Adams on uncomfortable conversations and Unionism

Gerry Adams delivered an interesting speech in Dublin today under the “Uncomfortable Conversations” topic;

In his speech he focused on reaching out to Unionists and what he spoke to Prince Charles about when they met a few months ago

On reaching out to Unionists;

The islands of Ireland and Britain have had a long, entangled, conflicted and tragic relationship.

Because of our shared centuries of occupation, conflict and open war, nationalists and unionists historically have defined themselves, their cultures and their aspirations in terms of their relationship with Britain.

Because of our experience of colonialism and oppression nationalists have largely rejected Britishness in its entirety, whilst unionists have embraced every British symbol and gesture.

Consequently many unionists distrust the entire nationalist population fearing that if our respective roles are ever reversed we would imitate and repeat their excesses.

In Belfast parlance, the boot would be on the other foot.

There is an onus on Irish republicans to address these fears.

We must do so in a genuine and meaningful way.

He also spoke about his meeting with Prince Charles;

I mí na Bealtaine anuraidh bhuail Martin Mc Guiness, An Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh agus mé féin leis an Phrionsa Searlas i gContae Shligigh.

We had a cordial and relaxed discussion. Despite some of the difficult issues we spoke of, it was a positive conversation.

Bhí comhrá eadrainn a bhí cairdiúil agus suaimhneach. Is Cuma faoi na deacrachtaí, comhrá fiúntach maith a bhí ann.

We acknowledged that Charles and his family had been hurt and suffered great loss at Mullaghmore by the actions of Irish republicans.

We spoke also of the hurt inflicted on our friends and neighbours and on our own communities in Derry and Ballymurphy and Springhill by the actions of the Parachute Regiment and other British Army regiments.

He shared his own memories of the conflict starting in the 1960s. It was obvious to me that he wishes to play a positive role in making conflict a thing of the past.

Full text available here; 

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  • Janos Bingham

    I see you are joining with the Kikdare Shinners in going for negative speculation about the explorer. Still fair play to you you held back on the “coward” accusations of your colleagues.

    And if it was ‘all about the money’ why the abuse about character and background?

    Do the arguments come from a prepared script or a party handbook?

    Good grief has your ovine mindset got no bounds?

  • Janos Bingham

    Of course you could compare and contrast the minority experience North and South.

    In the north the minority population grew, despite the ‘Cold House’ chill. It availed of state-funded health and education opportunities and got on with their lives.

    In the South the minority dramatically reduced in size and, as in the north, were not represented by the dominant culture and ethos of the state.

    Indeed whilst sectarianism was very evident in the north, despite attempts by the state at the beginning to be inclusive (for example one third of places in the police set aside for the minority- never achieved because the minority refused to buy-in to the political reality and expected NI to fade away within a few short years).

    Within the same timeframe in the south sectarianism was given the force of law when a leading judge ruled that Ne Temere was enforceable because of the ‘special place’ afforded in the constitution to a specific religious affiliation.

    Much like the “suffering” of the northern minority it’s all history now. But as in the constant references to the northern minority’s past experience such history can, and does, have an impact on contemporary thinking.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What was this thread SK? I’d like a looksee.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Can you name me another place in the world where a people have lived in a country for hundreds of years and still refuse to acknowledge themselves as being a part of that country?”

    Loads: Pontic Greeks, Egyptian Greeks, various Romany groups throughout Europe, Armenians all over the world, Sorbians/Wendts, Serbs in Croatia, Jews in many countries throughout history.

    Anyway, that’s hair splitting on my part. With the ‘British of Northern Ireland’ it’s a bit different as they did, almost to a man consider themselves Irish at one point.

    This changed with enthno-political upheaval and Dr Brian Walker has an alarmingly simple correlation in his book ‘Dancing to History’s Tune’ where you can see the percentage of Protestants who regard themselves as non-Irish increase from 2% to something like 90% in the space of little more than a century.

    There are clear correlations at points such as the Home Rule debate and latterly the IRA’s campaign.

    One of the many reasons why I think the Provos campaign was ill conceived, but, that’s for another thread (again) I suppose.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, I consider myself Irish, but just one of a particular background that’s not overly marketable by the tourist board.

    But every country has different regions with different cultures e.g. from Brittany to the Alsace or from Newcastle to Cornwall (as you very well know I’m sure).

    Anyway, I don’t agree with the ‘we’re not Irish at all’ view, but, tis a free country and all that jazz

  • Smug Old Fool

    All countries borders are supposed to be “gerrymandered” by definition as countries are based on people and not pure physical geography. There has never been an independent sovereign country corresponding to the island of Ireland and recognised by the international community, as is the modern definition of a sovereign country.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    To be fair, you’re moving the goal posts a wee bit there, if I managed to answer all your questions then you could simply retort with more NI specific questions, the logical ending would ultimately be “well, how many countries have been created on the Island of Ireland in the 20th century and are called Northern Ireland?”

