An Gúm was established in 1926. Until 1999 it was under the aegis of the Department of Education at which time its functions were transferred to the cross-border language body Foras na Gaeilge. From the beginning, An Gúm has been involved in the production of textbooks, dictionaries and general reading material in the Irish language. It has published over 2,500 books and 350 music pieces since its establishment.
Intially An Gúm had a central role in the effort to revive literature in Irish. Our large back-list contains a wide range of literature in all the major dialects of the Irish language. After a short period it was felt necessary to augment the small amount of original creative writing available at that time and an ambitious policy of translation was initiated by An Gúm. Translations of over 250 titles from both classical and popular European literature were published during the 1930s. Many of the titles translated were the ephemeral bestsellers of the day but many were classics of their time and are still in print in their original languages.
Among the large number of translators were many who went on to become well-known creative writers in their own right. Gradually, as more creative writers came foward with original material, the need for translations became less acute and, from 1940 on, less and less tranlation of literary titles were undertaken. Today, An Gúm publishes very little new creative writing for adult readers, either original or in translation. However, we have a policy of continually reintroducing titles of outstanding literary merit, including some of the translated material.
An Gúm’s role in expanding the readership of Irish language literature
Ireland, Design and Visual Culture: Negotiating Modernity 1922-1992
Edited by Linda King and Elaine Sisson
The manner in which the book covers and the artwork of An Gúm’s early titles encouraged the reading of Irish language books is detailed in this book published by Cork University Press in 2011