One of the country’s most plenteous philosophical careers came to an end last Friday with the passing of the preeminent Desmond Fennell. 

An intellectual jack of all trades, Fennell, who died at his Malahide residence last week, blazed a trail throughout the 20th century with a career spent in the various fields of journalism, punditry, as well as Irish language activism.

Eschewing both the political right and left with his inherent eclecticism, Fennell nevertheless came to be seen as something of a talisman for a type of Catholic nationalism our elites had hoped to put out to pasture over his lifetime. A true critic of the nation’s choreographed waltz into political liberalism, as well as those who set the tune, his fingerprints are to be found on innumerable intellectual enterprises the past half century.

Born to a family of northern Catholics in 1929, Fennell got his break in journalism, following a well rounded education at UCD, with Comhar and the Irish Times, before becoming an English language presenter with the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle. 

Spending the best part of a decade pursuing journalistic and professional odd jobs, including a year exploring the Far East, an inflection point came upon his interaction with the shortcomings of Swedish social democracy in the 1960s.

“My image of the world collapsed in Sweden, and I had to build a new one I could believe in… I lost faith in the general Western liberal capitalist way of understanding the world. I had assumed it to be valid until then.”

A half century before Captain Sweden memes, Fennell was bursting the bubble on the post-war Swedish social democratic experiment with his 1960 work ‘The Turning Point-My Swedish Year’. Diagnosing the ailments of the secular social engineering long underway in the Scandanavian country, his experiences coloured his future career and life project of buttressing his own native land against the colonising forces of international liberalism.

At the core of the Fennell project was the attainment of the basic prerequisites for national normality in the economic, cultural and political spheres. In short an Ireland that was Gaelic, sovereign and self-sustaining. To many a crankish rehash of an older De Valerian vision of Ireland it was a task he pursued with utmost vigour and fresh philosophical gusto.

Domestically, Fennell was central to a generation of Irish language activists who championed the Revival against a neglectful State and the harsh realities of economic decay. It was here operating within Gaeltacht communities that Fennell was to cultivate his yen for decentralisation which he would carry with him into his meditations on the Northern conflict. His most radical proposal on the language question was the formation of a type of Gaelic kibbutz system governed by a decentralised council.

While in his final essays he lamented the future of the language, Fennell distinguished himself in his analysis of the plight of Pobal Gaeilge putting the emphasis on the revival of local communities rather than mere alms given by a central government.

Battling heartily against historical revisionism which sought to delegitimize the founding events of the State, Fennell crossed swords with some of the arch-revisionists of his era. Condemning revisionists as sometimes acting as mere legitimising agents for the influx of Anglo-American capital and the comprador class profiting from it, he earned a reputation as a ’Gaelic firster’ of the old school by some of his ideological  foes.

On the Troubles while he kept court with a variety of republicans dissident or otherwise, even influencing the famous Éire Nua document of 1979, Fennell again strayed from the pack with his embrace of the Two-Nations theory. Positing recognition of the nationality of Ulster Protestants, this basic appraisal of the ethnic identity of Loyalists put him at odds with mainstream republicanism which saw this acceptance as contra the fraternalism of Tone and Connolly. 

As an anecdote to Partition, Fennell postulated the reconstruction of a decentralised model of the provincial system helping to balance out the tensions between the Orange and the Green. Shot down by the Adams leadership the document has found life to this day through a variety of republican and Catholic distributist groups.

In the cultural arena the late philosopher made a distinct habit of stepping on the toes and egos of the great and the good of Irish liberal opinion. The author Terry Prone recalled an incident where a frustrated Gay Byrne tore up a statement on air of Fennell’s following a no show on the Late Late Show. 

His most famous clash came with the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and a 1991 pamphlet calling into question the poet’s relative silence on the plight of northern Catholics and overall artistic merit. This in turn elicited a stinging response from Heaney himself and the cavalcade of the Irish literary scene. So biting was Fennell’s accusation that they apparently provoked sly mention in Heaney’s Stockholm address referencing Fennell with the lines.

‘the anvil brains of some who hate me

As I sit weighing and weighing

My responsible tristitia”

To Fennell, a substantial roadblock in the way of national development came in the form of a ruling cultural elite he christened the D4 set. Not the first or last polemicist to make use of the geographical synecdoche, it was a phrase de facto coined by Fennell to aptly describe the Anglo-American aligned cultural elite of the State. 

In later years, Fennell voiced openly his concerns about mass immigration as just another social bludgeon against an already enfeebled Irish population. In a remarkably blunt 2008 article, syndicated in the Irish Times no less, he outlines in overtly racial terms the threat facing the ‘White Race’ as the demographic sands shift. Not particularly well known was Fennell’s loose involvement with nativist causes in the last few decades of his life.

For the contemporary dissident, Fennell bequeaths a formidable canon to those hoping to dust down the traditions of Irish nationality. If nothing else Fennell’s passing marks one of the last individuals rightly earning the sobriquet of public intellectual outside the handful of State-sanctioned talking heads controlling the airwaves today. 

