Thomas Kettle (1880-1916)

1880-1916 [Thomas Michael Kettle; fam. Tom]; nationalist economist and poet; b, 9 Feb. 1880, at Artane, Co. Dublin, of Norse descent by name; his mother was a McCourt; one of 12 children of Andrew Kettle, land-league politician, and Margaret MacCourt; educated at O’Connell School (Christian Brothers), Richmond St., and later at Clongowes Wood, 1894; entered University College [Royal University]; elected auditor of L&H, 1898 (‘I have a home for my disaffection’); deivered a paper on “Nationality and Education”, 31 March 1900 [same season as Joyce’s “Drama and Life”, 20 Jan.] distributed pro-Boer pamphlets in early months of the Boer War, arguing the legitimacy of their struggle against the British Empire; his university career marked by a break-down of psychological health necessitating a one-year recuperation in Innsbruck (Tyrol), 1904; edited St Stephen’s [Magazine] 1903-04, ‘unprejudiced as to date of issue’;
elected first president of Young Ireland Branch of United Irish League (Home Rule; known as the “Yibs”), with Skeffington and Frank Cruise O’Brien - all to be married to dgs. of David Sheehy; associated with W. P. Ryan in the attempt to bring ‘a fresh greenness to the trunk of obstructionism’ (acc. Padraic Colum), 1904; called to the Irish Bar, 1904 - after which he practised only briefly; commenced drinking as a requirement of Law Library dining; briefly ed. The Nationalist, 1905; elected Nationalist MP for East Tyrone, 25th Aug. 1906, increasing his majority in the second election, 1910 - but without contesting the third;
Kettle shared in nationalist objections to Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World (1907); joined board of Theatre of Ireland with Edward Martyn, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, and others; Professor of Economics at UCD [NUI], 1909; m. Mary Sheehy, 9 Sept. 1909 [var. 8]; sought post for James Joyce as Italian lecturer at NUI; resigned from Parliament, 1910, for whole-time professorship, ‘to formulate an economic idea fitted to express the self-realisation of a nation which is resolute to realise itself’; chaired protest meeting in the Mansion House against Cat and mouse Act aimed at hunger-striking suffragettes (Irish Citizen, 5 July 1913); established and chaired the Peace Committee during Lock-Out Strike, 1913, with Joseph Plunkett with Tom Dillon as co-secretaries; published articles on the conditions of the Dublin working-class;
appt. member of the Education Commission by Under-secretary Birrell; became a co-fnd. Irish Volunteers, 1913; travelled to Belgium to purchase guns for the Volunteers, and witnessed the German invasion that country; became convinced that Irish nationalists must stand with Belgian (and hence Britain); acted as war correspondent for Daily News; sought to fight in France with Redmond’s Volunteers but was refused on account of ill-health; received a commission in the 9th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers; being stationed initually with regt. at Newbridge; engaged in recruiting throughout the country in the belief that England ‘could not fight for liberty in Europe and Junkerdom in Ireland’, toured Ireland and made 200 recruiting speeches; increasingly affected by alcoholism;
appeared in uniform - and drunk - at an anti-recruitment in Dublin presided over by Mahaffy and attended by Patrick Pearse and was booed by the audience (as Yeats noted), Nov. 1914; received a kindly message from Patrick Pearse afterwards; issued Irish Orators and Oratory (1914), with an introduction considered his finest writing; he was in Dublin at the outbreak of the 1916 Rebellion and later predicted that the executed leaders would go down in history ‘as heroes and martyrs, and I will go down as a bloody British officer’; sailed to France and travelled to the Front, 14 July 1916 - this response to an appeal by his brother Larry to Gen Hammond, (Chief Staff Officer of the 16th (Irish) Division), proposing that only fighting with his men would save him from deepening alcoholism and depression, departing for France in July 1916;
died with conspicuous gallantry in the attack on Ginchy (Picardy) at the battle of the Somme when the Irish 16th deprived the Germans of their strategic observation posts overlooking the entire battle-field - with great losses to the Munster Fusiliers; struck by a bullet in the chest, and possibly another, at 5 p.m., 9 Sept. 1916; buried by Welsh Guards in an unmarked grave which remained unlocated afterwards; his war-journalism was issued as The Ways of War (1917) was edited by Mary Kettle, who also compiled the aphorisms of An Irishman’s Calendar ([1938); there is a bust by Francis W. Doyle-Jones in St. Stephen’s Green; Kettle’s father Andrew died on 22 Sept. 1916. DIB DIW DIH DIL FDA OCIL

“[M]y only counsel to Ireland is, that in order to become deeply Irish, she must become European.” (Quoted in Frank Callinan, ‘Thomas Michael Kettle: an enduring legacy’, in The Irish Times (18 May 2016).
—See copy as attached.

