My object in writing it has not been to give a history of Sinn Fein, but to give an account of its historical evolution, to place it in relation to the antecedent history of Ireland, above all to show it in its true light as an attempt, inspired by the Language revival, to place Ireland in touch with the historic Irish Nation which went down in the seventeenth century under the Penal Laws and was forced, when it emerged in the nineteenth, to reconstitute itself on the framework which had been provided for the artificial State which had been superimposed on the Irish State with the Penal Laws. The quarrel between Sinn Fein and the Irish Parliamentary Party is really the quarrel between the historic Irish Nation and the artificial English garrison State; the quarrel between de-Anglicisation and Anglicisation.
e chief weapon in his armoury is a sentimental one, being "[Gaelic: Ár dteanga féin]"--Our own language. That is the battle-cry which has appealed irresistibly to the man in the street, and the principle behind it, first enunciated as a fighting principle by the Gaelic League, has come to be applied to all Irish questions and practically to mould the thoughts of the present generation.
The foundation of the Gaelic League has been attributed to the debâcle which had just then overwhelmed the Parliamentarian Movement, but the two things had no connexion. The young men who founded the Gaelic League, and who did the desperate work of its early years, were men whose interests were intellectual rather than political, and who neither had, nor were likely to have, any intimate connexion with any political movement such as the then Parliamentarian Movement. The origin of the Gaelic League goes farther back, back to the early days of the century when the Nation began to lose the lang
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