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. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. 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 weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy