Though hardly remembered as vividly as many others who craved an independent — if not pluralist— Ireland Mallow-born Davis left an admirable and challenging vision.
Davis’ almost defining difference was that he tried to overcome the great barriers to harmony — religion and land — to build a united and mutually respectful society despite the officially sanctioned sectarianism of the day.
Even at this remove — Davis died aged 30 in 1854 — it is hard not to think that his vision was at least as empowering as the one we embraced, especially his enthusiasm for non secular education. He also made gallant efforts to convince his co-religionists — he was a Protestant — to make concessions to the majority of their countrymen.
There are few countries where the idea of a lost leader is so alive and what better way to mark this one’s life that by trying to build the inclusive, tolerant Ireland he hoped for.