Mary Kenny

Of Myths & Martyrs

The Seven: The Lives and Legacies of the Founding Fathers of the Irish Republic

By Ruth Dudley Edwards

Oneworld 408pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Nations often need a founding myth, and for the Republic of Ireland the events of 1916 provide that with poetic exactitude. Here was a rising led by a dissonant group of poets, dreamers, visionaries, hardened old Fenians, driven communists and patriotic rebels who had little chance against the might of the British Empire and duly met their deaths by execution.

In the midst of the mass slaughter occurring on the Western Front, the execution of fifteen (subsequently sixteen, when Roger Casement was hanged for treason) men was not numerically significant. But symbols and founding myths aren’t about numbers: they are about the stories that we tell ourselves over and over again so that they become woven into a collective identity. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'If there is a god, nature is the breath of it and art ... is its messenger.' Jan Morris contemplates Wordsworth ,
    • Weekend read 2: Take inspiration from Jonathan Meades's 'anti'-recipes and 'serve up a treat' this Sunday ,
    • If you're at , starting tomorrow, there are free copies of Literary Review for festival attendees. Grab while stocks last!,
    • Weekend read 1: 'The fiery meteor that was Victor Grayson', as presented in David Clark's biography ,
    • We’re offering the chance to win a copy of I Am Not Your Negro. You can find all the information in our newsletter: ,
    • Stephen Bates reviews Richard Ingrams's biography of Ludovic Kennedy ,
    • RT : Pls enjoy my interview about the Bad Sex Awards w @Lit_Review-"My body was her gearstick" & "his bulbous salutation" ,