O’Donovan Rossa was a terrorist monster

Playing with O’Donovan Rossa’s dynamite and his monstrous reign of terror from 1867 to the mid 1880s, is a very irresponsible policy agenda for this state to pursue. No liberal democracy on this earth would place such an evil man on a pantheon of glory.

O’Donovan Rossa was a terrorist monster

However there are many precedences for this practice in our sad little state. That is, individuals who occupy the hero pedestal such as Patrick Pearse, who imparted to Denis Gwynn in 1913 his heartfelt wish that: “It would be better that Dublin should be laid in ruins than that the existing conditions of contentment and confident security within the British empire should continue.’’

And James Connolly, who cared not a whit for the lives of the working class of Dublin in 1916.

It will take more than Shane Kenna’s biography of Jeremiah O’ Donovan Rossa to transform O’Donovan Assa — as Michael Davitt used to describe him — from a crazed murderous fanatical Fenian terrorist, into a flawed but well-intentioned 19th century Irish patriot.

Mr. Kenna’s argument is that we should not judge O’Donovan Rossa by our own standards regarding terrorism. This devious and perverted teleological perspective ignores the fact that during his lifetime of killing men, women, and children, O’Donovan Rossa was abhorred by his contemporaries.

He rejoiced at the news of the brutal assassination of Carlingford born Irish-Canadian politician, Thomas D’Arcy McGee — a key founding father of Canadian Federalism which he recommended for Ireland within the Union — by the Fenian Brotherhood in Ottawa in 1868. O’Donovan Rossa planned to gas the British parliament, and conceived the idea of using gasomators in enclosed spaces to kill English civilians ( source: Brian Jenkins The Fenian Problem ). This tactic was thwarted by a special division of the London Metropolitan Police in the 1880s.

It is possible to feel some sympathy for Rossa given his harsh treatment in prison, but one cannot use this as an excuse for his horrendous criminality which engendered hatred for the Irish, by the English, rather than any form of understanding of the problem of Irish nationalism which had (and has) its roots in the Tudor Conquest. Will this state ever learn that dressing terrorism and murder up in the garb of patriotic nobility is not only immoral, but dangerous, bearing in mind the Irish context of the “unfinished business” of 1916, often referred to by Mr Gerry Adams, et al.

Pierce Martin


Co Kildare

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