National League

A. M. Sullivan
c. 1900
CHAPTER XCII. (continued)

The year 1883 will be memorable for an event which brought sorrow to many an Irish heart at home, and the news of which had a mournful significance for thousands of exiles beyond the billows of the Atlantic, namely, the death of the illustrious orator and divine, Father Burke. Father Burke's sermons and lectures attracted thousands of auditors on almost every occasion of their delivery, and evoked the highest encomiums, even from the Protestant press of England. They are marked by profound learning and incontrovertible logic, and in their delivery he possessed a facility of expression and an attractiveness of style which fascinated his hearers. His visit to America was opportune, as it gave to the Irish race in the United States a champion of their character and nation against the libelous slanders of the mercenary historian, James Anthony Froude. In Father Burke, Froude encountered a foeman worthy of his steel. The great Dominican, whose ripe scholarship and unerring reasoning powers fully equipped him for such a controversy, scattered to the winds the lies attempted to be foisted on American audiences under the guise of history; and this great public service alone will forever endear him to the grateful remembrance of his countrymen, and has earned for him the admiration of all lovers of truth. His death occurred at Tallaght, in the county of Dublin, on the 2d of July, 1883.

One other most important political event of this year remains to be noted, namely, the founding of the National League, which has merged the Land Leagues of Ireland and America and amalgamated with it all other Irish organizations in the United States. The National Conference, which preceded the organization of the National League, was held at the Ancient Concert Rooms, Dublin, on the 7th of October, 1882. It showed the activity of the Irish leaders, and proved that those at the helm would no longer sit idly on their oars, for, as the Land League could be no longer be made available for further usefulness, an organization to succeed it, capable of wider expansion and with a broader constitution, was then and there discussed. The programme of the National League was subsequently drawn up at a convention held in the Rotunda, Dublin, and included National and Local Self-government, Land Law Reform, extension of the parliamentary and municipal franchises, and also the development and encouragement of the industrial and labor interests of the country.

The Philadelphia Convention, held in June, 1883, attended by delegates from all the Irish-American societies, fully indorsed the constitution drawn up by the Dublin Convention. The Land League being then declared dissolved, the National League of America was founded amid the greatest enthusiasm.

So far runs the record of seventeen years—a brief space in a nation's life—yet fraught with many exciting national events in Ireland, and fruitful of important and beneficial changes in her welfare. The organization of the National League just mentioned, of all other events, warrants the hope with which this supplementary history set out, namely, that the day of Ireland's independence is not far distant. A United Ireland, the dream of her poets, and the aim of her patriots and martyrs; the Celtic race at home and in exile, linked in one great fraternity; this have we seen accomplished in our day. Guided by judicious leaders, and pursuing its course with unflinching fidelity to the policy outlined in its constitution, its power and importance must be immense; and may, at any critical juncture, prove irresistible to its ancient foe. Much has been accomplished in a few years, and the possibilities of the future are incalculable. Let us not sit idly in the market place. Let each man's hand be on the plow, and his part in this great struggle be honestly performed. Commensurate with the fulfillment of these conditions shall be the success of this great organization; and in the hope that wisdom will guide its councils, and persistency mark its progress, I am not over-sanguine in predicting that the hope of this generation will be fulfilled in the next—a National Parliament again assembled in College Green, above which shall wave the green flag of Ireland, and proclaim her a free nation.