during the day he had reviewed his notes against the nature of the event and 
what he had learned of the composition of his audience. His conclusion had been that a presentation that 
required less specific knowledge of Irish history beyond the recent past but which would yield slogans 
and quotable lines would be more appropriate. Drawing on the rhetorical devices and oratorical style 
that had earned medals at Trinity, Hyde therefore began his revised speech by celebrating the sense of 
kinship that had brought him and his listeners together ("When I hear your voices, I feel as if I had only 
transported myself from one Ireland to another"), then introduced, strengthening his statements through 
contrast, the ideas they shared ("Twelve yeans ago we found our country becoming a province, no, not a 
province but a mean little outpost of England. Today we are making it a nation"). 

As minute by minute, in response to such statements, applause rose, filled the hall, and washed over 
him, Hyde knew that he had chosen correctly. He emphasized the bonds that joined the Irish in Ireland 
and America ("I look upon the moral support of the Irish in America to be the most valuable asset that 
the Gaelic League at home could have") and played on the idea of the word "bonds" to introduce the 
purpose of his speech ("I would sooner have the moral support of the Irish in American than a quarter of 
a million dollars poured into the Gaelic League tomorrow"). He then raised the significance of his 
appeal through a series of statements separated by dramatic pauses, reaching for a level of oratory 
appropriate to the sum he had mentioned. Beginning softly, he allowed his voice to grow louder as he 
approached his penultimate exclamation, then reduced it to end the first part of his lecture on almost a 

I am here today to explain to you the life and death struggle upon which we are engaged in Ireland. 

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I see that the papers say that this is the last grand struggle of the Irish race to preserve their language. 

Oh, ladies and gentlemen! It is ten times, it is a hundred times, it is a thousand times more far-reaching 
than that! 

It is the last possible life and death struggle of the Irish race to preserve not their own language but their 
national identity. 

The applause rose and swelled again and then died down as, now comfortable that his audience was with 
him, Hyde moved gradually from peroration to explanation (of the league's nonsectarian character, of 
how it embraced Catholic and Protestant), concentrating their attention. Quickening his pace and raising 
his voice, he reached again as if for the final high moment of his speech, then — once more reversing 
expectations — dropped his voice to normal level and intoned matter-of-factly: 

We are the white dove of peace passing over the land and obliterating the old feuds and hatred and black 
bad blood of the country 

We are no clique, we are no faction, we are no party. 

We are above and beyond all politics, all parties, and all factions; offending nobody but the anti- 

We stand immovable on the rock of the doctrine of true Irish nationhood — an Ireland self- centered, self- 
sufficing, self-supporting, self-reliant; an Ireland speaking its own language, thinking its own thoughts, 
writing its own books, singing its own songs, playing its own games, weaving its own coats, wearing its 

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own hats, and going for nothing outside the four shores of Ireland that can possibly be procured inside 

The Gaelic League is founded not upon hatred of England but upon love of Ireland. Hatred is a negative 
passion; it is a powerful, a very powerful destroyer; but it is useless for building up. Love, on the other 
hand, can remove mountains and we have removed them. 

It was over. He had spoken for ninety minutes, interrupted only by bursts of applause. Now there was 
more applause and cheers, they were on their feet, and somewhere in the audience some small group was 
singing "A Nation Once Again." Judge Keogh and Bourke Cockran were shaking his hand, and people 
were holding out their programs for his autograph. 

His spirits lifted by the success of the New Y ork meeting, on November 27 Hyde wrote to Padraig 
O'Daly and Nellie O'Brien in Dublin, assuring them that the factionalism he had feared was indeed a 
factor of Irish- American life, but that he had developed a technique for staying above it. Two days later, 
in a letter to the Coiste Gnotha, he said that already he had made a start at building a financial reserve, 
but as he needed to be able to assure the Americans that it would not be frittered away, he wanted to 
establish that no more than £1,000 of it would be used for routine operating expenses in any one year. 
He knew he could not expect every meeting to yield the sum that had been collected in New Y ork, but if 
he did half as well on a regular basis with 

occasional larger returns in places like Boston and Chicago, there should be no trouble, he believed, in 
not just reaching but exceeding the figure he and Quinn had set as a reasonable goal. The thing was to 
watch out for tactics such as those that had been used to nearly wreck this first performance. If it had not 
been for Quinn's quick action, anger and embarrassment on the part of those who were the real target of 
the intended sabotage would have distracted his audience from his speech in particular and the purpose 
of the program in general. 

It was in this mood that Hyde set out for Hartford. The crowd was large and responsive, but at the end of 
the program there was no collection. Somehow, someone had overlooked this important detail. 
Distressed local organizers drove him around the city the next day, stopping at the offices of successful 
Irish Americans — most of them in the wholesale liquor, paper, or insurance business — where Hyde 

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could introduce himself, explain his mission, and request a donation. No one even pretended that the 
results of this approach could begin to match what he might have had if a collection had been taken at 
the end of his lecture, but no one thought he would leave Hartford with net proceeds of only a little more 
than a hundred dollars. Hyde made a mental note to remind Concannon, who had been serving as his 
advance man, to check before each event about arrangements for the collection. Months later Hyde's 
suspicion that the Hartford problem had been not oversight but sabotage was confirmed by a letter of 
apology from one of the Hartford organizers. There had been a last-minute falling out between Irish- 
speaking and no n- Irish-speaking groups in the city, he explained. He had thought he had things patched 
up, but on the day of the program tempers had flared and some people had walked out, with the result 
that all his hard work of nearly two years had been nullified. Hyde could not help but feel sorry for this 
well-meaning, honest but frustrated man. 

Although the Boston meeting was successful, it was threatened by a different set of problems. The city 
had been well prepared by the newspapers for the December 3 event. The influential archdiocesan 
weekly, the Pilot , had given prominent space to Hyde's visit to the White House. Under "Entertainment" 
the Boston Post for Saturday, December 2, carried a large advertisement for Hyde's speech next to 
another advertisement for Maggie Cline ("the Irish Queen"), and "ten other big acts" that were to follow 
Hyde in the Boston Theater. The Philo-Celtic Society of Boston had announced that it would sponsor a 

On Saturday, with Lucy accompanying him, Hyde left New Y ork 

by an early train in order to reach Boston in time for a luncheon in his honor to be hosted by acting 
mayor Whelton on behalf of the city of Boston. En route Hyde received a telegram instructing him to 
leave the train at the Back Bay station where he would be escorted to the Hotel Lenox and introduced 
there to the acting mayor and a number of leading educators and newspaper editors. All seemed to be 
going well and Hyde was about to sit down to luncheon with the acting mayor and other guests when he 
was called to the telephone. The caller was Concannon, who insisted that Hyde make clear to Whelton 
that his presence was to be regarded as the visit of one friend to another and not an official event. His 
acceptance of Whelton's invitation, although innocent, already had caused a split in the Boston Gaelic 
League, which was divided, Concannon explained, on the question of which candidate to support in the 
coming mayoralty elections. Taking the acting mayor aside, Hyde tactfully told him that he understood 
that there was a mayoralty campaign in progress and hoped that the luncheon would not be construed by 
anyone as an indication that he was involving himself in Boston politics. Whelton laughed at the 
suggestion and assured him that no politicians, just a few educators, had been invited, but Hyde was so 
waiy of the situation that he could not give his luncheon address the concentration it required. The next 

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day Hyde discovered that another welcoming committee accompanied by Concannon and headed by 
John F. Fitzgerald (grandfather of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and a leading candidate in the mayoralty 
race) had been waiting for him at Boston's other railroad station. Moreover, Matthew Cummings, 
president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the chair of the committee that had planned Hyde's 
visit was upset at not having been invited to the Hotel Lenox luncheon. 

Meanwhile, stories began to circulate about an erroneous newspaper announcement that had given the 
wrong time and place of Hyde's lecture. Rumor had it that this was no honest error but the work of the 
United Irish League. It was contested by a second rumor that the first rumor had been planted to 
embarrass the United Irish League. Although both rumors added to Hyde's discomfort, neither had any 
other effect, nor did the erroneous announcement apparently discourage attendance, for despite pouring 
rain the Boston Theater was four- fifths full when the moment came to begin the program. Moreover, as 
the figures seated together on the stage indicated, the politicians had managed to reach a detente, at least 
for the duration of Hyde's visit. With them were officials of the organizing committee and other 

prominent persons, including Professors Fred Norris Robinson (who, as promised, introduced Hyde), 
George Lyman Kittredge, and Leo Wiener of Harvard; high-ranking dignitaries of the Catholic church in 
Boston; and various local officials. Thomas Concannon was also there, identified on the program by a 
title he had newly bestowed upon himself: chief organizer of the Gaelic League in Ireland. 

The event began inauspiciously with the long and painful reading of a pedestrian poem entitled "The 
Language of the Gael" and Robinson's polite but not exciting introduction. There had been no Bourke 
Cockran warm-up, Hyde realized, with a certain amount of trepidation, as he took his place at the 
podium. As in New Y ork, he began speaking in Gaelic to a partly delighted but mostly bewildered 
audience, then switched within a few minutes (to a roar of laughter and much applause) to English. This 
time he did focus on the necessity for deanglicization, denouncing "that devouring demon" that has 
"swallowed up our language, our music, our songs, our dances, and our pastimes." "Back, demon, back! 
Y ou shall swallow no more," he cried melodramatically, acting the part as if he were performing at the 
Mosaic in Dublin, gratified by his Boston audience's appropriate cheers and whistles and catcalls. Then, 
pausing somberly, he introduced his sober topic: Asa result of imitation the people of Ireland have 
"ceased to be Irish without becoming English." An Irish identity is essential if Ireland is to become "a 
new nation on the map of Europe." The idea of reviving Irish is no longer a dream; it is already a reality. 
In Ireland, "a dozen years ago Irish was taught in only six schools. Today it is taught in 3,000 
schools. . . . 250,000 Irishmen are learning to read and write Irish." The Gaelic League is "a popular 
democratic movement" with a modest budget. "On this we are trying to save Ireland." Despite its limited 
funds, it already has accomplished much. "We brought together for the first time Protestant and 

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Catholic, priest and parson, landlord and tenant. If we have the support of the Irish in America, we are 
bound to win." 

Similar to the speech he had delivered in 1892 as president of the Irish Literaiy Society yet modified for 
American audiences, the text that Hyde used in Boston became a basic item in his repertoire. It became 
the one that he employed most frequently during his entire fund-raising campaign, with small changes to 
incorporate local or current references or to infuse the text with more energy or more constraint, as the 
occasion required. 

The Boston program received excellent press coverage that was 

picked up and repeated in other newspapers across the country as well as in Ireland. The Boston Evening 
Transcript ran a full column on the entertainment page under the headline "The Revival of Gaelic"; it 
was fairiy handled. But the real public relations advantage was the Boston Globe 's front-page story 
under the two-column headline "Dr. Hyde Tells of Erin's last Fight," followed below by "Preservation of 
Her Identity at Stake." The text, which began on page one with the announcement that $1,000 had been 
subscribed in twenty minutes and continued on page three with a full transcript of Hyde's speech, ended 
with the announcement that the Globe had opened a subscription list to which it, the Boston Post, the 
Boston Herald, and the Republic each had donated $100. Page three also carried a two-column picture of 
Hyde. Under the heading "Big Fund for Hyde" the Post gave the address to which contributions might be 
sent, noted the "tremendous ovation" Hyde's speech had received, and said that "wild enthusiasm" had 
characterized the entire program. 

Although Hyde's complaints about the Boston program had focused on the embarrassing position in 
which he had been placed by the competing local politicians, John Quinn's concern was the amount of 
money raised. It was substantial; it should have been more, he declared. Assuring smooth relations and 
arranging efficient methods of fund-raising were both responsibilities that had been assigned to 
Concannon. Immediately upon meeting him Quinn had felt, as he wrote to Martin Keogh, that 
Concannon was the wrong man for the job. "He is a child of nature and a child of nature is not the man 
to organize meetings in this country or to get people to give money." Any Irish-American millionaire 
would give money of Hyde if he asked for it but would "size up a man like Concannon in ten minutes 
and wouldn't give him a cent. . . . Money is what we want, we need a man who can touch the hearts of 

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In Quinn's objections to Concannon he had an ally in Lucy, whose different criticisms focused on the 
self- aggrandizing interviews the self-appointed Gaelic League's chief organizer gave to the newspapers. 
She addressed her complaints to A gnes 'Farrelly in Dublin: "We have in plain language brought out the 
wrong man — but for Concannon's blunders and conceit and selfishness Dr. Hyde would have got by 
now tiiousands of dollars. " Moreover, influential men had told her that Concannon "was giving a bad 
impression of the Gaelic League. " She was especially indignant at the report that he had been telling 
people that he himself was going to "remodel the Gaelic League in Ireland ... on 

new and modem lines." And he had not yet provided an account of his expenses but had been buying 
expensive presents for "his girl." 

Both Quinn and Lucy believed that Concannon should not be allowed to proceed to California, but 
Quinn felt restrained as Hyde had specifically requested that Concannon be put in charge of 
arrangements. Nor would Hyde listen to Lucy, who finally out of exasperation sent her observations to 
Agnes, with instructions that she use her own discretion about how to bring them to the attention of 
O'Daly or Barrett, the league's secretary and treasurer. Agnes went instead to John MacNeill, Hyde's 
close friend and co-worker, and the vice-president of the league. Her recommendation was that 
MacNeill call a special meeting of the Coiste Gnotha to discuss Lucy's general observations and to recall 
Concannon if he did not promptly give an account of his expenses. MacNeill agreed to demand from 
Concannon, by cable, an immediate accounting, and to write a letter to Hyde suggesting that 
Concannon's services might be better employed in Ireland, but he refused to snatch Concannon from 
Hyde's staff with only Lucy's testimony against him. To Agnes, MacNeill confided that a good part of 
the problem could well be that Concannon had "made himself obnoxious" to Lucy. Others before him 
had felt the scorn of her disfavor and the sharpness of her tongue. 

With no one willing to dismiss Concannon or change his assignment, he remained on the fund-raising 
tour, to the dismay of both quinn and Lucy, who fumed in New Y ork while Hyde and Concannon left on 
a three- week tour of New England and the Northeast. When they returned, there remained only two 
more commitments in the New Y ork area before the Hydes and Concannon began their journey 
westward. Lucy again asked Hyde if Concannon had drawn up an account of his expenses; Quinn again 
reviewed receipts and found them short of what he expected. To Lucy's question Hyde responded by 
urging her to tell him all about how she had been enjoying herself with the Keoghs and her other new 
friends in New Y ork who had taken charge of her during his absence. To Quinn he insisted that 
animosities among Irish- American societies were to blame. In Lowell, after a small turnout had left him 

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with a meager collection, a man had volunteered the information that it was the fault of the local 
organizer, tiie chief of police; had matters been left in the hands of the Irish societies, the program would 
have been more successful. In Philadelphia, where Hyde personally solicited a contribution from the 
archbishop and received but a taken sum, he was told that behind tiie scenes an intense campaign against 

the Gaelic League had been waged on behalf of the United Irish League, who feared a loss in their 
subscriptions. And also in Philadelphia, Hyde reported, if it had not been for the Clan na Gael, which 
stepped in with a contribution of $1,500 supplemented by an additional $500 from one of its leading 
members, Joseph McGarrity, expenses might have been greater than contributions, for again as in New 
Y ork there had been a last-minute return of a large block of reserved tickets. 

There seemed to be nothing either Quinn or Lucy could do about Concannon, who already had headed 
toward the Midwest as advance man when on January 4 the Hydes boarded the train for Pittsburgh, their 
interim stop en route to Chicago. Lucy had received assurances of sumptuous accommodations and 
invitations to luncheons, dinners, concerts, theater performances, parties, and sightseeing and shopping 
trips during the three weeks she would spend in Chicago. Hyde's schedule included trips out of the city 
to Milwaukee, where Jeremiah Curtin had grown up; to Minneapolis and St. Paul; to Cleveland, 
Columbus, and Cincinnati; to South Bend and Indianapolis; and to St. Louis, Missouri. 

All through the Midwest Hyde encountered women and men whom he had known in Ireland or who 
were relatives of people he knew in Ireland. Usually these encounters were joyous, but at least one was 
upsetting. After his lecture at Butler College in Indianapolis, Hyde had turned to shake hands with 
committee members and their guests who had been seated on the platform. Suddenly he found himself in 
front of "the notorious Lenchechaun," a scoundrel with a vicious temper who had fled from Ireland after 
disfiguring his landlady (who was also very likely his mistress) by biting off her nose. (Lenchechaun's 
full story recently has been told by James Carney in The Playboy and the Y ellow Lady ). Discovered 
living in Indianapolis, Lenchechaun was charged and would have been extradited had he not aroused the 
sympathy of Indianapolis Irish Americans witii his claims that the crimes he was said to have committed 
were but the actions of a poor tenant trying to save himself from the landowner who had mistreated him. 
On the one hand Hyde wholeheartedly approved of Irish unity in America when it came to protecting 
Irish patriots and righting genuine injustice; in this case he regretted that the object on which so much 
trouble had been wasted was not a worthier one. Caught among the crowd on the platform with no 
alternative but to join in the general handshaking, Lenchechaun had tried to keep his head down "in a 
rather shame- faced way," but Hyde had recognized him. "I have heard talk about you," Hyde said icily. 

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turning away. Other aspects of Hyde's Indianapolis visit more tiian compensated for tiiis unpleasant 
encounter. In his diaiy he described an old-fashioned Irish evening in which everyone told ghost stories 
of the kind he used to hear from Seamas Hart. One afternoon he visited the Hoosier poet James 
Whitcomb Riley, bringing him a "splendid floral harp of roses and lilies of the valley, about four feet 
high/' in return for a large bouquet of roses sent by Riley that he had found in his hotel room when he 

From Indianapolis, Hyde went to Cincinnati, where the weather was warm and pleasant, but as soon as 
he reached St. Louis, he encountered winter. The further north he traveled, the lower the temperature 
dropped. Standing in train stations, braving icy winds, freezing rain, and snow at temperatures that 
rivaled those he remembered from New Brunswick, Hyde thought wryly of a note he had sent to Quinn 
the preceding February, when plans for his tour were in the making. Lucy, he had said, was "looking 
forward" to America as an "escape from an Irish winter" ! In Milwaukee a cold wind blew continuously 
off the freezing waters of Lake Michigan, but the warmth of the greeting he received from the Ancient 
Order of Hibernians, the Norwegian governor, and the general population more than made up for the 
continuing chill. Madison weather was worse. Finishing his January 30 evening lecture on folklore at the 
University of Wisconsin, he and his host, A. C. L. Brown, a former student of Fred Norris Robinson and 
a specialist in Celtic elements in Arthurian literature, went to Brown's rooms where a convivial group 
smoked and sipped whiskey and talked late into the night. At one o'clock in the morning — too late to get 
a cab — Hyde and Brown started out on foot for the railroad station, usually a simple walk of a mile or 
two. On this night, however, they had not taken more than a dozen steps before they found themselves in 
the teeth of a snow- filled howling gale. Since Brown did not seem to be intimidated by the weather, 
Hyde assumed that there was nothing unusual about it for Madison, although he wished that he had 
brought with him the fur hat he had worn in New Brunswick. When they reached the station he had to 
wait a half hour, his teeth chattering, for the 2:15 A.M. train to St. Paul. For some days afterward he had 
a severe earache that left him partially deaf in one ear. Later he discovered that he had walked through 
one of the worst midwestem blizzards of recent years. 

Despite the weather the Hydes enjoyed Chicago, which Lucy described in a postcard to Nuala and Una 
as "a fine city with pleasant 

buildings," "only 50 years old" with "streets thirty miles long" and "no Indians now." There they were 
lavishly entertained by well-to-do Irish- American bankers and businessmen, political figures, celebrities, 
and literary figures; Hyde was invited to talk at the University of Chicago. As they prepared to leave 
they assured the friends they had made — among them, Chicago's "Mr. Dooley" — that they would return 
in April. 

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Days were already longer and the birds had begun to return to the lakefront when, at seven- thirty in the 
evening, February 6, the Hydes boarded their train. By eleven o'clock the next morning they were in 
Omaha — a visual shock, as they had not seen the gradual change in the countryside through which they 
had passed overnight and therefore were not prepared for the sweeping flatness of the northern midwest. 
To Nuala and Una, Lucy sent a picture postcard: "This is a castle of an American millionaire. Would 
you like one? Jane will tell you what an American millionaire is. These fine homes have no gardens 
worth speaking of, which is a pity." 

In Omaha, Hyde continued to encounter fluent Irish speakers (including the bishop of Omaha, a Dr. 
Scannell from Cork) and Roscommon neighbors (such as Father Stritch, who now lived in Omaha, but 
was a native of Ballaghaderreen). It was not at all difficult to have such chance meetings there, he 
discovered, as more tiian one-sixth of the city's population of 150,000 was either Irish- bom or of Irish 
extraction. Often in Omaha, as in other parts of the United States, he found among the native- bom Irish 
and their American- bom children and even grandchildren books or manuscripts in the Irish language 
which they preserved but could not read. The future fate of these items concemed him greatly, as he 
began to mention in his speeches in the hope that the owners might take steps to make sure that these 
endangered relics of their past would be preserved. 

On Febmary 11 the Hydes were again on a train, now headed in full daylight across the Great Plains and 
through the Rocky Mountains toward the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Concannon, to Lucy's great relief, 
had gone on ahead to spend a few days with his brother in Califomia. Hyde divided his time between 
looking out the train window and translating canto 5 of Dante's Infemo from Italian into Irish, for a 
priest he had met at Notre Dame. He felt awed by the immensity of America, the enormous farms, each 
one stretched over what seemed to Hyde to be all the land and more of an Irish county, and the wild and 
barren scenery. Sometimes, seeing a solitary figure near a farmhouse, he 

thought of the people they had met most recently in the Midwest, many of them Irish women married to 
German husbands or Irish men married to German wives. It stmck him that, given the cultural values he 
felt that they shared, this might be a better combination than English and Irish. Idly, enjoying the leisure, 
he let his mind wander, not caring how long it might take to reach the crowds, the reporters, the 
photographers, and the well-wishers in San Francisco. They had left Ireland more than three months ago 
— ninety- six days ago to be exact — and he had spent few of them resting. He had arrived in the Midwest 
with a bad cold that he had never quite shaken. His ear — the one he had exposed to a Wisconsin blizzard 

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— Still bothered him from time to time. He was nodding, almost asleep, when the train stopped in Ogden, 
Utah, and two reporters for the San Francisco newspapers boarded to interview him. His first reaction 
was dismay that he quickly tried to mask. His second reaction was astonished pleasure, for one reporter 
was Edward F. Cahill, a Trinity man, and the other was J. T. Smith, a fluent Irish speaker. They had a 
fine, companionable time together, and the next day readers of the San Franciso Examiner awoke to find 
Douglas Hyde looking out at them from a four-column story on the front page of their newspaper. 

San Francisco captured the hearts of both Lucy and Hyde. They arrived in the evening in time to see the 
Ferry Building and City Hall dome outlined in lights above the sparkling Pacific. Accompanied by 
Father Y orke and Frank Sullivan, members of the organizing committee, they were introduced to 
photographers who snapped them "in all the moods and tenses" and were then brought to the St. Francis 
Hotel where they could look out at the famous trolleys. On February 12 Hyde spoke in San Francisco. 
On February 14, after an informal session with the organizing committee, they were taken in a Mercedes 
to the Cliff House to view the sea lions, after which Hyde lectured in Berkeley. Fascinated by San 
Francisco, Hyde was eager to explore every comer of it, but between head cold and fatigue, he had 
begun to lose his voice. On Saturday, February 17, he remained in his room the entire day, steaming his 
throat over jugs of hot water in order to be able to address the major program set for Sunday at the Tivoli 
Opera House. All the boxes, he was told, had been sold in advance, bringing in $1,400 immediately, 
without counting the income anticipated from the stalls. 

