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Gaelic Revival

The Gaelic revival, or Athbheochan Ghaelach, started in the last part of the 1800s in Ireland and continued into the first part of the 1900s. It was a renewal of interest in the Irish language and culture.

Gaelic Revival

The interest in Irish Gaelic culture during the revival included sports, literature, music, art, folklore, and other things. By this time, the Irish language was rarely spoken, except in the more isolated areas of Ireland, as most people spoke English. There were several organizations that played a major role in this revival. These include the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and the Gaelic League.

The Gaelic Athletic Association

The Gaelic Athletic Association began in 1884 and led the way for the Gaelic revival as it connected people in all parts of Ireland. It was established to rekindle interest in the sports of hurling and football. This was an important step because sports were generally disorganized until then, with rules of play being determined each time two teams competed.

The Football Association and the Rugby Football Union in England established written rules and this spread to Ireland. Soccer became more of a kicking game whereas rugby became more of a carrying the ball game. The people who founded the GAA did not want English codes to change the way the sports were played in Ireland, so they kept their native style of football and it came to be called Gaelic football. Because cricket from England had affected hurling, the GAA also codified hurling. Were it not for the GAA cricket from England had affected hurling.

The Gaelic League

According to a census taken in 1891, the population of Ireland was around 4.7 million people and only 700,000 of them claimed even a slight knowledge of the Irish language. People who spoke only Irish numbered only about 38,000. In 1892 Douglas Hyde and W. B. Yeats established the National Literary Society and Hyde wrote a paper titled: The Necessity for De-Anglicizing the Irish People". He was more concerned with preserving the Gaelic literature and culture and the National Literary Society was more concerned with Irish literature. Therefore, he founded the Gaelic League, along with Eoin MacNeill, in 1893. The League wanted to revive the Irish language and have it become a part of the educational curriculum. It also wanted to encourage the creation of new literature written in Irish.

The Gaelic League was non-political. However, many members thought that as the Irish culture and language was revived and grew stronger, it would naturally bring political autonomy and it did. As Gaelic traditions and culture were revived Irish nationalism was born. The Nationalist Movement in the early 1900s came out of the Gaelic revival.

Sinn Fein

Arthur Griffith founded Sinn Fein in 1905 and its name translates as "we ourselves." It grew into a left wing political party and is associated with the IRA. In the beginning, it wanted all the Irish MPs to leave Westminster and have an independent national legislature that operated within the British government. By 1917, the group had reorganized and was dedicated to the establishment of an Irish Republic.

The party has had many changes and splits over the years and is still operating. The Downing Street Declaration of 1993 was a joint declaration between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. It has given the people of North Ireland self-determination and will allow it to join the Republic of Ireland if the majority favor it. It basically gave North and South Ireland the right to solve issues between themselves. This led to the Belfast Agreement of 1998. Today, the Northern Ireland Assembly governs Northern Ireland.