Aodogán O'Rahilly was born at Hove in England.
He was one of five sons, and he was age eleven years when he father died. That was in 1916 during the 'Rising'.
The Catholic school that Aodogán attended was Mount St. Benedict, and it had morphed ".... from an imported English public school model to a school considered suitable for the [Irish] republican elite."
In the years that followed, "the Irish language and a history centered on nation-building—were adopted wholesale into the new educational program of the Irish Free State after 1922," and Aodogán along with his brothers became immersed in this way of way of thinking about Ireland. But as the years went by that did not translate into Aodogán becoming a front line soldier for the Irish Republican Army.
Aodogán's American family ties had more of an influence on his life, because they directed him to embrace the can-do spirit of free enterprise. He became a part of that world of commerce which has helped to finance the world of business in the Republic of Ireland.
Aodogán followed the money, and this is key to understanding what happened to his son Ronan, and why Ronan was a bird dog looking for investors in his father's family businesses. In the early days, Ronan was not, as some, as many would have you believe, a person wandering around looking for something to get his father to invest in.
His father Aodogán came from a background of privilege. He was part of an ".... independently wealthy and combining bourgeois gentility with the frisson of nationalist cordite ...." Aodogán's childhood ".... was a world away from the financial precariousness ...." of other children who had parents linked to the 1916 'Rising'.
Aodogán O'Rahilly was the beneficiary of an elite education that began with a school in Ireland which had been spun-off from a school with very English roots, and pragmatic Aodogán's first gasp of breath had been at Hove in England.
Later in life, Aodogán decided to resurrect the life of his father and boost his father's standing in the pages of the past, by writing a biography. But the underlying quest for Irish identity that his father had fought for in days before the formation of the IRA, was not something that Aodogán was going to embrace.
His brother, who became a barrister and touted himself with that same moniker of 'The O'Rahilly', did that. Aodogán's sibling went so far as to become a cheerleader for Adolph Hitler's Nazi troops during World War II, because he thought that the Nazi conquest of England could lead to the total liberation of a free and independent Ireland, thanks to German assistance.
Aodogán's father had embraced the promotion of the Gaelic League, and this idea of an Irish language helped to strangle the growth of Irish broadcasting. It was a barrier that Charles Orr Stanley, a "Proddy-Woddy" Protestant Irishman from Cork and chairman of the Pye Group of companies, could not overcome. Neither could Gordon McLendon, who during the same period of time during the late Nineteen Fifties, also pitched the idea of building a new Irish commercial television service.
But that same enthusiasm for this cultural cause was not expressed in the life of Aodogán. He married a U.S. citizen and he even embraced American commercial architectural plans when it came to building his own family home just outside Dublin. So when the bloodline trickled down to his son Ronan, there was no commitment to anything of substance, only a groping in the dark to find his own identity which he never was able to discover.
Ronan O'Rahilly was a gadfly who became someone else's 'decoy duck'. He was even handed a script to read, because as gifted as he was with his blarney, he was short of imaginative material. For that he leaned on an Englishman named Ian Cowper Ross with two immediate family connections to English aristocracy. That was the same English aristocracy which always treated the Irish people like pay dirt which his grandfather supposedly gave his life to fight against during the 'Rising'.
On the other hand, Ronan's father Aodogán was a pragmatist. He was not about to swim against the tide, because he wanted to swim with it, and that tide flowed from the financial world in London.
Tomorrow, the birth of Weatherwell Ltd.
[Quotations and references drawn from: Nic Dhaibheid, C. (2016) ‘Schooling the National Orphans’: the Education of the Children of the Easter Rising Leaders. Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 9 (2). pp. 261-276. ISSN 1939-6724 ]
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