Rearden Conner, Men Must Live (1937)


This novel offers an anatomy of a small but growing Irish town, Killnamon in Co. Cork, on the Cork-Tipperary border [top end of Cork’], in the period of the rise of the Sinn Féin Movement after 1905. Gombeen greed is pilloried with some ferocity in the person of the publican Con Mulcahy, who derives his income parasitically from the poor of the community, and who is eventually shot by the IRA for treason, after the death of his own son, William, in the GPO, to his own great disgust. A school-teacher and a parish priest represent other pro-Establishment elements, while one Muldoon, married to an Anglo-Irish landowner, epitomises the incursions of snobbery in the Irish social system. The social myopia of the doctor’s wife is such that, in the novel’s liveliest episode, her own daughter reminds her sharply that Queen Victoria is no longer living.

The hero, John Brannigan, a plain man from the hills, aged thirty, takes a shop and starts to thrive through his own energy, imagination and honest dealing. He befriends the cantankerous blacksmith, Frank O’Mara, who is ruining himself by preaching socialist Republicanism to all and sundry. A longstanding prophet of rebellion, O’Mara eventually dies in a clash with the RIC at Easter 1916, and recieves accordingly a hero’s burial. The unillusioned devotion of his unfortunate wife, in spite of her indifference to his ideals, which serves the purposes of the plot to signal the essential nobility of his character, is one of the harder sentimental pills the novel invites us to swallow.

The villain of the piece is Con Mulcahy, a gombeen publican. When he detects that Brannigan is beginning to overshadow him in importance, offers to share his investment with him and next tries to persuade the village prostitute - who is at his mercy since he owns the only pub where she is welcome - to ruin his reputation. Brannigan defuses the plot unawares by showing common courtesy to the girl, who she subsequently evades Mulcahy’s bargain by moving her trade to Dublin.

Mulcahy’s hairlip daughter then begins to paint notices around the country accusing Brannigan of association with the girl. She is caught by friends of Brannigan and Mulcahy’s machinations revealed. Mulcahy loses his best customers, and turns to extortionate money-lending to the among the indigent townspeople. It appears that his abused daughter is actually in love with Brannigan, and now she commits herself to a silent order of nuns. Mulcahy also has a son called Willy, whom he is determined to make into a gentleman. Unbenownst to him, Willy is embarrassed by his ill-bred origins and despises his own father. He joins up with the Volunteers in order to win the respect of his fellow-students, and is killed in the GPO. Mulcahy turns traitor and starts giving IRA-man away to the Black and Tans. He is soon discovered and executed by the IRA.

Generally, strong emotions are handled with an enthusiasm for saccharine superlatives, and much unalloyed love and hatred is experienced in the course of the love-affairs and the vendettas of the novel. These emotions are aroused and dissipated by the most trivial events, and there is no clear structure of motivations in the novel. There description by the narrator is consistently inept and overwrought. There is little sense of studied character or firmly-grasped narrativ conception in Conner’s way of unleashing these stormy episode, and the effect is a series of half-baked illustrations of the changing character of the town as it moves towards the moment of idealism and rebellion after 1916. All too often hidden biographical details are patently invented on the spur of the moment to explain some sudden change in character whwen a long-standing enmity - such as Brannigan’s mother in law’s hatred for him - becomes redundant for the purposes of the plot.

The central relationship is Brannigan’s marriage; he falls in love with Kathleen, sister of the sweet-voiced boy, Paddy Doyle, whom he ensures gets trained by proper singing-masters. Oddly enough, their first meeting, their earliest conversations, and the quality of their rapport with one another are brushed over, though there is much enfolding of frail bodies in strong arms. The relationship, in the end, is essentially symbolic. The boy, too, is a symbol of talent and the fostering of talent by the right minded, sane and energetic new man of the the Irish future. His grandmother comes to hate Brannigan for reasons never satisfactorily explained, and the to-ing and fro-ing of her disaffection from him is one of the more awkward elements in the plot.

When the Easter Rising breaks out, Brannigan throws in his lot secretly with the Republicans and becomes a magistrate in the Sinnn Féin courts. He is arrested and imprisoned in England, where he meets Mulchay - soon to die of pneumonia - who preaches what is perhaps the ultimate doctrine of the novel: that the fight for freedom must be made subordinate, in the long run, to the development of a native civilisation based on the liberal instincts of the emerging Irish middle class.

