"Beware!" Irish revolutionary Padraig Pearse wrote more than 100 years ago.
Padraig Pearse was the face and voice of the Easter Rising. He wrote the Proclamation, which is much more liberal than the U.S. Declaration of Independence. In it, he begins by noting that he is addressing “Irishmen and Irishwomen”—for the first time in her long tenure women were to be equal to men in the new Irish Republic.
He went on to guarantee many rights and freedom: “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”
Many think Pearse eloquence even outdid Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.
Although Pearse was known as the “President” of the Provisional Government, in reality, the show was being run by the likes of Tom Clarke and James Connolly. On April 29th, Pearse surrendered the Republican forces to the British, and in great haste he was shot four days later on May 3rd at Kilmainham Gaol.
Pearse and America
Pearse only visited America once, in 1913, to raise money for his school, St. Enda’s in Rathfarnham. He returned to Ireland a radical Republican. Did he learn anything in New York from John Devoy, who he dubbed “the greatest of the Fenians”?
Today, the Republic that Pearse envisioned is coming into fruition. It is one of the most liberal republics in the world. In it, gays are free to marry, divorce is legal, as is abortion. But looking at his writings, the one poem that he wrote not only spoke for revolutionary Ireland, but also the United States of America in the time of Donald J. Trump.
“The Rebel” is a poem of outright rebellion and insurrection. You can read the whole poem here, but it is the end of the poem that sounds a warning for Trump and all his gutless toadies. The last eight lines are devastating and seem to send a warning to America after the brutal death of George Floyd:
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people, or that law is stronger than life,
And than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed.
Tyrants… hypocrites… liars!
As I write this, Trump is building a fence around the White House because he is afraid of America’s citizens. He is frightened because he is a coward. He was a draft-dodger and is a bully of the first-rate. But as with most bullies, all we see now is an obese, impotent 73-year-old boy, not a man. A boy with a Bible he has never read. He is done and he knows it.
Pearse also wrote the eulogy of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa at Glasnevin Cemetery on August 1, 1915. It was the unofficial launch of the Easter Rising. He ended it with a string of words that seem to describe a certain American cabal in triplicate: “…the fools, the fools, the fools!”
You would swear he was writing about Trump and his henchmen, 105 years into the future.
*Dermot McEvoy is the author of the recently published "Real Irish New York: A Rogue’s Gallery of Fenians, Tough Women, Holy Men, Blasphemers, Jesters, and a Gang of Other Colorful Characters." He is also the author of "The 13th Apostle: A Novel of Michael Collins and the Irish Uprising," and "Our Lady of Greenwich Village," both now available in paperback, Kindle, and audio from Skyhorse Publishing. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his website and Facebook page.