IRISH IDEAS

By William O'Brien

Page 1

THE IRISH NATIONAL IDEA [1]

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Some time ago a leading English statesman made the extraordinary statement that he could not see why four millions of people in Ireland should have any better right to a Parliament of their own than four millions of people within the metropolitan area of London. That appeared to me a revolting way of looking at a question which has been consecrated by the hopes and the sufferings and the best blood of twenty generations of men. In fact, Mr. Chamberlain need not go a bit further than his own declaration to prove what a very considerable difference there may be between our four millions and his four millions, and how hard it is for the most painstaking of English Radicals to understand us; because, I have no doubt he would be greatly surprised to hear that, in the eyes of the Irish people, his way of dealing with the aspirations of our venerable and ancient race is more repulsive than Cromwell's. Cromwell, at all events, understood that we were flesh and blood--men with a country and a creed, with something in the hearts and souls within them--that made them proud to die for Ireland under his sword and cannon. Mr. Chamberlain treats nations as if they were casual wards in one huge workhouse. There he has us all ticketed and numbered, and clad in the same dingy uni- ...continue reading »


[1] Presidential Address delivered before the Cork Young Ireland Society, 1885.

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