The recurrence of the National Festival is an event which once more brings to mind all those memories of Faith and Fatherland associated with the day and its celebration, and the cold, indeed, must be the Irish heart that does not warm with the glow of pride and patriotism, engendered by those treasured thoughts which, year after year, the celebration of the feast of St. Patrick evokes. All through the ages since the dawn of Christianity in this country the great feast has been religiously kept and celebrated, and neither persecution nor intolerance have prevailed to prevent its due observance, until today its ancient associations, unsullied by the passage of time, shine forth in all their pristine splendor and primitive glory. The day is essentially a religious one having for its commemoration the rescue of our land from paganism, and the introduction and cultivation of those sacred truths on which the Holy Catholic Church is founded. How this was accomplished by our great patron, St. Patrick, is familiar to every boy and girl and the story of Tara and its transformation, as well as the subsequent history of our ancient land, in its religious, social and political aspects, are all so interwoven that they have come to be inseparably bound up in the comprehensive phrase:- Faith and Fatherland. The celebration of the feast of St. Patrick has witnessed many changes since first St. Patrick plucked the Shamrocks at his feet to hold up as symbol of the Holy Trinity, for the conversion of our pagan princes and ancestors, and times have been when its sacred character has been the all-sufficient reason for the condemnation of those who cherished it. Confessors of the Faith and martyrs have gone to their eternal reward strengthened and sustained by the religious lessons it has imparted, and many a verdant plot has been reddened and enriched by the blood of the patriot only to become more prolific in the production of shamrocks and its defenders. Religious persecution in all worst forms seems to have had the effect of only making the Shamrock and what it stands for more cherished, revered and clear to the Irish heart. Many an ancient and ruined shrine, monastery, and church still dot our land, mute witnesses to what the country has undergone in adhering to the faith of Saint Patrick. But, today we can also pardonably boast and point to many a stately Church and noble Cathedral gracing the land, to replace those that have fallen to the desecrating hand of the destroyer, and thus afford practical proof of the virility of the spirit of Catholicity which still animates our people, and the devotion with which they still cling to the faith of St. Patrick. Not alone have we this beautiful and undaunted spirit manifested at home, but abroad in many lands and climes, wherever Irishmen have been driven to find a home, we find the Catholic faith following in their track, and beautiful Churches and Schools raised to the honour of God and the Glory of Erin.  Catholicity was never so strong in the land; was never permitted such freedom of practice as it is today, while in countries which have been less loyal to the faith, and therefore, less fortunate in the preservation of those racial attributes which assure us a superiority, mentally and physically, there has been a searching of souls and consciences, induced by the visitation of a great war, culminating in a wide-spread tendency to come back once again to a recognition of those protecting truths and tenets which afford the only safe guidance for men and nations. Ireland has triumphed in its struggle for religious freedom, and that she is on the point of triumphing over the obstacles to her civil liberties is evidenced by the spirit of the times, and the general participation in the celebration of the national festival in recent years, and the year of years, more than ever. While solicitous for the preservation of the feast, first of all as a great Catholic holiday, every Irishman regards it as an event in the national calendar when homage must be paid to patriotism, and the storied past of their land recalled with pride. A gallant country, whose military history is by no means confined to its own shores, for it is written in glory across Europe from Dunkirk to Belgrade, blazoned in bloody pages in the Argentina and kindred countries beneath the Southern Cross, and commemorated in many noble monument in the valley of the Potomac, the heights of Fredericksburg, and the plains of Maryland, it is not altogether inappropriate that this year’s celebration should largely partake of a military character. For the same race that gave great soldiers and sailors to countries abroad in the past continues today to perpetuate in the midst of the greatest strife the world has ever seen, the prowess and the soldier-like qualities of its ancestors. Here in the cradle of the soldier race, the martial instinct finds vent in the practice of military movements by armed bodies of civilians, who, as volunteers, are perfecting themselves in those exercises which will fit them if needs be to defend their country against aggression, and hold those rights they have won as free men. It is but natural, therefore, that the spirit of the times should be reflected in imposing church parades, and a mustering of the martial forces to celebrate the day. Even the regular forces of the government in occupation of the country in recent years participate in the observance of the festival which has been elevated to the distinction of a Bank Holiday. Monster parades of Irishmen in cities so far sundered as Melbourne and New York, London and Capetown, will once again give an opportunity to the sea-divided Gael to demonstrate again the undying spirit of Irish nationality. Nowhere, however, will the day be observed with more fidelity than in the trenches at the front, where thousands of Irishmen are fighting and freely giving their best blood in the terrific conflict which is claiming so many victims. Even in Germany itself many an Irish heart will beat responsive to the thoughts of home and fatherland awakened by the sight of the sprigs of green, which will find their way into the prisoners camps at Limburg and elsewhere. While, therefore, we at home hail the advent of the national festival with our accustomed religious and social observances, it is in the greater Ireland abroad that must enthusiasm will be evinced in the celebration of the feast. While the celebration of the festival this year will owing to the circumstances of the times, be largely of a military as well as religious character, it must not be inferred that its social side will be neglected. Irish song and music will resound at many a merry gathering, and the spirit of the day will find expression in the matchless martial airs when our distinctive music boasts, while the romantic periods and sorrows of Dark Rosaleen will each find interpretation in bold numbers and sweetly sentimental airs. The spirit of practical patriotism will also find an outlet in those avenues of activity opened up by the Industrial Development Association and Gaelic League, and the opportunity presented by the prevailing mood will not be lost to promote the encouragement and practical support of Irish manufactured goods and products in the cultivation of those national traits and characteristics, including the study and speaking of the Irish language, which help to preserve our distinctive nationality. The national ambition for a realisation of those hopes which have been the mainspring of Irish patriotism in the past, namely the restoration of our lost legislative independence and the elevation of our land to a position amongst the nations once again continues still to be the foremost amongst the aspirations of the day. These aspirations like the spirit that preserved to us our religious faith, are still as steadfast as when they were first propounded and until they are satisfied the appeasement of Ireland can never be assured. The time is, however, drawing close when this issue must be faced and the long years of yearning brought to an end, and it will be the earnest wish of all by that time the next feast of St. Patrick comes to be observed, it will hailed by a people who, at length, have emerged from a long night of bondage and coming into possession of their rightful heritage, are starting on a career as a nation in the fullest sense of the word, amid the greetings and goodwill of the war-torn nations at length reconciled to a lasting and honourable peace.

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