Was the Easter Rising Blasphemous?

Patsy McGarry’s article in yesterday’s Irish Times, ‘Pádraig Pearse’s overtly Catholic Rising was immoral and anti-democratic,’ characterizes the 1916 Easter Rising as ‘quasi-blasphemous’. Readers familiar with so-called ‘revisionism’ in Irish history will not find much surprising in his critique. (I must confess I was convinced of the merits of much ‘revisionist’ thought when studying Irish politics with Tom Garvin at UCD). So I think I would go further than McGarry and say blasphemous rather than simply quasi-blasphemous!

From an Irish Christian perspective, one of the best books one might read to begin thinking about the relationship between religion and politics in 1916 is Overcoming Violence: Dismantling and Irish History and Theology, which I’ve previously reviewed on Slugger. McMaster demonstrates how the ‘Christendom’-inspired theologies of the time and the abuse of power by the island’s institutional churches justified and even contributed to violence.

McGarry also recommends a distancing of 1916 commemorations from the Easter holiday to the last weekend of April, which would mitigate its religious symbolism. This also seems sensible to me, and it would be interesting to hear how politicians and the leaders of our institutional churches would weigh in on such a proposal.

Here are the final few paragraphs of McGarry’s article:

Had constitutional politics prevailed in Ireland beyond the 1914 Home Rule Act, it is probable a southern state emerging from such legislation would have had a more easeful financial separation from Britain than that precipitated by 1916.

Then it might not have been necessary to reduce the old age pension in the new state by 10 per cent in 1924, two years after it came into being, while the penury and mass emigration of subsequent decades might have been avoided.

None of this is to ignore the 485 people killed in the Rising, most of them civilians, 40 of them children under 17, none of whom asked to die.

All were ignored at the Dublin Castle ceremonies last Sunday, except for the 78 volunteers killed, whose names were read out. They at least chose to be part in the Rising.

Singling them out simply continues the glorification of political violence sanctified by 1916 that has bedevilled the island of Ireland for most of the past 100 years.

Further, such 1916 commemorations should not take place at Easter but over the last weekend of April each year.

Marking the event at Easter is to concede to the quasi-blasphemous religious stance of Pearse and his colleagues.



  • Ernekid

    “Had constitutional politics prevailed in Ireland beyond the 1914 Home Rule Act, it is probable a southern state emerging from such legislation would have had a more easeful financial separation from Britain than that precipitated by 1916.

    Then it might not have been necessary to reduce the old age pension in the new state by 10 per cent in 1924, two years after it came into being, while the penury and mass emigration of subsequent decades might have been avoided.”

    This hypothetical scenario seems to forget about Eddie Carson and his anti Home Rule campaign which was quasi-cult like. If there wasn’t the Rising there still would have been some sort of bloodshed in Ireland. Not to forget that Redmond and the IPP were pretty naive when it came to British promises over Home Rule. When it was abundantly clear that you couldn’t take the British governments word as they have proved to be pretty untrustworthy over Ireland.

    Depending who you talked to at the time God was either a dyed in the wool republican or a Kick the Pope Unionist who hated Home Rule. Isn’t it funny that what ever political cause you support just happens to be same cause that God wants too?

    You could ask the same question about whether the Ulster Covenant was Blasphemous or not.

  • Jag

    I stopped reading anything Patsy McGarry had to say about anything, after reading his fawning interview with General (second-in-command of the murderous Paratroop regiment on Bloody Sunday) Mike Jackson. It was printed in a provincial newspaper down south, though has since disappeared online. The man’s a buffoon.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Well lets ask the question. Was the Ulster Covenant Blasphemous? Here it is:

    “BEING CONVINCED in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship, and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we, whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V., humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant, throughout this our time of threatened calamity, to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom, and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. And in the event of such a Parliament being forced upon us, we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognise its authority. In sure confidence that God will defend the right, we hereto subscribe our names.
    And further, we individually declare that we have not already signed this Covenant.”

    At the very least it is a bit presumptuous that God will defend their rights?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Poor oul God. She must be sick of all this stuff.

