Kilkenny Branch of the Gaelic League plan for the visit of Dr. Hyde
On Thursday evening a meeting convened by the Kilkenny Branch of the Gaelic League, was held in the Town Hall. The meeting was for the propose of forming a committee to give Dr. Douglas Hyde President of the Gaelic League, a fitting reception on the occasion of his visit to Kilkenny, on behalf of the language movement on the 29th of November (inst.)
There were present; Rev.P.Casey, Professor, St.Kieran’s College (President of the Kilkenny Branch); Rev. Fr. Aloysius O.S.F.C.; Mr. James F.Reade A.M.I.C.E; Mr. P.Kangley Johnswell; Mr. T.W.O’Hanrahan J.P.; Mr.James Nowlan; Mr.J.McCarthy T.C.; Mr.E.McSweeney T.C.; Ald E.Nowlan; Mr.J.Purcell T.C.; Mr.P.Lennon T.C.; Mr.M.Cleary, High St.; Mr.Denis O’Sullivan; Mr.Murren, Johnswell; Mr. E.T.Keane, Kilkenny People; Mr J.J.Power C.Y.M.S.; Mr M.Hayes B.A.; Mr.J.McGuinness, (St.Johns Band); Mr.Joseph Sweeney; Mr. J.Fitzpatrick; Mr.E.O’Connell, Town Clerk; Mr.M.Farrell; Mr.J.Madigan; Mr.P.Deloughrey; Mr.P.Ennis; Mr.M.McSweeney; Mr.L.Deloughrey and the representations of the local Press.
Apologies were received from Mr.M.M.Murphy Solr., Mr.D.McGrath and Mr D.O’Connell, the president of the Gaelic League was voted to take the chair by Mr.Purcell and Mr.Reade.
The Rev. President having taken the chair said;
The object of this meeting is to elect a committee for the purpose of making arrangements to give to Dr. Douglas Hyde, a suitable reception on the occasion of his approaching visit to Kilkenny. Whether we consider his personal character as the cause which he comes amongst us to advocate, Dr. Hyde is worthy of the best reception that we can give him.(applause). Personally he is in the best and truest sense of the word an educated Irish gentleman, a scholar of deep and varied learning, a writer of no mean repute and a graceful and accomplished creator. And then his cause – what cause could be more truly National, patriotic and even holy than the preservation of a nations language (applause). It is a truly National and patriotic cause for it is the Preservation of the Nation itself “A Nation should guard its language more than its territories, tis a surer frontier and a more certain barrier than either fortress or rivers.” If these words of Davis, written more than fifty years ago, be true, and I for one am a firm believer in them, then surely is Dr.Hyde’s cause a national and a patriotic one. But it is more. It is a holy cause. I find that there is amongst the virtues a certain one called Piety has three branches. Piety towards God, towards parents, and towards country. (Loud applause)
As it is then a good and holy thing to love and serve Almighty God, to love and serve ones parents, so surely is it a good and a holy thing to love and serve ones country, so surely is it a wicked thing to ignore or despise it. There is therefore on each of us a strict obligation to advance the true interests of our country in whatever way we can. And these interests seem to me to be inseparably bound up with the cultivation of our National language, literature and history. The cultivation and study of these besides saving the minds of our people from the debasing influence of the productions, now masquerading under the name of English literature – a salvation which would be in itself, an untold blessing – is certain to develop the national character on sound and proper lines and to lead to Great Material Prosperity. (Hear, Hear). For it will always tend to create and foster a feeling of healthy, national, legitimate self-respect in people of Irish birth and origin. It will teach them to look into themselves, to cultivate and develop their own resources both mental and material and this is exactly what conduces most to sound commercial prosperity. We can have no better proof of the intimate connection between the development of a people’s language and literature and its material interests, than the example of certain people in Europe at the present day. The Belgians, the Welsh, the Huns and the Germans are all prosperous and progressive races and have all attached a great importance to the Cultivation of their respective languages.
Take the case of Germany, Frederick the Great used to say that the German language and literature was “miserable stuff and not worth a change of gun powder”. Educated Germans of his day shared his contempt for native learning and a correct French accent became the recognised mark of refinement and good breeding. A few obscure patriots thought this neither good nor wise. They appealed to the still untainted hearts of their uneducated countrymen. They touched the National Conscience. The despised language and literature was cultivated and developed. The National character was strengthened and purified, and you know the results. You see what Germany is today. What place her language holds in the schools of the World and how mankind consent to be taught philosophy and history and music and art and science and manufactures by her sons. The example of Belgium is even more to the purpose at the beginning of the present century, she was a poor despised province. French influence predominated everywhere. The seeds of French unbelief and immorality were scattered broadcast through the Press. An obscure writer undertook to stem the noxious torrent of French influence, by writing popular tales in the ancient language of the people. He was followed by others with the result that the old language was revived and today Belgium is the garden of Europe.
Her happiness, her wealth, her universities and prosperous cities are the admiration of all. If then it be good and a holy thing to work for the interests of one’s country and if there be as I have striven to show, such an intimate connection between the cultivation of a people’s language and literature and the development of its moral and material interests, then I say, the cause in which Dr. Hyde is engaged, is a good and holy one and as such deserving of our most cordial support, and Dr. Hyde himself is worthy of the most enthusiastic reception the people of Kilkenny can give him.(applause) To ensure that he receives it, it is necessary that our committee should be an influential one, composed of really representative men, whose opinions and whose actions are likely to have weight with others and to mold the views and actions of others. In the selection of such a committee, I can be of very little assistance on account of my want of knowledge of local representative men. It is a matter that must rest entirely with yourselves. You have the requisite local knowledge and you see the importance of a judicious selection. I therefore call upon any gentleman present, who may have any names to submit to the meeting to come forward. (hard applause).
Mr.Mc Sweeney proposed that Fr. Casey be president of the Reception Committee. This was seconded by Mr.O’Hanrahan. The proposition was carried by acclamation. Mr. Bradley seconded the proposition which was passed unanimously.
Mr.Kangley having previously spoken in Irish, addressed the meeting at length in English. He spoke of the honour Dr. Hyde was conferring on the city by coming amongst them, and of the reception which should be accorded him. A great mistake had been made by the National Leaders since the time of O’Connell – with the one noble exception, Thomas Davis (applause) – in ignoring the Irish language. He then referred to the members of Parliament who addressed their constituencies in English, whether they understood the member or not (laughter) in many instances they did not understand him and in very many move the members did not care whether they did or not.(reserved laughter). Very many cultured Irishmen were doing their best to raise the Country from the “slough of despair” and give her a “habitation and a name” he hoped he was not quoting Shakespeare (laughter) and one of the foremost amongst these men was the gentleman they were preparing to receive, Dr. Douglas Hyde (great applause). He proposed that all present form a committee with power to add to their number.(applause) Mr.J.Nolan seconded the proposition which was carried unanimously. Mr.E.O’Connell proposed and Mr.O’Hanrahan seconded and it was passed unanimously that the members of the Press be included in the reception committee. On the proposition of Mr.Keane it was decided to have the various clubs and bands of the city on the committee. This was supported by Mr.O’Hanrahan and Mr.Bradley.
