Cautioning against comfortable old myths

In the Irish Times Paul Gillespie picks up a speech by Barry Raftery[subs req], professor of Celtic archaeology at University College Dublin, at a recent conference in Cork organised by the British-Irish Encounter organisation on “European Culture: A Vision for the Future” and goes on to explain why, despite the professor’s chair at UCD, there is no Celtic section in the National Museum of Ireland.From the Irish Times article

According to Barry Cunliffe’s excellent survey, The Celts, A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2003), despite the extreme paucity of evidence from the pre-Roman period “most philologists agree that early versions of Celtic were being spoken over much of western Europe by the sixth century BC from Iberia to Ireland to the Italian lakes”.

But Cunliffe cautions against “two comfortable old myths”. The first is that that there was a “coming of the Celts” – either to Britain or Ireland. The assumption that culture must arise from invasions comes from mindsets laid down during the 18th and 19th centuries, when imperial and colonial experience, together with the dominance of classical studies within the educational system, saw invasion and colonisation as the sole begetters of change. “Invasionism” has since given way to a diffusionism based on economic, migratory and cultural communication as the best way to explain these commonalities. The second myth is that there was a pan-Celtic Europe counterposed to the dominant Mediterranean Greek and Roman cultures at the time. That there might have been such a commonly recognised civilisation arises from the way in which the classicals’ use of the word Celts to describe peripheral barbarians was taken up by philologists studying European languages, also in the 18th and 19th centuries. They classified them into a single family tree of Indo-European languages.

The Celtic languages were finally included in this schema in the 1830s and 1840s, coinciding with the development of nationalist ideologies here and elsewhere in Europe. The habit of inferring racial characteristics from language use comes from then and was freely drawn on by Irish nationalism and its antagonists over the next hundred years. While Matthew Arnold counterposed Celtic creativity and imagination to its lack of capacity for self-government in an uncompromising unionism, nationalists from Devoy to Pearse made Celt and Gael synonymous, creating a binary counterposed to the Anglo-Saxon Gall or foreigner in their demands for independence.

As Vincent Comerford writes in his illuminating study of how Ireland was invented (Arnold 2003), “the same tendentious and frequently self-contradictory ‘essentialising’ process was being applied or had been applied to other nationalities, so that by the early 20th century, Europe was awash with rhetoric implying that each nationality had its own distinctive ‘nature’, a condition generally conveyed by the term ‘race’.”

We have remained peculiarly prone to such easy categorisations in Ireland during the era of the Celtic Tiger. In an earlier generation there was a tendency for circular argument between philology and archaeology, driven by nationalist assumptions.

Archaeology’s task was to find the material evidence to confirm national philological theory. Perhaps this is why Prof Raftery’s UCD chair was so called – and why the absence of archaeological evidence for the notion of a Celtic invasion can pose an existential problem.

Comerford points out that “nowhere is nation-invention more in evidence than in the matter of origins”. It can be a political minefield. Furious accusations of post-colonial anglocentricity greeted the publication in 1999 of Simon James’s The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention (Firebird). It argued that they are a recent and bogus invention, since no one in Britain or Ireland called themselves Celtic before 1700 and the notion that they were so arose from the early 18th century scholar Edward Lhuyd’s coining of the word from his comparative study of Irish, Welsh, Cornish and Breton.

James says it is folly to see such new perspectives as an English imperialist attempt to divide and rule a devolving Britain. Rather is it a “post-colonial emphasis on multiculturalism and the celebration of difference between cultures”.

Thus all archaeology is contemporary archaeology. There is no Celtic section in the National Museum, where the period is classified as Iron Age, followed by Early Christian. An archaeologist there told me this reflects the problematically vague nature of the Celtic. The word is not used to describe the marvellous exhibition of bog bodies there, nor is it apt for the psalmary manuscript find announced this week. And yet there is a flourishing bookstall devoted to the Celts in the museum’s foyer and the radio advertising for the exhibition freely uses the C word.