The crowd at the Tivoli was the most enthusiastic Hyde had yet encountered. He stepped up to the 
podium following Father Yorke's introduction, eyes sparkling, hands behind his back, bowing to a 

ing, clapping, fully packed house. For an hour and a half (his vocal cords fortunately did not betray him) 
he alternately roared and whispered in an embellished version of what he had come to call "the Speech." 
Hitting all the notes that had aroused audiences of the past three months — "the devouring demon of 
anglicization" whose "foul and gluttonous jaws have swallowed everything that was hereditary, natural, 
instinctive, ancient, intellectual, and noble"; the lateness of the hour; the desperate need for Irish men 
and women to plant their feet firmly and say, "Back, demon. Back! Not one more mouthful of the 
heritage of Irish nationhood shall you swallow again forever" — he urged his lively audience not to let 
the abundant wealth of the Irish in America be lost in abundant indifference. He pleaded with them not 
just to save the dying Irish race but to help it develop upon Irish lines in a healthy future. Frank Sullivan 
was so moved by Hyde's performance that at its conclusion he himself pledged $1,200 on the spot. 
Others joined in the fever of the moment. The next evening Hyde found himself at the head table of "the 
greatest banquet ever given to a private person on the coast or indeed I believe to anyone else in 

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California." Even Lucy was impressed and pleased — especially as there was no sign of Concannon. 

Neither Quinn nor Lucy had given up on getting rid of Concannon. Although they were not otherwise 
fond of each other they exchanged letters about him through which they vented their anger and 
frustration. Lucy complained that he still had not provided an account of his expenses. Quinn was still 
dissatisfied with the discrepancy between what he had anticipated and what he was told had been 
collected. To Quinn, Concannon was "a fumbling, procrastinating, and conceited ass." To Lucy he was a 
"rat," an "eel," a "viper." If Quinn tired of this correspondence before Lucy, it was no doubt only partly 
because of the pressure of other matters, as he said, but also because Lucy had expanded the subject to 
include Quinn's conduct of his personal life, including his smoking, of which she did not approve. 

Concannon presumably was still with his brother. Lucy enjoyed his absence and dreaded his return. Also 
absent in California were the jealousies and grievances within and among local societies on which Hyde 
blamed past fund-raising troubles and disappointments. After San Jose on February 26, Oakland on 
February 28, and Santa Barbara on March 8, the next major program was scheduled for Los Angeles on 
March 10. With sufficient time to rest between commitments, the Hydes were delighted when William J. 
Robinson, a goldminer from the north of Ireland, offered to drive them around to give them a better 

acquaintance with the countryside. The weather was ideal, the scenery spectacular. On March 9 
Laurence Brannick, who had escorted Father O'Growney's coffin from California to Maynooth in 1901, 
brought them to Los Angeles, where Lucy watched with pleasure as Hyde was feted at tiie Alexandria 
Hotel, extolled in the Los Angeles Times, and rewarded with a substantial collection for "the Speech." 

In the California sunshine of Los Angeles and San Francisco Lucy did not even mind the questions of 
reporters, which until then she had been reluctant to oblige, but talked easily about herself and her two 
children. She showed the reporters pictures of both Nuala and Una; she told them that she had sent the 
girls more than two hundred postcards of America; she even gave an interview in which she stoutly 
defended the role that Irish women were playing in the Gaelic League. "The great advantage of the 
League," she said, was that it gave to women "as much scope for their activity as men." It was in this 
respect, she declared, with the poise and self-assurance of the Lucy whom Hyde had courted, that it 
differed from other organizations run by men, in which women have little representation. Within the 
league women were "fellow- workers." "Cut off women," she asserted, "and the League would not 
survive." One by one, she ticked off the names of the women who were most active in the league, noting 
their responsibilities and contributions. The only one she did not mention was Nellie 'Brien, perhaps 

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because she was beginning to resent tiie pleasure witii which Hyde seemed to receive Nellie's frequent 
long and friendly letters. 

On the evening of March 26 Father Y orke, the Sullivans, and others who had been their daily 
companions accompanied the Hydes across the bay to their waiting train. On the Oakland ferry Hyde 
turned for a last look at the receding pier. Taking off his hat he waved and shouted a farewell that 
encompassed not only his friends but the entire city. "San Francisco, I shall never see you again." 

Nothing before or after San Francisco could match it for enthusiasm, hospitality, and contributions. Its 
spell, although muted, seemed to continue, for all went well in Portland and Seattle, although collections 
were again not what had been expected. In the copper-mining city of Butte, a different world in which 
the emphasis was clearly on the struggle for survival, Hyde persuaded a hundred hopeful Irish 
Americans to form a branch of the Gaelic League, then sat down to read a waiting packet of Nellie 
O'Brien's letters, thinking that Ireland seemed very far away. With Lucy he visited Anaconda, where 
they spent the day touring the mines and where Hyde was horrified to watch a cloud of arsenic 

pour out of a smokestack 300 feet high and, carried by the breeze, settle on the distant farmland. During 
the next few days they visited the impoverished villages of local tribes of the largest population of native 
Americans they had encountered and talked with a young Irishman who explained the economy of the 
state. "Montana is completely owned, almost body and soul, by the Standard Oil Company and other 
kindred corporations," Hyde wrote in his diary. "They have succeeded in preempting every source of 
wealth that is worth anything — all the mines, the timber upon a thousand hills, tiie sources of all the 
water power, and even all the good valley land, and of course they own the newspapers." He had come 
to Butte to ask for help in relieving the oppression of a people thousands of miles away. They had 
contributed to his cause. And who was there to help them? The people understood their plight, he was 
assured by several of the Irish Americans with whom he spoke. In fact, if it had not been for the election 
of Roosevelt, from whom they expected some help, some might have been brought to the point of 
revolution. But could Theodore Roosevelt really help, asked Hyde. The young men shrugged. 

At the beginning of April, while Hyde was still in Butte, he received a letter from John Quinn, who was 
now thoroughly fed up with Concannon. Not half of what Concannon had guaranteed had been sent in, 
he declared. "I am done with him," he told Hyde. He must be kept out of Baltimore, Washington, and 
Buffalo, for it would be "money thrown away" for him to go there. On April 9 Hyde at last conceded. He 
cabled the league, saying that he looked upon his tour as practically finished and therefore had released 

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Concannon, who would sail in three weeks' time (Concannon had asked for those three weeks for 
himself). He wrote to Concannon, giving him leave to go whenever he chose. 

From Butte, the Hydes retraced their route through St. Paul and Chicago. On April 19 they were in 
Memphis when they awoke to news that their beautiful and generous San Francisco had been nearly 
destroyed. "We were unspeakably horrified . . . /' Hyde wrote in his diary, trying hard not to see in his 
mind's eye its ground gaping, its buildings overthrown. Some of the money he had raised in San 
Francisco had to be used to pay expenses. The small fees he received from his college lectures were 
supposed to be his own money; it had been John Quinn's idea to arrange these for that purpose, as a way 
to compensate Hyde for the eight months that he was devoting to the campaign. The rest was for the 
league. Calculating what these figures came to, Hyde estimated that he could safely return $5,000 for the 
relief of the people of 

San Francisco without danger of dipping into league funds or using them for expenses. He arranged with 
John Quinn for the money to be sent. Quinn telegraphed the money to Father Y orke who mercifully had 
not been among the dead and injured. 

Memphis was a shock to both Lucy and Hyde, who now had been traveling in the United States for five 
months. Their hotel, the best in the city, was "unutterably dirty and slovenly," Hyde complained in his 
diary. Everything was in "ramshackle condition." The hotel elevator "always stopped three feet short of 
our floor, and to scale up from the lift to our landing was a feat" which required "considerable athletic 
prowess." They were taken to the horse races by the mayor, "a nice old man of the name of M alone" 
who, to Hyde's amusement, seemed to have stepped out of a novel. "He had the slow drawl and the 
objection to sounding an 'r' and talked about his family and the aristocracy and his estates in Ireland two 
hundred years ago." He said that his family had been in Virginia for two hundred years before settling in 
Tennessee. They were, he declared, "the old aristocracy befo' the wah, suh." Aside from their host. 
Father Larkin, and another man named Walsh, Hyde's impression was that there were not many Irish in 
Memphis. Nevertheless they had a good turnout in the theater for his lecture, and before they left. Father 
Larkin took Hyde to see the cotton bales packed and tightened by hydraulic pressure on the "great sheet 
of water" that was the Mississippi River. 

By Saturday, April 21, the Hydes were on their way from Louisville to Baltimore. Delighted with the 
return of spring, Hyde captured the scenery in his diary: 

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The white blossoms of the dog trees brightened the woods and forests on both sides of the railway, and 
the pink patches made by the Judas trees, as they are called, were beyond anything lovely. The Judas 
tree appears to have no leaves, but is thickly covered with pink blossoms. Judas is said to have hung 
himself on one of these trees, hence the name. They are numerous all over the South, but apparently not 
in the North. Toward evening we struck the Allegheny Mountains, a series of lovely ridges with a 
beautiful river running through them. All night long these ridges were lit up by brilliant flashes of 
summer lightning which kept playing on the hills and river for hours. 

In Baltimore, Hyde spoke to a packed theater "decorated for the meeting with what appeared to be Irish 
words in large Irish letters: Ginn Finn Ginn Finn Amain Failice 7 Glaince." (Obviously intended was 
Sinn Fein Sinn Fein amhain failte agus slainte: "Sinn Fein [the name of Arthur Griffith's new nationalist 
organization, liter- 

ally "ourselves"] only Sinn Fein, welcome and health.") It was nicely done, anyway, thought Hyde, and 
since it was a decoration that so few could read, it made no difference. But perhaps there would come a 
time when it would. 

At six o'clock in the evening on April 23 the Hydes were back in New Y ork, at John Quinn's apartment. 
Quinn was not looking well; in the four months since they had left New Y ork he had lost his only 
brother. He was thirty-six; he came from a close family; his father had died in 1897; his mother and two 
of his four sisters in 1902. Y et he had not for a moment put aside or ignored in this latest grief anything 
that had to be done on Hyde's behalf. Just three days before their return he had written a long letter to 
Lady Gregory about the difficulties with which he had had to cope, not through any fault of Hyde's, but 
on account of the "stubborn and blundering Concannon" and the "bad tempers and petty jealousies" of a 
small but intensely irritating number of people in the Irish- American organizations on which he had 
relied. If it had not been for others, "broadminded, patriotic and generous Irishmen," the tour would have 
failed. He had nothing but admiration for Hyde and for the way he had managed to hold up in situations 
that would have discouraged many another. He noted particulariy Hyde's capacity for getting along with 
everyone, including some whom Quinn frankly admitted that he himself could not abide. It was for 
Hyde that he had worked Saturdays and Sundays as well as weekdays for many months. 

The Hydes were back, but the work was not yet over. There were still commitments in and around New 

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Y ork and as far north as Toronto that had to be kept. At nine the next morning Hyde was on his way to 
Cornell University. Quinn accompanied him on the ferry to Hoboken where he boarded the train to 
Ithaca. He was met at the station by a Trinity man, a Professor McMahon, who put him up in his own 
house. His evening lecture, the first of two, was about the philosophy of the Gaelic movement. The next 
morning was pure pleasure, devoted to examining the Cornell Dante collection (about eight thousand 
volumes, he estimated) and a "splendid Petrarch and Icelandic collection as well." In the afternoon he 
lectured on Irish poetry; by evening he was in Elmira for a banquet that lasted until almost two o'clock 
in the morning. 

The students at the Elmira Ladies' College, where Hyde was to lecture on April 26, excelled, he was 
told, in athletics. In the morning he talked to them for about a half hour and made them laugh. In the 

ning he was to address a much larger audience — about twelve hundred, he estimated, that included the 
students of the ladies' college, who arrived in their caps and gowns. Unaware that no more than a fifth of 
those he was addressing had any Irish background or connections, Hyde had decided to give them "the 
Speech." Part way through, when he began to realize that he was not getting the reactions he expected, 
he "switched around a little," but not before the editor of the Elmira Telegraph had noticed his error, for 
which he afterward took Hyde to task. Had this happened four or five months earlier, Hyde would have 
been devastated. As it was he was grateful that his listeners received what he had to say as well as they 

From Elmira, Hyde went to Scranton, accompanied by a Father Hurst, an "old friend . . . who had been 
in Ratra some years ago" and who had lived for a time in Swinford, in Mayo. He would have enjoyed 
talking during the journey but he was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open, and eventually he fell 
asleep on the train. Another of his hosts in Scranton was a Casey from a village near Coolavin, the home 
of The Macdermot very near to Ballaghaderreen. The mayor, the bishop, and another crowd of 1,200 
turned out to hear his evening lecture. In the morning he was on his way back to New Y ork, grateful that 
he had two weeks to rest before the next major fund-raising event, in Buffalo on May 13. 

Hyde spent most of his time on the train from Scranton to New Y ork just looking out the window. It was 
April 28. There was not yet much foliage, but the willows, he noticed, were putting on their green and 
the red buds of the hard maple had started to sprout, giving the trees a reddish-yellow rather than green 
appearance. Taking note of the difference between Irish and American trees, he observed that in an 

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American wood just beginning to green tiiere were "all kinds of shades, a whitish green, dull green, dark 
green, but very little vivid green." He thought the green of the drooping willows "tiie prettiest thing in 
the landscape." Soon it would be time for him to return to Ireland. He wondered again, as so often 
before, what his life would have been like if in 1891 he had remained in North America. 

By one o'clock Hyde was in New Y ork, at Quinn's office. Although it was Saturday, Quinn was, as 
usual, working with other members of the host committee. A letter had come for Hyde from Father 
Y orke, assuring him that all his friends were safe but the city was destroyed, and they were now 
rebuilding. Over lunch Hyde raised the question of sending an additional $5,000 for the relief of "the 
San Francisco suf- 

ferers." The committee members gave their permission, and Quinn telegraphed the money to Father 
Y orke. A few days later, catching up on his correspondence, Hyde wrote to Y orke, offering to send 
another $5,000 for earthquake relief from the money he had collected in San Francisco if it were needed. 
He assured Y orke that he took full responsibility for returning money which he felt under the present 
circumstances was needed more by San Francisco than by the league. He also felt confident that there 
was "not a single person in Ireland" who would not back him up in making such a contribution. Hyde 
asked Y orke if he should not also return to the Sullivans the $1,700 they had given to the league as they 
might now be in need of it. "All the pleasure has been taken out of my trip to America by this frightful 
accident," he declared. "My heart is really broken over what has happened to you." 

After dinner on April 28 Hyde went alone to an evening performance of one of his plays. An Posadh 
(The Marriage) at the Lexington Opera House. He spoke in Irish at the end of the performance. "Idle 
generally today," he wrote in his diary on April 29. It was the first notation of its kind since well before 
he had left Ratra. It was Sunday: he and Quinn took a long walk along the river, looking at the French 
and American battleships; he was overjoyed at the prospect of being just a visitor to America for a few 
days, with no fund-raising events to worry about. The local committee that had arranged his lecture in 
Philadelphia had invited him and Lucy to return and really see the city, a prospect that pleased Lucy. On 
Monday morning they took the train to Philadelphia for a four-day visit that included a tour of all the 
historic sites and buildings, a banquet attended by forty people who had been to his lecture in December, 
and a night playing twenty-one with three Catholic priests. Father Coghlan, Father O'Donnell, and 
Father MacLaughlin, who had become his friends. 

On May 4 Hyde returned with Lucy to New Y ork, lunched with Quinn, and caught a train to 

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Poughkeepsie, where he lectured on Irish poetry at Vassar College. After his lecture there was a 
reception followed by a "curious ceremony" with Celtic overtones in which students dressed in 
"fantastic costumes" to represent Juno and other deities "had limelights thrown upon them and chanted 
weird songs and college ditties." The next evening, again back in New Y ork, Hyde spoke at a review of 
the Irish Volunteers at the Grand Central Palace. He had reservations about participating in such a 
meeting, especially as the Volunteers were Clan na Gael men, but as all proceeds of this meeting were to 
go for tiie relief of the sufferers in San Francisco, he could not bring 

himself to refuse. On May 8 he found himself in very different company, at dinner at Delmonico's with 
Judge Keogh, with whom he attended the quarteriy meeting of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick — the 
only society, Hyde noted, that many of the wealthiest and most successful Irish Americans would join, 
having been disaffected by the "perpetual disputes and unsavoury bickerings" that went on in others. On 
May 9 Hyde, Quinn, and Lucy were joined at dinner by the Janviers, a couple from still another circle, 
supporters of the Felibrige, the organization founded by Mistral to help preserve the language of 
Provengal. On the last day of what he and Lucy had been calling their holiday, they went to the 
Hippodrome, laughed at the trained seals, and enjoyed the ballet. 

On Saturday morning. May 12, the Hydes left for Buffalo. From the moment they got off the train at 
7:10 P.M. tiiey were surrounded by people: members of the local host committee, local dignitaries, 
members of Irish-American societies, and a steady stream of reporters. "Back, back, demon, back," 
Hyde wished he could say, but instead he again did his best to be accessible, amusing, intelligible, and 
wary yet quotable. On May 13, the day of the program, it poured rain, but a good crowd (about twelve 
hundred people) turned up anyway, and the collection was satisfying. On Monday, Hyde took Lucy to 
Niagara Falls, which he had first seen fifteen years ago, and then delivered a lecture at Niagara College 
entitled "The Last Three Centuries of Irish Literature." On Tuesday, Hyde went alone, by invitation, to 
meet a Mr. Sweeney, the kind of man who in Dublin might be called a character, a dry-goods merchant 
from county Antrim who had given $100 at the Sunday night event. "It is not easy to get money out of 
me," he told Hyde. "If you didn't strike me right you wouldn't have got it." 

Hyde and Lucy started for Rochester at one o'clock on May 16 via the Empire State Express. Hyde knew 
that it had the reputation of being one of the fastest trains in the world; still, he was astonished when 
they made the sixty- nine- mile journey in seventy minutes. In the afternoon he and Lucy were given an 
automobile tour of the Genessee Valley. Hyde's lecture in the evening was followed by a banquet 
complete with champagne and cigars. Although Hyde enjoyed himself, he could not forget that his next 
lecture was in Toronto, where he feared the attack of the Orange newspapers. All turned out well, 
however. "I . . . turned their flank," he noted in his diary, "by making common cause with the Scotch, 

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saying that this was a movement of the Scotch Highlanders as much as one of our own, and that it was 
monstrous of the University of Toronto not to have a chair of Gaelic for the men who practically 

made Canada and made Toronto." The ploy worked, to Hyde's delight. "This astute move took the wind 
out of the other people's sails and brought in all the Scotch audience." Even the Toronto newspapers 
were friendly, to the astonishment of the Toronto Irish community. Hyde returned to New Y ork covered 
with glory. 

After a short respite in New Y ork, Lucy again accompanied Hyde to his next destination, Washington, D. 
C. They arrived on Sunday, May 20, well before his scheduled lecture. For the first time he failed to 
draw a big audience. Only about four hundred people attended — partly, he noted in his diary, on account 
of the heat, partly on account of the lateness of the season. But what the crowd lacked in number it made 
up for in prestige, for the Speaker of the House, "Uncle Joe Cannon," was in one of the boxes, and 
"others of authority and position" were present. Hyde spoke at a terrible disadvantage, as during dinner 
he had been struck by a severe pain in his back that kept him from drawing a long breath or even moving 
his arms. Nevertheless, the show went on. There was, however, "one passage where, under ordinary 
circumstances," Hyde would have had to stoop down "by way of picking a piece of mud off the street." 
He cut it out, knowing that he was "absolutely unable" to bend forward. It was a dismaying disability, 
for it continued, and tiie next day Hyde had his second luncheon date with President Roosevelt. He 
"hobbled up" to the White House and was rewarded with the opportunity to discuss an article which the 
president had just written on Irish and Norse saga. Hyde was astonished that the president of the United 
States could find time for such activities, but Roosevelt explained that as he knew his recent letter about 
railway rates would be "attacked and abused all over the country, ... to take his mind off it he sat down 
and wrote his article." To their daughters Lucy sent postcards of the White House on which she wrote, 
"May 23, 1906. Pappy had lunch with the president in this building." 

His back having improved, Hyde divided his time during the next four days between lectures and 
lunches at Catholic University and sight-seeing with Lucy in Washington, a city he much admired for its 
beauty. His one criticism was the Library of Congress, "a forest of lovely marble pillars . . . spoiled by 
the tawdry coloring and silly paintings upon the walls." Catholic University he found particularly 
impressive, on account of the freewheeling conversations he was able to have with its faculty, "the most 
broadminded" that he "had yet met." A chance meeting at the Smithsonian gave him the opportunity to 
renew his friendship with Mooney, a man whose company he had enjoyed in New Brunswick. 

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In Hyde's opinion Mooney knew "more about Indian rites and ceremonies than anyone living perhaps. 

The next two weeks in New Y ork were a flurry of activity as the Hydes prepared to return home. Hyde 
had agreed to write an article for Scribner's entitled "Scenes from the Ancient History of Ireland/' to 
accompany a series of pictures. There were still two commitments to keep, one in Bridgeport, 
Connecticut the other in Paterson, New Jersey, both within easy traveling distance. Hollenbeck, a 
"phonographer" who had developed a "complete apparatus" for learning French, German, and Spanish 
on his phonograph, had asked Hyde to "speak an Irish record" into one of his cylinders. He also had to 
see a publisher by the name of Wessel who had received copies of The Religious Songs of Connacht 
from Fisher Unwin for sale in the United States. Robinson, the mining engineer from California, showed 
up suddenly, invited Hyde to dinner, drove him back to Quinn's apartment, insisted on coming in, and 
"remained talking and reciting poetry" (which the disgusted Quinn called doggerel) until 1:30 one 
morning. There were also lunches and dinners and evening parties and excursions, as almost everyone 
whom tiie Hydes had met in New Y ork wanted to entertain them before they left. 

Eager to have a quiet dinner to themselves before they parted, Quinn, Hyde, and Lucy went to Tappan's 
Hotel in Sheepshead Bay on Sunday, June 10. Afterward they went to the home of Quinn's friend, Ada 
Smith, from whose balcony they could watch the lights go on at Coney Island. As the sky darkened, the 
amusement park lit up like fairyland and became a blaze of light, while in the opposite direction sheet 
lightning and fork lightning played over Sandy Hook. Lucy sent a last postcard to her daughters: "This is 
called a skyscraper because it nearly touches the skies. Keep it for me." 

On June 15 Quinn put the Hydes aboard the Celtic . With their luggage, they had five boxes of gifts, 
many from Quinn himself. Among the souvenirs they brought home were a rattlesnake skin, arrowheads, 
and the skin of an Alaskan polar bear purchased in Spokane for sixty dollars. As the Celtic steamed 
eastward, taking a course two hundred miles outside the usual Atlantic shipping lanes to avoid icebergs, 
Hyde sat in their cabin, trying out his newly acquired typewriter and rereading letters from Nellie 
O'Brien, Agnes O'Farrelly, and Padraig O'Daly, to try to concentrate his attention on what lay ahead. 
Twice daily he strolled the first-class deck of the White Star liner, pausing occasionally at the stem in 
the long June twilight to lean on the massive bleached and 

holystoned teak rails, his eyes fixed on the churning ship's wake stretching westward, reaching back 
toward the New Island. He thought of the name the reporter from the G aelic American had put on him, 
"The Man in the Gap" who would reconcile, he said, opposing Irish factions. He wished he could be 

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equal to that task, but he knew it was beyond him. He had not even managed to explain to Quinn that the 
reason he could not sack Concannon was that Concannon was the man who so often, on his trips back 
and forth between his brother in California and his mother on Aran, had broken his trip to be a carrier of 
messages to and from Eugene O'Growney, dying first in the Arizona desert and then in Los Angeles. 
Quinn was a strong man: he would understand the feeling but deplore the sentimentality. 

On balance — as it was not for a newspaper reporter to assign him his tasks, but himself alone — he had 
done most of what he had come for. The money he had raised for the G aelic League was not as much as 
Quinn had hoped but more than enough to keep the budget going for a good few years. The people 
whose support he had won were anotlier kind of treasure that both he and the Gaelic League could store 
away against — against what? That was the question he now had to ponder. 

