iRevise Online Grinds Starting 18th January to 8th April

How the Irish created a Gaelic State in the 1920’s - A step-by-step guide

April 11, 2016

How the Irish created a Gaelic State in the 1920’s: A step-by-step guide!

Eamonn deValera 1920s Gaelic State

Step 1: The government decided on what kind of country Ireland should be…


In Ireland’s case, it would be Gaelic and Catholic.


Step 2: Reviving the Irish language…


Most Sinn Féin leaders wanted Ireland to speak Gaelic, but the after hundreds of years of British colonial rule, the Irish language had gone into decline.


Step 3: Revivalism part 1…


Ok, so the government decided that the Irish language needed to be revived – hence the term ‘revivalism’ - but how does one make this a reality? First things first: change the names of places and things from English to Irish. Then, make Irish a compulsory subject in schools, and reward students with extra marks if they answer in Irish – that way everybody must speak it.  

Step 4: Revivalism part 2 …


Do everything you can to promote Irish: give government grants to Irish-speaking households in Gaeltacht areas; fund holidays to the Gaeltacht; broadcast some radio shows in Irish; require anyone who wants to work in the public sector (jobs paid by the government) to pass an Irish test; standardise the language – that way everybody speaks and writes the same type of Irish, and it becomes easier to communicate though Irish.

Step 5: Reassure and protect religious minorities…

If you were living in the Irish Free State during the 1920s, you would almost certainly have been a Roman Catholic – that’s just the way it was back then.  But you need to remember that 7 % of the Free State population was also Protestant: governments should cater for and protect these minorities. One of the best ways to do this is to give minorities a political voice and political representation in the government: Cosgrove, for example, appointed 24 Protestants to the (predominantly Catholic) Irish Free State Senate. Protestantism still experienced a serious decline in the Free State, though.

Step 6: Give the Catholic Church a lot of political influence…

Irish Catholic clergy believed that it was their duty to attend to the moral and spiritual guidance of the Irish Nation. The Free State government agreed (government leaders were themselves devout Catholics), and the Catholic Clergy –with government support – waged a ‘war on immorality’ in Ireland. For more on this, read Step 7!


Step 7: Tackle the issue of ‘declining morals’…

Irish nationalists in the 1920's were terrified that social changes such as mass media, women’s liberation movements, and technological advancements threatened Ireland’s traditional ‘morality’!  So, campaigns against English books and newspapers emerged, bishops and clergy denounced the moral evils of dance halls, modern music, and cinema.  To make sure people got the point, and to keep the ‘moral evils’ out of Irish society, the government passed a Censorship Act and established a Censorship Board which scrutinised all books and magazines for ‘obscene and indecent’ content, such as advocating contraception.  OK, OK, this might sound silly or extreme to us in the 21st Century, but in the 1920's people were genuinely concerned about this stuff!

Step 8: Divorce was also outlawed…


De Valera believed that divorce damaged society and broke up families. Cosgrove believed that marriage was a sacred, life-long bond that could not be broken.  The Church agreed with both men. Unsurprisingly, divorce was outlawed.

Step 9: Ireland also hosted the 1932 Eucharistic Congress…

At this huge Catholic festival, people studied and celebrated the Eucharist, sang hymns, attended huge open-air masses, but the Congress was held mainly to show the world how the Irish State was flourishing religiously, morally, and politically.

Thousands of Catholic and clergy came from all over the world! Even the Pope’s representative, the Papal Legate came –yes, the 1932 the Eucharistic Congress was a really big deal in Ireland!

Step 10: The government gave huge power to the Church…


With de Valera’s support, John Charles McQuaid was appointed as the Archbishop of Dublin in 1932.  McQuaid discouraged Catholics form having any contact with Protestants or other religions or faiths. McQuaid was a very powerful clergyman, and he used his power and his influence to exert a lot of control over Irish politics and society. This symbolised the how important the Catholic religion was in building the Gaelic State. The Church even had a special place in the constitution.


Step 11: The government supported and promote Irish arts…


Writers like W.B Yeats, James Joyce, and George Moore often mixed Irish or Greek mythology with the themes of Irish nationalism, history, class, and politics, creating a romanticised image of a glorious Celtic past that Irish people could be proud of. Joyce’sUlysses is deeply inspired by the Greek epic, Odyssey. Yeats’ poetry contains loads of references to Greek mythology. George Moore wrote many stories inspired by Greek mythological themes. With the help of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin became a centre of Irish culture.

Work Towards That 'A' Grade

Achieve the results you want with-written revision resources when you register with iRevise.
Its Free!

Sign In Create An Account