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Showing posts from March, 2020

The 19th Century in Ireland and Beyond

The 19 th Century in Ireland and Beyond                  Gerry OShea Most historians agree that the two Revolutions at the end of the 18 th century ushered in the modern era.   The Americans sent the British home and put the first nail in the colonial coffin. The powerful empire operating from London did not go easily because the leaders there realized that other colonies would surely seek to emulate George Washington and his revolutionaries. In addition, the American Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, a hugely radical statement for those times that, even though, disgracefully, excluding black people, it remained a revolutionary concept, contrary to all the conventional wisdom of that age. It was a cry for freedom that stirred thoughts of new possibilities among subject peoples all over the world. The other revolution in France, which took place fourteen years later in 1789 was greatly influenced by the events in America. It was a

Percy French

Percy French                     Gerry OShea Every culture needs a place and time for masks and costumes, rituals and pageantry. The Indian tribes, the original Americans, revealed their changing moods with feathers and multi-colored paints, and English people love their monarchs not because of their political beliefs or oratorical prowess, but because their crowns and robes and resplendent palaces represent a glamorous lifestyle unattainable to mere commoners. In the town of Kenmare, the place where I grew up, the Catholic church provided an abundance of rituals and pageantry at a time – back in the 1950’s and 1960’s – when most people had to settle for a very humdrum existence. High masses with thuribles and incense, Corpus Christi parades and late-evening benedictions and holy hours met the ceremonial needs of the people. The other powerful organization in the town, the Gaelic Athletic Association, was also an important cultural force. The Fr. Breen Park, known to us y

Irish Elections Past and Present

Irish Elections Then and Now         Gerry OShea Fianna Fail(FF) was founded in 1926 by Eamon De Valera, better known just as Dev, after he led a split from the Sinn Fein(SF) Party when it decided at its annual convention to reject his motion to end the policy of abstention from the Dail.   SF leaders at the time argued that to enter parliament would be a betrayal of their solemn pledge of fealty to the 32-county Irish republic – a noble aspiration but a chimerical, unrealizable notion in those days. The clause in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, negotiated by Michael Collins and his team, that obliged all TD’s to take an Oath of Allegiance to the English monarch was seen as a serious compromise of basic principles by many Republicans. Dev repudiated the Treaty mainly because of this clause, but in 1927 he led the FF deputies into Leinster House claiming that the abhorrent oath that they signed should be seen as “an empty formula.”   We are likely to hear much more about the histo

The Sanders Candidacy

The Sanders Candidacy           Gerry OShea The Sanders political phenomenon is astonishing. We are talking about an unprepossessing 78-year old Jewish man, a recent survivor of a heart attack, a declared socialist from the small state of Vermont, who is one of two candidates – with former vice-president Joe Biden - most likely to win the nomination of the Democratic Party for president, even though he is not even a member of that party.   The bulk of his support comes from young people who have volunteered in droves to help their man win the nomination. In addition, his fundraising is far more successful so far than any of his opponents – a strong indication of a thriving grassroots candidacy. The senator’s treasury is flowing over from small contributions of $50 or less. He does not take Political Action Committee money and makes no effort to solicit donations from the affluent.   Explaining the voter attraction of a patriarchal figure like Bernie Sanders   - especially