Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

James  Plunkett

Elizabeth  Woods 
20th Century Irish Women Political Leaders

James Plunkett: The Basic Decency of Humanity

Growing up in post-war Dublin, Irish novelist and radio personality, James Plunkett Kelly witnessed the devastating aftermath of seemingly endless troubles during Ireland’s continuous fight for independence from tyrannical Great Britain. Kelly, who is recognized by his psuedonym James Plunkett, writes of the absence of the basic decency of humanity in society. While he acurately describes the unthinkable difficulties faced by the oppressed working-class laborers, and vividly portrays their difficult struggles, Plunkett also utilizes his extremely talented ability to create vivid characters in his wonderful historically-based novels, Strumpet City and Farewell Companions. The constant war and bloody violence witnessed by Plunkett’s characters cause them to become consumed with the consistent presence of unfortunate death and the unceasing passing of precious time. The prescence of these uncontrollable factors in Irish society arouse unnerving sentiments of uncertainty, hopelessness, and vulnerability which lead citizens to develop both constructive and destructive coping mechanisms such as the increased prayer and faith in God and the excessive consumption of alcohol. Plunkett’s novels are fictional accounts that portray the troubling times that have caused many Irish people to create improvements in the Republic of Ireland.

While it may be easier to believe that Plunkett’s beloved Republic of Ireland was always a flourishing country with a strong economy and organized democratic government, this is not the case. With the help of three women political leaders, Mary MacSwiney, Mary Robinson, and Mary McAleese, the Republic of Ireland achieved independence from powerful Great Britain, established an organized and honest democratic government, established equality among Irish men and women, and made a necessary peace with the six loyalist counties of Northern Ireland. Thanks to MacSwiney, Robinson, and McAleese this self-determined country accomplished vital reconciliation between Irish Protestants and Catholics, women gained a great deal of influence in modern Irish society, and the Republic of Ireland developed and celebrated a unique identity and rich culture.

Major Works Consulted:

Friedman, Lita. Mary Robinson: Fighter for Human Rights. Greensboro: Avisson, 2004.
Plunkett, James. Farewell Companions. London; Gainsborough, 1977.
---. Strumpet City. Dublin: Gill & MacMillan, 1969.
Sigillito, Gina. Daughters of Maeve: 50 Irish Women Who Changed the World. New York: Citadel, 2007.
Photo Credit: Plunkett, James. Strumpet City. New York: Delscorte, 1969.