From Fáinne an Lae, January 8, 1898.

The present generation of Irishmen are privileged to witness the establishment of a newspaper in their national language, a project which has been the dream and hope of Irish scholars and workers for nearly a century. Our appearance at the opening of this Centennial year of 1898 is significant of the brighter days for the old tongue which Thomas Davis predicted would surely come. The propaganda of the Gaelic League for the past few years is bearing fruit, and Irishmen of all classes are beginning to realise that the disappearance of the Irish language would probably be the most serious loss the Irish nation could suffer.

We come to actively aid the Gaelic League in its great work of patriotism. No nobler mission ever lay before a journal. Our high aim will be to teach Irishmen to be Irish. We intend to press the claims of the Irish language on the earnest attention of the country. In doing so we shall have to state some plain facts, and to run counter to some doctrines and ideas which are at present popularly cherished. There is no disguising the fact that the Irish nation as a whole has acted disgracefully towards its native language for the past hundred years. No parallel can be found in the history of nations for the policy of neglect and abandonment pursued towards the Irish tongue by all our national leaders from O’Connell to those of the present day.

There is no instance on record of a nation which abandoned its language and yet retained its nationality. On the other hand, the present century has seen the uprise of numerous small nationalities, and in every case the revival of the national language has preceded the achievement of that result. It was so in Greece, in Hungary, in Bohemia, in Finland, in Roumania, in Servia, and in Bulgaria. The close connection between language and nationality is one of the common truths of history. Thomas Davis clearly realised this, and appealed with all his heart to his countrymen to save their national language. ‘To lose your native tongue,’ he wrote, ‘and learn that of the alien, is the worst badge of conquest—it is the chain of the soul. To have lost entirely the national language is death; the fetter has worn through.’

Once these truths sink into the minds of our countrymen we are convinced the future of the language is secure. There is an innate love for the old tongue in the breasts of Irishmen which needs only being appealed to. More genuine enthusiasm and more unselfish patriotism has been displayed by the young men of the Gaelic League during the last four years than perhaps by any other set of men in Ireland. The intensity of native feeling behind this movement is, we think, stronger comparatively than that actuating any other cause in Ireland to-day. We have then good ground of hope for the future. Fortunately this is matter in which we can help ourselves. No Act of Parliament, not even an Order in Council is required to enable the Irish language to be spoken in those large districts where it is understood.

A great responsibility rests on the present generation of Irishmen. The battle for the retention, or the loss for ever, of the Irish language has to be fought out within the next ten or twenty years. That it is still possible to save the language we confidently believe. The encouraging success of the work of the Gaelic League abundantly proves this. But it is a race against time. Year by year the sands are running out. This is a question of such vital importance to the nation that it should not be left to a few societies to advance. If the present movement were to fail from want of public support no other could follow it with any prospect of ultimate success. Is the Irish Race satisfied to willingly part for ever with its heritage of an ancestral tongue, the most distinctive mark of nationality it possesses? This is the issue we shall clearly put before the Nation.