The novel is inhabited by a legion of characters whose roll-call is taken from time to time, if only to measure their attitudes towards the changing political and nationa climate. Butchers, tailors, shoemakers, and even the town prostitute, are all recruited to illustration the map of Irish small-town life. In general, what they illustrate is the implacable selfishness of those who see themselves as a degreee superior to the peasants of the countryside around - and peasant is, surprisingly, a term used with great freedom throughout the novel in various contexts. The political situation is discussed in considerable detail - not so much the stages of the Independence struggle as the pros and cons of separation from Great Britain; and the feeling is general that, though bold, it would be economically fatal.

Underlying the treatment of this topic, there is however another value-system exerting its attraction: the idea of nobility in the New Ireland. Here two elements are involved: the nobility of the intellectually sincere man (O’Meara), and the nobility which is the opposite of social vulgarity - for the novel does insistently recognise ‘ill-bredness’ as a real stigma of provincial, and especially peasant, Irish people. That the gombeen townies regard the peasants of the hinterland as ‘ill-bred’ emerges clearly; that they themselves are ill-bred is a central part of the thrust of the narrative. Only Brannigan, in the end, is a truly noble creature, though Patrick Pearse certainly emerges in bold-type as the Hero.

The novel is written with insistent ineptitude in the use of English, in the expression of its character’s feelings and ideas, and even in the dramatisation of its themes; indifferent to such -restrictions, it plods on bravely towards a ringing affirmation of Ireland’s destiny - to become the proudly independent nation among nations prophesied by Robert Emmet in his heroic dock-speech. Yet, at the same time, it preaches that backward-looking patriotism is not the appropriate mentality for the modern moment, and that only family men, loyal to Irish traditions in culture and religion, but incapable of being subborned by the authority of Church or State, can create from their own emotional and intellectual resources, and out of their own implicit sense of social responsibility, a country fit for Irish men and women of the future to live in.

Conner seems to concede on every side that history has made the Irish an unlikely people to build up any sort of admirable civilisation, but that we must put our best foot forward in these days of nation-building, trusting in our abilities and the grace of God for the long road ahead. It is notable that no aspersions are cast on Christian doctrine, though the clergy - both the diocesan clergy and the Christian Brothers - are shown inoccasionally unflattering lights. Rearden Conner’s new Irish man is apparently an independent-minded, loyal, Roman Catholic nationalist. In dealing with the IRA, he shows enthusiasm for their ideals, but has misgivings about the motivation of the gunmen. and poses the question (an obvious one in 1937), would they be willing to give up the thrills and spills of ‘bang bang’ for the more level-headed business of society-making? The interned agitator, Moynihan, who’s real political objects are no more than a form of advanced Home Rule, is probably a model of what Conner himself believes is the best solution and the best purposes to which the physical force movement should have been put.

I. John Brannigan was shopkeeper like his father before him. But now that the old man had died he had decided to leave the back of beyond and try his luck in the little town that many said was a coming place. He had bought at a cheap price a general store which had belonged to an old half-blind woman … John Brannigan was determined to make a success of his life in the town of the plain. [3]

.. planning his life with every step, listening in a half-receptive way to the plod of the mare’s hoofs and the steady rumble of the cart wheels as though these sounds were all pat of the complex pattern of the life ahead of him. [3] [DESTINY]

Down below in the plain the fields were spread like a pattern of uneven green and yellow squares. The sun shone down on it … [and] seemed to probe over every yard of the plain, as though seeking to point out to John Brannigan the glories of the existence ahead of him. [4] [DESTINY]

“To hell with the policy of what was good enough for them before me being good enough for me ..!’