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God

Tom Kettle LLB
In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your mother’s prime,
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You’ll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To dice with death. And oh! they’ll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor –
But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.
[Poem written some days before his death in Sept. 1916.]

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  • Trans. with ‘Introduction’ to Louis Paul-Dubois, Contemporary Ireland (Maunsel 1908) orig. in French, Paris 1907]; Selections from the Irish Orators [Burke to Redmond] ([Maunsel] 1908; Unwin [1916]);
  • The Day’s Burden, Studies, Literary and Political (Maunsel 1910; rep. 1918) [rep. includes ‘The Economics of nationalism’]; Do., reissued with add. essays (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1937);
  • Home Rule Finance: An Experiment in Justice (Maunsel 1911), pamphlet;
  • trans. Luther Kneller, Christianity and the Leaders of Modern Science (1911);
  • ed. & intro. Daniel Halévy’s Life of Nietzsche, trans. J. M. Hone (London: Fisher Unwin 1911);
  • The Open Secret of Ireland (London: W. J. Ham-Smith 1912), and Do. [rep. edn.] ed. Senia Pašeta (UCD Press 2007), xxi, 121pp. [details]
  • Poems and Parodies (London: Duckworth 1912);
  • ed. & intro., Irish Orators and Oratory (Maunsel 1914; Unwin [1916]);
  • with S. L. Gwynn, ed., Battle Songs of the Irish Brigades (Dublin: Maunsel 1915), 33pp.;
  • The Ways of War, with memoir by Mary S. Kettle (Dublin: Talbot; London: Constable 1917) [infra];
  • Mary S. Kettle, ed., An Irishman’s Calendar (Dublin: Browne & Nolan [1938]).

See also A. J. Kettle, The Material for Victory (Dublin 1958) - by his brother; there is an extensive notice at Geni - online.

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Bibliographical details
Senia Pašeta, ed., The Open Secret of Ireland [1912; rep. edn.] (UCD Press 2007), xxi, 121pp. Introduction by Senia Paseta; original introduction by J. E. Redmond, MP; Preliminary; I An Exercise in Humility; II History (a) Coloured; III History (b) Plain; IV The Obviousness of Home Rule; V The Ravages of Unionism (1); VI The Ravages of Unionism (2); VII The Hallucination of ‘Ulster’; VIII The Mechanics of Home Rule; IX After Home Rule; X An Epilogue on ‘Loyalty’.

  • M. J. MacManus, ‘Tom Kettle’, in Adventure of an Irish Bookman, ed. Francis MacManus (1952), pp.142-46;
  • Roger McHugh, ‘Thomas Kettle and Francis Sheehy-Skeffington’, in The Shaping of Modern Ireland, ed. Conor Cruise O’Brien (London: Routledge & KP 1960) [q.pp.];
  • Denis Gwynn, ‘Thomas Kettle’, in Studies (Winter 1966);
  • Bonnie K. Scott, ‘Thomas [L.] Kettle: An Appraisal’, in Journal of Irish Literature, II, 2 (May 1974), pp.75-91 [incls. bibl. of his publications & num. articles about him]
  • J. B. Lyons, The Enigma of Tom Kettle: Irish Patriot, Essayist, Poet, British Soldier (Dublin: Glendale Press 1983);
  • Senia Pasêta, Thomas Kettle (UCD Press 2008), 128pp.;
  • John Wilson Foster, ‘Between Two Shadows: Kettle, Lynd and the Great War’, in Between Shadows: Modern Irish Writing and Culture (Dublin: IAP 2009), pp.235-52;
  • Margaret O’Callaghan [on Kettle], in From Parnell to Paisley: Constitutional and Revolutionary Politics in Modern Ireland (Dublin: IAP 2010), q.pp.

