Today is the birthday of the Irish Republican leader Arthur Griffith. Griffith was at the start of the Twentieth century a pivotal figure in Irish Nationalism but just a few decades later he had been airbrushed from its history according to Irish historian Diarmaid Ferriter.
Griffith founded Sein Fein and although not a monarchist advocated a dual monarchy for a time. He also advocated the abstentionist line in politics .He was not in the Easter Rising but arrested thereafter. He served in the Dail and Parliament of Northern Ireland. He was President of the Second Dail after the departure of De Valera that led on to the Civil war. Reportedly he was devastated by the split.
He died comparatively young (51) in 1922 reportedly of overwork and was thereafter quietly forgotten. It was said that Arthur Griffith died of a broken heart. An unsigned note in the National Library states that, ‘Shortly after the start of the Civil War workmen were delayed in getting into his office as he was seated at his desk with his hands to his face. On arranging his desk for removal, one of the workmen discovered the blotting pad was quite wet with his tears.’
He was a fervent believer in Nationalism saying:
“If there are men who believe that the path to redemption for mankind is through universalism, cosmopolitanism or any other ism than nationalism, I am not of their company”
Nationalists everywhere should celebrate his contribution to their struggle.
Image: Arthur Griffith with his wife Molly – Inset: The poster used during his election campaign at a time he was jailed.
Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (31st March 2021)