MANY of those who played an active role in the Easter Rising were first radicalised through Irish poetry and song, language classes, or membership of the Gaelic League – as they later indicated in statements to the Bureau of Military History.
I was awakened to an awareness of Irish nationality, like so many others of my generation, by the poetry of Yeats, especially Cathleen ni Houlihan, the Irish legends collected by Standish O’Grady, Lady Gregory and others, the Abbey plays and all the writings of the Celtic Twilight School
– Dorothy McArdle, Cumann na mBan, Dublin
It was during the weekends in [senior IRB leader] Bulmer Hobson’s cottage that I first read Ethna Carbery’s poems…I can assure you they did much to fan the fires of patriotism to white heat. From now on my outlook on life was completely changed
– Gary Holohan, Fianna Eireann, Dublin
Something in the songs [at a Gaelic League Feis in 1902] – though I could understand only a few of the words, something in the music, something in the atmosphere – gripped me, and I seemed to be put in touch with something far back in the race. Unknown depths in me were stirred…I understood, accepted and felt myself to be at one with the Gael. For the first time I saw the whole of Ireland
– P.S. O’Hegarty, IRB, Cork
My brother would come home at holiday time and talk tremendously about the language movement....We started to read papers about every single thing that was said by Arthur Griffith...
– Min Ryan, Cumann na mBan, Dublin