    So, I’ll have a stab at answering the questions if you want but I don’t see what the benefit to the discussion is BUT this might interest you (a wee bit, not much):

    From an academic perspective it’s very low standard but it’s not meant to be an academic piece of work rather it’s meant to serve as a bit of a warning to a certain group of nationalistic nay-sayers who regard themselves as frontier people.

    And with regards to all the crimes of unionist misrule, I would hope by now that you know that I’m not an apologist for this era?

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    I see your point but the worrying by-product of such a recognition is a final and irreversible demarcation.

    It’s like finally admitting that unionists are no longer Irish.

    I know many unionists would be happy with that state of affairs but I think it’s creating more problems for the future.

  • gendjinn

    My personal current take on the history of our island is that UK rule in Ireland has been a genocidal, economic and political disaster from beginning right up until today. That the Irish were entitled to use force to end UK rule here in 1916/1921-22 – especially given the previous 50 years of trying to use exclusively peaceful politics to achieve home rule.

    Much as I dislike it I believe that Unionists in the NE were entitled to set up their own state and not join in with the Free State. But the state inflicted some grievous wounds on itself that undermined its legitimacy at foundation. The Boundary Commission which included 2 counties with majority Nationalists, the gerrymandering especially the Derry Council. Followed by decades of economic and political discrimination against Catholics, the violence of the RUC, UDR, B-Specials against Nationalists, the looking the other way each summer when Loyalist & Unionists beat and murdered Catholics during the marching season.

    By 1968 the state was a failed entity and lacked legitimacy – the approach of the state to the Civil Rights movement, followed by the murders of Nationalists by the RUC, the British Army (Derry, Ballymurphy, etc) and internment. After that I cannot support the existence of NI and I believe that the unification of the two states is the only acceptable, viable long term solution. It’s just not worth any parent burying their child to attain it.

  • gendjinn

    My personal current take on the history of our island is that UK rule in Ireland has been a genocidal, economic and political disaster from beginning right up until today. That the Irish were entitled to use force to end UK rule here in 1916/1921-22 – especially given the previous 50 years of trying to use exclusively peaceful politics to achieve home rule.

    Much as I dislike it I believe that Unionists in the NE were entitled to set up their own state and not join in with the Free State. But the state inflicted some grievous wounds on itself that undermined its legitimacy at foundation. The Boundary Commission which included 2 counties with majority Nationalists, the gerrymandering especially the Derry Council. Followed by decades of economic and political discrimination against Catholics, the violence of the RUC, UDR, B-Specials against Nationalists, the looking the other way each summer when Loyalist & Unionists beat and murdered Catholics during the marching season.

    By 1968 the state was a failed entity and lacked legitimacy – the approach of the state to the Civil Rights movement, followed by the murders of Nationalists by the RUC, the British Army (Derry, Ballymurphy, etc) and internment. After that I cannot support the existence of NI and I believe that the unification of the two states is the only acceptable, viable long term solution. It’s just not worth any parent burying their child to attain it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I suppose I did but I didn’t really disagree with the rest of your post or have anything to add.

    Paisley, in my (little) book was one of the worst things to happen Northern Ireland and one of the best things to happen to SF.

    You might want to try this book

    It made my first realise that ‘all is not well’ with unionism (but the current cover does it no favours, the copy I had had a grim painting of Carson on the front.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Each to their own Gendjinn.
    I’ve had enough of these genocide arguments with Tacapall to last me a lifetime so I shall pass on this occasion…

  • Zeno

    No there isn’t. It’s only the seriously deluded who actually believe everything Adams says. Adams doesn’t even believe it himself.

  • gendjinn
  • eireanne

    there is an alternative to that rather doomsday prediction – joint authority

  • eireanne

    here’s a nice little essay on Carson, comparing him with his contemporary Oscar Wilde

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’ll give it a go G, but being on the losing side in a 16th century European war in any country back then was going to be messy.
    Today genocide usually conjures up images of concentration camps, industrial scale and tying to eliminate whole races.
    Back then it was just ‘war’.
    And it’s very rare for the ‘losing side’ of a genocide to remain in the upper ranks of high society after the episode and many of the clan leaders back then still retained their titles of Knights.
    Some of their descendants still have similar titles e.g. the O’Neills and McDonnells (and probably the odd Fitzgerald too).
    But like I say, I’ll give it a go.

  • gendjinn


    it’s a pity you got hung up on the word genocide in my comment, that was perhaps the least important piece. English/British/UK rule in Ireland was disastrous for the natives, and a failure in the 6.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “I have no problem accepting that you can be a unionist without behaving like a ‘loyalist’.”
    Isn’t that the dream…?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “it’s a pity you got hung up on the word genocide in my comment,”

    Apologies, I honestly think it’s to do with Tacapall and all the run-ins I had with him seeing genocide in every shadow.

