27 MARCH 1942, Page 10

It is more than forty years since I stayed for

any time in Dublin. Much of my childhood was passed in the atmosphere of Irish controversy, whether in County Wicklow or in County Down. The echo of the animosities aroused reached me only as a dim murmur of conversation to which I was not supposed to listen, and which I was not supposed to understand. Two incidents alone remain in my memory, one of the North and one of the South. During one Ulster holiday we had been given an air-gun, and for a target we had cut from packing paper the figure of a human being, to whose breast we attached, as a bull's-eye, a scarlet paper heart. We pinned this figure upon one of the farm-shed doors, and expended upon it all the ammunition we possessed. The old carpenter who was, as I now realise, a fervent Orangeman, applauded us as he passed. "Ah, I see," he said, "you have got old Gladstone . there. Shoot him in the heart." Our target bore no resemblance to Mr. Gladstone, or, indeed, to any recognisable figure either public or private. My own feelings for Mr. Gladstone (upon whose knee I once had sat) were favourable feelings. Yet such is the infection of fanaticism that I was pleased by the carpenter's approbation, and experienced the glow of patriotic achievement. The second inci- dent occurred near Dublin, under the shadow of the Wicklow mountains. We had driven out to some horse-show or gymkhana, and I had been entranced when the carriage left the road and

bumped on squeaking springs across the grass. There wen

many other carriages around us, and my grandmother (who was both sociable and alert) kept peering under her parasol from right to left. Suddenly she placed her hand on my knee. " Look," she said, " look at that lady there in a dog-cart." I saw a woman in a gay hat and tight bodice sitting in a yellow dog-cart with huge wheels ; some men were leaning over the

mudguards talking to her. " That," said my grandmother, " is the woman who defeated Home Rule—Kitty O'Shea." I can still see

that woman in the dog-cart, but whether or no she was in fact Mrs. O'Shea, I have no conception. I remember these two incidents, since there was passion behind them ; yet of the nature of that passion I remained ignorant for many years.

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