An Sionnach Fionn

Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor


Fir an Deiscirt, Seán Céitinn, Éire, 1921

Fir an Deiscirt, Seán Céitinn, Éire, 1921

I have resisted this for some time but the popularity of the website, and the frequent inquiries from readers, seems to have made it inevitable. So here is a hopefully not too pretentious “About Me” for those interested in such things. Apologies in advance. It is more difficult to write a personal description than you may think. At least I have avoided adopting a faux third person introduction…

Firstly, An Sionnach Fionn or “The White Fox” is both the name of this blog and of one of my distant ancestors, Tadhgh Ó Catharnaigh, a Medieval Irish king nicknamed an Sionnach “the Fox” from whom my family take their hereditary surname. Fionn of course is also the name of Fionn mac Cumhaill, where it means “Fair-haired One”. That Fionn is one of the great figures of Ireland’s indigenous literary and folkloric traditions, the Rífhéinní or “King-warrior-hunter” of the Fiannaíocht, the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. His stories cover the entirety of the early Gaelic world, belonging to the peoples of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. The word fionn, since it also means “white”, is frequently used to describe Otherworldly animals and creatures in Celtic literature. Hounds, deer, cattle, boars and horses all indicate their supernatural origins through the pale colour of their hair or fur. Where the white-bodied animal occurs in the old legends the Aos Sí, the Otherworld People, cannot be far behind. As both a Gaelic and Celtic nationalist this convergence of meanings seemed a fortuitous one and so was born the name of this blog. More prosaically the word Sionnach “Fox” or Sionnacháin “Foxy” is my own nickname.

In political terms I call myself a Fenian. My definition of that is a Progressive or Gaelic Republican. Progressive because I am a centre-left social-democrat who believes that the reunification of Ireland is the only way to achieve long-term peace, justice and prosperity for the peoples of this island nation (as well as ending the medieval anachronism that is Britain’s continued colonial administration in part of our country). Gaelic because I wish the reunification of our nation to take place under the aegis of a secular All-Ireland republic that is Irish (Gaelic) in language and culture while recognising and respecting the diversity of communities that call this island their home. This includes the need to acknowledge that long-term peace in Ireland may be best achieved by granting regional autonomy to the north-east of the nation with an administration based in Belfast that has limited powers of self-government. I can think of no other political description that sums up so aptly my own ideological beliefs.

Though an Irish Republican I am not affiliated to any political party or organisation. In the past I have voted for (in no particular order) Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party, the Green Party and various Independents and might well do so again (big-up for Proportional Representation).

I am supportive of the Celtic-speaking peoples of Europe, politically and culturally, and actively promote their struggles alongside those of the Irish-speaking communities of Ireland. The Pan-Celtic philosophy is one I adhere to and I find more in common with my fellow Celts of Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany than anyone else in Europe. To be in Edinburgh, Cardiff or Nantes is to be at home. However my commitment to native rights extends far beyond the Gaelic and Brythonic worlds. The suffering of the Native and First Nation Peoples of North America is never far from my mind. When playing Cowboys and Indians I always chose the latter. Now I know why.

In terms of faith I am a secular atheist, though I am respectful of the indigenous traditions of the Irish people and wish to see them given a greater place within our society. If one needs spirituality I find more in the Creidheamh Sí than any of the “desert religions” which seem wholly alien to me. On social issues that some Rightists prefer to whip up into divisiveness I am pro-choice when it comes to the medical provision of abortion services, supportive of adult citizens deciding their own gender or sexuality without interference or hindrance by the state, a believer in the right of all citizens to marry whom they wish and strongly in favour of publicly-funded secular schooling outside the control of any sectional interests. I am an environmentalist who regards current government policies in Ireland as a disaster in terms of our national and global well-being. Hell, you might as well throw in there that I believe in 50/50 gender-quotas for politics, the judiciary, private businesses and so on. So yep, a big old Scandinavian-style Leftie in Celtic dress.

My personal interests range from archaeology to architecture, literature to art, technology to science. I am never happier than when reading – probably on a tablet while sitting on a four-thousand year old burial mound in the middle of a forest with a sports car parked nearby. And yes, there are more than a few paradoxes in that. I love ancient trees. I love fast cars. Maybe I should buy a Tesla Roadster?

That is it for now, except to end with an English language poem by the author Robin Herne published in his 2012 collection Bard Song. The title Bona na Croin, or more correctly Ní Bóna Ná Coróin “Neither Crown nor Collar”, refers to many things. A rejection of oppression by the State (crown) or the Church (collar). A refusal to be seduced by riches, to lord it over others or to submit to slavery. It is – for me – an anti-establishment poem, and I have a good bit of affection for it. It sums me up in many ways. I think…

Bona na Croin

Neither your collar nor crown
Shall I wear, my nose not brown,
Nor I some clown in your court,
In chains brought, a wolf to town.

By no oath bound to your King,
To my Gods alone I sing,
Grey shadow hiding from sight
To keep the rite from waning.

In red gold you dress these slaves,
What throne can forget Nine Waves?
In deep caves our flame I shield,
Never to yield to such knaves.

Collars serve to rein dogs in,
Quell their nerve with shades and sin.
Wild wolf’s kin such bangles scorn,
Free-born I stay, son of Fionn.

My brothers hunted, slain, skinned.
Yet still my cries ride the wind,
Numbers thinned, but still we wait,
For your hate, we have not sinned.

Now the lone hunters take heed,
Upon the Great Stag we feed,
Blood for mead. His death our life,
Ends this strife, stirs this dried seed.

The old packs come together,
Ties that fear cannot sever,
Endeavour in pride to stand
In the Wolf Land, forever.

I remain the buzzing mosquito of Irish bloggers.


21 comments on “About

  1. Mick O'Scrabble
    September 17, 2011

    This is the first time I’ve actually gone to your site. I usually just catch little parts on facebook. This is BEYOND insightful for an UNinformed person such as myself. Thank you. I’ll shall be reading FREQUENTLY.

  2. An Sionnach Fionn
    September 18, 2011

    Thanks for the Comment, Mick. All readers – and contributions – welcome :-)

  3. Seán
    November 15, 2011

    Dia Dhuit a chara,

    Is mise Riarthóir ag Fóram na Gaeilge. Táim an-tógtha le do chuid blaganna, caithfidh mé a rá, leis an méid alt atá scríofa agat agus a gcáilíocht. Aontaím le cuid de na blaganna siúd, agus tá cinn ní aontaím le, – sin an saol. Ach, ba mhaith liom cuireadh a thabhairt duit chun a bheith linn ag Fóram na Gaeilge –

    Tá súil agam go gcláróidh tú agus déan plé linn, ná déan dearmad – Beatha an Teanga Í a Labhairt.

    Mise Le Meas,


    • Chris Fogarty
      July 21, 2014

      Interesting, your comments about Margaret Thatcher! My column in the July issue of the IAN names the sinister club and its members that direct both US and UK war policies. The club included Thatcher and still includes Kissinger and Bill Flynn. Upon Flynn’s achieving the GFA (which freed up Britain’s military for use in Iraq) he was made Club President and Margaret Thatcher got him a CBE. In turn, Flynn passed credit on to Gerry Adams by making him a member of that club, by paying for his dentures and a $30,000 prostate operation.

  4. Arfon Jones (Plaid Gwersyllt)
    February 18, 2012

    Fel Cymro Cymraeg dwi’n wrth fy modd hefo dy safle we!

    (As a Welsh speaker I think your blog/website is an excellent contribution to Celtic issues)

  5. Ciara
    June 2, 2012

    Tá an blag seo iontach! An bhfuil Twitter agat?

  6. Catherine
    August 15, 2012

    Hi there, I’m just wondering what your background is (i.e. are you a published author/journalist, or a social commentator, etc…)- your answer on ‘One skilled scientist is worth an army’ was intriguing. I need to give a brief background for that website for a uni assignment- your help would be appreciated :)

    • Hi Catherine, for (relative) anonymity’s sake I won’t say that much about my background but I work in the IT industry in Ireland, would be politically active in terms of supporting various Irish language civil rights causes, as well as more general Irish Republican ones.

      The blogging or commenting on sites of interest is just another expression of that. I’ve a few articles published around various Irish current affairs or history-orientated sites and some Sci-Fi and cult ones too (The Wild Geese Today, Forth Magazine, Prog464, etc.).

