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Young, Rose Maud (1865–1947)

Young, Rose Maud (1865–1947)

Irish scholar who worked to preserve the Irish language. Name variations: Rose Mabel Young; Róis Ní Ógáin. Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, in 1865; died in Cushendun, County Antrim, on May 28, 1947; daughter of John Young (a high sheriff); sister of Ella Young (1867–1951); educated by governesses; trained as a teacher at Cambridge University; lived with Margaret Emmeline Dobbs (1873–1961).

Rose Maud Young was born in 1865 in Galgorm Castle of Ballymena, County Antrim. Her father was high sheriff of the county in which her Scottish ancestors had been granted estates in the 17th century, at the time of the Ulster Plantations. Young's early education was provided by a governess, but she later trained as a teacher at Cambridge University in England. Introduced to Irish history and tradition by a longtime family friend, Dr. William Reeves, Young visited the Bodleian Library to see the Gaelic manuscripts there and became committed to learning the Irish language. She attended classes sponsored by the Gaelic League in London, and kept a diary to chart her progress.

Returning to Ireland in the early 1900s, she attended Seán Ó Catháin's Irish College in Belfast, and continued her language studies at Coláiste Uladh in Gort a Choirce. She made several lengthy stays in Dublin, where she visited members of the Gaelic League and other Irish scholars. She became friends with Margaret Dobbs , with whom she worked at the Gaelic League in Antrim and in Feis na nGleann (The Glens Festival), a gathering dedicated to the Irish language. Unlike her sister Ella Young , Rose never became deeply involved in the nationalist movement; however, she maintained a strong sense of "Irishness" through her intense study of the language and culture. She Gaelicized her name, Róis Ní Ógáin, in her writing. She also collaborated with Ellen O'Brien and contributed to O'Brien's book The Gaelic Church, in an attempt to Gaelicize the Church of Ireland.

Young's prestige rests primarily with the three volumes of Gaelic poetry and songs she edited and published as Duanair Gaedhilge (Songs and Poems from Gaelic). The first volume collected folksongs (1901), the second poetic lyrics from between 1600 and 1800 (1924), and the third Ossianic, religious, and medieval poetry (1930). The works included vocabulary and translations, which she hoped would effect the revitalization of a waning language and cultural history. Her books made lyrics from the Gaelic tradition accessible to the general public and were used in the Irish classroom for several decades. Young died on May 28, 1947, in Cushendun, County Antrim, where she resided with Dobbs.


Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Comp. by Kate Newmann. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University Belfast, 1993.

O'Céirín, Kit and Cyril. Women of Ireland. TirEolas Irish Books.

Margaret A. Zakem , freelance writer, Plymouth, Michigan

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