CENTENARIES by Donal Kennedy

In thirteen years time I suppose Ireland WILL NOT BE CELEBRATING OR INTELLIGENTLY COMMEMORATING the centenary of Fianna Fail’s first accession to power or the 16th Centenary of St Patrick’s return to Ireland as a missionary.

What was long an overwhelmingly Christian society has,  adopted a Cretinous patina, and its leading Blueshirt has indicated he’d sleep more comfortably under Rohm* than Rome Rule. Fianna Fail has imploded, and ignorance promoted. The Irish language and the teaching of history are both considered impediments to the training
of wealth producers and customers/consumers/shoppers. I’m not nostalgic about the relative material poverty of the Ireland of my youth, but with all its faults it was a more enlightened time when a politician swigging and swinging and falling on her arse didn’t try to sue a hotel for a fortune.

If you read Fergal Keane, Fintan O’Toole, or any of today’s fashionable commentators 1932 represents the opening of a Dark Age on Ireland. In fact it opened an enlightened one. Mussolini was ten years in power in Italy and was admired in Britain  by many, notably Winston Churchill, until he (Mussolini) allied himself with Hitler in 1940. Churchill, as late
as 1938 said, that if Britain had been reduced to the state that Germany had been in 1919, he hoped that a leader like Hitler would have emerged in Britain. In Ireland, by 1932 W.T. Cosgrave’s Government was so devoid of ideas that it had sunk to the level of a Boris Johnson, attacking de Valera for his Spanish and Lemass for his French ancestry.
In our day Stephen Collins of THE IRISH TIMES can admire the sophistication of the Cumann na nGael poster, and pose as a Political Editor.)

The Fianna Fail Government of 1932 eschewed revenge. Civil Servants and Judiciary and soldiers of the regime which had ruthlessly crushed Republicans were retained in office whilst IRA prisoners of the regime were released. General Eoin O’Duffy, Garda Commissioner was transferred to the Land Commission – a mild retribution for planning
a coup against the incoming Government, But it wasn’t long before O’Duffy, Cosgrave and his party were donning blue paramiltary shirts, adopting Fascist salutes and ideology, strutting about with menace and threatening a march on Dublin like the Fascist March on Rome. Fianna Fail (with IRA assistance) stopped the march on Dublin, A situation
which might have reopened the Civil War was diffused with political finesse. The success of the process may be illustrated by the emergence from “pro-Treaty” families of O’Malleys, Lenihans and Haugheys at a high level in Fianna Fail. Industrial employment and council house  building soared under Fianna Fail in the 1930s,, a statutory
one week’s annual holiday for industrial workers was established, earlier than if Britain or in France. The 1930s was the decade of the Great depression in the USA, of the Jarrow March and “The Road to Wigan Pier” in England. Enlightened Protestant England and her compliant Dominions couldn’t stomach the idea of their King
marrying a divorced woman, but De Valera had no problem with the issue, removing the Crown from any function in the Free State, whose electorate established a Sovereign, Democratic Irish State, without an Established State Church NOR A SECTARIAN BIAS. I ask readers to read that sentence again and until the message percolates.

The first President of the State was a Church of Ireland scholar and son of a clergyman. Another President was also from the Church of Ireland and the current President is an Atheist.

I write this in secular France where attendance at Mass is a minority pursuit. Unlike 26 County Ireland, here if  Catholics wants to attend Mass on a Holy Day they needn’ put their hands up to their employers pleading  “AN BHFUIL CEAD AGAINN DUL AMACH!”.

Here, as in most of Europe, Catholic Holy Days of Obligation are National “HOLIDAYS.”

Long before Fianna Fail the only breaks slaves or serfs had from the grindstone were established by the Church. They were rather more frequent than current Holy Days.

A stranger to Ireland might be confused by reference to THE CHURCH OF IRELAND. It is not and never has been the denomination adhered to by the majority of the Irish People. That of the majority has been the one affiliated to Rome.


The Church of Ireland Archbishop Clegg of Dublin was instrumental in formulating Article 44, which guaranteed FREEDOM OF AND FREEDOM FROM RELIGION for all citizens.

I will return to these matters at another time.

*Ernst Rohm (1887-1934)

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