It’s interesting to note that here on Slugger we’ve had more than one recent discussion that could also be said to be “awash with rhetoric implying that each nationality had its own distinctive ‘nature’, a condition generally conveyed by the term ‘race’.”

In embracing a more nuanced understanding of history, the article does point to a positive outcome from that understanding..

That there was no invasion reveals there was a rich indigenous culture open to external influence and internal innovation.

As, of course, there would have been throughout Europe at that time.

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  • Garibaldy

    Pete,

    I’d say this applies particularly to the debate we had on 1606 as the birth of the Ulster-Scots as well.

    I’m astounded at the growth of this racialism in the language of posters on slugger, and bloggers as well. The notion that Catholics are distinctly Irish and Protestants distinctly British is used with increasing frequency. Even people who claim to stand in the tradition of Wolfe Tone, and who thus should regard all the people of Ireland as Irish, are prevalent in doing it. Including one of the supposedly dominant supposedly left-wing bloggers here.

    It reveals the truly sectarian mentalities of many on both sides here, despite their adoption of language that seeks to portray them as progressive and open-minded. It’s both sickening and depressing.

  • lib2016

    On the other hand there have been many posters, both unionist and nationalist who have spoken out against racism.

    One of the good things about the internet, for me at least, is learning that I can disagree profoundly with someone about the big moral questions and still respect him.

    On other boards I’ve know an American with a wildly anti-Mexican twist to his ideas, and a lifetime of what I regard as excellent political activism behind him and on this board I’ve seen both nationalists and unionists with similar blindspots.

    In fact there’s only me and you who are really sound on every question, and I’m a bit worried about you. 😉

  • Garibaldy

    lib2016,

    Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you.

  • James says it is folly to see such new perspectives as an English imperialist attempt to divide and rule a devolving Britain. Rather is it a “post-colonial emphasis on multiculturalism and the celebration of difference between cultures”.

    Its arguable that the form of multiculturalism promoted by the British Government is precisely an exercise in imperialist divide and rule.

    It makes just as much or as little sense to say that the Irish and Scots are both Celtic peoples as it does to say that the English and Dutch are both Germanic peoples. At a minimum, the linguistic connection paralleled a religious one. If people spoke versions of a common language and worshipped versions of a common god, that surely is enough in common to merit the name, Celtic peoples.

    The idea of a Celtic invasion may sound simplistic, but at some point a Celtic branch of the Indo-European languages, which spread across Europe in only the last few thousand years, came to be spoken by people who had been in Ireland since the last ice age.

    If its true that the Scottish Picts were a pre-Indo-European people (not certain), then the Gaelic expansion into Scotland could be seen as the last phase of this process. Whether you call that a Celtic invasion or migration is perhaps partly a semantic question.

    Some archeologists don’t seem to be entirely convinced there was an Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, in spite of the linguistic, historical and now genetic evidence.

    Archeology is a very faddish science. I wonder if they haven’t thrown out the baby with the nineteenth century bathwater.

  • Pete Baker

    Garibaldy

    Let’s just say there was no shortage of discussions I could have linked to in order to illustrate the point.. and, I agree, it is depressing.

    Tom

    Not sure if you have access to the full article or not.. I was trying not to snaffle the whole thing.

    But the opening paragraphs set the scene for the rest of the points being made.

    Specifically, Gillepsie points out that…

    Over the period from about 450 BC to AD 450 when it is commonly agreed by scholars that there were Celtic societies and civilisations in western and central Europe, hardly any material evidence has been found here to substantiate the notion of Celtic Ireland.

    There is no Celtic pottery – or pottery of any kind until well into the Christian period. Only 40-50 such swords or other military instruments are extant, six decorated brooches, eight scabbards – compared to the hundreds of thousands excavated in western France alone, for example.

    More importantly..

