From Ulysses: Fatal Flower Garden

Suitably off the wall, but this clip from RTE has Gavin Friday singing a song from Ulysses interspersed with reflections on the anti semetic pogroms in Limerick in the same year against a population which had arrived in Ireland for sanctuary. And further thoughts on what it really means to be Irish.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Mick: Is this supposed to be funny? Can you document the Limerick pogrom? How many were killed in this pogrom of yours? Shold Ireland open her doors to all illegals or just the ones who are there already? Have the working class and lower class Irish any legitimate concenrs over these immigrants. People like Tony Gregory certainly thought so. How many nationalities are now represented in Mountjoy? How come so many Chinese applied to be Gardai?

  • boshank

    Having fled from persecution in Lithuania, a small number of Jewish tradespeople began arriving in Limerick in 1878. They initially formed an accepted part of the city’s retail trade, centred on Collooney St. The community established a synagogue and a cemetery in the 1880s. Easter Sunday of 1884 saw the first of what were to be a series of sporadic violent anti-Semitic attacks and protests. A Jewish woman was injured and her house damaged by an angry crowd. In 1892 two families were beaten.

    In 1904 a young Catholic priest, Father John Creagh, of the Redemptorist order, delivered a fiery sermon castigating Jews for their rejection of Christ, being usurers and allies of the Freemasons then persecuting the Church in France, taking over the local economy, selling shoddy goods at inflated prices, to be paid for in installments. He urged Catholics “not to deal with the Jews.” The Limerick Pogrom was the economic boycott waged against the small Jewish community for over two years. Limerick’s Protestant community, many of whom were also traders, supported the Jews throughout the pogrom, but ultimately Limerick’s Jews fled the city.

    Many went to Cork, intending to embark on ship from Cobh to travel to America. The people of Cork welcomed them into their homes. Church halls were opened for the refugees, many of whom remained. Gerald Goldberg, a son of this migration, became Lord Mayor of Cork in 1977.

  • boshank

    It should also be noted that only 60 Jewish asylum seekers were allowed entry to Ireland between 1933 and 1946…

  • boshank

    …Attempts to settle Jewish refugees in neutral Ireland before, during and after the Second World War met with consistent government opposition. There is no wartime evidence that Prime Minister Eamon de Valera uttered any condemnation of German atrocities. In 1939, de Valera, in a recorded discussion with Eduard Hempel, a German minister in Eire, agreed that Nazi procedures against the Jews “must primarily be explained by the behaviour of the Jews after the First World War”…but i’ll shut up now.

  • DK

    Boshank – but De Valera helped the allies in practical ways, like allowing anti-submarine flights over Donegal and returning allied servicemen who crashed/washed up in Ireland. The anti-jew/pro-German stuff was probably just political posturing for his electorate, many of whom were happy to support anyone-but-britain. Although more people from the Republic fought in British uniform during WW2 than people from Northern Ireland, so anti-British sentiment was not overwhelming.

    Was Simon Schma or some other TV History personality descended from Jews who fled Limerick and ended up in England? I seem to remember seeing an ad for a programme where they were re-visiting Limerick.

  • boshank

    Dk, unfortunately the political posturing (if that’s all it was, i’m unconvinced)had consequences. Historian Dermot Keogh pointed out that the “high number of visa refusals by the department of justice had tragic consequences. The Irish must live with that guilt.” I’m not sure about Scharma i’m afraid.

  • So a pogrom is now organizing a boycott of comunities involved in price gouging. I thought it had something to do with Cossacks killing lots of Jews.
    Let’s hear of how the gallant British Army treated Jewish internees en route to Israel after the war. How many rapes of male and female internees were committed and was the Hotel David payback time by one terorist group (irgun) against another terrorist group (British Occupation forces).
    The Limerick pogrom is a figment of less than fertile imaginations. Better ot be a Jew in Limerick/Cork than a Palestinean in the Holy Land with the subsidized savages of Israel terrorizing you.

  • Greenflag

    The rantings of Fr Creagh against the jewish immigrants in Limerick in 1904 can be compared to the rantings of Ian Paisley against the Catholic/Irish minority in Northern Ireland during the 1960’s with one glaring difference . In Limerick no lives were lost. In 1904 tens of thousands were emigrating , a major side ‘benefit’ of ‘British Rule’in early 20th century Ireland .

    Apart from Mayor Goldberg of Cork other prominent members of the Jewish community in Ireland not only became TD’s in the Irish Dail (Ben Briscoe, Mervyn Taylor , Alan Shattner etc ) but the Briscoe’s took part in the 1916 Rising .

    Irish Jews have played a more significant role in the Government of the Irish Republic since the foundation of the Irish State, than Northern Irish Catholics have in the Northern Ireland State . Irish Jews never numbered more than 4,000 or not even 1% of the total population . Contrast that percentage with that of Northern Irish Catholics (now almost 50%) . Could it be that whereas Irish Catholics had no problem in electing Irish Jews to Dail Eireann , the same could not be said for Northern Ireland’s Unionists electing an Irish RC even a ‘Loyal’ RC !

  • Rory

    When I was growing up in the fifties in poor circumstances the door-to-door Jewish tallymen were often our saviours. They provided clothing and footwear allowing a poor mother to send her children dressed to school and not be ashamed and allowed her to hold her head up and turn her children out well for public events like First Communion and Confirmation. Yes, they inflated prices, because they were selling on credit, but their terms of one shilling-per-week-in the pound allowed the purchase of otherwise inaccessible essentials. Furthermore they came door-to-door, knew which days to come on best (when the dole money arrived and before it was spent) and were sensitive when bad (or worse) times hit, thus preserving customer loyalty. Furthermore they treated their customers with due respect so they did not have to face the condescending attitude of a local shopkeeper to whom they otherwise would have had to approach cap-in-hand and often demeaningly with “Much as I would like to help…” refusal.

    I seem to remenber that in the early weeks of the anarchy that followed internment some over-eager young volunteers from Ballymurphy waylaid the tallymen and liberated their collection money for the cause and told them not to come back. The local mothers were obliged to go to the local commander and demand the reinstatement of this their clothing-provision lifeline.

    You will see from some of the newspaper advertisements in the clip that Limerick clothing shopkeepers were at pains to point out their non-Jewish connections and I remember reading somewhere, sometime that it was these interests, fearful of losing out on the forthcoming First Communion trade, that urged the denunciations in order to drive off competitition. Whenever we look for the root causes of disharmony anywhere, often as not we would do well to bear in mind Bill Clinton’s old adage and war cry “It’s the economy, stupid!”

  • DK

    Why are “Taigs” and “Greenflag” trying to say that the Limerick Pogrom didn’t happen or belittle it?

    Is the motivation that nothing should slur the good people of Ireland (the Jews who left were welcomed to Cork), or basic anti-semitism?

  • Greenflag

    Why “Greenflag” trying to say that the Limerick Pogrom didn’t happen or belittle it?

    I’m not denying it did’nt happen . As for belittling it ? By the standards of the many anti Irish and anti Catholic pogroms that have taken place in Northern Ireland since the foundation of the NI State in 1920 – the Limerick pogrom was a picnic . In the annals of jewish pogrom history the Limerick pogrom does not compare to the Russian pogroms of the early 20th and late 19th centuries or even to King Richard the Lionhearts expulsion of all the jews in the 13th century (historically the first State led example of ‘genocide’ committed against the Jewish people.

    By the way the Irish people even those of Limerick never elected Fr Creagh to the Dail . Fr Creagh’s Northern Ireland equivalent Ian Paisley has been elected several times . Enough said .

    The Irish Catholic Church has apologised to the Irish jewish community for the Limerick pogrom. I have yet to hear Ian Paisley utter a single word of regret for his anti Irish and anti Catholic rabble raising over 40 years which has resulted in many Northern Protestants spending a good part of their lives behind bars not to mention the other social , economic and political consequences of his fundamentalist nonsense .

    As for motivation – None is needed. It’s Bloomsday after all .

  • Greenflag

    ‘Whenever we look for the root causes of disharmony anywhere, often as not we would do well to bear in mind Bill Clinton’s old adage and war cry “It’s the economy, stupid!’

    Very true . I believe many of the Catholic ‘money lending’ fraternity in Limerick in 1904 were ‘suffering’ because the new Jewish immigrants were taking away their business by offering the poor of Limerick better terms and less physical methods of extracting ‘overdue’ payments.

    In Dublin’s Coombe there are many who would not have ‘survived’ had it not been for the Jewish money lenders and the likes of Mushatt’s (chemist shop) and other Jewish owned businesses.

  • DK

    Sorry Greenflag – forgot the 3rd option: to engage in a massive bout of whataboutery.

  • Brian Boru

    Boshank at least we didn’t confiscate the assets of German and Italian Jews unlike the UK Trading with the Enemy Act which refused to exempt them from the seizures by the British state. Decades later many Jewish families are still trying to get their assets back.

    BTW do you have a source from your claims?

    In the second world war, the behaviour of Dev as he saw it involved walking a difficult balancing-act of upsetting neither side. If Dev did say those things (which I doubt) then I would put it down to that. He was certainly not an anti-semite. Had he been, he would not have passed a constitutional amendment declaring Judaism a state-recognised religion along with the Christian faiths.

  • Brian Boru

    In fact boshank, Dev made strenuous efforts to bring Jewish refugees to Ireland but the Germans were having none of it.