    It makes me think that if Irish people are so easy to ‘genocide’ then Irish people don’t deserve the reputation of ‘great warriors’ and I can’t handle that idea (speaking as an unfit, asthmatic, weakling who couldn’t fight sleep).

    (Also, I can’t help but observe that the Scots are overtaking us on this image-front, so they get to be the feisty, defiant red-headed Celtic nut-jobs and we’re relegated to the lilty-accented riverdance people who are occasionally wiped out by the tea-drinking English. I watch too many movies…)

  • gendjinn

    Twas the relative size of the populations. The Irish eliminated as functional military forces two Tudor armies before succumbing to the third. The English could just keep sending armies, and once the forests were cut down that was that.

  • Mer Curial

    “I have no problem accepting that you can be a unionist without behaving like a ‘loyalist’.”

    That depends, some people who describe themselves as merely Unionist seem to beat you average Loyalist in the sectarian stakes any day – most notably that TUV chap Mr. Vance. Some of the bile I see from his twitter is sickening.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    AG, Yeats spoke of needing “a victory in the field to shake the Penal laws” finally out of Irish bones. But even the Scots have had a long tradition of the Ossianic theme (Via Macpherson) that Shaemus (sic) O’Sheel so perfectly sums up:

    “They went forth to battle, but they always fell;
    Their eyes were fixed above the sullen shields;
    Nobly they fought and bravely, but not well,
    And sank heart-wounded by a subtle spell.
    They knew not fear that to the foeman yields,
    They were not weak, as one who vainly wields
    A futile weapon; yet the sad scrolls tell
    How on the hard-fought field they always fell.”

    But I really love that “occasionally wiped out by the Tea drinking English”, An Craoibhín Aoibhinn himself could not have put the dilemma better in his “De-Anglicisation” essay! About time we all really started learning Irish………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Not one of my favourite books, gendjinn, I find it irritates me, being both canonic and even so, riddled with loose inaccuracy. Hiram Morgan’s more recent “Tyrone’s Rebellion” is much, much better and gives a painfully accurate state of the art description of the terrible period of the conquest, especially read alongside “Age of Atrocity”:

    One review of this excellent collection of (quite) recent essays says it all: “Reveals the true nature and extent of violence and atrocity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as conquering England gains territorial supremacy”.

    I have the “Twilight Lords” on my bookshelves, but find even Lord Ernest Hamilton’s “Elizabethan Ulster” a much better, more informative book for factual history , although I entirely disagree with virtually every (Unionist) conclusion the good lord actually comes to.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    AG, the two books I’ve mentioned pretty much offer a picture of the sixteenth century conquest of Ireland as what may be seriously argued to be a “unique experience” for that time. It would become the pattern for early colonial expansion, and is perhaps pre-figured in some aspects by the brutal Spanish conquests in the Americas, but the precedent of a European nation having its culture almost entirely destroyed by another, both governed by the same monarchy whose task should have been to protect the laws and institutions of the land, has an element of uniqueness. The violence of warfare in the sixteenth century was far less regulated than it would be when armies became more broadly disciplined by the eighteenth century, but the standard of atrocity in Ireland was remarkably more extreme than the norm of warring European states, and the politics of conquest here were aimed at the dispossession of the Irish ruling class, firstly the Gael and by the 1650s the “Sean Gall” also.

    Try Alice Stopford Green’s dated, but still important “The Making of Ireland and its Undoing”:

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I rather miss Tacapall……….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I often wonder just what Carson would make of his “friends” nowadays, AG. Very much an “Irish Unionist”!

    But then I’d love to be in on a meeting between Gerry and any of the signatories of 1916! These people were very much people who regarded the honour of Ireland as something that came first, a phrase is seldom far away in any of Roger Casement’s writings on Ireland, for example.

    And don’t get me started on the late Lord Bannside……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A=I, I always find the story Alice Stopford Green presents in “The Making of Ireland and its Undoing”, of a European country just entering the Renaissance alongside other European nations, systematically crippled and destroyed by its neighbour, its developing Renaissance flowering aborted by conquest. This was one of the most important texts of the “Irish Ireland” impetus of the Edwardian period, and while historically dated in its research, its central thesis stands the test of time:

  • Zeno

    Maybe it’s too complicated for you. If you want a United Ireland all you have to do is get the numbers and vote. No shooting, no bombing, just persuasion. Start there.

  • gendjinn

    The curse of history books right? Always inaccurate. Is there a critique of it available online? The essential of thrust of the book regarding the outcomes in the SW still stands, which is the main point I was trying to make to AG.

    I bought Age of Atrocity on your rec but haven’t had the fortitude to tackle it yet.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No decent critique I’ve come across. I should mention that Richard Berleth’s heart is in the right place, but he does not understand the primacy of Ulster in all this, and is too black hat white hat for me, which no critical faculty for the essential complexity of what is going on. And anyone who covers Seán Donnghaileach (NOT “Séan an Díomáis”, the Four Master’s translation of the English name for him) in only a few pages and then utterly misinterprets him (pretty much taking the same English source led position O’Faolain does) is highly suspect to me!