See also Anthony B. Quinn, Wigs and Guns, Irish Barristers and the Great War (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2005). There are references to Kettle in Irish Book Lover, Vols. 7, 8, & 9 [ex index]. See also Robert Lynd, ‘Voices of the New Ireland’, in Ireland a Nation (1919).

See Niamh Reilly, essay on The Ways of War (1917), in Dublin Review of Books (1 Dec. 2017) - infra.

Irish Times reportage includes
  • Frank Callinan, ‘Thomas Michael Kettle: an enduring legacy’, in The Irish Times (18 May 2016) - see copy as attached.
  • Brendan Ó Cathaoir, ‘Generous heart’ – An Irishman’s Diary on poet and patriot Tom Kettle, in The Irish Times (5 Sept. 2016) - available online.

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[Mary Kettle,] ‘Memoir’ quotes TK’s response to Kipling’s attempt to fan the flames of civil war, ‘the poet, for a coin, / Hands to the gabbling rout / A bucketful of Boyne / To put the sunrise out.’ Also takes issue with remarks of Colum: ‘Mr Padraic Colum, in a memoir of my husband in the Irish-American paper, Ireland, says: “When the Germans broke into Belgium, he advised the Irish to join the British Army to fight for the rights of small nationalities. Had death found him in those early days he would at least have died for a cause he believed in.” I think Mr Colum, if only for the sake of an old friendship, might have troubled to understand the idea for which Tom Kettle died, and in which he believed to the end. Does Mr. Colum mean to suggest that my husband no longer believed in the maintenance of the rights of small nationalities […] and even if England juggles with Ireland’s liberty, is not the fight for truth and justice to go on?’ This copy was the property of Albert le Brocquy.

Further [Mary Kettle]:

Quotes Kettle on the ‘path of honour and justice.’ [5-6]. ‘Not for flag, nor King, [… &c.]’, here quoted as the reason and the inspiration of his sacrifice [8].

On the formation of Irish Volunteers, 1913 [here given as 1912; p.27]: ‘The impulse behind the new departure is not that of the swashbuckler or the fire-eater. Ancient Pistol has no share in it. In no country is the red barbarism of war as a solvent of differences more fully recognised that in Ireland. In no other is the wastage of the public substance on vast armaments more strongly condemned on grounds alike of conscience and intelligence. If Ireland has a distinguished military traditioni, she has another tradition to which she holds more proudly, tht of peace and culture. In her golden age she, unique in Europe, wrought out the ideal of the civilization-state as contrasted wit the brute-force state. She never oppressed nor sought to destroy another nation. What she proposes to herself now is not to browbeat or dragoon or diminish by violence the civil or religious liberty of any man - but simply to safeguard her own.’ [27-28].

Kettle effected by death of Skeffington. ‘With the rebellion [1916] he had no sympathy - indeed it made him furious. He used to say bitterly that they had spoiled it all - spoiled his dream of a free united Ireland in a free Europe. But what really seared his heart was the fearful retribution that fell on the leaders of the rebellion. […] The only thing madder than the rebellion was the manner of its suppression […] We in Irelnd had the right, if not the precedent, to expect as fair treatment as was meted out by Botha to the rebels in South Africa. My husband felt after the disasters of Easter Week more than ever committed to the attitude he had taken up. He brought pressure to bear that he might be sent immediately to the front.’ Quotes ‘beautiful tribute to him’ in French L’Opinion: ‘A son of Ireland? He was more. He was Ireland!’

Kettle called Rupert Brooke ‘over-praised’, saying, ‘phrase-making seems now a very dead thing to me’ [34] Memoir defends him against imputation of dying in France because he had not the heart to die in Ireland or the GPO. Gives an account of his death, by a bullet from the Prussian Guard at Ginchy ‘at the post of honour, leading his men in a victorious charge’ [36].

Quotes Irish Times: ‘as Irish Unionists we lay our wreath on the grave of a generous Nationalist, a brilliant Irishman, and a loyal soldier of the King.’ “Bond from the toil of bate we may not cease: / Free we are to be your friend. / And when you make your banquet, and we come, / soldier with equal soldier must we sit / Closing a battle, not forgetting it. / With not a name to hide / This mate and mother of valiant “rebels” dead / Must come with all her history on her head. / We keep the past for pride: / No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb: / No rawest squad of all Death’s volunteers / No rudest man who died / To tear your flag down in the bitter years / But shall have praise and three times thrice again / When at that table men shall drink with men’].

