Chapter 7: The post-war Movement
The war in Europe finished on 11th May 1945. Not everything stopped during the war years. Although contacts with people outside the country were few, there were many contacts between Irish Esperantists. They often met and often wrote to one another. They made plans for after the war.
In Ballina, Co. Mayo, lived a new young Esperantist, Liam Ó Cuirc, who set up a local club and did a lot of campaigning. This club was certainly the most western in Europe, facing the great Atlantic Ocean.
Liam was made a Delegate [local representative] of the Internacia Esperanto-Ligo (which later became the UEA) and after some years he was Secretary of the Irish Esperanto Association. It wasn’t altogether a convenient arrangement, for the Secretary to be in Ballina while the other leaders were in Dublin. Despite this, much campaigning was done and contacts were maintained with the many Esperantists on the island.
The first post-war World Esperanto Congress was held in Berne, Switzerland, in 1947. Among the 1370 participants were 5 Irish people, including Lorcán Ó hUiginn and Liam Ó Cuirc. The congress was very successful. In attendance were the leaders of the Swiss Federation and of the Canton of Berne, and official representatives of five national governments. The movement was advancing again.
Irish people also attended the subsequent World Esperanto Congresses – 1948 in Malmö, Sweden; 1949 in Bournemouth, Britain; 1950 in Paris, France.
At home, a group of enthusiastic Esperantists re-established the Dublin Esperanto Club at 31 North Frederick Street. They met every week and had a lively secretary, P J O’Reilly. In 1952 Liam Ó Cuirc returned to Dublin from Ballina, joined the club and was elected Deputy Secretary. The President was Mr Neary.
In September 1952 the leadership of the club visited the editor of the Evening Mail (which was then the biggest-selling Dublin evening paper) and arranged for it to publish a regular column on the Club and on Esperanto affairs. This was called Dublin Esperanto Club Notes and appeared monthly until the end of October 1953. Because of the Notes many new members joined the club. The notes were in English, but often used Esperanto expressions too. Here are some items from the Notes:
11/9/52: The first Notes appeared. They were mainly about the speech made by the Secretary P J O’Reilly, in which he described his journey and experiences at the World Esperanto Congress in Oslo. “At the international dance”, he said, “All drinks were free”. How we envied him! They were also about the forthcoming Esperanto classes and about the club’s growing library that was free of charge.
12/10/52: The subject was the speech given by Liam Ó Cuirc about his journey to Cannes, Nice and Marseilles, where he met lots of Esperantists.
23/10/52: The Notes were about the beginners’ classes, and about the visit to the club’s premises by Mr Frank Burns of the Belfast Esperanto Club; also about the club excursion to Killarney.
In November 1952 the Treasurer, Frank Riley, spoke on “Recent Successes of Esperanto” and in December the club members celebrated Dr Zamenhof’s birthday with a get-together at the Singing Kettle, 13 Lower Leeson Street.
The club gave great help to the Irish Esperanto Association in collecting signatures for the International Petition to UNESCO requesting the introduction of Esperanto. The Petition was signed by 492 organisations in all, with 15, 454,780 members, and 895,432 individuals, including several hundred from Ireland.
As a result of the Petition UNESCO passed a Resolution favourable to Esperanto, and this was celebrated at the Dublin club. This was a historic milestone in the progress of the International Language.
In January and February 1953 the weekly meetings continued, with card games, musical evenings and a “Twenty Questions” quiz.
At the beginning of 1953 the club helped An Tostal. The Irish word “tostal” means “meeting”, “gathering”, “assembly” or “spectacle” and was a spring festival introduced by the Government to attract tourists to Ireland. An article written by the club committee appeared in the periodical Esperanto and Tostal postcards were sent to clubs and associations in 25 countries.
In the year 1953 many beginners attended Esperanto classes in the club premises.