Saturday, December 03, 2011

Hark, Patrick Pearse and John Connolly!

My wake-up routine in the morning involves coffee and reading the comics. Thanks to the lovely world of the intertubes, a person can read comics not selected by one's local paper, and among those that I like to read is "Hark, A Vagrant" by Kate Beaton-- comics for history and literary nerds. She doesn't post every day, so I click her "Random" link to see older strips. Imagine my delight to come across this comic. You could probably count on one hand the number of people in the U.S. who get it. I would not have been one of those people except for these artifacts of my stay here.

First, in a restaurant called The Bank (housed in a former bank, and very lovely), the decor includes the busts of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. Right next to one another you will find:

Patrick Pearse and John Connolly.

The bartenders at The Bank also know how to make mixed drinks properly, as in "not from a mix." This is a rarity in this city, based upon the Gentleman Caller's research. He's still scarred from his swamp green martini made with vodka and "martini mix." I don't know much about martinis, but I did take a taste and it was pretty foul, even for a martini.

I digress.

Patrick Pearse with his brother, ran a school for "sensitive boys." The curriculum immersed young men in Irish culture at a time when such was a revolutionary act. (I'm also certain that at least one of the two brothers was gay, but I may be basing that on stereotypes and not evidence.) The school, St. Enda's, is now a museum and I discovered it one day while jogging.:

The South Dublin County history website point out that Pearse rode his bicycle from St. Enda's past the Walled-Up Woman castle on his way to Dublin on Easter Sunday 1916, never to return. The rising failed miserably, although William Butler Yeats -- another poet, but not one in charge of a revolution -- had a different interpretation:
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Pearse, Connolly, and the rest ended up here, in Kilmainham Gaol, on this block:

They met their end here, by firing squad:

I rather like the idea that a teacher and a poet was a revolutionary. I like being in a city where writers are honored as much as revolutionaries. Two of the candidates in the late presidential election were academics and the winner is also a poet.* That would lead to mockery and homophobic comments about the candidate's manhood in the U.S.  (Yeah, sure, I know a certain Gingrich has a PhD in history, but does anyone take him seriously as a scholar of anything? He clearly knows nothing about the Progressive Era or the Gilded Age, otherwise, he wouldn't be trying to return the U.S. to 1880, or thereabout.)

In fact, I'm reminded of something that the Big Guy wrote about the power of words. He wrote, after studying the speeches in the first book that he owned, The Columbian Orator,
The reading of these speeches added much to my limited stock of language, and enabled me to give tongue to many interesting thoughts, which had frequently flashed through my soul, and died away for want of utterance.
Reading, learning new ideas, learning new ways to express those ideas, helped him to develop his own and his ways of expressing his own. Right there, you have the whole argument for a real education, immersed in ideas, in literature, in philosophy, in history, in the humanities. I suppose that is why we humble, seemingly innocuous humanities professors seem so dangerous and must be outsourced and undermined. Right?

Mostly, I like that a comic artist made up a strip about them. It's not something that you see everyday.

*I should perhaps also note that I have no idea about their politics, and I haven't really begun to survey the political parties or their historical and social contexts here. That means I could be making an analogous statement to saying that the U.S. is cool because an alleged historian is running for president.

1 comment:

Digger said...

Kate Beaton is fabulous. She definitely pokes fun at history out of love. And, she's Canadian! "Ice of Glory" is still one of my faves. [/fangirl]


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