Thinking of JMP

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prisonstairIn Dublin today, we visited Kilmainham Gaol, and I remain stirred and haunted hours later. Ten years ago, I was roaming around an part of Ireland west of here while writing this book. I discovered a whole branch of Plunkett relations and, on the slimmest of evidence, quietly bonded myself to the memory of Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Uprising. Plunkett probably was not one of the key strategists, but something about his story, especially his marriage to Grace Gifford at the 11th hour before his execution, jolted the complacent into new spasms of nationalism. It seems like a joke about the Irish that a doomed love might speak to them more powerfully than their own natural desire for home rule, but that does seem to have been the case.  Anyway, it was unsettling today to see his tiny cell and to walk in the rocky yard where the firing squad took him. That was hours ago, and we’ve since been to the Abbey Theatre to see “Drum Belly,”  but I’m still in a Plunkett mood. (Hat tip to our guide Anthony, who does his job with a gavity for which we were grateful.) This was not his actual cell. This one is much nicer.


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9 thoughts on “Thinking of JMP

  1. Martha Ahlquist

    Colin, I welcome your (apparently newfound) interest in this particular part of the history of Ireland. When you return to the States, get in touch with the young man you interviewed for your show about Newtown. He is a direct descendent of one of Ireland’s most infamous terrorists (or heroes, depending on which side of the door you’re on). And hey–you’re a Plunket? Awesome!

  2. Richard

    George Bernard Shaw quote on my lock screen: “Without art, the crudeness of reality would be unbearable”

    GBS would be writing about the Zumba Madame today. The potential for Sexercise Studios group funded by voyeurs via Kickstarter is the current fulfillment of the American Dream.

  3. peter brush

    a site of incarceration of every significant Irish nationalist leader of both the constitutional and physical force traditions
    I like that physical force “tradition.”

    I gather that conditions were brutal, although, on the bright side, there was no “segregation” of prisoners.

    Personally, I’d like a restoration of the common law against sedition. We could give half of our university profs tenure in our own Kilmainham, and install a good quarter of our legislators there with no term limits.
    Seditious libel was a criminal offence under English common law.[1] Sedition is the offence of speaking seditious words with seditious intent: if the statement is in writing or some other permanent form it is seditious libel. A statement is seditious if it “brings into hatred or contempt” the Queen or her heirs, or the government and constitution, or either House of Parliament, or the administration of justice, or if it incites people to attempt to change any matter of Church or State established by law (except by lawful means), or if it promotes discontent among or hostility between British subjects.

    1. Cynical Susan

      “…or if it promotes discontent among or hostility between British subjects.”

      Change the nationality to American, and you’d have most of the commentary on blogs of all stripes and parties.

      1. peter brush

        you’d have most of the commentary on blogs of all stripes
        As with most laws, maybe more complicated and/or uncertain than on first glance. Still, I think we’ve been perverted in our commitment to the open society and in our knee-jerk condemnation of folks like Joeseph McCarthy. I’d like to smack anti-Americans. Joe’s mom, by the way, came from County Tipperary, Ireland.
        The American scholar, Leonard W. Levy, argues that seditious libel “has always been an accordion-like concept, expandable or contractible at the whim of judges.”

        1. Richard

          What would Bestiaries be, or animal fables and allegories, without seditious libel?

          The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance — Aristotle

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