Poem, “To My Daugher Bett, the Gift of God” here quoted in full and dated ‘In the field, before Guillemont, Somme, Sept. 4, 1916’; here called ‘a sonnet written to his little daughter on the battlefield has been declared by a literary critic as sufficient to found the reputation of a poet.’ [42; poss. by Robert Lynd.]

The Memoir ends with her signature: Mary S Kettle. CUTTINGS enclosed in this copy include ‘Book of the Week, Professor Kettle’s last Testament’, in Everyman, 5th Oct. 1917, pp.616-17, signed Louis McQuilland.


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Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972), p.87ff., espec. pp.92-94: ‘Arthur Clery and Constantine Curran have agreed with Lynd that Kettle was probably the most brilliant man of his generation. His wit was saturnine. An embittered Hamlet, he once defined life as “a cheap table d’hote in a rather dirty restaurant, with Time changing the plates before you have had enough of anything.” Although he was a successful member of parliament at Westminster, he had few illusions about politics. His essay on the limitations of political action is a salutary admonition to zealots of every party. “Politics can never be the architect of the New Jerusalem,” he warned, “it is not cut out to be much more than a speculative, suburban builder.” Even at best, “it will give us a world just good enough to live in.” His condemnation of suicide is ironically reversed as a commendation of death, which “has all the attractions of suicide without any of its horrors.” His sheaf of essays was appropriately entitled The Day’s Burden (1910). But he too was capable of humor. He could do a golfing ode to the strains of “The Lost Chord.” He could parody Kipling with gusto. He could present the case of Ireland clearly and vigorously. Everything he did-journalism, teaching, politics, writing-he did well. Yet throughout his short career of thirty-six years to everything he seemed to have applied the question which provided the name for a Dublin conversation group, of which Clery and Kettle were members: “Cui bono?” “What’s the good?” Or, in American, “So what?” [sic]. An advocate of Home Rule, he feared that whatever program the Liberals supported would be accepted as final. “Life is growth,” he said to a large audience on the eve of his election, “growth is change…. It may have bivouacs but no barracks.” A professor of economics at the university, he defined his subject as “not a [92] science, but a series of controversies with a fixed terminology.” Even his patriotism was touched with irony; he modified the epigram about history in applying it to his country: “Irish history is the lie disagreed upon.” More bitter is his distinction between the major parties: “When in office, the Liberals forget their principles and the Tories remember their friends.” No wonder that Clery said: “You must go to Swift himself, if you would find one to surpass Kettle in that peculiarly Irish quality, sardonic enthusiasm.” / World War I divided the sympathies of the two friends. Kettle, in Belgium buying arms for the Irish Volunteers, had been appalled by the German invasion. He cherished the hope that by supporting England during the war Ireland would be rewarded with Home Rule. […; 93] Sheehy-Skeffington’s death threw Kettle into dispair. He rushed into active service. Within three months he was killed. […; 94.[ top ]

Léon Ó Bróin, Protestant Nationalists &c (1985), writes: Hobson and others were ‘able promoters of the policy of abstention against criticisms of Kettle and other parliamentarians’ [35]; ‘… the testimony of Tom Kettle [for MacNeill], who appeared in the uniform of an officer of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was turned against him by a hectoring prosecutor and manifestly antagonistic to the court president. Poor Kettle, who had just asked to be sent to France, his usefulness as a recruiter being exhausted, was soon to die … on the Somme. The Sinn Féin nightmare, as he called the Rising, had spoiled his dream of a free united Ireland in a free Europe. Bitterly he recognised that Home Rule was done for, and the Irish Party finished.’ [117.]

Margaret Ward, ‘“The Suffrage Above All Else!”: An Account of the Irish Suffrage Movement”, in Irish Women’s Studies: A Reader, ed. Ailbhe Smyth (Dublin: Attic Press 1993) - gives details of his chairing the anti-Cat and Mouse Act meeting at the Mansion House in 1913, with his remark that it was ‘a dangerous weapon of political oppression in the hands of any Government’ (p.33), and notes that he later followed his party leader John Redmond in voting against women’s suffrage.

