Éamon Phoenix Lecture

Éamon Phoenix Lecture, 23rd January 2020

We had an excellent night in PRONI in January with Dr. Éamon Phoenix. Dr. Phoenix gave a first-class lecture on the Protestant tradition and the Irish language in Ulster.

We received a very special insight into the history of the language in Ulster; Dr. Phoenix alluded to the influence that the Ulster Plantation had on Irish, as well as the origin of placenames in Ulster. He mentioned the Ordnance Survey of Ireland (1824). Before the survey, a Gaelic scholar, James Donovan recorded the original spellings and meanings of placenames before they were anglicised. Dr. Phoenix then gave us an insight into common placenames in Ulster and their meanings. Amongst those mentioned were:

  • Bally (baile, a town or townland) Ballymena ( Baile Meánach: the middle town); Ballynahinch (Baile na h-inse; the island town);
  • Kill (from cill, a church): Kilmore (Cill mór: the big church); Kilkeel (cill caol: the narrow church);
  • Dun (a stone fort) eg Dundrum : Dun Droma: ‘The Stone Fort of the Ridge’; Dunmurry: Dun O’Muiri: ‘The fort of the O’Murrrays.’

Dr. Phoenix then mentioned the diverse history of Conradh na Gaeilge, andof the Irish language. Conradh na Gaeilge was founded in 1893, and this followed the detrimental impact that the Famine had on Irish. Douglas Hyde, who was the son of a rector, was the first president of Conradh na Gaeilge. According to Dr. Phoenix, a lot of people of Protestant background were associated with the survival of the language, both within and outside the organisation. Amonst those were:

  • Edward Bunting (1773-1843)
  • an tOirmhinneach William Neilson (1774-1821)
  • Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847)
  • Robert Shipboy MacAdam (1808-95)
  • Alice Milligan (1866-1953)

A copy of the lecture and photographs taken on the night are available below. It is definitely worth a watch.