Ref NoG37
TitleThe Morrisroe Connolly Collection
DescriptionThis collection consists of personal letters and other material belonging to Tom Morrisroe, a close friend of Douglas Hyde, An Craobhín Aoibhinn, eminent Gaelic scholar and first President of Ireland.

This collection is divided into three main areas. The first consists of photographs and other materials relating to the life of Dr. Douglas Hyde. It includes photographs, press cuttings and a number of important pamphlets and circular letters issued by Douglas Hyde. The second part of the collection consists of 30 letters between Tom Morrisroe and Douglas Hyde, covering a number of topics, and giving family news, discussion of Irish language matters, as well as comments on current events. The final part of the collection consists of a bound volume containing press cuttings from American and Irish newspapers relating to the visit by Douglas Hyde to America to raise awareness of the Gaelic League.
Date1893 - 1947
Related MaterialNational Archives of Ireland: Office of the Secretary of the President: [finding aid available at http://www.nationalarchives.ie/search/index.php?category=10 .]

National Library of Ireland: Douglas Hyde Papers, Ms 21,098-21,119.

James Hardiman Library Archives: de hÍde Manuscripts
Hyde, Catalogue of the Library of Douglas, (P41)
Hyde, Letter on behalf on Connradh na Gaeilge written by Douglas, (G29)
Hyde, Photograph album of Douglas, (P38)
Hyde, Poem to Dr. Sigerson by Douglas, (G30)

See also Janet Egleson & Gareth W. Dunleavy, "Douglas Hyde: A Maker of Modern Ireland" (California, 1991).
Extent59 items
Administrative HistoryTom Morrisroe who was born and raised in Ratra, near Frenchpark, County Roscommon, close to the home of Dr. Douglas Hyde. A strong friendship developed between the two men, which lasted throughout their lives, maintained by regular correspondence. The Hyde papers presented include family photographs showing Tom Morrisroe fishing and socialising with the Hyde family, indicating a close social relationship. Tom Morrisroe joined An Garda Síochána and served in Mayo and later was stationed in Galway as Garda Sergeant until his death in a car accident in 1954.

Douglas Hyde (Irish: Dubhghlas de hÍde or the nickname An Craoibhín Aoibhinn) (17 January 1860 – 12 July 1949) was an Anglo-Irish scholar of the Irish language who served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. He founded the Gaelic League, one of the most influential cultural organisations in Ireland. Hyde was born at Longford House in Castlerea, County Roscommon, while his mother was on a short visit there. His father, Arthur Hyde, was Church of Ireland rector of Kilmactranny, County Sligo from 1852 to 1867, and it was here that Hyde spent his early years. In 1867, his father was appointed prebendary and rector of Tibohine, and the family moved to neighbouring Frenchpark, County Roscommon. While a young man he became fascinated with hearing the old people in the locality speak the Irish language. He was influenced in particular by the gameskeeper Seamus Hart and the wife of his friend, Mrs Connolly.
Rejecting family pressure to follow a career in the Church, Hyde instead became an academic. He entered Trinity College, Dublin where he became fluent in French, Latin, German, Greek and Hebrew. His passion for Irish, already a language in severe decline, led him to found the Gaelic League, or in Irish, Conradh na Gaeilge, in the hope of saving it from extinction. Hyde's Irish language movement, initially seen as eccentric, gained a mass following throughout the island. He published a pamphlet called The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland, arguing that Ireland should follow her own traditions in language, literature and even in dress.
In 1893 he helped found the Gaelic League. It was set up to encourage the preservation Irish culture, its music, dances, and language. Many of the new generation of Irish leaders who played a central role in the fight for Irish independence in the early twentieth century, including Patrick Pearse, Éamon de Valera (who married his Irish teacher Sinéad Flanagan), Michael Collins, and Ernest Blythe first became politicised and passionate about Irish independence through their involvement in Conradh na Gaeilge. Hyde himself, however, felt uncomfortable at the growing politicisation of his movement (which had been infiltrated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, just like the Irish Volunteers and the Gaelic Athletic Association) and resigned the presidency in 1915; he was replaced reluctantly by co-Founder Eoin MacNeill
Hyde had no association with Sinn Féin and the Independence movement. He did, however, accept appointment to Seanad Éireann, from the President of the Executive Council W. T. Cosgrave, after the creation of the new state. However, his tenure was short-lived. In November 1925, the house moved from being an appointed body to an elected assembly. Hyde contested the election, which was based on one state-wide constituency, but a smear by a far right-wing organisation, the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, based on his supposed support for divorce (in fact he was anti-divorce) and his Protestantism, and promoted by the CTS secretary in the letters column of the Irish Independent, fatally damaged his chances and he lost his seat.
He returned to academia, as Professor of Irish at University College Dublin, where one of his students was future Attorney-General and President of Ireland, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh. In April 1938, by now retired from academia, Dr. Hyde was plucked from retirement by Taoiseach Éamon de Valera and again appointed to Seanad Éireann. Again his tenure proved short, even shorter than before. But this time it was because, on the suggestion of Fine Gael in inter-party negotiations to choose a first President of Ireland, Hyde was inaugurated as the first President of Ireland in June 1938 and moved into the vacant Viceregal Lodge. Hyde's recitation of the Presidential Declaration of Office in his native Roscommon Irish dialect, remains one of the few recordings of a dialect that has long disappeared and of which Hyde himself was one of the last users.

Although the role of President of Ireland was, and is, largely ceremonial, Hyde did have a number of important decisions to make during his presidency. Hyde left office on 25 June 1945. Due to his ill-health he did not return to his Roscommon home Ratra, which had lain empty since the death of his wife early in his term. Instead he was moved into the former Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant's residence in the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin, which he renamed Little Ratra and where he lived out the remaining four years of his life. He died quietly at 10pm on 12 July 1949, aged 89
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