Posted in Posts and podcasts

Pádraic Pearse

Catholic Press 1st July, 1920 p.7 (abridged)

Pádraig Pearse Irish Times, 29th April, 1916
Pádraig Pearse
Irish Times, 29th April, 1916

A teacher in St. Ita’s School, which was the female portion of Padraic Pearse’s foundation, wrote of him in the following terms in 1916;

In another country a school like Pearse’s would be endowed both by the State and by private philanthropy. In Ireland we can hardly be said to have a State, and the few people of large fortunes might endow a school for Anglicising the country, but never one with this patriotic programme. About the time Pearse took up his quarters in the Hermitage, his work was become well known everywhere. In England, General Baden-Powell, who had founded the Boy Scout Movement, was much impressed by what Pearse was accomplishing for Irish boys, and became eager to enroll in some way for his movement the help of this inspiring teacher of boys. Of course, no working scheme between Pearse and Baden-Powell was feasible, but it is worth mentioning as showing the attention St. Enda’s School was attracting.

The school lasted in all from September, 1908 until the first week of May, 1916, when its founder was placed before a firing squad of eight soldiers, four of whom aimed at his head and four at his heart; the heart that loved Ireland so much and the fine brain that had planned such great things were riddled with bullets.

He was a great man, though his greatness was rarely apparent at first acquaintance. He had a curious aloofness and reserve.  He was rarely seen at social meetings; when he was, his tall, strongly-built figure with its stooping head and slightly squinting eager eyes was the figure of a man of destiny. In conversation he was gentle and shy, only in the presence of large masses of people did he really become himself. Then he became imperious and masterful, and his strength and passion were sometimes overwhelming. He was the finest orator I have ever heard.

Everything Pearse said was charged with meaning and took root in the heads and hearts of the people. He never worked up his audience into tears about the past woes of Ireland; he made them passionately eager to struggle for the future. Thus, he dominated that generation of  men and women in Ireland, who have risked so much and accomplished so much. I can easily understand how, when the choice of President of the Republic had to be taken, all minds and eyes turned to him. He is still, in the minds of the people, their President, though the soldiers threw his shot-riddled body, coffinless, into a pit and covered it with corroding lime, so that we can never recover it, to pay it our homage.