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‘Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’
Crowds gather at the graveside of veteran Fenian Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa in Glasnevin cemetery Photo: National Library of Ireland, KE 234

‘Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’

Dublin, 1 August 1915 - Patrick Pearse, the schoolteacher and Irish language activist, delivered a stirring oration at the graveside of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa at Glasnevin cemetery.

In the course of his speech, Mr. Pearse paid homage to O’Donovan Rossa’s unrepentant Fenianism and to Ireland’s ‘dead generations’ of men who fought for freedom. He laid out a vision of Ireland as ‘not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well.’

VIEW: Read the full text of Pearse's speech

Pat Cooke, UCD, explains the significance of Pearse's oration at the graveside of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.

Mr. Pearse claimed: ‘The seeds sown by the young men of ‘65 and ‘67 are coming to their miraculous ripening today.’

He concluded: ‘They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and, while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.’

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.