Grim days back in 1909.

The Newsletter is reporting on remarks made by Mary McAleese last night that young Irish men joined the British army to escape poverty rather than any sense of patriotism.

She referred to the “grim days back in 1909” when SIPTU’s forerunner, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, had been founded by Jim Larkin.

She said that the world he had lived in back then was one where “the struggle was against starvation, disease and exploitation, where the lack of education of the masses was matched only by the ignorance of the economic and political elites”.

President McAleese continued: “Here was what Thomas Kettle would memorably describe, less than a decade later, as ‘the secret scripture of the poor’ that would drive tens of thousands of young Irish men into the British Army to sacrifice their lives so that their families could eat.”

Kettle was a nationalist Home Rule politician and journalist, barrister, writer, poet and economist who died at the Somme.

Jeffrey Donaldson says she isn’t accurate and Ken Magenness describes her remarks as a ,

“second faux pas” – her first, he said, being her comments four years ago that Protestant children were taught to hate Catholics in the same way Nazis despised Jews.

So is she accurate or is this a second faux pas as Ken Magennis suggests?

  • bob wilson

    As always the truth lies somewhere in between undoubtedly some Irishmen did sign up to avoid poverty, etc but without getting into an argument about proportions VAST numbers signed up because they did not see the Irish and British identities as mutually incompatible and because, unlike some Irish nationalists, they did not regard England’s difficulty as Ireland’s opportunity but rather they believed England’s enemy was Ireland’s enemy.
    Does Mrs McAleese recognise this in her remarks? If so this is a storm in a tea cup. If not then it is a faux pas that reveals a mindset determined to promote nationalist revisionism or at very least salving nationalist consciences.

  • GGN

    Without resurectting the dead and asking them what their motivations were one can never be sure.

  • … is she accurate …

    As with any other generalisaton, she is both accurate and inaccurate, of course.

    Very few poor Irish people joined out of ‘patriotism’ (how could they, it wasn’t even their patria?), but many joined for adventure and a chance to see more of the world. Listen to Irish ballads of the period – they are full of ‘soldierly’ sentiment, but there isn’t a word in any I know that suggests a motivation other than the King’s Shilling or adventure.

    However, ‘Irish people’ include the pro-Empire types, who were probably not so poor, and no doubt a lot of them joined out of some idea of duty or service. This may be another one of those unfortunate cases where people inadventently demonstrate a restrictive interpretation of what they consider to be ‘Irish’. But since Mary McAleese was talking only about the poor I think on balance that she was right.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Horseman

    “..many joined for adventure..”

    Yes, I think this motivation is often overlooked and helps to explain why comparitively few Irishmen, unionist or otherwise, volunteered for WWII – the lesson was learned.

  • Dublin Exile

    In fairness, Ulster McNulty, its estimated that 50,000 men from the south voulnteered for the British forces during WWII – even though they could also have joined the Defence Forces in the south.

    Mary McAleese has done a lot of work around WW1 supporting those projects who are using this shared element of our history to build bridges and develop relationships today. In fairness to her I think her knowledge of that period is far better than most politicians on both sides of the border and her acknowledgement that the poverty which led to the foundation of the Labour movement and the ITGWU was the same poverty that drove a certain number of people into the dangerous employment of the army is being seized upon to make mischief.

    Speaking in Messine 2 years ago Ken Maginnis himself acknowledged that there were different motivations for men joining the army – why he has jumped on this bandwagon now I dont know.

  • Turgon

    Yet again we have the spectacle of McAleese indulging in some “unionist engagement.” Again this was in the context of speaking about something else. When she talks to unionists she can be relatively rerasonable; just like anyone can pretend reasonableness when neccessary.

    However, when she speaks to others, whether they be people in Poland or trade unionists in the RoI she very rapidly lapses into her usual mantra that Brits and Prods are bad and brought nothing but ill on the Irish people.

    It is not necessarily wrong to hold her views: what is utterly dishonest is for her to then say she is trying to hold out the hand of friendship to unionists.

    She is a narrow sectarian tribal politician who is president of the RoI. That is fine but she pretends to be interested in being nice to, understanding and respecting unionists. Again, however, her true views shine through. One is left feeling that she is as honest in reaching out to unionists as Martina Anderson and SF were with “unionist engagement.”

  • FergusD

    Horseman :“..many joined for adventure..”

    McNulty: “Yes, I think this motivation is often overlooked and helps to explain why comparitively few Irishmen, unionist or otherwise, volunteered for WWII – the lesson was learned.”

    Well both my parents (from the RoI, or the Free State as it was then) joined the RAF, dad before WWII, mum during it. Were they unionists? Not a bit of it, both were proud to be Irish and proud of Irish independence, they never expressed any opinion to the contrary. Were they poor? Well yes. Dad had lost his father when young and his Mum was a seamstress, my mum was a bit better off. Was poverty the reason they joined? Maybe, partly, but largely it was for some change, adventure if you will, escape from what they saw as a restricted future. We knew quite a few (southern) Irish in the RAF and I can’t remember any of them who seemed to be unionists, they all joined the RAF for the same reasons my parents had. Dad learned a trade, which served him well after he left the RAF. I suspect these motivations held true for a great many British recruits to the services as well. Again, the ones we knew in the RAF seemed to come mostly from the North of England, Scotland, Wales where they may not have been in dire poverty, but options were limited.

    WW1 may have been different, Ireland being part of the UK, and maybe some then did identitfy with the British Empire – so what? That changed. Also, maybe Redmond’s appeal to the Irish Volunteers to fight for the Empire accounted for some who joined up.

