Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




The story of Ireland's Literary Revival is the story not only of the life and death of the Gaelic language in Ireland and the attempt to revive it as the national medium of speech, but also of the rise, during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, of modern Anglo-Irish literature, which gave to Irish letters the right to be judged independently of English literature. The formation of this new medium of national literary expression was the result of the interaction of the work of certain translators and folklorists with that of those writers who sought to restore the Gaelic language.

To William Butler Yeats is given most of the credit for fanning to full flame the faint spark of inspiration toward expression in terms of Irish race and country that began to glow with the publication of certain prose works. It was Yeats' belief that so long as Irish legends and stories, traditions and customs are cherished, so long will the feeling of nationality endure; and it was precisely the desire to rescue these things which gave birth to the Revival.

Thee position that the literature of the Irish Literary Revival is not national is not tenable. It would be equally unsound to underestimate the importance of the language movement, coincident with the revival, in furthering the development of Anglo-Irish Literature. The following will attempt to vindicate the truth of these claims and to establish beyond question Yeats' influence during the early, critical years of the Revival. That Yeats was mainly responsible for the ultimate development of the Irish National Theatre will also be a point of development.