Conor Cruise O’Brien on his family’s view of Kettle: ‘He may have been wrong politically, but as a human being he was alright’. (Memoir, 1999; quoted in Richard Kearney, review, in Times Literary Supplement, 15 Jan. 1999, p.6.) Note that Cruise O’Brien [not Conor], contrib. a short elegy to Kettle to ‘The Nation’; rep. in Irish Book Lover VIII Dec-Jan. 1916-17, end-page.

Niamh Reilly, ‘The Cruel Ways of War’, in Dublin review of Books, Iss. 95 (December 2017)


The Ways of War contains twenty-one essays by Kettle, reflecting his hallmark fusion of political-historical analysis, scholarly but accessible discussions of political, social and economic ideas, witty observational accounts and activist commentary. Some essays were written “in the field” in 1916. Others had been previously published, including pieces Kettle wrote for the Daily News as a war correspondent in Belgium following that country’s invasion by German forces in 1914. The Prefatory Note, signed simply “L.”, was most likely written by Robert Lynd, a leading essayist and literary critic who was well-regarded across the nationalist spectrum in pre-1916 Ireland and a long-time friend and literary colleague of Kettle’s. The opening essays (“Why Ireland Fought”) recapitulate what for Kettle in September 1916 remained irrefutable, principled reasons for Ireland’s, and his own, participation in the Great War. The essay “Prelude”, belying some characterisations of Kettle vis-à-vis the war as a naive idealist or out-of-touch Irish Party devotee, begins with his brutally honest description of the unfolding war situation, as a “sort of malign middle term between a lunatic asylum and a butcher’s stall”, wherein:

[...] for Kettle there was no choice but to support the war effort, “gripped in the ancient bloodiness of that paradox which bids us to kill life in order to save life”. He reasserts: “The Great War was in its origin a Great Crime” and lambasts “intellectuals” who failed to make “an honest study of documents within reach of all the world” while declaring they “didn’t believe the Germans committed atrocities in Belgium”. He restates what he, a trained barrister, had documented in Belgium in August 1914: that “Germany … was guilty of a systematic campaign of murder, pillage, outrage, and destruction, justified, planned and ordered by her military and intellectual leaders”. Equally, Kettle recognises that “the past of both Great Britain and France was deeply stained with domination”, but, he posits, both had begun to “cleanse themselves” by embarking on “the working out of the democratic formula”. He rejects the notion that by supporting Ireland’s participation in the war he was “dancing to the tune of Imperialism” and insists that he had “written no word and spoken none that was not the word of an Irish Nationalist, who had taken the trouble of thinking for himself”.

Kettle’s facility as a political thinker is evident in “Bismarck”, “Nietzsche” and “Treitschke and the Professors”. For him it was essential to recognise the tangible influence of Nietzsche’s ideas in the validation of “Prussianism” as an ideology and practice, as Kettle saw it, characterised by “violence, intellect and a certain malign splendour of domination”. A scholar of Nietzsche – he wrote the introduction to Daniel Halévy’s The Life of Friedrich Nietzsche (1914) – Kettle quotes extensively from the philosopher’s works to make his points. He warns against the misguided defence of Nietzsche’s writings as metaphorical “poetry’, stressing that Nietzsche unequivocally espoused the practical view that “war is necessary to the state, as the slave is to society”.


See full-text version - as attached.

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Shaking sod: ‘A civilisation shaken by Norse invasion before it had quite recovered; a people plunged in an unimaginable chaos of races, religions, ideas, appetites, and provincialisms; brayed in the mortar without emerging as a consolidated whole; tenacious of the national idea, but unable to bring it to triumph; riven and pillaged by invasion without being conquered - how could such a people find leisure to grow up, or such a civilisation realise its full potentialities of development and discipline?’ (Preface to L. Paul-Dubois, Contemporary Ireland, 1908, p.vii; quoted in The Irish Novelists 1800-1850, Columbia UP 1959, xii, 362pp.)

