Darrell Figgis (1882-1925) was a journalist, author and nationalist propagandist. William Murphy is a lecturer in Irish Studies at the Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin City University.
Darrell Figgis (1882-1925) was a journalist, author and nationalist propagandist. "A Chronicle of Jails" is Figgis' account of his arrest in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising and subsequent internment in Ireland and Britain. Figgis was among a minority of internees identified as leadership material and held at Reading Goal rather than at Frongoch Camp. This memoir is of particular interest because, unlike most accounts of imprisonment during this period, it was written with propagandistic intent and was first published by The Talbot Press in 1917.
Introduction by William Murphy
A Chronicle of Jails.
'Greater familiarity with these sources — including the range of evocative first-hand accounts spanning the revolutionary decade from the Ulster crisis to the Civil War published as part of UCD Press’s new Centenary Classics series — should complicate as well as inform commemoration in 2016.
Although the achievements of the founding generation will be honoured and, inevitably, appropriated, the urge to celebrate independence should be tempered by an unsentimental understanding of the process by which it was achieved.'
21 March 2016
'UCD Press’s new ‘Centenary Classics’ series makes available eye-witness accounts of key revolutionary episodes including the Ulster crisis; the aftermath of 1916; the rise of Sinn Féin; the War of Independence; the Treaty split; and the Civil War. These provide first-hand perspectives on such topics as the significance of sectarian divisions; the impact of imprisonment on republicanism; the importance of popular mobilisation and guerrilla warfare; and the conflict’s divisive legacy.
These accounts offer many insights into the influences that shaped the revolutionary generation. The value of these texts does not lie solely in the factual light they shed on past events, they illuminate mentalities, as well as the memory of the revolution, a growing area of research.
These stories could be ‘made into a patchwork quilt from memory’. This aim alone provides a compelling reason to ensure the wider availability of eye-witness accounts, particularly during a period of commemoration in which politicians and others will claim to speak on their behalf.'
Fearghal McGarry, Queen's University Belfast
'These contemporary accounts by well known personalities of historical events and attitudes have an immediacy that conventional histories do not have. Introductions by modern historians provide additional historical background and, with hindsight, objectivity.'
'Scholars of nineteenth-century Irish and Irish-American politics should reacquaint themselves with these classics, part of a long running and immensely useful series from University College Dublin Press.'
Irish Literary Supplement
CHRONICLE OF JAILS
‘there is a lot of day-to-day description of prison life for the Irish prisoners. The book is never dull and often lively, even though Figgis overrates his importance. … This is best described as an exercise in propaganda; it caught the tide, as Irish opinion turned in the aftermath of the rising against the British and towards the insurgents.’
'Prisons are tools of politics, both to detain opponents and as something to rally against. A Chronicle of Jails was an assortment of essays and memoirs written by Darrell Figgis in 1917. Originating as a piece of propaganda, this work has earned in its place among Irish and British history, and … proves to be a vital addition to any community or college library European history collection.'
The Midwest Book Review