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The radical linguistic, literary and cultural realignment that occurred in the period 1880–1940 emerged from the traumatic changes of the earlier period. Among the most significant events of nineteenth-century Irish history was the gigantic shift from a largely monolingual Irish-speaking population to a largely monolingual English-speaking population. ‘Language shift’, the process whereby members of a community in which more than one language is spoken abandon one vernacular for another, is both complicated and multifaceted, and depends on internal recruitment.