Collection of Douglas Hyde papers presented to NUI Galway

Monday, 26 September 2005

A valuable collection of personal letters and other material belonging to a close friend of Douglas Hyde, An Craobhín Aoibhinn, eminent Gaelic scholar and first President of Ireland, has been presented to NUI Galway.

The collection has come from the family of Tom Morrisroe who was born and raised in Ratra, near Frenchpark, Co 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.

The Morrisroe-Hyde papers include an extensive collection of letters in Irish from Douglas Hyde, who had taught Irish to Morrisroe, as well as material relating to Hyde's visit to the US to fundraise for the revival of the Irish language. The papers will join Lamhscribhinní de hÍde, 120 manuscripts gathered by Dr Hyde during the course of his folklore studies and other related material already held in the archives of the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway.

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. His daughters, Evelyn Morrisroe Connolly and Sr Bernadine (Breege) Morrisroe, were born and spent their early childhood on what is now the NUI Galway campus at Morrisroe House, current home to the University's Department of Philosophy. Evelyn now lives in Westchester, New York and Sr Bernadine is based in the Convent of Mercy, Dunmore, Co Galway.

Speaking at the presentation of the Hyde papers to NUI Galway, Evelyn Morrisroe-Connolly said: I am so happy that these precious documents, which have been in my family's possession for more than fifty years have finally found a suitable home in the James Hardiman Library, which is not a stone's throw from where my sister and I played as children. My father and his beloved friend, 'An Craobhín Aoibhinn', enjoyed a life-long friendship which is reflected in the many letters written to my father from both Hyde's home in Frenchpark and Áras an Uachtaráin.

Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway said: The presentation of the Morrisroe-Hyde papers renews the long-standing relationship of the Morrisroe family with NUI Galway. On behalf of the entire University community, I thank the Morrisroe family, and Evelyn Morrisroe Connolly in particular, for presenting these important Hyde papers to the James Hardiman Library. This donation will substantially enrich our Library's holdings relating to Douglas Hyde and the early years of the Irish language revival.

Marie Reddan, Librarian, James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway said; We are delighted to receive this significant collection of historical correspondence which will complement existing material, including manuscripts the Library holds relating to Douglas Hyde. The Morrisroe-Hyde papers are an important primary resource for research into the social, cultural and political history of Ireland in the late nineteenth century.

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