    Hiram Morgan is a first class mind who shows how alliances were fortuitous, and goes far further than anyone else I know to outline just how Hugh O’Neill’s motives are questionable. His insights into Hugh from his encyclopaedic knowledge of the history produces the first really rounded picture of the man.

    Berleath is simply too starry eyed about Hugh as a great leader. He has no understanding of Turlough who survived for 25 years as “Public Enemy Number 1” in the North for Dublin Castle, while Hugh was the English cats paw who eroded in my view much of what Turlough inherited from what Seán Donnghaileach had built up.

    While I won’t say “enjoy” “The Age of Atrocity”, it is by far the best thing done recently to push a window into what really went on, giving the lie to the “Civilising Mission” school of revisionism’s attempts to whitewash the conquest.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’ve changed the link, and on my testing it, it seems to work now.

  • gendjinn

    I find those are the very things historians have the most trouble getting right, due to paucity of records and the subjective element required to judge which records to trust or weight correctly. Honestly, that’s the very reason I read several books on the same topic to get a more rounded view.

  • gendjinn

    Far too complicated for my simple brain, you’d be wiser investing your time talking with the smarter folks here. I’m just never going to be able to compete on your plane.

  • tmitch57

    In the Good Friday Agreement, which a majority of unionists voted for in the May 1998 referendum.

  • Roger

    Agree with Lorcs1 insofar as it’s pretty clear to me the old SF guard have nothing to offer their party.

  • Roger

    Agree with Zeno.
    The 1921 arrangement is permanent.

  • Roger

    To be fair Zeno, when the terrorism was ongoing, they thought they had the numbers. They didn’t agree with the 1921 arrangement. If you ignore that, they did have the numbers. They’ve now apparently accepted 1921 and I agree with you.

  • Roger

    Agree about the numbers. Any way, how many people under 40 are religious these days?

  • Roger

    NI is no different to tonnes of other minority population situations. Other countries don’t go for joint authority. Why is NI any different?

  • Roger

    when a united Ireland comes….

  • Roger

    I don’t think any person (i.e. not 1) believes Adams. He is a liar.

  • Roger

    Agree totally Newton.

  • Roger

    Bang on.

  • Roger

    …so how many Unionists left Ireland in the ten years after 1922?

  • Roger

    In the north the minority population grew, despite the ‘Cold House’ chill…In the South the minority dramatically reduced in size…

    This is rather a simplification. If Catholics had emigrated from NI in the numbers Protestants did, Catholics would be an overwhelming majority long before now. Their numbers in NI dropped in a less dramatic way to the way Protestant numbers in IRL dropped.

  • Alan N/Ards

    If it had only been about the money, then fair enough. If it was, why did he feel the need to describe him as a unionist who was opposed to home rule. This guy in Athy appears to have missed the unionist outreach memo!

  • Robin Keogh

    Not sure that Athy has much of a Unionist population Alan.

  • Robin Keogh

    The ones offerred jobs in the North anyway

  • Reader

    Anglo=Irish: The comparison with Oscar was interesting and emphasised the point that the world would be a better place with more poets and fewer lawyers.
    And yet it was Oscar Wilde who chose to fight the first court case, in which Carson defended a man falsely accused by OW.
    And Carson had no part in the second court case.

  • Reader

    gendjinn: Twas the relative size of the populations.
    These days the population difference is a factor of 8 or so. Back then, it was a factor of 2. England should not have been able to beat the Irish across the width of the Irish sea while also defending themselves against the Spanish. (and it was the Spanish threat that made them take an interest in Ireland anyway)
    T’was Irish disunity that made the difference, as usual.

  • Zeno

    The only danger to the Union comes from Unionist Politicians. There is no other.

  • gendjinn

    Your ratios are wrong, both for today and then.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Alice Stopford Green, and a lot of other Irish Irelanders, were passionate about countering the versions of history that claimed (most still claim) that England’s conquest civilised a barbarous people. Her research work on the Irish middle ages opened up a window on a very different picture, one still poorly understood. Enjoy the book.

    Poland has had similar treatment, and its interesting to compare notes. Have a go at this link too:

    Ann is an old friend of mine, “Irish Classical music”………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed! Alice and her associates in Irish Ireland were passionate about countering the slanders that described Ireland as a barbarous land civilised by the English conquest, something one still finds all too often even in modern historians.

    You mention “musicians, poets and craftsmen”. Try this:

    Ann is an old friend of mine. What Ó Riada called “Irish Classical Music”……..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gendjinn, the amount of interest in Hugh O’Neill reflects the fact that there is far more material on him than there is on Turlough or Sean. Also that he is so “English” in his education and consequent thinking that he is much less confusing to the English historians who have written about him over the centuries, and accordingly more easily understood by an essentially Anglicised community here.