- - 14 Triumphs and Troubles - 

In the middle of an ocean, approximately equidistant from points of departure and arrival, the mind rests 
and the inner eye is able to look back and ahead with a clarity of vision rarely achieved in any other 
place. In mid-June, 1906, the middle of the Atlantic was sufficiently calm to provide travelers dozing in 
deck chairs with a particularly good perspective. Although soon after the Hydes had boarded the Celtic 
the mock-serious British captain had warned, shaking his head, "Dr. Hyde, if you pronounce the name of 
our ship with a hard C you shall have a hard sea on this crossing," he had been wrong. Many times in the 
four days since leaving New Y ork, Hyde had mischievously invoked the ship's name — always in the 
presence of the captain, always with a hard C — but the ocean had remained subdued, mirroring the 
mood of the reclining passengers. Cradled in his own customary deck chair, with Lucy in hers, dozing 
beside him, Hyde spent hours on end ostensibly reading but actually reflecting on past and future. 

Viewed retrospectively from the middle of the Atlantic, the states of America were united for Hyde in a 
kaleidoscope of images juxtaposed not by place or time but by association: red- bricked Boston 
contrasted with gray New Y ork, both with sand-hued Chicago and (his heart still stopped whenever he 
thought of it) sparkling San Francisco. In Pittsburgh, usually a study of gray and black, the rays of the 
setting sun so colored the smoke from the steel mills that all seemed engulfed in one great flame. In the 
pale, cold light of early morning the rugged mountains and valleys of Montana appeared from the 
windows of Butte 

and Anaconda to be devoid of a blade of grass, a tree, a scrap of plant life, so devastating were the 
effects of the arsenic-laden emissions spewed out by its smelters. Brockton, Massachusetts, was, like 
Butte, an industrial town, but it was a major boot- manufacturing center, and as the boot business was 

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booming, people were cheerful and content Nothing of Brockton's cheer, however, was attributable to 
bottled spirits; it was a prohibition town. When Hyde discovered that no drink could be had to smarten 
him up for his lecture there, his resourceful host had with some difficulty procured from a drugstore a 
small bottle of whiskey "for medicinal purposes" that Hyde then had to imbibe unconvivially in his 

Aboard the Celtic in mid-June Hyde needed only a laprobe to be comfortable in his deck chair. Winter 
already had set in when he visited Brockton. Manchester, New Hampshire, was in the grip of hard frost 
by early December, a fact that would have come as a surprise to him had it not been for the year that he 
had spent in New Brunswick. The cities and towns of all northern New England, in fact, were peaceful 
and picturesque under their winter blanket of snow. At the same time on the opposite coast in places like 
Santa Barbara, American millionaires and millionairesses strolled beneath palm trees along walks 
overlooking a beautiful sunlit bay. Most of Southern California, Hyde concluded, had no visible means 
of existence but seemed to live upon the reputation of its climate. 

People as well as places were fixed in Hyde's consciousness. For genuine friendship no place surpassed 
San Francisco, but Philadelphia certainly had lived up to its reputation as the City of Brotherly Love, 
and the predominantly German population of Cincinnati had given Hyde such a wonderfully Irish 
welcome that he had responded, to their amusement and pleasure, with a speech of appreciation in 
German. In Los Angeles the Celtic Club, whose members were Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, had bestowed 
on him an honorary membership. It was the only club in America, as far as Hyde knew, that brought 
these three branches of the Celts together. Maud Gonne, the Hinksons, Rose Kavanagh — all the Pan- 
Celts in Dublin — would be interested to hear of its success, although it would not be approved at all by 
some members of the Coiste Gnotha. 

Just before the Celtic Club dinner Hyde had been taken by Dr. Jones, a Welshman, to another American 
refuge for millionaires, Pasadena, so that he could call on Michael Cudahy, the meat- packer from 
Chicago, and talk for a while with Cudahy and his wife. The Cudahy family were 

among the richest of the Irish in America, Hyde had been told; they had come out of Callan in county 
Kilkenny about the time of the Famine. To Thomas Curtin, Quinn's personal secretary, Hyde had given 
an account of the ability this family displayed in avoiding him. They had dodged him in Milwaukee, in 
St. Louis, and in Chicago. But Archbishop Riordan had seated Michael Cudahy beside Hyde at a big 
dinner in San Francisco, and impressed, Hyde believed, not by what he had said but by the enthusiasm 

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of the archbishop, Michael Cudahy had given the Sacramento committee a check for $500 on the spot. 
Hyde's impression was that Cudahy was strong, thoughtful, and matter-of-fact. He had heard others refer 
to him as the "brain carrier" of the Cudahy family. It was an odd expression but in substance, Hyde 
thought, it probably was true. 

In the east Hyde had visited another millionaire, Andrew Carnegie. Judge Keogh, who accompanied 
him, had arranged the introduction in the hope that Carnegie might be interested in the work of the 
Gaelic League. They were kept waiting for a long time, but when he finally appeared, Carnegie was 
apologetic and cordial. Hyde recalled him as very small, an ugly little man with gray hair and an 
immense ego, as revealed in the stories he told about himself, yet very human. He was clearly 
unimpressed with what Hyde had to say about the goals of the league until Hyde mentioned Horace 
Plunkett's approval of it, at which point Carnegie suddenly became attentive. After their talk he escorted 
Hyde and Keogh to the door in the most friendly manner and asked Hyde to visit him again when he 
came back from the West. Then in January, just before his lecture in St. Paul, Hyde was handed a note 
signed "Frederic Stewart" offering the Gaelic League $25,000 for which, the note said, Carnegie had 
agreed to serve as trustee. As "Frederic Stewart" was also the name that had been left by a man who had 
been waiting for him before his lecture, Hyde lingered after the program, talking and shaking hands, 
expecting that he would turn up again. No one named Stewart approached him, no one had heard of him, 
and his name was not in the local directory. If it was true that Stewart was indeed representing Carnegie, 
something yet might come of it, Hyde thought hopefully. It never did. 

America, Hyde discovered, was like Ireland in that to be a great character one did not need great wealth. 
There was, for example, John D. O'Brien of St. Paul, the only man Hyde ever had met who shot wild 
ducks with a bow. He had been brought up among the Indians on an island in one of the big lakes and he 
spoke Chippewa fluently. He was 

known for miles around. In Manchester, New Hampshire, the bishop was a hail-fellow-well-met by the 
name of Delaney who wore a billycock hat and smoked a big cigar. The locals, even the Catholics, never 
addressed him as "My Lord" but only as "Bishop," and nobody dropped on one knee or kissed his ring or 
anything like that. Hyde had met him through two other extraordinary Irishmen, characters themselves. 
One was a wonderful old fellow by the name of O'Dowd, an avid collector and reader of Irish books 
who knew all about the language movement at home and everything that was going on in every parish in 
Ireland better than those who lived there. The other, Multhain, or Mullin, was a fine Irish speaker 
from Sligo with a good memory for Irish songs. In Waterbury, Connecticut, at a banquet organized by a 
man named Luddy, a counterpart of O'Dowd, the master of the feast had been Moriarity, the most jovial 
undertaker Hyde had ever met. 

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Moriarity would have fit nicely into the evening Quinn had arranged in New Y ork at the Players Club. 
The guests Quinn had assembled included Paul Elmer More, editor of the Evening Post ; Arthur 
Brisbane, editor of the Evening Journal ; Munroe, aTolstoian; J. I. C. Clarke, editor of the Sunday 
Herald ; Witter Bynner of McClure's Magazine ; Richard Watson Gilder of the Century ; Malone, the 
old actor; and Van Thome, a former student of Hyde's from the University of New Brunswick. There 
were no speeches, but much talking. Everybody had to tell stories. Clarke recited his "Kelly and Burke 
and Shea." They had gone on nonstop, smoking cigars and drinking highballs, until three o'clock in the 
morning. Quinn later had told Father Y orke that Hyde "had outdone himself as a story-teller" at that 
affair. That evening he had told stories just for pleasure, but there were other times when both his 
storytelling and his play writing talents had saved the day. One such incident had occurred in January in 
Cincinnati, when a magazine called Men and Women set up an interview to be printed around St. 
Patrick's Day. The editor arrived with a stenographer, but he was unable to ask any questions because he 
did not know what to ask. The stenographer could not help — she was a young German girl. So Hyde had 
interviewed himself, asking himself questions on behalf of the editor, and answering them in his own 
voice, as the editor listened and the amused stenographer wrote everything down. 

Four days out of New Y ork. Reporters of course would be at the dock when he arrived in Queenstown, 
full of questions about his seven- mo nth tour of America. What would they want to know? How much 
money he had come home with, for one thing; what he had thought 

of America, for another. He began to compile for them a list of American superlatives: the best cold 
punch was served by the president of the University of California; the queerest things were the sea lions 
on the rocks near the Cliff House in San Francisco; San Francisco also had the most beautiful views and 
had arranged for him the most sumptuous banquet; Father Peter Y orke was the finest speaker he had 
heard; Frank Sullivan had been (except for Quinn, of course) his best host; San Francisco had the best 
hurling team he had seen outside of Ireland; Bishop Conaty of Los Angeles, who had taken the reins of 
the four- horse team that drew their carriage from Santa Cruz to the redwood forests was the best driver 
he ever had met; the nicest and most homelike hotel in America was the Touraine in Boston; he had left 
his best nightshirt in Waterbury, Connecticut, where the people had the best manners. The most 
beautiful woman he had seen in America was the supple and graceful Sarah Bernhardt, who had 
performed in New Y ork in La Femme de Claude on December 16. No one else could hold a candle to 
her, although in general (at least one reporter was sure to ask) American women were very pretty, 
somewhat pretty, and not very pretty, much as they were at home. The worst thing in America? 
Unutterably bad country roads, just mud tracks, not much better in many towns. His worst fear: that his 
voice would give out. Many times, of course, he had spoken in theaters and opera houses where the 
acoustics were good. But many more times he had had to roar to his audiences in halls that had all the 

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acoustical features of a drafty bam, and since January he had suffered a series of colds and sore throats. 

Five days out of New Y ork. Bertie Windle, now president of the University of Cork, had written on 
April 12 to invite Hyde and Lucy to stay with him when they arrived. W indie also had warned Hyde that 
a vicious attack on the league had recently appeared in the National Review . It was, said W indie, both 
"diabolically clever and . . . diabolically untruthful." It lumped together the Gaelic Athletic Association, 
the Gaelic League, and other organizations. John Quinn had complimented Hyde on his deft handling of 
competing Irish- American organizations. Quinn had no idea, Hyde thought, how much practice he had 
had at home. Of greater interest was Windle's progress on his attempts to "slowly and cautiously" work 
Irish into the college curriculum against the opposition of the church. Hyde needed to be kept informed 
on such matters as he had recently been named to a newly appointed commission to study the question 
of whether a new college should be added to Trinity to meet the growing demand for university- 

level education in Ireland. It was a question that was certain to divide the people of all thirty-two 
counties on issues of curriculum, religion, and language. 

Six days out of New Y ork a marconigram — probably the first in the Irish language to be received at sea 
— was handed to Hyde. It was from tiie Skibbereen branch of the Gaelic League. It said: "Thousands of 
welcomes home to you. An Chraoibhin Aoibhin! Behold the country on fire welcoming you." The 
country on fire — an Irish metaphor in Skibbereen, it was a very real prospect to the old Fenians, the 
AOH, and the Clan na Gael in America who shouted "Up the Revolution!" and sang "A Nation Once 
Again" with moist eyes. But if it came to physical force — the ill-equipped, untrained Irish against the 
mighty United Kingdom — the revolution would be over before the Americans reached Cork, if they 
came at all. At home some maintained, and they could be right, "The farliier from the battlefield, the 
greater the patriot." For that matter, how many at home would risk their own lives in such a foredoomed 
gesture? Hyde was convinced that before there could be a revolution — with or without physical force — 
the Irish had to feel that they were indeed a nation. Rich and poor, city and county. Catholic and 
Protestant, east and west, north and south, whether their roots were deep in Ireland or had but recently 
been transplanted into its limey soil, on that one matter at least all had to be agreed. Language and 
culture and a commitment to Irish manufacture were the bonding agents that could make a people of a 
population. Deanglicization was the prescription. When the Irish had that accomplished, they could 
decide, with or without the Americans, what to do next. 

One thing that would have to be considered eventually was the form of government a new Irish nation 

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should adopt Hyde had been asked about that in America. Would Ireland follow the English or the 
American system? It was not a question he could answer. What were the factors, he asked, turning the 
question back to his questioners. What were the advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed? 
Privately, Hyde had doubts that the American-style bicameral legislature would work in Ireland. He 
noted that in most states in America the legislature met only once every two years, and then only for 
about two months. It was for him proof positive of American practicality and distrust of mere talk. In the 
United States people were always doing something, making money, he noted; they did not have the 
same tendency to engage in endless debate. The Irish would never be satisfied with a two-month 
legislative session every two years. 

The current political struggle, however, was not about representative government — that day was not yet 
at hand — but about university education. Like everything else, it would not be settled without endless 
debate. In the end, Hyde suspected, there would be no new college at Trinity but a new institution. At 
the moment the choices available to students were only Trinity College, still very much a Protestant 
Ascendancy enclave; the three Queen's Colleges, Cork, Galway, and Belfast, established in 1845; and 
the old Catiiolic University established in 1854, called University College, Dublin since 1882. Hyde 
hoped that what might emerge from commission discussions would be a recommendation for a new 
nonsectarian national institution in which Irish would be taught as an academic subject. As for its goals, 
the philosophy of one of the American public universities he had visited — the University of Wisconsin — 
had intrigued him. Its president, Charles R. Van Hise, had told Hyde during his trip to Madison that this 
university produced for the state many times what the state spent on it. Its success. Van Hise said, was in 
his opinion attributable to the fact that he had always tried to make the university as democratic as 
possible and to foster personally meaningful connections between it and the citizens of the state. He 
gave as an example the contribution the university had made to Wisconsin farming. By teaching modem 
scientific methods to the farmers of tomorrow and providing the scientific environment necessary for 
invention and development, the university had enormously improved agriculture throughout the state. As 
a consequence it had earned the gratitude of the whole population. It was a splendid example, Hyde 
thought, of how a national university ought to function. 

Seven days out of New Y ork another message was received. It was from 'Daly, who reported that 
arrangements had been made for a public reception in Dublin on Sunday evening, June 24. Could Hyde 
be there? With the greatest of pleasure, Hyde replied; but for most of the next twenty- four hours he had 
serious doubts, as dense fog and heavy rain slowed the Celtic almost to a halt. Then suddenly the rain 
stopped, the fog cleared, and bright sunshine bathed hill and harbor of Queenstown: they were home. 
The tender from the landing station was approaching, threading its way past sailing schooners loaded 
with grain toward Roches Point and the ocean liner. At the same time, steaming into the harbor from the 
southwest was an armored cruiser and eight destroyers fresh from maneuvers; they weighed anchor 
beside all the other ominously visible warships and submarines of the British 

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Imperial Fleet just a fraction of the whole, for which Queenstown was a home port. 

Aboard the tender which had come out to take Cork- bound passengers to the landing station before the 
Celtic steamed off to Liverpool were the first of many welcoming committees. Hyde could hear the 
musicians long before he could make out the faces. Formal presentation of greetings and addresses 
began as soon as he stepped into the tender; they did not cease until the tender docked at the landing 
station at ten minutes before seven o'clock. The date was June 24, 1906. It had been 227 days since 
Hyde and Lucy had last set foot on Irish soil. On the train into Cork City and the first of many elaborate 
receptions that would continue on for days, there were more musicians and welcoming speeches. 

Asked by reporters what he expected would be the principal result of his American visit, Hyde replied 
that what already had been achieved and surely would continue in the future was American 
understanding of the Gaelic League and what it stood for: nationality in the highest sense of that word, 
above creed and politics; an intellectual movement that sought to perpetuate the best characteristics of 
the race. With that understanding, he declared, he was confident that American sympathy and support 
would continue. Tangible evidence of what he said was, he assured them, in his pocket, in the form of a 
check for over ten thousand pounds and an audited account showing what had been collected, how much 
had been used for expenses, and what remained, free and clear, to be used by the league in installments 
of no more than two thousand pounds per year to assure its maximum benefit. That sum, and the 
goodwill to which it testified, had been collected, Hyde said, during more than nineteen thousand miles 
of land travel in the course of which he had made seventy- eight separate railway trips, many of them 
double journeys. He had spoken five nights a week to audiences large and small depending on the size of 
the locality, for American support could be found everywhere, in the smallest towns and largest cities. 
The total number of people that he had addressed could not have been less than eighty thousand. Clearly 
they had been generous. Had the league not returned the money collected in San Francisco for relief of 
the victims of tiie earthquake the figure on the check in his pocket would have been considerably 
greater. And in addition to contributions for the league, he had also a small check from a private donor 
for the fledgling School of Irish Learning in Dublin. Established in 1903 under the 

directorship of the distinguished German Celticist Kuno Meyer with the help of Alice Stopford Green, 
the school had caught the particular attention of university scholars, as Hyde hoped it would, for one of 
his dreams was to create a facility that would bring Celticists from all over the world to study, conduct 
their research, confer, and write their books and papers in Dublin. 

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To questions about how he had organized such a campaign, Hyde gave fullest credit to John Quinn 
above all, to Judge Martin J. Keogh and the members of his host committees in New Y ork, and to Father 
Peter Y orke of San Francisco. Their effective publicizing of his tour had been evident everywhere, in 
public meetings and private conversations with American citizens — farmers, merchants, businessmen, 
doctors, lawyers, editors, and priests and bishops of the Catholic church, the professors and presidents of 
the universities, the president of the United States. Once the Americans were apprised of his visit and its 
purpose, the organizing was done by the people themselves. How had he been received by the bishops? 
With the greatest warmth and generosity, Hyde could say honestly, reeling off their names. And by the 
universities? The answer was tiie same. That was as much as Hyde wanted to discuss with reporters. He 
declined to be questioned on his appointment to the Trinity College commission; he refused to be drawn 
into a discussion of what had been publicly said about him in the House of Commons. His deft handling 
gave them plenty to print yet placed him firmly in charge. This skill, too, he knew, he owed to John 

The processions and celebrations that greeted Hyde's return were even larger and more elaborate than 
those that had marked his departure. They began as soon as he stepped off the train in Cork; they 
continued the next day in Dublin. In separate ceremonies he was made Freeman of Cork, of Kilkenny, 
and of Dublin. Lucy returned to Ratra and a reunion with the children — Nuala was now twelve and Una 
had just had her tenth birthday — but it was a number of days before Hyde himself could go home, as in 
addition to being feted he had people to see and work to do in the Dublin office of the league, and even 
then other welcoming ceremonies and invitations to speak took him away to different parts of the 
country several days out of every week. 

Meanwhile, awaiting Hyde's attention on his desk in Frenchpark were books, examination papers, 
reports, bills, and hundreds of letters that would each require an acknowledgment or answer. Most of the 
correspondents were familiar: William Kennedy, a Dublin journalist 

now in London who had accompanied the Hyde entourage to Queens- town last October, congratulated 
him on the success of the American tour and thanked him for his "unfailing courtesy and kindness." 
Charles 'Conor, son of Charles Owen 'Conor Don (there was no mistaking the 'Conor hand) 
appreciated Hyde's public mention of his dying father's support of the language movement, especially 
his father's role in the work of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. Alice Stopford 
Green, friend and formidable ally since 1900, who had put aside her writing of The Making of Ireland 
and Its Undoing in the months of his American tour to write letters to the press in praise of the league's 

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work, had encouraging news of Kuno Meyer's progress. Meyer himself, at that moment in Hungary, sent 
greetings and congratulations on Hyde's safe return. And there was a card, signed simply "Grainne," 
which read: 

welcome back my fairy king! Y our faith has moved the mountain. Y ou struck dry rock and lo! the 
spring! The rushing Gaelic fountain! 

In this same stack of mail Hyde found a letter and a check for $2,000, sent by the president of the 
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, "in appreciation of the Gaelic League's campaign to revive and 
reestablish the language." Curious that it should arrive now. It had been a query to Quinn about this 
promised contribution that had led to discussions about fund-raising and ultimately to the trip from 
which Hyde had just returned. 

In a comer of Hyde's study stood his newly acquired typewriter, a parting gift from John Quinn in New 
Y ork. He had tried to master its complexities on his return voyage, and in time he was sure he would, 
but for the moment it was faster and more efficient for him simply to hunch over his desk, pen in hand, 
and push either Irish or English words uphill in his small, slanted writing, as the occasion demanded. His 
first letter was to Quinn to tell him of the check from the AOH and describe his Dublin reception: "The 
whole of 'Connell Street was packed from side to side, and from the Rotunda to below Nelson's Pillar, 
with one solid mass of people, and they all with one accord cheered for John Quinn, as well they might. 
I left nobody under any doubt as to whom the American success was due." A second, which Quinn had 
insisted on, was to a Dublin investment house for advice on where best to place 

the six hundred pounds he had earned from his thirty- one lectures at American colleges and universities, 
his own small financial compensation for his seven months' work. 

Many problems Hyde had left behind when he started out on his tour of America awaited his return, 
unresolved. Chief among them was the government program that awarded small fees to teachers who 
provided instruction in Irish (eighty half- hour lessons or forty lessons of one hour each) as a supplement 
to the regular curriculum. The program had made an impact in many parts of the country with the ironic 
exception of the west. Hyde had expressed his concern in an October 1903 letter to Colonel Maurice 
Moore, George Moore's brother: "The tide is rising everywhere except in the Irish-speaking districts 

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themselves." Like George, Maurice was a strong suppori;er of the league; unlike George, he had learned 
the language. Hyde had given him, as an example, the situation in Mayo where school managers, usually 
priests, had refused to cooperate: "They don't believe in our movement and hence they won't do 
anything." He had told Moore that if the managers continued their refusal he would apply pressure 
directly to their bishops. On the eve of Hyde's departure for America, the situation had worsened, as 
Hyde had explained to Roosevelt, for James Bryce, the newly appointed chief secretary for Ireland, had 
cut back the Irish fees. Hyde had taken the bad news directly to his American Irish audiences. In a 
speech reported in the New Y ork Times of November 19, 1905, he had told a rally of how hard the 
league had worked to increase the fees from less than one thousand pounds a year to a still inadequate 
twelve thousand pounds, and now that had been taken from them. 

On his return to Ireland, Hyde discovered that the funds for teaching Irish had been used to appoint 
assistant schoolmistresses. Remuneration for Irish teachers had been cut so severely that Hyde 
calculated that they would earn only slightly more than three pounds for an entire year's teaching of sixty 
pupils. He sent letters of protest to Sir Anthony McDonnell, undersecretary for Ireland, as well as to 
Bryce. Reminding Hyde that he had been "almost the only English politician" who had "ever expressed 
sympathy with the movement," Bryce regretted that he could do nothing as he was poweriess; he "had 
no education officials under him." Nevertheless he expressed his continuing wish that he might do "his 
very best" for the league. Hyde instituted a plan for pressuring the government for restoration of the Irish 
fees; it continued all through the winter and early spring of 1907. The league urged mem- 

bers to write to Pariiament. Hyde called on Colonel Maurice Moore to lobby through letters of protest 
sent to the Weekly Freeman . The government did not budge. Early in March 1907, Bryce having been 
appointed ambassador to the United States, Hyde told Moore that he intended to take the matter directly 
to Augustine Birrell, the new chief secretary. "If he won't help us, wrote Hyde, secure for the moment in 
the power of his position, he would "denounce him at a public meeting." Within the month, in a 
subsequent letter to Moore, he renewed his pledge not to let Birrell alone but to "press and press him till 
the thing is done." Hyde also wrote personally to John Redmond, head of the Irish party in Parliament, 
and to Stephen G wynn, M.P. from Galway, urging that they, too, intervene with the government to 
restore the lost fees. Finally, on March 24 he was able to send Nellie O'Brien good news from Gwynn in 
London. Characteristically, he gave all the credit to others; it was the sheer weight of resolution, 
telegrams, and letters from all over the country that had been generated by the league, he said, that had 
had their effect. Hyde's philosophy of organizational behavior was to work behind the scenes as much as 
possible. His reward came from success achieved by allowing others to enjoy a sense of 
accomplishment. "It is all right. It was a battle. If the fees had not been returned I was prepared to go to 
any length, even to denounce Bryce to the American Irish." For a while at least Hyde knew that his 
American trip had given him another kind of capital on which he could draw. Like pounds, it could be 
lost all at once if he invested it unwisely; unlike pounds, it would not accumulate interest but would 
slowly diminish if it was left unused. 