  • jerryp

    I have ancestors who were in the British Army going back as far as the 1880’s ( I also have some who were involved in the IRA pre. 1921 ).
    Family folklore has it that poverty was the only reason they joined up. Just after 1916, one came home from WW1 and created quite a commotion by hanging an Irish flag ( I don’t think it was the tricolour, maybe Cross of St. Patrick )from a window in his house, causing the house to be raided by the police.

  • FergusD,

    We knew quite a few (southern) Irish in the RAF and I can’t remember any of them who seemed to be unionists, …

    I also have southern relatives who jouned the RAF in WW2; one specifically from Cork who was a tail gunner on a bomber (the most deadly job of all). He was a Prod (like all my family) and joined largely out of a sense of ’empire duty’. Only very late in his life did he come to see himself first and foremost as an Irishman (admittedly he always saw himself as a Cork man) – he spent much of his life seeing himself as a ‘British Irishman’ left high and dry after independence, if that makes any sense to you.

    He went back to Dublin afer the war and lived quietly for another 50 years, with only a picture of a Lancaster on his sitting room wall to indicate that part of his life. He never really spoke of it.

  • Rory Carr

    Turgon wrongly accuses McAleese of indulging in sectarian selectivity here when in fact his pointing finger should be directed back towards himself. McAleese did not argue that it was only poor Catholic Irish who took the King’s Shilling to stave off destitution for their families, unless of course he assumes that only ever Catholics were poor and Protestants never felt such need, which would come as a great surprise I’m sure to many of his co-religionists. Unless of course Turgon is arguing that Protestant Irish were, pace Arthur Wellesley, not really Irish

    I can easily accept McAleese’s argument as my own grandfather, who died at Mons on 26 August 1914 and his brother who lost an eye in the same battle, both joined up solely for the sake of providing for their families. Patriotism, in both their cases and, I suspect in many, many, others, like charity, began (and ended) at home – the family home.

    Those I fight I do not hate,
    Those I guard I do not love;
    My country is Kiltartan Cross,
    My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.

    WB Yeats An Irish Airman Forsees His Death (1914)

  • Might be instructive to ask the many southerners currently entering HM service.

    In any case, there might be some historical merit in trying to trace the activities of recruiters of the era. Certainly the US, who in recent years have placed intolerable pressure on their NCO recruiters to make quotas and skirt qualification and conviction bars, has been heavily dependent on economic factors to replace those who manage to avoid stoploss.

  • William

    Mary McAleese has always been one who suffered from ‘foot in mouth’ disease before cattle took the major disease of ‘foot and mouth’……this Lady sometimes lets her tongue rule her head.

    As one who knew her at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queens, when she had greasy blackish / brownish hair tied in a bun and big round specs, her aptitude for speaking before putting her brain in gear was legendary.

    In my possession is a letter she once sent me after I criticised her for claiming that ‘orange bands marked past her home in Derryvolgie Avenue playing the Queen’ and I queried how the marked to the beat of the ‘Queen’…..still she insisted, which only goes to show that in essence she is sectarian and her recent past record of vocal nonsense about Protestants clearly shows it.

    Undoubtedly well-educated but lacking in a lot of common sense, is Mary the Big Mouth.

  • William

    TYPO: ‘how the marked’ should read ‘how they marched’

    SORRY

  • Harry Flashman

    She’s wrong, there were many Irishmen who joined out of poverty just like their English, Scottish and Welsh comrades but to say that was the only reason they joined is pure and simple nonsense, there has always been a long tradition of Irishmen who fought for Britain, as well as the US, Canada, Australia, France, Spain etc. even at times when they could just as easily have taken jobs in factories and farms in those countries if they had so desired.

    The fact remains that Irishmen are quite fond of fighting, they actually make superb soldiers. Sullen economic migrants desperate for a bit of work don’t actually make good armies and if all the Irishmen were joining up for was to earn a few bob then their morale wouldn’t have lasted past the first shot being fired.

    I grant you that they didn’t sign up out of any loyalty to the various Kings George but nor did they have any particular hang up about Republicanism either. They were professional soldiers who signed up for the job and got on with it, neither slaves nor quislings, just soldiers.

    Think of “Paddy” Finucane, one of the highest scoring aces of the entire Second World War, a Dub to his finger tips who had a shamrock emblazoned on his Spitfire. He fought the Luftwaffe with gusto, was he a snivelling turncoat? No. Was he forced by economic circumstances? No. He thoroughly enjoyed doing what he did and being paid for it was a bonus. Famously after a particularly gruelling sortie, he was in the bar, he raised his glass in a toast; “To DeValera, he kept us out of the war!”. Finucane’s father actually fought under Dev’s command at Boland’s Mill in Easter ’16.

    Leave the stereotyped starving Irishman behind, accept that there is a streak of sheer goddammed love of fighting among Irishmen, it’ll be easier that way.

  • My mum told me her grandfather from Cork joined the British army in WW1 and fought in it. She asked him was it for King and Country and he said it was more like putting bread on the table for the wife and kids. Also when the Black and Tans were doing house searches, he felt compelled to wave the Union Jack from the window and the soldiers told their officer that the house was OK and he was one of us.
    On my father’s side, my grandfather’s brother died after being in Burma in WW2, he contracted some disease and died afterwards. My father’s father also served in Aldergrove RAF barracks in post WW2 mid to late 40s, as a driver. Again, all Cork men. I would have a assumed it was for the money, the job and the pension.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It is impossible, I suppose, for anyone to be able to read the minds of those soldiers. But what exactly does history recall? A variety of motives, is McAleese’s suggestion in her previous efforts to recognise Irish men who fought in the British Army. At the Somme Heritage Centre in September 2007, she also recalled Kettle:

    Tom Kettle fought, in the words of his widow Mary, for “Ireland, Christianity, Europe …. (and) a reconciled Ulster”. [Emmet] Dalton fought out of patriotism also but partly as his innocent words reveal, for “the glamour of going to war. I mean at eighteen years of age what do you know?”

    And more recently, in a reconciliatory gesture at Brakey Orange Hall, McAleese quoted Kettle:

    ‘Bound, from the toil of hate we may not cease
    Free, we are free to be your friend’.

    Unless you snub that offer of friendship, I guess.

  • Ri Na Deise

    Harry Flashman

    ‘The fact remains that Irishmen are quite fond of fighting’

    Whatever gave you that impression?

  • Congal Claen

    Irishmen fought for the British in the US war of Independence They also fought for the Continentals. They fought for the Union in the Civil War. They also fought for the Confederates. They fought for the Texans at the Alamo. They also fought for the Mexicans. They fought for Fascist Spain. They also fought for the Republicans.

    Why didn’t she focus on any of these wars to make the point?

    Having a monarch as head of state is such a blessing when faced with the alternative…

  • cut the bull

    I found this report on http://www.ie/~foxs/may-1921.htm

    The report fails to mention that the dead IRA Volunteer Seán McCartney had served in WWI as a British soldier. He ripped up his army pension book and joined the IRA after returning from the war. He is buried in Milltown cemetery in the old Republican plot

    May-08
    One of the two Belfast flying columns, which was operating in the Cootehill area of Cavan (the other operated in Belfast), is surrounded by British troops in the Lappinduff Mountains resulting in the death of one IRA man (S. McCarthy or Sean McCartney from Norfolk St., Belfast?) and the capture of most of the rest of the column (10 men). Their position had been given away by an informer. They had only arrived in Cavan two days earlier. They were led by Joe McGee who escaped along with maybe three others. The captured men were sentenced to death by a Court Martial but were saved by the Truce. The captured men were Thomas Fox, Joseph McGlinchey, James McKenna, Peter Callghan, John McDermott, Patrick Smith, Patrick Clarke, Patrick McGill, James Finn and Patrick Dougan.
    Hopkinson (2002), pg 147; O’Farrell (1997), pg 112; McDermott (2001), pgs 80-82

  • circles

    Heaven forbid – just wondering what kind f reaction we would get if somebody suggested anybody ever joined the RUC for money back in the day…. On their wages had I been cash strapped I’d have hought about it myself, and I’m from andytown!!
    Its hardly news, its hardly controversial and its hardly very interesting. Still its enough to get the righteous indignation squad out of bed and mumble “down with this kind of thing”.
    Turgon your hypocrisy was particularly amusing when you condemn her as a “narrow sectarian tribal politician” ….. ahhh, I mean, have you noticed that plank in the TUV eye at all? Still, thanks for the laugh so early in the year!

  • Chris Donnelly

    Hold the press! Somebody needs to tell Newt Emerson the ‘angry prods’ are back….

    What a sensitive bunch, in a tizzy over a factual comment which could equally be applied to soldiers in many armies- just look at the States today and you’ll see how many soldiers join to get either an education or some career path.

    The ‘sectarian tribalists’ are certainly coming out of the woodwork today to attack their favourite target: the uppity fenian woman from north Belfast!

    Go girl!

  • Paddy Matthews

    Classic MOPEry. But then yon uppity Ardoyne wan is always a convenient target for a certain type of Unionist politician.

    Obviously Jeffrey, Ken and the News Letter read Newton Emerson last week and realised that they were falling down on the job.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Chris,

    She’s supposed to be a head of state ffs. She should know better.

  • Rory Carr

    ‘The fact remains that Irishmen are quite fond of fighting’

    Flashman, you rotter, if you don’t withdraw that slander I’ll give you a good punch on the nose!

  • Ri Na Deise

    So some people believe that NONE of the poor souls who signed their lives away had any other motivation than love and duty for a foreign king? Makes sense in laa-laa land I suppose. Carry on lads. Id say the next worldwide slaughter of young men can’t come soon enough for ye to prove your worth again.

  • Paddy Matthews

    She’s supposed to be a head of state ffs. She should know better.

    Let’s see. She makes a comment at a trade union centenary about working conditions in early 20th century Ireland (try reading about the Dublin Lock-Out and the early years of the ITGWU) and comments about the fact that poverty was a factor in recruitment to the British Army. A factor, not the only factor – and Jeffrey Donaldson actually recognises that (“whilst there may have been some young men who joined the Army at the time because of poverty…”).

    Does she make any comment about Unionism or Protestantism, directly or implied? No. (The oppression faced by the Dublin poor largely came from the likes of non-Unionist non-Protestant William Martin Murphy.)

    But the usual rent-a-mouths launch into a contest to see who can be most insulted – currently the new model non-sectarian UUP/Conservative alliance’s Ken Maginnis. There must be an election on soon…

  • Ulster McNulty

    Cut the bull

    “The report fails to mention that the dead IRA Volunteer Seán McCartney had served in WWI as a British soldier.”

