My husband was in the war of the Crimea. It is terrible the hardships he went through, to be two months without going into a house, under the snow in trenches. And no food to get, maybe a biscuit in the day. And there was enough food there, he said, to feed all Ireland; but bad management, they could not get it.
It was at Inver Slane, to the north of Leinster, the sons of Gaedhal of the Shining Armour, the Very Gentle, that were called afterwards the Sons of the Gael, made their first attempt to land in Ireland to avenge Ith, one of their race that had come there one time and had met with his death.
It was among farmers and potato diggers and old men in workhouses and beggars at my own door that I found what was beyond these and yet farther beyond that drawingroom poet of my childhood in the expression of love, and grief, and the pain of parting, that are the disclosure of the individual soul.
In my childhood there was every year at my old home, Roxborough, or, as it is called in Irish, Cregroostha, a great sheep-shearing that lasted many days. On the last evening there was always a dance for the shearers and their helpers, and two pipers used to sit on chairs placed on a corn-bin to make music for the dance.
It is what the poets of Ireland used to be saying, that every brave man, good at fighting, and every man that could do great deeds and not be making much talk about them, was of the Sons of the Gael; and that every skilled man that had music and that did enchantments secretly, was of the Tuatha de Danaan.
I hold that the beginning of modern Irish drama was in the winter of 1898, at a school feast at Coole, when Douglas Hyde and Miss Norma Borthwick acted in Irish in a Punch and Judy show; and the delighted children went back to tell their parents what grand curses 'An Craoibhin' had put on the baby and the policeman.
I was told in many places of Osgar's bravery and Goll's strength and Conan's bitter tongue, and the arguments of Oisin and Patrick. And I have often been given the story of Oisin's journey to Tir-nan-Og, the Country of the Young, that is, as I am told, a fine place and everything that is good is in it.
Once in my childhood I had been eager to learn Irish; I thought to get leave to take lessons from an old Scripture-reader who spent a part of his time in the parish of Killinane, teaching such scholars as he could find to read their own language in the hope that they might turn to the only book then being printed in Irish, the Bible.
In the whole course of our work at the theatre we have been, I may say, drenched with advice by friendly people who for years gave us the reasons why we did not succeed... All their advice, or at least some of it, might have been good if we had wanted to make money, to make a common place of amusement.
It was on the first day of Beltaine, that is called now May Day, the Tuatha de Danaan came, and it was to the north-west of Connacht they landed. But the Firbolgs, the Men of the Bag, that were in Ireland before them, and that had come from the South, saw nothing but a mist, and it lying on the hills.