    Perhaps the most important work that’s been done in recent years is Breandán Ó Buachalla’s “Aisling Ghéar” where he uses Irish sources to entirely re-interpret the relationship of the Sturats and Ireland. With several hundred thousand poems praising James and the exiled Stuarts the term “Shéamais an cháca” (about two hundred instances in poetry) is shown up for a term used by those supporting the Whig establishment! Of course it’s in Ó Buachalla’s inimitable uncompromising Irish……….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    If you enjoyed the music, Ann’s website is worth visiting. As you can hear, the wire-strung harp is a very different instrument to the gut strung (increasingly nylon strung) instrument. The definitive history of the Irish harp has recently been republished in a new edition:

    Ireland’s is not the only history and culture to have been suppressed, but the almost unbelievable survival of so much and its constant re-birth in a vital modern Irish culture never fails to amaze me!

  • Reader

    You didn’t miss much.
    On the nationalists speaking about unionists topic, there was a struggle to put together a few back handed compliments and some faint praise. Some of it may even have been meant in good faith.
    There may have been suggestions to the effect that unionists might have no culture, but by golly we do have a sense of rhythm. Or maybe I am remembering something else from long ago?
    On the reverse topic, unionists either didn’t manage to muster the hypocrisy to return the favour; or followed the Terence O’Neill line that a good nationalist is a lot like a unionist.

  • Barneyt

    Not enough hands are extended.

  • Alan N/Ards

    As usual, you’re ready with the wise guy answer.

    It looks like your SF rep in Athy wants to airbrush from history (one of its famous sons) because he happened to be a unionist. Well done to him!

    I believe that there is a memorial in Athy to the United Irishmen. You know, the ones who wanted to unite catholic, protestant and dissenter under the common name of Irishmen. Wolfe Tone must spin in his grave every time your man in Athy attends Bodenstown.

  • gendjinn

    Eek, the price tag for that on Amazon is $345! Glad you can summarise the essential conclusions for free here 😉

    It’s depressingly amusing that everyone here knows that the histories are written by the victors, and then go on to quote those histories as gospel.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Gendjinn, I bought it when it came out in 1996 at a then prohibitive $50.00 as I remember. These books come in small editions and then become increasingly valuable material for Antiquarian booksellers to profit from. When my grandfather enthused about the poetry of W,B. Yeats to AE sometime before 1914, AE told him, “buy everything he brings out”…..I’ve been lucky enough to inherit his library as the foundation of my own!

    Luckily there are numerous essays by Ó Buachalla in journals such as Eighteenth Century Ireland, etc. Some even in English. And “Aisling Ghéar” is in quite a few libraries. Good luck looking it out!

    Another historian to have benefitted in his own researches from Ó Buachalla would be Éamonn Ó Ciardha whose “Ireland and the Jacobite Cause” is available for just over £20.00 in paperback, although the hardcover is now approaching £100. I particularly enjoy how Ó Ciardha shows just how the liberalism of the exiled Stuarts influenced the developments that would lead to the United Irishmen!

  • Janos Bingham

    Edward Carson was a skilled lawyer who in common with those who ply his trade represented his clients to the best of his ability. It is beyond foolish to condemn him for being good at his job.

    Yet he remains something of a bogeyman to some Irish nationalists, and their condemnation will always accuse him of being “anti Irish”. So he remains to this day a ‘legitimate target’.

    In another case, in which Carson also represented the Crown, he secured the return of the ‘Broighter Hoard’ (several Celtic gold artefacts dating from the 1st Century BC) from the British Museum to the Irish Academy, now the National Museum of Ireland.

    The Hoard had been sold to the Museum in London and it refused to give it up. Carson won the case and the items came ‘home’ to Dublin. Although ‘home’ is arguable. The gold was found near Limavady.

    Any pro bono lawyers out there willing to have a go at getting the items back for a display in County Derry?

  • gendjinn

    I’ve picked up many hard to find Irish history hardbacks in a 2nd hand bookstore out in an old Irish district of San Francisco. On the same street as the “Plough and the Stars” and “Dog’s Bollix” pubs – although the latter has been renamed.

    Just picked up Ó Ciardha 2nd hand for $20 on amazon, thanks for the rec.

  • Thomas Barber'scoverup

    I have read or have myself all of the books you mentioned above Seaan. Have you ever read Clan and Settler in Ormond and these lines from Schiller –

    “The foreigners come, and leave again, we obey them, but we remain.”

  • Thomas Barber

    “Apologies, I honestly think it’s to do with Tacapall and all the run-ins I had with him seeing genocide in every shadow”

    What other way could you describe the starvation of millions when there was tons of food being exported out of Ireland.

  • gendjinn

    “Paisley was definitely a plus for nationalism.”

    I have to disagree with you on that. If it weren’t for Paisley there’s a high chance there wouldn’t have been the Troubles. Once it started he was great for militant Republicans, but not for anyone else.

