Knocknagoshel Strengthens its Historic Parnellite Links Through Art

Stained Glass and Public Art Creator, Mary J. Leen inset over a photograph of her father, Billy Leen (left) and Anthony McAuliffe, Knocknagoshel and the hugely impressive Parnellite installation on the wall of Mr. McAuliffe’s former village shop in Knocknagoshel.
Mary J. Leen’s work of art in the context of the village. This was pictured co-incidentally on the anniversary of the death of Charles Stewart Parnell October 6th 2020 when I just happened to be in Knocknagoshel on a different mission but was compelled to stop, admire and document. ©Photograph: John Reidy 6-10-2020

Knocknagoshel has strengthened its historic links with the republican leader and politician, Charles Stewart Parnell (1846 – 1891) with the unveiling of a mural in the village by the multi talented and Tralee based artist, Mary J. Leen.

A collaboration of ideas and mindsets between Ms. Leen and Knocknagoshel man Anthony McAuliffe and Mary’s dad, sculptor and former councillor, Billy Leen,

Mary said that the painting was created in response to the dark night of the soul that we have been led into in this country.

Awaken the Spirit of Our Ancestors

“It’s meant to awaken the spirit of the ancestors to help us to rise and fight like we have always done.

“To not lie down, never to be broken and never give up our freedom. To come together in spirit, neighbour helping neighbour and unite for the greater good of our people. To create the country that our ancestors died for,” said Mary.

“To summon the power of this land, the dreams of Erin that lie un-dreamt, waiting to be called forth to lead us into a brighter future.

A Land of Hope and Love

“A place where our young can live in a land of hope and love. We must remember who we were and not loose ourselves in these dark times.

“Remember the words of Parnell when he said: ‘It is no use relying on the Government. You must only rely upon your own determination. Help yourselves by standing together. Strengthen those amongst yourselves who are weak, band yourselves together, organize yourselves and you must win.’

Proud men of Knocknagoshel

“That we may rise like the Phoenix from the ashes, like the proud men of Knocknagoshel and many others have before them.

“The time has come, to Arise, people of Ireland and take your place among the nations of the earth,” Mary’s explanation concluded.

While the mural was unveiled to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Parnell last October, the current restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 virus have delayed the placing and unveiling of a plaque on the wall of McAuliffe’s former village shop.

The Text of the Plaque is as Follows:

Arise People of Ireland and Take Your Place Among the Nations of The Earth!

Tuesday the 6th of October 1891, 129 years ago marked the death of Charles Stewart Parnell.

He was a Wicklow man, a remarkable leader, a republican, a member of Parliament, a lover and a dreamer. Parnell dreamed of bringing home rule governance to Ireland.

He fought to change the oppressive system of land ownership in Ireland and for the rights of the ordinary man to be able to buy his own land, to have fair rents, fixed tenure and free sale of land. In 1870, only 3% of Irish farmers owned their own land while 97% were tenants.

These so called ‘Tenants’, renters in their own land, lived in appalling conditions and their rights were practically non-existent. We were slaves under a different name.

The people had enough of it. The spirit of revolution was rising. Under Parnell’s leadership of the Irish National Land League, they stood up and were fighting for their freedom, for their rights and for future generations of Irish people that they may live in a free land.

Parnell was to speak at a rally in Newcastle West in 1891 and a group of proud men from Knocknagoshel marched to hear him speak.

They carried a banner with the now famous slogan ‘Arise Knocknagoshel and take your place among the nations of the Earth!’

At this very time Parnell was a victim of political assassination by the church due to a relationship he had with Catherine O’Shea.

The church tried to stop Parnell speaking. He died later that year without ever seeing home rule or the land act implemented.

Fast forward 130 years in time to a very different Ireland. We have home rule in 26 counties and continue to fight for the remaining six.

The land act is passed. People can own their own land now.

We can buy and sell our land but we cannot build our homes on our own land. Our ancestral land. Planning laws that dictate where and what we build. Ignorant of culture and tradition. Rules cherry picked from the sky, with no logic or fairness.

One rule for the ordinary person another for the developers.

Forced into unemployment due to rules imposed on us by our own. No English to blame now. Many of us will no longer be able to pay for our homes. Once again to be evicted by the ‘elite’.

Parnell urged us to Boycott anyone that evicted anyone from a home.

But we are doing this to each other and allowing it to happen. As the banks and vulture funds and corporations get richer.

They shackle us to our open prisons, we are ordered not to stray too far from these cells of fear. Afraid of neighbours, children, friends, family, foreigners. All foe now.

This proud race of warm, welcoming, open hearted people, now have closed faces and closed hearts.

Bright, eager, ambitious youths once full of hope and dreams for their future, no longer dream of a future. They fear for their future while algorithms decide their fate.

No self-determination here, only half lived lives stunted by the system. Our great grandparents faced the signs of ‘No Blacks no Dogs no Irish need apply’ Our young need not even apply because there are no jobs.

Our fishermen can’t fish our own waters, while our farmers farm tainted land. Animals just like prisoners not allowed to roam the land. Farmers forced to supply food to greedy supermarkets at below cost and to live off handouts from Europe. Some pumping more and more chemicals into our food so they can get higher yield and faster growth. All to be washed down by chemically treated water.

And where can these poor poisoned people turn to get medical treatment that they deserve? Overcrowded hospitals. Once a place of refuge in a time of need. Over worked and underpaid staff through no fault of their own, work in a place where our old people are left to die alone in a sea of loneliness.

And where can we turn in these times of darkness where once we had faith to guide us on our path? A beautiful faith that served us well, but was tainted with sin and evil. A faith we need and hunger for, now more than ever.

Parnell said “No Man has a right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation. No man has a right to say to his country Thus far shalt thou go and no further.”

For more on Mary Leen’s work you can click on the link here:

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