I beg to move:—"That the Seanad gratefully accepts the casket upon the conditions named by the donor, Senator Mrs. Stopford Green." Mrs. Green has sent to the Seanad with this gift a message which is as follows:—
"I ask leave to send a few words as to the casket which I offer to the Seanad.
Senators will agree that we should place no emblem before us in this Assembly that is not of Ireland, in spirit and in workmanship, carrying in it the faith both of the Old Irish world and of the New. I have insisted, therefore, that the form of the casket should go back in direct descent to the "shrines" designed by the Irish over a thousand years ago. The artist has magnificently proved the power of that spiritual inheritance which has been bequeathed to us from an Old Ireland; and has shown that a really living art has no need to copy in slavish routine, and can to-day be as free and original and distinguished as in the times of ancient renown, supposed to have been lost.
Thus the shrine in its intense vitality carries to us its own message. That if we want to revive here an Irish nation we must dig our roots deep into its soil, and be nourished by that ancient earth. In Old Ireland, a land of many peoples, it was not privileges of race that united Irishmen in one country and under one law. It was a common loyalty to the land that bore them. "This then is my foster-mother, the island in which ye are, even Ireland. Moreover it is the mast and the produce, the flower and the food of this island that have sustained me from the Deluge until to-day." This feeling was the refrain of Irish nationality, the loyalty of a people made one by their sonship to the land that bore them, an early and passionate conception of nationality. A sudden and brief outburst by an Irish poet of the old time has no parallel in European mediaeval history—"The counsels of God concerning virgin Eriú are greater than can be told."
From the beginning, Ireland has been rich in her hospitality to men of good-will coming within her borders. And at all times there have been incomers who have honourably responded to that generosity, and have become faithful members of her people. She has had her reward among the strangers who under her wide skies have felt the wonder of the land, and the quality of its people, and have entered into her commonwealth.
Through the long record of wars and assaults, in every generation in turn, men who came as warriors, even the roughest of them, remained as men of Ireland. They took their share in defence of their new home, and endured, if need were, in evil times outrage, ruin and death in the cause of Irish freedom and independence. No real history of Ireland has yet been written. When the true story is finally worked out—one not wholly occupied with the many and insatiable plunderers—it will give us a noble and reconciling vision of Irish nationality. Silence and neglect will no longer hide the fame of honourable men. We shall learn the ties which did in fact ever bind the dwellers in Ireland together. Whether we are of an ancient Irish descent, or of later Irish birth, we are united in one people, and we are bound by one lofty obligation to complete the building of our common nation. We have lived under the breadth of her skies, we have been fed by the fatness of her fields, and nourished by the civilization of her dead. Our people lie in her earth, and we ourselves must in that earth await our doom. We have shared our country's sorrows, and we expect her joys. "The mother that has nursed us is she, and when you have looked on her she is not unlovely." To Ireland we have given our faith. In Ireland is our hope.
I am conscious that after reading that message, no words of mine could possibly add to the appreciation of every member of this House of the spirit in which this gift has been made. When Senators have time and when they can spend time, in looking at and examining this casket, they will see that it is supremely beautiful. To me, the message is, if possible, still more beautiful. I would like to see that message also inscribed on vellum and placed within the casket. I believe myself Senator Mrs. Green meant this gift to be an inspiration. She desired to lift our minds out of too much emphasis on present-day difficulties with a hope and a belief in the future. She desires to connect the faith which created the past with the new faith which would make us believe in still greater things for the country that we live in. I believe that, if as a result of this gift, we can make the conception of the work of this House even one whit more noble, if we can do our work even one more degree in the spirit of that message, it will be the best reward, the best thanks we can give to Senator Mrs. Stopford Green. I beg to move the resolution.