Remembering Thomas Davis
Thomas Davis was born in Mallow Co Cork on the 14th of October 1814, his father died when he was only one month old so the family moved to Warrington Place near Mount Street bridge in Dublin & then to Lower Baggot Street.
Davis attended school in Lower Mount Street before studying in Trinity College, Dublin, he graduated in Law and received an Arts degree in 1836, before being called to the Irish Bar in 1838.
Davis traveled to England & the continent where he became an avid reader of Nationalist thinkers, Davis believed that Ireland would never gain independence unless the Irish people immersed themselves in the Irish language & culture, Wolfe Tone's vision of Catholics, Protestants & Dissenters uniting inspired him.
Davis frequently spoke at Trinity's historical society and became its president, the society would eventually form the nucleus of the Young Ireland movement.
In 1842 they founded a newspaper called "The Nation" which became incredibly popular with a readership of about 250,000. Davis regularly wrote poems and songs for the newspaper including the famous ballads "A Nation Once Again" and the "West's Asleep", his poems would later inspire WB Yeats & GB Shaw.
Davis also wrote the prospectus for the paper which inspired many an Irish Revolutionary like Padraig Pearse who referred to Davis as "the father and evangelist of Irish nationality”.
Davis became good friends with Daniel O'Connell and got involved in his Repeal Association but Davis & the historical society believed that the Repeal Association's aims were too limited.
Davis & O'Connell fell out in 1845 over the Colleges Bill, which proposed interdenominational university colleges. Davis wanted non-sectarian education but O’Connell denounced such colleges as “godless”.
Thomas Davis died of Scarlet Fever on September 16th 1845 just as the great hunger hit Ireland, the country, lost a great leader during its darkest of days.
There are many streets named after Thomas Davis including one where I live in Inchicore, a GAA club in Tallaght is named after him and a statue of the great man on Dame Street in Dublin city centre.
“Nationality is their first great object – nationality which will not only raise our people from their poverty by securing to them the blessing of an independent legislature, but inflame and purify them with a lofty and heroic love of country – a nationality . . . which may embrace Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter – Milesian and Cromwellian – the Irishman of a hundred generations, and the stranger who is within our gates.”