The Gael, February 26, 1916.
In a short article like this I cannot deal in detail with the above heading, but, with the Editor’s permission, I hope to do so in future issues. Sufficient for the present, it must be to outline what we must do in the coming weeks if we would place the Crown of Freedom on the Dear Dark Head.
The first and most essential is to prepare ourselves for the coming Day of Days. For us, who see the light through the darkness, we must be ever ready – ever watchful – taking advantage of everything that will advance the sacred cause of Nationality. We must not be found wanting. He that is not ready, let him go and get ready. No time is this for procrastination. The sound of battle must not find us preparing to sharpen our swords, nor looking for guns. Like hounds panting for the fray, we must await only the word. To-day is the time for preparation – to-morrow may be too late. He that hath no gun, let him sell his garment and get one, and that without delay.
Secondly: Being ready ourselves, we must educate and enlist in our army those who have been misled. We must be patient with them – because, emerging from darkness unto light, their eyes are dazzled and they are puzzled. Example in this case will be better than precept. Let them see our determination and preparedness, and they will follow us. In their hearts, perhaps, burns a flame of patriotism as intensely as it doth in ours. See that that flame is directed into its proper channel. Every convert is a decided gain. Can we afford losses – through want of patience with those who are honestly seeking the Light. No; and it behoves each man and woman to see that no such casualty list shall be.
Reader and comrade, is there a corps of the Irish Volunteers in your district or village? If not, is there no chance of starting one? Can you even get half-a-dozen men who mean business? Remember England holds you in slavery by having a few policemen in every village. See that there is man for man at least. Ireland wants you to hold your village for Ireland and Ireland only. Will you do that much? If so, your village is safe.
What about the neighbouring villages? You can lend a hand to a comrade to organise his village, and hold that safe for Ireland. Many hands make light work. When almost every village is safe, Ireland is safe. Her redemption, then, is only a question of one effort for Liberty. With each man’s cry – Liberty or death – victory is assured.
Have you a thorough knowledge of your immediate district, within a radius of at least five miles? Such knowledge is essential if we want success. We must have a definite knowledge of the roads – main and by – of the bridges, whether over railway or river – of the river itself and its streams – of the communications to and from the place – of the wells – and of every rise and depression in the surrounding district. Is there not enough here to keep us busy for months – not to mind weeks, and yet some of us fancy we know enough already.
The time is short – perhaps too short – and idleness or slackness is criminal. Ireland expects every man to do his duty – now more than ever – because of the critical times before us, and of the dangers that lurk to the Independence of Ireland. For the moment, traitors, felon-setters and spies wield a little power, but we must meet them and beat them, and end their game of treachery and intrigue.
The Gael, March 18, 1916.
Since the outbreak of the European war, I have often asked myself, “Are we at war with England?” and have satisfied myself with replying in the affirmative. On deeper reflection I must say, our war with that country is only a war of words, one of lip and feeling.
What are the signs of war, in the purely military sense? There are none, but is it so with the enemy? Oh, no; with her it is war, and real war towards us. Our casualty list is large between captured, imprisoned, and deported. By captured I mean those whom she has deluded and seduced into her ranks.
Where are the successes on our side to offset such losses? Paltry, withal the enemy in our midst has not lost a single man.
We all declare, and justly so, that until Ireland is restored to her place amongst the nations of the earth, come what may, we are at war with England. It is very patriotic, no doubt, and truly national, but what is the value of such declarations if they be not supported by deeds?
I believe that the time has come for a strong and determined offensive against all the entrenchments of the enemy in this country. The effect of such an offensive will be far-reaching. It will show our enemies that we are now conquered; that we are still out for the liberty of one small nationality, Ireland. It will cause an upheaval at home, the news of which will quickly reach our captured brethren abroad. If they have a trace of patriotism in their veins, and many of them have, they will not help the enemy that is shooting down their kith and kin at home.
In short, an offensive at this moment may be the deciding factor in this war. The longer we delay, the better it will be for our enemies. They want no disturbance in Ireland, and will we help in their desire?
