Daniel Corkery (author)

Daniel Corkery (Irish: Dónall Ó Corcora; 14 February 1878 – 31 December 1964) was an Irish politician, writer and academic. He is unquestionably best known as the author of The Hidden Ireland, a 1924 study of the poetry of eighteenth-century Irish-language poets in Munster.

Academic career

He was born in the city of Cork and educated at the Presentation Brothers and St. Patrick's College of Education, Dublin where he trained as a teacher. He taught at Saint Patrick’s School in Cork, but resigned from there in 1921 when he was refused the headmastership. Among his students there were writer Frank O'Connor and sculptor Seamus Murphy.

After leaving St. Patrick's, Corkery taught art for the local technical education committee, before becoming inspector of Irish in 1925, and later Professor of English at University College Cork in 1930. Among his students in UCC were Seán Ó Faoláin and Seán Ó Tuama. Corkery was often a controversial figure in academia for his 'nativist' views on Irish literature, views which resulted in conflict with many scholars of the Irish language, most notably Pádraig de Brún and his niece Máire Mhac an tSaoi. Ó Tuama, however, was frequently a staunch defender of Corkery's reputation.

In his late twenties he learnt Irish and this brought him into contact with leading members of the Irish language revival movement, including Terence MacSwiney, T. C. Murray and Con O'Leary, with whom he founded the Cork Dramatic Society in 1908. His plays Embers and The Hermit and the King were performed by the society. Later plays were staged at the famous Abbey Theatre, including The Labour Leader (1919) and The Yellow Bittern (1920).

He was also a writer of short stories, including the collections A Munster Twilight (1916), The Hounds of Banba (1920), The Stormy Hills (1929), and Earth Out of Earth (1939), and a novel, The Threshold of Quiet (1917).

He also wrote non-fiction works, including The Hidden Ireland (1924), a highly influential work about the riches of eighteenth-century Irish poetry. In this he attempted to reconstruct a worldview preserved by Gaelic poets amongst the poor and oppressed Catholic peasantry of the Penal Laws era, virtually invisible in the Anglo-Irish tradition that had dominated the writing of Irish history. "An instant, influential classic", wrote Patrick Walsh, "its version of the past provided powerful cultural underpinning to the traditional nationalist history that became, in the 1930s, the educational orthodoxy of the new state."

Corkery's papers are held in the Boole Library of University College Cork.[1]

Political career

He was a member of Seanad Éireann from 1951 to 1954 when he was nominated by the Taoiseach.[2]


Every year, in the third week of July, the Daniel Corkery Summer School is held in the village of Inchigeelagh, County Cork. Activities include landscape painting, Irish translation, choral singing, lectures, sessions, and concerts.


  • A Munster Twilight, Talbot Press, Dublin, 1917.
  • The Threshold of Quiet, Talbot Press, Dublin; T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1917.
  • The Yellow Bittern, and other plays, Talbot Press: Dublin; T. Fisher Unwin: London, 1920.
  • The Hounds of Banba, Talbot Press, Dublin, T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1921.
  • I Bhreasail. A book of lyrics, Elkin Mathews, London, 1921.
  • The Hidden Ireland, M. H. Gill & Son, Dublin, 1924.
  • The Stormy Hills, Jonathan Cape: London (printed Dublin), 1929.
  • Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature: A study, Cork University Press, 1931.
  • Earth out of Earth, Talbot Press, Dublin & Cork, 1939.
  • Resurrection, Talbot Press: Dublin, 1942.
  • What's this about the Gaelic League?, Conradh na Gaeilge, Dublin, 1942.
  • The Fortunes of the Irish Language, C. J. Fallon, Dublin, 1954.

Further reading


  1. Daniel Corkery's papers
  2. "Daniel Corkery". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 January 2014.


  • Patrick Maume, "'Life that is Exile': Daniel Corkery and the Search for Irish Ireland" (Belfast, 1993)
  • George Brandon Saul, "Daniel Corkery" (1973)
  • Henry Boylan, A Dictionary of Irish Biography, Gill and Macmillan, Dublin 1978.
  • Walsh, Patrick, "Daniel Corkery's The Hidden Ireland (1924) and Revisionism", New Hibernia Review - Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 2001, pp. 27–44
  • O'Connor, Frank, "An Only Child", New York, 1961
  • D. P. Moran
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