Letter in The Irish Times   28 December 2005

1916 Rising and the First World War


Kevin Myers is to be thanked for bringing to our attention the fact that 800 men from Co. Louth died in the 1914-1918 War (An Irishman’s Diary, December 20th). Louth is only  one of 32 counties, and not the most populous. Total Irish fatalities were high.

These facts undermine the theme of many of Mr Myers’s column, I.e. that the 1916 Rising was the root cause of the largest disaster or series of disasters of 20th Century Ireland.


The Rising and its aftermath frustrated plans to extend conscription to all of Ireland in the Great War, ensured that the British didn’t dare to  extend it to the Six Counties between 1938 and 1960, kept most of Ireland free of the Luftwaffe from 1939 to 1945 and saved far more lives than those lost in the various Anglo-Irish or inter-Irish conflicts from 1916 to the present.


I, like most Irish people, had many relations in the British armed forces and/or merchant marine in conflicts from the (2nd) Boer War to 1945. I believe they served honourably, but that, without exception they would despise the cultural cringe of the begrudgers  who would elevate their doings above those of men and women who, daring to challenge the power of the British Empire at its zenith, effected the first retreat of that power since Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown – and did it, moreover, WITHOUT THE HELP OF ANOTHER POWER.


Donal Kennedy






Letter in The Guardian – early 1980s


Bishop Cahal Daly of Down and Connor has been given space in your columns to issue what you interpret as a challenge to Sinn Fein. Bishop Daly explains the apparent inconsistency of his wish to speak directly with “the leaders of Sinn Fein” with his refusal to meet that party’s president, Gerry Adams (who has been twice, in the space of a few months, elected  as a political spokesman for many of the Bishop’s own flock) with the plea that he was speaking in a spiritual and Sinn Fein in a  political context.

Bishop Daly must know the use to which his kind of homily is put by British Government spokesmen and their media collaborators: indeed he must approve that use, for unlike his brother Bishops in Armagh and Derry he has not recorded any disapproval.  He has been challenged by Sinn Fein to state whether British Government in Ireland has a moral basis.

As a Catholic who is not a member of Sinn Fein I would like his spiritual guidance on this matter.


Donal Kennedy





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