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Historic group photograph of delegates attending the Gaelic League national convention at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre in 1913.
100 year old Town Hall photograph a 'who's who' of 1916 Rising!
Half the signatories of the 1916 proclamation as well three future Presidents of Ireland present in 100 year old photograph - the photograph includes Pádraig Pearse, Seán Mac Diarmada, Éamonn Ceannt, Douglas Hyde, Seán T. O’Kelly, Eamon de Valera and Padraic O Conaire!
An historic group photograph of delegates attending the Gaelic League national convention at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre in 1913 was presented to the venue in December 2013 by members of the family who found the photograph in the attic of their family home.
The 100 year old photograph, which is now on permanent display at the Town Hall Theatre, is tantamount to a who’s who of the ‘coming revolution’ with as many as perhaps half the signatories of the 1916 proclamation (including Pádraig Pearse, Seán Mac Diarmada and Éamonn Ceannt) as well three future Presidents of Ireland (Douglas Hyde, Seán T. O’Kelly and Eamon de Valera) being present.
The photograph was discovered in a box in the attic by the Curran family in Dublin. The Currans late mother’s parents were members of the Keating branch of the Gaelic League and their grandfather and other relatives are in the photograph. Their grandmother had passed the photograph on to their mother and it lay safe in the attic of the family home for the best part of 50 years. The family took the photo down from the attic three years ago and noticed a few famous faces in it. The more they looked, the more interesting faces they discovered and they were intrigued. At first the family thought that it was taken at the Gaelic League Oireachtas in 1914 and so spent a lot of time searching for a match for the building in Kerry.
When they finally identified the building as Town Hall Theatre in Galway, they realised the full significance of the picture and the fact that this is the centenary of the historical occasion on which it was taken. ''We are giving it to the Town Hall Theatre because we think it is only right that it should return to the place where it was taken to be enjoyed by the people of Galway and the public at large'' said one member of the family.''We are delighted with the reception we received from the Town Hall Theatre when we approached them in September 2013 with the image. They quickly assembled a team of volunteers here in Galway - including Tom Kenny from Kennys Book Shop and Dara O Folan, Jacki Ni Chionna and Deirdre Ni Chonghaile from NUI Galway - to work with us on identifying most of those present in the photograph. We are delighted with the result and we now look forward to perhaps the public assisting us identify the few remaining names''.
The photograph of the delegates attending the Ard Fheis (Gaelic League national convention) was taken in front of Galway’s Town Hall (now the Town Hall Theatre) during the course of the weeklong Oireachtas (the annual Gaelic League’s national cultural festival) in late July/early August 1913. It had been the established custom to convene the annual ‘parliament of the Gaels’ concurrently with An tOireachtas, and in the summer of 1913, Galway, the so-called ‘Capital of Irish speaking Ireland’ was chosen to have the honour of hosting the first Oireachtas outside of Dublin. This highlighted the centrality of Galway city and county (which boasted fifty per cent of the country’s surviving native speakers at the turn of the 20th century) to the League’s efforts to preserve Irish as a spoken communal language.
The 1913 Ard Fheis marked an important juncture in the history of the Gaelic League as internal divisions between the apolitical old guard of the movement and a republican/I.R.B. faction had come to the fore in the months preceding the convention. Dr. Douglas Hyde, the co-founder and President of the Gaelic League since its foundation in 1893, had resigned several weeks prior to the proceedings in protest at alleged attempts by the latter radical element to politicise the organisation and undermine his leadership. The time was not yet ripe for an overt republican takeover however, and Hyde, who had received immense popular endorsement throughout the Oireachtas, was re-elected as President to near universal acclaim. This was a hollow victory for the moderates however. The tumultuous political dynamics of the coming years would ultimately render the ascendant republican tide too strong to withstand, for at the Dundalk Oireachtas of 1915 the Gaelic League would revoke its hitherto politically neutral stance and declare its support for separatism.
One of the most remarkable features of the Galway Oireachtas and Ard Fheis was the presence among the delegates of so many of the political and military elite of the subsequent Irish Revolution 1916-1923, and indeed that of the independent Irish state to which it gave birth. This historic group photograph is tantamount to a Who’s who of the ‘coming revolution,’ with as many as perhaps half the signatories of the 1916 proclamation (including Pádraig Pearse, Seán Mac Diarmada and Éamonn Ceannt) as well three future Presidents of Ireland (Douglas Hyde, Seán T. O’Kelly and Eamon de Valera) being present.
Griangraif stairiúil de thoscairí a d’fhreastail ar Choinbhinsiún náisiúnta Chonradh na Gaeilge ag Amharclann na Cathrach i nGaillimh i 1913.
Tá an grianghraif, atá os cionn 100 bliain d’aois, ar taispeántas buan ag Amharclann na Cathrach, agus is ionann é agus liosta gaiscíoch, le beagnach leath de shínitheoirí Fhorógra 1916 (ina measc, bhí Pádraig Mac Piarais, Seán Mac Diarmada agus Éamonn Ceannt), chomh maith le triúr eile a bheadh ina nUachtaráin ar Éirinn amach anseo (Dubhghlás de hÍde, Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh agus Éamon de Valera).
