A mere nine years ago, the number of Irish speakers in Limerick could be counted on one hand. However, today, the Gaelic League has become the city’s most active and influential organization. Irish language education has flourished in several prominent schools, including the Training College, St. Munchin’s College, the Technical School, the Catholic Literary Institute, St. Ita’s Home, the Women’s Confraternity, and the Pipers’ Club.
The streets themselves proudly bear Irish names. The Language movement has spread so extensively that even the staunchest opponents find themselves perplexed. Their resistance melts away as they reluctantly embrace St. Patrick’s Day and some even purchase books by O’Growney to gain insights into the “beastly language.” And they have indeed learned. They witness how this “beastly language” fosters self-respect, self-reliance, and, most unnerving to them, a bond of unity stronger than any Masonic grip.
The voices of Irish buffoons are no longer heard, and music hall songs have been consigned to oblivion. Concerts and other entertainments now invariably feature Gaelic League performances. A remarkable event, the Aeridheacht Mhor, captivated Limerick in early September. Seven thousand individuals were held spellbound for five hours, experiencing an Irish Ireland they had never before witnessed. Many traveled great distances, twelve, fifteen, and even twenty miles, and not one person left before its conclusion.
Yet, perhaps the truest testament to the Gaelic League’s influence lies in the Patrick’s Week collection. Even the poorest residents joyfully contributed to the Language fund. In one humble dwelling, a solitary shilling earmarked for tobacco was willingly given up by an elderly man, who remarked, “Give it, Biddy, the cause is good, and I’ll do without a smoke for the week.” Nonetheless, there are still societies where Irish is not taught, and expected assistance has not materialized. However, for now, I refrain from compiling a blacklist. I will simply express that all Gaelic League organizations in Limerick are immensely grateful to the Dublin Leader for the invaluable support it has provided them.
(Rev.) T. LEE, President, Gaelic League, Limerick.
Dublin Leader – Saturday 06 December 1902