  • Greenflag 2

    Replace the Unionist God with a modern day Allah and it still reads mostly like 19th century cant . -Although there is one sentence which one has to admit makes some sense once you omit the Protestant/Unionist God ‘blasphemy ‘ if thats what its called ?

    ‘BEING CONVINCED in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland’

    This sentence is at least plausible in the context of the times although somewhat exaggerated given that Irish Home Rule would have meant all of Ireland remaining within the British Empire and market .

    ‘subversive of our civil and religious freedom’

    Actually the state of NI was in the longer term more destructive for the people of Northern Ireland’s civil and religious freedoms as it had to become a one party sectarian state in order to survive . The consequences still remain The seeds of it’s future troubles and ultimately destruction .

    ‘and perilous to the unity of the Empire,.’

    The Empire was already overstretched and cracking . The Boer War was a forerunner and post WW1 led to the beginning of the end for many of the Asian and African territories meanwhile the ‘White ‘ Dominions of Australia , Canada and New Zealand were showing less than sufficient keeness in financing Imperial defence which resulted in Britain having to borrow from the USA to survive WW2 .

    Still they were people of their time -some still are of that time and nobody not even GF has a crystal economic or political ball which can predict what might be’s .

  • Brian O’Neill

    Writers are not required to engage in comments. Some do some don’t.

    Anyway the comments are from Patsy not her.

  • Greenflag 2

    The Easter Rebellion was a rebellion . Pearse’s religious sensibilities notwithstanding. McGarry’s Christian perspective is overboiled . The Free State constitution guaranteed religious freedom for all it’s citizens and so would a Republican Ireland had one been established in 1916 . It was not to be . WW1 saw to that and later Unionist opposition . So here we are 100 years later and which part of Ireland is doing better , has more political stability and has an economy thats growing and a parliament with at least a hope of an opposition ?

  • Greenflag 2

    Shes a bit upset right now . Apparently some Evangelical American pastor a gentleman name of Copeland has been defending his use of his private jet in pursuit of his religious mission . He refuses to travel on commercial airlines as they are used by ‘demons ‘ who interfere with his communicating with God and he is forced to shout at them thus disturbing those peons who are not bothered by demons due to their lack of contact with the deity ‘

    Rumour has it that She ( god ) does’nt travel at all at all but merely sits around all day looking through kitchen improvement magazines although that may be just a personal observation 😉

    The Dollars keep rolling in for Copeland from the witless and naive .Whether God sees any of these dollars is at least debateable . The cost of private jets has risen in recent years . She may have to wait a while for that new kitchen revamp;)

  • Greenflag 2

    God had a tough time in WW1 what with defending the Brits, Germans , Russians , French , Austrians , Hungarians , Italians , Turks , Indians , Malays , Aussies , Canadians , Americans etc etc not forgetting the Irish , Scots and Welsh and other non emergent nationalities of the time . Made an awful mess of it anyway -defending them as 20 million were killed and got to play the replay in 1939 where God allowed another 55 million to exit this mortal coil .

    And now for the ironic part . 80% of American soldiers in WW1 died not from war wounds but from the Spanish Flu which in 1918 removed an estimated 20 to 100 million worldwide .

    Not to worry folks -God Loves you still and especially Unionists and the Irish and the Americans and everybody else as well ;(!

  • tmitch57

    Australia, Canada, and New Zealand were dominions not empires.

  • Greenflag 2

    Thanks TM inaccuracy corrected .

  • Anglo-Irish

    Shame that the English/British rarely indulge in this type of retrospective self criticism and self flagellation.

    It would provide infinite hours of conjecture and opportunity for revisionist sentiments.

    The English/British question;

    ” Should we have invaded all those countries that hadn’t harmed us in any way? ”

    ” Should we have stolen their stuff and enslaved their people? ”

    ” Should we have killed or incarcerated those that opposed our wishes in their own lands? ”

    ” Should we have attacked the ships of other nations and stolen their treasure? ”

    ” Should we have played a major part in the slave trade? ”

    ” Should we have been responsible for the complete obliteration of a unique race of people from the earth? ”

    The Irish question;

    ” Should we have rebelled against a foreign power that had invaded our land stolen our resources, destroyed our language and discriminated against our people on both religious and ethnic grounds? ”

    Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up!

  • Turgon

    I am a unionist and as such far from keen on the Easter Rising. This article and its premise are, however, utterly silly.

    Blasphemy is defined as: “The act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for (a) God(s), to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.”

    As such by no definition can the Easter Rising fit with such a definition.

    Pearce and co may her used some religious imagery but that, even if inappropriate, could in no way be considered blasphemous.

    The one technique by which it could be attempted to make the claim is using Jesus’s comments about rendering unto Caesar: Mark12:17 “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.”

    However, that is often misunderstood. If one understands Jewish thinking of the time they regarded all things as God’s. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus with a catch 22. Had he suggested giving to Caesar he would have lost public support as a traitor. Had he opposed it he was at risk of arrest by the Romans. Jesus recognised this and stated as much. His answer effectively suggests dismissing worldly authority as of no account as compared to God’s sovereignty over everything.

    Gladys as a theologian should know that the idea of the Easter Rising being blasphemous is silly and suggesting it simply brings theological analysis into disrepute andy indeed is beneath one who is a serious professional academic.

  • A part of me was pleased to see the publication of that Irish Times article. The pretence being portrayed by some is exhausting to witness, as if the southern government could care less about the Easter Rising.

    Rather than engaging in quasi-nationalist rhetoric and joining the bandwagon of conformation to the current political climate, I find it somewhat refreshing to see some shed the façade, in spite of the fact that I may disagree with them.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Gladys is not a theologian. She is a sociologist of religion.

  • Turgon

    She is, however, as I noted above a serious professional academic. In addition having done her MA and PhD on religious topics it is inconceivable that she does not know something about theology. My point stands. This article is pathetic dog whistle typed stuff. It was written to create an outraged response from nationalists / republicans.

    It is sub Daily Mail stuff and well beneath Dr. Ganiel: a woman with an MA, a PhD and previously Associate Professor (i.e. Senior Lecturer) and Coordinator of the Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Programme, Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin at Belfast (from her own online CV) – it is well beneath any academic.

    gendjinn also makes a very valid point and if one posts such an incendiary piece as this it might be reasonable to defend it. You are correct that she is under no obligation so to do but in general most bloggers think it reasonable. In addition staying around to defend one’s own stuff is a large part of what has made slugger so successful.

  • Jack Stone

    How was the Easter Rising overtly Catholic? The IRB was a multi-religious organization. While many of the planners were catholic, Some of them were not. Bulmer Hobson was a protestant member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (and argued against the Rising within the IRB). James Connolly was an atheist. It was protestant Erskine Childers who procured most of the firearms used in the Rising. Presbyterian Ernest Blythe was in prison during The Rising but he held a position in the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Many members of the organizations were from mixed Catholic/Protestant backgrounds (like Thomas Clarke) Somehow, some historians took the personal views of Pearse and some of the others and turned The Citizens Army and the Irish Volunteers into religious extremist groups.

  • Brian O’Neill

    I going to have to go lie down in a darkened room. It’s not often you hear nice comments about our writers 😉

  • Brian O’Neill

    The same bulmer Hobson who tried to stop the rising and was kidnapped by his colleagues until it was too late to stop?

  • Jack Stone

    Yeah, he is a really interesting fellow. Hobson had a major role in the
    formation of the Irish Volunteers and was very involved in many “militant republican causes”. He was involved in the early planning stages of the Rising itself but when they realized he wasn’t on board, and rightly feared the British reprisal, they left him out of the loop. He was so keyed in though, and exerted so much influence that the IRB Military Council had Hobson kidnapped and held until it was over. But, Bulmer Hobson was an influential member of the Irish Volunteers. He was so influential, that he had to be kidnapped by the IRB Military Council to keep him swaying people away from conflict at the last moment. I read a really interesting article on JSTOR about him a few years ago.

    He was just the example i could think of off the top of my head. I could have used Arthur Shields or another protestant to show the Irish Volunteers were not a Catholic organization.

  • Greenflag 2

    A sociologist of religion – Good grief – Die Wissenschaft des nicht Wissenwertens in modern Europe but perhaps still worthwhile in Northern Ireland and Kosovo and Bosnia perhaps ?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    There’s a great fiction account of Bulmer Hobson’s career that begins with this episode, by a fine New England author, Marina Neary who carefully researched the background:


  • kensei

    There is a better article in the Irish Independent, of all places:


    The early 20th century was both a more religious and more violent time. this article runs straight into the trap of trying to assess of ancestors by our own cultural standards. As the article points out, Redmond was at it as well.

    Cynically, John Redmond pushed the usual buttons: “This war is undertaken in defence of the high principles of religion, morality and right.”

    But so were the Unionists and so we’re the British. Everyone invoked God for their own ends and declaring you know God’s Will and it’s actually what you want is close enough to a blaspemhy for me anyway. it’s still about.

    Also worth quoting:

    Our task in assessing 1916 is not to strike pacifist poses but to understand what the choices were for those who created the State.

    Democratic structures were relatively new – most nations emerged through violence of one sort or another. That was commonplace for the day. It was truly said that “no single reform, large or small, has ever been obtained by purely constitutional methods . . .”

    There was not “any single act of justice or reform which has not been extorted in one way or another from the British parliament by force or fear”.

    The voice was not that of Pearse or Clarke, it was that of John Redmond.

  • Cosmo

    Greetings for the brave New Year, Seaan! Hope January finds you well? Not, closely connected to this subject, but wanted to ask you, are you familiar with Prof K H Connell’s 4 Historical Essay, Irish Peasant Society ? published 1968. If, so would love to hear your perceptions. I am enjoying his writing style.
    Also, what did you make of Wolf Hall BBC tv adaptation? Did you approve? I was amused on a meandering internet search, to see that (78 Rebellion) John Moore’s headstone claims he is a descendant of Sir Thomas More !, when he was re-interred at Castlebar in the sixties. (Do you think this is because Thomas Cromwell’s nephew was great grandfather to Oliver? )

  • Blamigo

    Those questions also apply to Spain, France, Portugal, Belgium Netherlandsand Germany who were also building empires at different times with varying degrees of success. In fact the Christian religion itself owes much of it’s own success to the fact it was supported and sustained by one of the most (in)famous empires of all time, the Roman one.

  • Blamigo

    The one that didn’t have 35 years of tit for tat sectarian death and destruction on it’s streets, aided and funded by dewy eyed Irish Americans who thought a ‘revolution’ was taking place. Plus 2008 isn’t that long ago, when the economy in the Republic tanked and it had to be bailed out, not only by Germany and it’s Eurozone, but also by Britain.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And New Years Greetings to yourself also, Cosmo. I’ve not encountered the essay, but will attempt to check it out at the McClay when I can a get in and come back to you on that. My daughter bought me Hilary Mantel the week Wolf Hall (the book) appeared, and I was amused by the attempt to whitewash a kind of hard minded Tudor Felix Dzerzhinsky into a sensitive hero. Of course, Tom Cromwell is also something of a hero in C.J. Sansom’s excellent novels. I’m a long term fan of Mark Rylance (who shared an interest in James Hillman’s work with myself) and thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal of the role, but the content of the portrayal is pure fiction, although the settings and Damien Lewis’s Henry are quite perfect. I’m reminded of Bentley’s response to Alec Pope’s “Illiad” translation, “A pretty poem, Mr Pope, but you must not call it Homer”.

    Many of Mantel’s themes are far from new to any of us who encountered them in Jasper Ridley’s excellent 1982 study “The Statesman and the Fanatic”. The “Statesman” is of course Wolsey, the “Fanatic” More. This is the first place where we encounter in some detail More’s quite draconian approach to the treatment of heretics. Cromwell himself has had more than a few fans amongst recent historians, but Old Noll was of course descended from Tom Cromwell’s sister, her husband Williams taking on the Cromwell name. I’d have kept quiet about it myself………

  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes, I know, what’s your point?

    Many wrongs make a right?

    Jimmy did it so I thought it was alright for me to do it as well?

    This thread is about the Easter rising so my post referred to British actions.

    It always strikes me as weird that the British tend to ignore most if not all of the Empires sins but the Irish whittle on about the rights and wrongs of rebellion.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Britain ‘bailed out’ Ireland because it had no choice, British banks were up to their necks in Irish lending and would have gone under if support hadn’t been offered.

    That support was provided by the simple means of Britain borrowing at a better rate than Ireland could at that time and lending to Ireland at a higher rate, thus making a profit from the arrangement.

    That situation no longer applies, Ireland currently has the fastest growing economy in Europe and can borrow at a better rate than Britain.


  • Cosmo

    Well, thank you, you seem propelled with Spring energy this year ? For Connell’s essay(s)
    The ISBN Number 0 19 828239 7.
    Anyway, a lively writer drawing on such a range of interesting sources (like George Augustus Moore !) – In essay 2, one observation is that infanticide (rather than abortion) was more the ‘norm’ for Ireland, compared to France. In essay 4, an interesting history of the influence of peasant farmer ethics on sexual morality.
    Back to Thom Cromwell – I trust to Holbein’s portrait, that he was much more of a street thug, than the sensitive Rylance depiction. (Found the book, gave this less emphasis, but more driven by his unconscious memories and feelings and loyalty to substitute father figure Wolsey (and maybe even then Henry.). Actually, thought history had More’s ‘number’ with regard to torture much earlier in 18thc and 19thc; but 20th c was then much kinder with several different Papal awards, and then the
    60’s Bolt Man for All Seasons rendering.
    Mankind seems to have such a tussle, between those who live by principle; and pragmatists.

  • Greenflag 2

    If one accepts that the Easter Rising was blasphemous this would /should /could also raise questions about World War 1 which could/would be seen as even more blasphemous . Consider RC and Anglican priests and other clerics on the British /French fronts and their German /Austrian /Russian equivalents blessing the unfortunates as they were herded to their certain deaths by their officers and generals by the millions for the greater glory of God and their countries Empires . God as always was on all sides as usual and between a rock and a hard place but not actually in the trenches .

    If the Easter Rising was blasphemous then WW1 was 10,000 times more blasphemous . But thats only if one believes in the concept of blasphemy which of course I don’t . But then millions do nowadays especially in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan etc .


  • Greenflag 2

    Wat Tyler could have said the same in 1381 when the young King Richard had his head removed by the KIng’s poll tax enforcers with the support of the then Catholic Bishops of England .

  • John Collins

    Please check out, on the ‘net, a speech by Dr Robert Ambrose, a Nationalist MP, to the HOC, on the 24th Februay 1901. It confirms all you say and much more about the fact that history must always be viewed in context. While, it is a most informative speech in relation to what British Politicians of the 19th Century thought of how the Irish achieved any changes in that Century, it takes all day to study.

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘In addition staying around to defend one’s own stuff is a large part of what has made slugger ‘

    Well said Turgon

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d mentioned Jasper Ridley as it appears to be quite a direct source for “Wolf Hall”, and to put an excellent read that dryly answers the 20th Century tendency to hagiography you mention. “A Man for All Seasons” was a case in point, although I loved Leo McKearn’s Cromwell in it. The Rylace portrayal on the screen is influenced by the need TV people have to make someone both consistent and likeable if you are going to sell a show. Yes, the book is moire complex, but still (ahemmm) a whitewash on many levels….but at least Henry is not represented as quite so straight ford a villain as he is in Sansom. This trend to simplify Henry is one of the very few criticisms I have for Sansom’s work.

  • Greenflag 2

    The British /English/Scots /Welsh/Irish never got a chance to ask those questions . Their ruling class /elites/and imperial profit seekers and warmongers did the business . The people/sheeple mostly followed . Those who did’nt or refused or protested ended up like Wat Tyler or the Peterloo martyrs or many others -dead or exiled . Today the people are still following the profit seekers of the oil industry or the international financial sector as they gouge out whatever they can from whatever mayhem they can create albeit with seemingly more democratic support from our bought political leaders be they British , American or anyone else .

  • Cosmo

    Great recommendations for my new Kindle ! Hagiography was all the rage in 12thc too !
    syphillis seems a good ‘reason’ for the decline in behaviour of quite a few mad tyrants. Oh, and gout of course.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes, but what I meant is that most, although not all of the British completely buy into ” We’re the good guys, always on the side of righteousness and godliness, the white mans burden etc.”

    They don’t question it because they accept it as a part of their history which they believe overall was a great thing.

    Meanwhile the Irish – although thankfully not all – are tying themselves in knots wittering on about the rights and wrongs of standing up to an imposed foreign power which more often than not acted malevolently and with self interest against the Irish nation.

    I find it incredible, must be the English half of me which doesn’t mind a bit of violence if in the right cause!

  • Anglo-Irish
  • SeaanUiNeill

    Utter derailing (I’ll stop after this, Mick). One of my distant ancestors (female line) at the Mountalto estate in the hours before the battle of Ballynahinch overheard the retiring Defenders shout back “we have not come to fight for the Frenchies, we came to fight for king Henry….”

    As a good protestant he was somewhat confused, thinking they meant Henry VIII, not someone any good Catholic (let alone Republican) should approve of……

    Of course they meant Henry IX:


    A neat little detail I sadly never got to tell Breandán Ó Buachalla!

  • Greenflag 2

    I know not how to respond -Your point here if there’s any seems clouded.

  • Greenflag 2

    Most don’t know their history and are little interested bar the bit they may have learned by rote in school which in later years is re-enforced by the conventional popular mythology . This is as true of Ireland as it is of Britain and Germany and the USA as well as everywhere else .

    All powers in particular imperial powers acted malevolently in their own interests . Thats what the game of who gets to be the biggest and richest Empire requires in order to participate . Empires don’t get to be Empires otherwise .

    Of course all Empires can’t rely solely on the efforts of their ruling class or military/business or religious elites to do the business . There is simply not enough of them . Thus they recruit the middle and working and agricultural classes to do the bulk of the ‘grunt ” work for them in the trenches or wherever . The USA Army today is preponderantly made up of recruits from the Southern (poorer ) States some say as much as 80% . The British Empire also relied on the Scots , Irish , Welsh and Northern and rural Southern English for the bulk of their armed forces even back in the 18th century . For these folks sometimes this led to careers which they could never have had had they stayed down the mine or on the farm or in the mill .

    On balance and overall the Easter Rising imo has led to a better Ireland although it took it’s time . I’m not sure how Home Rule would have worked out had it been implemented for the whole island at the time but on balance I would guess not as good by that I mean that Ireland (the Republic ) would be much more dependent on Britain today -just like NI which IMO would not be a good thing for Britain specifically England .

    In 100 years time we may all be in the same polity again together but that’s for the people of that time eh !

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘ this article runs straight into the trap of trying to assess of ancestors by our own cultural standards.’

    Well said Kensei -Some folks appear to think that 1900 was just like 2015 except the people wore different clothes and most had a lower standard of living and no TV . Sometimes one can only shake one’s head at the too often woeful ignorance !

  • Greenflag 2

    “must be the English half of me which doesn’t mind a bit of violence if in the right cause!’

    So I guess the Irish half doesn’t mind talking about the bit of violence forever and a day as well of course of upping the ante every century or so 😉 I’m going to post a link here if I can find it which kind of explains the Irish tendency to never reach a conclusion or to pretend a conclusion has been found simply because people stopped talking about it 😉

  • Greenflag 2

    Here’s the link


    By a former Irish Government Minister , former bankrupt and bookmaker and still a good guy although prone to making disturbing headlines in the media yet !

    Scroll to the bottom of the article for this in your face piece 🙂

    It’s time we had an honest appraisal of collective personality traits that we have tolerated for too long. Our excessive reverence to cute hoors, successful insiders and charming chancers retards this nation and limits our people.