On the proposition of Mr.O’Hanrahan, Fr.Casey left the chair which was taken by Mr.Purcell T.C. Mr.O’Hanrahan then proposed a cordial vote of thanks to Fr.Casey. It was very well worth their trouble to come and hear his splendid speech. Fr.Casey said he had but few friends in Kilkenny, but that was no longer a fact.(applause). The sooner Fr.Casey disabused himself of that idea the better. He had made many friends – stern, real friends who would long remember the speech he made that evening in support of the National Language.(applause) Mr.Bradley in supporting it referred to Fr.Casey as following in the same lines that bad made Fr.Kavanagh so loved by the Irish people and if Fr.Casey continued in the same course he would have the love and esteem not only of the people of Kilkenny but of every true Irishman. (applause) After further referring to Fr.Casey, Fr.Kavanagh, and Dr. Hyde, he referred to a matter which came under his notice in Kilkenny. After coming from centres of the Gaelic League, Galway and Dublin he was surprised to see so little done in the old city of the Confederation. He saw bands of young men going about the town and their language was composed of slang and filth; they were young men too from whom better would be expected. If the Gaelic League only put a stop to that it would be doing a noble work (applause)
The vote of thanks was carried with acclamation. A vote of thanks to Mr.Purcell T.C. proposed by Mr.O’Hanrahan and carried with acclamation too his action in placing the hall at the disposal of the committee, concluded the proceeding. A further meeting was held on Thursday the 7th Nov. 1900, in connection with the forth coming visit of Dr.D.Hyde President of the Gaelic League, to the city, to lecture on the language movement. And amongst those present who were not at the last meeting were – Rev.W.Cassin Adm. Saint Mary’s, Rev.L.Coughlan C.C. St.Canices, Rev. Mr.Brennan Ormonde Rd, Mr.M.R.Fitzmaurice Hibernian Bank, Mr.Standish O’Grady, Mr.Daniel Kerwick Parade, Mr.Domnic Hackett. The Rev. President said the appointment of a Reception Committee was not completed on the evening of the last meeting and it was for the purpose of completing the appointing they were assembled that night. Letters of apology for inability to attend was received from the Very Rev. W. Brennan D.D. St. Kieran’s College.
Mr.Keane proposed, Mr.Bradley seconded and it was carried unanimously that those now present who were not present at the last meeting, be appointed members of the Committee. Mr.O’Grady whose name was added to the Committee, submitted the name of Capt. the Hon Otway Cuffe as a member of the Committee. Capt. Cuffe had a deep sympathy with the movement (Hear, Hear)
The following also were appointed Very Rev. Fr.Brennan, Mr.Dan Kerwick (Parade), Mr.M.J.Buggy Solr and Mr.W.Cassin (High St.) The following members were appointed on a working solo-committee –
Rev.Fr.Casey, Ald.E.Nowlan, Missess J.F.Reade C.E, Mr.T.W.O’Hanranhan J.P., James Nowlan, E.T Keane Editor Kilkenny People, Standish O’Grady, Kilkenny Moderator, M.R.Fitzmaurice, J.Mageniss, J.A.Bradley, Joseph Larkin, E.O’Connell.
The working committee were authorised to call a meeting of the General committee when necessary. Arrangements were later made, they included the seating accommodation in the Court House – this important matter was to be undertaken by Mr.Sheerin, tickets of admission were to be sent to the various Clubs and Societies, posters and handbills to be distributed through the city.
It was decided that the doors to open for the lecture at 7.15pm on Thursday evening the lecture to commence at 8pm, St.John’s Band has kindly consented to play selections of music at suitable times on the occasion of the lecture. Stewards, etc. having been appointed the meeting adjourned until Tuesday evening in the Gaelic League Rooms Parliament St.
Dr. HYDE’S ARRIVAL IN THE CITY – Wednesday November 28th 1900
Dr. Douglas Hyde arrived in the city by the 5.47pm train from Dublin on Wednesday. Word of his arrival was only received on Wednesday. However, there was a very good attendance of the Committee at the railway station to receive him. St. John’s Band was also present. Dr.Hyde on his arrival was met by Fr.Casey President Kilkenny Branch Gaelic League, Capt. the Hon. Otway Cuffe, members of the Corporation, members of the Reception Committee and the general public. Three cheers having been heartily given for Dr.Hyde, the Reception Committee accompanied him to the Town Hall. On the proposition of Mr.J.Purcell T.C. seconded by Mr.T.W.O’Hanranhan J.P., Fr.Casey was unanimously voted to the chair.
Father Casey having taken the chair said; as the weather was very inclement that evening he thought it would not be fair to Dr.Hyde to delay him and he thought therefore he ought to proceed to read the address which they presented to Dr.Hyde on behalf of the people of Kilkenny.(applause) Father Casey then read the address which was in Irish he also read an English address and then handed them both to Dr.Hyde. Dr.Hyde in reply answered them that he was never more astonished in his life than when he got out on the Railway platform, he did not think he would find anybody at all to meet him, except perhaps the man that Capt. Cuffe would be kind enough to send for him and then to present him with an address he had no words to express his gratitude to the people of Kilkenny. But he refused to accept the address – he took it as presented to the Gaelic League in Dublin, every man of whom was as worthy of that address as he was and more so (“You are the man”) The personal sacrifice which to his knowledge these men made from day to day, week to week, and year to year, in the cause of Irish ideas, were far greater than his. He accepted the addresses on their behalf with the greatest pleasure. Dr. Hyde then spoke in Gaelic. Afterwards speaking in English, he said whenever his heart rose in him, he spoke better in Irish than in English.
The Gaelic League stood for an Irish Ireland in contra -distinction to an English Ireland, which must remain rotten to the core.(applause) He hoped they would hear him at greater length the following evening. He thanked them for the reception given him, which he assures the he did not deserve or expect. Dr. Hyde was then conveyed by Capt. Cuffe to the residence of the latter, where he was entertained as a guest until the time of the lecture on Thursday evening.
