Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Vivian Deno


In the 1850s in post-famine Ireland, the Irish-Gaelic language was neglected in favor of English which equipped speakers to be members of the United Kingdom. But, the agrarian society of the County Galway Gaeltacht (designated Irish-speaking region) remained a stronghold of the Irish language despite British imperialists. The Survival of Irish-Gaelic addresses the survival of the native language in the Galway Gaeltacht. While my work has identified several reasons for the survival in this one specific region, this thesis focuses upon interrelated explanations. First, the Catholic schools in the Gaeltacht continued to teach in Irish despite the attempts of the British-backed National School System to ban the language from schools. The evolution of the application for the establishment of a National School shows the discrimination that the Irish people faced in their hopes of receiving an education in their native language. Second, the Irish Literary Revival (1880-1920s) elevated Irish-Gaelic literacy while adding a new ingredient of cultural prestige which poor Irish-speakers of the Gaeltacht could not have given themselves with literature written in their native tongue. My research focuses on this interconnectedness to better understand contemporary cultural issues of incorporating Irish-Gaelic into everyday lives. After the Revolution, Irish literary scholar Peter Maguire said the Gaeltacht developed into the home of all things that are Gaelic and was an inspiration to the rest of the country for “Irishness” preserved in its truest form is. The struggles that the Irish language went through because of the lengths the National Education Board went to in County Galway were outstanding. But, the people of the Gaeltacht valued their language and heritage to the point of resurgence. The Literary Revival coupled with the efforts to get Irish taught in any compacity in the National Schools helped to preserve the language for generations to come.