Dr. Douglas Hyde was born in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon on 17th. January 1860. The family moved to Portahard when his father, Rev. Arthur Hyde, (1819-1905) was appointed rector here in 1867.
Here, as a privileged Anglo-Irish youth, Douglas enjoyed the country life, fishing, hunting and helping out on the farm. Through these activities he became friends with locals such as Seamus Hart, Mrs. Connolly and John Lavin who taught him Irish and instilled in him a love of Irish Culture.
From the age of seventeen he began to write prose, poetry and plays in Irish and English. Fearing the imminent demise of the Irish Language and the loss of its wealth of oral folktales and songs he began collecting the material, which he later published in his popular bilingual anthologies such as "Beside the Fire" (1890) and "Love Songs Of Connaught" (1893). These works were acknowledged by W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) as major sources for the Irish Literary Renaissance.
Dr. D Hyde joined with Yeats, Lady A. Gregory (1852-1932), J. M. Synge (1871-1909) and others in creating an Irish theatre.
He entered Trinity College, Dublin in 1880. An excellent student, he won many prizes for his academic prowess including the gold medal for Modern literature in 1884. He graduated in 1888 with an LLD Degree.
Dr. Hyde married Lucy Kurtz, a German, in 1893 and the had two daughters, Nuala and Una. Also in 1893, he was one of the seven co-founders of the Gaelic League (Conradh Na Gaeilge) and was elected as its first president, a post he held until 1915.
Padraig H. Pearse (1879-1919), the 1916 revolutionary, poet and educationalist, wrote:
"The Gaelic League will be recognized in history as the most revolutionary influence that ever came into Ireland. The Irish Revolution really began when the seven proto-Gaelic Leaguers met in O'Connell Street ... the germ of all future Irish history was in that back room."
Dr. Douglas Hyde held the chair for Modern Irish in University College Dublin from 1909 to 1932.
His work in reviving the Irish Language and his and his contribution to the formation of the modern Irish identity was symbolically acknowledged by Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) when he was unanimously selected as first President of Ireland in 1938.
He died on 12th. July 1949 and was given a state funeral to Portahard Church, which is now used as the Douglas Hyde Interpretative Centre. He is buried beside his wife Lucy, his daughter Nuala, his sister Annette, mother Elizabeth and father Arthur.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
DR DUBHGHAS DE hÍDE
Rugadh Dubhglas de hÍde i gCaisleán Riabhach ar an 17 Eanáir 1860. Ba é an tOirmh. Arthur Hyde, Reachtúire Thigh Baoithín, a athair agus ba í Elizabeth Oldfield, iníon Ard-Déagnánach Ail Finn, an tUrr. John Oldfield, a mháthair. Chaith sé blianta a óige i gCill Mhic Treanna i gCo. Shligigh, agus i mbarúntach Dhún Gar i gCo. Ros Comáin, limistéar a raibh neart eachtraí agus pearsana stairiúla ann chomh maith le saibhreas iontach iarsmaí tábhachtacha seandálaíochta. Go luath ina shaol thosaigh sé ag cur spéise i saíocht agus i dtraidisiúin na cosmhuintire. D'airigh sé an Ghaeilge á labhairt máguaird agus thosaigh sé ag foghlaim ó na comharsana. De réir mar a bhí sé ag cur eolais ar stair, ar theanga shinseartha agus ar chultúr na ndaoine b'amhlaidh ba mhó a d'fhorbair a thuiscint ar thábhacht na nithe sin ó thaobh athnuachan agus shlánú fhéiniúlacht na hÉireann de. D'fhág an léargas úr seo tionchar mór ar shaol na linne sin agus ar stair na tíre.