[Chp. 2 is catalogue of the townspeople] Conal O’Keefe, the stationmaster … over-conscious of his responsibilities … Patrick Walshe with the invalid wife, the owner of a small hotel and drapier business … Manus Duggan, the schoolteacher … Phil Nolan, the tailor, a widower … Napper Lynch … a ‘character’ … Peter Brady, the carpenter … Will Corcoran, the egg-merchant [or ‘-higgler’] … Con Mulcany [publican] with squinty eyes and flabby red cheeks … Conhrahan [the other publican] … Frank O’Meara … kept the forge and ‘Crab’ McCarthy, the shoemaker, a shrivelled, bald headed fellow who was as sour as the fruit he was called after. [11] Davy Burke, the cattle dealer … Stephen Muldoon, a large landowner and would-be gentleman, a Catholic who had sought the company of the more genteel Protestants and who had, in fact, married into a Protestant family. [12] These men believed themselves to be the import personages in the town … un unofficial committee set up to control the town’s affairs. [12]

O’Mara: “The day is coming Tá an lá a-teacht! When it comes we must have strong arms and stronger hearts! Such men as Con Mulcahy will have to be swept aside ruthlessly. They batten on the poor. They grow bloated on the money of the poverty-stricked that is in reality the blood of the country. The time is coming, my fine boyo from the hills, when Emmet’s epitaphy will be written. What did he say in the dock? ‘Then and not till then let my epitaph be written!’” [23] … vide: … old Corcoran cut in: “Get up and give us a speech … man alive … up with you on the anvil there and let’s have Emmet’s speech from the dock!” [25]

Duggan: “Home Rule! … Not a bit of it! Do you think England is ever going to give us Home Rule? Put on your considering cap. man! Too many sources of revenue. Besides, do the people really want it? That’s the point. And if it did come - in what way would it affect you with the ploughs and harrows?” [33] … Irish class … amazing language … all Greek to me … a cloak for the pollution of the young … disease of fanaticism … [34]

Fr. Gallagher: “The flesh is very powerful when you’re alone like that. I must warn you against a certain young woman here. No names, mind you! But all the same - if you feel in the grip of temptation seek refuge in prayer, or come to me for succour up at my house. Mrs Kennedy the housekeeper will always let you in … no matter what the hour. … You should get married as soon as possible. A wife would be a great help in the shop. think it over. Say a prayer to the Blessed Virgin for inspiration in your choice ...!” [35]

[Sue Coleman] This young woman was of the heavy-breated, wide-hipped, roystering type, with long, wild, light-brown hair. … She was the daughter of a widower … a noted drunkard, and the brother of … the rake and wastrel of the town. Between them father and son, and daughter, gave more trouble to Sargeant Reilly and his men than all the other townspeople put together. / Sue was startingly pretty in an overblown way. Her eyes were bold and full of daring knowledge. they were seldom without a smile in them. [She is waiting for customers on the station platform.] [43]

Brannigan: “Irish is all right in its way. But there’s hardly a man in this town can speak two words of it. Man alive, I’ve got my bit of a shop to look after now. I can’t waste time on luxuries.’ [47]

[Crab McCarthy’s young wife] Her body was so well developed that the bodice of her dress showed the mounds and nipples of her breasts clearly. Her eyes seemed to linger over Brannigan’s face … [48]

[Crab McCarthy:] “Home Rule, bedad! Nothin’ less, if ye please! An’ who wants it when all is said and done? … these Home Rulers should be silence. We’re well enough off as we are.” [49] … complete independence from what? Does he [O’Mara] want us to strave? Wouldn’t the gentry all leave the country at once? [50]

[The countrywomen:] They were simple people of the earth, these women. They lived very colose to nature all the year round. They had to share the hard work with their men, doing a man’s work in the fields at sowing and harvesting times without a grumble. They were sincere to the very core of their being. Their eyes were frank and looked a man fully in the face without wavering. In their likes and didslikes they wre firect to the point of primitiveness. they were slow to sense cunning or deception. But once they had grasped the fact that a man or a woman was not to be trusted they made no attempt to conceal their feelings in the matter. Superficial politeness or diplomacy were not words in their vocabulary. / Their greatest asset was that they knew suffering in all its intensity, not as the townswoman knows it with a doctor round the corner, but almost as the beast that were their riches, experienced it, in some cottage or farmhouse miles beyond the hills with no one able to reach them in time to alleviate their fiercest pain. … these women were the wise ones of the families. The men might strut or drink heartily in Con Mulcahy’s pub. But it was the women who decided what purchases were to be made, how much was to be spent on the new plough, or whether the old worn scythe would do for one more season. / The women liked the tall handsome fellow with the black hair … [60]

“Ah ha dee!” [Mulcahy] said to Brannigan, “I see you’re becoming a man of some consequence in this town. You and me must get togther. We’ll own the whole place between us yet.” [61]

[Judy Kearney] Now the tall young man from behind the hills had given her a new purpose in life, enabling her to justify her existence.’ [89]

O’Mara: “If there’s a God above at all He won’t judge me for I’ve been sorely tried … trying to win a living from [the town] for me and mine. But the day is coming … [when] blood will be spilled for the sake of Ireland! … That’s the portion that Fate has mapped out for us in the years ahead … .!” [73]

[Duggan to O’Mara:] “Ah, to blazes with this everlasting talk about poor Ireland! … We’re citizens of the world first, inhabitants of Ireland afterwards. We’ve all got to live, whatever our ideals or crankiness. If every one was like you the country would go off the rails in a week. ..” [75-76]

O’Mara: “To me the tragedy is that you’re one of the men chosen to mould the next generation. That’s why you suit the Dublin boyos so well. That’s why they despise you. Because you’re just another parrot spreading carefully-prepared propaganda that goes down the boy’s [sic] gullets as smooth as buttermilk!” [78]

Duggan: “In what way does religion enter the matter? … I’m a Catholic. those boys are Catholics. How does it affect us what creed the men in Dublin may follow ..” [79]

O’Mara: “The point is that Catholicism and Protestantism in this country have the of a political rather than a religious significance. To be a Catholic stamps one as a ‘mere Irishman’, as an out-and-out native, as a fellow who must be watched, not trusted too far, kept in as subdued a state as possible, to be looked upon as a probably rebel against the Crown. On the other hand, to be a Protestant means to be a gnetleman or near-gentleman, to be regarded as a loyalist in every degree. How far can you get in your profession as a Catholic? How far can Sargeant Reilly get? … don’t you see how th oppression works out! Deliberate selection [of the higher ranks] - the most insidious evil of the British regime!’ / … England has forced this thing on us herself. From the penal days when she persecuted our priests and hounded them into caves she has carried on the policy of shunning our national religion. It’s almost a point with her of linking Catholicism with barbarism She seems to be blind to the fact, or perhaps indifferent to the fact, that our souls are writhing under it - not because of her preference for her own national religion, but because of her unbearable supposition that the one can produce superior flesh to the other, as though we wre a vast herd of cattle in a field with two brands [80] … she regards us as beings apart, ‘mere natives’ to be patronized in the tolerant fashion that she has chosen to call just and merciful government.’ [81]

“.. I see these men not as dirt-grimed peasants, but as men from whose seed will spring the race that’ll make Ireland a country able to raise its head among the other nations of the earth, and even though [sic] in that very making the ground under our feet at this moment may have to run with the blood of the new generation … ! [81]

Brannigan: In this same mood of realism he saw his father’s [isolationist] ideal of life as being wrong, too, the selfish ideal that Man should live life within his own mind and being, the ideal of escape. Manus Duggan’s policy, he realized, boiled down in the end to taking the line of least resistance and hoping for the best; whereas such men as Con Mulcahy and Davy Burke were parasites in the land because they lacked the sincere will to better the country and gave emplyment only because it was an absolute necessity to further their own fortunes. [83]

[Mulcahy on Brannigan] … bambooozle these ignorant fools of peasants into thinking him a great fellow because he listened to their blather … [92]

Brannigan’s women customers were a devout set, brought up on Catholicism, and looking with horror upon any sexual association outside the bonds of marriage. [ 94]

[Brannigan criticizes the priest’s attitude to young Doyle, the gifted singer, whom he will not let in the choir for fear of upsetting the richer parishioners; Fr Gallagher:] “It’s the easiest thing in the world to sit there and criticize within your mind. But look at it from my point of view. I’m the parish priest. Nearly every family in the town and around it is Catholic. I have to depend on them not only for my personal welfare and for the welfare of my staff, but for the upkeep of the cahpel. I can’t afford to antagonize them. In many ways I’m shackled hand and foot by public opinion. Can’t you see that?” [104]

[Duggan on the Dark Ages:] “.. Those so-called ‘dark ages’, for instance! Were the people who lived then really the enlightened ones, and are we the ones in the dark? They knew how to live, then, inwardly as well as outwardly. They had sapece in their lives for thought, for mental refreshment, for the growth of their souls. We’re losing all these qualities, and in twenty or thirty years time we’ll have lost them altogether if we don’t look back into ourselves before the degeneration has gone too far … ” [109]

[Brannigan] seemed to see the canker of decadence already before him as a surgeon sees the tumour under his knife. … [PAR] … He saw … the whole country walled round by complacence, by self-satisfaction. He was entire familes being built upon the model of their fathers and grandfathers, being taught that it was respectable to be content with their lot. [111] “I’ll stay … and I’ll fight. … It’ll be spiritual fight, leading up along the years to the physical, a sort of preparation for what’s to come … ” [112] [DESTINY]

[Chp. 17 gives the rise and rise of Con Mulcahy from brewery drayman to independent publican.] For the first time in his life he began to think of women as members of the opposite sex. … He eventually selected a woman who had inherited a grocery business from her father across the border in Tipperary county. [119] [GOMBEEN]

[When the doctor informs Mulcahy that mother or child will die:] “Save the child, … God’s will be done ... !” / He buried his wife without a tear. [120]

Dr Concannon: “Look at the might and power of England! Remember her navy! Why, man, a few of those ships of hers could steam round the shor and raze the country off the face of the earth in no time!” [141]

O’Mara: “With a fine dollop of American money behind us and the goodwill of the USA, we’ll twist the tail of the lion yet!” [141]

[The parents of the town fear O’Mara because of his efforts to instil in their children] the crving for independence, the desire to read treatises and books that were above their parents’ heads, the queer conspiratorial mutterings, the half-uttered phrases about being ‘Ourselves Alone’.” [156]

What sort of men and women would these over-intent boys and girls grow up into? they wondered. What would become of the jolly fellows that Ireland was noted for, the gay rumbustious fellows who could drink on occasions and do a bit of wenching on the sly when they went to the fairs or markets in distant towns? This was their idea of what a Man should be life. But these young fellows were deliberately encasing themselves in a frame-work of self-denial and brooding thought. [PARA PARA] They remembered with a pang of regret the spacious days of ‘Old Vic’. … There were those … who talked long and earnestly about ‘the Parnell business.’ It had ruined Home Rule, they delcared. … They were well enough off even now under ‘Eddie,’ far better off, they believed, than they could ever be under a government of their own. [157]

Crab McCarthy: “I’m sick an’ tired of hearin’ him blatherin’ about what no man in his sane sense wants! We were wild men once, fightin’ each other in every corner of every county in the land when the Rís and Ard Rís were here. An’ we don’t want to be the same again for the sake of callin’ ourselves a free country!” [169]

Mrs. O’Mara: “Thank God … for letting me be his wife! I married a man who knows nothing of deceit or shallowness or greed, a man who’s honest to the very deapths of his soul. There may be crosses to bear ahead of me. But I’ve had my blessing on the day I went to the altar with him. and no matter how heavy those crosses may be they’ll see light beside the memory of that great joy!” [193]

[Brannigan] thought of Kathleen Byrne, of her golden hair framing her flushed cheeks, of her blue eyes and small round breasts, of her well-shaped limbs. The whole male strenght of him craved to crush her up to him. to encircle her in a wild passionate grip. “I’m cracked about her!” he thought, “I’m lost the the whole world … !” [196]

He clutched her to him with a fierceness that made her gasp. The contact of her body with his caused a wilde ecstasy to flame through him. He sought he lips as though he wished to grow drunk on the richness of them there on the deserted road. [197] … “Kathleen,” he said in a warm, vibrant tone, “I love you with all my heart!” [199] … But he did not take her. He forced himself to wait. He held her to him and yearned for her fiercely, fighting down his hunger. … Before they rose to leave the wood Kathleen had promised to become Mrs John Brannigan as soon as it was legally possible. [200]

Fr Gallagher: He was himself the son of a small farmer who had become ‘something of a gentleman’ since his promotion to parish priest, riding to hounds, and dining and supping in the houses of ‘the gentry’. He had a peasant’s appreciation of ‘the long stocking’ [203] … [But] he realised … that if a woman were of little material help to a man and yet loved him deeply that love would make him surmount gigantic obstacles because her aid would be spiritual. [204]

O’Mara to his wife, on Kathleen and Brannigan’s marriage] “She’s got more than blood in her veins. She’s got thevery essance of the soil. I knew her grandfather well. He and his for years back tilled the earth. they know what it is to go in want, these kind of people. But they have the pride of their type to hide that want. And they kknow how to suffer and how to fight!” [216]