    Yes, and it would also be interesting if someone sometime documented the number of Northern Irish catholic “ex-servicemen” who got involved with the IRA in the late 60’s early 70’s. If you read accounts of the early years of the troubles, and also “Lost Lives”, its quite surprising that you come across ex Brtitish army republican activists – I’ve no idea how many but there were some. As Billy Hutchinson used to say – everybody has the right to change.

  • What about the corrolary? If people were not motivated by money, but were (in the crazed world of some unionist commentators) secret empire loyalists, then presumably those people who could have joined up to defend the empire, but chose not to, were disloyal?

    Ian Paisley, for instance.

  • William

    the uppity fenian woman from north Belfast!

    No Chris….she’s more an educated opportunisitic looney who re-invented herself, in order to stand for the Presidency….I recall her at Queen’s Institute of Professional Legal Studies as a greasy dark haired Head of the Institute, who kept her hair in a Pony Tail and wore heavy round dark rimmed specs….when she appeared in a powder blue suit on the day BBBBBertie introduced her as the ‘Soldiers of Destiny’ candidate for the Presidency, I failed to recognise her, such was the makeover.
    No, she needs to get a grip on herself…..suffers from ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome….and fails to engage the brain before putting the mouth in gear !!!

  • lorraine

    when the next worldwide (or regional) slaughter commences I think we should be allowed to vote on the issue, via e-voting: those who vote for war will be expected to pay for it via higher taxation, those who vote against it will not be penalised in any way.

    how loyal will the long-distance war-mongers be to queen and country then??

    same rule should apply to the free state, usa, and all democracies: i think this could be a formula for peace???

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Paddy,

    She could have made the point about Irishmen in any number of other wars. Considering some of her other f*ck ups I would’ve expected her to think before she made her point. But no, she stumbles on…

  • Paddy Matthews

    She could have made the point about Irishmen in any number of other wars.

    The ITGWU was founded in 1909. The Lock-Out occurred in 1913. Which war is closest in time to those two events?

    Considering some of her other f*ck ups I would’ve expected her to think before she made her point.

    Sorry, but if she or any other Irish politician were to say only things that could not be parsed by some Unionist politician in order to extract deadly insult, they could say nothing.

    This is simply MOPEry taken to a ridiculous extreme on the part of Unionist politicians competing for votes.

  • Maeve

    Just goes to show that women should not be President.

  • Ulster McNulty

    What about Home Rule? Didn’t the Irish Volunteers not join up en masse because they were promised Home Rule, while at the same time the UVF joined up en masse because they were promised Home Rule, not.

  • darth rumsfeld

    oh give us a break
    McAleese says something perfectly reasonable, though debatable, and we get a queue of outraged Unionists being offended. I’m certain sure many of the ranks of the Royal Munster Fusiliers and Connaught Rangers were pro-British, but I bet the vast majority weren’t. And it doesn’t matter. I’m not remotely offended- I appreciate the sacrifice of all Irishmen who joined up- perhaps some people should look at the composition of Wellington’s army at Waterloo too .
    I’m not a MOPEr, and I despise bandwagon jumpers like Ken and Jeffrey who ought to have more important things to do- like finding out where the recent semtex dump originated from….. it’s almost as if they need a distraction

  • Gilbert Jeannon

    Ulster McNulty is right in that many politically aware Irishmen joined because they thought by doing their bit in the war it would lead to Home Rule being given.
    Reading the letters from servicemen shows that many wanted to escape the boredom of Edwardian Ireland and also to meet girls.

  • ulsterfan

    Mary, like many Republicans denies her British heritage whether it relates to history, language, social developments and the great influence for good these have given her.
    She should of course be proud to be Irish but at the same time acknowledge her Britishness.
    No one in Ireland can say they do not inherit part of the British way of life.

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    What is “the british way of life”? and how does one acquire it?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “Reading the letters from servicemen shows that many wanted to escape the boredom of Edwardian Ireland and also to meet girls. ”

    A similar enticement is used for moslem suicide bombers and many of the poor Padz had about as much chance of survival in WW1.

    re. Nationalist Uncle Toms – it is clearly not ideal behaviour especially when the Englezes were giving us one up the Jacksie – but people join professional armies for a variety of, and a combination of complex reasons, and economic considerations would presumably be often to the fore – and as pointed out above Uncle Tommery works in both directions.

    It is about time Irish people in Northern Ireland and particualrly the Unionists showed more loyalty to their own people who are alive – like Mary Mac – rather than complaining about the lack of loyalty shown to the dead.

  • Just goes to show that women should not be President.
    Posted by Maeve on Jan 05, 2009 @ 04:29 PM

    Interesting take from someone named after a Queen.

  • aquifer

    Is it an Irish presidential prerogative to re-write social history?

    If it was never OK to be British back when, what about now? And what about Polish or Indian?

    Maybe she is putting the Irish nation on some kind of post-christmas shrinking diet?

    Hopefully it won’t involve inner cleansing with tatties and buttermilk.

  • edward

    What is “the british way of life”? and how does one acquire it?

    Posted by Tir Eoghain Gael on Jan 05, 2009 @ 08:25 PM

    Oppress the native peoples of half the globe then cry in your buttermilk and slaughter them like chickens when they decide they are capable of thinking for themselves

    A healthy dose of xenophobia is somewhat mandatory though not entirely required

  • RepublicanStones

    “It is about time Irish people in Northern Ireland and particualrly the Unionists showed more loyalty to their own people who are alive – like Mary Mac – rather than complaining about the lack of loyalty shown to the dead.”

    Sammy, you a fan of Sean O’Casey?

