The Aisling Society traces its origins to 1954, when three friends gathered at Pfahlert’s Hotel in Margaret Street: Mary Hegarty, a classical scholar and teacher, Brian McGrath, a distinguished Sydney lawyer, and Fr Nicholas McNally. They shared a love of Ireland, of literature and history and of learning generally, and they decided to form a society devoted to those interests.
The name they chose, “Aisling” (pronounced Ash-ling), is an Irish word meaning a dream or vision. The Aisling poems and songs were a phenomenon of the “hidden Ireland” of the penal times of the eighteenth century, helping to keep alive among Irish people a knowledge of the past, a pride in their heritage and a hope for the future.
On 16 March 1955, the inaugural meeting of the Aisling Society of Sydney was held, a constitution adopted and office-bearers elected. The first ordinary meeting was held in April 1955, and a talk was given by one of the society’s first great characters, James A Meagher. In every year since then, the society has hosted monthly talks on the fourth Wednesday of each month, on a wide range of subjects. Go to PAST TALKS for more.
For reports prior to 2001, please contact the Archivist, Peter Gray SC.