  • gendjinn


  • SeaanUiNeill

    San Francisco, gendjinn, memories! I used to live in Marin at one time! I’m still very up on the local “Celtic” music scene. Have you run into the unique “Wake the Dead”:

    Danny Carnahan used to work with my late friend Cris Caswell, piper, wire strung harper and harp builder.

    Oh, and I’d know every bookshop in Berkeley blindfolded. I picked up a lot of decently priced books there myself years back.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you, Thomas, for the website, and the quote about endurance. Haven’t encountered the book, but would value more information (author, etc). I’ve done work on Thomas Carte and his massive multi-volume book about the first Duke (also his exiled Jacobite grandson).

    So you know what I’m saying about Lord Ernest Hamilton, about five degrees to the right of Atilla the Hun but a mine of real information, if you know how to assess it! “Age of Atrocity” is important in that it really marks a shift from reactive revisionism to a serious attempt to honestly look at what actually happened without whitewash. A very important book in every sense.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “What other way could you describe the starvation of millions when there was tons of food being exported out of Ireland.”

    Aw Gawwwddd, here we go again:

    Incompetence. Failed capitalism. Inexperience. Stupidity.

    In my experience of reading about slaughter and genocide there tends to be an element of intention with regards to wiping out a population.

    For example, instead of importing soldiers to help distribute food most ‘genocideers’ tend to import soldiers to shoot the intended victims.

    As far as I’m aware this did not happen.

    Other things architects of genocide tend not to do is import food, seize estates (thousands were sequestered) and start work programs.

    These above actions are the very opposite of genocide.

    Most genocidal regimes would try to hinder charity work but the so called ‘soupers’ were allowed to continue their work unmolested as far as I can recall.

    Yes, the end result was awful and botched and yes food was exported.

    But it wasn’t ‘the government’ that exported the food, was it?

    No, it was private businesses and landowners. Many of them Irish too.

  • gendjinn

    Great city alright, the Inner Richmond a block from the Rose Garden was my old stomping grounds for a decade. Marin is beautiful, Muir Woods to Stinson is one of my favourite hikes. When did you live out here?

    I’m not into Celtic music, so not familiar at all. The rents in the city are shooting through the roof with dotcom 2.0 and many concert venues are shutting down. The city’s changing again, it seems the assholes have finally won – although they’ve been saying that every decade since the death of the summer of love 🙂

    Berkeley students are now living as far away as the MacArthur BART down in Oakland – that’s how expensive it’s getting in the entire Bay Area.

  • gendjinn

    You are right on all points. But it’s a bit of a paradox from a PR perspective he was a great aid for Nationalism, but we wouldn’t have needed the help had the fucker not been around.

    Seamus Mallon’s great quip aside – Sunningdale wasn’t a patch on the GFA and it was Unionism that brought it down. Funny how they continually blame the IRA’s opposition, as if their support would have made a blind bit of difference to the outcome.

    It’s amusing to watch them in this latest poutrage, Unionism got a nasty wake up call when the Tories let them dangle all alone. They have no allies left anywhere and with Clinton in the Whitehouse, Corbyn in #10 and SF in govt in 2020 the noose is slowly tightening. Popcorn times ahead 🙂

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Totally agree Barneyt on both sides, but here is the problem Sinn Fein have with the Unionist Community. It’s Leaders talk and spout a good game at conferences and political forums like the one above about reaching out to Unionism and forming friendships and partnerships with their fellow Irish Citizens. But it’s troops on the ground still engage and carry out political and ethnic warfare against that political opinion. This week at Belfast City Council Planning Committee Meeting which Sinn Fein Chair saw them pass a motion to allow a developer permission to build an 8 storey Private Residential Apartment Block right over the top of a small loyalist community in the southern side of the centre of Belfast. Obviously any person would be concerned with such a major development being built on top of them but to make matters worse this local community was not even consulted about such plans but Sinn Fein refused to reconise it’s concerns and still rail roaded their decision over this community. It then goes into a Text Message Verbal with that community with it’s councillor JJ Magee stating “No good objecting now after planning was given” How do you think such a community thinks about the Hand of Friendship from Sinn Fein – Yes with utter contempt and Hatred ! There is a large number of people out there who just cannot trust Sinn Fein because of it’s actions and deeds it performs on the ground ! I am afraid Actions speak louder than Words to us simple human beings !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I was out there fifteen years back while my wife was researching her PhD. The rents even then were driving people out further and further, with the music scene strongly effected. Only those who own their homes are still at the addresses we wrote to in the early 2000s. I was also interested as to just how many California academics in Irish studies seemed to be encountered at Ren Fairs in hose and jerkins! I’ve since been researching the effect of the local Irish Cultural Revival here on Californian artistic circles, through exiles such as Ella Young, but that’s another story….

  • gendjinn

    Settler colony psychology is not limited to NI, you see it former Spanish possessions in South America. The hatred of the Spanish descendants for the natives is qualitatively similar to that of the Unionists for the Irish.

