Senia Paseta is a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and the author of Before the Revolution: Nationalism, Social Change and Ireland's Catholic Elite, 1879-1922, A Very Short Introduction to Ireland, and she edited Thomas Kettle's Open Secret of Ireland for UCD Press's Classic of Irish History series.
Thomas Kettle: political activist, journalist, orator, poet, essayist, lawyer, nationalist MP, professor, recruiter, soldier and casualty of war. Born on 9 February 1880, he was killed in the opening minutes of the allied invasion of Ginchy on 9 September 1916, having insisted on leading his men into battle. A leader of the younger generation of constitutional nationalists in his own time, he was all but forgotten as a result of the radicalisation of Irish politics after 1916. His memory was largely kept alive by studies of Ireland's participation in the Great War and by his final poem, written for his daughter Betty, which has appeared in several collections of War poetry. But Thomas Kettle was more than a soldier and recruiter.Although he did not always choose the 'right side', Kettle in fact had a hand in nearly every major political struggle in early twentieth-century Ireland. His struggles with alcoholism and depression overshadowed his great promise, ensuring that his biography is as much a story of wasted potential as it is of great achievement.
Family Life and Early Influences
Parliamentarian and Professor
Home Rule, Partition and War
"Bookworm [History Ireland] is always on the lookout for publications that appeal to a particular type of reader: Leaving Cert and A-level student, languid undergrad, or general readers whose enthusiasm for history is not matched by the necessary leisure time to plough through academic monographs … A case in point was the 'Life and Times' series published by the Historical Association of Ireland in the 1990s, which aimed 'to place the lives of leading figures in Irish history against the background of new research'. The good news is that the series is back, with the same mission statement, this time published by UCD Press."
"For too long Kettle has been known for the most part only by references to him and quotations from his poetry, writing and recorded witticisms. Thus this comprehensive biography is a welcome addition to the historical literature on the seminal years of Ireland’s early twentieth century."
J. Anthony Gaughan
The Irish Catholic
April 9, 2009
"Undeniably gifted and brave he may, consciously or otherwise, have welcomed death as a number do who find war an escape. He was certainly a loss and had he lived a productive life one feels he would have challenged the dreary consensus of Church, Gaelic culture and economic inertia that beset the new state. Or again the destructive side of Kettle might have won. Such are the riddles of truncated promise. Senia Paseta has given us a competent and informative portrait of a figure who, if not exactly dislikable, is not particularly agreeable either."
"brief biography of Thomas Kettle, an Irish political activist and professor, concentrates on his importance as a leader of constitutional nationalism up until his death in World War I. The author provides an epilogue demonstrating that modern Ireland now resembles the type of nation Kettle strove to create."
Book News Inc
"Thomas Kettle (1880–1916) has not had a biography to himself since J. B. Lyons published his appropriately named The Enigma of Tom Kettle in 1983 so Senia Paseta’s new monograph on this strange and interesting figure is especially welcome.
Also welcome is the new series of the Historical Association of Ireland’s Life and Times concise biographies, which started out some years ago under the Dundalgan Press imprint. It has now been taken over by the excellent UCD Press and given a makeover and smart new livery, keeping the bright blue colour scheme of the originals. The aim of the series is to provide scholarly and accessibly brief biographies of major figures in Irish history by experts in the field, suitable for Leaving Certificate, A level and undergraduate students but also for the general reader. Paseta sets the ‘Life’ well within the context of the ‘Times’ and she has an in-depth knowledge of constitutional politics in Ireland before the Easter Rising.
Kettle was never to fulfil his early promise. Dogged by frequent bouts of depression, he succumbed to alcoholism, which hampered his career, and his public exhibitions of drunkenness made him an embarrassment to his friends. Basically, he was yesterday's man. For all his brilliance, he was caught between an outdated constitutional movement that he was too progressive for and a revolutionary republican movement for which he was not progressive enough. The Easter Rising was the work of those who were determined to prevent Home Rule being implemented because it was no longer enough, and he had been left behind. His death on the Western Front in September 1916 was as brave and senseless as any. It’s an impressive start to the new series."
Click on link for full article: http://www.irishdemocrat.co.uk/book-reviews/thomas-kettle/.print.html