Ba iad teaghlach Uí Churraoin i mBaile Átha Cliath a tháinig ar an ngrianghraif i mbosca ar an áiléar, tráthúil go leor. Bhí seanmhuintir chlann Uí Churraoin ina mbaill de Chraobh Chéitinn Chonradh na Gaeilge agus tá a seanathair agus gaolta eile sa ghrianghraif. Is í a seanmháthair a thug an grianghraif dá máthair agus d’fhan sé go slán sábháilte ar áiléar an tí ar feadh cuid mhaith de leathchéad bliain. Thug an teaghlach an grianghraif anuas ón áilear roinnt blianta ó shin agus thugadar roinnt pearsana clúiteacha faoi deara ann. A mhó agus a d’fhéach siad air, ba mhó duine cáiliúil a d’aithin siad agus bhí iontas orthu. Nuair a d’aithin teaghlach Uí Churraoin gurbh í Amharclann Cathrach na Gaillimhe an foirgneamh a bhí sa ghrianghraif, thuig siad tábhacht an phictiúir agus gurb é 2013 comóradh céid na hócáide stairiúla ar ar tógadh é. “Tugaimid d’Amharclann na Cathrach é mar go gceapaimid gurb é is cirte gur cheart dó filleadh ar an láithair ar ar tógadh é, le go mbeadh muintir na Gaillimhe agus an pobal i gcoitinne in ann taitneamh a bhaint as”, a deir ball den teaghlach. “Bhíomar thar a bheith sásta leis an bhfreagra a fuaireamar ó lucht Amharclann na Cathrach nuair a chuamar chomh fada leo i mí an Mhéan Fómhair 2013 leis an íomhá. Tharraing siad le chéile grúpa daoine deonacha go scafánta le hoibriú linn leis an gcuid is mó de na daoine sa ghrianghraif a aithint. Táimid an-sásta leis an toradh”.
Tógadh an grianghraif os comhair Halla an Bhaile i nGaillimh (Amharclann Cathrach na Gaillimhe anois) i rith an Oireachtais i ndeireadh mhí Iúil/tús mhí Lúnasa 1913. Ba é an nós a bhí ann ‘Parliamint na nGael’ a thionól ag tráth an Oireachtais, agus i samhradh na bliana 1913, is ar Ghaillimh, ‘príomhchathair Ghaeilge na hÉireann’, mar a tugadh uirthi, a bronnadh an onóir óstáil a dhéanamh ar an gcéad Oireachtas taobh amuigh de Bhaile Átha Cliath. Léirigh sé lárnacht chathair agus chontae na Gaillimhe (a mhaígh go raibh 50% de chainteoirí dúchais Gaeilge na tíre ann ag tús an chéid) d’iarrachtaí an Chonartha leis an nGaeilge a chaomhnú mar theanga phobail.
Ba chomhtheagmhas tábhachtach a bhí in Ard Fheis 1913 i stair Chonradh na Gaeilge mar gur ann a nochtaíodh scoilteanna inmheánacha idir seanfhondúirí neamhpholaitiúla na gluaiseachta agus drong Poblachta/I.R.B. a tharla sna míonna roimh an tionól. D’éirigh an Dr. Dubhghlas de hÍde, comhbhunaitheoir agus Uachtarán Chonradh na Gaeilge, as, roinnt seachtainí roimh an himeachtaí mar chasaoid ar iarrachtaí a bhí in ainm is a bheith déanta ag an drong Poblachta radacach le polaitíocht a thabhairt isteach san eagraíocht agus leis an mbonn a bhaint dá cheannaireacht. Níorbh é an tráth ceart é le ceannas poblachta oscailte a ghlacadh, áfach, agus atoghadh de hÍde, a raibh moladh agus olltacaíocht faighte ar feadh an Oireachtais, mar Uachtarán.
Ní mórán de bhua a bhí anseo do na measarthaigh, mar sin féin. Chuirfeadh eachtraí polaitiúla corraitheacha na mblianta ina dhiaidh sin faobhar agus fuadar faoi ghluaiseacht chinsealach na poblachta, a raibh sé dodhéanta seasamh ina haghaidh, agus ag Oireachtas Dhún Dealgan i 1915, dhéanfadh Conradh na Gaeilge cúlghairm ar an seasamh neodrach polaitiúil a bhí aige roimhe sin, agus d’fhógródh sé a thacaíocht don scarúnachas.
Ceann de na nithe ba shuntasaí faoi Oireachtas agus Ard Fheis na Gaillimhe ná go raibh an oiread sin pearsana polaitiúla agus míleata ann a mbeadh baint acu leis an Réabhlóid Éireannach 1916-1923 a thitfeadh amach, agus go deimhin, an Stát neamhspleách Éireannach a d’eascair as.