History lessons:
On the Norman Invasion, 1172: “The Normans came to Ireland with their eyes on three objects: properly, plunder and to escape the growing power and exactions of the King. Herein lies the explanation … that for three and a half centuries the English penetration into Ireland is a mere chaos of private appetites and egotisms … during which they became more Irish than the Irish themselves.”
On the Act of Union, 1800 : “In 1800, there were 91 woollen manufacturers in Dublin, and 4,938 hands employed; in 1840 there were 12 manufacturers and 683 nands, in 1880 only 3 manufacturers in Dublin […]”
On the Anglo-Irish landlords: “The ravaged mansions left behind […] now constitute the worst slums of our capital city … They did not leave their rents behind”.

—The foregoing all quoted in Catríona MacKernan, review of Thomas Kettle, The Open Secret of Ireland, ed. Senia Pašeta [rep.] (UCD Press 2006), in Books Ireland (Nov. 2007), p.254.

Cancel ye the past?”: ‘Cancel ye the past? soothly when it befalls / That ye amend the present and are just … / Bond, from the toil of hate we may not cease / Free, we are free to be your friend … / We keep the past the past for pride: / No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb; / No rawest squad of all Death’s volunteers, / No rudest man who died / To tear your flag down in the bitter years / But shall have praise and three times thrice again, / When at that table men shall sit with men.’ (Answer to Dr William Watson’s verses calling on Irishmen to ‘cancel the past’; quoted in M. J. MacManus, Adventures of an Irish Bookman, 1952, p.145.) See also also his riposte to Kipling: ‘… for a coin / Hands to the gabbling rout, / A bucketful of Boyne / To put the sunrise out.’ (idem.)

See Gerard Fay, The Abbey Theatre:  Cradle of Genius (1958), p.72 - on W.B. Yeats's The Shadowy Waters (1904). 

The Irish Times found the Yeats play “quite unsuitable for staging” and perhaps there was a touch of uncertainty about the fact that it was described as “a dramatic poem.” The audiences and some of the critics found difficulty in understanding what somebody in the stalls called Yeats’s “unintelligible mysticism” but they must have been surprised and and even made uneasy when they read what Tom Kettle had to say in New Ireland. “Surely,” he wrote, “to anyone who believes at all in the existence of the soul there never was a play so actually translucent?” / He was inspired to continue with some thoughts on the future of the National Theatre and his summing up was “We want a National Drama that will believe in life, in this actual concrete, everyday life that flows about us and slides through our hands. The present generation is pre-eminently an economic generation in Ireland, and we want playwrights who will see the poetry of it.”’

—Quoted by Patrick J. Keane, in email correspondence with BS [22 Oct. 2017].

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The Ways of War, by Professor T. M. Kettle, Lieut. 9th Dublin Fusiliers, with a memoir by his wife Mary S. Kettle (Dublin: Talbot Press; London: Constable & Co. 1917); ded. To My Dear Wife and Comrade: ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem; CONTENTS, Prefatory Note [signed L, probably Louis McQuilland, possibly Lynd, either of whom who may have ghosted the Memoir], vii-viii; Memoir [1]; Why Ireland Fought [57], with sects., I, Prelude, II, The Bullying of Serbia, III: The Crime Against Belgium. Under the Heel of the Hun [102], with sects., I: A World Adrift; II: Europe Against the Barbarians, some things at stake; III: Termonde; IV: Malines; V: In Ostend; Treating Belgium Decently [135]; Belgium in Peace [140]; G.H.Q [155]; Sur Erinnerung, a Letter to an Austrian Fellow-student [160] Silhouettes from the Front [165], with sects. I: The Way to the Trenches; II: The Long Endurance; III: Rhapsody on Rats [174]; The New France [178; The Soldier-Priests of Frnace [188]; The Gospel of the Devil [206], with sects., I: Bismarck; II: Nietsche; III: Treitsche and the Professors; Trade or Honour [229]. [See Mary Kettle, “Memoir”, infra.]

War on Great Britain: ‘It is alleged that we are burning to levy war on Great Britain and would welcome any foreign invasion to that end […] We have not spent seven hundred years in recovering Ireland for ourselves in order to make a present of it to the Germans, or the Russians, or the Man in the Moon, or any other foreign power whatever. The present plan of governing Ireland in opposition to the will of the people does indeed make that country a weak spot in the defences of these islands, for such misgovernment produces discontent, and discontent is the best ally of the invader. Alter that by Home Rule and your cause instantly becomes ours.” (Source uncited; in Maurice Headlam, Irish Reminiscences, 1947, p.123; with further comment to the effect that ‘Tom Kettle died gallantly in France, and did not live to see how a Home Rule Government, with powers far exceeding anything in Mr Asquith’s Home Rule Act, made “your cause ours”’; ‘They used to be an army of occupation: now they are an army of no occupation’ [referring to the cost of the judiciary] (Home Rule Finance, 1911; Headlam, ibid., p.132.)

