The Sunday Tribune (no link) reports that plans to put up a memorial to the Kerryman who inspired the character “M” in the James Bond films and novels is causing a stir in his home village of Sneem and especially with Sinn Fein.William Melville emigrated to England in the 1860s where he joined the London Metropolitan Police, going on to directly confront the Fenian movement as a member of the force’s special branch. He was also the handler of spy Sidney Reilly, the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s Bond character.
The Sneem Parish News is now calling for a memorial to Melville while the Integrated Rural Development (IRD) committee in the town has also discussed the issue as a way of raising Sneem’s profile as a tourist destination.
“William Melville was by any account an amazing character. A lot of men and women left this country when times were hard and prospered in foreign lands. Melville is among the most successful and interesting of these Irish people. The restoration of the Melville home is one of a number of measures that could benefit the town from a tourist standpoint,” said local IRD director John V O’Sullivan.
However, Sinn Fein councillor from Listowel, Robert Beasley said he couldn’t see his party supporting the use of council funds to commemorate the exploits of a former British agent.
“There are plenty of our people who gave their lives and liberty in the cause of Irish freedom who deserver recognition,” he said, going on to compare anti-Fenian British spies with the “deplorable Littlejohns”.