      Hope that helps :-)

  7. fem_progress
    February 20, 2013

    Bonjour / latha math/ kwe

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    I was actually reblogging a university professor *blushes* and added a little sauce of my own.

  8. Cathal Garvey
    March 18, 2013

    I GOGGLED Eunan Professor Eunan O’Halpin after watching “In the Name of the Republic” and came across this blog. I thought the documentary was credible and well presented and felt the professor was very brave to give his account of the history of the period he spoke about as I would imagine there will be a certain amount of animosity created within his family, given their background.

    However, reading your version of events and seeing the pictures you referred to has made me doubt the documentary so much that I believe you must make your views known by making a complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland,

    The truth must be made known and the lies challenged, for all of us to know what our history actually is.

    • Well I’m not one to censor opinions or prevent others from expressing them, however much I disagree with those opinions. History should be under continuous revision as new facts and theories come to light. In that context it is entirely appropriate that the darker aspects of the War of Independence are investigated. Off the top of my head I could suggest several incidents that require new research. The struggle against the British between 1916-1923 bore a close comparison to the WWII struggle in France against the Vichy regime and the German Occupation.

      However what we witnessed last night on TV3 was far from serious history. It was demonstrably selective, one-sided, and wholly anti-historical tone to it. Even the smallest of things, like the references to “IRA courts” taking over justice in Ireland during the revolutionary period and serving as judge, jury and executioner were completely at odds with the known facts of the era. How could O’Halpin be unaware of the Dáil/Sinn Féin courts and the role they played? They are perhaps amongst the best documented and researched facets of the undermining of administrative British rule by the Irish Republic and the means by which it won wide-scale support. Yet he deliberately mischaracterized them as “IRA courts”.

      One is reminded of the fringe “documentaries” produced by the “9/11 Truthers” or the Tea Party-inspired “Birthers” in the United States. The use of conspiracy theories, misrepresented or selective facts and information, slanted opinions and prejudicial images or film footage (especially when associated with voice-overs implying that the pictures or film represent something completely different from what they actually do represent). It is astonishing that this got made. Yet in the end it produced not a single fact to back up its supposed “executions”. No graves, no bodies, no identities, no missing persons, no records, no nothing. Yet the whole basis of the program was the three “murdered” men found by a farmer on his lands in the 1920s. If they never existed then what of the rest of the allegations made in the documentary?

      I would rather take those who produced the sensationalist (and in my opinion anti-historical) documentary to task by analyzing their words and actions than take any other courses of action.

      It is actually quite sad and depressing that 90 years on some people are still fighting the War of Independence – but on behalf of the British.

      • Cathal Garvey
        March 19, 2013

        Hi Séamas,
        You say “I would rather take those who produced the sensationalist (and in my opinion anti-historical) documentary to task by analyzing their words and actions than take any other courses of action”.
        However, I believe that a complaint to the BAI would have a better chance of correcting matters than analyzing their words and actions here, a blog that hasn’t a very large readership. For one, it would be open to public scrutiny to a much larger audience. Unfortunately, I don’t have the required knowledge in history to do so myself.

      • Chris Fogarty
        June 24, 2014

        See the book “Coolacrease” for an elegant refutation of RTE’s history falsifiers. Is RTE Ireland’s main enemy; keeping the people disinformed for Britain?

        Also, it is surprising that your site has no link to my It has forced “famine” writers (after magazine interviews) to abandon some 90% of their falsehoods and to fabricate a replacement one. Having failed to completely silence them I have a far more comprehensive book ready for publication that ought to so educate the public as to make further “famine” books unsellable.

  9. Tuairisceoir
    April 24, 2013

    Séamus – writing an article on Tolkien – you seem to be the expert – can I do an email interview with yourself?

  10. johnpaulthethird
    May 8, 2013

    i saw that painting as a 20 year old in a galery in cork city in the early 1970s always liked liked it as i liked CORK IN THE 70S I LIKED THIS SITE full of history i bought a few books in eastons i think one by tom barry i read it all thru the other by dan breen brothers maybe in arms

  11. an o dubhgaill
    February 19, 2015

    HI AN SIONNACH…i just found your web site,love it….and I like the cut of your gib…my irish is not great but passable (though the leaving cert board didn’t think so he he he)…I agree with your outlook, but not on all major ones but still not enough difference to fight a civil war over….IRELAND FOR EVER

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