Almost a century after his untimely death in 1922, this lively new assessment looks at the man Michael Collins described as ‘father of us all’, and reclaims Griffith as the founder of both Sinn Féin and the Irish Free State.
Since his death when President of Dáil Éireann, Griffith’s role has often been misrepresented. Too radical for Fine Gael, he was not militant enough for opponents of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Kenny argues that efforts to ‘other’ Griffith as ‘un-Irish’ raise uncomfortable questions about Irish identity. Griffith is also shown to have become a scapegoat for Irish anti-Semitism, which he rejected, and his courage in signing the Treaty to end the War of Independence, when Éamon de Valera refused to go to London, is highlighted.
A dedicated nationalist and intellectual, as well as a skilled editor and balladeer, Griffith encouraged women to become involved in the struggle for national independence, and, unusually for his time, was able to distinguish between Oscar Wilde’s private life and his work. His complex relationships with W.B. Yeats and James Joyce are also revealed in significant new ways.
The Enigma of Arthur Griffith brings the real Arthur Griffith back into focus for a new generation.
Table of Contents
1. Griffith and Mother Ireland
2. The Name of the Father
3. 1871–1901: Hard-Working Men
4. An ‘Un-Irish’ Personality?
5. Ballads, Songs and Snatches
6. His ‘Best Friend’ Rooney Dies
7. Women as Comrade and Wife
8. Griffith, Race and Africa
9. Connolly, Yeats and Larkin
10. Journalist, Editor and Crusader
11. 1902–16: Sinn Féin and the Rising
12. Irish and Jewish
13. 1917–20: Griffith and de Valera
14. A Fateful Weekend
15. 1921: ‘He signed the Treaty’
16. 1922: Destruction and Death
17. Arthur Griffith and Joyce’s Ulysses
18. 2022: Commemorating Griffith
‘Odysseus: In Memory of Arthur Griffith’ by Padraic Colum
About the Author
Colum Kenny is Professor Emeritus at Dublin City University. A barrister, journalist and historian, he has written widely on culture and society. His books include An Irish-American Odyssey (2014) and Moments that Changed Us: Ireland after 1973 (2005). A founding board member of the E.U. Media Desk in Ireland, he served on the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.