  • gendjinn

    That’s when I moved to SF. The dotcom wave was crashing and every other Friday has a going away party as about 80% of the dotcom employees emptied out. The peak is higher this cycle and the rents are becoming too high for even software developers to afford living in the city!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I know of any number of people in computer and software development, one at least of the really high flyers at Cisco, who have headed north to Seattle and will not have a computer of any sort in the main body of their houses, although you can usually find one in the basement or out in a separate studio. It’s not just the money driving them out, its the speed of life, hitting hard on people as laid back as the early computer geeks who first made the computer revolution. I also know of many people active in all levels of the business in SF, Stanford and the South Bay who are under financial pressure even there, and increasingly cannot afford the house prices. This despite the rapid growth of urbanisation over the last twenty years. During my wife’s anthropological research there, we would re-visit informants living in the Santa Clara Valley area after a two month break, only to get lost on new road systems because ten or more new housing schemes had appeared on farm land around them. My friend the harper Cris Caswell used to call this rapid development eating up these fruit and nut growing areas “The Terminal Crop”……

  • gendjinn

    These stories redound! Friends of ours just paid $1.2m for a house out at 30th & Kirkland – you need to be a VP at a fortune 500 to afford a house in the city these days. Even then you only get a postage stamp sized back garden. Our own has gone up 50% since ’09 – it is literally insane out here!

    “The Terminal Crop” I love that – reminds me of a line from a movie regarding the tearing down of the orange groves in LA. Forget if it was Chinatown or LA Confidential (or perhaps another?)

  • Thomas Barber


  • Thomas Barber

    Obviously you didn’t bother to read from the link I posted to Seaan.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    But then I did.

    And then I wished that I didn’t bother.

    The internet is full of this context-free, biased trash and you damage your own argument by referring to it.

    It’s like that scene from the Simpsons where Lisa finds a dusty book in the aliens’ ship seemingly entitled ‘How to Cook Humans’ and she kicks off.

    Kodos (or Kang) blows off some dust, book then reads ‘How to Cook For Humans’

    Lisa blows of some dust, book now reads ‘How to Cook Forty Humans’

    Kodos then blows off more dust and the book now reads ‘How to Cook For Forty Humans’.

    That’s what it’s like for this ‘oppression industry’ grade Irish ‘history’ as you are constantly running around blowing the dust off some quote a believer has cut n pasted from such a site e.g. I had a look and saw that infamous quote: “will not kill more than one million Irish in 1848 and that will scarcely be enough to do much good.”

    Taken as it is written it sounds awful.

    Taken as he ACTUALLY meant it was more like something like this: “The population is so large now that even if a million died it would not alleviate the situation at hand so put that cold, merciless, pragmatic strategy somewhere the sun don’t shine Sonny Jim”

    Again to use the Simpsons (strangely) as an example of how mixed up this stuff is, these sites bandy about quotes from British diplomats back in the day in a fashion similar to Homer Simpson’s famous ‘Precious Venus’ interview to achieve an equally biased and horrifying picture:

    There was a fella on here who used to quote all manner of academics purporting to condemn the famine as purely the work of the dastardly British.

    Unfortunately for said commentator I have a collection of works from the very same academics and was able to finish the comments of the academics truthfully and WITH context in a scenario that was very reminiscent of the Lisa Simpson farce I mentioned earlier.

    I say forget sites like that (which are as unbiased as Willie Frazer’s facebook page) and try something more objective like ‘The Great Irish Famine’ from the Thomas Davies Lecture Series.

    I of course differ judement to Seaan Ui Neill who would be able to tell us which of the contributors is worth his salt.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I was at a Conference on An Gorta Mór at UC Galway in 1995 (I think). One of the speakers described how Robin Dudley Edwards and Tom Desmond Williams “The Great Famine” had been commissioned by Dev, who quite foamed at the mouth when he finally read the book. “This is not the famine we all remember” he’s supposed to have shouted. “No. it’s actual history” was the reply…..

    Despite the critique that can be levelled against the Revisionists, this is the book that must be started from before even beginning to essay a conspiracy theory about the famine. Numerous excellent historians have written since, but few have gone very far beyond the compelling image of chaotic cock up by the English that the book presents. Every work needs to be read critically, and I’m not entirely in step with their more evasive conclusions, but their ground research is still the foundation for any honest approach to the catastrophe.

    It is perhaps important to realise that the Famine also harmed the landlords (even the “bad” landlords) fatally, and the eventual break up of the old estates with the Wyndham act was very much another outcome of this. The catastrophe destroyed the entire balance of the rural culture of Ireland, many of those surviving and prospering, prospered from the misfortunes of their neighbours, and this grass roots involvement in the exploitation of the catastrophe created a hardened, selfish money grabbing class locally of medium to large farmer who was easy fodder for that cultural Anglicisation process that An Craoibhín Aoibhinn castigated in “The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland”:

    That’s just one example. England has a lot to answer for in Ireland over the centuries but any simple Black Hat/White hat conspiracy analysis of the Great Famine that exonerates the tremendous local Irish contribution to its destructiveness is arrant sentimentality and poor history.

