An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 eBook

Mary Frances Cusack
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 779 pages of information about An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800.

There are some few Irish Catholics who appear to think that Irishmen should not study their history—­some because they imagine that our history is a painful subject; others, because they imagine that its record of wrongs cannot fail to excite violent feelings, which may lead to violent deeds.  I cannot for one moment admit that our history is either so very sorrowful, or that we have cause to do anything but rejoice in it.  If we consider temporal prosperity to be the summum bonum of our existence, no doubt we may say with truth, like the Apostle, that of all peoples we are “most miserable;” but we have again and again renounced temporal advantages, and discarded temporal prosperity, to secure eternal gain; and we have the promise of the Eternal Truth that we shall attain all that we have desired.  Our history, then, far from being a history of failures, has been a history of the most triumphant success—­of the most brilliant victories.  I believe the Irish are the only nation on earth of whom it can be truly said that they have never apostatized nationally.  Even the most Catholic countries of the Continent have had their periods of religious revolution, however temporary.  Ireland has been deluged with blood again and again; she has been defeated in a temporal point of view again and again; but spiritually—­never!  Is this a history to be ashamed of?  Is this a history to regret?  Is this a history to lament?  Is it not rather a history over which the angels in heaven rejoice, and of which the best, the holiest, and the noblest of the human race may justly be proud?

On the second count, I shall briefly say that if Irish history were taught in our Irish colleges and schools to children while still young, and while the teacher could impress on his charge the duty of forgiveness of enemies, of patient endurance, of the mighty power of moral force, which has effected even for Ireland at times what more violent measures have failed to accomplish, then there could be no danger in the study.  Perhaps the greatest human preservative of the faith, for those whose lot may be cast hereafter in other lands, would be to inculcate a great reverence for our history, and a true appreciation of its value.  The taunt of belonging to a despised nation, has led many a youth of brilliant promise to feel ashamed of his country, and almost inevitably to feel ashamed of his faith.  A properly directed study of Irish history would tend much to remove this danger.  During the debate on the Irish Church question, Mr. Maguire, M.P. for Cork, significantly remarked on the effect produced by the “deliberate exclusion” of any instruction in Irish history from National schools.  It does seem curious that national history should be a forbidden subject in National schools, and this fact makes the appellation of “National” seem rather a misnomer.  The result of this deliberate exclusion was graphically described by the honorable member.  The youth comes forth educated, and at

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An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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