From The United Irishman, August 3, 1901.
Take a map and draw a line on it from the point of Irish Donegal to the tip of Irish Kerry, and you shall have drawn a line through Sligo and Mayo, Galway and Clare and Cork, through the foreign divisions of our divided country wherein the Irish language is a living force, and then read and think.
A few weeks ago above the country of the O’Donnells the flag of Red Hugh’s assassins waved in triumph – the flag of priest-burning Elizabeth, of priest-hanging Cromwell, of priest-banning William, of the priest-hunting Georges – the flag of the people whose king swore but three months since on the Gospels that the Catholic was an idolator and the Mass a mummery – hoisted by priests before the temple of their religion. Find me if you can in the records of any country, of any religion, of any people a parallel to this. Find me if you can a country where the whole Press – with one solitary exception – held a coward tongue or approved this outrage on God, on manhood, on Fatherland.
I turn my back on Irish Donegal – I flee from it to the uttermost end of Ireland – through Irish Sligo where Corruption buys and sells in the light of day; through Irish Mayo, where the Soldier of Freedom is stabbed in the back; through Irish Galway, where the peasant blushes at the tongue he speaks; through Irish Clare, where the priest on the altar-steps denounces the man who protests against the cockney music-hall; through Irish Cork, where the lotus-eaters dwell – and I come to Irish Kerry. Here, at least, should I find Irish Ireland. Here, where the Atlantic rolls round Valentia, I can sit, and looking Hy-Breasilwards, forget the hell of slavery behind me.
Sad Valentia. Time was when the Spaniard reigned here, and taught your hardy sons how to fight and win. Time was when the privateers of France found shelter in your havens. Time was when three hundred men and women throve where now three hundred starve. England has smitten you sorely, Valentia – more sorely than the Angel of the Lord smote the Egyptians. I hate those English. I have hated them all my life, but how feeble must my hatred be to yours, O man of Valentia – you who saw your brothers and sisters exterminated before your eyes – you who gaze on ruins and a waste where fifty years ago thousands dwelt! I see a fleet of fishing-boats approaching. The boats are gay with streamers, and I hear the lusty cheers from the fishermen’s throats. They bear someone whom they love hither – some strong-souled man who stands between them and their destroyers. For here are the district councillors, here are the Valentia bandsmen, here are the Gaelic footballers, and here are the Gaelic Leaguers rushing to the waterside to welcome him.
He lands – a youth in khaki. I rub my eyes. It is not a dream. It is a soldier of King Edward of England these people welcome – his name Fitzgerald.
Before him crawling on its belly is the Gaelic League.
Before him squirming in the mud is the Gaelic Athletic Association.
Before him prostrate on the earth is the Irish Labour Association.
Before him kissing the ground grovel the elected representatives of the people.
The Valentia band strikes up “See the Conquering Hero Comes,” the night falls and the flames of a score of bonfires cast a ruddy glare on the waters.
Hail, Peter Fitzgerald, son of the Knight of Kerry, soldier of the King!
Do the bonfires remind you of those your comrades make of widows’ house in South Africa? Do you hear borne across the dark Atlantic, rising above the shrill cheering of Irish serfs, the wail of the outraged women, the cry of the little children, the groan of the dying peasant-soldier? Strangler of Liberty, look on your serfs, and say with Aguila that Christ never died for such a people.