    The patterns of burials, settlements and material culture show fundamental continuity with the earlier prehistoric periods which brought the original settlers here 9-11,000 years ago after the last Ice Age. The fascinating new science of historical genetics finds no evidence of a specifically Celtic migration.[added emphasis]

    And yet..

    And yet by AD 500 certainly and probably much earlier, the Gaelic language was spoken all over the island. It is undoubtedly a Celtic language, and probably a distinctively archaic one. Raftery asked if there is no evidence of invasion, how did the language spread here? Through a small upper crust? Or the kidnap of women over many years? He recalled the remark of one scholar, that “early Celtic art has no genesis”, to illustrate the intellectual difficulties involved. Can there be a culture without a people?

  • Ciaran Irvine

    It’s a constant source of amusement to me that everyone I know already knows that there was no “Celtic Invasion” but rather a cultural assimilation, probably through our extensive trade routes back then. The general populace known this for a decade or two at least. Recent genetic studies etc. have merely confirmed what Irish archaeologists have been saying since the 1950s. So the “comfortable old myth” was abandoned by nationalists many years ago.

    The only people still clinging to it are the British and the Unionists, presumably because a) they invented the stupid story in the first place and b) it provides a handy deflector to any nationalist jibes about being invaders – “Youse are all invaders too, so there!”

  • CI

    html fix

  • Mick Fealty

    “…everyone I know already…”

    You really want to get and met people beyond the software community a bit more Ciaran! 😉

  • Pete Baker

    Ciaran

    One of the reasons I had in mind when posting this was that just such an argument, in re invasion, has appeared at times in discussions here. Some of the other reasons have been highlighted by Garibaldy earlier in-thread.

    But the article appears to be saying more than just the point that such an argument is false. Indeed, the assimilation you mention takes on a different meaning when faced with the lack of genetic evidence of a distinctive migration.

    Rather than an assimilation of people it looks more like an assimilation of culture.. more likely, although admittedly this is speculation, it looks more like a parallel, and linked, evolution of language – due to close trade links no doubt – and the absence of similar evidence of ‘Celtic’ societies in the rest of Europe prior to the Christianisation of Ireland points to a conclusion that the assimilation of the culture followed the trade.

    None of which gets away from the point that the idea of a Celtic people is itself a confection from the 18th and 19th Century.. and is entwined in the politics of the time.

  • admittedly this is speculation, it looks more like a parallel, and linked, evolution of language

    I have always had trouble with the assimilation theory vis a vis the language.

    Yes, you can use a rowboat to transfer agricultural and weapons technology from island to island but how do you do this with language?

    Did a foreigner row into Drogheda one day and amaze the locals with his mellifluous language, leading the entranced locals to adopt it throughout the land? We have introduced foreign words in to American English like shack, smithereens and cockamamie through immigration; we have introduced words and phrases like skosh , honcho and strafe through wars won and lost; but we have never reinvented the language.

    Spontaneous evolution is a straw to grasp but evolution is depends upon the forces acting on the system in question. Having identical sequences of social actions active in different places at the same time over a period sufficient to generate a language just runs counter to my life experience. I always first see coincidences as part of a con.

    However, gents, my expertise is in things scientific, not linguistics.

    Party on.

  • aquifer

    “Yes, you can use a rowboat to transfer agricultural and weapons technology from island to island but how do you do this with language?”

    The sea and rivers would have been the motorways of prehistoric trade, compared with slow and dangerous overland routes. It is not hard to imagine a language of trade becoming generally used, first in the trading community, and then via trade along coasts and rivers into the agricultural population. Look at India and Pakistan, where English is still used as a ‘bridge language’.

    The celtic tiger should be more properly termed the atlantic tiger, as the free market ideas which power it came from America and Britain. Another example of cultural assimilation, not invasion by another race.

    I saw a beautiful example of celtic interlaced decoration in a museum. Exept the item was viking.

  • Pete Baker

    Well Jim, I did say it was speculation.

    But the questions about the language were raised by the Professor of Celtic Archeology, given the absence of that Celtic archeology.

    Over the period from about 450 BC to AD 450 when it is commonly agreed by scholars that there were Celtic societies and civilisations in western and central Europe, hardly any material evidence has been found here to substantiate the notion of Celtic Ireland.

    combined with the evidence that is there of a fundamental continuity in the culture

    The patterns of burials, settlements and material culture show fundamental continuity with the earlier prehistoric periods which brought the original settlers here 9-11,000 years ago after the last Ice Age. The fascinating new science of historical genetics finds no evidence of a specifically Celtic migration.

    And yet by AD 500 certainly and probably much earlier, the Gaelic language was spoken all over the island.

    aquifer’s suggestion may have some merits.

  • Shuggie McSporran

    Pete

    You also have to be careful with the “lack of genetic evidence of a distinctive migration”.

    The problem is not enough data has been extracted so far that could make a conclusion on Celtic migration possible. A broad picture of migration to the British Isles after the Ice Age has been formulated. But a detailed picture of Irish haplotypes and their relationship to the rest of Europe and the world is many years away. Small scale genetic projects have been carried out in the British isles and have sometimes resulted in contradictory interpretations.

    Currently genetic historical research still absolutely requires linguistic and archeological information (and historical sources if possible) to make any interpretation of the genetic data extracted so far possible.

    Linguistic evidence for the British Isles will continue to contradict this theory until genetic research results are more comprehensive. So, what the geneticists/linguists are calling the “elite dominance-driven language replacement” theory remains as likely a culprit as anything.

    Doubly so as the same thing happened in the relatively recent historical period in Ireland with the Celtic language being replaced by the Germanic language of an elite minority. Think about it. At this moment in time there is no genetic evidence that the plantation of Ulster ever happened but here we are celebrating the 400 anniversary.

    Here’s another extract from the article I particularly didn’t like, in fact it’s pure nonsense.

    “That there was no invasion reveals there was a rich indigenous culture open to external influence and internal innovation.”

    That there was no invasion doesn’t reveal anything.

    It is entirely possible for such a society to exist whether it gets invaded or not. The fact that it does or doesn’t get invaded reveals nothing about it’s nature.

    As smilin’ Jim points out, the claim being made here is that the people of a relatively isolated island to which no one immigtrated or invaded for 10,000 years suddenly decided en masse to begin speaking a foreign language on the basis that they loved those foreigners they occasionally traded with!!!

    The further implication is that those foreigners were the Irish – where did they live? Where was the longstanding and influential Irish trading empire based? Was it in the British Isles, was it in Europe? What’s the evidence for that one?

    This theory sounds even more ridiculous when you consider the profound influence of the Roman empire on the culture of Ireland. The Romans never invaded, and the Irish were extremely open to their influence and adopted the Roman religion along with latin as the language of that religion but still didn’t switch to Latin as the vernacular.

    There is a lot of other stuff in this article that I’d like to debunk but I don’t have the time at the moment. I will say that many archeologists and historians like to invent existentialist “problems” such as the one in this article if only to keep themselves in a job, sell books, or get themselves talked about on slugger.

  • Shuggie McSporran

    Aquifer

    “.. as the free market ideas which power it came from America and Britain. Another example of cultural assimilation, not invasion by another race.”

    I think, if you pick up a history book, you’ll find that Britain did in fact invade both Ireland and America, which will explain the cultural and linguistic similarites between the three.

  • lib2016

    “you’ll find that Britain did in fact invade both Ireland and America”

    Just a matter of time until the revisionists explain that they were in fact ‘liberated while the locals danced in the street to welcome the troops’.

  • Pete Baker

    Shuggie

    A few quick points.

    “As smilin’ Jim points out, the claim being made here is that the people of a relatively isolated island to which no one immigtrated or invaded for 10,000 years suddenly decided en masse to begin speaking a foreign language on the basis that they loved those foreigners they occasionally traded with!!!”

