I was reading some of the works of P.H Pearse and decided that a blog on him may be interesting. Out of all the leaders of the 1916 Rising he is the one that I feel history has been the cruellest towards.
I have heard it said they he was a mad man who wallowed in blood sacrifice, a paedophile that lusted after young boys and an egotist.
None of these things are true and when you examine his vast array of writings you will find a patriot, a gifted writer, a poet and a man who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that this country may be free.
His reputation has been tarnished and suppressed because his actions don't sit well with many partitionist Fianna Fáilers.
They tried to invent a democratic mandate for the Easter Rising when no such mandate existed and can't exist. It can't exist because when revolution becomes inevitable it is a consequence of democracy failing.
This can be evidenced by the Home Rule crisis and the unjust influence that a minority held on this island.
When we look at Pearse we must be careful not to look through 21st century eyes, he was after all a man of the early 20th century.
His now famous "Murder Machine" is an excellent example of a polemic criticising the British system of education in Ireland up to 1916. Of Modernism he had this to say, "the prospect of the children of Sandy Row being taught to curse the Pope in Irish was rich and soul-satisfying"
It needs to be remembered that this man was a poet and a writer, his use of allegory and brash instruments may be lost on those who take quotes of his writing at face value.
Take the following extract from his piece "The Coming Revolution"
"I am glad, then, that the North has begun. I am glad that the Orangemen have armed, for it is a goodly thing to see arms in Irish hands. I should like to see the A. O. H. armed. I should like to see the Transport Workers armed. I should like to see any and every body of Irish citizens armed. We must accustom ourselves to the thought of arms, to the sight of arms, to the use of arms. We may make mistakes in the beginning and shoot the wrong people; but bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing, and the nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood. There are many things more horrible than bloodshed; and slavery is one of them. "
What he is saying here is that, yes bloodshed and killing are terrible but that they are a price that must be paid for freedom and that there are worse things that that, slavery, injustice and occupation.
One of the quotes of Pearse that is most abused is the following quote from "Peace and the Gael"
"The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields."
If you read this quote in isolation you would think that he is a bloodthirsty nut job who relished in death. If you take the time to follow the link and read the entire extract you will find that such was not the case.
When then reach the nub of the lies relating to Pearse, the suggestion that he was a Paedophile. In 1909 he published his now famous poem "A Mhic Bhig na gCleas" although many may know it as "Little Lad of the Tricks".
It must be remembered that "little lad of the tricks" was a translation of "A Mhic Bhig na gCleas". It was first published As Gaelige and was well received, it was only when it was translated into English that questions were raised.
His co-signers of the Proclamation, Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Mary Plunkett, expressed their concerns about how this poem could be construed in English to Pearse. He was hurt at the mere suggestion that it was a paedophile poem.
When this poem is viewed in the Irish language it is fine, it's only when it's read in English that a problem occurs. It has to be acknowledged that English is one of the worst languages to translate anything into, it lacks tenses and can form crude and even opposite meanings of the original language.
It is for that reason why I have such contempt for the attitude of Evangelical Protestants who follow the words of the English bible as if they were sacrosanct. It is only a translation and a lot of the original meanings have been lost in the translation.
It is accepted though that Pearse could be a difficult man to follow, Michael Collins once wrote
"Of Pearse and Connolly I admire the latter most. Connolly was a realist, Pearse the direct opposite . . . I would have followed [Connolly] through hell had such action been necessary. But I honestly doubt very much if I would have followed Pearse — not without some thought anyway"
I have the utmost respect for P.H. Pearse, he ignited the fire of a nation and while the Rising was a failure militarily it was also a success because what it intended to happen did indeed occur.
Pearse is a man that history and poor academics have slandered for too long