Father Gordon on the Irish and their Love of the Faith

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER VI (16) start of chapter

To my suggestion that he had had his own share of toil in those distant days, he replied: 'Well, my dear sir, no doubt I had many a hard ride through the forest, and I often had to depend on my poor horse, as my heavy eyelids closed while I sat in the saddle, overpowered with fatigue and want of sleep. But no matter what labour I had to undergo, I always received my reward in the faith and love of the people—their delight at seeing their priest, and hearing his voice—why, sir, it would raise any man's spirits. And how they kept the faith!—it was surprising. For years some would not see a priest; but still the faith was there in the mother's heart, and she would teach it to her children. We have lost some, for there were sheep without shepherds; but that we did not lose more, and that we saved so many in times long gone by, is only to be attributed to the mercy of God, and the tenacity with which the Irish cling to their faith. Oh, sir, their devotion, and their affection, and their gratitude, cheered me many a time, and made me forget fatigue and trouble of every kind. God bless them! they are a good people.'

These were almost the last words I heard from the lips of that true-hearted Irish priest, for it was of his people he loved to speak. Father Gordon has lived to see his church thoroughly organised, divided into several dioceses, each diocese having an efficient staff of clergymen, with numerous institutions, educational and charitable, under the care of the religious orders. Of the Bishops, four are Irish, and about one hundred of the clergy are either of Irish birth or descent. The religious orders also owe much of their strength to the same great national well-spring of the faith.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America