The three lectures or papers comprised in this little volume were not originally intended to see the light of publication. They were written, in every case, at a few days' notice, and at different periods during the last twelve months. Though I have revised them for publication, yet I have not, by any means made so many emendations as I would like, preferring to send them forth as nearly as possible in their original forms.
I hope no one will be so uncharitable as to imagine that I have published this booklet merely for the sake of seeing myself in print. My main object as a matter of fact has been to assist, in some little degree, in spreading the reputation of the Society of which I have the honour to be President, and before which the lectures were delivered.
As I am but a student of Irish myselfand young at thatI am aware that Gaelic scholars will find little that is new in these papers; but it is not so much to the scholar they are addressed as to the barbarianto him, that is,
p.162to whom our National language, with its wealth of poetry, romance, and folk-lore, is still a sealed book. The subjects of which the lectures treat are to-day far from being so new, or so out-of-the-way, as they would have been even a very few years ago; for, thanks to the Gaelic League, to the Oireachtas, to the Gaelic Journal, and to Fáinne An Lae, Irishmen are beginning to realize that they possess a language of their own, which, for antiquity, may vie with the languages of Homer and Virgil, and, for youthful vigour and literary capabilities, with the languages of Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe.