Reflection: Maurice Fitzpatrick

We are grateful to Maurice Fitzpatrick for permission to reprint his reflection, one that originally appeared in The Irish Times. Other reflections in that edition can be found here.

Seamus Deane’s transformative role in re-assessing Ireland’s political and cultural inheritance proceeded from the depth of his intellectual enquiries and the passion of his commitments. In a filmed interview I conducted with him and Seamus Heaney for The Boys of St. Columb’s, Heaney stated “we were lucky to have Seamus’ intellectual vigour and articulation of our aims. He in a sense wrote our mission statement. It was an invigorating, exciting presence for us. He wrote two of the pamphlets which were epoch-making, I think.”

His Derry background informed everything he wrote. Deane also augmented and enriched the field of intellectual history through his works on Edmund Burke, Joyce and the French Enlightenment. He matched originality and boldness with erudition and a superb command of language. Just as unforgettable was Deane’s warmth and his sparkling humour.  

Maurice Fitzpatrick, writer and filmmaker, is author of The Boys of St. Columb's (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) and its companion BBC/RTÉ documentary film. Mr. Fitzpatrick visited the Keough-Naughton Institute in Fall 2018 in connection with his film "In the Name of Peace: John Hume In America," and will be a visiting fellow at the Institute this fall, as he explores parallels between the American and Irish civil rights movements.