On this day in 1854, a young baby by the name of Oscar Fingel O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin. Given the length of the name it is no wonder why it was eventually shortened to the simple (and now famous) Oscar Wilde.
On this day in 1939, poet and patriot William Butler Yeats said farewell to the world from the south of France. Yeats spent many of his winters in France and in Italy due to life-long health issues but he always left his heart in Ireland, even after death. He told his wife George to bury him quietly in the hills above Monaco but “to dig me up and plant me in Sligo” a year later when he thought everyone would have forgotten about him. That idea is laughable given that he is still revered and remembered today.
Now I know there’s been a lot of hullabaloo about people re-writing the Irish Proclamation—rightfully, in my opinion—so I’m aware that I could be messing around in holy ground with this one. Still, I was immensely impressed with this new take on Joseph Mary Plunkett’s “I See His Blood Upon the Rose“. Since it is still National Poetry Month here in the United States and I posted the original over on the Facebook page during Easter Week, I thought I’d share this new one here.
Since it is Easter Monday and National Poetry month here in the US, today belongs to Padraig Pearse and his heartbreaking poem, The Mother.
I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of among their people,
The generations shall remember them,
And call them blessed;
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers:
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow-And yet I have my joy:
My sons were faithful, and they fought.
It must be agonizing for a parent to outlive their child. It goes against the natural order of the universe and has to be absolutely devastating. For many, it usually involves anger and hopelessness. Margaret Pearse knew that suffering better than most, for she didn’t lose one son, but two—at once—both executed at the hands of the British for their roles in the Easter Rising of 1916. Despite this, she steadfastly refused to give in to despair and she spent the rest of her life fighting for the free Ireland that her sons had died for.
Today, February 4th, 147 years ago, one of Irish history’s most famous women was born…in London. Constance Gore-Booth was an aristocratic socialite who fell in love with Irish politics and went on to be one of the most beloved and recognized names in Nationalist history. She fought for women’s rights in Ireland and was a devoted Republican fighter who would have been executed for her role in the Easter Rising, had she not been a woman. Her most famous advice to women was to “Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver.” In honor of her birthday today, here are my top ten favorite facts you may or may not already know about her life.
Jane Francesca Elgee did a lot of things in her life. She rebelled against her Protestant, Unionist family and became a prolific poet and Nationalist writer. She stood up in court, outing herself as the criminal during a Sedition case to protect the people and the paper she worked for. She spoke at least five languages and translated in each. She threw weekly salons and was known as the most gracious host in all of Dublin. She was a devoted Suffragist and fought for equal rights for women. But what she is best known for is not her prose or her politics. She is best known for being the mother of her children—one in particular—whose works far surpassed those of his mother in a very short time. Indeed, Jane Francesca Elgee will forever be known as Lady Jane Wilde, the woman who gave birth to her son, Oscar.