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Brendan  O’Carroll

Irish Nationalism in the Agnes Browne Series by Brendan O’Carroll

The Life and Legend of Bernadette Devlin


Caitlin  Carey

Growing up in Northern Ireland, young activist Bernadette Devlin had many personal experiences that helped contribute to her political stance as a socialist and political rebel. Elected to Parliament at the age of twenty one, she was the youngest female ever to be elected as an M.P. and the youngest member in over two hundred years. She worked tirelessly campaigning and organizing events for the Irish Civil Rights Movement during the late 1960s, even as she held office and voiced her position as a republican socialist and had a role in major events such as the Battle of the Bogside and the 1981 Hunger Strike. In 1974, Devlin cofounded the Irish Republican Socialist Party, her second political organization after she helped organize the People’s Democracy in 1969. Devlin’s outspoken views on controversial issues and her strong belief in Irish socialism placed her life in jeopardy multiple times, including an assassination attempt in her own home in 1981. Her determination for reform and dedication to the Northern Ireland Catholic community made her a legend and role model for political activists and the people of Ireland. In her reforms, she helped to serve the oppressed people of Ireland through her commitment to the fight for equal representation in the government and for the rights of all people.

In the Agnes Browne series, by Brendan O’Carroll, the Browne family is a representative of Irish nationalism. Through sacrifices, friendships, community, independence and leadership, the nation of Ireland is shown in the microcosm of this bustling Irish family. Agnes Browne, a widow raising six children in the poor city center of Dublin called the Jarro, experiences pain and loss and fights a constant battle against money and poverty. The Irish people too have experienced loss and pain, made their own sacrifices, and relied upon friendships and alliances, to get through their constant battle against their oppressor, England. O’Carroll, in the tales of Agnes Browne and her family, shows the people of Ireland on a smaller scale, relating their nationalism and struggle for freedom to a mother and her children and their struggle to be free from oppression.

Major Works Consulted:

Devlin, Bernadette. The Price of My Soul. New York: Knopf, 1969.
O’Carroll, Brendan. The Mammy. New York: Penguin, 2000.
--- The Young Wan. New York: Penguin, 2003.
Uris, Jill and Leon. Ireland: A Terrible Beauty. New York: Bantam, 1978.
Photo Credit: Brendan, O’Carroll. The Young Wan. New York: Penguin, 2003.

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