Chamber Music (review of Joyce’s poems): ‘Those who remember University College life of five years back will have many memories of Mr. Joyce. Wilful, fastidious, a lover of elfin paradoxes, he was for the men of his time the very embodiment of the literary spirit … The inspiration of the book is almost entirely literary. There is no trace of the folklore, folk dialect, or even the national feeling that have coloured the work of practically every writer in contemporary Ireland. Neither is there any sense of that modern point of view which consumes all life in the language of problems.’ (Quoted in Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, 1959; 1965 Edn., p.271; also in Stan Gèbler Davies, James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist, Poynter 1975, p.141.)

Epitaph [graven on his monument at St. Stephen’s Green:] ‘So here, while the mad guns curse overhead, / And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor, / Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead, / Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor, / But for a dream born in a herdsman’s shed, / And for the secret scripture of the poor.’

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Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), identifies his policy with ‘a free united Ireland in a free Europe’; cites Home Rule Finance, An Experiment in Justice (1911); ‘The Economics of nationalism’, in The Day’s Burden (1918, rep. 1968); Introduction to Louis-Paul Dubois, Contemporary Ireland [1908]; poetry in Poems and Parodies (1912); a protestor against Yeats’s The Countess Cathleen (1902), argued in an essay in United Irishman that Yeats had reversed the true image of the Irish Catholic’s faith and ‘historical definiteness’ in order to make her white soul shine forth; sustained friendship with James Joyce; with him, criticised emphasis of literary theatre on folklore; also, trans. Kneller’s Christianity and the Leaders of Modern Science.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; selects ‘The Economics of Nationalism’, in 1912; with editorial rems, 951 [in an astringent polemic against the economic orthodoxies of the day, Tom Kettle, the newly appointed professor of national economics at the NUI in Dublin addressed himself to ‘the gibe’ that a chair of national economics made no more sense than a chair of ‘National Trigonometry [arguing] that economics are ‘soaked and steeped’ in ‘the history and temperament’ of a specific country]; 952 [Kettle and Ryan careful to distinguish internationalism from shallow cosmpolitanism, acc. Gibbons, ed.]; 1019- 1020 [with Fred Ryan, member of dissident Young Ireland branch of United Irish League]. BIOG, 1018 [ ‘national internationalist’; distanced himself from Griffith’s protectionism; engaged in purchasing arms in Belgium for the Irish Volunteers when war broke out; ‘My only counsel to Ireland is that in order to become more deeply Irish, she must become European;’ gave evidence for Eoin MacNeill at his court martial; & WORKS [as supra].

Libraries & Booksellers: Linen Hall Library (Belfast) holds The Open Secret of Ireland (1912). Hyland Books (Cat. 219; 1995) lists Louis Paul-Dubois, L’Irlande Contemporaine & La Question Irelandaise (12st edn. 1907), viii+516pp.

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James Joyce held copies of Home Rule finance: An Experiment in Justice (Dublin: Maunsel 1917), Irish Orators and Oratory (Dublin: Talbot [1908]), and The Ways of War, with a memoir by Mary S. Kettle (London: Constable 1917), all stamped “J.J.”, in his Library in Trieste. (See Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of James Joyce, Faber, p.115 [Appendix].)

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Black Kettle: Thomas Kettle was consulted about the possibility of legal action against Dubliners when Joyce visited Dublin to negotiate with George Roberts in 1912, Kettle agreed that the mention of personal names and premisses was indeed libellous and expressed his dislike for the stories, “An Encounter” in particular: ‘I’ll slate that book’. (See Stan Gèbler Davies, James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist, London: Davis Poynter 1975, p.185.) In the fuller account given by Richard Ellmann Kettle calls Dubliners ‘the most outspoken book he had ever read’ while admitting of the pervert in “An Encounter” that ‘we have all met him’ (James Joyce, 1965 Edn., p.340). And note also that Joyce held Kettle responsible for the fate of Dubliners in 1912, as he wrote to T. S. Eliot: ‘Dubliners was banned there in 1912 on the advice of a person who was assuring me at the time of his great friendship.’ (Ellmann, James Joyce, 1959, 1965 Edn., p.656; ftn. identifies the ‘person’ as Kettle.)