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Hyde's most vexing problem at this time was to find ways to use his limited capital effectively while still 
trying to work through the league's unwieldy, top-heavy, forty-five-member executive committee. For 
several years it had been evident that the Coiste Gnotha's size and composition was a handicap, 
especially as the egos of some members led them to challenge everything that was presented and the 
egos of others prompted long-winded speechifying. The analogy with money held: the bad drove out the 
good. The problem was not only that when the wrangling and the speechmaking began, serious and 
competent members left; there were also those who accepted subcommittee assignments because they 
wanted to be in charge of something and then attended erratically, forcing postponement of discussion 
and decision on substantive issues. This was exactly the kind of behavior that Hyde feared might 

occur in a national government if Ireland adopted an American- style bicameral legislature. It had driven 
many good people out of active participation in league affairs. 

Frustrating as these shortcomings were, Hyde decided, to the dismay of 'Daly, Barrett, and 'Farrelly, 
to withdraw plans to recommend revisions in the league's constitution. The league, he said, was too 
vulnerable to risk reorganization at this point. To others this sounded strange, but Hyde knew that 
although the position in which he found himself in 1906-1907 as a result of the success of his American 
tour had brought him increased support, it also had increased petty jealousies and evoked charges of 
high-handedness whenever he so much as ventured an opinion different from that of others. On the 
Coiste Gnotha the majority was still pretty much behind him, but Father Brennan kept renewing his 
charges of manipulation in the case of the writer dismissed by the Weekly Freeman ; Father Dinneen had 
joined in the attack; he was accused by others of regional favoritism; and still others were suspicious of 
his continuing relationship with members of the Pan-Celtic Society. There was also the matter of the 
large branches, ever insistent upon greater autonomy. Revising the constitution might well provide them 
an opportunity to diminish rather than strengthen the executive committee. Despite all the hoopla that 
impressed those looking at the league from the outside, the view from within revealed too many stress 
points, in his opinion, to risk opening the question of the league's basic structure to general debate. 
Better wait, he cautioned, for a more propitious moment. O'Daly, Barrett, and O'Farrelly accepted 
Hyde's decision. Outside his inner circle of support his failure to act in the face of widespread 
dissatisfaction with the Coiste Gnotha was perceived by some as weakness, by others as ambivalence, 
nor were these perceptions limited to his detractors. 

There was no doubt that the trouble in the branches was serious and that the Coiste Gnotha was doing 

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little or nothing about it. The evidence predated Hyde's American tour. As early as 1903 he had begun to 
receive complaints of branch meetings that were unpunctual, starting as much as a half hour or more 
after announced times; of Irish courses disrupted by the late addition of new members that necessitated 
starting again from the beginning, to the disgust of those who were eager and ready to progress; of poor 
scheduling of language and dancing classes, which often resulted in members having to choose between 
one or the other; of incompetent teachers, insufficient textbooks, and dismay at the difficulty of the third 
volume of O'Growney's texts (prepared by 

John MacNeil after O'Growney's death). From Fionan MacColuim he had but recently received word 
that, far from having abated, these problems had increased. Now, in 1906, Hyde received a highly 
critical report from E. 0. Cameron, a Scottish observer of language revival who had recently completed 
a tour of traditional Irish- speaking areas. 

Cameron's most disturbing observation recalled Hyde's own comparative study of Scottish and Irish 
native speakers undertaken in 1887 when he and Mackey Wilson had toured the Gaelic- speaking 
districts of Scotland. At that time he had been struck by the pride, so different from the embarrassment 
of Irish speakers, with which the Highland Scots used their native language. Cameron's report was even 
darker; he spoke how lack of pride infected teachers, leaving them with no enthusiasm for what they 
taught and how they then passed on this infection to their students. In such a climate conscientious 
supporters of the language lacked the courage, Cameron said, to confront the open hostility toward the 
language exhibited by school inspectors, preferring to write ineffectual anonymous letters to the press 
rather tiian risk confrontation by complaining directly to the national board. Cameron also declared that 
he had found more oppostion to the language among school managers of the Gaeltacht — all Catholic 
priests — than among "offensive and alien Protestants." He was puzzled, he wrote, by "these renegade 
Gaels" who were "acting against the declared resolution of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland." 

Of all Cameron's criticisms, the problem of clerical antagonism toward the language was the most 
delicate. In a letter to his friendjames Owen Hannay (the novelist George Birmingham) written July 11, 
1906, less than a month after his return from America, Hyde had argued that the support of the Catholic 
clergy was indispensable to the league's success. 

Our game is a waiting game. Keep on the work, leaven the masses, and above all so long as there is any 
principle of growth in tiie League let it grow, avoiding at all hazards any clash with the priests or the 
church. They are, and will be for the next 50 years (unless a strong Home Rule Bill is passed) the 

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dominating factor in Irish life. They are always on the spot they have the women behind them, they can 
do almost what they like. Make them think the League is theirs and do nothing to frighten them off. 

In a second letter to Hannay, written November 3, 1906, Hyde repeated and strengthened his argument 
explaining, "I'm awfully afraid of frightening the clergy off. We'll never revive the Irish language if 

we do. We must keep them by hook or crook for 6 or 7 years more." What Hyde also recognized was 
that it was easy to blame trouble on a single cause, more difficult to understand that many factors were 
involved in the problems that beset the league in 1906-1907. Not the least was the league's new popular 
appeal, the inevitable result of the favorable publicity that had attended Hyde's return. It added a 
substantial number of less disciplined, less committed members that would have to be absorbed into the 
whole. The same sort of thing had happened to other movements as they gained strength and popularity. 
Hyde's analysis of the situation, based in large part on his study of previous Irish nationalist movements, 
especially those rooted in revival, explains his insistence on remaining patient and avoiding public 
conflict at all costs. Without the language as its base, the league had no identity to distinguish it from 
any other pronationalist group, and there was now a spectrum. The British technique of divide and 
conquer could easily destroy them all. With language as its raison d'etre the league had been able to rise 
above internecine conflicts, biding its time as it fostered emotional rather than political ties to the idea of 
a nation. 

Meanwhile, explanations were not solutions, and something had to be done about the trouble in the 
branches or the league would begin to lose both its members and its unique character. Teachers who did 
not meet league standards could be transferred, threatened with suspension, or sacked. Volunteers who 
engaged in petty squabbles could be maneuvered out of leadership positions. But to discipline or censure 
a priest on whose support the league had to count at the branch level, was virtually impossible. 
Fortunately such priests, although all too visible as well as audible, were in the minority. Allied with 
Hyde in countering their influence were such distinguished clergy as the indefatigable Dr. Michael 
O'Hickey of Maynooth, elected vice-president of the league in 1903, the irrepressible Father Peadar 
'Leary, and hundreds of parish priests devoted to the language. Nor did it hurt that in America he had a 
platoon of Catholic bishops and archbishops solidly behind him. There was nothing to do but watch and 

Meanwhile there was "damp Ratra," which Lucy disliked and held responsible for all her illnesses. 
Before their departure for America she had been pressing Hyde to sell to the Congested Districts Board. 

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Within days of their return she renewed her campaign. For months she had enjoyed the best of American 
society, fine restaurants, theater, opera, and the company of cultured, intelligent, and educated men and 
women — perquisites of upper-class life to which she had been bom and 

had been accustomed at the time of her marriage. To be sentenced again to years in Roscommon was 
more than she could bear. By January 1907 Hyde had capitulated. To Nellie O'Brien he wrote that he 
was again planning to give up Ratra "for some place that will be dry, on the east coast, perhaps near 
Dublin." Nothing immediate was done; in November when Hyde developed a virulent case of 
pneumonia, nothing could be done. He was incapacitated for months. For a time there was doubt that he 
would survive. But by January 1908, although still gravely ill, he seemed to be slowly recovering. 

On January 31, urged on by Agnes O'Farrelly, twenty of Hyde's closest league associates, including 
Father O'Leary, Patrick Peanse, and John MacNeill, signed a circular letter to the league branches 
proposing that Ratra be purchased and presented to An Craoibhin and asking for contributions to meet 
the estimated cost of one thousand pounds. The letter reminded their fellow leaguers that "overexertion" 
on the American trip had "told very severely on his constitution," and that his health unfortunately was 
even yet "not at all in a satisfactory condition." Subscriptions came in from priests and nuns, members of 
Parliament, fellow scholars, and hundreds more. On August 4, 1908, at an event kept private at Hyde's 
request, a small committee headed by MacNeill presented Douglas Hyde with the freehold to Ratra. 
Deeply touched by their affection and by the prospect of remaining on the land and among the people 
who had nurtured him, Hyde accepted their gift with sincerest thanks. Lucy could only watch the door to 
Dublin closing gently but firmly before her. 

During Hyde's long illness of 1907-1908, as rumors circulated that he might never return to his 
leadership post, factions both in the league and outside began to position themselves to make a bid for 
control whenever word came that the expected vacancy was about to occur. To many aspiring 
politicians, secular and clerical, the organization had become a glittering prize. Its 550 branches and 
related infrastructure permeated eveiy sector of Irish life including the Ascendancy. It had a propaganda 
machine that included a well-edited newspaper. American support had enhanced its prestige. Hyde's 
strategy was to concentrate on numbers and play for time, meanwhile avoiding confrontation with the 
British authorities, as he steadily drew in everyone he could — republicans, moderates, fence sitters, and 
even those who (like Lady Gregory) regarded themselves as anti-Home Rule, pro- Union. Let others 
posture, shake their fists, and shout. The threat of extremist action from other sources gave him far more 
leverage with the British than any 

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threat that he would then dare to make. One of his earhest lessons in Irish history had taught him that 
physical force used prematurely led only to sacrificial martyrdom. Its time might come. For the moment 
there was the matter of the new university. 

Hyde's campaign for the new university was three- pronged. The first task was to eliminate any chance of 
the commissioners reporting in favor of a second college to be established within Trinity. The second 
was to back a proposal for a new university in the Dublin area that would be controlled neither directly 
nor indirectly by either the Church of Ireland or the Catholic church (although he had no illusions that at 
the start student enrollment would divide along these lines). The third was to establish Irish as an 
essential subject for matriculation. To achieve his first objective, Hyde carefully prepared a brief for the 
use of one or more selected witnesses. Testimony should stress, he wrote, why the witness would not 
want to send his own children to Trinity even if the ban of the Catholic bishops on such enrollment were 
to be lifted. Second, the witness should object to the bias built into Trinity faculty appointments, 
sizarships, and prizes in Irish by virtue of the fact that support for these came from sources committed to 
assisting Church of Ireland ministers to proselytize among Irish Catholics in Irish-speaking areas. 
Further, testimony should note the absence of instruction in such subjects as the history and culture of 
Celtic Ireland. It was possible, he declared, to use as evidence the ignorance of Ireland and the Irish that 
could be found in Trinity's own publications: "Crucify their tardily published unutterably ill-spelt 
catalogue," he advised. "Look it up in the Library and you'll see some howlers . . . that would make a 
schoolboy laugh." It also might be effective, Hyde suggested, to draw attention to the absence of Irish 
manuscripts on view in the library ("Is it because they don't wish people to know that such a thing 
exists?") and the presence of Queen Elizabeth's head, "an emblem of spoliation and conquest," on 
Trinity's medals. Finally, Hyde said, a witness before the commissioners might ask if it was true that the 
man who "went out of his way to identify Robert Emmet and get him hung" was a provost of Trinity. 

Coolly prefaced to this brief was Hyde's statement that its purpose was to establish that even among 
upper-class Protestants Trinity College's attitude toward Irish culture and history was an embarrassment 
and an anachronism. Evident also in the intensity of his opposition and the scale of his vituperation were 
years of bitterness and disappointment over the way in which Mahaffy and Atkinson, the prime targets 
of his 

attack, had frustrated his academic aspirations. He had had one sweet victory over them in 1899. Now 
the stakes were higher, there was more to be gained and lost, influence and power were for once on his 
side, and his side was the side of justice and virtue. Ordinarily Hyde was passionate but not vengeful. If 
he threw himself into this particular fight with more than his usual ardor, who could blame him? The 
opportunity was irresistible. 

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The hearings ended. The commissioners recommended a new university, separate from Trinity. The 
Irish Universities Bill enacted by Parliament in 1908 established a National University of Ireland, to be 
comprised of three constituent colleges. One was University College, Dublin, the successor to Catholic 
University, which until then had been run by the Jesuits; the other two were the Queen's Colleges of 
Cork and Galway. Queen's College, Belfast, remained separate and independent. The degree- granting 
function of the Royal University was to be taken over by the new government- supported National 
University. The bill also gave to the senate of the National University, to which Hyde and John 
MacNeill were named, full responsibility for designing its curriculum. It was only a matter of time — 
both were determined to win — before the Irish language would be listed as a subject required for 
matriculation, on a par with Latin and English. Excited and optimistic, looking forward to this third and 
last phase of his campaign, Hyde wrote Quinn that the new university would "bring young men of 
Ireland together." In every country in which university students gathered, he proclaimed, they were 
"always in the forefront for liberty." 

In the winter of 1908 a giant meeting on required Irish in the curriculum of the National University was 
held in the Rotunda. "There will be a fight," Hyde promised the cheering crowd, although it was not yet 
clear who would win. No one was opposed to the teaching of Irish — everyone was for it. The bishops 
and their supporters favored Irish as an optional rather than required subject. To the league and its 
supporters optional status was marginal status. In an Irish university, they insisted, the Irish language 
must have the same status as Latin and English. To Hyde's dismay his friend W indie sided publicly with 
the bishops, despite everything he had said and done privately to promote the teaching of the language. 
Windle's problem, which he had tried to explain to Hyde, was that as president of University College, 
Cork, he could not publicly oppose the bishops without detriment to himself, his position, and his 
college. Deploring Windle's attempts to have both a public and a behind-the-scenes solution, Hyde 
clearly forgot (it would 

not be the last time) his own analogous position in his battle with the Post Office, still far from over. 

Hyde's chief opponent in the senate debate over the place of Irish in the university curriculum was 
Father Delaney, rector of University College, who opened his attack by challenging the necessity for 
making the "uneducated language of the peasant" a test for a university education. For Hyde it was 1899 
and Mahaffy and Atkinson all over again. He and his lieutenants went into action. He had more than a 
partner in MacNeill, a formidable ally who disliked face-to-face confrontation but wielded a mighty pen. 

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He also had the league. MacNeill prepared an eloquent argument supported by all the evidence Hyde 
had collected in his winning battle of 1899 and more. Published in pamphlet form under the title Irish in 
the National University , it was distributed all over Ireland, largely through the branches of the league. 

Hyde also had the support of many important church figures, including Cardinal Logue, a native speaker 
from Donegal and former professor of Irish at Maynooth College; the archbishop of Dublin; and Dr. 
Michael O'Hickey, Eugene O'Growney's successor in the chair of Irish at Maynooth, vice-president of 
the league from 1899 to 1903, and a veteran of the 1899 debate. O'Hickey entered the fray with the same 
gusto that he had demonstrated first in the battle to save Irish in intermediate education and subsequently 
in other battles, among them some on which he and Father Dinneen were divided in the Coiste Gnotha. 
Lashing out in scathing terms against all opponents of required Irish, including his own superior. Dr. 
Mannix, then president of Maynooth, he was first reprimanded by the ecclesiastical authorities, then 
given a chance to apologize which he refused to take, and finally removed from his chair at the college, 
an action which he immediately appealed to Rome. The public joined the debate with letters to the 
newspapers. Some writers within the league urged Hyde to take stronger steps to impress on all 550 
branches the urgency of uniting behind the university question. One writer from the north advised Hyde 
that although leaders in Donegal and Deny were "alive to the crisis" and everything was being done to 
"rouse the branches," more information was needed. He urged Hyde to write a long article for the very 
next number of An Claidheamh Soluis to explain to the entire membership the complex fee and 
university questions, both "confusing to the ordinary Gaelic Leaguer." He also added, in one of many 
such expressions of concern that Hyde was to hear in that year following his long and nearly fatal illness 
of 1907-1908, that he was "not to fret" because "the great heart 

of the Gaelic League is . . . with the right side; only those who gave lip-devotion are turning aside. 

In early 1909 Hyde drew into the campaign a powerful ally, the Irish Nationalist party. At its February 
convention it took up the language issue. Siding with the bishops, John Dillon argued the motion in 
favor, dismissing the idea that to be Irish the National University must require Irish. Misjudging his 
audience, for whom the issue was not logical but emotional, not pedagogical but patriotic, Dillon 
pointed out that requiring Latin would not make a university Latin any more than requiring arithmetic 
would make it an arithmetic university. The audience was not persuaded. John Redmond then called on 
Hyde to speak on behalf of the motion. O'Daly's circular letters, MacNeill's pamphlet, O'Hickey's 
speeches, and the efforts of Fionan MacColuim and other head organizers had prepared his case. He had 
only to repeat the arguments with his usual oratorical skill and wait for the tumultuous applause. The 
question carried. Months of careful planning, hard campaigning, and meticulous teamwork had paid off. 

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There were, however, serpents in the garden. Vague rumors had been reaching Hyde for some time — as 
early as spring of 1908, in fact, when he was recovering from his near- fatal bout with pneumonia — that 
clerical dissidents in the Coiste Gnotha were planning to nudge him out of office and replace him with 
"a clerical Gaelic League with a bishop at its head." As the strongest opposition to required Irish was 
coming from the bishops and as Father Dinneen, who was close to them, was Hyde's chief opponent on 
the executive committee, these rumors had a certain credibility. By March of 1908 there had been more 
specific charges. An angry Agnes 'Farrelly had called Hyde's attention to articles by Father Patrick S. 
Dinneen in D. P. Moran's Leader : they revived the old charge of 1905 concerning the dismissal of the 
columnist named Kelly from the Weekly Freeman . Broyden had let it be known at the time that it was 
his dissatisfaction with Kelly's performance and not any deputation led by Hyde that had resulted in the 
columnist's dismissal. Everyone thought that that had settled the matter, but here it was again. 

It was A gnes 'Farrelly 's belief that the K elly case had been revived by D . P. M oran and Father D inneen 
in 1908 as part of a conspiracy to discredit Hyde so that Dinneen himself might succeed to the 
presidency of the league. To destroy this "sinister design," a product of the "jealousy and ambition of 
meaner minds," she insisted that Hyde obtain, once and for all, a public statement from Broyden on the 

ject. She also pressed Hyde to confront the lean and hungry Dinneen with his ulterior ambitious motives. 
Dinneen was playing, she insisted, a "desperate game." If he and Moran did not succeed on the Kelly/ 
Freeman charge, "they would trump up another." Hyde accordingly wrote Broyden asking him to set the 
record straight. When it finally came, Agnes 'Farrelly dismissed Broyden's statement as "half-hearted" 
but she did not recommend further action. By then she had assured herself that Hyde had nothing to 
worry about. The leaders of the cabal, she declared, had "overreached themselves this time." All honest 
leaguers, she believed, were "sick of them." Quoting an Ulster proverb, she warned, "If you wrestle with 
a sweep, if he does not throw you, he'll sully you." 

Hyde was puzzled that the Coiste Gnotha had not put a stop to Dinneen's trouble making. Agnes 
'Farrelly 's explanation was not reassuring: the executive committee, she maintained, was afraid to stir 
up controversy that would injure the annual collection and give ammunition to unnamed "others" who 
were causing added problems with their objections to the special fees paid by the government to Irish 
teachers in tiie schools. Disgusted with the pettiness of it all, Hyde spilled his feelings into a letter to 
Lady Gregory: he was confronted, he told her, with "alarms and excursions" and "lots of spite." 
Dinneen, he declared, was at the botton of it all: "his ingenuity in breeding strife is diabolical." Other 

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letters on the same subject went to the Reverend James Hannay in Westport and Colonel Maurice Moore 
at Moore Hall, whose own perspectives were based in part on the fact that they saw things not from 
Dublin but from Mayo. Hannay had a ready solution: "Get rid of Dinneen." With him, the league was "in 
danger of going under/' he warned; "it looks powerful but it is helpless/' he declared. His 
recommendation was to apply the gardener's solution to the problem of tangled vines: cut back to half a 
dozen branches in Dublin and perhaps two in the rest of the country and then wait and watch the league 
grow healthy again. For some time he had been displeased with aspects of the organization's wild and 
unchecked growth, especially as it related to attitudes toward Protestants other than Hyde within the 
predominantly Catholic Gaelic League. 

Moore, however, who had been hearing reports of the trouble that was brewing within the Coiste 
Gnotha, agreed with Hyde that the situation was too complicated to yield to Hannay 's gardening 
techniques. Sinn Fein was now supporting the Dinneen party. Moreover, Agnes O'Farrelly had reported 
from Dublin that Sinn Feiners were spreading 

rumors that Hyde was making secret visits to the Castle, behind the league's back, to strike a bargain 
with the chief secretary, Augustine Birrell. She urged Hyde to repudiate the insinuation quickly, either at 
the league's annual congress, the ard-fheis , or before: 

I hate telling you these sorts of things and worrying you but it is better you should know them. Y ou must 
not be over- sensitive. Y ou cannot escape criticism in public life. ... Give one rousing speech and give 
the lie direct to these people and also explain the university question. Y ou would have the ear of the 
public speaking in English in a way you cannot speaking in Irish and we could get you a good report in 
the Freeman . It would turn the tide. 

Hyde's response was to urge Moore to come to the ard-fheis , bringing all the delegates he could. He 
now understood, he told the colonel, that "they were never more wanted, for the malcontents will make 
this their final or rather their supreme effort to smash the League." He also alerted John Quinn, who 
suggested to John Devoy, publisher of the New Y ork Gaelic American , that the paper come out against 
Dinneen, on the grounds of his being "a crank, a fault-finder and a meddler." At the ard-fheis the crisis 
passed after a "hell of a row" with Dinneen, Hyde reported to Quinn. Dinneen and his group had been 
"able and absolutely unscrupulous," but Hyde's supporters had been "too strong for them." Hyde's other 
good news for Quinn was that both he and MacNeill had been appointed to the faculty of the new 
university at annual salaries of £600. Quinn responded positively to Hyde's personal good fortune but 

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cautioned him against expecting too much from his public campaign for required Irish, given the 
position of the bishops. Quinn's strong anticlerical sentiment made him skeptical about chances for 
success. "If you don't get compulsory Irish at once, take it in two or three years," he advised. "The 
Church is still supreme in Ireland," he warned. "So long as the bishops are sure of hell at their backs to 
threaten the Irish with, reason, patriotism, nationalism and idealism will all plead in vain." Nor was it 
likely that Hyde could obtain support against them from America, where the United Irish League and 
Ancient Order of Hibernians were strongly pro bishop. Quinn reckoned in any case that ninety percent of 
the American Irish population regarded the introduction of the Irish language "as a monstrous 
anachronism." He cautioned Hyde to be ready to compromise. The Gaelic League was at risk, he 
warned; if it dissolved, "Ireland without the Gaelic League would be like Hamlet without Hamlet." 

In August, Padraig 'Daly sent a circular letter to all county coun- 

cils, presenting the league position on the subject of Irish in the university curriculum. What the league 
espoused was not compulsion or coercion, his letter explained, but a policy necessary to preserve Irish 
language, history, culture — everything. From his office throughout the fall the stream of broadsides, 
circular letters, and pamphlets continued. A letter headed "Ireland or West Briton — What Distinguished 
Men Say" offered quotations from Colonel Maurice Moore, Agnes O'Farrelly, Dr. O'Hickey, 
monsignors, priests, and canons. Moore's statement was unequivocal: "We want and we are determined 
to get a university for Irishmen above all things and for the Irish language; if the new university is not 
that, it is not for us, it is for foreigners." Reports from league branches indicated that 'Daly's campaign 
literature was getting through to the people and was making converts to the language cause. But it was 
always necessary to be vigilant, Hyde knew, and indeed one morning he awoke to discover in the Irish 
newspapers a long letter from Cardinal Moran of Australia to John Redmond, charging that the "Celtic 
League promoters" were hostile to Redmond's Parliamentary party. Hyde responded at once with a 
publicly printed letter to Redmond reiterating the nonpartisan position in the league's constitution and 
begging him to ignore the cardinal's "vague, untrue and mischievous charges." In a separately 
communicated private note, friendly in tone, Hyde wished Redmond good luck in his grouse shooting; 
reminded Redmond of the league's thousands of members who were also members of the Parliamentary 
party; and issued an invitation no politician could ignore, to address the great procession on behalf of the 
language, scheduled to be held in Dublin in September. "The meeting I am sure will be very large and 
representative," Hyde noted, adding as an apparent afterthought the fact that twenty-three of the county 
councils would be represented at the demonstration. 

