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This is the secretary’s report from the AGM of 1903 which was held on 1st June. Thomas Mc Donagh was the secretary and in this report he outlines his reasons for not letting his name go forward for re-election.
THE HON. SECRETARY’S REPORT.
Mr T.S. McDonagh then proceeded to read his report and mentioned that his brother secretary, Mr Hackett, being unavoidably absent, the report which he presented had been prepared by himself. He said:
“Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I propose in this, my secretarial report, to lay before you as briefly as I can the state of the branch, leaving it for you to draw conclusions. I shall, therefore, depart from the accustomed order and first tender the thanks of the League to those who assisted us during the year – to the citizens of Kilkenny whose generosity has been now as in former years ready and unstinted; to those clubs and schools and bands of the city which have aided us whenever called on; to our many friends who made our public Sgóruidheacht and Aeridheacht successful; and going without, to those sympathisers in the county who have helped us well, and for whom we have been able to do little in return.
The membership of the Branch is 76; the number of those who have attended the classes with anything like the punctuality of earnest students is small yet, it cannot be said that the opportunities of learning the language have been poor. In addition to the ordinary Irish grammar classes, there have been classes for conversational Irish, shorthand, Irish history and translation, and, to make the work more attractive, Irish dancing has been made a regular part of the exercises. With respect to the classes proper the most important work undertaken by the branch was the institution of an evening school under the National Board of Education. From what we can judge by the examination held this should prove a success, at least financially. Another important step was the appointment of a permanent school committee to visit and report on the work being done for the children. It appears from the report furnished by this committee that some 800 children are taught Irish in Kilkenny but in many cases the time devoted to the study is altogether inadequate and has prevented the earnest efforts of the branch teacher, Miss Cronin, from being as successful as otherwise they would assuredly have been. But all the schools are not unsatisfactory. The work done in some is good, and on, the Lake School, brought honour to itself and to Kilkenny at the recent Oireachtas, at which the school choir and two of the pupils, Miss Bridie and Miss Hannah O’Meara, won prizes, failing in nothing. (Applause.)
During the year members of the Branch have aided in the establishment of three new branches, one in St Patrick’s Parish, now defunct; one in Johnswell, and one in Callan. At Thomastown, where a branch has been revived and is now in good working order, a remarkable lecture was delivered on St. Patrick’s Day by a member of this branch, Mr P.J. Kennedy. (Applause.) On the same St Patrick’s Day the League in the City saw the success of one of its boldest efforts, the creation of a new National Holiday. (Applause.) In this again the citizens, led by the Mayor and Corporation, lent willing aid, and the branch may congratulate itself that it has established the holiday, not for this year only, but for all time. (Applause.) For the further organisation of the County, it is to be hoped that the projected Feis which it is proposed to hold in the City at the end of July should do much to rivet public attention on the movement.
The following is a list of the attendances of the present committee:- Total number of meetings, 52. Father Dollard, President, 16; Capt. Cuffe, V P, 31; Mr T.W. O’Hanrahan, treasurer, 49; Mr McDonagh, secretary, 37; Mrs McCullagh, 37; Miss Wall, 6; Miss O’Brien, 38’; Miss Donleavy, 31; Ald J. Nowlan, 42; Mr W. Kinsella, 33; Mr P. Kennedy, B A, 21; Mr N. Kenny, 6; members co-opted – Mr E. McSweeney, T C, 9; Mr J.D. Hackett, hon.sec.,24; Miss Kenna,11; Mr John Meany, 5; Mr Thos Butler, 12. It is necessary to add, in justice to some members, that the time of meeting did not suit all. Frequently, too, apologies were received from members whom circumstances prevented from attending or who were absent from the town.
I wish I could here end my report, but I feel it would be cowardly to shirk the duty which I have of bringing two other matters before you. The rules made by the committee that none but genuine Irish dances be allowed, and that none but members of the League and pupils of the classes be allowed to dance in the rooms, have been violated on some occasions, and it will be the duty of the committee elected tonight to prevent breaches of them in future. The other matter is in connection with a violation of one of the principles of the League as embodied in No 14 of the monthly report to be furnished to the Coisde Gnótha, namely, “State any other work of a special character done by the branch during the month, for instance e.g. (among other things) endeavouring to secure the election to public positions of candidates interested in or pledged to the movement.”
Of course I refer to Ald. Nowlan and Mr. E. McSweeney’s voting against Mr Kennedy at a recent election. With the merits of the matter outside the Gaelic League I have nothing to do, and you will believe me when I say that if the case were reversed and Mr. Kennedy voted against Ald. Nowlan and Mr. McSweeney I would bring it before you too. I think that since the action was public, whatever explanation there is should also be made public. Personally it is painful to me to mention the matter as I have been a friend of the three gentlemen referred to, but the prestige of the Gaelic League is affected, and I do not believe I would be doing my duty in remaining silent.” (Applause.)
The Chairman said he was sure they all felt grateful to M. McDonagh. The report showed plainly the amount of work a secretary had to do. With regard to the latter part of Mr. McDonagh’s report he had nothing to say, and he would now ask Father Jarlath to propose the adoption of the report. (Applause.) Very Rev Father Jarlath, O S F C, who was received with loud applause, said that he was a stranger to their committee and did not know much about their proceedings but for what he knew of Mr. McDonagh he thought he deserved a very warm vote of thanks for his disinterestedness in the cause (applause), and his report that night showed that a great amount of work had been done by him and he begged to propose that the report which he had just read be adopted. (Applause.)Mr Meany seconded the motion and said a special tribute of thanks was due to Mr McDonagh.
Ald. Nowlan (in reply)
“Before you put the proposition – with reference to the last portion of the report – I think the secretary had a right to inform me that he was going to put in such a thing. I did not come prepared to make any answer. I know Mr. O’Keeffe for the most portion of my life and I know him to be a thorough Irishman and in sympathy with every national movement; and I promised him my vote and I would break it for no man, Gaelic Leaguer, or anyone else.”
Mr McDonagh said he hoped that Alderman Nowlan understood that he bore him no ill-will. It was very painful to him to have to refer to the matter.
“I say you had a right to tell me.”
“Anything that occurs with reference to the Gaelic League Branch can come up here.”
The motion was adopted nem. con.
The members them proceeded to ballot for a committee, several ladies and gentlemen having been proposed. Mr. McDonagh, who was proposed, stated that he regretted he would be unable to act on the committee this year. It was not that he had any difficulty as regarded the members of the League.