While many on the dissident right go running to foreign luminaries like Alain De Benoist or Dugin, scant few are aware of a home grown intellectual like Fennell and his life’s work. Readers initially expect a second coming of DP Moran but instead receive a type of Gaelic Chomsky. 

The Irish language activist who drew on Mao when assisting Gaeltacht communities but who also harboured a rather humble belief in Irish nationhood and Catholic Faith. The cultural theorist who forged a distinct brand of decentralised humanism yet penned essays against the fall of the White Race and contraception, there simply is no placing Fennell on the political spectrum bar having against the grain of Irish life. 

From personal experience reading Fennell is like a philosophical shot from the blue, allowing one to come to terms with the trance-like state this country has entered upon. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann and the public arena is much poorer. We bear daily witness to the recolonisation of Ireland by the tidal force of globalism waging war on all hallmarks of Irish nationality. Against these forces let us use the insight handed down to us by the man who may very well have been Gaeldom’s last and most formidable intellectual.

Posted by Ciaran Brennan

5 Comments

  1. Ray Kinsella 21/07/2021 at 10:28 pm

    True for you…his passing and the recent passing to a better world of Des O’Malley highlights the paucity of Irish Politics and public life.
    Not an independent thought across the political spectrum– nothing at the heart of a colonised system except a willingness to apologise for once having a national identity, a faith and a true understanding of a coercive global ideology.
    RIP

    Reply

    1. The Real Fianna 23/07/2021 at 9:51 am

      Not an independent thought across the political spectrum?

      True, as a main, they are incompetent, foolish, have no leadership qualities, no ambition, and they think they need to keep inviting in foreign investment in order for Ireland to be prosperous, despite Ireland having vast natural resources that have historically been poorly managed and given away for nothing. They can not even tax the direct foreign investment properly. They are cowardly panderers.

      Ireland does not even have a functioning military. It is one of the weakest countries in europe regarding military. There are no excuses. Ireland is weak, it has no leaders. Foreign fighter jets could just fly over Ireland, and the irish politicans can not do nothing except cry and pander to london or brussels. There is no independence at all. No martial capability. As leo the lamb says, Ireland is at the heart of europe, the words of a globalist communist who sells out the Irish state to brussels. The irony is that he is not fully genetically irish or related to irish mens DNA markers, he is half asian.

      If other european countries owned Ireland, lets say if Norway owned Ireland, you could see them fully realising the potential and vast wealth that Ireland has, they would not be giving such wealth away like Ireland does. They would nationalize the wealth.

      Irish people need to develop an appetite where they hold politicans to account much more, the politicans should fear the electorate, the problem is that they don’t. Because the electorate just keeps voting them in, they are the enablers. They are asleep, misguided and they need to stop watching RTE, and look for their information elsewhere. They have let mehole and leo the lamb bring in a law that would require a dangerous experimental injection in order to buy a cup of a pint or a cup of coffee.

      There is something seriously rotten in Ireland. A Beautiful country in the grip of tyranny.

      As i said before, it may be the water, flouridated water has historically been used to make people docile in prison camps from WW2.

      Ireland is one of the only countries in Europe that puts that crap in the water.

      Irish men need to become more nationalist, more demand for nationalism.

      Reply

      1. Wow. Having just read upon the man it’s insane how so many of his beliefs line up with mine despite having never heard of him before. Very good article

        Reply

  2. The Real Fianna 22/07/2021 at 2:44 pm

    He was right to say that white europeans are a dying breed, it is all by design. Indigenous Europeans are a minority in the world, but are expected to take in the world, into europe, and house, feed and pay for them.

    The hidden hand uses globalism and various movements to weaken what it sees as a threat. Going by their tactics, they don’t seem to like independent style white european peoples, and nations. They actively target homogenuous european nations, trying to undermine the reproduction rate, and brainwash, and co-opt the politicans to carry out their bidding. The EU is obviously a project designed to destroy nationalism.

    Nationalism is an obstacle to globalism. Many movements are set up by globalists to weaken nationalism, take for example ANTIFA-Useful Idiots, and Feminism.

    One movement that undermined the reproduction rate you could say was feminism. It sent women out to work in the private sector, instead of being a real woman that looks after the raising of the children and the cooking.

    Another movement of similar proportions is the LGBT movement, by trying to make the population homosexual, it also reduces population rate.

    Then you got all the unhealthy food and so on. The dangerous injections. It is easy to see, you don’t even need to be that smart. Some have even said that those injections are a threat to fertility.

    They want to bring all of europe into a one world government. They want no independent nationalism. Fiercely independent and homogenous european nations are a road block to them.

    Now they are calling for countries like Hungary to be kicked out of their parade, it is a disobedient pupil of the European Communist Union Project.

    Globalism is just the weapon they use to centralize their rulership.

    Reply

  3. Content like this is exactly why I read the Burkean.

    Reply

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