    My own thinking is that if the Tory Peel had not been ousted by Whig administration of Lord John Russell and Whig free market thinking had not become policy, the early disaster Peel was trying to hold back with food distribution would have not have so quickly become the catastrophe that an entire reliance on “market forces” ensured would develop. If there was a conspiracy it was a highly ideological free trade conspiracy rather than the English re-discovery of their taste for practical genocide during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

  • Robin Keogh

    Where is he gone?

  • Robin Keogh

    Yes i believe him and even if he turned out to be lying it wouldnt bother me one way or another. I also believe him when he asks for reconciliation and uncomfortable conversations.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Haven’t seen him posting here for some time, Robin. But no idea why.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It is interesting to see how this weighs up against a speech made by Irish Nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell in the British House of Commons in 1832:

    “The people of Ireland are ready to become a portion of the Empire, provided they be made so in reality and not in name alone; they are ready to become a kind of West Briton if made so in benefits and justice; but if not, we are Irishmen again.”

    The idea that Sinn Féin would reject the existence of “West Brits” throughout Ireland while appealing to the British of “the North” seems rather at odds with a politically united Ireland.

    It would be interesting to ask what elements of mainstream Britishness would be put in jeopardy by living in the Republic in comparison to elements of mainstream Irishness that are in jeopardy by living within the UK. And to be honest it’s really difficult to see any other than political influence of course.

    Britishness and Irishness can exist in stranger places than Great Britain and Ireland, so why is the identity question dragged into constitutional politics. Nations need to be pluralist and multicultural anyway to function.

    Irishness would be a boring bland identity in global terms if it were simply left to the denizens of Ireland and just for the denizens of Ireland, and that is probably true of Britishness with regards to denizens of Great Britain or the “British Isles” for those who use the term as well.

  • Dan

    aye, I suppose it’s ok

  • Roger

    Don’t fool yourself. British nationalism is alive and well. They have no desire whatsoever to relinquish one inch of Northern Ireland. The notion the Brits don’t care is silly. History has shown time and time again they want to keep every inch they can.

  • Roger

    …First of all, they have stated quite categorically that they have ” No selfish, strategic or economic interest ” in Northern Ireland….Do you think they are incapable of a fib?

    …Secondly, they have accepted that if a majority of people in NI vote to reunite the country they will accept the decision….They haven’t “accepted” that. That was always their position. They apply the same logic to Scotland too, but look how they campaigned to keep it in the UK.

    …Thirdly, they have agreed within the terms of the GFA a mechanism to allow a referendum on reunification to take place…..See above responses. There’s no difference as with Scotland. But they certainly do care.

    Britain wasn’t forced to concede any of the above, so why did they?…The UK didn’t concede anything…..That was always their position. The only procedural change is that previously they would have gone by parliamentary decision (i.e.: the Houses of the Parliament of NI as it was could have chosen to leave the UK) whereas now it would be by referendum. Referendums don’t have as long a history in the UK as the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, but, aside from that small procedural point, nothing has changed in 94 years on the question of sovereignty and their position as regards the circumstances in which they will relinquish it. It’s also basically consistent with their position on places like the Falklands/Malvinas and Gibraltar etc. Nothing special. Certainly nothing has been “conceded”.

    Northern Ireland is not, and never has been, a part of Britain (correct, it’s part of the UK) and I can assure you that if a referendum was held in Britain regarding keeping it, it would be gone forthwith. (You can assure me of that, but I don’t accept that assurance at all).

    Not sure where you’re getting the impression from that ‘Brits’ want to keep every inch, because I can assure you that everyone I talked to about the Scots referendum took the view ‘ if they want to go, let em, who cares”. – Actions speak louder than words. The impression I get is from a long history of actions taken by the UK. Starting with the GOI Act, then the Boundary Commission fiasco, then the Ireland Act 1949, then the decades of looking on as NI was run the way it was run to the exclusive benefit of one camp, then the support to change its name to Ulster, then the contempt with which the Irish government was treated for decades as regards NI, indeed as regards anything, then the stance the UK took as regards the Irish state’s name, then so many, many public statement of big wigs etc. on NI, indeed the entire history. To get into the detail would really take rather a long time. As for the Scots, rubbish – wow, look how they campaigned in that referendum. The entire Establishment united completely. It was great stuff to watch. Boy oh boy do they care alright. Scotland leaving the UK would have been about Cameron’s worst nightmare.

    “a certain amount of anti EU feeling” – 4 or 5 million voted for UKIP. Are they friendly to seceding NI too? Not a chance.” I think nationalism is alive and well in the UK. They don’t have as big an empire as they once had, but now more than ever – What we hold, we keep.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The Good Friday Agreement – same para as quoted before.

  • MainlandUlsterman