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The Story of the Irish Nation
From this remote period one can construct no certain narrative. There is only the wavering accent of tradition, the hint of geology and anthropology, the literal “footprints on the sands of time.” But by great luck we happen to have preserved in Gaelic the oldest existing body of Northern literature. From this literature we are able to judge or guess at the types of men who stand on the sky-line of Irish history.
This Gaelic past is of intense interest, not only be cause so many records and memorials of it exist, but because the Irish people to-day are in such vivid relation to their past. Like all invaded and suppressed peoples, they have been repeatedly informed that their past is wild, obscure, and barbaric; they have been encouraged to forget it. But the past swings the future into being. The present key to Ireland is in the Gaelic period which flourished so nobly in pagan times, and so generously in the Christian period that followed Patrick. This civilization, however, is not monstrously peculiar or archaic. The Irish are not racially separate from Europe. Their history is a vital part of European history. By an accident of political and economic suppression the Irish people have been forced for centuries to turn all their energies into making a fight for survival. But, for centuries, like a river that