Garret Fitzgerald in his Memoirs, was rightly proud of his father, Desmond Fitzgerald’s role as Editor of THE IRISH BULLETIN when Minister for Publicity in the First Dail Eireann.
The first Editor was Lawrence Ginnell TD, a barrister who had been a Westminster MP but had broken with John Redmond in 1910. Frank Gallagher was its longest serving editor, and writing under the pseudonym David Hogan, dsecribed its work in his brilliant memoir THE FOUR GLORIOUS YEARS. Robert Brennan, later Irish Minister in Washington, also served as editor and and in his brilliant and very funny memoir ALLEGIANCE describes the paper’s work. Erskine Childers didn’t live to write a memoir but wrote for the Bulletin, and his friend, William Wedgwood Benn MP, who had served with him in the Great War used the Bulletin to put Ministers on the spot over their conduct in Ireland.
In Ireland itself having a copy of the Bulletin in one’s possession was a risky business. Edward Mac Lysaght’s mother borrowed a few copies to travel to Limerick. Her train was stopped by British troops and she was tried by court-martial and sentenced to two weeks imprisonment
or a fine of £20. To her chagrin, her husband, just back from a business trip to Australia paid the fine for her. It seems that today’s Irish establishment, political, media and academic is, one hundred years later, scared of probably the most effective organ of the First Dail Eireann.
You might imagine that it would have been reprinted at the expense of taxpayers who owe their citizenship to their forebears who established the Dail, during the Decade of Remembrance. Instead the reprinting has been done as an unpaid labour of love by the Aubane Historical Society including my good friend Jack Lane,
I already mentioned the memoirs of Garret Fitzgerald. They mention when he accompanied the young Maurice Manning when Manning first stood for Seanad Eireann, Manning won a seat, and, like Garret later became Chancellor of the National University of Ireland.
Manning is Chairman of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations and has a curriculum vitae to dazzle the brightest stars. It seems to me that the the State has been deliberately dumbing-down its citizens by downgrading the study of history in the schools. Worse still it has fostered the publication of fake histories. In
the 1920s, 1930s 1940s, 1950s and 1960s when Piaras Beaslaoi, Batt O’Connor, Desmond Fitzgerald, Robert Brennan and Frank Gallagher were publishing their memoirs most of their contemporaries were alive to challenge them. Their works have not been reprinted for later generations, who are instead fed works of hi-falutin’ theories and mercenary falsehoods.
The attempt to have the RIC honoured by the nation it tried to suppress is but the latest of many sins of omission or commission of those entrusted with the commemorations.
It is a reminder to those dazzled by anyone’s CV that not every thing that glisters is gold.