Dr. HYDE’S LECTURE – Thursday November 29th 1900
“We must have an Irish Ireland and not a mean, dirty, shoddy imitation of England, Cut off from the past and yet scarcely in touch with the Present.” – “An Irish Nation upon Irish Lines”.
The lecture by Dr.Douglas Hyde on behalf of the National Language, was given in the hall of the Courthouse before a very appreciative audience. Music was rendered at suitable times by St.John’s Brass Band and by The Robert Emmet pipe-drum-band. Dr.Hyde on his arrival was met by Rev.P.Casey, President Kilkenny Branch of the Gaelic League, and by the members of the reception committee, he was applauded on entering the hall, it was renewed when he took his place on the platform. On the proposition of Mr.Purcell T.C. seconded by Mr.T.W.O’Hanrahan J.P. Fr.Casey was unanimously voted to the chair.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it would be a great honour to me to preside over an assembly such as this, on any occasion and for any purpose. The present occasion and the present purpose enhance that honour in a very high degree indeed. The occasion is the presence amongst us of that distinguished patriot, scholar and speaker. Dr.Douglas Hyde, President of the Gaelic League, better known to Irish speakers as An Chraoibhín Aoibhinn. Our present purpose is to give to Dr.Hyde the reception which his distinguished merits as a scholar and speaker eminently deserve, to listen to the lessons which he has come to teach and I sincerely hope, to take these lessons to heart. In Dr.Hyde you have before you this evening, a gentleman of surpassing powers of intellect, of untiring energy in the use of these powers, speaking on a subject, the study of which has been to him a life long labour of love. The subject of the National Language, with reason then may you expect and your expectation will not be disappointed, a lecture graced with every literary and oratorical merit, and breaking in its every word the enthusiasm and love of the speaker for the language which is his theme this evening.
I have myself had the honour of hearing Dr.Hyde addressing audiences containing the most brilliant intellectual lights in the land. I have heard these very lights themselves and I confess that they paled and grew dim beside the surpassing splendour of his superior powers. Without the smallest particle of exaggeration it is true to say to him, “he has touched nothing that he hasn’t adorned.” It is therefore a great but unmerited honour for me to preside at this lecture and to introduce for the first, but not I trust for the last time, to a Kilkenny audience Dr.Douglas Hyde. (Prolonged Applause)
Dr.Hyde who on rising to speak, was received with prolonged applause said –
Rev. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, when the Gaelic League of Kilkenny did me the honour of inviting me to address them tonight, I assure you that I require no pressing. I jumped to accept their offer, because since my earliest days I was always anxious to see the City of the Confederation. I was always anxious to see the city in which an Irish proverb which I learned when young, told me I would find, “Fire without smoke, water without mud, and the streets paved with marble”. I have been in many a country and many a town and I never met these three characteristics before and if the night was not so muddy and the streets so sloppy, and the day so dark, I would no doubt have seen them now. (Laughter) I want to say some few words to you upon a question about which until the last few years very few Irishmen thought at all, or if they thought cared not at all. It is about the necessity of De-Anglicising Ireland, and when I say De-Anglicising Ireland I mean making Ireland an Irish Ireland and not a mean, dirty, shoddy imitation of England. Now it has been objected to me that this word de-anglicising, of which I think I am the coiner, contains in it something virulent, something anti-English and it has been objected to me that the word in itself is sufficient to alienate persons from the cause of the Gaelic League who would otherwise be with us in the work of De-Anglicising Ireland.
Since that, may possibly be so and since in a large city like Kilkenny it’s possible there are many such people, I would like to set myself right at the outset with any people who may be thinking in this way. Well I wish to say that I honour and respect most sincerely what is good in the great English race. I yield to no man in their appreciation of their perseverance of their business faculties of their practical qualities. They have colonised many countries. They have called into existence scores of great cities, towns where the roar and hum of mills of production are never silent. Theirs are the harbours thronged with forests of masts. Theirs are the counting-house and the mercantile navy of the world. Wealth, Power and the Feeding fruits of industry belong to them. And those are the things that for some reason or other, the human race at all times conspire to reverence. Yes, whilst England can point to such material advantages as those she may well afford to smile at those who would belittle her, because in the history of the World she has left her mark deeply.
Her enemies may hate her but cannot despise her. Yet there exists at her very door a country whose half-deserted streets resound ever less and less with the roar of traffic whose factories are –fallen and whose priceless harbours are deserted, whose very fields are studded only with ruined gables – memories of the past. And yet around that nation morality of life, purity of sentiment and unswerving devotion to Faith and Fatherland have shed a halo in the eyes of Europe that it is all its own, a halo too that is unstained by oppression, unvarnished by a avarice and undimmed by murder. And different as the social and material position of the two countries are, still more different are their racial and moral characteristics. A desire to be respectable – ugly word – to live in a big house, to be rich, which they say actuates every England boy from his school days up, can hardly be said to have assorted itself among ourselves in anything like equal intensity. The characteristics of the Irish race, should say are lightness, brightness, wit, fluency, readiness and an artistic temperament. Those of the Tutonic and Anglo-Saxon races are rather perseverance, business faculties, steadiness and dogged resistance that knows not when it is beaten. Neither race can successfully imitate the other, and calling itself adrift from its past, throw itself into habits of life and thought for which apparently it was never intended. I tell you gentlemen, that there is a distinctiveness in nations exactly the same as in individuals and no nation can attempt to copy another nation without suffering terribly by the attempt.
But alas, alas this is the very thing which, dazzled by the material success of the great empire to which we are tied, the Irish race both at home and abroad are now doing. This folly, for I can call it nothing else, this madness this suicidal mania, for adopting pell-mell and
indiscriminately everything English, not because it is good, but simply because it is English, it is bad for all parties, it is bad for the Irish themselves, it is bad also for the Empire. The more divergence of thought, of characteristics, of habits and customs that obtain in the common wealth the better for the races. There is an individuality and individualism in nations as in people to reduce everything, to one dead level by imitation of a particular type is calamitous to the best interests of any race, in our case it is not only calamitous it is absolutely fatal.
If you take a birds-eye view of Ireland today and compare it with what it used to be, you must be struck by the extraordinary fact that the nation which was once as everyone admits, one of the most learned and cultured nations in Europe is now one of the least reading and most unlettered people, and how the art productions of a people who were distinguished by the special fineness of their art, are now distinguished only by their hideousness, I want to point out to you that this failure of the Irish people in our time to produce anything worth looking at has been brought about by the race deliberately diverging from the path God set before them and travelling in another path that a nation set before them. I want to show you by the bulk of the people that change took place very recently, far more recently than some people suspect and it is still going on and was going on without interruption until the Gaelic League came to stop it.
