Obituary: Erskine Childers

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The Independent Online
Erskine Childers's interest in his own family and his gifted antecedents was to have been marked by his book on the subject, writes Ian Lowe [further to the obituary by Brian Urquhart, 28 August] and it is greatly to be hoped that the publishers, Verso, will bring it out posthumously. Childers was engaged in what he described as a "probably foolhardy attempt" to correct many of the canards which are still recycled about his grandfather and namesake, and his grandmother, Molly, who lived on until 1964.

Their papers in four enormous cabin trunks were deposited in Trinity College Dublin, where they are accessible to any scholar. More, he wanted to pay tribute to his great grandmother, Mrs Hamilton Osgood, always known as "Nonna", with her mammoth anthology of the world's religions, The City Without Walls, and to his great aunt, Gretchen Warren, whose main work was on the function of the spiral in plant and animal life. To these vignettes he added a portrait of Glendalough House, in County Wicklow, "Pole star of all of us," the landscapes surrounding which ancient valley have been compared to a painting by Turner, with its vastness of space, and quality and colour of the air. It will be a tragedy if Erskine Childers's efforts as a writer, as well as an activist, are not realised and his picture of such an interesting family in Irish and English history should fail to appear in print.