Remember the real Irish heroes from the 1916 Rising
By: Cormac MacConnell | Published Friday, November 26, 2010, 4:40 AM | Updated Sunday, August 4, 2013, 3:25 AM
Ironically, a fortnight before the shock troops from the dreaded International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank arrived finally in Dublin town, effectively to take over the nation, I was presented with a magnificent photograph of the signing of the Irish Proclamation in 1916, by the famed Ennis photographer Liam Hogan.
It happened on my own doorstep. Liam is a walking man. And the timing was totally coincidental.
For more than a month the bold Liam had promised me a copy of the historic photograph of the signing ceremony which took place about a week before the Rising began.
The framed color reproduction of the original shot, featuring all the seven executed signatories and six other rebel leaders, changed hands during the days when our current leaders were flatly denying there was any application by Ireland for a bailout.
We now know that they were at the very least fudging the emerging truth, at worst lying through their teeth. Enough of that.
Liam and I were ahead of the posse by an Irish mile. There was already a tiny cobweb on my Proclamation by the time the IMF money men arrived in Dublin with their briefcases full of enough hairshirts to clothe us all for the next decade.
Furthermore, I presented it as a gift to my friend Joyce Altshuler of San Francisco a few days later, and it is now beyond the reach of even the IMF!
Notice that, in keeping with my usual tactic, I am avoiding all the darker and more frightening implications of our current plight here following the beginning of the bailout and the associated national shame involved.
Beyond doubt those fierce and committed signatories to a statement of our sovereignty and independence are currently spinning in their graves. They would surely have been most agitated when the British Government -- our oldest enemy -- offered a few bob to help dig us out of the hole in which our corrupt bankers have left us recently.
But enough of that for the moment. I cannot go there.
I choose to concentrate on the visage of Padraig Pearse in Liam's reproduction of the historic photograph taken all those Aprils ago when this Ireland was a squalling infant. And indeed, as always, Pearse sat at the table in profile that day.
I've heard that he had some kind of birthmark on the other side of his face, and that is why the photos of the revolutionary-poet were always taken in profile. There is something so vulnerable about that, is there not?
He was a handsome enough man too, gentle looking, well bred and raised, looking far more like a poet than the man who would take up the gun in a matter of hours.
I've been inside his spartan cottage in Rosmuck in Connemara a few times. There is an ascetic kind of peace in there.
Windows overlook a quiet lake and brooding mountains. You can hear the birds sing. Maybe not these days, though.
Liam told me that he and his American-based brother hold the copyright to that Proclamation photograph and the reproduction of a prouder moment in our hardy history than any moments now.
He also told me that, for whatever reason, long before the current economic tragedy, the Irish both at home and abroad have been buying Proclamations like hot cakes!
Did the spirits of a fey nation sense something bad was coming down the tracks long before it actually happened? It could be so. Stranger things have happened.
To stave off the inevitable queries you can reach Liam at www.faithandartpublishingco1916.com directly. And view Pearse's suffering profile yourselves!
It is interesting to observe the mood in rural Ireland since the IMF moneymen arrived in Dublin. Again, I am staying away from the darker truths, but it is true that we countrymen are saying ruefully, "Sure the IMF can't be any harder on us than Fianna Fail are going to be in the December budget,” and "I'm not watching the news any more on the telly!"
There is somewhat less gloom around than you might imagine. I think that we Irish, given our history and maybe the fundamental Catholic ("Valley of Tears") template, are always prepared in advance for the troubles that are always certain to come down the track.
There is real anger against the government for sure, and Fianna Fail will surely get the most horrific hammering ever, not just in the Donegal by-election, but in the next general election which will take place either next month or in January.
At the same time, believe it or not, it may be seen in hindsight that Cowen & Company played a brilliant defensive game over recent months. They constantly denied they were looking for a bailout, for example.
Then, when our economic plight began affecting the entire euro-zone, it emerged last week that it was Europe pushing for a bailout, not the Irish. It was to protect the euro's value across the zone, said the politicos, rather than to just bail out Ireland.
A week is a long time in politics for sure.
The blazes with it. I'm away off to the Honk now for a few pints as usual…