KEVIN BARRY TALKS BALLOCKS ON RADIO FOUR! by Donal Kennedy


I wasn’t hallucinating but standing in the shower this morning listening to BBC Radio  Four when an Irish short-story writer named Kevin Barry  endorsed the statement that Ireland was catapulted into  the 21st Century from the 19th Century, missing the 2Oth.

What a cockeyed, perverse and ignorant  contention!

James Joyce, for a start, made his name in the 20th Century.

In 1905, when none of the political parties at Westminster , and few in the world at large, advocated universal adult suffrage, Sinn Fein adopted that principle on its inauguration. The Irish Labour Party on its founding in 1912 held the same principle.

The first of the 20th Century’s Wars for Democracy, launched in Dublin in 1916 enshrined that principle in its Declaration and the signatories proved their sincerity by sacrificing their lives. In the first use of radio addressed to the world -“To the Nations of the World, Greeting” they were long in advance of BBC Radio Four.

The 1914-1918 and 1939-45 Wars launched by Britain were for Empire, not human liberation. Indeed I cannot think of any war since in which Britain has been a champion of liberty.

The Sinn Fein General Election victory of 1918 was the first such manifestation of the principle of National Self-Determination.The defensive war from 1919-1921 waged by the Republic was an inspiration to oppressed nationalities and to individuals such as Ho Chi Minh, and Nehru, (and Marcus Garvey).  Nehru visited Ireland on his own country becoming a Republic in1950 to pay homage to De Valera, ( who was in opposition at the time.) In 1921 Dev had  formulated the concept of a Republic externally associated with the British Commonwealth, too advanced for British statesmen at the time.

Those who can remember “A Hard Days Night” might care to consult  THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS for its coverage of Dev’s welcome at Euston Station in 1938. The photos might have been a template for scenes in the movie.

And 45 years before the Beatles visited the  States and 20 before John Lennon was born, Dev’s supporters were packing American Sports ground from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and  Dev, jointly with Indian Nationalists, also packed New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The Irish Tenor John McCormack’s records outsold those of any other artiste for the first half of the 20th Century. He was nearly 10 years dead when Bing Crosby became the best seller.

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