Published under 15th Anniversary of Fianna Éireann, Sinn Féin, June 21, 1924
Simplicity and directness of vision and love of the true and noble are part of the attributes of youth. Our Headquarters’ staff instinctively took the straight, hard road, and when the “treaty” was signed, reaffirmed their allegiance to the Republic. Since then the Fianna Éireann have carried on the fight, and many a noble boy stood true in spite of the soul-stifling misery of prison and the horror of torture. Some, alas, went wrong and threw in their lot with those who sold their honour to the British Government, and became part of the English king’s garrison in Ireland. These renegades did England’s dirty work, spying on their comrades who stood true and often sending them to a cruel death. But this must not discourage us; it must remind us that human nature is weak and foolish, and that there are traitors everywhere, and that even among the Twelve Disciples there was one traitor. But our faith tells us that human nature is redeemed by the blood of those who die and through our martyrs our cause remains holy and clean. We remember with reverence the lads who were kidnapped or taken in battle in every part of Ireland to be tortured and murdered because they refused to betray their comrades and their country. It is well that we bear in mind the message sent out by Liam Mellows, just a short time before he faced a “Free State” firing squad, and take to heart those words written by one of the wisest and greatest of the sons of Ireland, whose death has crowned our motherland with glory. He says,
“The Fianna ideal can save the future. The reason for so many young soldiers going wrong is that they never had a proper grip of the fundamentals. They were absorbed into the movement and fight, not educated into it. Hence no real convictions.”
So I would call on the young officers of the Fianna to rally to Liam Mellows’ last command and start on a great campaign of education. Teach young Ireland what the English conquest is; that it is more than a military and political one, it has a deeper and much more dangerous significance. It stands for the conquest of the will and the soul of the Irish people.
An English constitution is forced on us to impose the English social, economic, and educational systems on us. Therefore to reconquer Ireland for the Irish we must have complete separation from England. The whole island must always remain one country with all the powers of a sovereign nation.
Teach the boys that it rests with them to see that the rising generation has both the power and the will to build up an Irish civilisation, and to draw up an Irish constitution, with an Irish system of education which will train our youth to be free, spiritually, mentally and bodily. Let the Fianna learn that Ireland to be really free must be, as Pearse says, “Not free merely, but Gaelic as well.” Gaelic in soul, spirit, thought, and language. This only is freedom, and it can never be attained while Ireland is an integral part of the British Empire. To obtain this freedom they must understand the horrors of the British civilisation and the beauties of the old Irish civilisation which is the foundation on which we must develop our newly-awakened self-conscious Republic, and the Fianna must lead the way.