Support 100 years of independent journalism.

The Returning Officer: Irishman’s Day I

By Stephen Brasher

John Pius Boland (1870-1958) was the Irish nationalist MP for South Kerry from 1900 to 1918, when he was defeated by the Sinn Fein candidate, Fionán Lynch (who had taken part in the Easter Rising), in the pro-republican Irish landslide.

In 1940 Boland published his “memoir in a day”, which tried to give an impression of his whole political career as though it had happened in 24 hours. In the introduction he stated: “We Irish Nationalists were in parliament, but not of it. Our sole business was to win Home Rule.” He considered that “we were the oddest of an odd lot in the early days of this century”, recalling that one Scots MP “knitted socks to perfection in the smoking room as a respite from listening to hours of debate”, and that Keir Hardie had “shocked convention with his tweed cap”. 

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up