Almost a century after his untimely death in 1922, this lively and insightful new assessment explores the man Michael Collins described as ‘father of us all’ and reclaims Arthur 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 some, he was not militant enough for others. His legacy belongs to no single political party today. Colum Kenny argues that efforts to ‘other’ Griffith as ‘un-Irish’ raise uncomfortable questions about Irish identity.
A dedicated activist and intellectual, as well as a skilled editor and balladeer, Griffith knew what it meant to be poor. He encouraged women to get involved in the struggle for Irish independence, and, unusually for his time, distinguished between Oscar Wilde’s private life and his work. Griffith’s complex relationships with Maud Gonne, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce are revealed here in significant new ways.
The Enigma of Arthur Griffith brings the ‘father of us all’ 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.