Wednesday 17 January 2018

Colum Kenny: Face of hope for all that might have been

Arthur Griffith's dream of Irish people working together for prosperity was lost to division, writes Colum Kenny

We forget this week in 1922 at our peril. Ninety years ago tomorrow, Arthur Griffith was elected president of the Dail in a brand new Irish Free State (thus filling the position that would later become known as Taoiseach).

The Dail had just accepted the Treaty with London. It was a moment of hope that was to last five short months.

You can see optimism in Griffith's face, in a remarkable photograph on the cover of a special magazine published by the New York Times and lately found by me in a Connecticut bookstore. It is a rare image, reproduced here, that shows no old fogey but an energetic man aged 50 who was intent on making something of a newly independent Ireland at a time when civil war was still not inevitable.

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