Pyers O’Conor-Nash (of Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon) recently came to the defence of his late grandfather, Vincent Nash, who died in 1942.
Mr. O’Conor-Nash took author Malachy McCourt to task over the latter’s portrayal of Vincent Nash as an ‘absentee’ landlord and a ‘traitor’ who didn’t hesitate to evict hard-pressed families. (This portrayal was vehemently rejected by Mr. O’Conor-Nash).
In a book entitled ‘Death Need Not Be Fatal’, McCourt – reflecting on his family’s occupation of a house in Limerick in the late 1930s – wrote: “The landlord, Sir Vincent Nash, was one of those absentee Irish traitors whose minions never hesitated to evict the family who could not afford the rent that ran about the equivalent of a dollar a week”.
In a response to the Sunday Independent, Mr. O’Conor-Nash rebutted the US-based author’s depiction of his late grandfather, describing it as “delusional”.
O’Conor-Nash wrote: ‘Like many a person who read Angela’s Ashes, I was incredulous that the late Frank McCourt had a near total recall of events and conversations that occurred when he was a small child, and subsequently was able to commit these recollections to paper many decades later.
‘In this regard, I read with interest Malachy McCourt’s attempt to reconcile his late brother’s memories with the facts in the Sunday Independent of January 14th’.
Mr. O’Conor-Nash continued: ‘Regrettably, I never met my grandfather, Vincent Nash, who died in 1942 – well before I was born. However, from all that I have heard of him from past generations and friends, Vincent Nash was a charitable individual, particularly concerned with the ill-treatment of children.
‘He was a former medical doctor, who nearly died from typhus that he contracted while treating the poverty-stricken in Richmond Hospital, Dublin, in the 1890s.
‘He was also a founder member of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Limerick, and a board member of Leamy School, where the McCourts were educated.
‘He was never an “absentee” from Limerick, as stated by Mr. McCourt, but lived in Limerick all his life. He is buried there. Neither he nor anybody in his family ever owned property in Roden Lane, Limerick – let alone evict anybody.
‘The accusation that he was a “traitor” is a horrifying slur on his good name, and is beneath contempt.
‘As no doubt McCourt is aware, under US law one cannot be sued for defaming the dead, who obviously cannot defend themselves – but in this country, the living can always call out the misinformed’.