From An Macaomh, Christmas 1909. The lecture was delivered on October 11th.
I express my interest and pleasure with which I find myself in a School which is so much talked of throughout the country, a School whose name I find in people’s mouths almost everywhere I go. The eyes of all interested in the welfare of Irish education are fixed on this School. The friends of educational reform along Irish lines are watching the career of Sgoil Eanna with hope and sympathy; the enemies of true national education are watching it with no less interest. I can assure Mr. Pearse that the results of his work will not be confined within the four walls of Cullenswood House, nor to the boys who come under his immediate influence; the School must of necessity force the pace Irishwards for the secondary schools and colleges throughout the country, and already I have observed a decided trend Irishwards in certain schools and colleges which were anything at all but Irish before Sgoil Eanna came on the scene.
The School is almost the only school in the country in which everyone, boys and masters, realised what is expected of an Irish school. Its object is to train up Irish boys to be Irish men. You must not be ashamed or afraid to be Irish. When I was a little grabaire like some of you, and was paying my first visit to England, an English boy said to me mockingly: ‘Irish Paddy with your Irish brogue.’ I caught him by the neck and said to him: ‘You little divil, I speak English as well as you do, even if I have a brogue, and I speak my own language as well. I am twice as good a man as you, for you have only one language.’ This is the way to talk to Englishmen. You must stand up to them and give them blow to blow. The boys of Sgoil Eanna will be masters of at least two languages, and will thus have twice the mental range of monoglot Englishmen and Irishmen.
You must make Ireland Irish again. You must, so to speak, wipe out the last two generations of Irishmen. It is a funny thing, but you must, in a manner of speaking, wipe out the history made by your own fathers and grandfathers, and get back again to your great-grandfathers, who had been Irish-speaking. Perhaps I ought not to say that there, for you boys before me are plainly the children of patriotic Irishmen and Irishwomen, else you would not be in this School. But, speaking generally, Irishmen have to get rid of their fathers and grandfathers, and get back to their great-grandfathers. You have nothing to be ashamed of in your history. You are no mean people, but a proud race who were great and cultured when the English were savages. As late as the sixteenth century the names of O’Neill and O’Donnell and O’Moore were more widely known on the Continent than the names of any Englishmen.
You are living in extraordinary days. When I was a boy I was reproved by a relative for ‘wasting my time’ and ‘spoiling my accent’ by talking Irish to a beggarman at my father’s door. At the moment I was taking down from the beggarman the beautiful Irish song, ‘Mo bhron ar an bhfairrge.’ I have lived to publish that song, and to see it on the programme of the Royal University. I have never heard the song from anyone else. Isn’t it an extraordinary thing that University students all over Ireland have to study that poor song which I had written down from the poor bacach on my father’s doorstep? No such miracles are happening in any European country at this moment as are happening in Ireland.
In conclusion, I congratulate you boys in being pupils of Sgoil Eanna. I need hardly say that if I were a gasun again I would like to be a pupil of this school rather than at Shoneenville Academy or West British College—where those places are you know as well as I do.