Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Judging W T


Click on any image for a larger version

The Royal Irish Academy published the latest book in their "Judging ..." series last evening. This is Michael Laffan's "Judging W T Cosgrave". I haven't yet read the book but if the speakers are to be believed it is not one to be missed.


Michael Laffan, Liam Cosgrave, Enda Kenny

WT Cosgrave was the first "Taoiseach" (President of the Executive Council) and he was in office from 1922 to 1932 at the head of the pro-Treaty Cumann na nGaedheal government.

He was not himself at the launch, as he died in 1965, but we had one current and two former Taoisigh present. WT's son Liam, now 94 and a former Taoiseach himself, gave a touching and illuminating speech about his father. Current Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, also spoke, more eloquently than usual, and formally launched the book. And the author, Michael Laffan, gave us some background and praised Liam for his cooperation in the writing of the book, though he said Liam might not like some of what he wrote. Former Taoiseach, John Bruton, was also present in the body of the audience.



Dolores and myself
Photo: Johnny Bambury

I have to come clean and admit that I was not really there for the book launch as such. I had learned that Dolores Brewster (m. Scott) and her daughter, Lynne Pentlow, had been invited and were flying in from Bristol to attend.

Dolores is the daughter of Gordon Brewster, the artist who was chief cartoonist and subsequently Art Editor in Independent Newspapers, including during WT's period as "Taoiseach". During those years he took at least 21 pokes at WT in his cartoons. Michael has included five of Brewster's cartoons in his book and these are set out below.


See cartoon in NLI collection
Thanks to National Library of Ireland

This one has WT painting a "selfie" showing himself as the "knight in shining armour" slaying the dragon of foreign competition with the Sword of Tariff, all to protect native Irish industry.


See cartoon in NLI collection
Thanks to National Library of Ireland

This one takes a poke at Finance Minister, Ernest Blythe's taking the shilling off the old age pension in 1924, reminding us that, at the same time, the politicians were coining it at the taxpayer's expense.


See cartoon in NLI collection
Thanks to National Library of Ireland

This one is sort of dynamite. It was published on 28 May 1927 and shows public opinion advising the Justice Minister, Kevin O'Higgins, to stop raking up past bitterness. He was assassinated just six weeks later.


See cartoon in NLI collection
Thanks to National Library of Ireland

WT Cosgrave's St. Patrick's day broadcast in 1931 to some 40,000,000 Americans.


See cartoon in NLI collection
Thanks to National Library of Ireland

The censorious state, which was around in Brewster's time, continued into my own youth.


Today's Irish Times carries a report on the occasion with extracts from the speeches.

Michael Laffan talks to Seán O'Rourke this morning on RTÉ radio 1.

I will be giving a talk in the National Library of Ireland on the library's collection of the Brewster cartoons at 1.05pm on 17th November 2014. All welcome.

Update: review by Felix M. Larkin in Irish Catholic.

1 comment:

An Gradach said...

An-tsuimiuil. Suil agam bheith i lathair.