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Great Expectations – Even Greater Impressions: A Visit to Naas

As an academic, I have learnt that meticulous research is the basis of any historical writing. As a reader, I was mesmerized by the adventurous story of John Devoy’s life. As a historian, I was given the chance to come to Ireland on a research trip relating to John Devoy’s life and work.
The fact that, being a Hungarian myself, I would be interested in John Devoy and the Fenians, may seem strange. Yet what got me captivated in Devoy’s story was his unyielding work for Irish independence. His methods may have varied from recruiting Fenians within the British army to Irish-American nationalistic journalism, from fundraising activities, all the way to organizing gun running operations, but throughout his long life, he kept working with one goal in mind: an independent Ireland. The appreciation and respect for such commitment to the fight for a republic transcends borders and ages. It also serves an academic purpose: with Devoy I most certainly found ample and exciting research material, making my work all the more easier.
On March 10, 2012 I met with local historians and relentless supporters of John Devoy’s legacy, Seamus Curran, James Durney and Brian McCabe for a fascinating trip visiting some of the key locations connected to Devoy’s life in and around Naas. Why fascinating? Because I felt places that I’d only read about suddenly become alive and stories that I’d heard before be fleshed out with the feel of the original environment. I was also deeply impressed by the dedication of the ‘John Devoy fan club’ to keep this great Fenians memory alive, especially in the immediate area where Devoy grew up. Although the tree of liberty at the Devoy memorial may have been cut down by vandals, the sprout is still there, and as long as there are people committed to the life and work of this local hero, the tree of liberty, I believe, will be just fine.

I am grateful for the support and warm welcome I was given in Naas.
Livia Szedmina
For any questions, suggestions, or comments, feel free to contact me:

Hungarian academic and John Devoy 'fan' Livia Szedima made a recent visit to Naas

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