Physician, Professor, Writer, Gael
1836 – 1925
George Sigerson was born in Holy Hill, Strabane, County Tyrone on 11 January 1836. He was educated in Letterkenny, France, Galway, Cork and Dublin, graduating as a Doctor of Medicine in 1859 at Queen’s College Belfast. Ten of his poems were published in the Harp of Erin in 1869. He taught himself Irish, for which he won a prize. He specialised in neurology and was appointed Professor of Botany and Biology in the Catholic University school of medicine and later in the National University of Ireland. He published, often under the pseudonym ‘Erionnach’, articles in newspapers such as the Freeman’s Journal, the North British Review and The Irishman.
His first book, The Poets and Poetry of Munster, published in 1860 was followed by his History of the Land Tenures and Land Classes of Ireland (that attracted the interest of Gladstone), The Last Independent Parliament of Ireland and medical works, which included a translation of Chalcott’s Diseases of the Nervous System into English. He published poems and translations from the Irish, such as the popular Bards of the Gael and Gall that appeared in 1897. His last book, The Easter Song of Sedulius was published when he was eighty-six. He was a Senator of the Irish Free State, President of the National Literary Society from 1893 until he died on 17 February 1925, and was a founder member of Feis Ceoil.
His lasting contribution to national life was the establishment of the Sigerson Cup in 1911, donating his salary from UCD for its purchase. The cup was initially for competition between the three universities, UCD, UCC and UCG, with QUB joining in 1923; TCD in 1963 and other universities such as UU and other institutions of higher education. It is the longest serving trophy in the GAA.
Location of plaque: Strabane Library, 1 Railway Street, Strabane
Date of unveiling: 18 February 2011
Report of Plaque unveiling available HERE