O'Daly had done his work superbly. The procession in support of required Irish, a nearly endless line of 
floats, placards, and thousands of children, most of them from Christian Brothers schools, took three 

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hours to pass a given point before it came to Sackville (O'Connell) Street where scores of platforms were 
erected so that tiie huge crowd could be reached by the speakers. Prominently seated in full view of the 
crowd, sharing the limelight with dignitaries and dedicated leaguers, were members of county councils. 
Under the rules establishing the National University, the councils not only controlled scholarship monies 
but were empowered to attach conditions to these grants. Some county 

councils already had announced that unless Irish was required, scholarship grants would go only to 
students who chose to attend Trinity College, and the new university would lose both funds and 

The massive turnout at the September procession, the Parliamentary party's endorsement, and the 
councils' messages had their intended effect on the new university's senate. Speeches made in sessions 
and in interviews with reporters all indicated that sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of required 
Irish. Nevertheless, as the debates continued, Hyde and his cohorts grew increasingly uneasy about the 
outcome, for every week without a final vote was a week in which tiie tide could change against them. 
They did not dare relax. Continuing to turn out pamphlets, circular letters, and broadsides, only O'Daly 
seemed confident. His mind was already on the future and the next task that might be undertaken after 
the expected affirmative vote. Writing to a friend in Killorglin on April 4, 1910, he set forth a list of 
points in favor of required Irish history that made clear the way in which the new university was 
expected to serve the Irish cause: 

Most of us want to produce in Ireland a race of spirited Nationalists who'd go as far as Mitchel or Wolfe 
Tone if the opportunity offered. It may not be politic to talk of this openly in discussing the terms of the 
university curriculum as this would frighten the Bishops altogether but we should never lose sight of it 
ourselves. We can never hope to have a real live national agitation in the country unless the spirit of 
freedom animates our people. 

Hyde was included in the "we" for whom 'Daly spoke. "In the forefront for liberty" were the women 
and men who had joined him in increasing numbers since 1893. Until now their only national university 
had been the Gaelic League. 

On June 18, 1910, the front page of John Devoy's New Y ork Gaelic American carried a three-column 

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Story under the banner headline, "Splendid Victory for Essential Irish." Hyde's resolution that would 
make Irish mandatory by 1913 had passed the senate's Board of Studies. The paper hailed it as "the most 
significant achievement in the history of the Gaelic League" and a victory that "had the moral support of 
the whole country." The full senate vote followed on June 23. Hyde cabled the news to Quinn who 
responded by cable on June 25: "Heartiest congratulations on tremendous personal victory." Even Lucy 
was pleased. To her, Hyde's victory was evidence of his strength in his new position at the university. At 
last she had what she wanted: a professorial ap- 

pointment for her husband, a town house at One Earlsfort Place for herself and her children. Ratra was 
still home. It was where they would continue to spend summers and holidays. But from now on she 
would be able to look forward to enjoying the day-to-day life of the city, for which she had yearned so 

- - 15 The Rocky Road to Revolution - 

At the moment of personal victory Hyde felt as if he had driven a team of powerful and unruly horses 
across a finish line. Whether the carriage could hold together, whether he could hold the reins through 
another contest, was a matter of grave doubt. He himself was still convinced that he had found, through 
the "nonpolitical" emphasis on national being in the Gaelic League and its policy of deanglicization, a 
way of separating Ireland from England in the most effective way possible. Once that task was 
accomplished — once Ireland felt and thought and moved like a nation — there was every chance, he still 
believed, that the continuing pressure for Home Rule would be irresistible, and that Ireland would be 
able to achieve legislative independence on its own terms without the use of physical force. But the 
pressure for physical force was itself becoming irresistible, and he did not know how long he could hold 
out against it. It was not, as some charged, that he was opposed to the use of arms; there was a time in 
his life when he, too, had thought that the freedom of the nation could never be achieved through any 
other means. It might yet be so. What he had hoped, still hoped, to avoid was another blood sacrifice that 
would leave the country once more with its young men dead, in prison, or in exile; its people 
demoralized; and its future hostage to still another draconian Coercion Act. 

For some time the question of just how far he could take the Gaelic League along the road to nationhood 
had been before him. So many things had been a matter of persuasion rather than control. Everyone 

now talked in code: Was the league still nonpolitical? (That meant opposed to physical force.) Had it 
been, was it being politicized? (Inclining toward physical force.) Which of the people around him were 
political or nonpolitical? (For or against physical force.) How long would he himself maintain a 

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nonpolitical stance? Asa boy he and his brothers used to race a sailboat in Roscommon. Remembering 
those days, he had often thought of the league as a sleek and sturdy craft pointed into the wind, his 
trembling hand on the rudder, his unblinking eye fixed on the sail, in his heart the fear that the end of a 
ship was wreckage. If now he had changed his metaphor, it was because circumstances had changed. 

What were those unruly horses that now threatened to destroy the league? For one thing there was the 
movement founded and promoted by Arthur Griffith. On Hyde's return from America in June 1906 the 
Thurles branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association had hailed him as Ireland's "uncrowned king" — but 
had taken the opportunity also to affirm their allegiance to Sinn Fein. Since 1906 the movement's 
influence on the league, the G AA, and other organizations had remained philosophically strong but 
politically diffuse. Mary Colum was later to describe the Dublin of the first decade of the twentieth 
century as a "Swiftian town" in which Sinn Fein was the champion of "Swiftian ideas." Hyde himself 
had regarded those ideas as positive in sentiment and potentially useful in "spurring . . . lazy, 
incompetent, useless parliamentarians into some kind of activity." Often he had been warned, however, 
by John Quinn and otiiers, that among Sinn Feiners there were those who regarded the league as an 
organization sufficiently close to their own ideas as to warrant attempts to pull it further in their 
direction. Hyde and his supporters had resisted these attempts not because they disagreed with Sinn Fein 
but because a boycott of English goods and services was a political statement bordering on physical 
resistance that would be swiftly punished by the British, leaving its perpetrators languishing in British 
jails. His friend James Hannay had advised Hyde that there were natural limits to such resistance: "I take 
the Sinn Fein position to be the natural and inevitable development of the league principles," he had 
said, repeating words Hyde had heard from others. "They couldn't lead to anything else." Hannay saw 
Hyde with but two alternatives: to become a great Irish leader or to lapse "into the position of a John 
Dillon." Whichever way Hyde turned, he had predicted, "the movement you started will go on, whether 
you lead it or take the part of poor Frankenstein who created a monster he could not control." 

A more recent faction within the league were the Larkinites. When the Liverpool labor leader, "Big Jim" 
Larkin, founder of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, had arrived on the Dublin scene in 
1908, many leaguers, especially the poorer workers and those attracted by Larkin's socialist theories, had 
joined his movement. Again, Larkin's ideas were sufficiently compatible with Hyde's own philosophical 
ideals as to create no serious conflict. Y et the Larkinites worried Hyde more than the Sinn Feiners 
because their hostility toward people of wealth and position threatened to divide the country along 
socioeconomic lines. At the same time Hyde himself could not help but admire the "tall, black-haired, 
powerfully built man with a great resounding voice" when he assured enthusiastic crowds that "no 
power on earth could prevent Irish from being taught to their children if that was what was wanted." 

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And then there were the young men, intense and impatient like Hyde's close friend Patrick Pearse. One 
of Hyde's ablest lieutenants, Pearse had resigned the editorship of An Claidheamh Soluis in October 
1909 to devote himself, he said, full-time to St. Edna's School. But Hyde knew that he had been chafing 
under Hyde's insistence upon achieving nationhood through "nonpolitical" methods which had become 
too slow and uncertain for Pearse. Of Larkin, Pearse declared that he was "at least doing something ; he 
was making history." Hyde had countered with evidence that the league, too, had been making history, 
but without anyone being jailed or shot for it. It was not, Hyde knew, what Pearse and other young men 
wanted to hear, and he worried about the consequences of their impatience. 

For the moment, however, the overriding problem was money. The last of the $55,000 that had been 
donated during his 1905-1906 tour of America was all but spent. Without funds nothing, active or 
passive, could be ventured or gained. Someone had to go back to America to seek support for another 
five-year plan. Fionan MacColuim was a loyal, hardworking, and efficient organizer. In August 1910 
Hyde proposed that MacColuim and Father Michael Flanagan, a priest from Elphin and member of the 
Coiste Gnotha, be sent on a second money-raising tour. Plans were made to pay their expenses for 
approximately two years. Briefing MacColuim on how to get along with American reporters, Hyde had 
advised him not to distribute prepared statements but to anticipate questions and make himself available 
for interviews. As he had then decided not to go in August to the Celtic Congress being held in Brussels 
(any mention of the subject led to the usual row with Lucy 

about the time he gave to league activities), he spent the month instead preparing the ground for his 
envoys, who were scheduled to arrive in New Y ork in October. He drew from league files for 
MacColuim's use his list of contributors to his 1905-1906 campaign and sat down to compose what he 
privately called a "new American manifesto" (the actual title was "The Gaelic League in Ireland to the 
Irish People in America") to be distributed through Irish- American organizations in advance of their 
arrival. He alerted 'Daly to expect from him a circular letter to the Americans and asked him to speed it 
on its way. 

Hyde began his American manifesto by assuring contributors that their donations of 1905-1906 had 
been well spent. It was their funds, he declared, that had made possible the campaign that had resulted in 
establishing Irish as a required subject in the National University. Without them Irish Ireland would not 
now be at "the climax and highest point" to which "it had yet risen." The truly Irish National University 
that had been blueprinted by this achievement would revolutionize "the entire intellectual outlook of 
Ireland." Until the founding of the Gaelic League, that outlook had been "imitation- English." 
Henceforth, thanks to American generosity and concern, it would be genuinely Irish. A fair and honest 
statement, it lacked the urgency of a specific attainable goal. There was little in it to stimulate the 

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imagination, stir tlie heart — or open tiie pocketbook. 

Fionan MacColuim arrived in New Y ork on October 1, 1910. He set up an office on Madison Avenue 
and issued an appeal signed by members of the same committee that had backed Hyde in 1905-1906, 
including John Quinn. Quinn had agreed to allow the use of his name and even to pledge $250 to the 
new drive on condition that he not be asked for active assistance. Hyde did what he could to direct and 
advise MacColuim through letters and cables from Ireland. In December he mailed Christmas cards and 
a personal request for donations to 750 American supporters of his 1905-1906 tour. 

From the start, however, things did not go well for MacColuim and Flanagan. Hyde's manifesto did not 
evoke the expected response. MacColuim was overwhelmed by America's immense size and the 
difficulties he foresaw in trying to cover it with only two men. The campaign of 1905-1906 had had 
distinct advantages. Hyde had arrived in the United States as a man of some achievement, with a name 
already known to most of the people he approached for funds. Many of them had been reading his 
revolutionary poetry and prose in Irish- American newspapers for a quarter century. They had welcomed 
him as a founder 

of the Gaelic League, its president since 1893, and the author of its policy of deanglicization. The rich 
regarded him as urbane, well-educated, well-connected, charming. To the general population he was 
jolly, irreverent, unaffected, friendly. Neither MacColuim nor Flanagan had a reputation like Hyde's on 
which to draw, nor did they have his savoir faire . Hardworking, dependable, intelligent men who 
relaxed with a glass, a dance, a song, a story, they worked for the Gaelic League because they had a 
deep respect and love for Gaelic Ireland. Added to their difficulties, as MacColuim complained to Hyde, 
were the political uncertainties and "rotten financial condition" of the United States at the beginning of 
the second decade of the twentieth century. 

By October 191 1 it was evident that results of the MacColuim- Flanagan fund-raising tour would be at 
best mixed. To Hyde, MacColuim expressed hope that the outlook might change after the election of a 
new American president, but the next United States presidential election was still a year away. When the 
totals were calculated at the beginning of December, it turned out that between October 1910 and 
December 1911, MacColuim and Flanagan had grossed only slightly more than $14,000-$41,000 less 
than Hyde had netted in seven months in 1905-1906. Moreover, meetings planned for the spring of 1912 
in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Paul, and Minneapolis had had to be canceled, so there was a serious 
question about how much more there was to come. 

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Hyde had foreseen the possibihty of just such a situation when, several months earlier, Shane Leslie, a 
self-appointed, self- financed Celtic ambassador, had come to him with the offer that he would "roam 
America" on behalf of the league, pleading for dollars. Hyde accepted: he was at that point ready to 
enlist help from almost any quarter, even a Cambridge dandy from county Monaghan who wore a 
saffron kilt. "Cuchullain-og," as Leslie was known in Dublin (the ironic reference was to the hero of the 
Tain Bo Cuailnge , ancient Ireland's national epic), had startled and amused county Monaghan in 1906 
with a campaign to spread the wearing of the kilt throughout Ireland. In that same year he had joined the 
Gaelic League. In 1911, with Hyde's blessing, he sailed for America to join the collection campaign. 

Leslie was not received warmly by Hyde's American friends, least of all by John Quinn. He was, to be 
sure, a bit of a character, as Hyde had acknowledged — an amateur Irish Irelander. But recalling Quinn's 
1905-1906 complaints of Concannon's "peasant" mentality and behavior, Hyde believed that Leslie 
actually might be more successful in 

obtaining contributions from rich Americans. He had, after all, qualities Concannon lacked that Quinn 
had declared essential, including an aristocratic cachet and, through the Churchills, good family 
connections. As for his eccentricities, Americans, Hyde thought, might find them simply amusing. 

John Quinn was an American who was definitely not amused. In letters to Hyde and Lady Gregory (she 
was then in America with the touring company of the Abbey) John Quinn wrote scathingly of Leslie's 
ridiculous appearance and preposterous behavior. He was certain, he declared, that Leslie would have no 
success raising funds for the league; he suspected that many Irish Americans would find him 
embarrassing. Quinn himself was embarrassed by some of the things that Leslie had said to American 
audiences and newspaper reporters. He suggested strongly that Hyde attempt to make amends. In 
response to Quinn's criticism, Hyde instructed Leslie on how to handle himself with the press. Leslie 
readily admitted that he had found reporters intimidating. "They are out for fun and misrepresentation as 
surely as I am out for dollars," Leslie complained. Hyde also supplied Leslie with points to make for the 
"practical people" who liked to know how their money was spent and advised him to visit and thank 
personally the Americans identified by MacColuim and Flanagan as their largest contributors. This was 
a task he could not leave to MacColuim — not after MacColuim had treated American audiences to his 
one-man song-dance-and-story show (mostly in Irish, which few understood) that reduced to laughter 
those whom it was supposed to move to tears. He therefore wrote encouragingly, expressing solicitous 
concern for Leslie's constantly sore throat, assuring him that he well remembered his own. What he 

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hoped was that Leshe's good-natured charm and ready smile might induce some of the wealthier 
contributors to become permanent subscribers to the league. 

As Quinn had predicted, Leslie's Gaeilgeoir (Gaelic- enthusiast) style was counterproductive. His timing, 
moreover, through no fault of his own, was unfortunate. In New Y ork, where he had hoped to have his 
best audiences, news coverage of his appeal on behalf of the league and interviews to which he had 
given particular attention were crowded out by newspaper accounts of the December 1911 Playboy riots. 
Picked up by the national press, the Playboy protests were reported in other cities as well. Fearing their 
effect, Leslie postponed meetings in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. "I will get you the 
money, Creveen, 

never fear, but at the cost of a sick heart," he declared melodramatically. " The Playboy has proved a 
sickening piece of bad luck for me." 

The Playboy was even worse luck for Douglas Hyde, whose response to the riots was soon revealed as 
one of the most serious missteps of his career. It was he himself who, by his indiscretion, did the most 
damage to the league's campaign, brought his own judgment into serious question, nearly alienated Lady 
Gregory, and so infuriated John Quinn that their frequent, friendly correspondence cooled significantly. 

In New Y ork the traveling company of Lady Gregory's Abbey Theatre was appearing nightly in Synge's 
Playboy of the Western World . According to some newspapers, every evening the crowds were howling 
down the actors, interrupting their performance; outraged members of the audience were proclaiming 
that the play was an insult to Ireland, to Irish family life, and to Irish womanhood. According to Quinn, 
however. Playboy had as many supporters as detractors, and not all the newspaper coverage was bad by 
any estimation. Supporting his opinion was the fact that on December 3 the New Y ork Times printed a 
long interview with Lady Gregory conducted backstage at the Maxine Elliott Theater In the course of 
this interview, as she often did. Lady Gregory paid generous tribute to Hyde and the league for reviving 
the language and thus "sending writers back to the life of the country itself." John Devoy, publisher of 
the Gaelic American and chief conduit of American funds, interpreted Lady Gregory's statement to mean 
that the Gaelic League endorsed Playboy in particular and the Abbey Theatre in general. He threatened 
to abandon the Gaelic League unless Hyde published an immediate and official denial that the plays of 
the Abbey Theatre had been inspired in any way by the Gaelic League. In a panic. Father Flanagan sent 
Hyde an urgent request for a cable dissociating the league from the Abbey. "I am convinced," wrote 
Flanagan, in a letter explaining his sense of the situation, that unless such a cable is sent, "the Gaelic 

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League must begin all over again in America and look for new friends in a most unpromising field. 

Meanwhile Hyde, who had received similar threats from Clan na Gael, already had cabled Devoy not 
once but twice (the first cable, Devoy complained, was not strong enough). At the time these cables 
were sent Hyde knew nothing of Lady Gregory's interview, for it had not yet been published. By the 
time they arrived, however, tiiey seemed to come in response to the furor over Lady Gregory's statement. 
That he had repudiated the Abbey Theatre was bad enough. That he ap- 

peared to have repudiated also Lady Gregory added insult to injury. "Furious and disgusted" with Hyde, 
as he privately told Lady Gregory, John Quinn maintained a tight-lipped silence, knowing that almost 
anything said or written even confidentially could, if leaked indiscreetly, only make matters worse. Lady 
Gregory's concern was less for the effect of the blow on the reputation of the Abbey than for the feelings 
of the Abbey players who, faced with Irish- American invective across the footlights and the league's 
betrayal at home, were thoroughly demoralized. To Hyde she wrote only, "Oh, Craoibhin, what are these 
wounds with which we are wounded in the house of our friends?" His lame response — that he never 
intended to harm the Abbey but had felt forced to send the damaging cables because of the threats he 
had received from New Y ork — did little to make amends. Nor did his cables reverse the already 
disappointing shortfall in contributions to the league's faltering fund-raising drive of 1910-1912. 

Hyde could do nothing for the time being but hope that eventually his relations with Lady Gregory, 
Y eats, and all the others whose efforts centered on the Abbey could be repaired. He was not yet aware of 
just how seriously his foolish move had damaged his friendship with Quinn, for apparently he did not 
know that Quinn and Lady Gregory were then engaged in a passionate love affair. He realized that he 
had to do something to avert financial disaster for the league, but for the moment he did not know where 
to turn. Meanwhile, in addition to his new duties at University College, Dublin, where at long last, as 
professor of Modem Irish, he had the position he so long had been denied, demanding his attention were 
major changes in England that had implications for the future of Ireland and therefore the Gaelic 

For several years the solidly entrenched Liberal government that had come to power in 1906 had been 
feuding with the House of Lords, which had the power to veto any bill passed by Parliament. In 1909 the 
Lords' veto of the budget precipitated a crisis that resulted in two parliamentary elections in 1910, 
neither of which produced the majority needed by the prime minister. Lord Asquith, to conduct the 
business of government. Asquith's problem was complicated by the fact that if he did not maintain the 

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program for which Liberals had voted, he faced certain defeat from rising Tory strength; if he did follow 
the agenda promised the voters, he faced a veto in Lords. His solution to the dilemma was to propose a 
bill that would remove the threat of a Lords veto. Called the Parliament Act it provided for an act of 
Parliament to become law despite a veto from Lords if it passed Commons three times 

without revision. The only problem was that to secure passage of such a bill Asquith needed additional 
support. He turned to John Redmond for help, placing the Irish party for the first time since 1886 in a 
position to bargain for Home Rule. After several false starts the critical measure concerning the Lords' 
veto was passed in 1911; as Asquith had promised, a third and ultimately successful Home Rule Bill was 
introduced in 1912. 

This was the moment for which Hyde had been waiting. He could now unleash his "political" feelings by 
degrees, to stir public opinion in favor of the bill. He began slowly, gradually strengthening his 
statements in favor of physical force as the bill progressed through the parliamentary process. In June of 
1911 he had participated in a debate with Pearse at St. Edna's College on methods of achieving 
nationhood. Pearse had told the boys of St. Edna's that if Home Rule came as expected within the next 
few years, they would have a part in directing Irish affairs. If Home Rule did not come, he had declared 
ominously, they would have to use force to attain independence. Hyde did not contradict Pearse but 
cautioned against impatience, as Home Rule now seemed assured. The sword must not be used unless 
there was no alternative, he warned, and even then, only if they could muster the strength necessary to 
assure victory. By May of 1912 he had moved closer to Pearse's position. In a speech at Mullingar, Hyde 
roared to an enthusiastic crowd, "Y ou will be living in a fool's paradise if you keep waiting for the spirit 
of imperialism to fuel the office of patriotism and to fire you with pride of race and country and energy 
of action ." In November 1912, in Castlebar, he proclaimed, "The breath of freedom is in tiie air. The 
man without love of race and pride of country is a poor specimen." During the same month, referring to 
the September signing, in Belfast Cathedral, of the "Solemn League and Covenant" to defeat Home Rule 
and to the establishment by Sir Edward Carson and others of the "Provisional Government of Ulster," he 
told the Gaelic Society of Trinity College that Ireland suffered "no religious hatred now except in one 
province only." For the moment he took no public notice of a simultaneous third threat from the 
Carsonites, tiie raising of a private Ulster army, the Ulster Volunteers. 

Between December 1911 and December 1912 the league's budget crisis grew steadily worse. There was 
now work to be done and the spirit with which to do it, but no funds. In a personal plea to Judge Keogh 
in New York, written January 26, 1913, and printed and dispatched to other key Irish- American figures, 
Hyde described plans to 

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increase the number of traveling league teachers from 100 to 300, set $100,000 as the sum needed, and 
avowed that he would raise $3 in Ireland for every $1 sent from America. The $5,000 Keogh had sent 
him in June 1912, he explained, had been spent in part for salaries ($360 per year) for fifty teachers of 
Irish in the poorer parts of the country, especially tiie Irish- speaking districts of the west where each 
teacher covered 100 square miles on bicycle to reach the schools and branches of the league. These 
teachers, he told Keogh, using the militaristic analogies he always applied to the work of the league, 
were "the soldiers of the Irish Revival Movement." 

John Quinn was among those to whom Hyde sent a copy of his letter to Keogh. The answer he received 
was not what he had anticipated but the blunt and angry words Quinn had not written in December 1911. 
Quinn had withheld comment on Hyde's part in the Playboy affair, he explained, because his trio of 
envoys was still seeking funds in America. But now he told Hyde that he had no stomach for Irish 
matters since the "filth and lies of the Playboy episode." Making no direct reference to Hyde's part 

except by implication, he wrote, "I never saw a man stoop to such meanness as Devoy did The 

whole episode was pitiful and nauseating." The Gaelic League, he declared, had been hurt by attacking 
the Abbey, for the company had had "the sympathy of cultivated people in this town." "It mystified 
some people here, was not understood by others, and gave the ordinary man the impression that the 
Gaelic League was on the side of the rioters." 