    Well that claim was merely speculation in-thread and not part of the original article where the questions were raised by the Professor of Celtic Archeology

    And yet by AD 500 certainly and probably much earlier, the Gaelic language was spoken all over the island. It is undoubtedly a Celtic language, and probably a distinctively archaic one. Raftery asked if there is no evidence of invasion, how did the language spread here? Through a small upper crust? Or the kidnap of women over many years?

    While I’d agree that much more research on the historical genetics is needed, it’s important to note why the language issue was raised.

    As you say, the interpretation of current genetic evidence depends on the archeological evidence.. the point in the article being that there’s a lack of such material evidence for a Celtic Ireland.

    The other point to highlight again is the 18th/19th century origin of the Celtic identity and its appropriation by political interests.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    The extent of ancient Irish trade routes is often played down for some reason, but IIRC there is plenty of archaelogical evidence for a massive pan-European sea-based trade network, stretching all the way from Russia, via Scandinavia, via Britain and Ireland, down to France and Spain and hence into the Mediterranean routes. Ireland, funnily enough, has been a globalised trading hub for 2,500 years. The Celtic Tiger and our membership at the heart of the EU can be seen as merely returning to our roots, doing much the same as we did in the 1st millenium AD.

    As to the rise of the Gaelic language and culture, well that too is quite clear in the ancient annals. The Gaelic culture arrived somewhere around 100AD, apparently from Spain, and they were master propagandists. Starting from a few centres of power (whether there was a small initial invasion or not is unclear) they gradually spread their influence over the island, assimilating tribes one by one and providing the conquered with a made-up descent from the Sons of Mil and hence a Gaelic pegigree. This process took a long, long time and wasn’t complete until the final fall of the Ulaidh tribes to the Gaelic order after the battle of Craeb Tulcha in 1004AD. Far from being a unique Ulster occurance, the annals from Munster, Leinster and Connaught speak of similar dynastic/cultural struggles across the island as the Gaelic culture gradually replaced the old civilisation.

    The rise to power of Brian Boruma was probably simply an idea whose time had come as only at that stage was Gaelic hegemony over the whole island complete and the idea of a strong centralised High Kingship, as opposed to the largely ceremonial position it had been up till then, became feasible.

    As I said earlier, all this is pretty well-known stuff. Certainly nobody with any interest in Irish history would give any credence to the Victorian “invasion myth”, nor have I heard anybody at all ever speak of the myth as if they believed it was true since I was a child. It definitely is no longer believed in the Republic, by anyone. Yet some (largely non-nationalist) people insist on pretending that this is what the central nationalist myth is.

  • DavidD

    A fascinating topic and one where, lacking historical records, we must rely on archaeology, linguistics and the modern study of DNA to help us. Despite the fact that genetic studies are still at an early stage it has been reasonably well established that there is a degree of genetic continuity in Ireland between the first post Ice Age settlers (circa 9500 BC) and the modern population. This is especially pronounced in the west of Ireland. It is also fairly certain that a Celtic language was introduced into Ireland around or slightly later than 500BC. It is of course possible, likely even, that an earlier language or earlier languages survived for many centuries after 500BC. The problem is to reconcile the acceptance by a numerically superior population of the language of another group.

    Working by analogies from the early historic period (say from about 100BC) there are two possibilities: either the local population was overpowered militarily by a stronger and more advanced civilisation which imposed its language (as was the case in the latinisation of Gaul, Iberia, Italy, Dacia etc.) or there was a settlement by a significant number of intruders (as was the case in the germanisation of England, Flanders and the Rhineland). This does not mean that the earlier population was totally replaced but the number of settlers must have been substantial and widespread enough to force a situation where their culture (and language) carried a higher status than the indigenous language. Whatever happened in Ireland it is difficult to conceive of a linguistic change that did not entail either conquest alone or a combination of conquest and settlement. Simple absorption of an alien language by trading contacts seems unlikely.