[The honeymoon] Dublin city was not Ireland. It was a gay cosmpolitan place, with peoples of its own, ideas and an outlook of its own. It was nearer to any of the cities of England than to a town like Killamon. Its ageing Georgian houses spoke of past wealth, of danyism, of painted ladies and coaches, of sumptuous dinners and balls. It looked outward across the water to the great cities of London and Liverpool and manchester, and not inward to the national towns. / Its wel-to-do people spoke of the fashions and fancies abroad. It was the thing for them to take their holidays at English resorts. They admired and aped the English code of manners and method of speech. Thus, they buried their own individualities. they took their daughters and wives to the Castle balls. To be invited to these affairs was to be stamped as a Somebody. To be ignored was to be put down as a Nobody. / They called their own countrymen who came up to the city - ‘Men from the bogs.’ Up here in the city all was bright for them. Down there all was dark and, in their eyes, primitive. They shivered at the thought of ever venturing into it. They shrank away, like flowers swaying back before the wind, from the fierce-looking men who came up from it on the trains. They lived in their own world, and that world was called dublin. It belonged neither to Ireland nor to England. Somehow it had been fashioned into a place with a strange personality of its own. / In the towns of the south and west there were to be seen on every hand the marks of struggle and poverty and hard-won gains. It was impossible to forget in any one of these towns that men and women had to fight the land and the weather, year in, year out, beyond the poorly made streets. The people in these towns had hard faces and sharp eyes. They walked either quickly, with tensed limbs, or else slowly on heavy feet as though weary from the hard battle of existence. [PARA} But here in the city of Dublin people sauntered, were quick to smile, and easy of conversation. They were a happy people. They seemed content with their lot. They admired the redcoasts on the streets. To them dublin Castle was a symbol of respectability; whereas in the South and West it was regarded by many as the grim fortress from which the country was ruled with an iron hand. / A man called the Lord Lieutenant moved around in luxurious vehicles and special coaches on trains as though he were a king. Gentlemen rode back and forth from famous cluibs and hotels on side-cars, as they called them, and gave money lavishly to the poor who had long learned how to tip their caps in a reverence that was a mockery since it had its roots in greed. [251] … It was a fair smiling city, a city with a paunchfrom indolence and easy living. The Lifey was like a silver chain running across that paunch.

Reference to the jarveys and their tales of the Invincibles for the tourists, 251]

[Brannigan] would talk … about the contrast between the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Policemen and the Royal Irish Constabulary with their carbines, bayonets, and revovlers, who policed the rest of the country. [252]

And on this same night, in a far corner of the city, a man named Arthur Griifths was writing, writing, with the fervour of a Voltaire. [254]

[The fourth part, headed The Pregnant Years, refers to both the arrival of Brannigan’s family and the rise of the insurgent movement.]

[Cork] It was a city more Irish in its peoples than Dublin or any town in the province or Leinster, even than any town in the Midlands. Yet it wasl modelled on no Irish town, but on the lines of the more dignified towns of England. There was nothing historic about it like Limerick or Galway. It was the ‘Bath of Ireland’ with its tree-lined South Mall and broad Grand parade and long straight Georges Street. / … Buyt the pulse of its people beat more quickly at the thought of national independence than in any other town from north to south. Young mane’s faces took on a grimmer look and eyes flashed more readily, for these were the dark people of the south, proud and vital and not cursed by indolence, fighters who allowed nothing to stand in their way. [263]

Brannigan to O’Mara, regarding his adoption of the lowly trade of blacksmith, to further the case of prosletyzing for nationalism] “.. men of any class, of the land or of the town, have litle respect for the opinions of a man of their own standing. It’s worse when a man lets himself down to them … there creeps in a sort of good-natured contempt. that’s only human nature. All of them want their sons to progress in the world. And when they see a young man of talent deliberately turning his back on opportunities … ” [267]

Mrs Concannon: “The priests are the men of God … Are we beasts of the field that we should refuse to listen to them? … In my young days we respected our parents. … We were proud to have our mothers take notice of us at all instead of mocking them openly.” / “Mother,” said Hilda pertly, “must you underline every second word. After all, Queen Victoria has been dead for years now … !” [273]

