The author of the tales contained in this volume was one of the brightest and most poetic spirits who have appeared in Ireland in the last half century. It is needless to say that he was also one of the most patriotic Irishmen of his generation––patriotic in the highest and widest sense of that term, loving with an ardent love his country, its people, its historic traditions, its hills and plains, its lakes and streams, its raths and mounds. Like all men of his type, he lived largely in the past, and his fancy revelled much in fairy scenes of childhood and youth.
The distractions of political life, into which he entered with characteristic enthusiasm, prevented Edmund Leamy from cultivating his favourite field of literature with that assiduity and sustained application necessary for the purpose of bringing out the really great intellectual powers with which he was endowed; otherwise, he would certainly have left to Ireland a large body of literature which would have been the delight of old and young. But in this volume he has given at least an indication of what he was capable of doing towards that end. No one can read these pages without feeling the charm of a fine and delicate fancy, a rare power of poetic expression, and a genuinely Irish instinct; without feeling also an intense regret that the mind and heart from which they proceeded were stilled in death long before the powers of his genius could have been exhausted.
To myself, as one of the most intimate friends of Edmund Leamy, it is a melancholy pleasure to have the privilege of writing these few words of introduction to a volume which, for the purpose of preserving his memory amongst his countrymen, needs no introduction at all. The claims of a long friendship, the knowledge of as stainless a life as has ever been lived, and admiration for moral and intellectual endowments of the rarest character, render it easy to praise. But I do not think that I indulge in undue expectation in predicting that the new audience to which this volume will come will rise from its perusal with something of the feelings of love, admiration, and regret which those who knew Edmund Leamy personally will ever cherish in their hearts.
J. E. REDMOND.
Dublin, June 2nd, 1906.