Ireland

To enable our readers to have a clearer understanding of all that has gone before and all that is to follow, I think it well at this stage to give a just impression of the Party, of its personnel, its method of working and its general character and composition.

And now my appointed task draws to its close. In the pages I have written I have set nothing down in malice nor have I sought otherwise than to make a just presentment of facts as they are within my knowledge. It may be that, being a protagonist of one Party in the struggles and vicissitudes of these years, I may sometimes see things too much from the standpoint of my own preconceived opinions and notions.

It became a habit of the Irish Party, in its more decadent days, to spout out long litanies of its achievements and to claim credit, as a sort of hereditament no doubt, for the reforms won under the leadership of Parnell. It was, when one comes to analyse it, a sorry method of appealing for public confidence - a sort of apology for present failures on the score of past successes. It was as if they said: "We may not be doing very well now, but think of what we did and trust us." And the time actually arrived when "Trust us" was the leading watchword of Mr Redmond and his Party.

The fortunes of every country, when one comes seriously to reflect on it, are to a great extent dependent on these two vital factors - Land and Labour. In a country so circumstanced as Ireland, practically bereft of industries and manufactures, land and labour - and more especially the labour which is put into land - are the foundation of its very being. They mean everything to it - whether its people be well or ill off, whether its trade is good, its towns prosperous, its national economy secure.

When Mr O'Brien retired in 1903 the majority of the members of the Party scarcely knew what to make of it, and I have to confess myself among those who were lost in wonder and amazement at the suddenness of the event and the reasons that caused it. This knowledge came later, but until I got to a comprehension of the entire facts I refused to mix myself up with either side. When, however, Mr O'Brien returned to public life in 1904, I saw my way clear to associate myself with his policy and to give it such humble and independent support as I could.

by Daniel Desmond Sheehan

 

It may be said that whilst all these things were going on in Ireland and the Party marching with steady purpose to its irretrievable doom, the British people were in the most profound state of ignorance as to what was actually happening. And the same may be said of the Irish in America, Australia, and all the other distant lands to which the missionary Celts have betaken themselves. They were all fed with the same newspaper pap. The various London Correspondents took their cue from Mr T.P. O'Connor and the Freeman.

The writer of this work first saw the light on a modest farmstead in the parish of Droumtariffe, North Cork. He came of a stock long settled there, whose roots were firmly fixed in the soil, whose love of motherland was passionate and intense, and who were ready "in other times," when Fenianism won true hearts and daring spirits to its side, to risk their all in yet one more desperate battle for "the old cause." His father was a Fenian, and so was every relative of his, even unto the womenfolk.

The Party manipulators had now got their stranglehold on the country. The people, where they were not chloroformed into insensibility, were doped into a state of corrupt acquiescence. All power was in the hands of the Party. The orthodox daily Press was wholly on their side. The British public and the English newspaper writers were impressed only, as always, by the big battalions. The Irish Party had numbers, and numbers count in Parliament as nothing else does. Whatever information went through to the American Press passed through tainted sources.

There are some who would dispute the greatness of Parnell - who would deny him the stature and the dignity of a leader of men. There are others who would aver that Parnell was made by his lieutenants - that he owed all his success in the political arena to their ability and fighting qualities and that he was essentially a man of mediocre talents himself.

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