SENATOR'S GIFT TO THE SEANAD.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Before we proceed to take the remaining amendments to the Dairy Produce Bill, perhaps it would be the wish of the Seanad to dispose of the first item on the Orders of the day, which is:—

Communication from Senator Mrs. Stopford Green offering a casket for the acceptance of the Seanad.

I have been asked by Senator Mrs. Stopford Green, who is prevented from doing so in person by illness, to offer for acceptance by the Seanad the casket which has been placed on the Table of the House. In making the offer of this gift, I shall do so in the Senator's own words. She writes:—

Very early after my generous and unexpected election I formed the desire to offer to the Senate some effective service, as it was plain that my working days were slipping away.

When the plan of the casket came into my heart, I hoped to be able to present it before our summer separation.

But, as you will see, the work was long and difficult, and could by no means have been finished until now.

My request to the Senate is, that they will find it possible to accept the offering I lay before them.

My purpose was, that the shrine should contain a vellum roll, on which every member elected to the first Irish Seanad up to this date should sign his name, and that the shrine should be placed on the Table at the opening of every meeting of the Senate—now and in the future —to be a perpetual memorial of the foundation of this body, and a witness, in later times, of its increasing service to the country.

If the Senators do me the honour of accepting this gift, with these conditions, I will then proceed to do what could not be done without their consent—to inscribe on the shrine my name as donor, and that of the artist, and to place in it the vellum roll."

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.

May I have the honour of seconding this resolution? Senator Mrs. Stopford Green has presented us with an exquisite work of art, quite in keeping with the best of our ancient artistic traditions. It is a most beautiful thing, well worthy the acceptance of the Seanad, and well worthy a place of honour amongst its household gods. I should hope that this beautiful work of art may be the beginning of a collection of art treasures and of historical relics such as should belong to the Seanad of Ireland. Accompanying her beautiful gift, there is a charming message from Senator Mrs. Stopford Green, and I may say it contains quite as many gems in its own sphere as does the lovely casket on the table.

Senator Mrs. Stopford Green's message is quite as beautiful in its own way as is that casket, and I certainly agree it should be inscribed on vellum and placed within that beautiful receptacle. Her message contains many profound truths, and one above all, and that is that we are a nation made up of mixed races. Our nation has been built up through the centuries by many foreign elements, originally foreign elements, and in the sorcery of Ireland's environment and in the wonderful atmosphere of Irish art, Irish tradition, Irish poetry and Irish patriotism, all the different elements of our nation have been welded into one. Sir, if I may suggest it, it is more by the consideration of these things that really mattered, that Ireland has been made one, and that Ireland will remain one, and it is in the development of our indigenous art, in the prosecution and following out of our indigenous instincts, and not so much the following of shibboleths or party war-cries, that the real unity and the real happiness of this country will be assured. The Seanad will accept, I am sure, Senator Mrs. Stopford Green's present with gratitude. I hope it will be a standing memorial to us of what it really means. I beg to second the resolution.

On behalf of the members of this House associated with me, I desire to express our gratitude for the magnificent present Senator Mrs. Green has made to us, not for its monetary value, but for the meaning that underlies the presentation. On behalf of my colleagues, I wish to join in the expression of gratitude to Senator Mrs. Stopford Green for the present. I might be permitted to say that Senator O'Farrell asked me to apologise for his absence to-day and to say that he intended if he were here to express his thanks to Senator Mrs. Stopford Green for the presentation.

Motion put and declared carried.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I just wish to say, by the authority of this resolution which has been passed unanimously, and on the conditions named by the donor, I, in the name and on behalf of the Seanad, receive this casket. I am certain it will be treasured not merely on account of its intrinsic value and its artistic beauty, but as an abiding witness of the generosity of an honoured member of this House, a gifted and distinguished Irishwoman.

Might I suggest, sir, that the message that Senator Mrs. Stopford Green sent to the Seanad should be put on record on our minute?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think I may take that as the unanimous wish of the House.

I would suggest also that it be enclosed in the casket.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think Senator Brown intended to mention that also. I am glad, however, you mentioned it, so that I can now make quite sure of it.