    “it’s nearly time we had a little less respect for the dead, an’ a little more regard for the living.”
    (Juno and the Paycock)

    As regards the statement by McAleese, Paddy Matthews has it nailed.

  • ulsterfan

    Edward

    Please, please get in touch with the British side of your character.
    Every one born in Ireland has inherited Britishness of which they must be proud—-Coronation Street, Man U, best legal system in the world, Shakespeare, Beatles, Common Law, Elgar, Oliver Cromwell, Magna Carta—-the list goes on.
    Don’t be so negative—-just think of all those west Brits and how they enjoy life and are so successful.
    Perhaps you lead a very secluded life!

  • RepublicanStones

    I guess if I watch Hollywood movies and enjoy nascar Im somehow an american??????

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    RepublicanStones,

    “Sammy, you a fan of Sean O’Casey?”

    Typical – I think of a good line – and it is already taken.

  • Ri Na Deise

    ulsterfan

    Occasionally I like to lie around the house in scruffy pjs drinking beer which eventually degenerates into random rants about ‘Johnny Foreigner’. Is this just me embracing my ‘inner Brit’? 😀

  • I agree with her. For centuries it wasn’t possible for Irish Catholics to better themselves economically because of the Penal Laws which banned us from buying land, sitting in Parliament etc. and forcing us into serfdom at the hands of descendents of colonial landlords that came over in the 17th century. It took until the beginning of the 20th century for mass-landlordism to be dismantled. So for members of the Irish Nationalist community on this island, poverty – or during WW1 Home Rule – were the primary reasons for joining up. That is a reality and with all due respect to Donaldson and Maginnis, they are not likely, given their background, to be experts on reading the minds of Southern Catholics who joined the British Army. Our historical-experience is very different from that of the Northern Protestant community, who ruled the roost over us until the end of the Penal Laws.

  • ulsterfan

    Brian

    The same penal laws were applied to members of the protestant community or rather the Presbyterians who lived in the North.
    Can you think why they are nick named black mouths?
    Therein lies the clue.
    This disadvantage is not exclusive to Catholics although there were more of them.
    Discrimination can easily raise its ugly head as I experienced it growing up in Dublin In the fifties being surrounded by grinding poverty and lack of opportunities.
    Independence had been achieved nearly forty years earlier and yet the conditions of ordinary folk were no better than 1910 when Mary Mac was talking about.
    Dublin was a mono cultural theocratic priest ridden society,and yes grave discrimination was carried out against Protestants.
    Get rid of the landlords and replace them with clerics.
    The fight for independence was incomplete.

  • edward

    Ulsterfan thats history not culture, you are dreaming if you think their is a british monoculture. The only people who even try and insist on this nonsense are the unionists as it is their only publically acceptable excuse for the illegal nature of their state. I mean “cause we hate them taigs” is not exactly media freindly

    Republican Stones really? You find making a left hand turn for 3 hours entertaining? I should have introduced you to my gran when she was still alive you would have been fascinated

  • darth rumsfeld

    eddy baby
    tsk tsk
    your bile ducts seem to overflowing- the turkey sarnies turned a bit rancid today? And how inconvenient that Irish culture was at its most vibrant under the British jackboot. Since we left it to its own devices the land of Sheridan, Shaw, Yeats, Burke and Wilde has produced-er.. Bonio, Zig and Zag, and Roy Keane. Heck, even the world’s most up his own arse poet Seamus Heaney is a Brit, no matter how much he tries to deny it

    Ulsterfan
    well argued points- except ( and boy it’s a biggie)…
    Man Ure as an example of British culture of which we can be proud!!!???? Shurely you mean a classic case of whining irish MOPEry transported into England. Not in my name, mate. Now if you’d said Arsenal…

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘And how inconvenient that Irish culture was at its most vibrant under the British jackboot.’

    Well, its when something is threatened that is screams loudest.

  • darth rumsfeld,

    … how inconvenient that Irish culture was at its most vibrant under the British jackboot …

    I know you’re only messing, but still …

    Your examples of ‘Irish culture’ were, to a man (AFAIK) members of the Prod ascendency in Ireland, so they didn’t really represent the majority culture, which in their time was still fairly Gaelic. There is actually a lot of other culture that non Irish-speakers are much less aware of, but I think you know that.

    Also, you forgot Goldsmith, Stoker and Edgeworth, to name but three more.

    Regarding the advantages of the British jackboot, would you like to name the world famous cultural icons from the occupied territories? And compare them with the number from Free Ireland? I’m pretty sure the blue skies of the free south would beat the dark clouds of the bitter unfree north …

    😉

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Well, its when something is threatened that is screams loudest.”

    Oh but of course…
    But-hang on- weren’t Sheridan and Burke members of the House of Commons? Didn’t Yeats the one who only really got his tweed knickers in a twist claiming that his was “no petty people” but it wasn’t getting a fair shake in the Free State (a wee clue- he wasn’t talking about the Gaelic Catholic and free section of the people). Wilde and Shaw seem to have been so inordinately fond of Ireland that they lived in London (and Paris)- the literary Lundies!

    And Joyce and Beckett spent large parts of their lifes as part of the diaspora. I don’t remember too much of their respective oeuvres having been in Gaelic, or addressing the themes of oppression.

    Even dear O’Casey ( my favourite playwright) could see the broader picture from time to time, though it’s a pity he didn’t keep up his youthful membership of the Orange Order.

