APPRECIATION BY THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
5th October, 1954.
My Dear Mr. Maher,
In fascinating detail and resounding tones you have assembled a story whispered to us many years ago by our Carrick poet, Denis A. McCarthy, when from his Boston exile he wrote "The Wind from Slieve-na-mon":-
The magic wind from Slieve-na-mon—sometimes it was a blast
Of faint enchanted bugles blown from Ireland's glorious past
How many a dream it brought of days when Ireland's banner shone
And Irish cheers were mingled with the wind from Slieve-na-mon
As I glance through your pages, this poem comes clamant to my mind as an appropriate overture to your work. I am attaching a copy hoping that you may find room for it as such—an epitome of your material and your intent.
It is vividly clear that here in your Anthology is no backwater pool where some flotsam of history and of literature has collected itself from a current which flows no longer. Each succeeding page testifies that here is part of the living seed-bed of a people's tradition; part of the vital bloodstream of a nation's spirit. We have here, truly imaged, the heart and the will of a nation that still moves purposefully in a wide world, in which it is of much importance that it would even more purposefully to-morrow.
To-day Ireland has risen above the causes of her former woes; she is rising above their effects; she is free to sing the song of her own heart. We preserve the remnants of Carrick Castle, but its walls re-echo the words addressed to them by McCarthy:-
O, ruined keep; I may not weep
your darkness and decay,
Your hour is fled,your power is dead-
the people rule to-day;
The root of the strength and purpose which will maintain that rule lies in our language, our literature, our music, our architecture, our folklore. Our gratitude and admiration go out to you for the teeming measure in which you have signposted the pathways of the Valley which has sheltered and fostered so much of this treasure; and for the monument of example you have given to those who with similar faith and purpose—do chum gloire Dé agus onóra na hEireann—would signpost other regions of our tradition. May these paths continue to be travelled in the confidence that prays:
Ar eagla na h-abhann do bheith doimhin,
Á Rí na Foidhne, glac mo lámh;
Ar eagla na tuile bheith tréan, A Mhuire, féach agus ná fág.
Beir mo mholadh agus mo chéad bheannacht,
RISTEARD UA MAOLCATHA.