I. M. R. A. Iriyagolla

Imiya Mudiyanselage Raphael Abhayawansa Iriyagolla (3 January 1907 – 7 January 1973) was a Sri Lankan politician.

Iriyagolla was born 3 January 1907 to a wealthy family in Katugampola. He was educated at Katugampola Village School, Nalanda College, Colomboand Ananda College Colombo.

Iriyagola was an excellent student and gained admission to Ceylon Medical College but left before completing his studies. Later on he has worked in many fields such as Police Department and as a journalist and editor of a Sinhala Newspaper.

In 1947, he contested Dandagamuwa electorate and entered parliament as an Independent candidate. In 1956 when the late S. W. R. D. Bandaranaikeformed the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna he was one of the signatories. In 1960 he joined United National Party and was appointed as Cabinet Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs by Dudley Senanayake when UNP won elections in 1965.

During his era Education Department was drastically altered to suit the needs of the country. As a result under his supervision D.S. Senanayake College Colombo was established. He also introduced agriculture as a subject to school curriculum, and tried to inculcate practical cultivation among school children.

However his attempted educational reforms and his outspoken views were not received well be an influential section of the community, the school and university teachers and undergraduates. During the next general election of 1970, this section canvassed relentlessly against the UNP government and Mr. Iriyagolla. After the defeat of the UNP government at 1970 hustings, many of his former colleagues blamed him for the defeat, rather unfairly. They conveniently forgot his services prior to 1965 in bringing the UNP back to power. Mr. Iriyagolla gave up active politics after 1970 and indeed did not live long after.

Equally proficient in both Sinhala and English and as an erudite author and a person involved in the arts and culture, he was also a journalist, writer and translator.[2] Some songs like “Loken Uthum Rata Lankavai” and “Sema Danamana Dinu Sujathadarani” written by him are considered masterpieces in Sinhala music even today. He also translated Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables from French into Sinhala as Manuthapaya which became quite popular among readers. He wrote a book of short stories titled “Poorna Viplavaya” in collaboration with his wife, Rani Iriyagolla Menike.

His son Gamini Iriyagolla served as a Presidential adviser for Ranasinghe Premadasa.

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