And I will show you the illogical position of a people who translate their euphonious Irish names into English monosyllables, of a people who do not know their own language and speak a language which is not theirs, who read English books and know nothing about Irish literature and who pretend and protest in public that they hate the country, which at every hands turn they rush to imitate.
I want to show you that in Anglicising ourselves wholesale we have thrown away with a light heart the best claim. The only proper claim which we can make on the recognition of us as a separate Nationality. What did Mazzini say? What is Goldwin Smith never tired of declaiming? What do the Spectator and Saturday Review harp on? It is this, that we ought to be content to remain an English county because we have lost the notes of Nationality, our language, our customs. It has always been perfectly inexplicable to me how Irish sentiment sticks in this halfway mud house of a cabin and why Irishmen when imitating all things else English would not become Englishmen in sentiment too. And ridiculous as your position is, you do not see it, you will never become English in sentiment. Why don’t you become English in your sentiments as you are English defacto? Whether we regret it or not the fact remains that the very people who adopt English habits and moods of thought and copy England in every way in their power, nevertheless continues to talk of their oppressed country sing, “Paddies Evermore” and “The Green Above The Red” and would pull down the Union Jack if you planted it above their houses. It seems to be perfectly certain that so long as England refuses to Irishmen certain things which they demand, so long will the dislike continue and such movements as Young Irelandism, Fenianism, Land Leaguism and Parliamentary obstruction will gain the sympathy and approval of Irishmen.
That is the reason why I urge that Irishmen of today should not remain any longer in the ridiculous anomalous position in which they are; that since they will not become the one thing – Englishmen in sentiment – that they should become the other; that we cultivate and build up once more an Irish nation upon Irish lines. The Gaelic League is an absolutely non-political body. It is not politics to say that Ireland has not prospered under English rule,that is only a truism which the whole World admits and which England does not for a moment pretend to deny, but the English retort is ready. You have not prospered they say, under our rule, because you would not settle down contentedly like the Seoich and make a big English Country of yourselves. “Twenty years of good, resolute, grandfatherly government” said a well known person, “will solve the Irish difficulty.” I think the well- known person made the period of government a little too short; let us suppose for the sake of argument – it is an impossibility of course – but let us suppose that a series of Cromwells were to arise in England for the space of a hundred years, able administrators of empire, careful rulers of Ireland, developing our National resources whilst they unremittingly stamped out every spark of National feeling, making Ireland a land of wealth and factories, whilst they extinguished every thought and idea that was Irish and left us after a hundred years of good Government, fat, wealthy and populous, but with all our characteristics gone with every external that at present differentiates us from the English lost or dropped; our Irish names of places changed into English names, the Irish language Completely extinct; the “O’s and the Macs” gone; our history no longer remembered or taught; the names of our rebels and martyrs forgotten. The fact that we were not of English origin forgotten and let me now put the question, How many Irishmen would accept material prosperity at such a price as that?
Answer me would you accept it at such a price? (No, No) It is exactly such a question as that and the answer to it shows the difference between the Irish and English races, because I am certain that nine Englishmen out of ten would jump to accept it at such a price. While I am equally certain that nine Irishmen out of ten would indignantly refuse it. And yet that awful idea of complete Anglicisation that I put before you now in all its crudity has been making inroads upon us for nearly a century.
It’s inroads have been silent, because had the Irish race once perceived what was being done or been once warned of what was taking place in their midst, I do not believe they would have allowed it. Because when the picture of complete Anglicisation, such as I put before you, was drawn for them in all its nakedness, Irish sentimentality becomes a power and refuses to surrender its birthright. It has often been pointed out by historians that Europe owes to Ireland a deep debt of gratitude for the services which during the Middle Ages Ireland rendered to Western Europe by teaching it, preaching to it, christianising it, establishing schools and colleges and universities, civilising it. And nobody Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, will be found for one moment to dispute the fact, that for over three centuries Ireland and Ireland alone held aloft in Western Europe the banner of learning and civilisation and of all this our people – thanks to the beautiful teaching they receive at our “National” schools – are absolutely ignorant, though it should be one of their proudest and their most treasured possessions.
I feel certain there is amongst ourselves today the dim consciousness that we are not what we ought to be and that we were not once what we now are. And I believe if we take hold of this feeling in every Irishman’s breast, take hold of it and elevate it, we shall increase Irishmen’s sense of self-respect, of individuality and of honour, and that is what the Gaelic League wants to do. The contamination of Irelands National life, centered, as I look at it not so much in the Cromwellian or Williamite landholders who sat in College Green, and made laws for the Nation, as in the Mass of the people, whom Dean Swift considered might be entirely neglected and looked upon as hewers of wood and drawers of water. But those were the men who made Ireland. The men who have since made America and have within the last fifteen of twenty years shown what a very important factor that can be in the making or the breaking of a British Empire.
These are the men of whom our merchants, citizens and farmers consist and in whose hands today is the making or the marring of an Irish nation. How changed they are !! What the battle-axe of the Dane, the sword of the Norman, and the wile of the Saxon were unable to accomplish, they have at last accomplished themselves. We have at last broken with the continuity of Irish life and just at the moment it finds itself cut off from the past and yet scarcely in touch with the present. It has lost since the beginning of this century almost all that connected it with the christianisers and civilizatisers of Europe, with the heroes of Clontarf all that connected it with Brian Boru and his great contemporaries with the O’Neill’s and the O’Donnell’s, with the Wild Geese with Rory O’Moore and even with the men of ’98. It has lost all that it possessed – language, music, traditions, genius and ideas. Just when we should be starting to build up anew the Irish race and the Gaelic Nation – as within our recollection Greece has been built up anew – we find ourselves despoiled of the bricks of Nationality. The old bricks that lasted for centuries are destroyed. We must set ourselves to bake new bricks on other ground and of other clay.
The bulk of the Irish Nation lived in the closest contact with the traditions of the past, until quite recently, far more recently than anyone of you imagines. It was more than anything else the establishment of Maynooth and rise of O’Connell that put an end to the Gaelicism of the Irish race, although a great number of pacts and scribes existed even down to the “forties” and “fifties” and linger still in remote localities. But it may be said that the ancient Gaelic civilisation died about the time of O’Connell, largely I am afraid, owing to his neglect of insisting on the absolute necessity of the people keeping alive their language and their customs and their racial characteristics. I regret to say that until the last three or four years O’Connell has been followed, with the one noble exception of our scholarly idealist, Smith O’Brien, by almost every leader of the Irish race. Yet there was an Irish Ireland come down from the centuries, an Ireland which they did not cultivate. Thomas Davis and his brilliant band of Young Irelanders came just at the dividing line and tried to give to Ireland a new literature in English to replace the literature which was just being discarded.
