Irish sympathy for the English will bring about conciliation
From Our Own Correspondent
The nation stands alert, in every line of its well-ordered defences. There has been no Christmas leave for the soldiers of Ireland; they have feasted frugally in the mess-room, or thought of home as they manned their posts. A huge consignment of arms has been secured for the L.S.F. —we learn from the Irish Times—so that the second line is armed as well as the first.
By way of Christmas-box, perhaps, a 'plane or 'planes, unidentified, dropped bombs on Friday, December 20, after dark, on a farm at Shantonagh, just inside the Ulster border, and in a street in Sandycove, a suburb of County Dublin. Houses were damaged and a man injured severely enough for hospital. The German wireless next day denied a supposed report by the B.B.C. that Dublin and Belfast had been attacked from the air.
So the Irish year moves towards its close, in a sombre thankfulness that the last twelve months have not been worse. Some hundreds of our people secured permits to revisit the homeland, during the holiday season, from the English cities, and have been heard with grave sympathy as, at the peaceful firesides of town and country, they narrate terrible experiences and tales of splendid endurance and courage.
These homecomers enjoy feasts of good fare. from the Irish abundance in all foodstuffs except butter, which is seasonly scarce. Turkeys have been exceptionally plentiful, owing to the extraordinary action of the British Food Controller who fixed the price of every turkey reared outside the Six County frontier at 4d. a lb. less than the turkeys reared under the " Protestant Government for a Protestant people." No good feeling was generated
by this extraordinary discrimination. I know a farmer who can get 4d, a lb. more for those of his turkeys that are reared in one field than for those which roost a hundred yards away!
IRELAND A NATION
Most of the visible history made in Ireland in these twelve months may be summed up (i) in the mobilisation of the manhood of the land in a defence which exhibits all the thoroughness of Irish powers of organisation, and all the soldierly spirit of the race, and (ii) in the happy ending of political feuds.
Ireland began the year with a heritage of political jealousies, and she ends it with the people of the Twenty-Six Counties united as never before.
We can speak of Ireland a nation now, when all creeds and clans, in the liberated area, share a common loyalty.
INTERIOR HISTORY So much for visible history. The interior life, the mental and spiritual growth, can be felt more easily than it can be defined. " Lo!
4 clarification of vision!" In the poet's words one would summarise the larger charity and the deeper love which the year of anxiety has brought I attended recently a gathering of eminent men of letters, and was struck by this new breadth and depth in the mind of living literary Ireland: The feud between " Irish "
and " Anglo-Irish " seemed to be relegated to the oblivion due to fruitless controversy, and men of different traditions—many of them gathered home from life oversee— spoke of our varied Irish heritage without pitting one element against another.
Again, the supreme factor in the shaping of Ireland's great literature of 1500 years growth, that is, the Catholic tradition, was spoken of by non-Catholics as a recognised fact (the true historical attitude). while Catholics spoke of it in that positive, objective, taking-it-forgranted manner, which is so much more creative, and so much morc truly Catholic. than the controversial manner.
I was impressed, in particular, by the remarks of our greatest living poet (as I think I may call him justly), when he condemned the apologetic attitude of some historians towards those exuberant lives of the Saints which torso a large part of mediaeval Gaelic letters. " These men do not see," he observed, " that you have got to take those narratives with all their rich ness and turbulence as expressions of a profound devotion. The legends are like brilliant pictures in which the genius of the nation put its abundance."
The year draws to its close without an ending of the remaining single issue between Ireland and her great neighbour. The friss Writ is still not allowed to run in the Primatial Sec of St. Patrick himself, or in the second city of the island. In a word, Partition remains One leading Belfast Protestant said to me: " It will not last, it cannot last, more than a year or two now." Another said: " Recem eveuts have fixed it for our lifetime, alas!"
I will not attempt to judge between these diametrically-opposed opinions. I know that unification was in sight two years ago The late premier of the North had moved considerably more than his proverbial inch in negotiations or private talks; but then came the Explosions campaign of early 1939 and the hopes of men of goodwill were destroyed. Lord Craigavon resumed his intransigeant attitude, and the end of 1939 saw a still-divided Ireland, amid the perils of war.
During 1940 the muffled dispute over the Irish ports is thought, by some, to have hardened the partition line, on the English side. Against that, I would offset the intensity of Irish sympathy with the English people in their ordeal: for this interior and sniritual factor, though it has no manifest bearing on the problem, certainly must exert an influence ultimately, on the conciliation
of two great nations. One can imagine cataclysmic developments (though we pray rather for early peace), in which certain definite consequences must follow from the deeps of Irish goodwill.