Letter of Bishop Patrick Collier to Fr John Hayes
5th October, 1941.
Dear Father Hayes,
I understand you are coming to Kilkenny next Sunday to hold a meeting for the purpose of explaining the Muintir na Tíre organisation (see category archive – Shane) and introducing it into this county. It gives me pleasure to welcome you and wish your initial meeting every success. It has my approval and blessing. Muintir na Tíre has already done valuable work on a wide front for the rural and agricultural interests of the country. In my opinion it is deserving of earnest and widespread support. We are essentially an agricultural community and must remain so. The national welfare — rural and urban — must always depend on the welfare, success and prosperity of the agricultural instrument. The land must always be the ultimate source of riches and prosperity for this country. (see also: Bishop William Philbin on Rural Ireland — its Problems and Possibilities, 1959 – Shane) Literally, we live by and from the land. It has taken a war and a blockade to drive this simple truth into the minds and consciences of the people. May this war lesson not be forgotten in times of peace.
You have a great chance now for your crusade. The land has come into its own again. The farmer and the plough are in honour. They have saved the country from famine and hunger. The minds of the people are eager and ready to receive constructive advice on all that concerns agriculture and wider rural problems. All this is within the work of your organisation, but the farmer and his family, the land-worker and his children must not be beggars any more in this agricultural country. They must not be under-fed, half-clothed and at the same time overworked as they have been in the past. They must get a decent economic living out of their difficult work like any business section of the community. Put this in the very forefront of your programme. It is vital. Nothing else can stop the flight from the land.
Anything your organisation can do to further the agricultural and rural interests of the country will always have my earnest support and approval. God bless your work.
Yours very sincerely,
Bishop of Ossory.