23 August 2010

A Nation Once Again

I bought two postcards from ebay on Friday. They arrived today. One seems to have an interesting history, though I can't know for sure.
It was posted from Dublin on March 9 1905, to a Miss Mary Feiertag, Upper Frank Street, Belfast.

Here is what it says, written diagonally across the message half of the card:
And then I prayed
I yet might see
Her fetters rent in twain
And Ireland long a
province, be
A nation once again
These are lyrics from the song 'A Nation Once Again,' written by Thomas Davis, who was a revolutionary Irish writer. He was also the chief organiser and poet of the Young Ireland movement. Born in Mallow (County Cork), he later moved to Dublin and studied at Trinity College. (A statue of Davis was erected in 1966, the same year Nelson's Pillar was blown up, in College Green, where Grattan's statue stands).

Henry Grattan was a campaigner for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century, a great orator and patriot. He opposed the Act of Union 1800 that merged the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain.
It is his statue on the postcard*. He appears as he did when moving the Declaration of Irish Rights, which he supported in one of his most celebrated orations.
To his left is the old Irish parliament house. Interestingly, the spot where his statue (still) stands was chosen as a site for the Prince Albert Memorial, but was reserved for Grattan's statue, while the other was changed to the lawn of the Royal Dublin Society.
Behind him is the statue of King William of Orange, later blown up by the IRA. He faces Trinity College.

Miss Mary Feiertag is interesting too. In the 1911 census, she was listed as the head of household at the same residence the postcard was mailed to six years before. As you can see, she lived not too far from the Lagan, though, on closer examination, her house does not seem to be very wealthy looking.
She apparently collected postcards, as on the other postcard I purchased was written; another to your collection. This was sent by a different person than the other, and from Belfast.
The questions remain; what is the story behind the choice of statue and the unsigned lyrics (besides the name of the songwriter, who died in 1845)?
Was it coded communication?
Did Miss M. Feiertag really collect postcards? Or was it a front?

 *Postcard believed to have been printed by Valentine and Sons.

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