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                                   Searc's Web Guide to 20th Century Ireland - Sidney Gifford Czira (1889-1974)

Sidney Gifford, sister of Muriel and Grace Gifford Plunkett, was born in Dublin and was educated at Alexandra College before becoming a journalist. She joined Inghindhe na hÉireann [Daughters of Ireland] and contributed articles to Bean na hÉireann under the pseudonym 'John Brennan', as she believed people paid more attention to articles signed by men. She also contributed articles to the Sinn Fein journal in this period. In 1914 Sidney Gifford married an Hungarian émigré and went to live in the United States. Her sisters, Muriel and Grace Gifford, married Thomas McDonagh and Joseph Plunkett respectively and when Sidney returned to Ireland in 1917 she was immediately imprisoned. On her release she returned briefly to America before finally settling in Ireland where she worked as a journalist on Radio Éireann. Her autobiography The Years Flew By was published in 1974. This article 'The Things that are Not Ceasar's' was first published in Bean na h-Éireann No. 24, 1910. ©

Sidney Gifford Czira
Sidney Gifford Czira (1889-1974)

'Go, dear friend, if need be give up all else,
and commence today to inure yourself to pluck,
reality, self-esteem, definiteness, elevatedness.'
'Rest not till you rivet and publish yourself of your own personality'.

Walt Whitman, the great American patriot, once wrote these words to a pupil, realising that the individual who is without personality is the individual who accomplishes nothing in this world. What is true of the individual is equally true of the nation: it is admitted by all who give thought to the subject that nationality and personality are interchangeable terms.
Irish Nationalists are all agreed that Irish personality can be published by one means only and that is the self-government of Ireland.
It is only natural that there are many different opinions as to how that is to be brought about, what form it is to take and who are leading us in the fight against England by which it is to be attained. There is one point about which we are all agreed and that is the government of Ireland by Irishmen is the only means by which our intellectual and social life can be awakened.
Periodically, like a meteor for which they are searching the skies, the writers and orators tell us that Home Rule is in the air. Some of us are overjoyed at this annual good tidings, but there is always a great commotion amidst some of the population for fear it will strike the earth and hurl the British Empire on a short road to hell. Home Rule is again in the air; this time it is not a meteor-like body, but it comes in the form of a performing parrot, and it is attached by an unbreakable chain to the wrist of George V of England. This well-trained bird can speak a great many phrases it has been carefully taught by its masters in England. If anyone in Ireland dare to say 'George V is a bigamist,' 'Hush! see, Home Rule is coming!' says the parrot. Altogether it is a very well-trained bird. But the Irish nation are not concerned with the number of wives which an English King marries. If the English King breaks his own laws and marries promiscuously it is no concern of ours. The only reason we are interested in George V is because he purposes to visit this country in the capacity of 'Sovereign Lord and Ruler' no later than next July.
Again, of course, Home Rule is in the air. The relative importance of these two facts is obvious to anyone who has studied English policy in the government of the countries she holds in subjection. Whenever Home Rule is reported to be almost in our grasp we are invited to take a dose of English royality, with the promise that if we take it without wincing and all the time keep smiling, we will be given our freedom.
Many times we have drunk down the oily English royality with smiling faces. We had a Victorian dose, which was hard to take; then we gulped down Edward, which was even worse, but we coughed it up in the shape of the Corporation resolution of 1903, which rejected the resolution to present an address of welcome and loyality to Edward VII of England and thereby declared to the world that Ireland did not acknowledge the English King as our Sovereign. And now we are to have George handed to us. And how in the world is anyone going to swallow him, whether they are pious Catholics or Protestants, or moralists of any class - Sinn Feiners, Hibernians or All-for-Ireland Leaguers?
We are going to be told by our leaders that Home Rule is almost won and that because of this we are to be very nice to the English King, give him a great reception and win the confidence of England in our 'Loyality'.
It is useless to protest that it is not necessary to convince England of a loyal Ireland before she will give us Home Rule and that England is an enemy to be fought and not conciliated. There are some people who firmly believe that the surest way to win a battle would be to stand cheering the captain of the enemy every time they appeared within the range of fire. Although it has been proved often enough that this is political madness, as much as it would be military madness, still the worms wriggled with joyful enthusiasm on the occasions of the visits of Victoria and Edward and they will wriggle ecstatically on the visit of George V because Home Rule is again in the air.
There are many things which are not Ceasar's in this country, but for which Ceasar is greedy. There are Irishmen of hot blood and independent minds; there are men with fearless hearts who are ready to struggle eternally rather than render unto Ceasar the things that are Ireland's. Such men will make Irish nationality a live thing, for they will not part with any of our national property without a struggle. The things which are Ceasar's are the coins which bear his face and the men who have been bought with those coins and who bear his stamp. The tribute of Ceasar bears his superscription (sic) stamped on either side and the man which his coins have bought have also two faces. To Ceasar we render these men, sorrowfully, as we render him his self-stamped tribute, for we can spare neither our coins nor our countrymen.
But to Ireland let us render the things that are Ireland's. When Ceasar comes here let us remember our self-respect, our nationality and who is our enemy. Let us remember what is Ireland's.
© Searc's Web Guide 1997-2008

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