There is much to be said in favour of a Preface to an Autobiography coming from someone else instead of the Author. It may be well, also, to have English as the language of the Preface to a Life that is published in Irish at the present time. But whatever is held on either of these points, the Life of Father O’Leary, one would desire to see, is an Irish Life by himself.
Another can do sufficient justice to his books and to his work as a priest. Only himself can lay bare the history of a mind that has enriched Irish literature for all time and been a guiding light to the Gaelic Revival in the right direction. Only himself can put into words the clear perception he had of the inwardness of the great public events which have taken place in the Ireland of his day.
In those events he bore a man’s part, and, with his mastery of the English language, an Autobiography from him in English could not fail to glow with warm interest. Yet, Irish, not English, is the language in which he can find exact expression for the thoughts of his mind and the feelings of his heart, and give the last touch to the picture he wishes to leave us of himself and his surroundings. Father O’Leary’s Irish pictures are living ones. He himself is not the only person who will live in his pages; and his scenic descriptions familiarize us with the whole countryside wherever he moves.
There are good Irishmen to whom the prospect of an Irish-speaking Ireland does not appeal. To have Irish spoken all over Ireland, in their view, would be an utter impossibility, or a move backward, if