IRISH IDEAS

By William O'Brien

Page 14

LOST OPPORTUNITIES OF THE IRISH GENTRY

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At all events, I do hope that upon this occasion charity [1] and Mr. Balfour combined--well, the combination is certainly a strange one, but I do hope that on this occasion they will combine to form a spell sufficiently powerful to disarm your criticism and to enable me to get at the soft side of your Irish hearts to-night. I may as well mention at once that those who may expect me to develop any controversy about a round table conference,[2] or, indeed, any other so burning a topic, will be wofully disappointed. I do not mean to touch upon any topic of that sort. I think I may say that your Grace has not stated with more emphasis than the truth would warrant, that I should be the last person in Ireland to place any wanton obstacle or myself in any way to stand in the way of a suggestion which I know, and which all the world knows, except the editor of the London Times, has come from a brave and unflinching Irish heart as well as a capacious and statesmanlike intellect. Your Grace has quite correctly anticipated that I intend to speak only of the opportunities that the Irish gentry have lost--and madly lost--in the past, and that I do not speak--I shall not say even that I despair--of the opportunities that may yet be within their grasp.

The hour is never too late for Irish forgiveness--even for the class whose hands I am sorry to say are to this hour red with evictions, and whose voices are still hoarse with clamour for coercion. What I intend to do--and what, I trust, when you have heard me, your Grace will agree with me that it is a healthy thing and a wholesome thing in the interest both of the Irish people and the Irish gentry to do, is to point out that it is the Irish gentry themselves ...continue reading »


[1] The lecture was for the benefit of a Dublin charity.

[2] A proposal made by the Archbishop of Dublin at the time for a friendly conference with the Irish landlords.

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