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fight and, as ballads go, not badly composed, had a wonderful vogue, and was sung at fair and market and other meeting place within the memory of men who are not now more than middle-aged.
A search in other domains of sport will be by no means barren of results. Takę running, for instance. Who has not heard of the wondrous little Thomas Conneff from the shortgrass county of Kildare? Who does not know of his brilliant performances on the track? We in Ireland, who had seen him defeat Carter, the great Canadian, over the four-mile course at Ballsbridge one summer's eve now nearly twenty golden years ago, knew his worth before he crossed the broad Atlantic to show to thousands of admiring spectators in America that Ireland was the breeder of fleet-footed sons, who lacked neither the courage, nor the thews and sinews, nor the staying power, to carry them at high speed over any distance of ground. May the earth lie light on Conneff, for in a small body he had a great heart! Then there was the mighty runner, James J. Daly, a true hero from Galway, the idol of the crowd in his native land as well as in the United States. Daly was the champion long distance cross-country runner of his day at home, and he showed before various nationalities in the Greater Ireland beyond the seas that he could successfully compete with the best from all countries.
In high jumping, Patrick Davin, P. Leahy, and Peter O'Connor were for long in the foremost rank; Daniel Ahearne was famous for his hop-step-and-jump performance; Maurice Davin, Matthew McGrath, and Patrick Ryan have, each in his own day, thrown the 16-pound hammer to record distance; in shot-putting there are Sheritlan, Horgan, John Flanagan, and others bearing true Irish names, who are right in front; and before their time we had a redoubted champion in W. J. M. Barry. All previous performances in the shot-putting line have, however, been recently eclipsed by Patrick J. McDonald, of the Irish-American Club, who at Celtic Park, Long Island, on May 30, 1914, made a new world's record by putting the 18-pound shot 46 feet 234 inches. The climax of achievement was reached when T. F. Kiely won the all-round championship of the world at New York. The distinguished part taken by Irishmen or sons of Irishmen in all departments of the Olympic games is so recent and so well known as to call for no comment. Ireland is far indeed from being degenerate in her athletes.
In international strife with England, Scotland, Wales, and France at Rugby football, Ireland has likewise won her spurs. She has never been beaten by the representatives of Gaul; and though for long enough she had invariably to succumb in competition with the other three countries, such is not the case nowadays, nor has it been for many years past. The Irish team has ever to be reckoned with. In Association football, too, Ireland is coming into her own. This branch of the game has developed enormously within a comparatively few seasons. The people flock in their thousands to witness matches for the principal league contests or cup ties. But the greatest crowds of all go to see Gaelic football, the national game; and to hurling, also distinctively Irish, they foregather in serried masses. Since the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded both football and hurling have prospered exceedingly. They are essentially popular forms of sport, and the muscular manhood of city and country finds in them a natural outlet for their characteristic Celtic vigor. The Gaelic Association has fostered and developed these sports, and has organized them on so sound a basis that interest in them is not confined to any particular district but spreads throughout the length and breadth of Ireland.
When the America Cup was to be challenged for, into the breach stepped the Earl of Dunraven and flung his gage to the holders of the trophy. This distinguished Irish nobleman furnished a contender in his Valkyrie II. in the fall of 1893, and his patriotic spirit in doing so stirred the sport-loving Irish nation to the greatest enthusiasm. His lordship was not successful, but he was not disheartened. He tried again with Valkyrie III., but again he was only second best, for, though his yacht sailed to victory in home waters, she proved unequal to the task of lifting the cup. No Englishman was prepared to tempt fortune, but not so that sterling Irishman, Sir Thomas Lipton, who, win or lose, would not have it laid to the charge of Ireland that an attempt should not be made. His Shamrock, Shamrock II., and Shamrock III.-surely a deep sense of patriotism prompted nomenclature such as that each in succession went down to defeat; but Sir Thomas has not done yet. Like King Bruce, he is going to try again, and Shamrock IV. is to do battle with the best that America can range against her. All honor to Lord Dunraven and to Sir Thomas Lipton for their persistent efforts to engage in generous rivalry with the yachtsmen across the sea.
Lawn-tennis, cricket, and golf we play, and play well; to rowing many of us are enthusiastically devoted; and at handball our young men--and some not so young-are signally expert. The champion handball player has always been of Irish blood. Baseball we invented and called it rounders. It is significant that the great American ball game is still played according to a code which is scarcely modified from that which may be seen in force any summer day on an Irish school field or village green. Perhaps something of hereditary instinct is to be traced in the fact that many of the best exponents of American baseball are the bearers of fine old Irish names.
