-The late Brendan Behan collected at least one Dublin ballad commemorating the Invincibles hanged for the 1882 killing of Cavendish and Burke in the Phoenix Park.
He remarked that Republicans celebrating the Pikemen of ’98 and the Fenian tradition shunned their memory.
In these more broad-minded days perhaps the Invicibles should have parks and streets and postage stamps dedicated to their memory.
Bridges too, for they would build a bridge between various respectable traditions.
In the 1960s before the IRA split, its Chief of Staff, speaking for them, declared “We are today’s Invincibles.” A childhood friend of Behan, Cathal Goulding had
probably got the idea from him.
Various bodies involved in Irish public life cut their political teeth or sowed their wild oats with the 1960s IRA. I remember, in the 1970s reading a news item in THE TIMES of London which had words of approval for Goulding. So I would fear no disapproval from that source.
The Redmondite Wing of Fine Gael, best represented by John Bruton, could hardly object, for Tom Kettle anticipated such commemoration well over a century ago –
“Cancel the past! Why, yes! We,too, have thought
Of conflict crowned and drowned in olives of peace;
But when Cuchullin and Ferdiadh fought
There lacked no pride of warrior curtesies,
And so must this fight end.
Bond, from the toil of hate we may not cease:
Free, we are free to be your friend.
And when you make your banquet and we come,
Soldier with equal soldier must we sit,
Closing a battle, not forgetting it.
With not a name to hide,
This mate and mother of valiant “rebels” dead
Must come with all her history on her head.
We keep the past for pride:
No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb:
No rawest squad of death’s own volunteers,
No rudest man who died
To tear your flag down in the bitter years,
But shall have praise, and three times thrice again,
When at that table men shall drink with men.