The Emergence of the Global Irish-Speaking Population in the Nineteenth Century

Implications and Impacts

Pádraig Ó Beirn (1857-1927)

Source: An Gaodhal, April 1882

Máire Ní Thuathail (1871-1954)

Source: "Coláiste Connacht," colaistechonnacht.com, 2017

Máire Uí Dhuinnshléibhe ("Méiní," 1876-1967)

Source: Leslie Matson, Méiní: The Blasket Nurse (1996)

Tomás “Bán” Ó Concheannain (1870-1961)

Source: Tom Kenny, "Tomás Bán Concannon," Kennys.ie

Irish Speakers, 1830-1910: A Global Population

 

  • Approximately 1 in 3 Irish speakers resided in the United States by 1910: 21% of 1.37 million Irish-born in that year


  • Of these 250,000 - 275,000 in the U.S., over half lived in the stretch between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania (NY, NJ, PA, CT, MA)


  • By 1900, approximately 4 out of every 10 speakers of Irish resided outside of Ireland, or over 400,000 individuals

Difference between % of Full Population under 20 and

% of Irish-Speaking Population under 20, 1851-91

Province 1851 1871 1891
Munster .14 .26 .31
Ulster .14 .15 .16
Connacht .10 .20 .25
Leinster .36 .38 .36

Source: L. A. Clarkson, et al., Database of Irish Historical Statistics: Age, 1821–1911 (Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive, 1997), https://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-3574-1; L. A. Clarkson, et al., Database of Irish Historical Statistics: Language, 1851–1911 (Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive, 1997), http://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-3573-1.

Province 1851 1871 1891
Munster .14 .26 (-.12) .31
Ulster .14 .15 .16
Connacht .10 .20 (-.10) .25
Leinster .36 .38 .36

Source: L. A. Clarkson, et al., Database of Irish Historical Statistics: Age, 1821–1911 (Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive, 1997), https://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-3574-1; L. A. Clarkson, et al., Database of Irish Historical Statistics: Language, 1851–1911 (Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive, 1997), http://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-3573-1.

Difference between % of Full Population under 20 and

% of Irish-Speaking Population under 20, 1851-91

  • f. 1881 in Brooklyn; monthly

  • Publisher: Micheál Ó Lócháin

  • Bilingual, but first newspaper in the world published with significant Irish content

  • Precursor to Gaelic Union’s Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge and Gaelic League’s An Claidheamh Soluis 

An Gaodhal Newspaper

  • Galway-born, farming family
  • Schooling in Archbishop MacHale’s independent schools of mid century; likely native Irish speaker
  • Possibly a newspaper reporter, possibly an RIC constable, prior to arrival in Brooklyn by 1870 at latest
  • In America, teacher and real estate agent; founded Irish-language class for adult learners taught in Brooklyn in 1872

Micheál Ó Lócháin, 1836-1899

  • 1857: First “Our Gaelic Department” in Irish-American

  • Two waves of Gaelic columns: late 1850s; 1870s

  • Celtic Magazine, Celtic Monthly, Citizen, Donahoe’s, Emerald, Irish Echo, Irish People, Monitor

(plus in Ireland The Nation, Tuam News, and more…)

Irish Language in America: Print & Societies

 

 

 

  • Murphy manuscripts: most complete print set of An Gaodhal

  • Father Daniel Murphy (b. Sligo, 1858-1935): folk/song collector, with J.J. Lyons, in PA

  • U of G digitized assets (2022)

  • Murphy annotations

New York University / Hardiman Library An Gaodhal Project

 

  • Train bilingual OCR (Optical Character Recognition) model on Roman-character English + chló Gaelach

  • Produce highest-quality machine-readable corpus of ~2900 pages & 1.8 million words, 1881-1898

  • Entity recognition: persons, places, texts (poems, songs); identify and transcribe annotations

  • Data repository for files; enhanced metadata for Hardiman Digital Library

Current-Stage Project Goals

Current-Stage Project Challenges

Data Release, December 2023 (CER < 2%)

doi.org/10.58153/5ya5n-mc504

Initial Findings: Cultural Continuity

An Gaodhal 1:1 (1881): “A Dhómhnaill Ui Chonnaill, a d-tuigeann tú Gaedhilge?”

 

c.f. International Folk Tale Type 1699, language misunderstandings

 

e.g. NFC 394 (1937, Galway): 

“A Dónall Ó Conaill a d’igeann tú Gáedhilge?”
“Tá nimh eir do chopán, & mharóth sé céad ‘ear.”
“Má tá,” adeir Dónall, “ólaid siad héin é.”
“Má’s fíor do scéala tuirai mé spré’ dhuit.”

Initial Findings: Named Entity Recognition

Not yet there for the Irish-language tokens...

Initial Findings: Named Entity Recognition

But for the English language content:

 

  • ~20,000 non-unique persons identified
  • ~1,700 non-unique works of art (close overlap with "canon" of printing in Irish of mid-19th century, i.e. Keating, Thomas Moore, MacHale, learning materials)

Initial Findings: To Do

  • Viral text analysis comparing An Gaodhal to Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge, An Claidheamh Soluis, Gaelic Columns

  • Disambiguation of named entities

  • Release of Irish-language OCR models for other projects dependent on such technology

  • Linkages between "Creation" entities (songs, folklore) and other corpora--especially MS collections

The Emergence of the Global Irish-Speaking Population in the Nineteenth-Century: Implications and Impacts

By Nicholas Wolf

The Emergence of the Global Irish-Speaking Population in the Nineteenth-Century: Implications and Impacts

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