|Stephen Collins & Ciara Meehan
Eoin O’Duffy had an unremarkable childhood. Born Owen Duffy, he was the son of an impoverished farmer. His self-serving unpublished autobiography paints a picture of a relatively happy childhood in Co Monaghan, one that was framed by the Catholic religion and tradition and a happiness derived from time spent outdoors, in communion with the land.
O’Duffy did not come from a political family; he made his name in nationalist circles through his involvement with the GAA. In this he had something in common with Michael Collins.
But while Collins is revered in Fine Gael circles, any mention of O’Duffy – the party’s first president – is studiously avoided. This stems from his leadership of the Blueshirts, an organisation popularly viewed in the same category as the fascist movements that swept swathes of inter-war Europe.
The role that O’Duffy played, and the involvement of his organisation, in the creation of Fine Gael is one that the party regularly and purposely overlooks
Consequently, the role that O’Duffy played, and the involvement of his organisation, in the creation of the party is one that is regularly and purposely overlooked by Fine Gael.
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