Reading Devoy’s “Recollections” at the library, and online

Recollections Of An Irish Rebel, John Devoy’s “personal narrative” of his life as an Irish nationalist from the 1850s to the 1920s, was first published in 1929, a year after his death. “A few days before his death,” however, Devoy signed 100 copies of the book’s dedication page.

Irish University Press published a facsimile of the original in 1969. That’s the edition I sat down with recently at Catholic University of America’s Mullen Library. Here is the dedication page, followed below by one of my favorite quotes from Devoy:

“The strong individuality of the Irishman is his best quality, but it often turns out to be his most dangerous one. He is always inclined to ‘butt in,’ convinced that he could do things better than those entrusted with the task. Old members of the Clan-na- Gael were mostly free from this defect of a fine national quality. They were like soldiers, trained in habits of discipline and respect for authority, and they had confidence that the Executive would properly take care of the interests of the organization and the Cause. There were some exceptions, but these were mostly comparatively new members. But the Clan-na-Gael was only a very small part of the Irish population of the United States, and large numbers who belonged to no organization were keenly alive to the opportunity presented to Ireland by the war and were anxious to ‘do something.’ ”

Here is a digital version of Devoy’s Recollections.

Devoy’s grave at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.