  • Possibly the process was similar to the one described by the new UCL study on Anglo-Saxon England.

    “Genetic scientists say the English gene pool is between 50 and 100% Anglo Saxon, whereas archaeologists have previously thought it is substantially smaller, between five and 10 per cent.

    “We have come up with a computer simulation that shows it is perfectly plausible that marriage between Brits and Anglo Saxons was limited.

    “And research has shown the wealthier Anglo Saxons would have had better reproductive success than the less fortunate native population.

    Dr Thomas added: “It is a more benign way of wiping out an indigenous population, rather than through the clashing of swords or genocide this is something that happened over the course of hundreds of years.

    Perhaps the so-called Niall of the Nine Hostages gene is evidence for a similar process in Ireland.

    The fact that about one in five males sampled in northwestern Ireland is likely a patrilineal descendent of a single early medieval ancestor is a powerful illustration of the potential link between prolificacy and power and of how Y-chromosome phylogeography can be influenced by social selection

  • harpo

    ‘One of the good things about the internet, for me at least, is learning that I can disagree profoundly with someone about the big moral questions and still respect him.’

    lib:

    One of the good things about the internet, for me at least, is learning that I can disagree profoundly with someone about the big moral questions, and he can’t get his hands on me.

  • aquifer

    “it is difficult to conceive of a linguistic change that did not entail either conquest alone or a combination of conquest and settlement”

    Hollywood triumphing over French cinema?

    Economic factors can easily impinge. Successful agricultural, legal, or educational innovations (e.g. writing) introduced first within one widespread language group could give them an advantage over dispersed groups using older languages. In Ireland there was a change from herding to arable farming, and access to better tools, weapons, or even legal services can give advantage or status to the population that acquires them first. The largest or more widespread language group has an advantage in terms of risk management in that they can adopt or reject innovations on the basis of a trial in one area, and then spread any benefit of success quickly to all their language group. A succession of useful social innovations would disadvantage smaller language groups in favour of the largest or more widespread/ trade based.

    In the period the Roman empire provided a fund of organisational and technical models for any group that could communicate them.

  • abucs

    Hi Pete,

    I have never subscribed to the Celtic invasion of Ireland theory.

    But it is very interesting how a language can spread so quickly within a short period of time.

    English in Ireland is almost universal without there being a physical English presence in much of the country.
    Perhaps it is similar in Scotland and Wales.

    America is so diverse yet very much English speaking.

    South America contains in many countries a clear majority of native Indians yet Spanish / Portuguese is the ‘lingua franca’

    Which brings me to French in africa.

    Even the modern English language is the product of the Norman French invasion of England in relatively small numbers. It supplanted the more widely spoken forms of ‘Englisc’ that were present at the time as the Norman rule started to dominate the whole island.

    In the Phillipines when the Spanish were erecting their Catholic churches Spanish became widespread among the Islands.

    Since the Philipino liberation by the Americans in the second world war from the Japanses English has supplanted the Spanish almost completely.

    I think the answer of how a foreign language can spread so quickly without mass invasion can be explained in two ways.

    One, it can be the language of education. Example with the Catholic churches insistance on Greek and Latin in the middle ages. Much of the scientific research and discussion in this time was held in these ‘foreign’ languages even when much of northern Europe became Protestant. The English education in Ireland we know about and of course there are the universities in many middle eastern countries whose delivered language is English.

    Two, it can be when there are different languages or dialects among groups of people who need a common way to communicate because of politics or trade.

    So the different Philipino tribes can choose tagalog and English. The Indian subgroups who speak Hindi / Urdu etc can choose English.
    The diverse returning Jews can choose Hebrew.

    It would be great to try and piece together the ‘native’ Irish language before gaelic took over.

