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Dail Eireann: The Minutes of Proceedings of the First Parliament of the Republic of Ireland, 1919-1921 (Official Record)

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Originally printed and published in Dublin in 1921 and republished here on fully-searchable CD-Rom are the Minutes of the Proceedings of the first Dáil, the full title of the official record of these proceedings reads Dail Eireann; Miontuairisc an Chead Dala, 1919-1921: Minutes of Proceedings of the First Parliament of the Republic of Ireland, 1919-1921, Official Record. This fascinating and extremely valuable historical document, presented in Irish and English and extending to 292 printed pages is an historical record of the initial hopes and aspirations of the founders of the first Dáil. The Minutes of the Proceedings of the first Dáil Éireann or Parliament of the Irish Republic begins with the Opening Session, the first day of which was open to the public and sat on 21st January 1919, the date which now marks the anniversary of Dáil Éireann. The opening session of the first days proceedings, conducted in Irish, began with a roll call of the members of the First Dail, which reads like a who's who of Irish politicians and others that have gone down in the annals of Irish history, including as it did Arthur Griffith, Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, Patrick O'Malley, Cathal Brugha, Bulmer Hobson and Sean T. O'Kelly to name but a few. The proceedings of the first session were opened by a reading of a Declaration of Independence, based on that read at the GPO in 1916 and carried forward to 1918. This was read in Irish, French and English in an attempt for recognition from all countries of the world for the establishment of an Irish Republic. This was followed by a statement of the "Democratic Programme" establishing the founding principals of the body. While it was the first Dáil's intention to conduct all of its proceedings in Irish and reinstitute Irish as the nation's language, it became quickly apparent that this was just one of the idealistic hopes of those creating the new nation. Much to the chagrin of over half of those present for the first session, they had to apologise for not being able to understand the addresses made in Irish and requested in future that debates and minutes would take place and be recorded in both Irish and English. Bilingualism was quickly accepted as a necessary evil and by the sixth session, which sat in private on 27th October 1919, it was accepted that bilingualism even for a new national curriculum would have to be the norm. It should not be forgotten that the first Dáil was illegal and sat while the Ireland was still under the rule of Westminster politicians and the administration from Dublin Castle. This fact is highlighted in the Minutes of the Proceedings time and again. For example, on 11th March 1921, the penultimate session of the first Dáil, ministers were informed that a bilingual curriculum for primary schools had been developed by the Minister for Irish, Seán Ua Ceallaigh, was unable to comment as he had been arrested a few days previously. The minutes from this session also record that the 'Department of Education' was finding it difficult to establish its curriculum, especially in Irish speaking areas of the country due to the harassment of the 'enemy'.

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