Between 1912 and 1913, while the Home Rule bill continued to pick up support throughout Ireland and 
Hyde tried to restore the flagging fortunes of the Gaelic League, labor trouble was brewing in Dublin 
and preparations for armed defense against violence threatened by the Ulster Volunteers were becoming 
increasingly visible. Meanwhile Arthur Griffith made a concentrated attack on Hyde in the form of a 
personal letter published in Sinn Fein in early July. Point by point, Hyde defended his record in a 
lengthy letter to Griffith which appeared in Sinn Fein on July 26, 1913. For a time it silenced Griffith, 
but Hyde had no illusion that his rebuttal would be either final or lasting. Certainly, bitternesses and 
dissension still characterized the Coiste Gnotha. The Kelly/ Freeman controversy had gradually died 
down only to be replaced by new rumors and charges. In another 1913 crisis Hyde was assailed for the 
league's failure to protest the printing of Insurance Stamps (under the National Insurance Act of 1911) in 
English rather than Irish. At that point he decided that he had had enough. In a long 

speech to the Coiste Gnotha sent to all branches, he blamed the incident on the fact that his heart was no 
longer in his work. His conclusion sent shock waves through the entire organization: "I therefore now 
leave this chair which I have occupied for twenty years and put myself under the protection of the Coiste 

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Gnotha and the country. Goodbye." He was returned to the chair by acclamation, but he suspected that it 
would not be long before he would have to take the step again, the next time perhaps for good. The 
league, he confided to close friends, had begun to lose its charm for him when it became powerful and 
therefore worth capturing and exploiting. There were those, "notoriously Griffith," who had "set about to 
do" just that. 

In August 1913 labor problems erupted in a sequence of violence and vicious retaliation that nearly 
paralyzed working Dublin through fall and winter and into the early spring of 1914. The violence led to 
the development of an Irish Transport and General Workers' Union "army" consisting of squads of 
workmen armed with hurling sticks assigned to protect members attending strike meetings; these squads 
became the basis of the Citizen Army. In November 1913, in response to growing threats from the Ulster 
Volunteers, a meeting held in the Rotunda resulted in the formation of the Irish Volunteers under the 
leadership of John MacNeill. Word spread of new recruits joining the Irish Republican Brotherhood. By 
the spring of 1914 military drills had become a regular feature of Irish life, reported and photographed 
for the newspapers, and often reviewed by Hyde and other public figures. Speaking in March 1914 at 
two such events at Lanesborough and Longford, Hyde proclaimed. 

Our duty is to be prepared to take the field as one man against any enemy tyrant or oppressor from 
whatever quarter of the globe he may appear. A country which is not prepared to make some sacrifice 
for its freedom at a moment like this is unworthy of that freedom — and mark my words, will never attain 

Addressing Volunteers at Bray and Balbriggan on July 5, Hyde hailed "a wonderful national awakening, 
a marvelous resurgence of nationality." "I make bold," he declared, "to say that the way of the 
Volunteers has been made easier by the doctrines preached by the Gaelic League." Even if "the still 
small voice of culture is silenced amid the clash of arms and din of warlike preparations, it will assert 
itself later on. It cannot be silenced." Only July 12 Hyde reviewed 4,000 Volunteers at 
Castlebellingham. On July 30, addressing Volunteers at drill on the Earl of Kenmare's demesne in the 
company of the kilted Lord 

Ashbourne, Hyde avowed, "We will put the guns in the hands of our soldiers, please God, and when 
they fire the noise will be felt from the hills of Ireland and the seashores." In early August, addressing a 
meeting of the Gaelic League in Killamey, he argued that if Ulster Volunteers were permitted to drill 
with arms, so should the same permission be given to the Irish Volunteers. No one mentioned England. 

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Anticipating smootli passage of tlie Home Rule Bill, no one seemed to think there was any reason why 
they should. The problem, if any, everyone agreed, would come from Ulster. When the Great War broke 
out in August 1914 and Redmond in September pledged the service of the Irish Volunteers wherever 
England might need them, Sinn Feiners and Gaelic Leaguers committed to physical force against Britain 
split with the Redmondites. 

Hyde had been correct in anticipating, in 1913, that he would soon have no choice but to offer his 
resignation again, but he scarcely could have predicted the reasons. What changed everything for Hyde 
and those witii whom he had worked since 1893 was no petty sniping from within but the guns of 
August 1914. The final stages in the process of peaceful attainment of legislative independence, so long 
awaited, so recently assured, were postponed indefinitely — most thought forever — by Britain's 
involvement in the conflict that became World War I. Angry and frustrated at having their nationhood 
snatched from them on the eve of victory, many refused to accept the British pronouncement. "England's 
disadvantage is Ireland's opportunity," they cried, urging a call to arms. Others, especially those who had 
suffered through the fall of Pamell, were simply too dispirited to protest. Certain that the war would not 
last more than a few months, Hyde tried to hold the center by preaching patience on the one hand, 
preparedness on the other, and reminding all of the folly of futile and fatal action. 

Meanwhile there was, as always, another league crisis over money. In 1914-1915 a second deputation 
had been sent off to America in the hope of obtaining sufficient funds to cover operating expenses for a 
year or two. Diarmuid Lynch, a Gaelic Leaguer from county Cork who had previously been president of 
the Gaelic League in New Y ork State, and Thomas Ashe, a native of Dingle, had gone to New Y ork in 
February 1914. They in turn had been followed by Fionan MacColuim, Nellie O'Brien, and Eithne 
'Kelly, who had had the fresh idea of using a traveling exhibition to promote Irish industries and art. 
Again, the effort proved disappointing. Total league expenses for March 1, 1914, to January 31, 1915, 
had run to £3,600, while receipts for tiie same 

period had been only £3,400. As the cost of sending the delegation had come to over £600, a £1,000 
advance from American sources had barely prevented a league deficit. The Irish products delegation, 
which had exhibited in many of the cities Hyde had visited in 1905-1906, reported gross contributions 
of £1,500. 

In the spring of 1915 Hyde called Nellie O'Brien and Fionan MacColuim home from America. He 
warned them that the league needed careful steering at present, especially as it seemed likely that 'Daly 

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might resign from his post as secretary. Quickly arranging passage, they prepared a last appeal to the 
American Irish for St. Patrick's Day, 1915. Their message: "$300 will keep one man on the wheel for a 
year, circulating and teaching Irish language and history and Irish songs and dances." Awaiting their 
return in the middle of the deteriorating world situation during that unhappy spring, Hyde received a 
pathetic call for help from Julius Pokomy, a German Celticist. Pokomy had not known that his maternal 
grandfather was Jewish. An anti-Semitic purge had resulted in his suspension from the university. There 
was disturbing news also about Kuno Meyer, who had founded the School of Irish Learning in Dublin in 
1903 and had been the first editor of its journal, Eriu . Since the outbreak of the war he had become 
publicly and vehemently pro-German, creating an uproar that led both Dublin and Cork to rescind the 
Freedom of the City awarded him in 191 1 and 1912. Hardest to bear were the daily casualty lists that 
announced the deaths of sons of many of Hyde's Connacht friends, boys Hyde remembered as children 
playing in the endless summer twilight beneath the trees that lined the long avenues leading to their 
gracious homes. As they grew older sometimes he had joined them in informal cricket games when they 
were home on their holidays from Trinity, Oxford, and Cambridge. Now in the spring of 1915, one by 
one they paid their final dues, loyal members of a vanishing class. To John Quinn, Hyde wrote: 

Nearly everyone I know in the army has been killed. Poor young Lord de Freyne and his brother were 
shot the same day and buried in one grave. The MacDermot of Coolavin, my nearest neighbor, has had 
his eldest son shot dead in the Dardanelles. All the gentry have suffered. Noblesse oblige . They have 
behaved magnificently. 

From Georges Dottin at the University of Rennes, Hyde received news that there, too, sons of scholar- 
friends had been summoned to the killing fields of the western front. 

In the months leading up to the league's ard-fheis in August 1915, 

Hyde tried to check the separatists with speeches that pleaded with them to eschew violence until the 
time was right and to avoid any armed confrontation with the formidable British military machine until 
they were better prepared. He offered no apologies for the fact that, despite his own increasingly 
political rhetoric, he continued to insist that the league remain nonpolitical. Challenged to "go political" 
with the league, he argued eloquently that most branches were ran by officers and secretaries. National 
School teachers, and customs and excise officers — Irish women and men filled with national feeling 
who were precluded from taking any part in political activity. For them the league provided an 
acceptable outlet for their energies. 

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On St. Patrick's Day, 1915, Moore and Hyde addressed a crowd of over three thousand people in 
Dundalk's Market Square. Moore, who had retired to the sidelines until he received Hyde's summons, 
told the crowd that he had come back to the league only to find it "deserted by its bravest and best." The 
Galway branch was "withered, killed by these wise young men, these know-alls of Irish politics, who 
have reduced to impotency and almost bankruptcy, the Gaelic League." In mid- May the Weekly 
Freeman reported that Hyde had spoken in Wexford before "an enormous concourse of people." "To be 
a nation," he told them, "they should have the marks of a nation." Reasserting his belief in tiie place of 
the Gaelic League, he declared that it "stands for no party, but for all Ireland." 

Self-evident to anyone intimately acquainted with league affairs was what Hyde did not explain: that the 
league's nonpolitical stance had won and held the support of hundreds of younger clergy and their 
bishops while successfully warding off such clerical imperialists as Father Patrick Dinneen; that by 
keeping national politics out of the league he had secured the support of Redmond and his Parliamentary 
party at a critical juncture during the fight to establish mandatory Irish in the university; that he had 
written endless letters, mediated quarrels without number, smiled when he was seething inside, and 
balanced, juggled, temporized, and conciliated to the point of exhaustion. Nor were his struggles over. 

Pearse Beasley was among those who did not agree. On June 12, 1915, he published "The Gaelic League 
— Wanted, a Policy" in which he insisted that the league must stop "marking time." Hyde did not mind: 
the issue had been debated again and again. He stood on his record of twenty-two years. But did he want 
to continue the debate? Was it indeed worth arguing, with Home Rule assured as soon as the 

war was over? Did he want to try to hold together the existing coalition of disparate factions until then? 
Did he want to face again the prospect of bringing back the league from the brink of bankruptcy? He 
was half-way to his fifty-sixth birtiiday. He felt old and tired. Even since the league was considered 
newsworthy, letters criticizing him had appeared regularly in the Dublin press. Just a few days before, he 
had been attacked in the Irish Times for being "a dreamer, a man who lives and moves in a world that is 
not the real world." It would be strange to pick up the paper and not be able to find out what he had been 
doing wrong. The prospect had an unmistakable appeal. 

A few weeks before Hyde went to Dundalk for the ard-fheis of 1915, he made his decision. He would 

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resign the presidency ratlier tlian preside over a league in which he could not believe. He would not 
resign his membership, of course; that was not necessary. But as it now appeared that those who wanted 
activist planks in the league's program were in the majority, they could have the chair. On August 1, in a 
much-publicized ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery, 'Donovan Rossa, that fierce Fenian celebrated in 
the Irish poems of the young Hyde, was eulogized by Patrick Pearse. Rossa, whom Hyde had visited in 
New Y ork, first in 1891 and again in 1905-1906, had died in America after a long illness. His body had 
been brought to Ireland for burial. As Ruth Dudley Edwards, Pearse's biographer, explains, the funeral, 
attended by hundreds of thousands, was calculated by its organizers to arouse the passions of activist 
Ireland. Instructing Pearse on the content of his oration, Thomas Clarke had told him, "Make it as hot as 
hell, throw all discretion to the winds." Pearse responded with a panegyric that left the crowds sobbing 
and cheering. Its peroration — 

They think they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have pacified half of us and intimidated the 
other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against 
everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland 
holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace — 

echoed all the way to Dundalk where the twenty-second ard-fheis of the Gaelic League was about to 

Fairly certain that he would be returning on the afternoon train, Hyde packed only a light bag in 
preparation for the meeting. He too had prepared a script. He already had told Colonel Moore that if the 
votes favored an activist motion, he would gather up his papers, vacate the chair, and walk out of the ard- 
fheis . After the usual housecleaning 

motions had passed and minor disputes had been settled, the resolution for which Hyde had been waiting 
was read. It came in the form of a motion from Padraig 6 Maille; it called for adding to the league's 
objectives that of working to free Ireland from foreign rule. This was the one Hyde could not accept, not 
because he did not want Ireland free from foreign rule but because such a motion made the Gaelic 
League a political party. He began to collect his papers. Colonel Moore, hoping to avoid the inevitable, 
suggested substituting the single word "free" for "free from foreign rule." From the chair Hyde 
countered that the statement remained political. It was as he thought: 6 Maille's resolution passed by a 
large majority. Next on the agenda were elections to the Coiste Gnotha. Hyde wrote a note addressed to 
Padraig CD aly, to be read out the next day when the time came for choosing a president, declining the 

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honor of reelection on the grounds of health. 

On August 2, 1915, with Hyde's chair already empty before them, O'Daly read Hyde's letter of 
resignation. At first there was silence, then after some minutes, an all-around murmur. No proposal of 
any kind was advanced. The meeting was adjourned for two hours. When the meeting again came to 
order, the question of the presidency was raised. Several resolutions thanking Hyde for his service were 
read into the record. John MacNeill took the chair. He advised keeping the presidency vacant on the 
chance that Hyde might be persuaded to return if the league provided him with a private secretary. 
Padraig O'Daly submitted his resignation. Sean T. 'Kelly was elected to 'Daly's post. For a number of 
days accounts of the Dundalk meeting passed from branch to branch, with everyone adding something 
about what someone had said or how someone had looked when Hyde's resignation was read. Even 
Hyde's enemies recognized that they were witnessing the end of an era. 

As for Hyde himself, he wrote in his diary, "I got my baggage from the hotel without anyone noticing it, 
got into the hotel bus, and ... to the train and was soon on my way to Dublin with a lighter heart than I 
had known for years." 

- - 16 The Terrible Beauty - 1 - 

In the eight months following his resignation from the presidency of the Gaelic League, Douglas Hyde 
maintained a discreet distance from all but his closest league friends. Faithful others, still hoping that he 
would return to active participation on the Coiste Gnotha if not to the presidency, dropped him notes 
from time to time to keep him informed on league activities. He scanned their letters dutifully, grateful 
for the devotion and appreciation that had prompted them, and tried to avoid reading between the lines. 
Sometimes he felt frustrated and angry that after so many years of struggle he had not been able to hold 
on for what was surely, he thought, the last mile. Then, remembering how the goal had been moved each 
time he thought he was closing the gap, he was again overwhelmed with the sense of futility that had led 
to his resignation. The fact was that his present life had its own rewards. Teaching was a genuine 
pleasure. And it was immensely satisfying to have time for the writing and research projects that in the 
past he had repeatedly postponed and delayed. On two projects in particular he had been making steady 
progress at last. One was a catalog of the books and manuscripts in the Sir John Gilbert collection, on 
which he had been working intermittently since 1901 with D.J. O'Donoghue, the librarian at University 
College, Dublin. The other was a translation for the Irish Texts Society of "The Conquests of 
Charlemagne," a Mid- 

dle Irish account of a French saga found in the fifteenth- century Book of Lismore. Lucy seemed happier. 

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too, with her Dubhn town house and daily activities. The girls were well settled at school. 

To his neighbors on Earlsfort Place, Hyde had become a familiar cheerful figure, cycling along "on his 
two round feet" in a gray knickerbocker suit and green stockings on this errand or that or on his way to 
the college or the academy. In the warm April sunshine of Easter Monday (April 24), 1916, he cycled 
off through the south center of the city, thinking the afternoon sun might have had more warmth in it — 
thinking, too, of those friendly notes, some with printed enclosures, that kept him better informed than 
he cared to be. Around and around like the wheels of his bicycle went the words in his mind, saying 
things he knew but did not want to know, not wanting to know how he knew, about plans for the 
"advanced political section" of the league and the Volunteers to implicate themselves in some attempted 
insurrectionary work. It was no secret — almost everyone in Dublin, almost everyone in Ireland, certainly 
everyone in Dublin Castle was expecting something to happen. Of one thing he was sure: whatever it 
was would be connected with the Volunteer battalions, smartly done up and drilling with make-believe 
guns on the demesne of one Big House and another, that he had spent so many of his sunny Sunday 
afternoons reviewing from 1913 through 1915. The Volunteers had organized and armed (albeit 
inadequately, as the wooden guns indicated) to protect themselves from the Carsonites. Even members 
of Parliament had acknowledged the necessity for this defense, especially after the resignations at the 
Curragh in 1914, which had told everyone just where the army would be if Ulster Volunteers attacked 
Dublin, and the gunmnning episodes right under the bows of British battleships at Lame, which said as 
much for the protection of the navy. Defense certainly was required, for even after Asquith had assured 
Carson that the government would never coerce Ulster into accepting Home Rule (that had happened on 
September 15, the very day that George V had signed the Home Rule Bill into law), the northern leader 
continued to declare that his mission was the destruction of any attempt to institute legislative 
independence anywhere in Ireland. But no one believed that the drills and meetings and colorful reviews 
were merely preparations for defense, what with all the slogans proclaiming "Ireland's opportunity" that 
every schoolboy could recite. Neither, however, did they understand, those men who ordered the 
drilling, scheduled the meetings, and wrote the slogans, that when it came, the insurrection would be put 
down (please God, with no great 

loss of life) and the flower of another generation would go off to British prisons and into foreign exile. If 
John 'Leary were still alive, that would be what he would tell them, but they would not listen to 
O'Leary any more than they would listen to Hyde, for they would not listen to history. 

A few yeans ago Cathal Brugha, who manufactured candles, had come to talk to Hyde about "Ireland's 
Opportunity," and he in turn had tried to talk to Cathal Brugha about patience and the promise of Home 
Rule at the end of the war. But as Brugha had pointed out, Asquith already had broken his 1912 promise 

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of Home Rule for all Ireland and Carson already had received assurances of partition (the work of two 
Celts, Churchill and Lloyd George). Only a fool or a dreamer, he said, would believe in such British 
promises, which had no more substance behind them than those of Hyde's own Fairy talking to his 
Tinker. So Hyde had given up on patience and promise and had tried to talk to Brugha about history. 
They had parted sadly, warm friends, each sorrowing over the intransigence of the other. 

As he cycled through Dublin on that Easter Monday afternoon, past University College, along Harcourt 
Street, past the Royal College of Surgeons, Stephen's Green, the Shelboume Hotel, along Kildare Street, 
past Trinity College, and back to his home at One Earlsfort Place, listening carefully to everything he 
heard, did Hyde know that there would be great need for candles that day? Two years later, in an 
unpublished account of Easter, 1916, based on his diaries, Hyde wrote, "I never suspected for a moment 
that there would be such a rebellion as we had in Easter Week, 1916, or such violent fighting, or that 
they would have stood their ground so well." Was it the event itself or the force of it that he did not 

Noon, Easter Monday, April 24, 1916 

- At midday in Dublin approximately one hundred and fifty members of the Irish Citizen Army and the 
Irish Volunteers, some in uniform, many in their Sunday suits, all armed with a variety of weapons, left 
Liberty Hall under the command of James Connolly and Patrick Pearse, marched to the General Post 
Office on Sackville (O'Connell) Street, and on orders from their commanders, charged the building. 
They took prisoner a small unarmed detachment of British soldiers, then raised two Irish flags over the 
roof, fortified the windows, and barricaded the doors. When all was in order Pearse reappeared on the 
steps of the post office and read "The Proclamation of the Irish Republic" to a small crowd. Calling out 
to all Irishmen and Irishwomen, 

- "in the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of 
nationhood," he declared that Ireland now "summons her children to her flag and strikes for her 

'We declare," he continued. 

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the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish 
destinies, to be sovereign and indefensible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and 
government has not extinguished the right nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of 
the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and 
arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we 
hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State and we pledge our lives and the 
lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the 

- In the absence of a duly elected representative government, Pearse asserted that "the Provisional 
Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for 
the people." Affixed to the printed copies of the proclamation that were distributed on behalf of the 
provisional government were the signatures of Thomas J. Clarke, Sean MacDermott, Thomas 
MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, Eamon Ceannt, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett. 

- Shortly after 1:00 P.M. a troop of lancers charged down Sackville Street at a gallop with drawn sabres. 
Rifle fire from the post office killed three lancers and fatally wounded a fourth. The remainder wheeled 
and retreated quickly in the direction of the Rotunda. In the absence of police, widespread looting began 
of shops on Sackville Street by residents of the nearby slums. Reports brought to Pearse and Connolly in 
the post office by dispatch riders claimed that Dublin Castle had been taken and that Volunteer and 
Citizen Army units were in place at preselected strategic vantage points including St. Stephen's Green, 
the South Dublin Union, Jacob's Biscuit Factory, Boland's Mill, and the Four Courts. 

Hyde's account: 

Having cycled to Stephen's Green to see the pictures sent in for Miss D ease's competition, Hyde went on 
to Nassau Street to buy cigarettes but — it being a holiday — found the shops closed. It was a beautiful day 
— very warm. Bicycling back along Stephen's Green, as he turned out of Dawson Street he was startled 
by a loud burst from what sounded like the tire of a motorcar in front of the Shelboume Hotel, then 
another burst, and then another. He said to himself, "There must be great mortality among tyres today." 
Minutes later, passing the Shelboume, he saw 

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the large gate of Stephen's Green shut and thought it curious that the park would be closed on Easter 
Monday. He then spotted armed men in the park and watched two of them dig holes, wondering to 
himself, "Are these fools thinking to hide anything?" Later he discovered that the men were digging 
defense trenches. He had, he said, "not the slightest idea that there was anything really serious in the air, 
not even when in the garden half an hour afterward, I heard a furious outbreak of firing." What he had 
taken to be Volunteer target practice turned out to have been a fire fight between British soldiers and 
Volunteers at the Portobello Bridge. He worried about his daughters, Nuala and Una, who had gone for a 
walk, but like others strolling around Dublin in the warm sunshine of that Easter Monday afternoon, 
they returned unharmed and apparently unaware that anything had happened. Together all three walked 
over to the area around the Portobello Bridge, where they saw that severe damage had been done to a 
public house. Its windows had been shot out; ransacked goods lay on the street. From the direction of 
Stephen's Green they heard intermittent gunfire. From the Green, Hyde later learned. Citizen Army 
rebels under Commandant Michael Mallin and the Countess Markiewicz had been exchanging fire with 
soldiers atop the Shelboume Hotel. "This night," he wrote in his diary before going to bed, "so far as I 
could make out, except for continual firing in the Green and round it, everything was quiet in this 
quarter of the city." 

Tuesday, April 25 

- Pearse's and Connolly's headquarters force in the post office heard sounds of machine-gun fire from 
south of the city, indicating British troop activity. Rumors flew. Pearse issued an optimistic 
communique. The British cleared the area around Dublin Castle. At Stephen's Green units of the Citizen 
Army withdrew to the Royal College of Surgeons. Martial law was declared. Pearse drafted and read a 
second proclamation to the people of Dublin. In the evening sniper fire increased and fires burned on 
Sackville (O'Connell) Street. British troops in the city now numbered 6,500. Artillery for shelling 
occupied buildings was brought into the city from Athlone. 

Hyde's account: 

Having awakened early, before the rest of the household, Hyde had walked down Earisfort Terrace to 
the comer of Stephen's Green, feeling "perfectly certain" that it had been evacuated during the night, for 
it appeared to him to be a place impossible to defend for any length of 

time, as all the trenches and other cover for snipers could be searched by machine guns and rifle fire 

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from the tops of surrounding buildings. To his surprise Hyde found that it had not been evacuated but in 
fact had been the scene of a sharp fire fight between marksmen from both sides, none of whom he could 
see. As he walked back up Earlsfort Terrace he stopped to chat with two women friends. A staccato of 
machinegun fire interrupted their conversation. Bullets struck a window and rain pipe eight feet over 
their heads. The shots, he theorized, had come not from immediately behind them but from the roof of 
Oliver Gogarty's house next to the Shelboume Hotel where British soldiers had set up their guns. It was 
a "criminally careless" act on the part of the military, he thought angrily, to shoot down a street that was 
empty except for three civilians. 

