[Fr.] Michael O’Flanagan

Life
1876-1942; Republican priest, b. Co. Roscommon, small-farmers, mother fluent in Irish; ed. Maynooth, ord. 1900; curacy in Co. Sligo; worked for Gaelic League; .... disputed Congested Board right to turf for own tenants only and organised local gathering; gave oration at lying-in-state of O’Donovan Rossa; managed Count Plunkett’s successful Roscommon by-election; vice-chairman Sinn Féin; said prayers at first Dáil, and silenced by Bishop; IAOS; vice-pres. Gaelic League [var. Sinn Féin]; close associate of de Valera; opposed de Valera over Oath of Allegiance in the First Dail; made independent attempt to negotiate with British during Anglo-Irish war by means of a telegram to Lloyd George calling fro cessation of violence on both sides; many tours in support of Sinn Féin, US and Australia, but did not join Fianna Fáil; scientific projects, dedicated local historian; interested in national diet and oaten bread; edited fifty two vols. of John O’Donovan Arch. Survey (1924-32). DIB DIH

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Commentary
Denis Carroll, The Have Fooled You Again: Michael O'Flanagan (1876-1942) - Priest, Republican, Social Critic ( Blackrock: Columba Press 1993), 271pp.; see also Carroll, Unusual Suspects: Twelve Radical Clergymen (Blackrock: Columba Press 1998), 291pp.

Note: Carroll also writes on liberation theology and has produced a life of Thomas Russell.

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Commentary
J. J. Lee, Ireland 1912-1985, Politics and Society (Cambridge UP 1989): ‘Michael O’Flanagan, an erratic Sinn Fein priest did not shirk the implications of self-determination: ‘England has begun to despair of compelling us to love her by force, and so we are anxious to start where England left off, and we are going to compel Antrim and Down to love us by force.’ (Quoted in D. W. Miller, Church, State and Nation in Ireland 1918-1921, Pittsburgh 1973; cited in Lee, p.17.)

Luke Gibbons, Transformations in Irish Culture (Field Day/Cork UP 1996), p.98f.: O’Flanagan masterminded the first republican election victory after the Easter Rising in N. Roscommon, often mistakenly referred to subsequently as the ‘Sinn Féin’ by-election’, the myth of continuity in the campaign waged by Sinn Féin before and after the Rising being largely the creation of Arthur Griffith’s newspaper Nationality, which O’Flanagan criticised: ‘Anyone who depends on Nationality for the history of the next few months will know next to nothing of how a new republican rganisation came into existence [&c.]’.

Terence Brown reviews Denis Carroll, They Have Fooled You Again: Michael O’Flanagan 1876-1942 (Dublin: Columba Press 1993); (Irish Liteary Supplement, Fall 1994), quotes: ‘[T]he island of Ireland and the national unit of Ireland simply do not coincide.’ Further, ‘After three hundred years, England has begun to despair of compelling us to love her by force. Are we so anxious to start where England left off or are we going to compel Antrim and Down to love us by force?’; supplied in his writings a basis for a truly republican understanding of workable relationship between church and state.’

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