Martin avoided the feared fate of becoming the first Fianna Fáil leader never to have been Taoiseach. Now he is at serious risk of becoming the last ever Fianna Fáil Taoiseach
Onwards: Micheál Martin led the process of building up the party. Photo: Brian Lawless
September 19 2020 02:30 AM
Seán Lemass wanted to call the new organisation simply the “Republican Party” – but Eamon de Valera successfully argued that his baby be called “Fianna Fáil”. The wily Lemass, who did so much to get the organisation a presence in every half-parish in the nation, got his suggestion into the second line.
Fianna Fáil was a title sometimes given to the Irish Volunteers after they split from John Redmond’s National Volunteers in 1913. The Volunteers’ “FF” insignia was kept by the Free State Army after 1922 and is on Irish Army cap badges to this day – it’s also in the opening line of the national anthem, subliminally bearing in on thousands for generations before big GAA games. But that’s a story unto itself for another day.
Irish scholars such as ‘The O’Rahilly’, who died in a hail of bullets in Moore Street, Dublin, in Easter week 1916, and An tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire, approved this title because of its connection to the mythical golden age of Fionn Mac Cumhail and the Fianna. The ever pragmatic Dev liked it as a party title because, as a Gaelic scholar himself, he knew it to be almost untranslatable and so evoked just the kind of ambiguity he wanted to start “a national movement – not a party”.