This brief and cursory review of Ireland at Play must now conclude. It is scarcely more than a glossary, and not a complete one at that. It may, however, serve to show that Ireland's record in sport, like her record in so many other things set forth in this book, is great and glorious enough to warrant the insertion of this short chapter among those which tell of old achievements and feats of high emprize.
Racing-Irish Racing Calendar: 1790-1914, 124 vols. (Dublin, Brindley and Son); The Racing Calendar: 1774-1914 (London, Weatherby and Sons). Breeding—The General Stud Book: 1908-1913, 22 vols. (London, Weatherby and Sons). Racing and Breeding Generally-Cox: Notes on the History of the Irish Horse (Dublin, 1897), Boxing and Athletics—Files of Sport and Freeman's Journal.
BY JOSEPH I. C. CLARKE,
I.-THE FIGHTING Race AT HOME.
"War was the ruling passion of this people," says MacGeoghegan, meaning the Milesians who were the latest of the peoples that overran ancient Ireland up to the coming of Christ. How many races had preceded them remains an enigma of history not profitable to examine here, but whoever they were, or in what succession they arrived, they must, like all migrating people, have been prepared to establish themselves at the point of the spear and the edge of the sword. Two races certainly were mingled in the ancient Irish, the fair or auburn haired with blue eyes, and the dark haired with eyes of gray or brown. The Milesians appear to have reached Ireland through Spain. They came swiftly to power, more than a thousand years before our Lord, and divided the country into four provinces or kingdoms, with an ard-ri, or high-king, ruling all in a loose way as to service, taxes, and allegiance. The economic life was almost entirely pastoral. Riches were counted in herds of cattle. "Robustness of frame, vehemence of passion, elevated imagination,” Dr. Leland says, signalized this people. Robust, they became athletic and vigorous and excelled in the use of deadly weapons; passionate, they easily went from litigation to blows; imaginative, they leaned toward poetry and song and were strong for whatever religion they practised. The latter was a polytheism brought close to the people through the Druids. Some stone weapons were doubtless still used; they had also brazen or bronze swords, and spears, axes, and maces of various alloys of copper and tin. Socially they remained tribal. Heads of tribes were petty kings, each with his stronghold of a primitive character, each with his tribal warriors, bards, harpers, and druids, and the whole male population more or less ready to take part in
The great heroes whose names have come down to us, such
as Finn, son of Cumhal, and Cuchulainn, were reared in a school of arms. Bravery was the sign of true manhood. A law of chivalry moderated the excess of combat. A trained militia, the Fianna, gave character to an era; the Knights of the Red Branch were the distinguishing order of chevaliers. The songs of the bards were songs of battle; the great Irish epic of antiquity was the Táin Bó Cúalnge, or Cooley Cattleraid, and it is full of combats and feats of strength and prowess. High character meant high pride, always ready to give account of itself and strike for its ideals : "Irritable and bold", as one historian has it. They were jealous and quick to anger, but light-hearted laughter came easily to the lips of the ancient Irish. They worked cheerfully, prayed fervently to their gods, loved their women and children devotedly, clung passionately to their clan, and fought at the call with alacrity.
Nothing, it will be seen, could be further from the minds of such a people than submission to what they deemed injustice. The habit of a proud freedom was ingrained. Their little island of 32,000 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean, the outpost of Europe, lay isolated save for occasional forays to and from the coasts of Scotland and England. The Roman invasions of western Europe never reached it. England the Romans overran, but never Scotland or Ireland. Self-contained, Ireland developed a civilization peculiarly its own, the product of an intense, imaginative, fighting race. War was not constant among them by any means, and occupied only small portions of the island at a time, but, since the bards' best work was war songs and war histories, with much braggadocio doubtless intermixed, a different impression might prevail. Half of their kings may have been killed in broil or battle, and yet great wars were few. It is undoubted that Scotic, that is, Irish, invasion and immigration peopled the western shores of Scotland and gave a name to the country. In the first centuries of the Christian era they were the men who with the Picts fought the Romans at the wall of Severus. The Britons, it will be remembered, enervated by Roman dominance, had failed to defend their "border" when Rome first withdrew her legions.