Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Preface to Second Edition concluded

In concluding the Preface to this Edition, I cannot omit to express my grateful thanks to Sir William Wilde, and other members of the Royal Irish Academy, through whose kindness I obtained the special favour of being permitted to copy some of the most valuable illustrations of Irish antiquities contained in their Catalogue, and which has enabled the reader, for the first time, to have an Irish history illustrated with Irish antiquities—a favour which it is hoped an increase of cultivated taste amongst our people will enable them to appreciate more and more. To John O'Hagan, Esq., Q.C., I owe a debt of gratitude which cannot easily be repaid, for the time he bestowed on the correction of the proofs of the First Edition, and for many kind suggestions, and much valuable advice.

I am indebted, also, to M. J. Rhodes, Esq., of Hoddersfield, for a liberal use of his library, perhaps one of the most valuable private libraries in Ireland, and for permitting me to retain, for a year and more, some of its most costly treasures. The same kindness was also granted by the Rev. D. M'Carthy, Professor of Sacred Scripture and Hebrew at Maynooth, who is himself doing so much for its ecclesiastical students by his valuable literary labours, and who was one of the first to urge me to undertake this work. In preparing the Second Edition, I am not a little indebted to the Rev. James Gaffney, C.C., M.R.I.A., of Clontarf, who, even during the heavy pressure of Lenten parochial duties, has found time to give me the benefit of many important suggestions, and to show his love of Ireland by deeming no effort too great to further a knowledge of her glorious history. I am also indebted to the Rev. John Shearman, C.C., M.R.I.A., of Howth, for the valuable paper read before the R.I.A., on the "Inscribed Stones at Killeen Cormac;" and to many other authors who have presented me with their works; amongst the number, none were more acceptable than the poems of Dr. Ferguson, and the beautiful and gracefully written Irish before the Conquest, of Mrs. Ferguson, whose gifts are all the more treasured for the peculiar kindness with which they were presented.

To my old friend, Denis Florence MacCarthy, Esq., M.R.I.A., who should be the laureate of Ireland—and why should not Ireland, that land of song, have her laureate?—I can only offer my affectionate thanks, for his kindnesses are too numerous to record, and are so frequent that they would scarcely bear enumeration. At this moment, Roderick O'Flanagan, Esq., M.R.I.A., has found, or rather made, leisure, amongst his many professional and literary occupations, to prepare the valuable and important map of Irish families, which will be given gratis to all subscribers, and in which W. H. Hennessy, Esq., M.R.I.A., at present employed by Government on the important work of publishing ancient Irish MS., will also give his assistance.

To many of the gentlemen in Cork, and principally to Nicholas Murphy, Esq., of Norwood, and Eugene M'Sweeny, Esq., I cannot fail to offer my best thanks, for the generous help they have given in promoting the sale of the First Edition, and for over-payments of subscriptions, made unasked, and with the most considerate kindness, when they found the heavy cost of the First Edition was likely to prove a loss to the convent, in consequence of expenses which could scarcely be foreseen in the increased size of the work, and the high class of engravings used, which demanded an immense outlay in their production. The subscribers to the Second Edition are indebted to not a few of the subscribers to the First, many of them priests with limited incomes, for the generosity which has enabled them to obtain this new issue on such favourable terms.

It is with feelings of no ordinary pleasure that I add also the names of the Superioresses of nearly all the convents of the order of Our Lady of Mercy and of the order of the Presentation, to the list of our benefactors. With the exception of, perhaps, two or three convents of each order, they have been unanimous in their generous efforts to assist the circulation of the Irish History, and of all our publications; and this kindness has been felt by us all the more deeply, because from our own poverty, and the poverty of the district in which we live, we have been unable to make them any return, or to assist them even by the sale of tickets for their bazaars. Such disinterested charity is, indeed, rare; and the efforts made by these religious—the true centres of civilization in Ireland—to promote the education and to improve the moral and intellectual tone of the lower and middle classes, are beyond all praise, combined, as these efforts are, with never-ceasing labour for the spiritual and temporal good of the poor in their respective districts.

Nor should I omit a word for the friends across the wide Atlantic, to whom the very name of Ireland is so precious, and to whom Irish history is so dear. The Most Rev. Dr. Purcell, Archbishop of Cincinnati, has pronounced the work to be the only Irish history worthy of the name. John Mitchel has proclaimed, in the Irish Citizen, that a woman has accomplished what men have failed to do; and Alderman Ternan, at a banquet in New York, has uttered the same verdict, and declares that there, at least, no other history can compete with ours, although Moore and D'Arcy Magee have preceded us in their efforts to promote the knowledge of what Ireland has been, and the hope of what Ireland may yet become.

M. F. C.

St. Clare's Convent, Kenmare, Co. Kerry,

May 8th, 1868.