The ceremonies that marked the presentation of the sword of General Thomas Francis Meagher to the University of Notre Dame, like the life and works they commemorated, were simple, dignified and beautiful. Accompanied by an escort of honor, consisting of the commissioned officers of the cadet regiment, a color guard, a rifle squad, and a detail of first sergeants, the sword was borne through the aisles of Washington Hall, to the stage, where the officers saluted, the guard presented arms, and the buglers sounded the stirring martial strains that had so often inspired the gallant men of General Meagher's own command, the immortal Irish Brigade.
Mr. Chairman, Right Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Faculty of the University, Assembled Students, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On the pedestal of a magnificent equestrian statue of this singularly brilliant genius, erected in the grounds of the capital at Helena, my home, is chiseled his eloquent exordium upon the sword, delivered when he was a young man just out of college...
By what strange combination of circumstances has it come to pass that I, a citizen of the remote state of Montana, am permitted now to confide to this University this interesting relic? ...He came to the territory in September of 1865 under appointment by President Johnson as secretary of the territory, but in the absence of the governor he became, and remained until his untimely death on the first of July, 1867, its acting governor...
Here let it rest, teaching the youth who repair to these halls that nobility of character is the only sure foundation of greatness; teaching them that the right is always in need of fearless champions, and that the talents that God gave us we are expected to prove to their utmost in order that we may attain to the end and earn the reward which he has in store for each of us.
Following Father Cavanaugh's speech of acceptance, Reverend Father O'Donnell read an ode written expressly for the occasion. He chose as his theme, the reunion of the battle-scarred green flag of the Irish Brigade, already in possession of the school, and the sword which had flashed forth upon so many fields, over which the flag of the Brigade had floated. Father O'Donnell conceived all the Irish heroes from all over the earth as present to attend the feast. The "wedding of the sun-gold sword and the sea-green flag" was beautiful in thought and execution, and Father O'Donnell was accorded an ovation when he rose to deliver it.
The wounded were cared for in our little church, and the floor and the walls, the priest told me, were red with blood. The bones of the fallen are with us in the cemetery near the town.
I wish I could be with you. Believe me,
Very sincerely yours,
D. F. O'Connell,
Bishop of Richmond.