The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA

Culture and citizenship - Prof Tomás Ó Máille (1880-1938)


Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 10:00 - Friday, April 21, 2023, 17:00


Royal Irish Academy


Exhibition: No booking required

Irish scholar Tomás Ó Máille is celebrated with focus on his recordings of folklore, song, and dialects of Irish speakers.

On 7 February 2023 a major exhibition celebrating the life and legacy of Irish scholar and professor Tomás Ó Máille will open at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Culture & Citizenship: Tomás Ó Máille was commissioned by the Department of Irish in the University of Galway and produced in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy and the National Library. The exhibition will shed new light on the history of the Irish language and will deepen our understanding of its status nationally.

Originally from Joyce Country, Tomás Ó Máille was appointed professor of Irish at the University of Galway in 1909 and held that position until his untimely death in 1938. A pioneer in many ways, Ó Máille’s greatest foresight was his commitment to the newest technology of his day — audio recording. Focusing on folklore, song, and various dialects, he created hundreds of recordings of Irish speakers from every county in Connacht and County Clare. Nearly 100 years after they were first captured, wax cylinder recordings held in the University of Galway Library were digitised in 2021 with support from Roinn na Gaeltachta.

Through images and online audio-visual recordings, the exhibition Culture & Citizenship: Tomás Ó Máille reveals the pioneering Professor’s remarkable achievements as a scholar, writer, linguist, lecturer, newspaper editor, collector, and activist. 

The exhibition is supplemented by a selection of original letters from the collections of the Royal Irish Academy Library documenting Ó Máille’s work on the Doegen Records Scheme, a project which aimed to make phonetic recordings of Irish speech in Gaeltacht areas. The letters relate to the Connacht recording session in September 1930 conducted by Ó Máille and Herr Karl Tempel, assistant to Dr Wilhelm Doegen (1877–1967), director of the Sound Department at the Prussian State Library (Lautabteilung, Preussische Staatsbibliothek), Berlin. The digitised recordings can be consulted on the website of the Doegen Records Web Project, developed by the Royal Irish Academy in 2008, and on the Digital Repository of Ireland.

The exhibition, which received funding from Foras na Gaeilge and the University of Galway, opened at the Hardiman Building at the University of Galway last September.  It is free to view in the Meeting Room of the Royal Irish Academy from 7 February to 21 April 2023, Monday to Friday 10-5pm. 

Support the future of sciences & humanities in Ireland

Make a donation