Trying to encapsulate their disgust at the bankers and Fianna Fáil politicians who lined their pockets while ruining their country, literate Irish citizens quoted WB Yeats’s most pointed question. In September 1913, he contrasted the merchants who “fumble in a greasy till” – and how precise a description that is of the gropings of the modern Dublin elite – with Wolf Tone, John O’Leary and all those who sacrificed all they had for Irish independence.
“Was it for this…” asked Yeats, “that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland‘s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
To the question: “Was it for this?” the Irish must now add: “Who do you think you are?”