Defeat in Ireland means more for the enemy than any defeat she may sustain in Flanders or elsewhere. The only consequences to us is that some of us may be launched into eternity quicker and sooner than we would like. But who are we, that we should hesitate to die for Ireland?
Are not the claims of Ireland greater on us than any personal ones? Do we not boast of our loyalty and love for the Dear Dark Head? Is it fear that deters us from such an enterprise? Away with such fears! Cowards die many times; the brave die only once.
It is admitted that nothing but a revolution can now save the historic Irish nation from becoming a mere appanage, a Crown Colony, of the British Empire. We do not desire such a consummation of the Island of Saints and Scholars, the land of the O’Neills and the O’Donnells, the land for which the countless have suffered and died.
We call ourselves revolutionists; we glory in the name; we speak with pride of the Dawn of the Day. Were there ever such revolutionists? We want the revolution to start us, and not us to start it. If we really want to free Ireland, now is the time for action. Are we afraid to start up like men and bear the consequences, or is all our talk mere frothing only to delude our enemies as well as our followers?
If we want the revolution, we must make it, and we must realise that such cannot be accomplished without bloodshed. We want war, for war justifies the removal of our enemies in the most expeditious manner. For that purpose we must know who our enemies are, and under no consideration must we allow them to interfere with the onward march of the Irish nation. Either we or they must fall in the fight.
Some will cry out in horror at such a proposal. On what do they base their horror? Is it blood-spilling? Look at the war in Flanders. What blood is being spilled there daily! Do these deaths awake in such people a shudder of horror? No; war to them is justifiable in all countries except in Ireland. We are at war with England, and it is necessary that we should fight it to the bitter end.
Look at the war in Flanders again. What are the motives underlying this struggle? Are these motives just and noble? Is Ireland’s struggle with England more legitimate and more sacred? Yes, it is.
Our sufferings extend over centuries; no form of torture and persecution but England has tried on us. She is out for our conquest, and will stop at nothing to effect it. There is no hope for the future welfare of an independent Irish nation but in separation.
God, in His wise providence, has separated us by the seas, but crafty, unscrupulous enemies bind us to that execrable government.
If we remove these enemies, will separation follow? I say and believe “yes.” These enemies are the connecting links with Dublin Castle. They are the links that bind, and they shall remain while England holds this country. If we want to break the connection with England, we must remove these links, and we must render government by England impossible in this country.
Is it an impossible task? Decidedly not. At the moment the minions of the government in Ireland stand trembling, afraid to disturb the people. They know their power is weak, and they fearful lest any action of theirs may lose them their government, or at least may have an untoward effect on the Irish troops fighting for them in Flanders and elsewhere.
I fear we do not realize our present strength and our enemies’ weakness. Where is the British navy that we were told ruled the waves? Recent events show that her ruling is now past. As for land forces, what has England to put against us? She needs every available man to meet the German offensive. Even her conscript army will be needed. She may send some of them to Ireland, but are they such to make us fear?
We are fighting for freedom; freedom for everyone; they are only conscripts fighting against their will. We are superior to them in every respect. We know our country, and by a simultaneous and systematic action we should shock, demoralise, and rout them.
Comrades, everything favours us. Now or never for the final onslaught. The shades of our immortal dead, the graves of the unavenged, the harrowing cries of our murdered priests, of our violated women, of the coffinless dead who are whitening the Atlantic’s broad floor – all rise up and command us to do the noble deed, and fight the last fight for freedom.
We must not wait till the war is over. England will then be at peace, and will be free to send her reserves against us. Will we wait to fail, or will we fight now to win? Yours is the choice.
I am ready. For years I have waited and prayed for this day. We have the most glorious opportunity that has ever presented itself of really asserting ourselves. Such an opportunity may never come again. We have Ireland’s liberty in our hands. Will we be freemen, or are we content to remain as slaves and idly watch the final extermination of the Gael?