September 6th, 1943


FROM THE ARCHIVES:Miles [sic, on this column] na gCopaleen had a typically radical proposal for the Irish people in the midst of the second World War. – JOE JOYCE

MY EXQUISITE, untroubled yet European majesty has been brooding on the implications of my own interesting doctrine that it is not necessary to be Irish. I conceive that the time has come for a supreme theatrical gesture.

Ireland should take her place, not among the nations of the earth . . . but among the dim enigmas of history. My modest idea is that our little community of decent peasants, throwing aside gaelic [sic] grammars and those handmade mahogany quaternions which Merrion Square insists to be our secondary badge of nationhood, should startle the world by resigning.

Take it easy. Discipline, please. Do not break ranks. I know that what I propose is extreme. I realise that I play with the mystical specie of our national life. Gaelic speakers will rebel and seek to have me thrown to those familiar back-door mammals, the wolves. (Hugo I knew well, he sat for the Clerical Officers in ’29 but won a German musical scholarship before he was cold-sorry, called. Nothing would do him only go abroad.) I only ask you to consider the blank amazement of the universe, which has always vouchsafed us a reluctant if somewhat aghast admiration, if the world’s newspapers were to-morrow morning to carry this story.

“Reuter, quoting a reliable Dublin source, reports that the entire Irish nation resigned at 2.35pm yesterday. The resignations were placed in the hands of the President and accepted with regret. All telephone and telegraph communication with the capital has been cut.” That would surely cause a bit of a stir in America and distress such negro boxers who had taken the trouble to fit themselves out with the surname O’Flaherty. No more Irishmen! No more drunk, truculent, witty . . . paddies! The announcement would, of course, be followed by a radio address by Sir Myles na gCopaleen (the da) or some . . . public personality.

“The world will have heard that late to-day the Irish people were relieved at their own request of all rights of citizenship and have decided for the future to dissociate themselves permanently from all Irish situations, whether alcoholic, pugnacious or merely relevant to inchoate political formalisms. Their departure will be a great loss to me personally but I will follow their fortunes with interest and . . . If they should at any time care to return, their places will be awaiting them.”

The Irish people . . . Have handed in their ancient gun – Resigned their office and all right to act as Irish persons might.

They think it better – here’s their point – to leave this fair and fertile joint, they’re sick of whiskey, fights and wit – they think it’s more than time to quit.

They feel they all could do much worse – than say good-bye and then disperse – be off without the slightest warning to California in the morning.