enactment of land reforms, and created a disciplined and
independent Irish party which brought the Home Rule issue to
the center of British politics, thus winning tremendous
popularity with the overwhelming majority of the Irish people.
With the dream of Home Rule nearly realized, Parnell became
mired in scandal with a married woman, Kitty O’Shea, which
brought his political downfall and ultimately resulted in his
untimely death; he was known thereafter as “the uncrowned
king of Ireland” (Connolly, 1998: 431; Ruckenstein &
O’Malley, 2003: 332-333). Parnell’s popularity, before his
downfall, was described by Prime Minister Gladstone as “an
intellectual phenomenon,” an account James Joyce endorsed as
he saw him as “another Moses” leading “a turbulent and
unstable people from the house of shame to the verge of the
Promised Land” (1989: 225-226).
Following Parnell’s downfall, a disillusioned and
embittered nation turned away from parliamentary politics and
instead invested its energies in culture. The spirit of the Irish
cultural resurrection was greatly magnified by the foundation
in 1893 of the Gaelic League, whose first president was the
academic Douglas Hyde, a professor of Irish at University
College, Dublin, and strong advocate of De-Anglicization.
Other major literary figures also came to the forefront of this
movement during this period: for instance, W. B. Yeats, Lady
Gregory, and others (all from middle- and upper-class
Protestant backgrounds) began to formulate plans for a
national theater, which led to the creation of the Irish Literary
Theatre in 1899, succeeded by the Abbey Theatre in 1904.
These writers looked for inspiration to Irish mythology,
folklore, and popular culture, seeing Gaelic material as the
basis of a revitalized Irish literature; their works epitomized
the quest for an Irish identity and spearheaded the Celtic
Revival (Connolly, 1998: 319-320; Gibson, 2006: 28;
Ruckenstein & O’Malley, 2003: 206-207).