REQUIEM FOR DAVID O'CONNELL
"Ireland without her people means nothing to me"
"They think they have pacified Ireland…
They think that they have foreseen
everything, think that they have
provided against everything;
but the fools, the fools, the fools!
they have left us our Fenian dead,
and while Ireland holds these graves,
Ireland un-free shall never be at peace"
— Patrick Pearse
Six hundred years of strife behind,
Of conflict, slaughter, sept and sect;
And Tone said, we needs must grow blind
To creed and race, for self-respect.
But History spawns on rancid need
Malign sly ghosts who mesmerise
With hate and hope; who plead, mislead,
And, pleading, seed in subtle lies:
Two peoples yet, not citizens, peers,
Still Talbot's children, William's heirs*.
Saviours in-bred on poisoned soil,
Souls shaped to a Fenian shout,
Minds rough-hewn in turmoil, toil,
Meeting, ambush, camp, redoubt,
And civil, fratricidal war,
Unleashed in Tone's and Emmett's name,
By ardour tender as a roar,
And love impervious to blame:
They wandered blind, by Murder led,
Calling Tone —Tirconnell came instead!
To finish what Wolfe Tone began,
They masked the face in England's blame
Of Irish folk, and aimed the gun:
Republican name, communal game!
Old watchwords changed, old hopes recast,
"Unity" sunk to sect war cry,
The Rights of Man defined by blast
Of bomb and gun — sectarian lie!
Two peoples fight to hold, regain,
Two songs with one hate-loud refrain.
They'd knock down walls, let in the light;
A mystic's war would malice drain,
Fresh blood and magic would unite
Hate-scarred tribes mad with disdain!
The fools, the fools! Demented choices:
Known history disowned, misread -
Talk to yourself in pantomime voices
And think to hear the Fenian dead!
Can Erin unite, blood-soldered stones,
Despite her peoples, trampling their bones?
* The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a catholic
equivalent of the Orange Order; they controlled
the Home Rule Part before and during the First
World War; contemporaries such as Patrick
Pearse, in the IRB paper, Irish Freedom,
blamed them as much as — and sometimes
more than — the Orange Orders for the sectarian
polarisation that led to the Partition of Ireland; their
sectarian-ethnic account of Irish history
dominated thinking and teaching in the
26 Counties for many decades after independence.
*Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, was
the Catholic leader in the
wars at the end of the 17th century, William of
Orange the Protestant king, victor of
the battles at the Boyne and Aughrim.
Both strove for sectional victory.
When at the time of the French Revolution
Wolfe Tone, the founder of Irish republicanism,
proclaimed the goal of uniting the people of Ireland
"Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter”,
tried to break with that sectional past.
(Socialist Organiser, 6 October, 1994)