Irish Literary Revival

Justin McCarthy
Chapter I | Start of Chapter

An energetic and widespread effort has lately begun, and is now going on, for the revival of early Irish literature and for the restoration of the Irish language to its place in the living speech of man. The movement thus far has been entirely successful, and finds enthusiastic support, not merely in Ireland, but in every part of the world where Irishmen have made a home. One of its results has even already been to make it clear to readers everywhere that there is a vast wealth of genuine Irish literature stored, and until lately one might almost say buried, in public and private libraries, in monasteries and in national museums. Only the scholars who made Ireland's early literature a special study knew, for a long time, the value of these buried treasures, but the recent movement has drawn the attention of all who care about books to these long-neglected interpreters of the past. This volume, therefore, opens with the assurance that Ireland had a great literature of her own—legendary, poetic, and historical—in days long before the light of Christianity had shone upon the island. The influence of that literature has to be taken into account by any who would understand the history of Ireland.