Sometimes he became a priest; sometimes his life was purposeless and void. But he was ever urged onward by the fascination of learning and of the cultivation of the nobler part of his nature.
As might have been expected, the Irish who have emigrated to the American and Australian continents have given touching proof of their devotion to the cause of learning. I have space only for a few pathetic examples.
An Irish workman in the United States, seeing my name in connection with an Irish Dictionary, wrote to me a few years ago to ask how he might procure one, as, he said, an Italian in the works had asked him the meaning of Erin go bragh, and he felt ashamed to be unable to explain it.
A man who, at the age of three, had emigrated from Clare in the famine time, wrote to me recently from Australia in the Irish language and character.
An old man named John O’Regan of New Zealand, who had been twelve years in exile in the United States and forty-eight on the Australian continent, with failing eyesight, in a letter that took him from January to June of the year 1906 to write, endeavored to set down scraps of Irish lore which he had carried with him from the old country and which had clung to his memory to the last.
“In my digging life in the quarries,” he says, “books were not a part of our swag (prayerbook excepted). In 1871, when I had a long seat of work before me, I sent for McCurtin’s Dictionary to Melbourne. It is old and wanting in the introductory part, but for all was splendid and I loved it as my life.” (See Gaelic Journal, Dec., 1906.)
Joyce: A Social History of Ancient Ireland (2 vols., 2d ed., Dublin, 1913); Healy: Ireland’s Ancient Schools and Scholars (Dublin, 1890), Maynooth College Centenary History (Dublin, 1895); O’Curry: Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, (3 vols., Dublin and London, 1873), Manuscript Materials of Irish History, reissue (Dublin, 1873); Carleton: Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, especially vol. 3, The Poor Scholar; Montalembert: The Monks of the West, authorized translation, (7 vols., London, 1861); Meyer: Learning in Ireland in the Fifth Century (Dublin, 1913); Dinneen: Poems of Eoghan Ruadh O’Sullivan, Introduction (Dublin, 1902), The Maigue Poets, Introduction (Dublin, 1906); Boyle: The Irish College in Paris 1578-1901, with a brief sketch of the other Irish Colleges in France (Dublin, 1901); Irish Ecclesiastical Record, new series, vol. VIII, 307, 465; 3rd series, vol. VII, 350, 437, 641.
IRISH MEN OF SCIENCE
By SIR BERTRAM C.A. WINDLE, Sc.D., M.D.,
President, University College, Cork.
We may divide our survey of the debt owed to Ireland by science into three periods: the earliest, the intermediate, and the latest.