Mrs Concannon … faced her husband with [273] compressed lips and questioning eyes. After a moment’s silence she asked in a cold tone: “Do you mean - I’ve got to make a social equal of the woman [Mrs Brannigan] ... ? / … She’s not as good as we are. Far from it! Money doesn’t alter the fact of her breeding. What she is is but a peasant - no better, if as good, as Murphy out there in the kitchen.” [274]

[The Christian Brothers open a school in Killnamon] The Christian Brothers were noted teachers. Their pupils won almost every prize, competition, and scholarship, offered in the country. But worse, still - from his [Duggan’s] point of view - they were ardent nationalists. They insisted on teaching the Irish language and drumming into their pupils heads vivid accounts of the sieges of Limerick, Derry, and other places, of the Battle of the Boyne and the exploits of Hugh O’Neill, the Red hand of Ulster. [273]

“Yes,” Duggan butted in. “And back to the days of the Ard Rís when we never stopped fighting one another until the Scotsman, patrick, came and gave us Christianity … then … even the monks fought each other up in Glendalough … What drove Diarmuid MacMurrough to seek help from England to fight his battles in the first place? Jealousy and hate - and the desire to go on fighting each other.” [276]

[Chp. Forty portrays Patrick Walshe, draper, and his wife, invalided in bearing the twins, as a loving couple.]

[Mrs Walshe] Despite her long years of illness she remembered the world only as a place of beauty, a place in which flowers grew in the fields, where birds sang gloriously … [288]

Fr Gallagher visited her very often. … He was so stout and healthy in a vigorous over-nourished way that he overwhelmed her. But she struggled against her dislike, being a good Catholic who looked upon one of God’s anointed men as of different flesh from the rest of mortals. [291]

The world was still for her a beautiful place still. … If only there was not all this unrest in the minds of the young, this talk of Home Rule and Ourselves Alone! The young were losing the respect for law and ordr and for the gentry that had been engrained into her own generation. Men like Frank O’Mara and the Christian Brothers were responsible for that. [293]

The ideas of having their own Houses of Parliament once more began to appeal to the people. … / Even the women listened to these arguements … They took little part in the discussion, being as yet in essentials very much subservient to their men. The question of women’s freedom had not troubled them. They read about the Suffrage Movement in England with wonder in their minds. But the wonder waas not that of respect for their kind, but that the menfolk across the water stood for such ‘gongs on’ as females chaining themselves to ralings [sic], setting fire to the contents of pillar boxes, adressing meetings, struggling with the police - not to mention the Derby tragedy when one of their sex had tried to stop the King’s horse and had paid for her gesture with her life. [294]

Then came the news of Carson’s successful attempt at gun-running in the north. This seemed to the politically-minded to be the most singnificant event in Irish history for years. The south began to ask itself: “If they, why not we?” [294-95]

[Fr Gallagher] He distrusted the friars because he knew most of the members of this and other religious orders were inclined to be ardent nationalists. He had little patience with nationalist. This was not because he was unduly loyal to England, but because, he feared that the coming of even a measure of independence would strike at the roots of his placid existence, would shake the nation out of its lethargy so fiercely that his people would pass from his control, would get ideas of their own into their heads and stick to them, leaving him floundering in a sea of smooth platitudes. [297]

“In many ways,” Fr Gallager said, “the country has never been so well off as it has been since the Houses of Parliament were closed up in Dublin. … Before that it was a shambles. There’s too much inter-party fighting here to ever get anything done in the proper spirit.” [298]

O’Mara: “.. that’s where we score, because our strength comes from the spirit. We’re willing to shed our blood, to set up a nation - when we’ve won our fight - that’ll lose heavily in material advantages. But we’re ready for these sacrifices. Is that not a spiritual readiness? Our blood will water the earth of this land and great seed will come to life in it and bear fruit beyond even our understanding. [300-01]

[O’Mara] As a boy he had become infatuated by Emmet’s speech from the dock. The words of it had flavoured his mind, had coloured his whole outlook on life. He too, wanted to be an Emmert. He wanted to be the sviour of Ireland. If he had anything to do with secret societies it would be as head of the one founded by himself. [321]

Eoin MacNeill, the head of the Volunteers [,] had called for a general mobilization for Easter Sunday. / It was to be war with the Crown forces! [329]