    Yup that lot would certainly have hopped into the TARDIS to fight in the front row of the barricades in 1916 beside the chairman of the Dud Poets’ Society Paddy Pearse, and Ireland’s worst living writer Gerry Adams

  • darth rumsfeld

    horseman
    sorry I didn’t name every irish cultural giant.
    You are right to pull me up.
    I ought to have chucked in the Brontes too..
    But surely the ascendancy fey types were Irish too, or are you falling in to the sneaky partitionist trap that some are less irish than others?

    “Regarding the advantages of the British jackboot, would you like to name the world famous cultural icons from the occupied territories? And compare them with the number from Free Ireland? I’m pretty sure the blue skies of the free south would beat the dark clouds of the bitter unfree north …”

    well I’ve already oppressed Seamus Heaney by making him a Brit, even though I really don’t rate him. Probably all that heady air of freedom in Trinity turned the Bellaghy common snese out of his head…
    But I think serious music students will rate grumpy ould Van as a more significant figure than the pompous hewson. If Harry Enfield dared to caricature Morrison he’d get a dig in the bake sharpish. And there’s Nolan and Eoghan Quigg- both certain to be spoken of in whispers at academic seminars for centuries.

    OK you’ve got Terry Wogan ( tortured into taking a knighthood) but Gordon Burns could kick his ass on any quiz show… and Graham Norton, last seen in a Union Jack waistcoat ( but then to be fair he’s part of the ascendancy too)
    Perhaps it would be kinder to accept that the land of saints and scholars hasn’t exactly shone since 1922- just as long as you don’t claim it’s the collective trauma of partition that excuses Podge and Rodge.

    And I don’t for one minute discount the Gaelic culture, but for all its beauty, it’s going to get overlooked by mlost of the world , like all those brilliant Icelandic poets

  • kirk

    would you like to name the world famous cultural icons from the occupied territories? And compare them with the number from Free Ireland? I’m pretty sure the blue skies of the free south would beat the dark clouds of the bitter unfree north …

    Alex Higgins, James Young, May McFettridge & David Healy.

  • RepublicanStones

    Somebody has been a the lemons today. Darth you don’t work for M&S;do you? Bit of bad news this morning was it?

  • sean

    I cannot understand how anyone can get excited by the rants and ravings of Big Mary. The women has f–k all to do all day ,and the Irish taxpayers is paying for her and her henpecked wee man to run around Ireland and half the world , doing sweet bugger all other than meeting and greeting people. With nothing to do but meet and greet,and cost the taxpayer a mint to do so , sure the big woman has to come up with some s–te mow and again to keep her big head in the news. What I fuck— want to know is, when she disappeared of the radar last year for a few weeks or more , to get the old face restructured , why did the press who had the story not publish ?.

  • Dec

    Somebody has been a the lemons today. Darth you don’t work for M&S;do you? Bit of bad news this morning was it?

    There’s clearly something wrong with him. Best to shake one’s head sympathetically and move along. The ‘Moron of the Week’ accolade still goes to Ulsterfan (who by definition isn’t British- just like Darth) for citing Magna Carta alongside Coronation Street as supreme examples of Britishness.

    Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?

  • darth rumsfeld,

    … surely the ascendancy fey types were Irish too …

    Of course they were. They were as Irish as you and I.

    I said that your selection was culturally skewed towards the minority Prod ascendency and “didn’t really represent the majority culture“. They certainly represented their own sections of the Irish people, as have many other writers, but few of them had any understanding of the submerged cultures of the dispossessed (even Yeats, despite his bullshit). And these dispossessed, in earlier years, were the majority.

  • kirk

    … would you like to name the world famous cultural icons from the occupied territories?

    Alex Higgins, James Young, May McFettridge & David Healy.

    Umm … are you serious? (sorry, but with the people we get on here I have to ask)

  • darth rumsfeld

    tsk tsk dec
    you’re one to talk about culture, given what you and your diasporic mate Ant have inflicted on the world
    Goering had it right about culture if that’s the yardstick

    So Ulsterfan and your humble servant aren’t British? By whose definition? Or have you forgotten that the nationalist wishlist otherwise known as the Belfast Agreement to which nordies always run when they want to steal our footie players or get a republic passport is a two way street?

  • darth rumsfeld

    … serious music students will rate grumpy ould Van as a more significant figure than the pompous hewson

    Indeed. I wish the Brits would take the self-important little pup, like they already took Bob Geldof (and, no thanks, we really don’t want him back!)

    Van the Man moved to Dublin, of course, as we all know. So clearly he felt oppressed under the jackboot.

    Don’t forget the Eurovision. Free Ireland is the greatest ever winner per capita. The Man Booker Prize too. Where are the icons from the grim north?

  • Seimi

    How about these guys from the dreary north?

    Joe Toner – 1919 – 1926
    Alec Mackie – 1921-1926
    Andy Kennedy – 1922 – 1928
    Billy McCullough – 1958 – 1966
    Eddie Magill – 1959 – 1965
    Terry Neill – 1960 – 1970
    Pat Rice – 1967 – 1980
    Sammy Nelson – 1969 – 1981
    Pat Jennings – 1977 – 1984

    🙂

  • Dec

    you’re one to talk about culture, given what you and your diasporic mate Ant have inflicted on the world

    Darth

    In these times of recession it’s heartening to see you’re still getting mileage out of that joke. Imagine how hilarious it would be if I concluded every comment to you with the line “and your mate Grand Moff Tarkin”?

    So Ulsterfan and your humble servant aren’t British? By whose definition?