After lunch Hyde strolled out again with Nuala and Una. From one passerby on the street he learned that 
among the first orders issued from the post office, headquarters of the Rising, was that an official baker 
be appointed to supply the new Irish Republic with bread. Another passerby told them that the Rising 
had been ordered over the head of John MacNeill and against his direct orders. MacNeill, the man said, 
having learned of the plan for a rising on Easter Sunday, had issued a counterorder cancelling all 
Volunteer parades planned for that day. The 'Rahilly and Bulmer Hobson had sided with MacNeill. On 
the basis of this and other conversations Hyde surmised that Pearse, Connolly, and Plunkett might have 
refused to cancel the Rising because they had been notified of a secret order smuggled out of the Castle 
for wholesale arrests of Volunteers and the imposition of what amounted to martial law in Dublin. 

MacNeill had sent a copy of this secret order to Hyde on April 19. That same evening Hyde had dined 
with Stopford, brother of Alice Stopford Green, and Sir Matthew Nathan, under secretary for Ireland. He 
had shown the document to Stopford, who doubted its authenticity, but neither man mentioned it to 
Nathan. Hyde at first had shared Stopford's view that the document was a forgery but he had changed his 
mind when he considered that the Castle might have been alerted to the possibility of a coup. Hyde 
suspected that the more hotheaded among the leaders had called out the Volunteers on their own account 
by an order which purported to come from headquarters. 

Wednesday, April 26 

- The British armed fishery vessel, the Helga, shelled Liberty Hall from the Liffey Basin. Two infantry 
brigades arrived at Kingstown Harbor and began 

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- to march on Dublin. Sir John Maxwell was assigned to command British operations. The British 
conducted house-to-house searches while infantry and two eighteen-pound artillery pieces were moved 
closer to cordon off the central city. The pacifist writer and beloved Dublin character Francis Sheehy- 
Skeffington was executed without trial at Portobello Barracks. Incendiary rounds fired into Sackville 
(O'Connell) Street apparently from Trinity College, caused an outbreak of fires. Scores of Sherwood 
Foresters lay dead and wounded as nine Volunteers from de Valera's command at B eland's Mill held up 
their advance guard for nine hours. 

Hyde's account: 

In the morning Hyde and his two daughters set out to check on Nellie O'Brien. As they passed Stephen's 
Green they saw a dead horse on the street near the Shelboume Hotel. The windows of the hotel were 
shattered by bullets; its hall and vestibule were barricaded with mattresses. They walked past the 
deserted Kildare Street Club to Nellie 'Brien's flat where they found her calm but her housekeeper in a 
state of great excitement. They had been going through a much worse time than the residents of Earlsfort 
Terrace, as fighting had been going on all night with tremendous fusillades in the direction of Westland 
Row. The roof of Trinity College was full of men who apparently had been firing up Dame Street Hyde 
was told afterward that they were men of the officers' training corps, with some Canadians and others. 
Nellie had been able to see them shooting quite plainly. Great cannon firing also had been heard; 
subsequent reports gave the target as Liberty Hall. Some people said that a gunboat had bombarded it 
from tiie basin of the river, others that eighteen- pounders planted in Tara Street had fired on it from 
there. The structure had not been demolished, all agreed, but it had been riddled and shattered with 
thousands of bullets and many shells. 

Lucy's anxiety for Nellie's safety prompted a second trip by the Hydes that same day to persuade Nellie 
to return with them to Earlsfort Place. Lucy had shown "wonderful courage," Hyde said, as they passed 
Stephen's Green amid sounds of gunfire on all sides. On the way they met Sarah Purser, the artist who 
was also out walking. When told of their mission to rescue Nellie O'Brien, she "sniffed and said 'That's 
always the way with the granddaughter of heroes.'" 

With as many of Nellie's belongings as they could carry in their arms, the Hydes returned with Nellie to 
One Earlsfort Place. En route they paused to watch an English regiment weighed down with enormous 
field packs marching into the city from Kingstown, looking exhausted 

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from the heat People in the terrace and road waved handkerchiefs wildly and ran down with jugs of 
water and oranges and other refreshments. Disdaining mere water, some of the men threw it away, but 
when a poor woman in a shawl (drunk herself, Hyde thought) produced a bottle of something else, it was 
"highly appreciated and finished in a jiffy." 

Thursday, April 2 

- British reinforcements continued to arrive, tightening the cordon around the city's center. The post 
office, taking its first direct hit from artillery, was machine-gunned. Fires on Sackville Street spread 
closer to the post office. Volunteer outposts around Sackville (O'Connell) Street had to be abandoned as 
heat from the fires became unbearable. James Connolly was wounded while attempting to establish an 
outpost outside the post office. Inside, Pearse, Clarke, and MacDermott, who had assumed command of 
military operations, were joined by The O'Rahilly. A bulletin written by Pearse on Wednesday was 
released. It claimed that republican lines were intact and asked citizens to build street barricades to hold 
up the British advance. Pearse also reported (inaccurately) that "large areas in the West, South and 
South-East" were now in arms for the Irish Republic. 

Hyde's account: 

Except for "a miserable edition" of the Irish Times which contained little more than a terse government 
announcement of the Rising, a Wednesday issue that contained Lord Wimboume's proclamation of 
martial law, and a report that the provinces were quiet, there had been no reliable news for three days. 
All mention of the tumultuous scenes in Dublin was omitted from the paper, as was any news of the 
English armies on the western front. 

The Hydes accompanied Nellie 'Brien on yet another risky trip to her flat to rescue more of her 
belongings. On the way back to the Hydes' they passed dead horses in the streets and observed a few 
women and officers in mufti peering cautiously from the windows on the Kildare Street side of the 
Shelboume Hotel. A passerby reported that three Volunteers in a house near Haddington and 
Northumberland roads had killed twenty-five soldiers and then escaped dressed in womens' clothing. On 
Harcourt Street they encountered a belligerent dentist who demanded of Hyde, "How much are you 
responsible for this?" Hyde asked him, "How much are you?" The dentist muttered something about 
putting a bayonet into Hyde. "Y our forceps, you mean," Hyde 

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thought but restrained himself from saying. The dentist then threatened something to the effect of 
changing the professors of the National University "mighty quick." Hyde felt very sorry later when he 
learned that the dentist had one son at the university whom he had thrown out of the house because of 
his Sinn Fein sympathies and another son whom he had pressured to enlist in the British army. The son 
at the university was fighting with the Volunteers; the otiier son, an officer, had been shot in Flanders 
(ironically, along with a son of Count Plunkett). Hyde attributed the dentist's attack on him to the fact 
that, with John MacNeill a professor and MacDonagh an assistant lecturer at the National University, he 
must have confounded university teaching with Sinn Fein propaganda. His sympathy for the unfortunate 
man increased when he heard that two days later he lost his father also, killed in the street by a stray 

Hyde was astonished by the number of soldiers and quantity of materiel pouring into Dublin. He 
estimated one contingent at two thousand, including cavalry, foot soldiers, and equipment, and 
wondered how many other columns had entered the city from other directions: the government evidently 
was taking no chances. On the street he obtained more information about the widespread looting and 
learned that Sheehy-Skeffington had been shot, not for fighting, of course (it was well known that he 
was a pacifist), but for posting notices about the formation of a citizens' committee to stop the looting. 
"It was most characteristic of him to be moving about and busying himself in public at such a time," 
Hyde wrote, remembering reports that "the military would hear nothing from him, would not look at his 
proclamation, but gave him half an hour to get a priest," an offer which he refused. "They offered him 
his choice whether he would be shot with his eyes bandaged or open. He tore open his shirt and on his 
breast were tattooed the words Votes for Women , and he bade them shoot him on that spot." The officer 
responsible for the shooting, Hyde was told, was to be tried for it. (Hyde did not know at the time what 
later became Dublin gossip: that the officer was a kinsman of Elizabeth Bo wen, and that her father, a 
barrister, had declined to involve himself in the man's defense.) 

Among the day's news items that Hyde picked up on the street and passed on to others were rumors that 
the post office garrison was holding twenty hostages; that pictures of the leaders of the Rising had been 
issued to British soldiers; that the soldiers had been instructed to shoot these men on sight; that the 
British officers expected the revolt 

to be over by week's end; and that those same officers had been astounded by the bravery and 
marksmanship of the Volunteers. 

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Back at the Hydes', the wife of Richard Irvine Best (Celtic scholar and assistant director of the National 
Library) stopped in to have tea with them. She told them that her husband had brought out Thomas 
Lyster, director of the National Library, to see the fighting at Haddington Road and had left him sitting 
on the lock gate of the canal, moralizing upon Comwallis and the war of American freedom. Only a day 
or two before, Lyster had gone to Hyde's neighbors, the Coffeys, and apologized to Mrs. Coffey for 
having said to her that the Irish were cowards. He assured her that he could never again think such a 
thing — that it was really extraordinary that a couple of thousand men armed only with rifles should try to 
hold off an empire. Mrs. Best also reported that spent bullets were falling all around Sarah Purser's 
house on the Grand Canal and that her servants had offered her the bullets as souvenirs. 

Thursday evening the Hydes had other visitors: Diarmid Coffey and his mother, who lived nearby. In 
her own diary of the Rising, Mrs. Coffey wrote, "We often go into the Hydes in the evening. They are a 
cheer, taking such a wise and sympathetic view." Through it all her husband, George Coffey, the 
archaeologist, lay gravely ill. Diarmid Coffey had that day gone out to try and find a doctor to attend 
him. After they left, Hyde noted that "the night was lurid with flames and hideous with firing." 

Friday, April 28 

- Pearse ordered the evacuation of women from the post office and prepared a statement to be read to his 
soldiers: "I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland's honour." By midaftemoon the upper stories of the 
post office were ablaze from shell fire. The O'Rahilly was killed while leading a sortie down Moore 
Street. By evening the post office fire was out of control. Pearse, Connolly, and Clarke were the last to 
evacuate the building for a small house on Moore Street. 

Hyde's account: 

Fine weather continued. Sitting in the garden, Nuala and Una heard bullets overhead. Hyde could not 
hear the whistle of them in the air, but he did hear them striking slates on houses. Hyde, his daughters, 
and Nellie O'Brien walked to Leeson Park to inquire after a relative of Nellie's who had been shot in the 
shoulder on Monday in Stephen's 

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Green. On their return at 4:30 in tiie afternoon tiiey heard a burst of fire from Harcourt Street Bridge. 
Hyde learned later that five men and two women had been killed, apparently by British soldiers. That 
evening at about 8:30 he heard a "desperate outburst" of firing which seemed to come from the direction 
of the College of Surgeons, "the principal storm centre in this part of the city." He noted the 
effectiveness of the Volunteer sniper fire from the top floors and roofs of nearby houses: 

The single shots which are going on in our neighbourhood all day and half the night appear to come 
from semi-detached or comer houses, or houses of a commanding height in the surrounding street. The 
Volunteers appear to quietly walk in and take possession of any building they want. They confine the 
family below, and then get on the roof or fire from the top windows. 

That night more smoke and flames could be seen in the sky in the direction of O'Connell Street. The 
smell of burning was coming in through all the windows. 

Saturday, April 29 

- Pearse proposed a negotiated surrender. Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell was sent out from the Moore Street 
house under a white flag and was escorted to a British commander who told her that surrender must be 
unconditional. At 3:45 P.M. Pearse signed a general surrender order in the presence of General Maxwell. 
The order was later cosigned by James Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh. Orders were carried to other 
Volunteer and Citizen Army positions in the city. 

Hyde's account: 

Heavy firing could now be heard in Hyde's section of the city. In the street he learned that the Volunteer 
unit at Jacob's Factory was still intact and that the Volunteers there were able to slip in and out according 
to assigned shifts, exchanging bandoliers and rifles as they took turns going home to catch up on some 
sleep. There had been, he was told, heavy fighting at the Four Courts. A rumor that had swept through 
Dublin since Tuesday, that Sir Roger Casement had been captured off the south coast of Ireland and 
returned to England as a prisoner, had been corroborated. At six that evening Hyde was told by a driver 
for the Red Cross that the Volunteers had surrendered and that the Rising would soon be over except for 

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desultory sniping tliat might continue for several days. He sent two men out to get provisions for 

the family, but bread, flour, oatmeal, and Indian meal were all unobtainable. At night Hyde observed 
only small conflagrations. Noting that the firing had nearly died down, he concluded that reports that the 
end was approaching were accurate. 

Sunday, April 30 

- The remaining forces of the provisional government surrendered. Of all the major strategic sites 
occupied and held by the Volunteers and Citizen Army, only the post office had been lost to British 
military action. Exhausted and dejected, the captives were herded into the Rotunda gardens under cloudy 
skies. Soon it began to rain. 

Hyde's account: 

The morning was fairly quiet. Nuala and Una went to nearby St. Matthias Church where the sermon was 
punctuated by nearby shooting. Food remained short; Hyde was told of long lines of famished Dubliners 
waiting for bread outside a bakery at Ballsbridge. New outbreaks of firing occurred, this time from 
railway carriages at the Harcourt Street Bridge where a train had been stalled since Tuesday. Volunteers 
shot from carriage windows and were answered with fire from troops at Charlemont Bridge. In the street 
Hyde met Father Sherwin, who had been attending the wounded and dying since Monday. He stopped 
for a while in Hyde's garden, where he reported that the Citizen Army unit in the College of Surgeons, 
which had been fighting with such skill that it had dominated Stephen's Green since Monday, had 
surrendered at 2:00 P.M. According to Sherwin a good many of its members were women "who shot as 
well as the men." He praised "the courage and resourcefulness and intelligence of the Volunteers, many 
of whom were very young." 

The priest's account of the looting was both grim and humorous. People were carrying off, he said, the 
most incongruous articles. He had seen one old woman staggering along under a huge box of soap. Just 
beside a British military outpost, unable to carry it any longer, she had put it down and sat on it. After a 
while, "with great aplomb" she raised it again on her back and walked right past the soldiers, who said 
she looked dirty enough to want it all. 

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Accurate news was still sparse and uncertain. That night as he consulted the sky and listened for 
gunfire, Hyde was under the impression that the units at Jacob's Biscuit and Boland's were still holding 
out but he noted that the sky was no longer bright with the glare of fires. 

Monday, May 1 

- The rain continued. Many of the prisoners, including the leaders of the Rising, were taken to 
Kilmainham Gaol. The courts- martial began. 

Hyde's account: 

Following a quiet morning Hyde heard tremendous firing at about noon from the Leeson Street Bridge. 
He was told that the British soldiers were firing indiscriminately up and down every street He supposed 
that they were clearing the way for an army contingent that came by later, in a long parade of wagons 
carrying tents and other cumbersome items, cavalry scouts, motor scouts, and a bicycle corps. M alone, a 
man who worked for the Hydes and who also was a driver for the Red Cross, brought news of the utter 
devastation on O'Connell Street "When you turned around the Bank of Ireland and looked ahead of 
you," he said, "you would not know where you were. Y ou might be in some foreign city in France or 
Germany." The only familiar landmark was Nelson's Pillar. Later in the day Hyde heard that the men of 
Jacob's Factory had surrendered, although their flag had been flying until six o'clock Sunday evening. 
"They have surrendered in Boland's also," he wrote in his diary, "and that definitely breaks the back of 
the revolt" Nobody could say with any certainty just how many prisoners were taken. No one had any 
other official information, either. Everyone had a selection of unconfirmed reports, rumors, and possible 
facts. The presence of police on the streets for the first time since Easter Monday prompted raillery 
among some of the citizenry. There was much speculation on the whereabouts of Countess Constance 
Markiewicz. One rumor had it that she had surrendered on George Street a bayonet at her chest another 
that she was taken prisoner at the College of Surgeons. All stories agreed that dressed in men's clothing 
and with a feather in her hat she had kissed her revolver before surrendering it 

The street- fighting skills of the young Volunteers was a source of considerable comment Hyde noted 
that although many were hardly more than raw recruits, they had learned to harass the British troops by 

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taking cover in protected positions, firing, and tiien moving quickly to other sites. "Most comical/' said 
Hyde, was the sight of civilians flying down the road when shots were fired. He had watched one group 
of five men jump in unison when shots landed near them, then wheel and run to the far end of the street. 
Diarmid Coffey, he added wryly, had such respect for the curfew under martial law that he chose not to 
walk the fifty yards from his own house to come to the Hydes' for dinner for fear that he might be shot. 

Tuesday, May 2 

The courts-martial continued. 
Hyde's account: 

Wild rumors were circulating in the absence of official news: that British soldiers had thrown the 
corpses of Volunteers into the Liffey; that Galway had been cleared of the Sinn Feiners by artillery fire. 
There were also stories, some amusing, some heartwarming, about the ability, honesty, and restraint of 
the Volunteers: that for several days one group had occupied a pub on Leeson Street but had drunk only 
one bottle of lemonade; that many had attempted to stop the looting; that even the British said that they 
were excellent shots. 

After lunch Hyde and his family walked to Westmoreland Street where for the first time they could see 
for themselves the ruins that stretched down Sackville (O'Connell) Street to Nelson's Pillar. Not one 
window in Trinity College, Hyde noted, had been broken. At Nellie 'Brien's flat in College Park 
Chambers they were horrified to find that machine-gun fire had ripped through her rooms. They 
congratulated themselves for having insisted that she stay with them. There was word at last of John 
MacNeill: he was under military arrest in his own house. MacNeill had stated, Hyde was told, that he 
had nothing to do with the uprising, that it had gone forward against his advice and wishes, but that he 
accepted responsibility for it and wished to share the fate of his companions. 

Shortages of food still plagued the city. The Hydes had begun to despair of getting milk. Officially, they 
were told, the Rising was over, but they continued to hear distant thunder from heavy guns. 

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The judges of the courts-martial completed their work quickly. Fifteen of the leaders were sentenced to 
die according to a published schedule. Thomas J. Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, and Patrick Pearse were 
executed on May 3; Edward Daly, Michael Hanrahan, William Pearse, and Joseph Mary Plunkett on 
May 4; John MacBride on May 5; Eamon Ceannt (Kent), Cornelius Colbert, Sean J. Houston, and 
Michael Mallin on May 8; James Connolly and Sean MacDermott on 

May 12. Had Eamon de Valera's death sentence not been commuted to life imprisonment, there would 
have been one more. 

For Hyde as for almost everyone else in Ireland, what passed for official news was spotty and suspect, 
especially as sounds of shooting continued for days after official word that the Rising had ended. The 
streets were full of rumors. Most concerned the systematic and thorough looting that had gone on under 
the heaviest fire, particularly in the poorer areas of the city, by British soldiers supposedly looking for 
arms. The headquarters of the Gaelic League had not escaped. Fortunately, Stephen Barrett, the 
treasurer, had removed £ 100 from the office the night before it was ransacked. The soldiers found only 
loose coins and stamps in a desk drawer. 

During a May 5 house-to-house search for weapons, a team of two soldiers and two detectives had come 
to Hyde's door. He had been required to give up a valuable gun and gun case plus several other items for 
which he was not given a receipt. On May 12 he and Lucy dressed in their best clothes and drove to 
Dublin Castle in Hyde's Ford touring car (a prized possession purchased in Dublin just two years 
earlier). Everyone in Dublin had stories of confiscated items that had disappeared without record into the 
pockets of British soldiers. Consequently, although everyone had been assured that at a designated time 
all items would be returned by Dublin Castle, Hyde did not have much hope of ever seeing his gun and 
gun case again. In the Castle yard he met a man he knew, a resident magistrate from Drogheda, who 
advised him to see a Colonel Johnson. After being kept waiting for Colonel Johnson, Hyde asked for 
Commissioner Quinn. As Quinn was out, Hyde asked for Superintendent Dunne, who disclaimed any 
knowledge of anything confiscated by any military officer. At that moment a man in Dunne's office 
volunteered to take Hyde to the appropriate department. 

'Do you know me?" he asked as soon as they were in the hall. 

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'I think I know your face," Hyde said cautiously. 
'Well/' said the man, "I'm Mrs. Hanley's brother." 

As Mrs. Hanley was a Frenchpark neighbor, Hyde knew that he was in safe hands. 

"I'll get your gun for you if it is to be had at all," Mrs. Hanley's brother assured Hyde, taking him to a 
room in which three officers were sitting around a table. 

The officer in charge, however, gave little hope that, especially with- 

out a receipt, anything might be reclaimed. "Y ou're the twentieth person in with us already today. We 
are inundated with complaints about watches and everything." 

Hyde explained that the gun and gun case were not his but belonged to the brother of Lady Wright. As 
this information brought exclamations of concern from the officers, Hyde confided only to his diary the 
fact that he had "omitted to mention that the poor chap whose gun it was had died many years 
previously." The advice he received from the officers took him back to square one: he must see Colonel 
Johnson. Fortunately, Mrs. Hanley's brother had other ideas. Escorting Hyde to still another department, 
he stood in the doorway, saluted smartly, and announced that Dr. Douglas Hyde had come to look for his 

'Oh," said ajolly-looking little man, "I know him. 

Then, putting his hand behind his chair, he produced gun case, revolver, sword bayonet, and a box of 
ammunition which he insisted on bringing out himself and placing in Hyde's Ford "in the friendliest and 
most amiable manner." 

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It was over. Hyde's image of the Rising was not after all, one of candles burning in memory of the dead. 
It was the memory of the green, white, and orange-yellow flag hoisted over University College to the 
cry, "Up the Republic." To Lady Gregory he later declared, "That cry and that flag have taken 
possession of the imagination and I don't think it will ever be got out of it." 

- - 17 In and Out of Public Life - 

The facts had been confirmed: John MacNeill had indeed stated when he was arrested that although he 
had opposed the insurrection of April 24 he accepted responsibility for what had happened and wished 
to share the fate of the others who had been arrested. Fortunately the judges did not accept his request. 
On May 24 MacNeill was given a life sentence in Dartmoor Prison. Cautiously his friends began 
discussing how they might gather support for an appeal. It was clear that the British policy of swift and 
harsh punishment had been purposely chosen as a deterrent to others contemplating rebellion. The 
government did not swerve from its resolve even in the face of shocked and outraged protests from all 
over the world. The Casement trial was still pending, the evidence against him too strong for observes to 
expect anything but another highly publicized execution, for he had been involved in attempts to obtain 
German arms for the Volunteers and he had been seized on the coast of Kerry, on Banna strand, after 
having made the trip from Germany in a German submarine. His defenders insisted that he had returned 
to Ireland for the purpose of urging his confederates to cancel plans for the Rising; his accusers declared 
that he had been caught in the midst of a botched attempt to smuggle arms. It was not a good time, Hyde 
and other friends agreed, to draw attention to MacNeill. Hyde therefore concentrated for the moment on 
making sure that MacNeill was adequately fed and reasonably comfortable and that he had books and 
papers with which to occupy himself. 

Meanwhile, the academic term over, Lucy was making arrangements 

for their return to Ratra for the summer holidays. Hyde gathered up what he needed to continue work on 
the Gilbert catalog and the translation of "The Conquests of Charlemagne." Before he left Earlsfort Place 
he had a talk with Diarmid Coffey, son of his friend and neighbor George Coffey. Diarmid had proposed 
that he write a biography of Hyde. Upon reviewing young Coffey's background, Hyde had consented. 
He was an Irish speaker. He had taken part in the Kilcoole gun-running of July 1914. In 1914-1915 he 
had served as secretary to the inspector general of the Irish Volunteers. He therefore could be counted 
on, Hyde thought, to appreciate Hyde's commitment to the language and to understand his unwillingness 
to narrow the membership of the Gaelic League to those committed to physical force. Hyde promised to 
provide him with letters and documents and to make himself available also whenever he was needed for 

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Six weeks later, settled at Ratra, Hyde began circulating a statement on MacNeill's behalf. On July 22 he 
wrote to Shane Leslie in America. MacNeill, he declared, had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. 
He never had contemplated armed rebellion; in fact had he not countermanded the orders of others, the 
insurrection would have been more extensive: "the fire would have spread all over the north and west." 
Hyde enclosed a copy of a petition, "to be signed only by a dozen scholars of eminence," which he asked 
Leslie not to publicize as "nothing could be more injudicious than a monster or public petition." He 
made similar requests of trusted friends in Ireland. 

On August 3 Roger Casement was hanged in London, in Pentonville Gaol. He died in the tradition of 
Irish martyrs, calmly and with dignity, following an eloquent speech from the dock. Petitions seeking 
clemency had been ignored. Many had come from abroad. Public indignation increased. Unable to save 
Casement, men like John Quinn of New Y ork, who had actively sought his release, were quick to 
respond to petitions for MacNeill. Hyde redoubled his efforts on MacNeill's behalf. 

