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Woodenbridge speech

 

 

SEPTEMBER 20, 1914, WOODENBRIDGE, CO. WICKLOW

Fellow countrymen, it was indeed fortunate chance that enabled me to be present here today. I was motoring past, and I did not know until I arrived here that this gathering of the Volunteers was to take place at Woodenbridge. I could not deny myself the pleasure and honour of waiting to meet you, to meet so many of those whom I have personally known for many long years, and to see them fulfilling a high duty to their country. I have no intention of making a speech. All I desire to say to you is that I congratulate you upon the favourable beginning of the work you have made.

You hare only barely made a beginning. You will yet have hard work before you can call yourselves efficient soldiers, and you will have to have in your hand - every man - as efficient weapons as I am glad to see in hands of some, at any rate, of your numbers. Looking back as I naturally do, upon the history of Wicklow I know that you will make efficient soldiers. Efficient soldiers for what?

Wicklow Volunteers, in spite of the peaceful happiness and beauty of the scene in which we stand, remember this country at this moment is in a state of war, and your duty is a twofold Duty. The duty of the manhood of Ireland is twofold. Its duty is, at all costs, to defend the shores of Ireland against foreign invasion. It is a duty more than that of taking care that Irish valour proves itself: on the field of war it has always proved itself in the past. The interests of Ireland - of the whole of Ireland - are at stake in this war. This war is undertaken in the defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would he a disgrace for ever to our country and a reproach to her manhood and a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history. I say to you therefore, your duty is twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers around me, and I say to you - Go on drilling and make yourself efficient for the Work, and then account yourselves as men, not only for Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right, of freedom and religion in this war. 

- Extracted from Great Irish Speeches of the twentieth century, Ed. Michael McLoughlin, 1996

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