    Any modern atlas I’ve ever looked at. Unless you’re saying I can be French despite not being born there. Hint: Look up the UK on wikipedia.

    Or have you forgotten that the nationalist wishlist otherwise known as the Belfast Agreement to which nordies always run when they want to steal our footie players or get a republic passport is a two way street?

    And you say you’re not a MOPER? Ho hum…

  • Seimi,

    I recognise one only! I presume (from the fact that he’s a soccer player) that they are all soccer players. Am I right? Either way, sorry to say it, but we’re not really looking at very important names on the world stage, are we?

    Maybe these people are big names in some circles, but try asking anyone outside NI and you’d get a blank face, I expect.

  • tim

    dreary north – Boring Arsenal 🙂

  • Seimi

    I know, just havin a bit of a laugh 🙂
    They are all from the north, and the dates are when they played for Arsenal. Surely you remember Sammy Nelson being in all the papers for pulling his shorts down? 🙂

  • Seimi

    Surely you remember Sammy Nelson being in all the papers for pulling his shorts down? 🙂

    Um, that would be “Sammy Nelson – 1969 – 1981”? Maybe it’s an age thing, but no.

    Sammy Wilson with his pants down, now that I do remember!

    [Validation word: Members. Uncanny!]

  • Suilven

    Horseman,

    ‘Van the Man moved to Dublin, of course, as we all know. So clearly he felt oppressed under the jackboot.’

    More likely he felt oppressed under the Her Majesty’s Exchequer 😉

    Interesting that you choose to big up the Booker Prize, given that it’s open only to “writers from the British Commonwealth and Ireland”. Surely a prima facie case of both colonialism and a cultural cringe in action, no?

  • Suilven,

    Interesting that you choose to big up the Booker Prize given that it’s open only to “writers from the British Commonwealth and Ireland” …

    Not strictly true. The writers are sometimes not from the Commonwealth (not ‘British’ for a generation now. You should try to keep up ;-)) or Ireland.

    Two of my recent favourites are Yann Martel (winner in 2002, born in Spain, though now a Canadian), and DBC Pierre who claims to be Mexican (well, OK he’s from Oz but lives in Lovely Leitrim).

    Anyhow, I ‘big up’ the Booker because it produces some wonderful books. What other literary award would you prefer?

  • Suilven

    Horseman,

    What’s your point? Both the authors you cite are Commonwealth citizens (of Canada and Australia respectively). As for your Commonwealth point, tell Man Booker – the news doesn’t seem to have reached them…

    Anyhoo, my point is, why were you so keen to measure Ireland’s literary stature by comparison against the oeuvre of an colonial institution which De Valera took great delight in leaving generations ago? You can’t claim to have cut the apron strings if you still look to Mammy for the odd pat on the head of approval, can you? FFS, you went from ‘Free Ireland’ to West Brit-ism in 2 short sentences earlier in the thread 😉

  • Yvonne

    Bohrloch Bohrloch Waffenlager

  • Suilven

    What’s your point? Both the authors you cite are Commonwealth citizens (of Canada and Australia respectively)

    Lighten up!

    As for your Commonwealth point, tell Man Booker – the news doesn’t seem to have reached them…

    It’s not ‘my’ point, it is actually a point of objective fact. I don’t care if Man Booker are ignorant, they’re not the ones ‘debating’ on this site.

    Anyhoo, my point is, why were you so keen to measure Ireland’s literary stature by comparison against the oeuvre of an colonial institution which De Valera took great delight in leaving generations ago?

    I’ll measure Irish talent anywhere it can be measured. We could use the Nobel Prize for literature (Ireland is on 4, I think), or the IMPAC awards (haven’t a clue, sorry). I just happen to like the books chosen by the Booker juries, that’s all.

    You can’t claim to have cut the apron strings if you still look to Mammy for the odd pat on the head of approval, can you?

    Don’t be daft. So Ireland participates in the Booker … so what? A third of Ireland is still run by ‘mammy’. The south is part of hundreds of bodies, organisations, etc with a myriad of different partners. The Booker is only one thing out of lots of others. As a sovereign state it can do what it likes. Avoiding contact with your neighbours would be a bit immature, don’t you think? (PS if you do so think, then tell the unionists!)

    FFS, you went from ‘Free Ireland’ to West Brit-ism in 2 short sentences earlier in the thread 😉

    Part of my rich tapestry, I’m afraid.

  • Erasmus

    Darth,
    A quote from a Seamus Heaney poem;
    Please remember that my passport’s green,
    no glass of ours was ever raised to toast the queen

    Also, for all the Mary-bashers,she had the virtue of being democratically elected and,ipso facto, having had to achieve something in her own right, before ascending to the office of head of state- no prizes for guessing the point I am trying to make here. I met her in person once- a most attractive and gracious lady.

  • Erasmus

    Darth,
    In the period after 1921 you had Beckett,Austin Clarke,Flann O’Brien,Behan,O’Casey, Kavanagh,Frank O’Connor… Many of Yeats’ and Shaw’s productive years spilled over into this time.
    Why the urge to culturally undermine the ROI? This hints at a sore spot of sorts.

  • Erasmus

    Darth,
    In the period after 1921 you had Beckett,Austin Clarke,Flann O’Brien,Behan,O’Casey, Kavanagh,Frank O’Connor… Many of Yeats’ and Shaw’s productive years spilled over into this time.
    Why the urge to culturally undermine the ROI? This hints at a sore spot of sorts.