Austin Clarke, gives an account account of the heckling of Kettle in uniform at the Davis Centenary Meeting, 20 Nov. 1914 (See ‘A Centenary Celebration’, Robin Skelton & David R. Clark, eds., Irish Renaissance [A Gathering of Essays, Memoirs, and Letters from the Massachusetts Review], Dolmen Press 1965, pp.90-93; also under Clarke.)

The Day’s Burden’: see lines from Robert Buchanan quoted in Mary Kettle’s “Memoir” and thus prefixed to Ways of War (1917) contain the phrase: ‘burdened man’, considered as a poss. inspiration for the title of The Day’s Burden. But vide also Yeats’s lines, ‘While the day its burden on to evening bore, / With head bowed on his knees Cuchulain stayed. / Then Conchubar sent that sweet-throated maid,/And she, to win him, his grey hair caressed; / In vain her arms, in vain her soft white breast.’ (“Cuchulain’s Fight with the Sea”.)

Ginchy: the Battle of Ginchy (9 Sept. 1916) - where Kettle died - involved the capture of the German-held village by the 16th (Irish) Division, including contingents of the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. In that action, the 47th Brigade (8th Battalion) failed to reach its objective because the enemy defences had been unscathed by a British bombardment which fell short into no-man’’s land. 8 officers and 220 men were lost in the Munsters and 6 officers and 61 men in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (9th Battalion).

Secession: Kettle, with Colum and others, seceeded from the Irish Literary Theatre following The Playboy, forming the Theatre of Ireland which - as Maire Walker puts it - lasted six years and went out of existence ‘only becuase its members were absorbed in the wider and … more important works of the Irish Volunteer Movement.’ See Green and Stephens, J. M. Synge (1959), p. 197.

Andrew Kettle: Note that his father Andrew Kettle’s role in the Land League and the setting up of the Lady’s Land League is recounted in Katharine Tynan’s Twenty Five Years (1913), Chap. VII.

John Dillon ended his angry speech in Westminster, 18 Oct. 1916, with a quotation from Kettle, ‘This mate and mother of valiant ‘rebels’ dead/Must come with all her history on her head.’ (Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 5th ser. Vol. 86, cols. 675-86; see notes for a speech in the House of Commons, 18 Oct 1916, only half-delivered, in Dillon papers. [406]

AE [George Russell] published an elegy to Thomas MacDonagh & Thomas Kettle in The Irish Times (Dec. 1917): “The the Memory of Some I Knew who are Dead and who Loved Ireland”: ‘I listened to high from you, / Thomas MacDonagh, and it seemed, / The words were idle, but they grew / To nobleness by death redeemed’. Further: ‘Equal the sacrifice may weigh / Dear Kettle of the generous heart.’ (See Edwards & Pyle, Easter Rising, p.220; cited in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, 1995, cp.240.)

Memorial bust by Francis W. Doyle-Jones (d.1938) in St. Stephen’s Green bears his verses, ‘Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor, / But for a dream born in a herdsman’s shed, / And for the secret scripture of the poor.’ [Quoted Mary Kettle, ‘Memoir’, The Ways of War, p.8; also in MacManus, ‘Tom Kettle’, Adventure of an Irish Bookman, 1952, p.146; also in Harry Boylan, Dictionary of Irish Biography (1988), and included in the Poetry on the DART poetry series (CIE, Dublin).

Desmond Ryan cites Kettle as saying, ‘Pearse and the others will go down in history as heroes, and I will be just a bloody English officer.’ (The Singing Flame.)

Traumatised: Francis Sheehy Skeffington’s son [Owen] was traumatised by the sight of Kettle when he came visiting his sister-in-law, the former Hanna Sheehy, wearing an army uniform after the 1916 Rising in which their father had been unlawfully executed by Capt. Bowen-Colthurst. [Q. source.]

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