Young Ireland, 1843-1848

37. While the Starvation was at its height, The Times, of London, had exclaimed: "The Celts are gone--gone with a vengeance. The Lord be praised." And again: "Now, for the first time these six hundred years, England has Ireland at her mercy, and can deal with her as she pleases." The triumph it expressed was premature. Astonishing though it may seem, these starvation years were years of great revival and awakening. Even while dying men and women wandered the roads, while corpses lay unburied in the mud cabins, while the holds of outgoing craft rotted with the death and pestilence of emigrants flying from their land, a literature was being created, though in a foreign tongue, and the literature and history of the past were being explored. A band of Intellectuals had been formed in Dublin who became known as the Young Irelanders.

Their weekly journal, The Nation, had a wide circulation through Ireland; and by their writings they gave the nation once again a public intellectual being. Their desire was, not only to re-create an intellectual being, but by means of it to give the dignity which would unite all citizens in the desire for freedom, and secure for the nation a character and stature before the world. At the same time, a body of scholars edited and published the works of the older historians and writers that had lain in the dust for years. Englishmen mocked at the older greatness that was now revealed. They sought to wither by laughter the beauty and wisdom that came to light, but the scholars patiently continued their work. They did so in no political spirit; but as the nation became more and more deeply stirred it struck its roots more deeply into the past; it regarded that past with clearer eyes, scholarship confirming its awakening intuitions; and it recovered and consolidated that past with every step forward into the future.