Patrick MacGill, from Glenties, was known as the Navvy Poet.
His writings documented the lives of ordinary people forced to emigrate for work.
Some people think the Summer School founded in his home town in 1980 in his memory has lost its way in that it has become a soapbox for Ireland’s political elite.
We give the views of two of our readers below. You are welcome to leave your own comment.
PAT WRITES: When the MacGill summer school was set up it was to honour an ordinary man who wrote about the ordinary people. The people who lived under the heel of the church and the gombeen men. People who had to leave their homes to earn the rent money working on farms where they were abused and exploited. The summer school has turned into week away in the country for the political and business establishment, MacGill must be spinning in his grave. These people are everything he was against. Why have politicians speaking ? Let’s hear from the mortgage holder in negative equity, or the man who lost his business, or the unemployed who can’t pay the bills. They are the real Ireland who live in the real world not overpaid political nobodies full of their own importance.
MOLESKIN JOE WRITES: Two quotes from Moleskin Joe ,a tramp navvy and philosopher.Moleskin Joe was a character who appeared in many of Patrick MacGill s novels.Just got me wondering what has the MacGill summer school got to do with likes of Patrick MacGill and the people he wrote about .Moleskin Joe was an intelligent working man ,his only ‘flaw’ was he refused to conform and was happier as an ‘outsider’ in society,esp.when he seen what the insiders were really made of.I notice whatever scriptwriter composed that terrible speech for Enda played it safe and quoted Heaney ,that’ll please the chattering classes alright.Here is a few lines from MacGill himself,from page 140 of ‘The Children of the Dead End’ ‘Progress,to millions means slavery and starvation.Progress and profit mean sweated labour to railway men,and it meant death to many of them,as to Mick Deegan ,whose place I had filled.I had suffered a lot myself.a brother of mine had died when he might have been saved by the rent which was paid to the landlord,and i had seen suffering all around me wherever I went”suffering due to the injustice and tyranny of the wealthy class.”
Moleskin Joe may have never existed,yet he exists still, he exists in every person who had to leave this country and look for work,in any person who was ever done out of their wages and decided to strike back.Who had to watch as this Government like the last has decided to tear down the pillars that support our society ,talking here about health ,education cut backs and a total un willingness to do any thing serious about un employment.So talk the soft talk Enda, but be warned the day is coming when we will get all hands on the crowbars,we ll tumble the whole edifice over,along with all its rotten life, its monstrous selfishness and sodden materialism .Then we will build a new habitation for mankind,in which all the rooms will be bright and airy,and where the air breathed will be clean noble and alive.Then we will celebrate MacGill.