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which is devoted during the Oireachtas week to a display of Irish arts and manufactures. It must not be supposed that there was nothing there more attractive than boot-blacking. On the contrary, there was lace, there was embroidery, there was stained glass-an artist's work, not a manufacturer's, and there were pictures. But to my mind the boot-blacking is more typical. The League has been by far more successful in evoking moral energy than artistic intelligence. It pursues an idealistic end by methods that are almost utilitarian. Or, to put it explicitly, it proposes to restore Irish speech and traditions in Ireland by making Ireland more sober, more industrious, and, above all, more self-reliant. I cite in illustration a case even more in point than that of the blacking.
A friend of mine, whose services to the British Empireand indeed to the general cause of humanity have just been recognised by an order of merit, came, three or four years ago, under the influence of the Gaelic League; and he happened to be reading in a Dublin hotel the Claidheamh Solius (or 'Sword of Light'), which is the League's weekly paper, written in both Irish and English. One of the waiters, noticing this, asked if he were interested in Irish, and a conversation ensued in which the waiter told my friend a good deal about the Craobh (or Branch), to which he himself belonged, and the principles on which it was managed. A rigid rule
excluded any member who was found to frequent public-houses or music-halls. It was suggested that this would limit the numbers and the sphere of influence. "Yes," said the waiter, "we lost a good many, but we kept the men we want. We want no one who is not in earnest." Next year my friend was in the same hotel, and the same waiter came up with a smiling face to announce that his branch had established by joint efforts a small stocking factory in its suburb. friend inquired at shops, heard a good account of the wares, and returning this year found that the industry practically controlled the local market. That is what in one instance came of bringing a lot of young people together in the evenings after work hours and setting them to learn Irish. If you consider that they are asked to learn Irish for the love of Ireland, for the honour of Ireland-to join the Gaelic League as a part of their duty to their country: if you consider that their country's population is dwindling, its industries ebbing with the population,―the connection between cause and effect will not be obscure.
It is more apparent, however, in the most conspicuous instance of the League's social influence. Pressure brought to bear on Parliament established St Patrick's Day as a legal holiday in Ireland; and the League set itself to secure that the festival should be kept in a becoming manner. In Limerick, I believe, all public-houses were closed; in Dub
lin seventy per cent, and the remainder were picketed; the result being that arrests for drunkenness were about half what they used to be when the day was an ordinary work-day. In the face of that, it is hard to quarrel even with the fanatics who will hardly allow the gay old drinking-songs to be heard at any of the League's concerts; for in plain truth, no temperance organisation is doing so good work for temperance as this body which teaches its members to maintain above all things the pride of their race, and, not less emphatically, to regard the drunkard as a disgracer of his nationality.
Take it how you will, the Oireachtas, summing up and symbolising the League's activities, after an existence of some twelve or thirteen years, is a startling fact well worth consideration. As you go up O'Connell Street from Nelson's Pillar, nothing Gaelic strikes your eye till you reach the League's offices with their inscriptions, denoting the home of Connradh na Gaedhilge it self, and of the Ard Craobh, or central branch, of 'An Claidheamh,' and the 'Iris Leabhar,' or Gaelic monthly, as well as the bookshop where two thousand pounds' worth of Gaelic publications are sold annually. But a little farther on you pass inside the railings of the Rotunda, and find yourself in a country-looking crowd where every second person is speaking Irish. Inside is the big round room, with a stage at the end, where perhaps a dancing competition is going on. I saw
yesterday the daughter of almost the only ancient Irish house which to-day survives in prosperity, showing the steps that she had learnt from one of the old country dancingmasters-venerable guardians of a gay tradition. Sitting next me was a London doctor, who had spoken Irish from his first years in the West of Ireland, and he fell into talk with a young schoolgirl, a prizewinner, as was shown by the medal that she wore about her neck. She answered in Irish as fluent as his own that she had won it for singing, and another to go with it for knowledge of Irish history. Yet she was a child of fourteen from Dundalk, a manufacturing town on the Ulster border, and no one in her home spoke Irish: she had learnt what she knew within three years at a National school. When one thought of the figure which the average clever schoolboy would cut after three years'or six years'-schooling, should he be asked to talk French, it seemed that here was effective education at work. Somewhere else in the room a boy from Armagh had a group of Irish speakers about him, amazed to see him holding his own in discourse through the acquired language. It revealed itself as acquired-not so much from accent as from the mixture of dialect, southern peculiarities manifesting themselves through his northern Gaelic.
Any such approach to a standardisation of the tongue is anathema to many purists, who say, and with jus
tice, that a real Irish speaker speaks always the Irish of his particular county. Yet according as the language becomes more and more used in literature and by persons who travel from place to place, approximation to a common standard of diction and of grammar must set in; and probably somewhere in the rooms at the Oireachtas you would find one or two of the men who are making such a result inevitable. I saw, for instance, Dr J. P. Henry, who, in the leisure left by a practice in Harley Street, can find time to methodise and elucidate Irish grammar; and Father Dinneen, most copious of Irish writers to-day, whose dictionary, published a year ago, gives at least some measure of what may be regarded as current and authorised Irish.
