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20th Century Ireland - Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957)
Oliver St. John Gogarty was born in Dublin and educated at TCD from where he graduated in Medicine in 1907. Gogarty was a keen sportsman, socialite, poet and novelist who won the admiration and animosity of many of his contemporaries, including James Joyce who based the character of Buck Mulligan on Gogarty in his novel Ulysses. Gogarty published his first of many poetry collections Hyperthuleana in 1916.
He supported the republicans during the War of Independence and helped effect the escape of Cumann na mBan members Linda Kearns MacWhinney, May Burke and Eileen Kohoe from Mountjoy Gaol in 1921. Gogarty supported the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and became a Senator of the Free State in 1922. During the Civil War he was arrested by the IRA but he escaped his captors by diving into the River Liffey in Dublin under a hail of bullets. Gogarty promised to release a pair of swans on the Liffey and commemorated the event in a volume of poetry An Offering of Swans (1924).
Gogarty published many volumes of poetry and autobiography, including As I Was Going Down Sackville Street (1937) which resulted in an infamous libel case in which Samuel Beckett was a witness. Gogarty's sonnet The Rebels was first published in Poetry Ireland Easter 1916 Rising Memorial Issue, No.13, April, 1951.©
Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957)
Not that they knew well, when they drew the blade
That breaks for victory if gain were planned,
You never gave without a trembling hand;
But when they heard of sacred truth waylaid,
And meanness with grandiloquence gainsaid.
And Freedom, in the name of Freedom, banned;
And Friendship in this foulness, this England -
This was the cause of that good fight they made.
They heard your mobsters mounting at the hordes
Who care not so the fight increase their store,
Hawking your honour on the sandwich boards.
But theirs is safe, and to these things unlinked
They stood apart; and Death with holds them more
Separate forever aloof - distinct.
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