  • Erasmus

    Sorry for the double post.
    Ulsterfan,
    Extolling Cromwell to the Irish is like singing the praises of Stalin to the Crimean tartars.
    I’m a French language enthusiast and am into Sartre, Camus etc. Does that make me French?
    As for the English legal heritage, Ireland
    arguably had the most advanced system of jurisprudence in Western Europe (the Brehon law)when our Eastern neighbours intruded in the 12th century.

  • “The same penal laws were applied to members of the protestant community or rather the Presbyterians who lived in the North.”

    To an extent but there wasn’t really any comparison in terms of how the 2 communities were affected. You were allowed to inherit all your father’s property, whereas it had to be subdivided among Catholic children (Popery Act 1709). The laws against Protestant dissenters related to the ban on entry to public-office in Ireland, non-recognition of Presbyterian marriage, and the requirement to pay tithes to the Church of Ireland. Unlike Catholics, from 1707 they were allowed to sit in the Irish Parliament, and unlike Catholics, were not banned from education (including abroad)(Education Act 1695), the legal-profession, leasing land for more than 31 years, and whereas Catholic priests had to register under the Registration Act 1704, Presbyterians didn’t.

    “Independence had been achieved nearly forty years earlier and yet the conditions of ordinary folk were no better than 1910 when Mary Mac was talking about.
    Dublin was a mono cultural theocratic priest ridden society,and yes grave discrimination was carried out against Protestants.
    Get rid of the landlords and replace them with clerics.
    The fight for independence was incomplete.”

    I acknowledge that the Catholic hierarchy had too much influence before the 1990’s, but I would contend that had Michael Collins lived the Irish State would have had a more secular hue.

  • DavidD

    Oh those wonderful Edwardian days! Everyone in England then lived in a mansion and I can still remember sitting by the roaring log fire as a child listening to my grandparents and their friends recounting stories of those bygone times. There were, so it was told, numerous servants, all Irish of course. There was the stern but lovable butler Murphy; the grizzled old gardener Hagan and Ryan the one-legged groom. Ryan had lost his leg when he was shot by a drunken house guest who mistook him for a poacher but my kindly grandparents retained his services despite a disability that rendered the poor fellow more or less useless. The mention of Mary O’Sullivan a scullery maid always brought a twinkle to the eye of grand-papa; apparently he had taken a keen interest in her welfare. At Christmas time my grand-mama presented all the staff with TWO mince pies each and they were so very, very grateful. Much of conversation naturally centred on discussing newspaper reports of the battles fought in our far-flung empire where deeds of heroism were performed by the gallant Irish lads who made up the privates and even some of the NCOs in our army. The officers were of course all English including great-uncle Reggie, a colonel in the Munster Fusiliers. Reggie never failed to mention the touching loyalty shown to him by ‘My Micks’ as he affectionately called them and it was with sadness he told of the incident on the north-west frontier when he unfortunately misread the map references and bombarded the Fusiliers’ bivouac, wiping out the better part of two companies. Even then he received what he called ‘a sort of low, mumbled cheering noise’ as he rode among the doughty survivors. Great times that are now sadly gone forever.

  • darth rumsfeld

    How about these guys from the dreary north?

    Joe Toner – 1919 – 1926
    Alec Mackie – 1921-1926
    Andy Kennedy – 1922 – 1928
    Billy McCullough – 1958 – 1966
    Eddie Magill – 1959 – 1965
    Terry Neill – 1960 – 1970
    Pat Rice – 1967 – 1980
    Sammy Nelson – 1969 – 1981
    Pat Jennings – 1977 – 1984

    🙂

    Posted by Seimi on Jan 06, 2009 @ 03:29 PM

    Giants among the sporting Gods!!!!

    And don’t forget-
    Jim Harvey -3 games in the red and white in 1978- more than Pele ever achieved
    Steven Morrow- glorious cup winner
    Dean Shiels- Littlewoods Cup unused substitute

    “In these times of recession it’s heartening to see you’re still getting mileage out of that joke.”
    Precisely. Can’t afford new jokes. We must reuse, recycle. Hence- the only 22 stone man to ride a derby winner, was once Lester Pigott’s cell mate, but is now Steven Gerrard’s..
    and Moff Tarkin, as any fule kno, is an anagram of Dick Cheney

    As for Heaney’s oft quoted couplet, apart from being churlish, I’ll bet he’s downed a scoop or two at QUB dinners where the University was toasted. At least Brenda wasn’t monarch during the famine

  • darth rumsfeld

    “In the period after 1921 you had Beckett,Austin Clarke,Flann O’Brien,Behan,O’Casey, Kavanagh,Frank O’Connor… Many of Yeats’ and Shaw’s productive years spilled over into this time.
    Why the urge to culturally undermine the ROI? This hints at a sore spot of sorts.”

    ..er was Flann O’Brien not a nordie? I confess to having very little knowledge of Frank O’Connor (Sinead’s da perhaps?)I’ve dealt with former Brother O’Casey, Yeats and Shaw. Sorry too, that on the little I know of him I don’t rate Clarke as anything above a minor figure, comparable to Forrest Reid- and far below the spooky but clever Brian Moore or the superb Stewart Parker.
    Not trying to culturally undermine anyone.Iwas merely pointing out that the greatest Irish cultural output was when it was integrated into the wider pool of the Empire. Independence brought introspection inevitably, and both parts of Ireland saw culture stultify. I’m certainly not saying Joyce or O’casey were true blue sons of William. Behan was a Dylan Thomas wannabe, but admittedly a rollicking read