  • Greenflag

    ‘to engage in a massive bout of whataboutery. ‘

    Of course we must’nt forget the good old staple ‘whataboutery’ when we’ve run out of comment 🙁 What’s it all about anyway if it’s not whataboutery ? Whatabout another 40 years of farting around in ever diminishing political circles in NI before the light finally dawns? Whatabout another 50 years of on Assembly off Assembly etc etc etc .? Whatabout raising the public sector dependency rate of the NI economy to 75% instead of it’s present 67% so as to relieve the people of NI of having to pay for the local government services HMG provides ?

    Yea right and that’s a double positive.

  • boshank

    brian boru,

    part of the subject of this thread was the Limerick pogrom. yes the ‘claims’ are well documented and like it or not part of Irish History. As for the “at least we didn’t line”,i can tell you from first hand expeprience that many hundreds of jews were given asylum in the UK during the second world war. As far as i am aware very few were turned away from the UK and it was not government policy to actively dissuade jews from coming to the UK as it was.

    I have found that similar experiences towards jews can be found across europe and beyond in countries with strong catholic identities. My own family was the victim of a pogrom in Romania, primarily due to the strong catholic beliefs espoused by the state. Every country will have some experience of anti-semitism. I have just found that where it is most prevalent and vitriolic tends to be countries with a strong catholic ethos.

  • boshank

    for info…Ireland’s behaviour towards Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust was, in the later words of Justice Minister Michael McDowell “antipathetic, hostile and unfeeling”. Dr Mervyn O’Driscoll of University College Cork reported on the unofficial and official barriers that prevented Jews from finding refuge in Ireland: “Although overt anti-Semitism was untypical, the Irish were indifferent to the Nazi persecution of the Jews and those fleeing the third Reich….”

  • Greenflag

    ‘ My own family was the victim of a pogrom in Romania, primarily due to the strong catholic beliefs espoused by the state’

    ?????? Are you sure your family came from Romania? . Romania’s religious breakdown is as follows and as you can see RC’s are a small minority as are Protestants . Perhaps the word Roman in Romania has confused you as to majority religion of the Romanians ?

    Romania Religions:

    Romanian Orthodox 70%, Roman Catholic 6% (of which 3% are Uniate), Protestant 6%, unaffiliated 18%

    ‘I have just found that where it is most prevalent and vitriolic tends to be countries with a strong catholic ethos’

    The fact that Nazi Germany in 1939 would have been majority Protestant is of course irrelevant as is the fact that the Russians are majority Orthodox ? The only RC Country that has SFAIK a record of State persecution against the Jewish People was Spain and IIRC the Jews of Spain were given the option of ‘conversion’ or assimilation .

    Perhaps you also have found that the ‘prevalent and vitriolic ethos’ you mention are less harmful to Jewish people than gas chambers in Nazi Germany or Tsarist pogroms against Russian Jews whenever the Tsar needed a diversion .

    Try and get your facts right Boshank !.


    Here is the St Louis link again. Fact is few Jews were allowed in anywhere and the British intenred them and waged a war against them immediatley after.
    There was a thriving, safe Jewish community in the Sth Circular Road and these were mentioned in Lord Haw Haw’s broadcasts. Those not gone to Ternenure went to Israel for personal and political reasons.
    The Wikipedia entry mentions the Limerick boycott, which must be the only Mass pogrom where no one was killed. It also tells what happened to the priest. And there is a useful comment from Ben Briscoe.
    This “pogrom” nonsense was resurrected by the BICO two nationist mob to pretend that Ulster Protestants were progresive pogromists. Garrett Fitzgerald (he of the unpaid AIB bank loans etc) also went on about some Protestant librarian in May in the 1930s who was passed over for promotion. Talk about scraping the barrel.

  • Greenflag

    ‘the Irish were indifferent to the Nazi persecution of the Jews and those fleeing the third Reich….” ‘

    The Irish in those days were even indifferent to the tens of thousands of Irish people fleeing Ireland every year to make a living elsewhere . The Irish Free State itself was barely established and it’s survival as a independent political entity was not assured. As for McDowell’s comment ? The same could be said in today’s world of any number of western developed nations who stand/stood idly by as 3 million Congolese were killed in the 1990’s , while 800,000 Rwandans were exterminated and while 8,000 Bosnian Male Muslims were killed in Srbenica by Milosevic’s henchmen etc etc etc etc etc etc .

  • rafa benitez

    He was certainly not an anti-semite. Had he been, he would not have passed a constitutional amendment declaring Judaism a state-recognised religion along with the Christian faiths.

    Here’s a ditty number to throw into this mix:

    You will also find that Dev was such an anti-semite, they named a forest after him in Israel….

  • PaddyReilly

    The motivation for saying that the Limerick Pogrom didn’t happen is that it didn’t happen.

    At that time there was a strong ‘Buy Irish’ campaign afoot and a number of Jewish traders thought that if they stocked up on cheap imperial goods economic interest would prevail over patriotism among the Irish. They thought wrong, and went bankrupt. What ‘a number’ means in this context I do not know, but quite possibly it was one or two.

    A pogrom signifies loss of life, injury to person, or arson of dwellings. It does not mean a bankrupcy due to deficient market research. Sure, we’ve all had worse pogroms than this in our lifetime.

    Robert Graves’s description of Limerick in that period is about right. No one did any repairs to the houses, they just let them fall down and moved into an empty house, so many had been left vacant by people going to America. Everyone died of drink, except for the Plymouth Brethren who died of religious melancholy.

    The only numerically significant pogrom was an economic one against the Irish people.

  • Benn

    Why engage in moral relativism? “It was worse elsewhere”, “Catholics don’t have rights in the North so compare that to the Jews in the South”, etc etc, what a bunch of crap. The holocaust was a collective failure, perpetrated by Germans and many other Europeans, Protestant and Catholic (see how well the Jews did in Poland and Austria for example), that was acquiesed to or abetted by the actions and non-actions of the observers such as England and the United States. There is anti-semitism in Ireland, as there is anti-semitism everywhere, and there are good and open people in Ireland, just as there are everywhere. Now, instead of debating the past or shifting to lesser issues, consider where Ireland is today on related questions (race, immigation, etc.), and think about how to do better, and talk about Darfur, and why that continues to unfold under the eyes of a watching world.

  • Rory

    Perhaps we should step back a wee bit here and not get too embroiled in the old catholic/protestant/Ireland/Britain tit-for-tattery. The whipping up of anti-Jewish feeling in Limerick in 1904 by a Catholic priest at the behest of Catholic business interests wishing to corner the lucrative First Holy Communion trade was wrong and reprehensible and something to be ashamed of. But of course business never shares the blame of guilt of actions which most benefit their interests. This is true of all business -Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and any other or none at all (though most thoughtful businesses will happily adapt to any religious model that benefits their potential profitability from time to time). Whether this incident ought to be labelled a “pogrom” seems to me a bit hypercritical and demeans and dilutes the term itself – much as labelling anyone of even mildly conservative views a “Nazi” does.

    I seem to recall that in the 1950’s Limerick mayor, Steve Coughlin was also held to be responsible for whipping up a fervour of anti-semitism in the city aided by the Catholic clergy at the Men’s Confraternity – an ultra-catholic pseudo-devotional exercise attendance of which became almost mandatory through social pressure at the time. Windows were broken in Jewish businesses and a lot of ugly God and Country hot air was blown about. The purpose of the Confraternity was to take men’s minds of unemployment and dire poverty and dissuade them from associating with organised labour. The old, old story.

    Later Sean South, the Limerick man, who led the IRA raid on Bessbrook RUC Barracks in 1956 (’57?) and who perished along with Feargal O’Hanlon in that action, was traduced by elements within the Roy Johnson wing of the Republican Movement as having led goon squads in the attacks on the Jewish property. The accusation was totally unfounded and did a lot to further alienate people like Daithi O’Conaill and Rory O’Brady who had also taken part in that raid and who were in any case growing increasingly alienated from the MacGiolla-Johnson-Goulding leadership, not least by the unelected conscription of Johnson, an English pseudo-Marxist with no history of Republican activity – least of all military activity, onto the Army Council. (It is sometimes considered that the increased levels of rainfall in the period were occassioned by Marx weeping from Heaven above as he had to endure listening to Johnson spout his goobleygook in his name – but that might be elaborately fanciful).

    It does remain true that British interests embarrassed by their own collusion with Nazism in the past – for the entirely honorable motives of filty lucre of course – are ever keen to deflect blame onto catholic collusion in order to deflect from their own shame and that much of this simply does not hold up in the light of day.

    But neither are Catholics always blameless either. The activities of Croatian ultra-Catholic, pro-Nazi death squads in Croatia during WWII, when it is reported that they would seek out children and in order to determine if they were from the Serbian minority, tenderly ask them to make the Sign of the Cross. If the child touched his forehead and then first his right shoulder, in the “wrong-way-round” Orthodox manner, they would slit his throat. I have read that hardened German SS men were appallled at this callous brutality. That Germany used the legatees of this tradition in Croatia to kick off the re-Balkanisation of Yugoslavia after Tito’s demise and so begin the horror story that followed is no mere accident.

    Perhaps rather than rush to attack or defend old issues and each other we might use incidents like Limerick to observe, understand and learn from.