Explore UCD

UCD Home >

Irish Academy of Letters

 Irish Academy letter image

UCD Special Collections holds a collection from the Irish Academy of Letters.
Identity Statement

Reference code IE/ UCD ms 12 a-b

Irish Academy of Letters Collection

14th September 1932 - 13th November 1971

Level of Description

2 vols.


Irish Academy of Letters

Administrative and Biographical History

In 1932 W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw founded an Irish Academy of Letters.  In establishing the Academy of Letters, Yeats had two objects: to reward publicly literary achievement and to organise writers to oppose literary censorship.  James Stephens, Oliver St. John Gogarty, FR Higgins, Padraic Colum, Sean O’Faolain, Frank O’Connor, Austin Clarke, Lennox Robinson, Brinsley Macnamara, and St John Ervine were also members.  Joyce was invited to become a member but declined.  At the outset the Academy campaigned against censorship, but its efforts were not successful.  As time went on the Academy focused less on censorship and more on literary awards.  The minute books finish in 1970 but the NLI’s collection relating to the academy contains material up to 1984. 

Source of Acquisition
Donation of the Council of the Academy via Mervyn Wall in 1975.

Content and Structure

Minutes of the meetings of the Irish Academy of letters from 1932-1970.  The minutes include information on membership, activities including lecture series, reading committees, awards, financial reports and the decisions on who should receive the Gregory medal.  The minutes are regular for the first 20 years and thereafter are far less regular.  The academy awarded twelve Gregory medals for literature between 1932 and 1968.  The recipients were:  W.B. Yeats, George William Russell (AE), George Bernard Shaw, Edith Somerville & Violet Martin (1 medal), Eoin MacNeill, Stephen Gwynn, Padraic Colum, Seumas O’Sullivan, Micheál Mac Liammóir, Austin Clarke.

Vol 1: 1932-1940
Vol 2: 1940-1971

Access and Use

Photocopying or digital photographing of this material is not permitted.


Finding Aid

UCD Special Collections

James Joyce Library, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7149 | E: special.collections@ucd.ie