Douglas Hyde changed the conversation about culture in Ireland. Where previously the decline of the Irish language was seen as inevitable and the Irish language was seen as a worthless barrier to progress, Hyde and the Gaelic League made people proud of Irish culture again, and sparked off a cultural renaissance in early 20th Century Ireland.
Hyde’s vision of Irishness was positive and inclusive, emphasising the richness and depth of indiginous Irish culture and advocating its embrace as the basis of a self-confident version of Irish nationality, rather than a narrow reflexive, negative version of Irish nationality which expressed itself often in terms of what it was opposed to.
One of the clearest expressions of his vision is to be found in The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland, a speech he delivered before the Irish National Literary Society in Dublin, 25 November 1892
“It has always been very curious to me how Irish sentiment sticks in this half-way house — how it continues to apparently hate the English, and at the same time continues to imitate them; how it continues to clamour for recognition as a distinct nationality, and at the same time throws away with both hands what would make it so…
I would earnestly appeal to every one, whether Unionist or Nationalist, who wishes to see the Irish nation produce its best — surely whatever our politics are we all wish that — to set his face against this constant running to England for our books, literature, music, games, fashions, and ideas. I appeal to every one whatever his politics — for this is no political matter — to do his best to help the Irish race to develop in future upon Irish lines, even at the risk of encouraging national aspirations, because upon Irish lines alone can the Irish race once more become what it was of yore — one of the most original, artistic, literary, and charming peoples of Europe.”
This is the vision of the Douglas Hyde Foundation