George Sigerson

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Sigerson, circa 1922.

George Sigerson (11 January 1836 – 17 February 1925) was an Irish physician, scientist, writer, politician and poet. He was a leading light in the Irish Literary Revival of the late 19th century in Ireland.[1]

Doctor and Scientist[edit]

Sigerson was born at Holy Hill, near Strabane in County Tyrone. He attended Letterkenny Academy but was sent by his father to finish his education in France.[2]

He studied medicine at the Queen's College, Galway and Queen's College, Cork and took his degree in 1859. He then went to Paris where he spent some time studying under Charcot and Duchenne; a fellow-student was Sigmund Freud. He then returned to Ireland and opened a practice in Dublin, specializing as a neurologist. He continued to visit France annually to study under Charcot. His many patients included Maude Gonne, Austin Clarke and Nora Barnacle. He lectured on medicine at the Catholic University of Ireland. He was professor of zoology and later botany at the University College Dublin.[2]

Cultural Nationalist[edit]

While a student he taught himself Irish and made the acquaintance of Charles Kickham and John O'Leary.[2] His first book, The Poets and Poetry of Munster, appeared in 1860.[2] He was actively involved in political journalism for many years, writing for The Nation. He was one of the founders of the Feis Ceoil and President of the National Literary Society from 1893 until his death.[2] His daughter Dora Sigerson Shorter was a poet who was also involved in the Irish literary revival.

Nominated a member of the first Senate of the Irish Free State, Sigerson was briefly chosen as first, if temporary, Chairman on 11–12 December 1922 before the election of Lord Glenavy.[3] The day after his death the Senate paid a kind tribute to him.[4]

GAA supporter[edit]

The Sigerson Cup, the top division of third level Gaelic Football competition in Ireland is named in his honour. Sigerson donated the salary from his post at UCD so that a trophy could be purchased for the competition. In 2009, he was named in the Sunday Tribune's list of the "125 Most Influential People In GAA History".[1] The cup was first presented in 1911, with the inaugural winners being UCD. The trophy itself, is thought to be the longest-serving trophy in the GAA.[1]


Dr. Sigerson died at his home in 3 Clare St., Dublin, in 1925.

In Literature[edit]

'Our national epic is yet to be written, says Dr Sigerson.' James Joyce, Ulysses.

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • The Poets and Poetry of Munster (1860)
  • Cannabiculture in Ireland; its profit and possibility (1866)
  • Modern Ireland (1869)
  • Political prisoners at home and abroad
  • On the need for village hospitals in Ireland
  • Celtic influence on the evolution of rimed hymns
  • The advantages of Ambidexterity
  • Discovery of fish remains in the alluvial clay of the River Foyle
  • Bards of the Gael and Gall (1897)

Further reading[edit]

  • Curran, C. P. (1970). Under the Receding Wave. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. ISBN 0-7171-0276-9. 
  • McGilloway, K., George Sigerson: Poet, Patriot Scientist and Scholar, Ulster Historical Foundation, 2011[5]


  1. ^ a b c McEvoy, Enda; Kieran Shannon, Dave Hannigan (and PJ Cunningham, Malachy Clerkin and Pat Nugent) (4 January 2009). "125 Most Influential People in GAA History". Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 401. ISBN 0-7171-2945-4. 
  3. ^ ELECTION OF TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN, Seanad Éireann - Volume 1 - 11 December, 1922
  4. ^ Seanad Éireann - Volume 4 - 18 February, 1925 DEATH OF SENATOR SIGERSON.
  5. ^ "Magazine: Sigerson book reveals genius of young Irish state – In the News –". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 

External links[edit]