It was among farmers and potato diggers and old men in workhouses and beggars at my own door that I found what was beyond these and yet farther beyond that drawingroom poet of my childhood in the expression of love, and grief, and the pain of parting, that are the disclosure of the individual soul.
In the whole course of our work at the theatre we have been, I may say, drenched with advice by friendly people who for years gave us the reasons why we did not succeed... All their advice, or at least some of it, might have been good if we had wanted to make money, to make a common place of amusement.
It was on the first day of Beltaine, that is called now May Day, the Tuatha de Danaan came, and it was to the north-west of Connacht they landed. But the Firbolgs, the Men of the Bag, that were in Ireland before them, and that had come from the South, saw nothing but a mist, and it lying on the hills.
What is whiter than snow?' he said. 'The truth, ' said Grania. 'What is the best colour?' said Finn. 'The colour of childhood, ' said she. 'What is hotter than fire?' 'The face of a hospitable man when he sees a stranger coming in, and the house empty.' 'What has a taste more bitter than poison?' 'The reproach of an enemy.' 'What is best for a champion?' 'His doings to be high, and his pride to be low.' 'What is the best of jewels?' 'A knife.' 'What is sharper than a sword?' 'The wit of a woman between two men.' 'What is quicker than the wind?' said Finn then. 'A woman's mind, ' said Grania. And indeed she was telling no lie when she said that.
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In my childhood there was every year at my old home, Roxborough, or, as it is called in Irish, Cregroostha, a great sheep-shearing that lasted many days. On the last evening there was always a dance for the shearers and their helpers, and two pipers used to sit on chairs placed on a corn-bin to make music for the dance.
It is what the poets of Ireland used to be saying, that every brave man, good at fighting, and every man that could do great deeds and not be making much talk about them, was of the Sons of the Gael; and that every skilled man that had music and that did enchantments secretly, was of the Tuatha de Danaan.
I hold that the beginning of modern Irish drama was in the winter of 1898, at a school feast at Coole, when Douglas Hyde and Miss Norma Borthwick acted in Irish in a Punch and Judy show; and the delighted children went back to tell their parents what grand curses 'An Craoibhin' had put on the baby and the policeman.
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Once in my childhood I had been eager to learn Irish; I thought to get leave to take lessons from an old Scripture-reader who spent a part of his time in the parish of Killinane, teaching such scholars as he could find to read their own language in the hope that they might turn to the only book then being printed in Irish, the Bible.
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It was at Inver Slane, to the north of Leinster, the sons of Gaedhal of the Shining Armour, the Very Gentle, that were called afterwards the Sons of the Gael, made their first attempt to land in Ireland to avenge Ith, one of their race that had come there one time and had met with his death.