August 11, 2015

Patrick Pearse

The Poet who lead the "Poet's Rebellion"

This year is, of course, the 100th anniversary of the "Easter Rising," the audacious attempt by Irish nationalists to take advantage of Britain's desperate preoccupation with fighting WWI. The revolutionaries took possession of several locations in Dublin, their headquarters in the huge imposing Central Post Office on Dublin's main street.  The P.O. is shown in the painting.  The rebels never had a chance, being completely outmanned and outgunned and were crushed by the superior British force. "Britania's Huns with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew."  Pearse surrendered after six days and within a few days he, along with sixteen other rebel leaders, were executed. Those executions changed perceptions among the Irish masses, turning the Irish people away from the Queen and toward separation from England. 

Padraig, a teacher and a poet as were two others among the leaders, had gone from pacifist to warrior in the span of two years but would not live to see Home Rule for Ireland.

I used a portion of a speech he gave at the gravesite of Fenian hero O'Donovan Rossa, on Aug 3, 2015, nine months before the Rising.  "Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations."

I made this painting the same size as my Irish Writers paintings, three feet wide and four and half feet high.  I have started calling my Writers series, "Irish Giants," and certainly Pearse, who was a poet after all, qualifies as an Irish Giant.

Lyrics to The Foggy Dew, written by James McNally

I was down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I
There armed lines of marching men
In squadrons passed me by
No pipe did hum, no battle drum did sound it's loud tattoo
But the Angelus Bells o'er the Liffey swells rang out in the foggy dew

Right proudly high in Dublin town
Hung they out a flag of war
'Twas better to die 'neath that Irish sky
Than at Sulva or Sud el Bar
And from the plains of Royal Meath
Strong men came hurrying through
While Brittania's huns with their long range guns
Sailed in through the foggy dew

Their bravest fell and the requiem bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide in the
Springing of the year
While the world did gaze with deep amaze
At those fearless men but few
Who bore the fight that freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew

And back through the glen
I rode again
And my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men
Whom I never shall see n'more
But to and fro in my dreams I go
And I kneel and pray for you
For slavery fled oh glorious dead
When you fell in the foggy dew

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