SIR – I was at the O’Donovan Rossa (aka O’Dynamite Rossa) shindig in Skibbereen recently and it turned out to be such an embarrassing display of paddywhackery, it had me not knowing where to look or hide. To say the Fenian movement was illustrious and visionary in the realm of politics and revolution is a lot like saying – and not believing – that the Provisional IRA is the true government of Ireland.
Look, the Fenians were only good at being hopeless and didn’t know their ass from
their elbow. They were good at being arrested, serving lengthy prison sentences, informing on each other and carrying out daft plans, some deadly, unfortunately.
This was the ‘freedom fighting’ ethos from which the Provos took their equally-failed direction.
The tactics were similar in that they both bombed London, for example, the Fenians even managing to murder twelve people in the capital.
Take a bow, all of you Rossa aficionados, but spare a sensible thought, also. The mad-hatters of the Fenian movement, having failed miserably to ‘free Ireland,’ hightailed
it over to America and they began a series of comical ‘invasions’ of Canada, where they intended to set up a form of ‘Irish Republic’ in small towns and rural communities in a couple of provinces!
‘Keystone Cop’ territory was entered with enthusiasm and devotion, but all efforts were quickly abandoned as soon as they were fired on by the Canadians and they rushed back to the US border with the howls of ‘cowardice’ ringing in their ears shouted by the military bosses, while at the same time begging them to fight. Talk about nuts.
It was around this time that those who were beginning to see sense, were hunted
down and murdered by the diehards in the movement. A policy in the ranks of the ‘army’ was that there could be no second thoughts about the fight for Irish freedom.
A member from Ireland had the thought that if he went to New York, he could get out of the grip of the headbangers in Dublin, but they followed him and shot him dead on a NY street. I used to remember his name ... forgot ... Google him up for yourself. That is what they were – a handful of simple fools, even if some of the leaders were highly-educated.
In the meantime, there were myriad breakaway factions springing from the original set-up of bold Fenian men, who spent most of the time getting arrested for trying to kill each other when not waging war on the ‘ould enemy’ so far from home. Sound familiar?
Hearing how Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin are worried that their ‘peace process’ could be under pressure if the UK social welfare cuts apply in Northern Ireland as elsewhere in the UK gives us another indication from where the Provo inspiration of fantasy could have originated.
You were a gas man, Jeremiah, were the thoughts in my mind as I eventually found an escape from that evening of Skibbereen farce.