On September 5 Nuala Hyde suffered a hemorrhage. The diagnosis was tuberculosis; the prognosis was 
poor; the progress of the disease was rapid and devastating. Lucy and Hyde watched helplessly as day 
after day their once vivacious and beautiful daughter fought for breath. For Hyde all the horror of his 
boyhood when he had watched for months the suffering of his brother Arthur returned. Mercifully, 
Nuala's struggle was not so long. By September 30 — at the age of twenty-two — she was dead. In notes 
to friends Hyde spoke understandingly of Lucy's great sorrow. What he did not speak of was his own. 
Poised, articulate. 

and gregarious, Nuala had been the daughter most like himself. To Quinn he wrote of how attractive and 
popular she had been. He had thought that one day he would give her to some young man who would 
escort her from the altar. Instead, escorted in the Irish tradition by twenty-four unmarried young men, 
her coffin was carried out of the little church in Portahard and into the graveyard where his father and 
mother already lay buried. 

Hyde had written Shane Leslie that he had obtained all the names he needed on his Irish petition on 
behalf of John MacNeill. Rumor had it that Lord Wimboume would be sympathetic. Hyde intended to 
make the presentation himself. He urged that an American petition, differently phrased, be sent at once. 

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He knew that John Quinn would sign it; he asked if Shane Leslie had identified others. To MacNeill's 
family Hyde emphasized the importance of encouraging him, as a condition of his release, to agree to 
refrain from politics for the duration of the war. The petitions were submitted but MacNeill remained in 
Dartmoor. "What a dreadful year this has been, both public and private," Hyde wrote to Lady Gregory in 
December 1916. "Ireland seems in a hopeless muddle. So does everything, the Gaelic League included." 
To Quinn he wrote that the league, "which should be reaping golden harvests in the bankruptcy of 
politics, has been steered on the rocks by fools." As for Home Rule, it appeared as "dead as a herring." 
The general outlook was "as bleak as could be." 

In April 1917 Hyde cautiously considered applying for amnesty for MacNeill but restrained himself to 
avoid the risks of raising the issue so close to the anniversary of the Rising. In June, however, the matter 
resolved itself. British prime minister David Lloyd George called for an Irish convention that would 
meet in Dublin to discuss the future of Ireland. Organizations representing all aspects of Irish political, 
social, religious, and economic life were invited to nominate delegates. To encourage participation, Irish 
prisoners in England were freed on June 16. Hyde relayed the good news of MacNeill's release to John 
Quinn. The struggle, he noted, was not yet over. Because MacNeill had been convicted on felony 
charges, he had been stripped of his university chair and deprived of his right to a lifetime 
reappointment. As for the Irish convention, Hyde's doubts that it would produce any significant 
agreement proved valid. Talks began on July 25, 1917, with Sir Horace Plunkett in the chair. Although 
delegates convened monthly through the fall and winter of 1917 and early spring of 1918, nothing was 
accomplished. It was the same spring in which John Redmond died and 

John Dillon was chosen to succeed him as leader of the Home Rule party. How far they had come, 
thought Hyde, from Charles Stewart Pamell. The good news was that MacNeill was returned to his 
university chair in May, 1918. 

Meanwhile, in the fall of 1917, Coffey's biography of Hyde was published. A brief and compact study, it 
reflected Coffey's own zeal for the revival of Irish and his uncritical admiration for his subject but 
included little discussion of complex issues and events. When the reviews appeared, Hyde read them 
avidly, then clipped and laid them into his personal copy. He was amused by one review that called his 
work as president of the Gaelic League "service to Ireland . . . [yet] perilous work, almost as dangerous 
to the reputation as the feeding of tigers is to life." Another over which he chortled appeared on 
February 22, 1918, in the pages of his old antagonist, the Church of Ireland Gazette . It asserted that all 
idealist movements in Ireland were doomed to capture and wreck by political extremists and that the 
Gaelic League, no longer a revivifying and reconciling force in Irish life, was now dead and damned 
beyond all recovery. Never had the Gazette considered him an idealist, never had it called the league "a 

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revivifying and reconciling force in Irish life" during his presidency! It was good to be appreciated, he 
noted wryly, even in retrospect. Publication of the book brought him a flurry of letters from former 
acquaintances with whom he had lost touch. Lucy was happy with the sketch of herself and her family 
background. It was for her a small pleasure that momentarily lifted the depression from which she 
continued to suffer following Nuala's death. 

In July 1918 the point of agreement that had escaped the Irish delegates to Lloyd George's convention 
emerged in Ireland's response to a conscription act that would have sent able-bodied Irishmen between 
eighteen and fifty to fight in France. A fire storm of public outrage united the country. Even the North 
joined the rest of Ireland in opposing the measure. Dillon and his party walked out of Parliament. De 
Valera — who had succeeded Arthur Griffith as president of Sinn Fein — charged that the British 
government had declared war on the Irish nation. Hyde published a three- part multiple-verse poem that 
drew on the satiric talent of his youth and added the sophistication of maturity. The first part, entitled 
"Almost Any or Mac to Almost Any Englishman," contained such stanzas as: 

They held our homes by naked force By naked force they sucked our soil, 

They seized our riches at their source. They spun not, neither did they toil. Our landmarks and our 
ancient signs They rooted up with all things good; They slew our priests before our shrines; — We drew 
their water, hewed their wood. 

Changing voices swiftly and dramatically, the second part, "Almost Any Englishman's Answer," makes 
a patronizing offer of redemption: 

Now for your sake — more than ours — We're giving you this chance Come out against the Central 
Powers And bleed with us in France. By dying with us you will let The whole world see we're Christians 
yet. That you forgive and we forget. 

Part three anticipates the response of the British press to Irish indignation: 

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But if you don't and will not change Nor answer freedom's call, We're going to teach you something 
strange Y ou will not like at all; What do you say to a firing squad And a grave beneath a prison sod, For 
that is what you'll get by God. 

What the British had got by their ineptitude, Hyde observed in an unpublished memoir written in 1918, 
was Sinn Fein. Analyzing the changing political scene from the sidelines, Hyde grudgingly admitted to 
himself that the nonpolitical strategy on which he had insisted probably had run its course. Y et he was 
not sure that things had turned out badly for the language movement There was no longer a chance that 
the language would be the unifying factor in the history of modem Ireland, but at least it had rendered 
the movement homogeneous. In a letter to John Quinn he predicted Sinn Fein's victory in the elections 
of December 1918. 

Hyde's political speculations were cut short in December by a sudden illness that struck the usually 
robust Una a day after, apparently perfectly well, she had been playing golf with him. Hyde and Lucy 
immediately feared the worst that they would now lose their only surviving daughter to tuberculosis. To 
their relief the doctor's diagnosis was scarlatina 

(scarlet fever) and Hyde's next worry was that he himself could come down with the disease. An entry in 
Una's diary describes his morbid fear of contagion. For the family archives she made a pencil sketch of 
him holding a handkerchief to his nose and looking the picture of terror. Confined to the hospital, she 
appealed to him to send her writing materials. The next day she was amused to receive a large envelope, 
carefully sealed (she could not imagine why), containing paper, envelopes, and stamps, but no pencil. 

Relieved that Una's illness was not life- threatening, Hyde again turned his attention to politics. To John 
Quinn he wrote that now would be the time for Sinn Fein to consolidate their strength if their best men 
(including de Valera) were not in prison. What he did not anticipate was that even without those in jail 
or in hiding Sinn Fein candidates who had won election to Parliament would make a bold move. First of 
course, as agreed, they refused to take their seats in Parliament Second, meeting in Dublin on January 
19, 1919, they declared themselves to be members of Dail Eireann, the parliament of the sovereign 
Republic of Ireland. Affirming that all rights of private party were subordinate to the public right and 
welfare, they set up the process through which local courts were established throughout the country. 
Meanwhile, also throughout the country. Volunteers who styled themselves the Irish Republican Army 

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instituted a series of attacks on the Royal Irish Constabulary. The Dail accepted them in their new role. 
The British answer, predictably, was to step up their policies of intimidation. The Anglo-Irish war, 
although never formally declared, had begun. 

For the citizens of the new republic represented by the Dail and defended by the IRA, things were not 
easy. In March, Hyde complained to Quinn that the country was under fierce oppression from a 
government that "rams men into jail with savage sentences for small crimes like wearing uniforms or 
making speeches." He estimated that the jails held nearly seven hundred political prisoners and he urged 
Quinn to do what he could in America to keep up the agitation for a free Ireland. By September 
conditions were even worse. Law and order, Hyde reported, had broken down completely; the Gaelic 
League had been suppressed; more people than ever were being sentenced to jail; within the jails hunger 
strikers protested the summary judgment, long sentences, and filthy, crowded conditions that they were 
forced to endure; the Black and Tans — British irregulars who took their name from uniforms 

that were part Royal Irish Constabulary, part regular army — were loose upon the land. On April 16, 
1920, Hyde and Una bicycled to Mountjoy Prison to join the demonstrators sympathetic to the hunger 
strikers. Describing the scene to Lady Gregory, Hyde wrote that on their return home he had postponed a 
dinner for invited guests. "How could we eat," he asked, "and the prisoners starving?" Lady Gregory had 
her own hands full, heading a committee that included Hyde, Katharine Tynan, Stephen Gwynn, AE, W. 
B. Y eats, George Bernard Shaw, and other distinguished writers and artists that were attempting to 
recover for Ireland the valuable paintings that had belonged to her nephew, Hugh Lane. They had 
publicized the issue throughout the worid. They had appealed directly to Lloyd George. 

In July 1921 a truce was declared between the two sides in the undeclared war. An Irish delegation went 
to London to negotiate a treaty. Under threat that the war would be resumed — an eventuality not 
acceptable to most of the Irish population, whatever their political sympathies — in December the Irish 
delegates reluctantiy accepted the terms offered by the British. At issue was British insistence on the 
retention of the six counties of the province of Northern Ireland, separated from the twenty-six counties 
by the act of Partition in 1920. The British Parliament immediately ratified the treaty. In the Dail pro- 
treaty forces led by Artiiur Griffith and Michael Collins were almost evenly opposed by anti-treaty 
forces led by Eamon de Valera and Cathal Brugha. So sensitive was the issue that the Dail conducted its 
debate in secret sessions. Nevertheless, almost everyone in Ireland seemed to have some information 
about them. Hyde wrote Quinn that, from what he had heard, he believed that the treaty would pass by a 
small majority: "We seem to have really hammered out a measure of real freedom. ... So far as I can 

see, we have got almost everything we want I think we got the very most we could . . . without war, 

and war is too awful to contemplate again." In January 1922, as Hyde had predicted, the treaty was 

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narrowly accepted. War with England was over. The Irish Free State, no one's idea of perfection but at 
least a workable entity, was established. Bitter wrangling over the treaty continued, mainly on the matter 
of Partition. Within six months another war was ravaging the countryside, this time a civil war between 
Free State forces and republicans. Cathal Brugha was killed in a fire fight in July; Michael Collins was 
ambushed in August; Erskine Childers, Sr., was executed in November. Hundreds of others died before 
the fighting ended in the 

spring of 1923; as the reprisals continued, dozens more — among them Kevin O'Higgins — died in the 
next several years for their real or supposed actions between 1922 and 1923. 

Through Hyde's correspondence of this period runs a strong indication that he had hoped to be appointed 
to the new Free State Senate. That Y eats won a seat and he did not was a crushing disappointment. 
Pleased with the selection of Y eats, John Quinn was shocked that Hyde had not been similarly honored. 
He wrote to Y eats, Russell, and Lady Gregory, pressing them to do something on Hyde's behalf. In her 
journal for February 18, 1923, Lady Gregory noted that Hyde must have changed his mind, for he had 
told her that he was glad that he did not have a Senate seat. She added that he believed that he had been 
passed over because he had written to William Cosgrave, first president of the Executive Council of the 
Irish Free State, asking a reprieve for Childers. 

The fact is that despite what he had said to Lady Gregory, Hyde never got over having been ignored by 
the Free State majority in the Dail, as some of his writings reveal. In August 1923, for example, he 
published a long article entitled "The Irish Language Movement: Some Reminiscences" in England, in 
the Manchester Guardian Commercial, and in tiie United States, in John Devoy's Gaelic American . In it 
Hyde claimed that the Gaelic League was the spiritual father of Sinn Fein, and that Sinn Fein's progeny 
were the Volunteers who had forced the English into the treaty negotiations. "The Dail," he said, "is the 
child of the Volunteers, and thus it descends directly from the Gaelic League, whose traditions it 
inherits." He praised the Dail for establishing the importance of Irish at its first meeting and decreeing 
that Irish was the official language of the nation, thus affirming the status of the Gaelic tongue. Tactfully 
phrased to draw attention not to himself but to all the others whose efforts he related to the league, the 
article silently raised the all-important question: what of the man who had been one of the nine original 
founders of the league, who had led the organization to greatness, who had obtained for it world 
recognition, and who had nurtured within its protective environment the young men — some of them 
scarcely more than boys when they joined the league — who had become leaders of the Irish nation? 

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The idea for this article may well have originated in a letter from John Quinn dated January 5, 1923. The 
purpose of Quinn's letter had been to thank Hyde for the volume of Connacht Half-Ranns that Hyde had 
dedicated to him: "I accept the dedication witii pleasure as a mark of our sincere and unbroken 
friendship/' Quinn wrote, erasing the 

memory of 1911. In a postscript he declared that Hyde deserved membership in the Free State Senate 
because he had worked "for nationalist Ireland before the de Valeras and some of the others were out of 
their knickerbockers. Y ou and I know that if it had not been for the Gaelic League there would have 
been no Sinn Fein. And with no Sinn Fein there would be no Free State today." Everyone after Hyde, he 
concluded, had built on the foundation of nationalist sentiment of "which you were the direct creator." 

In March 1924, after tea with Hyde, Lady Gregory made another note in her journal: "He has kept quite 
out of politics and just does his university work." But in April, Lucy confided to her that Douglas was 
still deeply hurt at having been passed over for the Senate. Lady Gregory assured Lucy that she had 
missed no opportunity of pressing his claim to office. Privately she acknowledged that she was not quite 
sure whether Lucy had been speaking for herself or for Hyde. Lucy had always been ambivalent about 
Hyde's work on behalf of Irish Ireland. On the one hand, she had often expressed her disdain for the 
league and most of the people in it; on the other, she had been vociferous in her indignation that Hyde 
was not more appreciated, not better rewarded, not more justly recognized, for what he had done. 
Nevertheless, Lady Gregory again raised the question with Y eats, arguing that Hyde should be added to 
the Senate as a representative of literature, "the intellectual side"; that he deserved appointment on the 
basis of the achievement evident in his Literary History and Love Songs of Connacht ; and that given the 
fact that his name was honored in France and in America, such an appointment would redound to the 
credit of the Senate itself. "Y eats was I think convinced," she wrote in her journal. 

On July 28, 1924, John Quinn died in New York. For Hyde, whose American tour in 1905-1906 had 
been the product of Quinn's blazing energy and will, who kept Augustus John's sketch of Quinn on the 
mantlepiece in his Dublin drawing room, and whose Christmases for yeans had been enriched by Quinn's 
gifts of apples, rye, books, and cigars, the passing of this special friend marked the end of an era. 

On February 4, 1925, Sir Hutcheson Poe resigned from the Free State Senate. Hyde's name was placed 
before the body. He was unanimously co-opted. Soon it was like old times: whenever he picked up the 
newspaper he looked first to see who had made sport of him in sketch or doggerel. He did not mind — he 
knew that all who step upon the political stage make themselves fair game to journalists and cartoonists. 

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Douglas Hyde: <lb/>A Maker of Modem Ireland: A Maker of Modem Ireland 

He was particularly amused by "The Celebrity Zoo" (1925), 

which promised readers a visit to a zoological garden, different from the one in Phoenix Park, "where 
rare and precious creatures are on view." Included were visits to "the Elite, the Dail, the Senate and 
Society." One of its illustrations depicted Hyde with jet-black bushy brows, mustache, and hair, his large 
bony skull attached to a walrus body lying on a rock. The caption is in verse: 

Look at the lovely Walrus in its lair Hyde-ing its beauty under stacks of hair. As you may know, it never 
wastes a minute . . . Nor neither does its copy in the Sinate, It shows its love for Music to its flock By 
singing Gaelic on its lonely rock. 

Despite his eagerness to serve in the Senate, Hyde was uncharacteristically quiet. He spoke from the 
floor only twice: once to pay tribute in Irish on the occasion of the death of his old friend Dr. George 
Sigerson; once in English on behalf of government assistance for the Celtic Congress held in Dublin in 
1925. He was present and voting on ten of the eighteen motions called up in the Senate between 
February and June, 1925. Nevertheless, even before his term as a co-opted member expired, Hyde had 
decided to run for another term in the national election set for September 17, 1925. Contrary to Coffey's 
assertion that Hyde "made no effort to secure votes," he waged a vigorous campaign by mail and 
through paid advertising. He sought and received a promise of support from George Russell. He wrote to 
veteran Gaelic League supporters asking their help. He contributed twenty pounds toward the printing 
and distribution of advertisements for himself and fellow candidates that ran in major Dublin and Cork 
newspapers in July 1925. He paid another ten pounds toward publication of an illustrated campaign 
book. He spent ten pounds circularizing all Connacht members of the Dail on the virtues of his 
candidacy. He sought and received the endorsement of the Cumman-na-nGaedheal party in Connacht. 
Senator Liam O'Briain, professor of Romance languages. University College, Galway, responded to 
Hyde's request for assistance in August by organizing an advertising campaign on behalf of the five 
Connacht candidates who lived in the province. Hyde and his fellow senators each contributed eight 
pounds to pay for leaflets that encouraged Connacht voters to vote for Connacht candidates. He paid for 
his own insertions in all the western county papers plus The Teacher's World and contributed to the cost 
of 50,000 handbills and 5,000 posters printed for dis- 

tribution at churches and other places in Dublin on the Sunday before the election. His message to the 
voters was brief: "Douglas Hyde (An Craoibhin) respectfully asks for your votes, if you are satisfied that 
he has done useful work for Ireland during his lifetime . . . During the 22 years that he was President of 

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Douglas Hyde: <lb/>A Maker of Modem Ireland: A Maker of Modem Ireland 

the Gaelic League he never left a letter unanswered." P. M. 'Griffin, a staunch supporter, offered Hyde 
the use of his car while he was campaigning in Kerry. Two days before the election he assured Hyde that 
he was doing very well in Kerry and that although the Gaelic League's reputation was not strong in the 
country {hsrd evidence of its decline that shocked Hyde despite all he knew), "your reputation was made 
long ago." 

On September 9 the Manchester Guardian estimated the eligible voters for the Senate election to be in 
excess of one-and-a- third million. It noted, however, that the republicans had boycotted the election and 
that of the seventy- six candidates, only Hyde and four or five others were known by name to the vast 
majority of voters. But the Guardian also reported that the liquor interests were running scared because 
of rumors that the government was planning a drastic cut in tiie number of pubs, and on September 1 1 
the Irish Times published a letter from the secretary of the Irish Association for Prevention of 
Intemperance identifying Douglas Hyde as one of the candidates who had responded affirmatively to a 
questionnaire on temperance reform. Meanwhile, on September 9, the Catholic Truth Society attacked 
Hyde in the Derry Journal for having voted on June 1 1 for a divorce motion sponsored by Senator James 
Douglas. The motion was described as "an artful attempt to introduce divorce to the Saorstat [Free 
State]" and "a deadly blow at sacred Catholic principle." The writer warned that Catholic voters would 
not forget this item in Hyde's voting record. 

As Hyde's supporters already had alerted him to the charge made by the Catholic Truth Society, he had 
tried to diminish the damage in a letter to the Irish Independent printed on September 9: 

I hear from different sources that false statements are being circulated to the effect that I used my 
influence as senator in the interest of divorce. This is not true. I am utterly opposed to it. I did not join in 
the debate, but if I had, I would have spoken with all my power against allowing divorce into the Free 

However, the Independent for September 10 repeated the charge against Hyde in a reader's letter that 
argued that since he had voted for the Douglas motion, "which was a recognition of the state's right to 

divorce and an attempt, which many people regarded as insidious, to allow divorce legislation to be 

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Douglas Hyde: <lb/>A Maker of Modem Ireland: A Maker of Modem Ireland 

introduced in tlie Dail and Senate," he had in fact used his influence as senator in the interest of divorce. 
Hyde countered with a curious letter in the Independent of September 1 1 which stated that he had voted 
for the Douglas motion because "it was one way of rendering divorce in the Saorstat impossible. . . . 
There are more ways of killing a cat than by drowning." It was "not likely/' he argued, "that the writer of 
two volumes of the Religious Songs of Connacht would be in favor of divorce. He is not and never 

Hyde's opponents had the last word in the Independent of September 12 in which F. O'Reilly challenged 
Hyde to state publicly that if elected to the Senate he would vote on matters involving the moral law "in 
accordance with the principles laid down by the Catholic Church." The damage was done. Fixed in the 
mind of the voters was the image of Hyde as a prodivorce candidate. 

Election results printed in the Irish Times for September 21 with only three counties unreported showed 
that Hyde had failed to make the list of twenty-five candidates who had received over 4,000 first- 
preference votes. He had in fact only 1,360. By September 27 the completed count showed Hyde with a 
total of only 1,710 first- preference votes countrywide, finishing forty-ninth in a field of seventy-five 
candidates. In the Observer for September 27 Stephen G wynn speculated on the reasons for Hyde's 
defeat. No man in Ireland seeking reelection was better known tiian Hyde; he was, moreover, 
unquestionably the most distinguished of those before the electorate. Fifteen years before, he had been 
the most personally popular man in the country. Inexplicably, the top first- preference vote had gone to a 
man no one had ever heard of, Thomas Toal, a member of the Monaghan County Council who always 
agreed with the bishops and whose candidacy had the support of the local bishop as well as that of Mr. 
Blyth, the finance minister. Gwynn dismissed the impact of Hyde's controversial vote for the Douglas 
motion. He attributed Hyde's defeat to popular resentment against the Gaelic League and its former 
president, the chief proponents of compulsory Irish in the schools. That was a new blow, after years of 
immense popular support for both the league and language revival. 

Fortunately Hyde did have a less fickle constituency. At University College, Dublin, he had established 
for himself a pleasant niche with students and colleagues who enjoyed and appreciated him. From 1925 
until his retirement in 1932 his university work — teaching, scholarship, and writing — became the 
principal focus of his efforts. It was a pleasant 

life, the kind Hyde might have pursued had Mahaffy and others not closed the doors of academe to him 
in 1891, when he had already shown his promise in these areas. From 1909 when he was appointed to 

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Douglas Hyde: <lb/>A Maker of Modem Ireland: A Maker of Modem Ireland 

University College through 1915 when he resigned from the Gaelic League, he had been too busy with 
league business to enjoy it. From 1915 to 1925 there had been the Rising, Nuala's death, MacNeill's 
imprisonment the Anglo- Irish war, the establishment of the Free State, the civil war, and the Senate, all 
occupying large portions of his time and energies. And now? Not many men, he knew, had the 
opportunity to travel the road not taken. He accepted his good fortune gratefully. 

It was well that Hyde had such a positive perspective, for at each turning, as Y eats would have 
explained, although one appears to stand again at the same point, the cycle is different. There had been 
many turnings between 1891 when Hyde completed his year of teaching at the University of New 
Brunswick and 1909 when he was appointed to University College, Dublin. As a result — as many of his 
students and colleagues understood — he was something of a maverick in the profession. By and large, 
Hyde's students were happy with his maverick qualities. His colleagues, however, were not always sure 
how they felt about either his methods or his results. 

One of Hyde's students in 1917 had been Austin Clarke, the poet, novelist, and playwright. Clarke 
recalled Hyde's classroom: 

On the first morning of our first term, 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 twopence. Those plain words changed me in a few seconds. The 
hands of our lost despised centuries were laid on me. 

Henry Comerford, who had enrolled in a first-year Irish class of over seventy students in 1924-25, 
remembered Hyde as a tall man, slightly stooped, casually dressed, who would enter the lecture hall with 
a muffler wound around his neck, "a laugh on hi