Bishop on Patriotism

Posted By: August 12, 2016

Irish News ( Belfast). August 8, 1916

Eamon Phoenix. Irish News. August 8, 2016

Bishop on Patriotism

            Bishop Edward O’Dwyer of Limerick has sent the following letter to the managers of the National Schools in his diocese: ‘The Commissioners of National Education have issued for use in the schools a pamphlet on “Patriotism” written by Mrs Mary C Starkie, the wife, I presume, of the Resident Commissioner . In my opinion that gentleman himself has done quite enough for us for many years without inflicting upon us the activities of an educational Mrs Proudie. … The pamphlet pretends to discuss patriotism but that is only a blind. It is in reality a recruiting manifesto and if any attempt is made to impose it upon the children of Ireland, the Commissioners of National Education will probably meet with unexpected opposition. At this moment there is an angrier feeling in this country than I remember for many years and recent events in Dublin – the perfidy of the English government on Home Rule, the dishonesty with which we were promised self-government as a consideration for supporting England in the war, so that our people were led to believe in reality that it was a war for Ireland…

            ‘Patriotism has been burned by centuries of wrong into the soul of Ireland. We drank in the love of Ireland with our mother’s milk. The whole history of our country is one lesson in patriotism. Yellow Ford, Benburb, the Curlew Mountain, Limerick, Fontenoy – these are the memories that fill the heart of every young Irishman; but the Commissioners have little to say upon these topics. Belgium and Servia and Montenegro and Mesopotamia and Timbuktu are to be made to work in the minds of our little children, but they are not to think or speak about their own country, her wrongs and sufferings or her national rights. There is not a word in this precious pamphlet about Grattan or Emmet or O’Connell or Parnell.

            ‘I need not point out to you the absurdity of this latest attempt at political proselytism as its great danger …’

+ Edward Thomas, Bishop of Limerick.(An upper-class Catholic unionist, William Starkie (1860-1920), the last Resident Commissioner of Education under British rule, had never been popular in Catholic Church circles. The publication of a pro-British pamphlet on ‘Patriotism’ by his wife in the wake of the 1916 executions drew the anger of the ardently nationalist Bishop O’Dwyer who had defended the insurgents.)