Well, you learn something new every day. Yesterday I attended a Bernie Sanders rally in Oakland, CA which was the very last place I thought I’d learn a new tidbit of Irish history but I was mistaken. One of the speakers had just returned from the North of Ireland. He butchered the pronunciation of Sinn Fein but he told the crowd that Bernie Sanders was one of the only politicians in the United States (and the world) who had taken the time to write an angry message directly to Margaret Thatcher in 1981.
I haven’t written much about my month-long journey through Ireland culminating with the Centenary because to be frank, I am left speechless by most of it. I have no words to convey how much it changed me and how blessed I was to connect with so many amazing people. Many of the greatest moments of my life happened on this trip, including being one of the Constance Markievicz 1916 Societies standard bearers near the forefront of the centenary parade(s). I still can’t believe that happened and I owe the honor to a couple of incredible women named Anna Harvey and Emma Radford.
The English government could never really figure out how to deal with Sinn Fein or its increasing popularity after the Easter Rising of 1916. They blamed the insurrection on the “Shinners” even though the burgeoning political party had little to do with the battle and they were surprised when much of the Irish population flocked to the organization after the government executed all the leaders of the Rising. They tried to downplay Sinn Fein’s popularity and remove its influence on many occasions, but most of the time whatever they tried had the opposite result. The same was true when the government decided to arrest nearly every leading ‘Shinner’ in Ireland ninety-eight years ago today.
Sinead O’Connor is a polarizing artist. She imploded her own rising career by tearing up a picture of the pope in 1992 and has never been able to reclaim it entirely. She is known for being a bit crazy, somewhat suicidal, and incredibly volatile. She involves herself in meaningless Twitter feuds, and makes wild accusations. She rewrote the Irish National Anthem, and has written numerous incendiary letters to the Irish government. Most recently she is collecting lawsuits after accusing Arsenio Hall of being Prince’s drug dealer. She’s kooky and cantankerous, and I still love her. She’s also missing. Continue reading
After the Easter Rising of 1916, Dublin was a shell of a city. The force used by the English to put down the uprising had reduced a large portion of the city to rubble and ash, and the citizens were starting to show their anger. During the actual battle, many were frustrated with the fighters on both sides who were keeping them from their jobs, their paychecks, and their daily lives, but when their very livelihood and their homes were threatened by the indiscriminate shelling, even those who were not political, raised their voices against the onslaught.
On May 4th, 1916, the executions of the leaders of the Easter Rising continued. Joseph Mary Plunkett, William (Willie) Pearse, Edward (Ned) Daly, and Michael O’Hanrahan were shot in the yard at Kilmainham Gaol in the early hours of the morning.
On May 3rd, 1916, Grace Gifford walked into a jewelry store in Dublin. Her eyes were red and she had obviously been crying. She bought her own ring and left with it in hand. Grace was on her way to Kilmainham Gaol to marry Joseph Plunkett, the love of her life. She knew that her family didn’t approve and that she’d be a widow just a few hours after the wedding but she chose to marry him anyway. The executions of the leaders of the Easter Rising had begun that same day. Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke, and Thomas MacDonagh were executed for their roles in the Easter Rising and her beloved would soon join them.
Voices from the Grave is the topic of the day, or rather another result of its existence is. The bestselling book made headlines when it was published and not just because it was a gripping, page turner. It made headlines because almost as soon as it was published, it sparked off terrible controversy, a multitude of investigations, and court battles that continue to this day. In fact, now there’s a whole new chapter.