For weeks I had been meaning to write a long form essay condensing as much as I could of my reflections on Fennell’s writing, but the man wrote dozens of books and pamphlets and many more articles, so it was a lot to get through. I wanted to help in my own small way to make sure that he received the recognition and praise he deserved while he was still around. Readers may remember I did write one piece on a Fennell essay which I called When We Stopped Making Sense.
I just heard that Desmond Fennell passed away, at age 92.
Fennell was what you might call a post-Liberal thinker, rejecting Cold War right and left, some say an Irish Christopher Lasch. His writing from decades ago remains an unsurpassed and often eerily accurate analysis of an imported liberal, progressive, consumerist anti-culture overseen by distant technocratic elites, which has overtaken Ireland and many other nations.
In a country that does not always value its non-conforming thinkers, Fennell remained original and seemed totally morally confident in the face of social pressure from all factions. He was motivated always by a love of Ireland, the community that still exists buried underneath the surface of the structure he criticized and believed would one day fall.
He contributed to Irish language institutions and generally raised the standard of debate and ideas in Ireland for many decades. He was saddened by the way in which Ireland’s post-60s fashion for liberal Americanism, itself a utopian post war experiment built on top of the nation that preceded it, halted the project of Irish nationhood - a self creating culture, consciousness and intellectual life.
This week I’ll finally get around to writing that essay. There is only one way to truly honour the man however and that is by working to make his dream real in our lifetimes.
I wish I could have met him. Rest in peace Desmond.