Patrick Pearse: The Triumph of Failure by Ruth Dudley Edwards

patrick pearse

This is a biography of Pearse from the 1970’s. It covers his life from childhood, schooling at the Christian Brothers on Westland Row where his love for Gaelic Culture began, to his involvement with the Gaelic League and finally to his membership of the IRB and his leadership in the Easter Rising. His interest in the Irish language beginning in school under the Christian Brothers leads to his trips to the Connemara Gaeltacht and his experience of the poverty of the community there lead gradually to more radical political views from a more conventional middle class catholic Parnellite stance. This leads finally to membership of the IRB and his role in the Easter Rising. Pearse’s idealism comes out clearly through his promotion of modern educational methods and also the promotion of Gaelic in St. Endas. The author also makes clear Pearse’s  lack of practicality in business and combat, he fails in his attempts to maintain his father’s Stone masonry firm, the financial troubles he suffered with St. Enda’s and his ineffectuality as a military man in the rising.

I found it a very readable biography of Pearse, balanced in its analysis of the foremost of the rebel leaders and not too academic. It’s a good introduction to a figure we’re all superficially familiar with whose life has perhaps been obscured by the mythology that has grown up around him.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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