"Of all the tribes of the Celts, and indeed of all their neighbours in the west of Europe, the children of Milesius have been at once blessed and cursed beyond their fellows, for on the shores of their island alone did the Roman eagle check its victorious flight, and they alone of the nations of western Europe were neither moulded nor crushed into his own shape by the conqueror of Gaul and Britain.
Undisturbed by the Romans, unconquered though shattered by the Norsemen, unsubdued though sore-stricken by the Normans, and still struggling with the Saxons, the Irish Gael alone has preserved a record of his own past, and preserved it in a literature of his own, for a length of time and with a continuity which outside of Greece has no parallel in Europe."
p. 17 © 1899 Douglas Hyde
I literally chanced upon this passage when I pulled the first Irish-lit volume I spied on the shelves and opened it up. Happy St. Patrick's Day!