From An Claidheamh Soluis, March 16, 1907.
Next week is the Gael’s week. The Language Movement will for eight days dominate Irish life to the exclusion of almost every other public or private interest. In the churches Irish prayers will be offered, Irish hymns will be sung, Irish sermons will be preached. In the streets of the towns and cities dense masses of men and women will march to the stirring strains of Irish music, or gather round platforms in open spaces to listen in rapt attention to the burning words of orators. In the theatres, and assembly rooms of cities, int eh parochial halls and stores of small towns, in country schoolhouses and barns, delighted audiences will laugh at “An tAthrughadh Mor” or melt with the pathos of “An Posadh”; glad, resonant voices will join in the singing of “Go Mairidh ar nGaedhilg Slan”; feet will be set wagging as the jovial piobaire or fidleir strikes up the first notes of some familiar port.
So much for one aspect of the Week. In its other aspect it is a week of toil and stress, for from early morn till eve zealous missionaries of Irish Ireland will tramp the streets of cities, and the long white country roads, and the winding boithrini which lead to hillside cottages, pleading with all they meet for help for the good cause, telling of the work that has been done and of the work that is yet to do, gathering in Ireland’s willing tribute to the war-store of those who have once more planted the banner of traditional Gaelic nationality on the heights, sending forth anew the old rallying cry:
“Beid Éire fós ag Cáit Ní Duibir!”
Thus, in both of its aspects the Week will see a notable re-assertion of the continuity, the vitality, the indomitable persistence and insistence of Irish nationality. Here is a thing that refuses to be crushed. You may stamp it under foot; it springs up again. You may enclose it within prison bars; it walks abroad free. You may hurt, and bruise, and maim it; you cannot kill it. Essence of the soil of Ireland, coeval with her hills and her streams, this mysterious spirit is one of the rarest and most beautiful things in the world, one of the tenderest and most delicate; yet one of the fiercest and most passionate, and assuredly one of the strongest and most enduring. Twenty or thirty years ago men like MacHale, O’Donovan, and O’Curry thought it dead or dying; later on English statesmen and newspaper gloated over its passing, and an Irish patriot sadly admitted – “We are all English now.” But they were mistaken; this stubborn thing that inheres in Irish human nature cannot be so easily killed. Today no one really thinks that Ireland is dying; but both the friends and the foes of Ireland are asking themselves; “What will this nation do when she is free from the intellectual thraldom which has bound her for so long?” We shall see; meantime it is good to know that freedom is at hand and that every day we are straining nearer to it.