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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hyde, Douglas

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HYDE, DOUGLAS (1860-), Irish scholar and writer, known in Ireland as the Craoibhín Aoibhinn (i.e. “delightful little branch,” an allegorical name for Ireland, in folk-song), was born in 1860, the youngest son of the Rev. Arthur Hyde, of Frenchpark, co. Roscommon, and nearest living representative of the Castle Hyde family of co. Cork. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he won the highest honours, and afterwards spent a year in Canada in the State University of New Brunswick. Coming back to Ireland he helped to found in 1893 the Gaelic League or Connradh na Gaedhilge, and became its first president, a position to which he was annually reëlected until 1915, when he resigned. He was also first president of the National Literary Society, a post which he resigned on the foundation of the Gaelic League. As president of the elder society he had already in 1892 foreshadowed the ideals of the League in a lecture entitled “The necessity for de-anglicizing the Irish nation,” not, he explained “as a protest against imitating what is best in the English people, for that would be absurd, but rather to show the folly of neglecting what is Irish, and hastening to adopt, pell-mell and indiscriminately, everything that is English, simply because it is English.” For some years Dr. Hyde's work for “Irish Ireland” made little progress; but in 1899 an attack upon the Irish language, before a Vice-regal Committee to inquire into intermediate education, gave him his chance. He produced letters which he had procured from all the leading Celtic scholars in Europe as to the value of the language and literature, and the publication of these letters and his own evidence saved the language on the Intermediate Board, and attracted a great deal of attention throughout Ireland. Towards the beginning of the century the first Oireachtas was held in Dublin; it was the equivalent of the Welsh Eisteddfod, and became an annual event, and from this time forward the movement (which had now added to its aims a new clause the support of Irish industries) began to go forward of its own momentum. In 1905 Dr. Hyde set out on a tour through America to collect money for the League, and returned after seven months with £11,000. On his return he was presented with the freedom of Dublin, Cork, and other cities. He was also appointed on a Royal Commission to inquire into Irish university education, including Trinity College, an institution which had been excluded from the purview of former commissions. The result of this commission was the foundation of the National University of Ireland, with three colleges (Dublin, Cork and Galway), and the Queen's University, Belfast. It was probably owing to Dr. Hyde's influence with his fellow commissioners that Trinity College, following their recommendations, established a moderatorship and gold medal in Celtic studies. He himself became professor of modern Irish in University College, Dublin.

Dr. Hyde was the first to collect the Love Songs of Connacht, which he published in 1894, and which he translated into verse and also into the sort of English prose afterwards adopted by Lady Gregory and by Synge. He was also the first to collect Irish folk-lore in the original; and his many volumes, some in Irish and some with English or French translations, will always be of value to the folklorist. He was also almost the first to turn to short plays in Irish as a method of popularizing the language. The first of these, The Twisting of the Rope, was produced in the Gaiety theatre, Dublin, in 1901, the author himself acting the principal role. His Literary History of Ireland (1899) had gone through seven impressions by 1921.