But none of the Young Irelander’s with the one exception, Thomas Davis, recognised the necessity of keeping alive the language and of making Young Ireland and Irish Ireland and not withstanding their great genius and great abilities, they made not an Irish Ireland but a poor shoddy imitation of an English England. It was not their fault, they acted for the best. They arose in dark and evil days and God knows they had their share of trouble, they did not know what we know, and we might have done the same if we were in their place. Fifty years have elapsed since then and now we know that Ireland has not progressed along the lines that Young Ireland laid out in the “forties”. Do you doubt it? Look at your book-shops, instead of a literature on Irish lines that produced by the Young Irelander’s, though excellent in its way, was an imitation of Scott and Bighorn and MacAuley. And an imitation does not beget successors and followers. If we had an Irish Ireland we would not now be making a literature; we are making it at present. Within the last few years we have produced more books in Irish than all the writers which Young Ireland produced put together.
The effort of the Young Irelanders was a brilliant one and it first produced a violent effect, yet in the long run it failed to leaven the Irish peasantry who might have been reached upon Irish lines, because it is quite certain that even well into the beginning of this century, Irish poor scholars used to travel from place to place and gain the greatest favour and applause by reading to the people at night from manuscripts making gentlemen and ladies of the merest peasant. Wherever Irish continued to be spoken there the ancient MSS continued to be read, there the epics of Cuchulainn, Conor MacNessa, Deirdre, Finn, Oscar and Oisin, continued to be told and because part and parcel of the life of the Hearers and their poetry and music held sway. Some people may think I am exaggerating in asserting that such a state of things existed down to the present century, but it is no exaggeration. Everybody knows that the whole of Munster and Connaught was nothing but Irish down to the time of my father.
But perhaps you doubt the same thing held good amongst yourselves. I would like to tell you one or two things about Kilkenny and Carlow. I may say I was over in Liverpool and met Dr.Cummins he is a Carlow man and he said “when I was in Carlow my father and the parish priest were the only two men in the parish who spoke English” if said he “I were to go back there today I doubt that I would find two men who could speak Irish”. You remember the late Mr.Cleaver who did so much for the. Gaelic League, Mr.Cleaver was a young man when his professor being, I understand, Mr.Froude, the man who threw filth at and ran down and I am afraid, lied about Ireland in his history of three volumes. Mr.Cleaver was inside and a man came to the door asking for work. Mr.Cleaver and Mr.Froude went out to the door, the man said he came from Co.Carlow but he had not one single word of English. I may state that Mr.Froude has passed away and York Powell is now professor, from whom the Gaelic cause has no more earnest supporter. Now about Kilkenny. I met a Kilkenny man once in a place one would least expect to meet him. I was out hunting in Canada and having travelled with snowshoes all night, with the thermometer about 30 degrees below zero, about one o’clock we came to a house, the very last house before you go into a portion of country where you would not meet a house in four hundred miles, we knocked at the door of the little cabin, the door was opened by a man in the queerest costume I ever saw, because he wore nothing; we were so tired that we fell on the floor and fell asleep.
On waking in the morning I heard someone near and rubbing my eyes and thinking I was at home I said “Cé he sin?”, meaning “Who is that” and the answer came “Mise” meaning “It’s me”. I had a long conversation with him in Irish. He told me that he was Darcy from the County Kilkenny. Well I had a long talk with him, he spoke beautiful Irish as good nearly as Fr.Casey’s and that is saying a great deal, and he told me his name was O’Donoghue and that he was called Darcy in English, “I was born” said he “and bred within seven miles of the city of Kilkenny”. He had left Kilkenny forty-five years previously and he had not lost one word of his fine Irish. I believe he would not have one word of Irish if he had remained at home. So you see that this great appalling change has taken place in your father’s time, and the people I see before me now, are really the people that have been thoroughly affected by it. But at that time Co. Kilkenny had in it the making of a distinct Irish county, proceeding along the lines that God had set out for it, but the change took place and you can see yourselves whether it has been for the better or the worse (“For the worse”)
That is the answer. So much for the surest stroke of all in our Anglicisation the loss of our language. I have heard some people say that if the English gave us nothing else, thank God they gave us at least their language. In that way they put a bold face on it and they pretend that the Irish language is not worth knowing or why when I was in Arran did I find some of the most eminent scholars of the world residing there, to learn as a spoken language the language that is banned by the Board of National Education in Ireland. I have no hesitation at all in saying that every Irish feeling Irishman, who hates the reproach of West Britianism, should set himself to obtain a knowledge of the language of his forefathers. The losing of it has been our greatest blow. In order to de-anglicise ourselves we must arrest the decay of the language. We must take steps to see that our politicians and our clergy do not ban the language, because they don’t happen to know it themselves. We must put a step to the fearful state of feeling – a thousand reproaches to our statesmen and leaders which up to two years ago made Young Irishmen and Irishwomen hang their head for shame if you addressed a word of Irish to them.
That is not an exaggeration. In an Irish district I once over took a young man on the road. I talked to him in Irish and he answered in English. I said to him “Don’t you know Irish?” and he said “Well I declare to you that my father and mother did not know one word of English and I don’t talk Irish”, There are probably 150,000 households in Ireland today where the fathers and mothers speak Irish and the children answer them in English. They are ashamed of their fathers and mothers. It is not the children’s fault but the fact remains that such a state of things exist. In the Co. Mayo I met a boy coming from school. I spoke to him in Irish and he continued to answer me in English. At last I said to him, “Don’t you speak Irish?” “And isn’t it Irish that I am speaking”, he replied, “Oh no it’s not Irish you are speaking it is English”, “Oh then that’s the way I always spoke it.” That boy coming out of a National School was so ignorant that he did not know that I was speaking to him in one language and he was speaking to me in another. I was talking to a nice little girl in Sligo. After some pressing she at last began to talk in Irish, until her dirty little brother put his dirty little head inside the door and said, “Ah, Mary isn’t that great credit to you ! !” I could not get another word of Irish from her after that. I once met a peasant and wrote from his dictation an Ossian poem of 400 lines and which I never heard of before, and he had twenty such. He had a marvellous fund of Ossian plays, religious ballads in a word he had everything that a well-educated man could have whose mind was stored with thought, aye, and with intellect. You are replacing all this with the Third Reading Book.
