GOD SAVE THE IRISH
The Irishman at his best "is like some mad king of legend, in a world of tamed, groomed citizens; at his worst he suggests some rather malevolent gnome from the roots of the hills." -Arland Ussher in The Face and Mind of Ireland
That the best English is written by Irish authors is a highly partisan generalization that is not true now and never was. But that many Irish authors write English wonderfully well is incontestable. Has any nation of comparable size ever produced such a long list of distinguished writers, from Jonathan Swift to Anne Crone? There must be something in the Irish climate, or in the whisky, or in the character of a passionately romantic and rebellious people, that is favorable to literature. Ferocious satire or moon-struck sentimentality flourish equally well on Irish soil, along with every intermediate stage between those extremes. Bad Irish writing can be as bad as any; but good Irish writing often seems to be marked by three peculiarly Irish virtues: humor, intuitive understanding of the sorrow and suffering of life, and an uncommonly delicate ear for the music of words.
These are considerable virtues and they do much to account for the special flavor of Irish writing. But there is another rea-