Page:Mo sgeal fein.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Land League priest, and the Father O’Leary of the Gaelic Revival. He was bilingual from the cradle. Not his knowledge of Irish, much less his knowledge of English, has made him what he is, but his knowledge of both, and his long acquaintance with the classics of Greece and Rome. Irish is the dominant factor. The rest served as helps to draw out Irish in dignified literature from a cultivated mind. But he could have been famous in English also, had he turned to it with Irish as an aid.

It takes more than language to make a man, not to say a priest; and the best blood in Ireland runs in the veins of the children whose fathers, centuries ago, were driven from the plains. One may say, also, of our young people who grow up in stubborn soil, that the scenes that lie under their eyes when they climb the mountains are some compensation for the privations that often fall to their lot. Their greatest want is, or rather was, no books and little schooling. But by what looks like a special Providence, Father O’Leary had books and education from the start, and the difficulty about schools only brought out the strength and individuality that were in him.

His Life will be a valuable addition to the history of our times. For one thing, we need the view of a clear Irish mind, from within a farmer’s home, on the agrarian conditions which led up to the Land War. Father O’Leary can tell of the grinding toil, entailed on the farmer’s family by high rent, and of the constant menace there was to peace and happiness from the dread of unscrupulous devices to raise the rent still higher. That part of the produce that fetched a good price had to be sold to meet the landlord’s demands, and only the rougher portion remained for home con-