3: Groups Associations and Leagues
The first Esperanto group in Ireland was the Dublin Esperanto Group, which was founded in 1905. Its President was J C O’Connor MA, PhD, whom we already mentioned. The Honorary Secretary was H J MacDermot, who lived in North Circular Road, Dublin.
La Irlanda Esperanto-Asocio (The Irish Esperanto Association) was founded in 1907 under the chairmanship of E E Fournier d’Albe. Among the initial leadership was a well-known man – Joseph M Plunkett, one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916. His father was Count Plunkett, and his wife was the well-known Grace Gifford, whom he married in prison in 1916. He had a good knowledge of Irish, Greek, French and Esperanto, as well as English. [also some Arabic – KK].
During the First World War of 1914 -18 the Esperanto movement was dormant. Fred Douglas, then Secretary of the Dublin Group, took steps to revive the movement in Dublin after the war, and in 1925 it was reorganised by Frank McCormack and Mr Mortished with the help of Hugh McNeill and Mr Macaulay.
From 1925 till 1930 the Irish Esperanto Association made progress, arranging classes, meetings and talks. It campaigned in all circles and published a periodical Irlanda Esperantisto, which lasted from July 1926 to 1928.
Also established in those years was an Esperanto section of the Society for Modern Languages in Dublin. This did a lot of campaigning within the framework of the Society.
In 1927 a young civil servant, Lorcán Ó hUiginn, joined the Irish Esperanto Association and soon became its President. He became Chief Irish Delegate [local representative] of the World Esperanto Association (UEA) and published two periodicals, La Kolombo [the dove – KK] for the internal movement and Irlando vokas vin [Ireland is calling you – KK] for Esperantists outside Ireland.
Around the same time the Irlanda Ligo de Katolikaj Esperantistoj – ILKE [ Irish League of Catholic Esperantists – KK] was revitalised. The new leadership was: Honorary President: Rev. M H Gaffney OP; Secretary: H McNeill; other members of the leadership: Messrs H Macaulay, Rev Br Lawrence, Lorcán Ó hUiginn. The neutral Irlanda Esperanto-Asocio and the specialist ILKE worked together amicably and did a lot of campaigning.
From 1930 to 1932 the movement was quiescent. In 1932 there were no official classes but many Esperantists in various circles met from time to time.
Also in the North of Ireland there appeared some enthusiastic Esperantists, the chief of whom was Dr E A A Stonely. He was Vice-President of the Belfast Esperanto Group, which he founded after the Second World War. He became an Esperantist in 1938, taught courses and did much campaigning.
Bazil Patras Megahy was born in 1854 in Co. Antrim. He became an Esperantist in 1908 and was a life-long member of the World Esperanto Association. He was a well-known Quaker and a very hospitable man. He died in 1942.
A R Campbell, another one from Northern Ireland, was a member of the leadership of the Universala Ligo [universal league – KK].
Let us mention also an outstanding pioneer of the Catholic movement – Father P Parker, who was a Catholic priest in Wexford. He was born in 1870 and became an Esperantist in 1906. In 1910 he attended the first Congress of Catholic Esperantists, which was held in Paris during the Easter holiday. That was the first specialist Esperanto congress and therefore was an experiment. It was a great success and thus became a model for such specialist congresses. Father Parker preached to the Esperantists in the cathedral of Notre Dame. He was elected a committee member of IKUE [Internacia Katolika Unuiĝo Esperantista – International Catholic Esperantist Union – KK].
In 1911 at the 7th World Esperanto Congress in Antwerp he attended the Esperanto Catholic Service in the cathedral and again preached in Esperanto. In 1913 he attended the 4th Catholic Esperantist Congress in Rome and was elected President of IKUE. He did a service in the crypt of St Peter’s Cathedral. He was also President of the Irish League of Catholic Esperantists. He died aged 78, on 19th August 1948.