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JOSEPH DUNN, Ph.D.,
P. J. LENNOX, Litt.D.,
PROFESSORS AT THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA
"All thy life has been a symbol; we can only read a part: God will flood thee yet with sunshine for the woes that drench thy heart."
JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY.
We had at first intended that this should be a book without a preface, and indeed it needs none, for it speaks in no uncertain tones for itself; but on reconsideration we decided that it would be more seemly to give a short explanation of our aim, our motives, and our methods.
As a result of innumerable inquiries which have come to us during our experience as educators, we have been forced to the conclusion that the performances of the Irish race in many fields of endeavor are entirely unknown to most people, and that even to the elect they are not nearly so well known as they deserve to be. Hence there came to us the thought of placing on record, in an accessible, comprehensive, and permanent form, an outline of the whole range of Irish achievement during the last two thousand years.
In undertaking this task we had a twofold motive. In the first place, we wished to give to people of Irish birth or descent substantial reason for that pride of race which we know is in them, by placing in their hands an authoritative and unassailable array of facts as telling as any nation in the world can show. Our second motive was that henceforward he who seeks to ignore or belittle the part taken by men and women of Irish birth or blood in promoting the spread of religion, civilization, education, culture, and freedom should sin, not in ignorance, but against the light, and that from a thousand quarters at once champions armed with the panoply of knowledge should be able to spring to his confutation.
To carry out in a satisfactory manner over a field so immense our lawfully ambitious aim was, as we realized at the outset, not possible to any two men who are primarily engaged, as we are, in other work of an exacting nature. Therefore, to render feasible the execution of our undertaking, we decided to invite the collaboration of many scholars and specialists, each of whom could, out of the fullness of information, speak with authority on some particular phase of the general subject. We are glad to say that the eminent writers