“In the island of Achill, impoverished as the people are, hard as their lives are, difficult as the struggle for existence is, the outward aspect is a pageant. One may see processions of young
women riding down on the island ponies to collect sand from the foreshore, or gathering in the turf, dressed in their shawls and in their brilliantly-coloured skirts made of made of material spun, woven and dyed, by themselves,as it has been for over a thousand years. Their cottages also are little changed. They remain simple and picturesque. It is only in such places that one gets a glimpse of what Ireland may become again, when the beauty may become more than a pageant, will be 5the outward sign of a prosperous and Gaelic life.”
That’s not a translation of An Beal Bocht, nor a quotation from a derided address by Eamon de Valera taken out of context. Dev’s speech was given when Ireland was still poor and as Sunday Times reviewer Dominic Sandbrook observes, Europe was booming. Booming indeed from Kursk. where the Soviets inflicted a strategic defeat on the Third Reich and the British and American airforces were blasting German cities to rubble. At the time the author of An Beal Bocht remarked that the Irish campain to foster the ancient language was a more urbane one than those of her neighbours who were smashing each other and the accumulated glories of European civilisation to bits.
My quotation is from the last writings and speeches of Michael Collins in support of his war on his former comrades and the agreement he had signed in London.
I do not quote it to demean one of Ireland’s greatest patriots. But like ‘The Flowers that Bloom in The Spring, Tra-La’, they have nothing to do with the case. I shall return to this theme
For light relief the Autobiography of Garret Fitzgerald relates how, after sitting some years on the Fine Gael benches in the Seanad, he decided to stand for the Dail. But he had
never actually joined Fine Gael and asked John A Costello how he could regularise his position.
“Forty years in politics, twice Taoiseach,” answered the Elder Statesman, “and I never joined the Party.”
Makes you think that if it could be proved that Gerry Adams never joined Sinn Fein his chances of becoming Taoiseach might be improved?