I am quite certain that what you have lost in Kilkenny is now being lost in the west. We must all put our shoulders to the wheel and do not leave your path, whether Mr.Redmond or Mr Somebody else lead for the moment the large wing of the Irish Party, or whether Mr.So and So succeeds with his election campaign for County Councillor or District Councillor. We must insist, and shall insist, if ever we share that Great Enchantment we have heard of, we shall insist that under a Government worthy of the name, The Irish Language shall be placed upon a far and above Greek and Latin and far above French and German. And for the Irish speaking districts we shall insist that Irish speaking magistrates, petty sessions clerks, and everybody who has to do with the people must be Irish speaking like the people around them, because until that is done, there will be nothing but misery and ruin. We ought work up to a state of mind and public opinion, which would make it disgraceful for any Irishman one of the old Irish race the “0” and “Macs” to be ignorant of Irish just as it is at present for a Jew to be ignorant of Hebrew. The Gaelic League is engaged in a great constructor policy. From the fourteenth to the seventeenth century one of the most striking proofs of the vitality of the Irish race was shown by the fact, that the Norman families living in Ireland took Irish names hundreds of Norman families became Irish in name. I tell you it is chiefly within the last sixty years, within your fathers recollections and possibly within your own, that the people of Ireland, to any great extent changed their names.
“Why” O’Connell once said, “You would not call a decent pig Sugden”; and yet he never gave any warning to the people of the change that was going on. I don’t know how far this has gone on in Kilkenny. I can tell you in a little town in Connaught I reckoned up twenty six Irish names that their owners had changed into English names. I was told that in New York out of four hundred “O’Byrne” there were only four whose names had not been changed. If ever a race in Ireland should be proud of their ancestry the O’Byrne should be proud of it. If I was an O’Byrne I would not change my name for all the gold in Europe. Only four of these four hundred have kept the name and the others have changed their name to Burns in imitation of the Seoich poet and this I learned from two of the remaining four. Can you tell me why an O’Gara should call himself Mr. Love? Since I was ten years old I have seen this going on. Why should you throw away great names for ever to wear other names? Why should you discard Irish names? Do you ever christen your children by their proper names, that belonged to the Irish race before. Leave “John” to John Bull and its good enough for him.
Where are the feminine names? Father O’Reilly told me he was twelve years in Australia and he found it impossible to get Irishmen to christen their children with Irish names. The Bishop of Auckland said the other day – “When I am called to christen a child I say, What do you want to call the child? and the answer is Frederick Augustus Robertus, and then in an almost inaudible whisper – Patrick. “To make the people of Ireland once more Irish her language must be spoken, her names of persons must be Irish, her names of places Irish. I think the time has come for the leaders of the Irish race to address a word of warning to the people of Ireland, for if the people do not keep alive the language and keep alive the old Irish names and if after that Ireland expects to take its place amongst the nations of the earth, in doing so it will have proceeded upon different lines from every other nation that God ever created. I hope that the Gaelic League in Kilkenny will never be satisfied so long as the Irish Christian names are replaced by English equivalents. Do you know that our music has followed our language and the music has become English? We have in the first place the National Instrument, the Harp; I understand efforts are being made to revive it in Scotland, in Ireland it has become extinct. The fine old Irish pipes are threatened; their existence is in jeopardy.
In place of those what have we now? The music which our Anglicisation has supplied us with. One of the instruments goes this way (imitating the turning of a barrel organ) Is that creditable? I may tell you that if Ireland loses her music, she loses what is, after her language and literature, her best and most valuable characteristic. It is only too true that she is rapidly losing it. English music hall ballads and seoich songs have usurped their place. Numbers of Irishmen and Irishwomen who are looked on as musicians are absolutely ignorant of Irish music. While you will not find an Italian ignorant of Italian music, or a German ignorant of German music, you have Irishmen ignorant of Irish music.
Look at one of the weekly papers and look at the column where correspondents reply to the queries of other correspondents and you will find when a correspondent asks for music it is not for Irish music, but for the music of English songs and far worse than English songs, music of the “Ballyhooley” type. I was out in Letterkenny where the Bishop of Raphoe is building a cathedral, I am thankful to say of Irish work to the very roof and the building itself in an Irish style of architecture. He gave a great Fair to get funds for his Cathedral. I got into a room in a hotel in which I stayed for a couple of days until some other persons came, who had engaged the rooms some months before and I had to leave, well somehow or other I found myself in a public house, maybe I was thirsty – I don’t know (laughter) I observed a man who spoke Irish, I spoke to him and he said he came from Glenmoran, I think, I said “I knew in Maynooth a professor who is now parish priest of that place”; He then said “Our priest got a concert up the other day, and amongst those who came to contribute to the concert were two men who came in dressed in swallow-tailed coats and who wore caubeens with dudeens stuck in them, letting on they were Irishmen. When the people saw them they did not remain, they walked out. Then there was a row”. “Tell me”, said I “What was the row?” He did not tell me, but I could gather that it was with the greatest difficulty that those two men made their way back to their lodgings.
“Its my brother” said he “in the town of Leeds in England, imperiled our lives before 3,000 Englishmen to stop the Stage Irishman, and By God,” said he, “I was not going to allow it in Glenmoran.” Another thing – The G.A.A. was started years ago and from the first worked upon Irish lines in reviving our games. I consider the work of the G.A.A. in reviving the game of camán and Irish football more advantageous for the people than all the speeches on politics delivered to the same people. After advocating the cause of the G.A.A. Dr. Hyde told the audience what they could do for the movement. He said – Christen your children with Irish names. I once met a lady, one of the O’Byrnes too and on being asked why she did not christen her child by the name of Brigid replied – “God forbid that I would handicap my daughter in life by calling her Brigid.” She was wrong, she handicapped her daughter in life when she taught her to be ashamed of the Patron of her own race and country. I tell you that there is no royal road to the recovery of nationality.
An Act of Parliament is a royal road. An Act of Parliament won’t recover your nationality; there is no royal road to the making of it. We are engaged in a large, an arduous, a terrible task. It demands the co-operation of everyone. Then peg away at your classes in Kilkenny. Do not stop your classes in Kilkenny until the boys of Kilkenny who are not so English as the boys of Blackrock will do what the Blackrock boys now do, address each other in Irish salutations every morning and evening in the streets. Keep hammering away at the National Board for justice to Irish language. One of the grievances has been remedied by the National Board, and as far as the English speaking districts are concerned there is nothing to prevent managers of schools from giving Irish its proper place.
