Page:Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge vol 1 no 1.djvu/28

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which called forth this touching and beautiful tribute by simply placing the poem before our readers. It requires no words of ours to keep the great prelate’s memory green. This poem is, so far as we know, the only wreath of song which has been offered to the memory of the poet who gave us Homer’s heroic page and Moore’s sweet lyric in our country’s language for the first time.

Our readers are, doubtless, aware that a Memoir of the “Life and Times of John MacHale” has been recently published by Rev. Canon Bourke. We intend noticing this work in a future number, and shall here advert to it merely for the purpose of introducing an account of the Archbishop’s Life by the same author in the Irish language, and which will be continued in this journal until concluded. This is a different work—in its plan, style and scope—from the English “Life,” and (at least in the early part) may be looked on as the original of the English. It was undertaken in consequence of a suggestion made to us by Mr. Thomas Flannery, of London (himself a clever writer of Irish prose and poetry, and a contributor to this journal), that we should ask Canon Bourke to write Archbishop MacHale’s Life in Irish as the most fitting tribute that could be offered to his illustrious friend’s memory. Canon Bourke willingly complied, and more than nine chapters were written before he even entertained the idea of writing the English work, which, as he says in his preface, he was pressed to begin by literary friends. Though not so comprehensive in its scope, the Irish “Life,” we venture to think, will be found quite as interesting as the English work. The style is clear, easy and natural, and our Irish classes and students will find it a most desirable reading book.

Dramatic Scenes.

It has been reserved for our day to witness, and for our journal to contain, the commencement of a series of Dramatic Scenes, the first ever written in the Irish language, and which develop a new vein of literature, hitherto almost unknown among Gaelic writers. It is true, beginnings have been already made by some good translations of portions of English drama; but as an original Irish composition, so far as we know, nothing similar to the piece which we with great pleasure place before our readers in this number, has hitherto been attempted. It is also true that in many of our ancient poems the chief characters speak for themselves, often with an interlocutor (not unlike the Greek chorus); but in these there is no attempt at dramatic design, colouring or plot. Nevertheless, we are in- formed that in Scotland some of these ancient dialogues were regularly recited, and the characters sustained with some regard to dramatic effect. But dramas, after all, they are not, and do not pretend to be; yet, considering the stirring scenes, well-conceived characters and striking incidents which are now and then to be found in our ancient writers, it cannot be said (as has been rashly asserted) that they had no dramatic talent or appreciation of theatrical effect, though it does not appear they ever followed out this particular line of art as they did so many others, or in the style which has produced so many glorious scenes in other tongues.

To our Irish readers no words of ours are necessary to introduce the “Soliloquy of Brian Boroimhe before his last Battle,” but by such of our friends as have the misfortune to be still without sufficient knowledge of Gaelic to enable them to appreciate the rev. author’s composition in the original, these remarks may not be considered entirely out of place. In further pity for their ignorance, and in order to encourage them to study, the author has yielded to a suggestion made to him since the Irish manuscript passed into our hands, and now appends a worthy English translation of his own work. We venture to hope he will continue this practice until such time as it becomes no longer necessary, when all our readers will be able not only to read and write Irish, but to converse fluently in the language with their Irish-speaking fellow-countrymen—a consummation devoutly to be wished.