Four years ago Seamus Murphy SJ launched a scurrilous corner-boy attack on the 1916 Insurgents, sneering at Patrick Pearse, whom he contrasted with Daniel O’Connell, “who had never shot a man in his life.”

As it happens I admire both Pearse and O’Connell, not least for their intelligence and their courage, qualities entirely absent from Father Murphy’s contribution to an IRISH TIMES feature headed “RITE AND REASON.”

Four years before the Insurrection, Pearse had shared a platform with John Redmond in support of Home Rule and years before that had presented a paper on Education at a meeting chaired by Tom Kettle. Education and the Irish Language were Pearse’s primary interests and the University Question and Home Rule were key concerns. But by 1916 Home Rule had been “buried” by the Curragh Mutiny, in the views of suchdisparate commentators  as THE MORNING POST and V.I.Lenin. Britain launched long[-prepared wars on Germany, Austria and the Ottoman Empire, and former Irish Patriots, such as John Redmond and Tom Kettlebecame British Empire Loyaiists and urged, or, like Pied Pipers, misled Irishmen into an unjust war.  Unarmed workers had been  been killed by the RIC in O’Connell Street in 1913 and other citizens killed by British Rifle fire in Bachelor’s Walk in 1914 years before a single Crown Forces member was shot at. Pearse reasonably remarked that if the British offered Ireland he freedom, it would have been very silly for the Irish to reply that they would rather fight them for It. But,things being as they were, the prudent course for those seeking freedom was to be prepared to fight for it. There is no record of Pearse,or any of the seven signatories ofthe Republican Declaration of personally shooting anybody, but they were quite happy to be shot as witness to their sincerity, and (correctly as it turned out) confident that the Irish people would ratify their declaration.

Daniel O’Connell displayed courage on many occasions, in court and on the hustings. When P rime Minister Specer Percival was assassinated he didn’t rush to condemn the  assassin, but condemned those who had no words of commiseration for a woman whose son had been murdred by Orangemen. I doubt he would be amused to see his name invoked in   Father Murphy’s sordid propaganda.

Daniel O’Connell killed a man in a duel in County Kildare in 1815, his Second being a Protestant gentleman from Co Clare, known as “Fire Balls” MacNamara, who had a brace of pistols called “Bas gan Sagart.” Later thatsame year O’Connell was arrested in England, on his way to Ostend, to answer a challenge from Sir Robert Peel.. O’Connell might have saved Irerantsland’s Liberator the bother of having to shoot Peelers, Messrs Varadkar’s and Flanagan’s grotesque maneuvres, and the ignorant  contributions of Seamus Murphy. Those contributions lead me to suspect that Father Murphy and Titus Oates are kindred spirits.

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