[O’Mara] was willing to embrace death at any moment so that fromhis martyred body might spring life. [333]

[O’Mara’s attitude to his wife] She was the woman he loved, but she was also the one woman in whom he saw what should be the ideal of the generations to ahead. [334]

Eoin MacNeill’s orders countermanding the mobilization in Dublin dashed his [O’Mara’s] hopes to the ground. … It was a blind rage in which he spoke wildly of English gold greasing Irish palms. / [The] news [of open rebellion against the Crown forces in the streets of Dublin] reached Killnamon … O’Mara appeared in the crowded square, clad in a light-green uniform with a Pearse hat.[335]

“We’re not savages, nor are we spoiling for a fight. Men like Padraic Pearse are not yokels or clods. they are gifted men born with a destiny, wehose lives have been spent in preparation for this day of reckoning. We must stand with them, as men with no use for the more pleasant side of life until we have fulfilled their and our destiny, which is the destiny of Ireland! / that destiny is God-given. Every ounce of our flesh and every drop of our flood, must be devoted to its attainment. … We must rise up as one man … to free our country.. [with] no wish to massacre! no wish even to kill! But we’ve proved that this is the only way to gain our freedom. Words have failed. Now it’s time for lead. And the sounds of our guns will be the united voices of our people going out across [337] the world so that all eyes will be centred on our struggle for independence … ! ” [338]

Willie [Mulcahy] despised himself for what he himself was, a human being of little value to the world because of the coarse strain in him which, in his opinion, made him unfitted for the profession which his father had chosen for him [i.e., medicine]. [352] / … The rebellion was a godsend to him. [352]

[Duggan] could talk only of the Christian Brothers school that had opened in the town and of the influence of these blackgowned men on the youth of the country. [371]

[The contradictory political doctrine of Moynihan, Republican propagandist, in prison; on soldiers of the Republic and gunmen:] “Half of them didn’t evn know what they were fighting for! It was the fascination of being able to point a gun a somebody - the craze to hearr the bang, bang. Their cries of ‘Up this!’ and ‘Up that!’ are just mere hysterical clap-trap.!” [373]

Moynihan: “Religion is a very necessary thing in the world. There’ll alwaysbe cattle that must be led by the horns … [373] … You can’t meddle with religion. Take it away, and what have you left in the average human mind? A vacuum. A definite emptiness. But that’s all superficial in the end. At heart, Man is a pagan animal.” [374]

Moynihan: “Mick Collins is a true patriot because he keeps a firm hand on things and remains in thebackground. Yet - measure his popularity at this moment with that of Padraic Pearse?” [374]

Moynihan: “If you say, ‘Well it’s like this! A Republic would be harmful, not beneficial to Ireland. What we really want is an advanced form of Home Rule[.]’ they’d throw you in a ditch like a plate of potato peelings.” [375]

Moynihan: “Whatever we get out of this fight we’ve got to guard against one thing! we mustn’t let the country be ruled by peasants! A peasant maybe brilliant - but such a one is the exception that proves the rule of them all thinking alike. If the peasantry get into the ascendancy they’ll rush their sons into jobs irrespective of brains. You’ll have a country based upon the ideas of clod-hoppers. We can’t claim great originality for our country now. We have no particular culture to offre. We had - but it’s been drained from us. But we’ll have still less if we get the communal idea of life. that’s not cheap snobbery. It’s a defence of Life. Life must be lived in many ways, not in one way, if we’re to bet the satisfaction from it as a nation. [376]

Moynihan: “… Cork … that’s the real Ireland down there - that and the west.” [376]

[Brannigan] He remembered how, after Moynihan’s death in jail in England, he had decided that it must be his endeavour to live life as near as possible to the verge of nobility. That thought would sound almost insincere if he uttered it aloud, he knew. Yet it came to him with deep sincerity. He saw in it his spiritual salvation. It was not mrely the justification of his existence, but the purpose which he saw in the life ahead of him. It was no longer the time for looking back into the past, muttering about Ginkel and Cromwell and going into fervid ecstasies ovr Sarsfield or Tone. It was the time for men to look forward as intently as possible. [390]

The wheel of Fate must turn … men must live on and one so that the world of which these things are a part may endure until the human race has achieved its purpose in the scheme of the Universe. [392] END

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