Cáit Ní Dhonnchadha: activist and icon of the Irish Revival

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh


This essay is based largely on materials preserved in a scrapbook kept by Cáit Ní Dhonnchadha, sister of Torna (Tadhg Ó Donnchadha), which is an unlisted item among Torna’s Papers in Boole Library, University College Cork. The essay explores Ní Dhonnchadha’s achievements during the Revival period, specifically 1904–1913, the timeframe of the newspaper material collected in the scrapbook. Three main aspects of her work will be examined: her role, often symbolic, in ‘performing the nation’ through her involvement in various dramatic productions, her efforts to promote the self-help movement, and her work in establishing the sport of camogie. I will argue that Cáit sometimes embodied the feminine ideal of Ireland, but that she finds her voice through the medium of print in her contributions to An Claidheamh Soluis and The Irish Homestead, and particularly in her efforts as a promoter and organiser of camogie. Ní Dhonnchadha was an important intermediary between the various revival movements and I believe that the notion of alternative modernity can be discerned in her vision for Ireland.

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© COMHAR, 2019.
ISSN: 2009-8626