Two score and five years ago, he said, we had a dream. We dreamt this dream in the symbolic shadow we stand today, although then it was a corrugated shed that only covered half the length of the pitch and we had concrete seats that were very cold in winter. Many of our forefathers suffered very bad cases of chilblains sitting here. Our womenfolk endured kidney infections. But they too dreamt the dream. This momentous decree of 1959 came as a great beacon light of hope to thousands of downtrodden Deisigh who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their humiliation.
But forty five years later, the Deisigh are still not free. Forty five years later, the life of the Deisigh is still sadly crippled by the manacles of gloating from the yokes across the river. Forty fiveyears later, the Deisigh live on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of All Irelands. Forty five years later, the Deisigh still languish in the corners of Munster hurling and so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to our county ground to cash a cheque. When the architects of our Association wrote the magnificent words of the Official Guide, Parts 1 and 2, they were signing a promissory note to which every Gael was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, blaas as well as cats, would be guaranteed the “Inalienable Rights” of a ticket to the All Ireland. It is obvious today that the Association has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as the blaas are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, the Association has given the blaas a bad cheque, a cheque which has come back marked “insufficient allocation.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient tickets in the great vaults of opportunity of this Association. And so, we’ve come to cash this cheque, a cheque for €140 that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice or at the very least two tickets to the Upper Davin.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the Slievekeale Road in the queue which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. We must not kiss the badge on our jersey. We must not be photographed with our babies. We must not roll around the ground with our manager, and we must not give two fingers to the crowd. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with Deise force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Deise community must not lead us to a distrust of all Cats, for many of Cats, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. Their jobs are our jobs, their schools are our schools and their tickets are our tickets.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back. The queue is too big for that.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mount Sion, go back to Ardmore, go back to Saint Saviours, go back to Stradbally, go back to Ballygunner, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Western towns, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Deise dream.
I have a dream that one day the Deise nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that there are only 15 men in the other dressing room the same as us.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Ballybricken, the sons of the Deise and the sons of Ossory will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood and order a kebab without a row breaking out.
I have a dream that one day even the village of Mullinavat, a hamlet sweltering with the heat of bitterness, will be transformed into an oasis of blue and white.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a county where they will not be judged by the colour of their tattoos but by how many All Ireland semi finals they have contested.
I have a dream today!