At the outset of the 18th century Irish Protestants were largely pre-disposed to look suspiciously upon the Irish language and those who employed it. However, for a combination of reasons, religious and cultural initially, and political later on, this suspicion eased and there was a palpable increase in interest in the language in the final decades of the 18th century. One of those who contributed to this amelioration was John Richardson, a clergyman of the Church of Ireland, some of whose publications are to be found among the holdings of Armagh Robinson Library.
Professor James Kelly is Head of the School of History and Geography at Dublin City University. A member of the Irish Manuscripts Commission since 1999 and of the Royal Irish Academy since 2003, Professor Kelly has published extensively on a variety of themes on early modern Irish history, with particular reference to the eighteenth century. His publications include Irish and English: essays on the Irish linguistic and cultural frontier, 1600-1900, which he co-edited with Ciarán Mac Murchaidh (Dublin: Four Courts, 2012).
Funded by the Department for Communities, the lecture was part of a week of free online lunchtime lectures organised to link with Irish Language Week (Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia). The series was also designed to highlight Irish language items in the collection of Armagh Robinson Library, during the Library’s 250th anniversary.