Inquiring minds: Who is Napper Tandy?

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here are some of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.

Q.   Here’s a question just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day. There’s an old Irish song called “The Wearing of the Green.” A line of the song goes, “I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand. Says he, ‘How’s Poor Old Ireland and how does she stand?’” My question is: Who was Napper Tandy?

A.  In 1798, Dubliner James Napper Tandy landed in County Donegal in the west of Ireland at the head of a small expedition of men and arms. Financed by the French, their plan was to incite the native Irish to rise against their British masters. Alas for Poor Old Ireland, the plan failed utterly. According to some (British) historians anyway, Napper Tandy then proceeded to get roaring drunk and sail the following morning back to France. It wouldn’t be the last time that a would-be Irish liberator failed completely in his objective but achieved immortality anyway on the basis of a good song. Tandy fades from the historical record after that, and as for Ireland, it took the nation another 123 years to achieve independence from British rule. The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 laid the ground work for what would eventually become the Republic of Ireland.
(“History of Ireland” by Fry.)

Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 628-6803 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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