Pearse’s pastoral hideaway: ripe for commemoration?
The State seems reluctant to build a cultural centre at Pádraig Pearse’s cottage in Rosmuc, Connemara, to remember our ‘Ghandi with guns’
It takes all of 15 minutes to complete the tour, and several of the cyclists then sit down to picnic on the knoll overlooking the lake, where Pearse once taught his brother Liam how to swim. It “seems a very understated way to celebrate your Gandhi with guns”, observes one Australian, while his companion wonders if there’s some “ideological objection to a coffee shop”.
The Connemara Wild at Heart tourism industry grouping believes that more should be made of Pearse’s cultural connections with the west. “Politics aside, there was a lot more to Pearse, and Connemara can make so much more of this,” says Dominic Ó Moráin, spokesman for Connemara Wild at Heart and manager of Lough Inagh Lodge. “You take all the people who come here to visit Kylemore Abbey and Clifden, and who would spend more time in the area if they had an additional destination.”
More than 10 years ago Fianna Fáil incorporated a cultural-centre project on land close to Pearse’s cottage into the National Development Plan. The former Fianna Fáil arts minister Síle de Valera earmarked €1.2 million, Údaras na Gaeltachta promised an additional €1 million, and, as minister for community, rural and gaeltacht affairs, Eamon Ó Cuív forecast 2004 as completion date.
The project went in and out of favour for a number of years, but last February officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht met their counterparts at Údaras na Gaeltachta and Fáilte Ireland to review progress. “It transpired that all funding available to Fáilte Ireland for projects of this nature is committed until 2015,” the department has recently confirmed.
Fáílte Ireland says that “should a capital investment announcement be made by Government, we can then look again at the further development of the project”. It says its current priority is development of the Wild Atlantic Way driving route, along the western seaboard, which includes a number of “tourism discovery points”, including one at An Gort Mór that “will tell visitors the stories associated with Pearse’s cottage”.
The Connemara Wild at Heart grouping, and campaigners such as Seósamh Ó Cuaig, are disappointed but not undeterred. “People in Rosmuc are very proud, and not one bit embarrassed, about Pearse’s connections with the area,” says Ó Cuaig. If the State is uncomfortable about Pearse’s use of physical force, he says, “the State should be putting more emphasis on his nonviolent side, as an educationalist, a writer and a supporter of Home Rule.”