Page 7 - The 15th Percy French Festival: French Awakenings
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maths and science. They had, he said, ‘visions of their little son as Astronomer
           Royal, telling the gaping world how many billion years must elapse before
           a single ray of intelligence could penetrate the skull of party politicians’.

           Some years earlier, between %**%–", Percy French and John Ross had written
           a mock-heroic ballad entitled Could Kilmainham Jail?, about Parnell’s incarcer a -
           tion. Two of Parnell’s biographers, St John Ervine (%("*) and Robert Kee (%((&),
           both cited the ballad as signi!cant, a popular street ballad which evidenced
           sentiment among the poor of Dublin about the Uncrowned King of Ireland.
           So here French had already shown sentiment towards Parnell. In his poem
           Mr Parnell at Thurles, (c.%*(") P.French speaks through Parnell rather than one
           of his often used stock characters (Larry O’Flynn, Ra$erty, and Finnegan are
           examples) and complains of being abandoned by politician William O’Brien.
           The verses are humor ous and roguish but do catch some thing of Parnell’s
           isolation and show empathy with his dilemma:
                    O Timpora! Also O Mores!
                    Does anyone happen to know
                    Am I treading with Whigs or with Tories,
                    And which of my friends is me foe?
                    Whether Liberal back me or Tory
                    No matter I’ll never resign;
                    But right to the end of the story,
                    In spite of O’Brien ! . .

           Here we see P. French departing from using one of his usual stock charac ters

           and speaking to us directly through Parnell. So, do we say Percy French was
           a nation alist and favoured Home Rule?

           The Court Jester
           Another role that P.French assumed is that of Court Jester. In the Mountains
           of Mourne, in a verse not often sung, P.French wrote:
                    I seen England’s King from the top of a ’bus,
                    I don’t know him, but he means to know us;
                    And though by the Saxon, we once were oppressed,
                    Still I cheered–God forgive me –I cheered with the rest.
                    and now that he’s visited Erin’s green shore,
                    We’ll be much better friends than we’ve heretofore,
                    When we’ve got all we want we’re as quiet as can be
                    Where the Mountains o’ Mourne sweep down to the sea.

           PERCY FRENCH FESTIVAL !"!#                                           •#•
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