We must keep hammering away until the other grievances in the Irish speaking district is remedied. Now it remains with the managers of schools and colleges, with the League, with you to see that your children are taught the Irish language. There is nothing to prevent you having Irish taught to your children, in every school in the County of Kilkenny, at the expense of the National Board. Another thing – Subscribe to the Gaelic League papers, to the “sword of light” and to the Gaelic Journal, a penny a week or six pence a month no one will feel. And don’t think I am making money out of these papers. A friend of mine was standing near the door of a hall where I had just given an address and he heard two parties conversing on the matter. “That was a very good address” said one, “It was middling” said the second, “and now do you think” he added “he makes much out of them papers”. I lose plenty but I don’t make a copper, as a matter of duty you should put yourselves to stamp out the use of “penny dreadfuls” and “shilling shockers”. I tell you England is pelting us with mud off the streets. Every house ought to have a copy of Moors and Davis, aye, and of Mitchell. Only by development on Irish lines can Ireland hope to be a nation once more. If we do not work on Irish lines we shall become the Japanese of Western Europe capable only of imitation and lost to native initiative. (Prolonged Applause)
Rev Mr. Brennan, before proposing a vote of thanks to Dr.Hyde, explained his position and let him say he was glad to be there. He went on to say that every man ought to know the history of the place he was living in and the country of his forefathers; he firmly believed that every man ought to do what he could to preserve the Irish language, for not only did it belong to this country, but to other branches of the Gaelic race. Irishmen who were originally emigrants from England before the days of St.Patrick, went to Scotland and colonised and they carried their National tongue with them; Today no minister was eligible to conduct services in the Highlands who did not know Gaelic. There were originally in Ireland three races but the Gaels became prominent and their language survived because, like themselves, it was the fittest. The Rev. Gentleman concluded by moving the vote of thanks. Mr.T.W.O’Hanrahan seconded the proposition.
Mr. Bradley who supported the proposition described the lecture they had just listened to as, a literary, eloquent, and patriotic treat. (Applause) They should feel grateful to Dr.Hyde for coming amongst them and for such a brilliant lecture. (Applause)) Ireland should thank God for the gift of such a man, a man who had devoted his life, his means and his great intelligence to the resuscitation of our National language. Mr.Kangley also supported the proposition both in the Irish and English languages. He said the lecture had been a powerful and learned one. Dr. Hyde had shown them how far we were taking a back seat since we had allowed ourselves to put aside our National language. There was a saying amongst the Dutch, “No Language, No Nation” and their own fellow countryman Thomas Davis had written, “A Nation should guard its language more than its territories, “It is a surer barrier and more certain frontier than either fortress or river”. (Applause)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel that it is the emptiest of empty formalities to put to the meeting the vote of thanks to Dr. Hyde, proposed and seconded and supported by the gentlemen who have just spoken. The rapt attention with which you have listened and the enthusiastic applause that has again and again greeted the utterances of the distinguished lecturer, must have unmistakably conveyed to him your appreciation of his beautiful and scholarly address. Many words from me would be both superfluous and impertinent in face of the remarks of the gentlemen who have spoken. Let me be permitted to add, on my own part however, that I know no living Irishman who has better deserved the name of Irish Patriot than Dr.Hyde, and that both from the labours for his country and from the nature of these labours themselves. No whisper, not even the faintest has ever been or could be raised attributing to Dr. Hyde any selfish or interested motive in the work to which he has freely and generously consecrated his life. Alone for many a year he pondered deeply and with sorrow upon the passing of the Irish Nation and resolved with stern strong resolution to do one man’s part at least to arrest the ebbing tide.
The consequence was the foundation of the Gaelic League. Since then he has passed and re-passed through the length and breadth of the land, teaching, lecturing and organising. No inconvenience of occasion, no inclemency of season, no difficulty of travel, has ever, for a single instant, deterred him from answering the call of country, no matter the place from which that call might have come. And in answering that call, he has received too often nothing but coldness and indifference from the very men who should be the first to help and encourage him.
He has had to endure the covert sneer and open insult of those who recognised the true character of his work, but whose anglicised hearts revolted against it. Above all, he has had to fight the awful tremendous passive force of the apathy and indifference of the majority of the people. He has had to endure the sickly lip-sympathy of professing friends and the bold and determined opposition of open enemies. His life work has been branded as mere sentiment by the highly practical man, as treason to his country by highly professional men, by the highly
respectable man and his wife and daughter; and for all his time trouble and expense, he sought not, nor did he receive one particle of recompense in the shape of this worlds good.
He considered no personal sacrifice of health, ease or pleasure, but freely gave of all and is giving still as his presence here this evening amply and abundantly shows. But it is not for his disinterestedness alone that Dr.Hyde is worthy of commendation. But it is especially for the essential far reaching and fundamental character of his work and for the clearness and depth of mental vision, that enabled him to see down to the foundation of Irish Nationality, though the unswept cobwebs of centuries obscured the view.
Dr.Hyde is no believer in an Irish nation, that is Irish only in name. He would have his Irish nation built upon a rock, a rock that would give it coherence, stability, and distinctiveness and his life-long labour plainly show what he considers this fundamental rock of distinctive nationality to be. The rock is not political agitation, the rock is the National language. I am no disbeliever in political agitation. I believe that it has worked many radical reforms of various evils oppressing the land. I believe that the final and crowning regeneration of Ireland will only come with the triumph of the political cause. But I have learned from Dr.Hyde and his colleagues in the Gaelic movement and I thank them for the lesson, that political agitation is not a fundamental remedy much less a universal panacea for all the ills that my country is heir to. I have learned from them to be a firm believer in building the foundation of a house before laying on the roof and to consider the political cause as the roof, the language cause as the foundation of the building of distinct nationality. Such lessons as these are to be learned from the lifelong labour of Dr.Hyde, such lessons are contained in the beautiful and scholarly address which it has been our good fortune to have listened to this evening, such lessons reach the foundation of the question of the national continuity of the Irish people. It is with great pleasure therefore and with the certainty of it being passed by acclamation, that I put from the chair the vote of thanks to the distinguished lecturer of the evening. (Great applause)
Father Coghlan :
We have listened with admiration and sustained interest to the English pleading for the Irish revival, and with bewilderment to the Irish outburst for the Irish revival. (Applause) It is one of the great changes in the last hour of a century which has witnessed some of the grandest achievements ever accomplished over evils hoary with antiquity and fostered by an alien Government. (Applause) It has witnessed, thanks to the much reviled O’Connell, the partial emancipation of Catholics from inequality with their Protestant fellow countrymen, the partial emancipation of the tenant from having no rights to his holding, the partial emancipation of artisan and labourer from being mere machines in the hands of their employers. Let us hope that our next emancipation will be deliverance from the intellectual crime of having our ideas clothed in an exclusively foreign dress. That deliverance and a Gaelic revival will more than compensate for all sacrifices. It will mean better education, more secure preservation of our manners and customs and increased material prosperity. The sound of the Gaelic tongue throughout the Four Provinces of Ireland will be the highest claim, the most obvious and striking sign of Ireland a Nation. That the Gaelic League is best befitted to develop the intellectual power of the Irish mind, Dr.Douglas Hyde has tonight, clearly, forcibly and convincingly proved from the absolute antagonism between the Irish and English characters.
