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Chapter 2: Other early pioneers

Besides Geoghegan there were other early Irish pioneers of Esperanto. Here is a brief account of some of them:

Dr James C. O’Connor M.A., Ph.D. was born in Cork. He spent a lot of time in England. The textbook that he wrote was for years the only one for English speakers. He edited a monthly paper “The Esperanto Teacher”. Around 1902 he established the first Esperanto group in London, when five students of Esperanto used to meet in his house for lessons. He co-wrote, with C. F. Hayes, the first English-Esperanto Dictionary in 1904 and became a member of the Lingva Komitato. In 1905 he was elected President of the “Grupo Esperantista Dublina”.

K. Pollen, a judge, was born on 3rd June 1848 in Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) and died on 18th June 1923 from falling into the sea at the Isle of Man. He lived in India from 1871 to 1903. Everywhere in India and during travels in the orient he campaigned for Esperanto. He also wrote a “key” for Indians. [A key is a tiny booklet that sets out the essentials of Esperanto for speakers of a particular language - KK] He was President of the British Esperanto Association 1904 – 1912.  It was said that during the 3rd World Esperanto Congress at Cambridge [England] in 1907 he gave the whole congress “good-humoured gaiety”.

Rev. G. R. Wynne (1847 – 1912) was a pioneer of Esperanto in Ireland and a fervent propagandist. He was priest of the parish of St Michael in Limerick.

George Jameson Johnston was a pioneer of the movement in Ireland, and was a UEA Delegate from 1909 to 1914. [This is an official local representative of the World Esperanto Association (UEA), who can be called upon to provide information to other members about his/her locality or subject - KK]. He was Vice-President of the Irlanda Esperanto-Asocio and in 1913 he became Chairman of TEKA [Tutmonda Esperanta Kuracista Asocio – Worldwide Esperanto Doctors’ Association – KK] .He was a professor of surgery in Dublin and died in 1926.

Prof. Fournier d’Albe was a professor in Dublin University. With the help of Robert Boyd White Sch TCD he translated into Esperanto “Eachtra Laoghaire Mhic Criomhtain go Maigh Meall” (The Visit of Laoghaire, son of Criomhtain, to the Field of Joy), an ancient Irish story from The Book of Lismore. M H Gill & Son Ltd, Dublin, published it around 1907. This was the first translation into Esperanto from the Irish language. Professor Fournier d’Albe spoke at the Second Summer University, which was held in Edinburgh as part of the 18th World Congress of Esperanto in 1926. His theme was “Wireless Telegraphy and Television” – a subject which was then not merely modern but ahead of its time.

Emma L Osmond was an Englishwoman who was born in London on 7th October 1868. She was very interested in Ireland. It was through Esperanto that she first heard of the Irish language.  She joined the Gaelic League in London, attended classes and learnt the Irish language. For 20 years she wrote about Ireland and also spoke and lectured about Ireland at Esperanto Congresses in various cities. With the permission of Dr Douglas Hyde she translated the Irish Folk Tales into Esperanto. They appeared in International Language 1924 – 1931, and in that way they reached the small nations of the world. She sent the bound volume to Dr Hyde and it now lies in the archives of the Folklore Commission in University College, Dublin. She also translated Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels into Esperanto. She died in 1944. Kalocsay, the famous Esperantist poet, wrote about her: “Pri la Irlanda kanto trila, plezuras vi kun kora varmo”. [About the trilling Irish song, you take pleasure with a heart’s warmth – KK]

Rev. Graham Bailey was born on 8th September 1872. He was a missionary from 1895 to 1920, and afterwards a professor at London University. He wrote nine books and many articles about languages of India. He was Honorary President of the London Esperanto Group and member of the Lingva Komitato. He preached in Esperanto in 1926 at the 18th World Congress during the Protestant service, and preached also at the 22nd World Congress in Oxford in 1930. It is interesting to see that another Irishman also preached in Esperanto at the same Congress, the Catholic Father Gaffney, in the Catholic service.

So it seems that the Movement in Ireland was ecumenical. The Rev. Bailey died on 5th April 1942.

Prof. William Brown (1871 – 1950) was another Irish professor who fervently supported the Esperanto movement for 40 years. He was co-translator of Concerning the Origin of Man by A Keith. 

C P Blackham was one of the earliest Esperantists in Ireland. He became an Esperantist in 1904 and attended the First Congress at Boulonge-sur-Mer.

George Gordon, a banker, was born in Gorey on 22nd February 1857. He emigrated to New Zealand and lived at Christchurch from 1906. He wrote “Kara Panjo” [dear mummy – KK] in 1911, “La Kamena Angulo” [the fireplace corner – KK] in 1915, “Alegorioj el la naturo” [allegories from nature- KK] in 1913 and1922, “Lia Lasta Ŝanco” [his last chance – KK] in 1915, and the  “Indekso al Esp-Angla Vortaro de Millidge” [index to Millidge’s Esperanto-English dictionary – KK] in 1924. He was the founder of the Esperanto Association of Melbourne in Australia. He died in 1946.

Chapter 3:  Groups, Associations and Leagues


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