FERGAL KEANE, LORD CHESTERFIELD AND THEOBALD WOLFE TONE by Donal Kennedy


Lord Chesterfield donated the Phoenix Park to the people of Dublin. I don’t know how he acquired it in the first place, but, fair dues. He left us Dubliners in his debt.


He also published letters to his son, of such cynicism that they angered Wolfe Tone. I forget Tone’s exact words. He probable thought the ennobled one should have been horse-whipped. Tone was not a cruel man nor did he glorify bloodshed. But he lived his life to undo tyranny, and if he cheated his tyrant captors the pleasure of hanging him like a criminal, no honest person would deny the nobility of his character. A Bishop of Galway did, in the 1930s, and the citizens of that City promptly dedicated a bridge there to Wolfe Tone’s memory.

So I feel indebted to both Chesterfield and Tone. Tone was immeasurably the greater man.

I have in letters in London’s IRISH POST and THE IRISH WORLD, THE IRISH DEMOCRAT and blogs here taken issue with assertions made by Fergal Keane and refuted them in detail. He appears to me as a man after the main chance, a latter-day Titus Oates, or to quote Roy Foster, whom I regard as ducking quack, a Mick on The make. Like Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Wilford of the Parachute Regiment, Fergal Keane has well-earned his OBE, an Order of Chivalry. 

Unlike Lord Chesterton, Fergal Keane has not given Ireland anything for which we should be thankful. But he has taken a leaf or two out of Chesterfield’s book. by  writing. and (widely) publicising a letter to his son Daniel.

Fergal Keane is the son of the late actor Eamon Keane and the nephew of the late. playwright John B. Keane. Perhaps even a close relative of the celebrated Shakespearean actor Edmund Keane. If I were to write a letter to Daniel Keane it would be very brief – “Full fathom five, Boy!”

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