Charles Stewart Parnell was the father of Irish Home Rule. And also of three illegitimate children.
All right. Let’s not get ahead (aha! head) of ourselves. (I swear, we’ll stop with the BlowJ puns eventually.)
Back in the late 19th century — that’s the 1800s, for those you who have trouble with that (Mom) — an Englishman named William Gladstone was trying to push an Irish Home Rule bill through parliament. See, England had been fucking with Ireland for some time now. Since, like, 1066. And as one of the first single-issue politicians in history, Gladstone had decided that it was time to “pacify Ireland.” Our story isn’t about Gladstone, but it’s probably important and totally relevant to mention that he was an evangelical christian obsessed with saving the prostitutes of London’s slums, who also engaged in self-flagellation as punishment for his frequent participation in masturbation. He should really have his own entry. We’ll work on that. But anyway, his idea about Irish Home Rule came from a guy named Charles Stewart Parnell.
Parnell was an Irish MP in Parliament who was promoting this idea of home rule for Ireland. Home Rule would allow Ireland to govern itself with only some superficial, but still very real, connection to the crown. (Like how Canada and Australia are now. Which brings me to another irrelevant point: You know what, Canadians? I like your syrup, I do. But take a look at your coinage, will you? You’re not really your own country, are you? And July 3 is the stupidest day for an independence day ever.)
But Parnell actually didn’t coin the term “Home Rule.” It was a guy named…get ready…Isaac Butt. Yeah. You can’t make this shit up, people. But Parnell is really thought of as the father of this Home Rule idea because he’s the one in parliament working with Gladstone to push this bill through.
The bill fails. Gladstone and Parnell try again, it fails a second time, but there’s more hope the second time.
Parnell probably could have tried again, because he was the only really popular Irish nationalist political leader around at the time, and would have…Except for that he became involved in the biggest sex scandal of the British Isles in the late 19th century. (Which, just as a quick reminder to my mother, is the late 1800s.)
Here’s what went down. So Parnell had been living and fornicating with a woman named Katherine O’Shea (who now has lots of pubs named after her). And they had three children together, one of whom died as an infant. The only teeny-weeny (haha!) issue was that Kate was married to one of Parnell’s colleagues, a fellow MP named Captain O’Shae (who we’ll call “the Captain” because it’s funnier that way). In the beginning, the Captain’s only real act of defiance towards Parnell was challenging him to a duel, which never ended up happening. And he wouldn’t divorce his wife because she was supposed to be getting a big phat inheritance from a relative who wasn’t quite dead yet. But when Kate’s aunt did finally kick it, the money the Cap thought she was getting actually went into a trust.
He filed for divorce almost immediately and named Parnell as a co-respondent. This created a BFD situation in good ol’ Victorian England and Ireland. Apparently adultery was still a No-No for a lot of people. Parnell’s parliamentary party totally abandoned their support of him and so did his Catholic Irish constituency along with the Church with a capital Cee. He faded into obscurity, and did get to marry his baby-mama eventually. But he died soon after in 1891 of a heart attack at the ripe young of 45.
And so it was that the 7th commandment (or whatever the adultery one is) scandalously killed Irish Home Rule and the Irish Nationalist fight for freedom was never the same again.
So in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I would like to raise a pint of Guinness to our friend, Charles. Whose actions may have cost Ireland its liberty, but at least he got what was his.
To getting what’s yours!
I’ll drink to that.