As a lecturer he has admirably accomplished his end which is to convince some that the Gaelic movement is not sentimental, to convince others that it is not low, to convince all that is a patriotic duty. But a preacher has not only to convince but also to persuade, not only to enlighten the intellect that the Gaelic recital is right, but to make the will to study and promote.
Whilst then the ghost of the Irish language is still hovering round us in our accent, in the construction of our sentences and in our manners, before that accent and those manners are completely anglicised let us be up and doing and restore its natural compliment – the Gaelic tongue. Let us restore that language which links us with the past, with the glories day of our saints and scholars, with our warriors and heroes, with our sages and statesmen. As Davis says:- “T’was the language of almost every great man we had from Brian Boru to O’Connell.” Restore that language which is the most striking symbol of Irish nationality and the most efficacious means of promoting sells-respect, self-reliance and a vigorous national spirit. “If the tongue” says Spencer, “be Irish the heart must needs be also Irish”. Doth, if not follow it the tongue be English the heart must be gradually become English.” Irish then is to be our tongue if we wish to remain Irish and when we have learned to cloth our body and all things else with Irish manufacture.
And then, what then? Increased industries, increased labour and less emigration. As the revival of the native tongue in Wales, Belgium and Bohemia was the great means of renewed prosperity so history will repeat itself here in Ireland. With such material prospects before us say not that the revival is hopeless, 50 years ago the Welsh language was in a worse plight than ours and today out of a small population you have, 1,100,000 speaking Welsh as well as English. What the Welsh did therefore for their language, what the Jews did for their language after the Babylonian captivity, what the Germans did for theirs after Frederick – that we can do for ours. Say not then that the task is hopeless. Have you not intellects as clear, hearts as warm and wills as strong as the people of other countries, and they succeeded, why not we? The time for argument has gone by and that for action has arrived, when our aspirations for a Gaelic revival are to be translated into accomplished facts. As Dr.Hyde said, “there is no royal road to the Gaelic revival, to complete Catholic emancipation and tenant proprietorship there is a royal road for these can be got by an Act of Parliament stamped with the royal sanction, but the Gaelic revival depends on your action, and what action„ what practical steps are we to take tonight except to resolve to support the Kilkenny Branch of the Gaelic League, to see that Gaelic be taught to the young and introduced in our clubs and when we have learned to speak the Gaelic language, judging from the light of history, new industries and teeming population, a happy people will stud the land. A new Ireland will arise the sound of whose Gaelic voice will proclaim in the most unmistakable terms – “Ireland a Nation” (applause)
Fr. Cassin seconded the proposition:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Whilst some amongst you may not be qualified to discuss the language question from an Educational, literary, or moral stand point, yet all are capable of appreciating its importance from a national point of view. Hence, it is that in putting from the chair Father Coughlan’ resolution; I would like to emphasise that particular aspect of this many-sided question. Now, if in the history of nations, I find that a lost language means a lost nationality, and a decaying language a decaying nationality in other places and in other times, I surely will be permitted to argue in like manner, to what must, under similar circumstances, inevitably occur at home. Now, it is an incontrovertible historic truth that a people whose mother tongue any particular language happens to be, tends to absorb and eventually does absorb, all other people who speak that language. Why are the people of the USA. nowadays continually referred to as a branch of The Great Anglo-Saxon Race? Why are they called by the people of England “Our cousins beyond the sea”? Why are the Imperialists of both countries continually harping upon the old saying that “Blood is thicker than Water”? And why is no effectual protest raised against this Claptrap, if claptrap indeed it be? If the question of the racial character of the people of the U.S.A were to be decided solely on grounds of origin then the American cousin theory would be quickly exploded.
For the people of German and Irish descent are even separately more numerous than the descendants of the Saxon. The percentage of Anglo-Saxon blood, therefore, in the American people would not of itself garnish any ground work for calling that people ” A branch of the great Anglo-Saxon race.” Yet that they are, so if not wholly, at least to a very great extent, is an incontrovertible fact. We may not care to admit it, we may feel it derogatory to our social pride. But there is no use arguing against facts. And what is the reason of this fact? The reason is that the people of other blood have become absorbed by the Anglo-Saxon. In the fusion of races the Saxon has come out on top. He has moulded the character of the resultant blood and in that his peculiar characteristics alone distinctively appear. And what again is the reason of this? Why has he absorbed the others? It is not by priority of occupation, by force of numbers, by superior bodily or intellectual endowments. No, it is simply and solely because he has preserved his language and with it his distinctive racial characteristics.
The other peoples have dropped their language. They have taken that of the Saxon and with it they have become absorbed in the Anglo-Saxon races. Can we, if we neglect our language hope to remain “genial Irish” of the Irish, neither Saxon nor Italian. Whilst the language of the Saxon is ours, the literature of the Saxon is ours, the ideals of the Saxon are ours, his manners, thoughts and ways are ours? The old Normans by adopting the Irish language became “more Irish than the Irish themselves”. Doth, not the argument cut both ways? If we lose our language will we not become as English as the English themselves? The verdict of history is against us, a universal inexorable law is upon us and against impossibilities who can prevail? See that your sons and daughters learn and are taught the native language, for the rising generation is the hope and fear of the country. (applause)
Mr.T.W.01Hanhran moved that Father Casey vacate the chair and that it be taken by the Hon. Otway Cuffe. Captain Cuffe on taking the chair thanked the meeting for placing him in, what was to him an unexpected position. Although he was a stranger, he was afraid, to nearly everyone present, he hoped to recognise a few faces he knew in the old days. He was not really a stranger in Kilkenny, though forced by circumstances to live far away from the country for some time. He claimed to belong to Kilkenny, it was his home and he was proud of it. He hoped as he had come back he would make many friends here. Although he had lived far from Kilkenny and had lived out of Ireland for many years past, this particular movement which Dr.Hyde had so ably put before them and with which his name was inextricably linked, had his very greatest good wishes and had been followed by him with the greatest interest. Dr.Hyde had unfolded a picture of the past, he had shown what this nation was three centuries ago. We were too anxious always to try and lay the blame upon other people, that it was due to causes over which we had no control. Dr.Hyde had shown that we, each and all were absolutely responsible to try and help to provide a remedy.(applause)
Mr.O’Hanrahan proposed and Mr.Fitzmaurice seconded a vote of thanks to Fr.Casey which was carried with acclamation.