In a passionate address to the Limerick Branch of the Gaelic League, held at St. Munchin’s College, the movement against anglicisation in Ireland has been reinvigorated. Presided over by H.T. James Hayes, the quarterly meeting saw the reading of extracts from Dr Douglas Hyde’s recent speeches in Cork and Belfast, highlighting the League’s transcendent role above fleeting political landscapes.
Joseph Purcell, the secretary of the Limerick Branch, emphasized the enduring nature of the Gaelic League, projecting its survival beyond the “ephemeral politics of the moment.” This sentiment was echoed by the attendees, affirming their commitment to the League’s cause with resounding approval.
The League, known for its efforts to preserve Irish language and culture, faces a formidable adversary in anglicisation—the gradual erosion of indigenous culture under the influence of English language and customs. This challenge, as articulated by the speakers, is not only pervasive but also the most significant threat to Ireland’s national identity.
Drawing parallels with the broader European context, where nations are embroiled in conflicts to safeguard their sovereignty and rights, the Gaelic League’s struggle is framed as equally vital. The speakers argued that while territorial integrity may remain intact, the essence of what makes Ireland distinct—its language, customs, and traditions—risks being obliterated by the forces of anglicisation.
The call to action is clear: it is through individual effort and collective resolve that this tide can be turned. The League’s mission is presented not just as a cultural endeavour but as a battle for the soul of the nation. The consequences of failure are starkly outlined—without victory against anglicisation, Ireland might retain its name but lose its essence, becoming “Little England” or “West Britain” in all but name.
The reference to “Little England” or “West Britain” is particularly poignant, encapsulating the fear that Ireland could lose its unique national characteristics and pride. Such a scenario is presented as unacceptable to all who cherish Irish heritage, further galvanising the audience towards the cause of cultural preservation.
In conclusion, the meeting at St. Munchin’s College serves as a reminder of the Gaelic League’s pivotal role in the fight against anglicisation. By drawing on historical resilience and the collective spirit of its members, the League aims to safeguard Ireland’s cultural heritage for future generations. The path ahead is challenging, but the resolve of the League’s supporters is unwavering, fuelled by the belief that the preservation of Irish culture is paramount to the nation’s identity.
Weekly Freeman’s Journal – Saturday 16 January 1915