It is a part of the utilitarianism which I have referred to, that questions of grammar and of usage occupy the mind of Gaelic Leaguers by far more than any concern for literature as such. They will flock to hear any play in Irish, no matter how it is constructed or how it is acted; yet few of them will cross the street to attend the performances of the Irish National Theatre Company, where plays that are literature are produced in English by a company whose intelligence has been praised by the best critics of the day. And although the President of the League has produced literature that may rank not unfairly with that of Provence's leader, Mistral, Dr Hyde does
not seem to be known to his followers for what he is-a writer of genius. Very probably they would rather that he wrote propagandist plays to point out the evils of emigration, instead of the charming little dramatic fables, set with fresh and limpid songs, which are played indeed and listened to, but apparently without any adequate sense of their literary merit.
Perhaps, however, it would be truer to say that the League does not bestow criticism at all on the works of "An Craoibhín Aoibhinn" - to give him the name by which he is known: it regards him simply as the man who founded the League, and who more than any other brought it to its present stature; and whenever he shows his face in public, it greets him with such a welcome as no other living Irishman gets from any great assemblage of his countrymen. As I saw him at the Oireachtas this month, or in London last St Patrick's day, addressing the wildly cheering crowd, first in Gaelic then in English, drawing from them every response he sought for, setting them laughing, setting them eager for resistance, it seemed to me that nothing was stranger in my experience than his career. The son of an Irish parson, twenty years ago he was a brilliant but rather irregular student of Trinity College, showing his eccentricity chiefly in an odd craze for the study of what we all considered our obsolete tongue. To-day he stands at the head of a great associ
ation, fifty thousand strong, with ramifications through the whole British community, and strongholds in Argentina, in San Francisco, and in New York. It is a singular result to have achieved by urging people to take up a difficult language, for whose study no machinery existed.
A little guidance through the mazes of the Oireachtas might help an observer to understand something of the means by which the thing has been done. The League has consistently recognised that if you are to educate, you must interest, you must provide scope for a variety of ambitions; and the first event in connection with the Oireachtas illustrates a side of its work which is pure play. A team of famous hurlers from the County Clare came up to meet the champions of Dublin; while Limerick sent the pick of her young men for a display of Gaelic football. I may say at once that the football seemed a poor and undeveloped game. But hurley,
which was all but obsolete throughout most of Ireland, is now fully revived-and well worth reviving it was. It bears about the same relation to hockey as racquets to lawn tennis, and merely as a spectacle it yields only to polo. Sureness of eye, power of hitting, speed of foot-all these qualities have constant play; and above all, brilliant and dashing combination is the soul of the sport. Those who remember that cricket has never been popularly established in
Ireland, and football only to a very limited extent, will realise how healthy this revival has been.
But this lies rather outside the League's proper sphere. Well within that is dancing; for the usage is to get your young people together in the evening, teach them Irish for an hour, and then set them to a reel.
The result has been not only recreation, but controversy, for dancing competitions figure largely in the Oireachtas, and no Munster man will accept without reserve a Connaught judge's opinion of his steps. Country folk, too, will tell you that the style the style of dancing favoured at these competitions shows the League to be principally a product of town life: they say that the steps show traces of the ballet. This is a matter for experts, but part of the observation is sound. The League's first hold at least was among the town workers, more easily accessible to new ideas, more easily assembled together in winter nights, and more thankful for recreation. Yet at the Oireachtas you will see a great many country people, and as a rule they are the shrewdest critics of what is going on-not without reason. In almost every district of Ireland a Féis is now held yearly, and the League's practice is to present the winners of important prizes with free passes to the coming Oireachtas, including railway fare and lodging allowance. Thus the local prize-winners, no matter how poor, may become competitors
-and generally successful competitors at the great festival, and the would-be Gaelic townlife is brought into touch with folk from country-sides which are Gaelic spontaneously. But in one very important branch the country has no chance. Competitions between rival choirs have grown into a feature of the movement, and heats, so to say, are run off during the year, while the finals are decided at the Oireachtas. Those who can judge say that in this way the foundation is being laid for what does not exist in Ireland-a musically educated public.
Add to these secondary activities others hardly less important, that are fostered by recognition and reward at the Oireachtas,-the collection of folk-lore, the study of placenames, the study of Irish history from Irish sources, and you have a great range of interest beyond that afforded by the language and literature itself. This central study is, it must be admitted, often very perfunctory, yet there must be thousands of people now able to read an Irish book or follow a speech in Irish who a few years ago never dreamed of such a possibility. For my own part, and I am a fair case in point, the reward seems ample in the field of interest opened up; but we all know that the principle at stake is not what grown-up people shall learn, but what shall be taught to the children. If another generation grows up
ourselves educated), ignorant of the language and literature and history of our own country,-it will not be the fault of the Gaelic League. The very pith and marrow of its propaganda is the attempt to make Irish a part of every curriculum in the schools.
Let us consider first how the matter stands in the higher branches of education. There is one real university in Ireland, the University of Dublin, and it owns a Professor of Irish, but excludes the language from its honours courses. Practically, that is to say, it does not teach Irish. Yet the University of Manchester is not only founding a chair for Celtic study, but establishing honours courses in these subjects; and two famous scholars, one a Scotsman, one a German, came over from their respective universities of Manchester and Liverpool to give their services freely for the establishment in Dublin of a school of Irish learning. The Royal University of Ireland, which is an examining body like that of London, recognises Irish as a subject for examination, provides a studentship in it, and now even a junior fellowship. But the Queen's Colleges, founded originally to be a State-controlled university, give no Irish teaching. Neither, so far as I am aware, does any school or college under Protestant management
except for some not very crowded classes at the ladies' Alexandra College in Dublin. Yet, as a Protestant rector