Revival of the Irish Culture
People of Irish decent share a pride in their national heritage perhaps unlike any other culture today. Many Irish homes are decorated with clovers, flags, and other Gaelic symbols even today. This enthusiasm for Irish culture has not always been around. In fact, this source of pride can be traced back to one cultural revival movement in Ireland during the 1800’s. During this time, the people of Ireland formed the Gaelic League to unify their country, and to give themselves a national identity of where they came from. Due to the persecution of the Catholic Church, the Great Potato Famine, and many forms of persecution from the British, Ireland needed a way to remember their rich cultural history.
Many factors go into making a country transform into a nation. Eoin MacNeill, the first president of the Gaelic League, believed in this full heartedly. He believed that it took much more then simply political sovereignty to unify a country into a nation (Hachey and Hernon Jr. and McCaffrey 140). MacNeill knew that in order for Ireland to unify, they were going to need to have a rich cultural history. His solution to this lack of culture was the Gaelic League. MacNeill urged the people of Ireland to be proud of not only their language, but their art, literature, sports, and dance. Almost immediately the people of Ireland took to this new sense of cultural nationalism. The Irish began to believe that their language was not merely a way to communicate, but a way of cultural values and a way of life (Hachey and Hernon Jr. and McCaffrey 140). People from the urban middle class, who previously knew nothing of the Gaelic history, began joining the league in massive amounts of numbers. Soon, many of the people who had previously lived in the urban areas of Ireland were now moving into the more rural parts of the country to gain even better understanding of the language and culture (Hachey and Hernon Jr. and McCaffrey 140).
Perhaps the earliest source of conflict between Ireland and Britain was the differing religions of the two countries. This difference is a main cause for the creation of the Gaelic League. Starting in the sixteenth century, when England broke away from the Catholic Church, tension began to grow between the two religions. Although the religions are similar in many ways, great prejudices formed between the two countries. Since England has had almost complete control of Ireland since the 1100’s, the Catholic Church lost the majority of the battles in this fight. Beginning mainly in the mid 1700’s, England began to pass many laws limiting the rights of Catholics in Ireland (Hepburn 199). To the Irish, being Catholic was not merely a form of religion, but a major part of their national heritage. Evidence of the loss of Catholic faith in Ireland can be seen in the attendance figures of Catholic Churches (Miller 83). Before the creation of the Gaelic League, nearly 96% of Ireland was...