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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”. 

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