  • lib2016

    harpo,

    Don’t worry – everybody on the net just loves a messer. It’s becoming very clear that the reason why unionists no longer make a serious defence of their position is because the unionist position is indefensible.

    Every Kluxer and BNP clone knows the old trick of denouncing the anti-racists as anti-white, anti-Christian etc. etc. and hence racist themselves. It’s a juvenile argument which no-one is meant to take seriously.

    For unionists to be reduced to these Eugene Terreblanche type tricks shows how far along in the process we are.

    The last twelve months have been a catalogue of disasters for the DUP, most especially when the loyalists showed how firmly they intended to stay out of any confrontation with the British government.

    Unionism has always depended on the power of the bully boys. It must be very frightening to see how quickly and completely that power is disappearing.

    In a very few years our children will be laughing together over this.

  • harpo

    ‘It’s becoming very clear that the reason why unionists no longer make a serious defence of their position is because the unionist position is indefensible.’

    lib:

    People like you keep on saying this, but exactly what is so indefensible about it?

    This is one of many nationalist cliches that is meaningless. Unionism means the desire for NI to remain part of the UK. Exactly what about that can’t be defended? A majority of people in NI want this, so that’s that. It’s even in the GFA. The GFA recognizes that a majority in NI want to remain in the UK.

    Unionism is that simple. Get over it.

    ‘Every Kluxer and BNP clone knows the old trick of denouncing the anti-racists as anti-white, anti-Christian etc. etc. and hence racist themselves.’

    Yes, so is that why you nationalists spend so much time denouncing unionists as being sectarian? Because you nationalists are actually the sectarian ones? You denounce unionism as being anti-democratic for example only because you know that unionists are democratic.

    Remember in all of this that Irish nationalists are the nationalists, just like the KKKers, and the BNP lot. Don’t you know that the N in BNP stands for.

    This is typical of nationalist behaviour.

    You claim the GAA is non-sectarian, when in fact it is sectarian. As a result of this you claim that anyone who points out the sectarian nature of the GAA is in fact sectarian themselves. As you say, it’s the oldest smear tactic going. So why do you do it?

    The GAA is no different to the KKK or the BNP. It is the product of ugly nationalism. So just as the KK doesn’t want balxcks around, the GAA doesn’t want unionists around, and makes tht very obvious via its rules and they way that it acts. In this case by commemorating people who engaged in terrorism against unionists. Yet when victims of these IR thugs complain, they are called sectarian. In line with your smear tactic so beloved of nationalists worldwide.

    KKK GAA – I like it. Thanks for the idea.

  • lib2016

    It seems to me that unionism has moved on from the old Ulster British identity it tried to assume under the UUP. Surely the rise of the DUP means an acceptance of a Ulster Prod identity and a realisation that unionists have as little in common with a modern multicultural Britain as they have with the Irish South which is rapidly going the same way?

    Unionism missed the boat several times and an Irish unionist will soon be as rare a sight as a Scottish Tory.
    O’Neill couldn’t deliver, Faulkner couldn’t deliver, Trimble either wouldn’t or couldn’t deliver.

    When the DUP has to deliver, and they will have to deliver, they will split their support base and that will be the end.

    For unionists what is the point of Northern Ireland with McGuinness as First Minister?

  • “The sea and rivers would have been the motorways of prehistoric trade, compared with slow and dangerous overland routes.<

    I considered and rejected that premise because of the Vikings and Don Corleone.

    The Vikings had an intense presence in Ireland, running the slave trade and forming the first towns. Yet the Irish do not speak Norse, although there was some guy in Enniskillen that might as well have been a Norse speaker.

    I also considered my own Galloglass family name. We were, uh, “exposed” to wave after wave of Vikings, so much that we were of their blood and adopted their weapons and fighting style.

    Yet when we pillaged the Irish coast, we were the Gall Gaedhil”.

    Then I wondered why Don Corleone didn’t speak Phoenician.

    I am of the mind that there is room for a skosh of skepticism here.