    Expatriates don’t focus on these familiar flaws. We, remaining here, can’t afford such continued innocent tolerance. Trust provides no basis for transparency.

    Those in authority, by their self-serving actions, have undermined their own credibility. As we reflect during our national holiday, it’s time to redefine our Irishness with some Anglo-Saxon rigour.

    Evolving Irish societal modernisation, involving secular and cosmopolitan trends, must ditch in-built native naïvete.

  • Anglo-Irish

    No, the Irish half of me considers the ‘uprising’ to have been fully justified, as indeed does the English half.

    As for talking about it for ever and a day, only if someone wants to put forward the proposition that it was unnecessary.

    One of the times when my 50/50 situation gave me pause for thought was years ago when I learned that of the 196 countries in the world England/Britain had been at war with all but 22 of them.

    This caused a conflict of emotion, the Irish half thought ” Bloody typical, warmongering bunch of imperialistic thieving gits. ”

    Meanwhile, the English half thought ” Only 22? Seems a shame really, there’s only Sweden that might be a problem, why not go for a full house? ”

    It’s not always easy being Anglo-Irish : )

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well, if you take into consideration where the Free State/Republic started from in 1922 anyone who hasn’t an axe to grind would have to admit that it’s in a far better situation today than it would have been had it continued as a part of the UK.

    There was little to no industry in the state, it was mainly agricultural and dependent upon trade with Britain for its income.

    Compare it with Scotland, Wales, NI and the North and South West of England.

    In 1922 all of those areas had more going for them than the 26 counties.

    An independent Ireland has prospered more than any of them.

    Today the ROI is the fastest growing economy in Europe and has a better credit rating than the UK. This despite the recent recession.

    None of that would have happened had it not been for 1916, celebrations are in order.

    As for a hundred years time, do you think Ireland will be prepared to take the UK under its protection?

  • Anglo-Irish

    As I’ve said before on this forum I do from time to time take a step back and look at both of my peoples and think WT?

    Each have their good points and their bad points.

    The Irish tend to be too introspective and prepared to blame themselves for everything.

    The English tend to be too self assured and can’t see anything wrong with their countries past actions.

    Ireland is a very small country in comparison to Britain and people know people.

    This does tend to lead to a certain amount of ” Leave it to me, I knew your mother well, what a lovely lady, say no more “.

    The UK is a big country by comparison, it takes itself seriously, too seriously at times and has a tendency to whitewash scandals rather than have them out and deal with them at the start.

    No country is perfect and whilst we should never stop trying to improve there are many worse parts of the world to live in than either Ireland or the UK.

  • Greenflag 2

    I’m always hesitant to accept generalisations re national stereotypes mainly because there is some truth to some of them but a lot of bull***t as well – even from former Government Ministers . Having worked and dealt with people from most nationalities and countries I find individuals vary more within nationalities than between them . You come across the same people everywhere speaking different languages . The good the bad and the ugly but in my experience mostly good be it Europe , Asia , Africa or the Americas -Haven;t been to Oceania but I’ll give them the benefit of any doubt.

    Indeed there are much worse parts of the world -a lot worse . What’s important for me is that we maintain our common values which have been hard won over centuries of history and not take them for granted .
    At base that means replacing Governments by votes rather than by bullets . Given modern day increased polarisation in politics particularly in the USA and perhaps in Britain too what we call ‘democracy ‘ is imo in dire need of renewal and reform so that governments represent the people and not just a priviliged minority .

  • Greenflag 2

    That may be re had it stayed within the UK . But we can’t know for sure . Home Rule might have worked and developed the country in ways that would not have been possible for the English regions , Scotland or Wales . If you go back to the mid 1950’s the Republic’s economy was not doing as well as Northern Ireland’s or Scotlands or the English regions . Indeed there was some national anxiety at the time suggesting that ‘Independence ‘ was proving to be unaffordable . Britain’s post war social and educational reforms were much envied in Ireland and not implemented in the Republic until the mid 1960’s .
    It would be naive to omit that fortuitous outside factors also aided the Republic’s economic revival from the 1960’s on -such as the EU – and the lack of an outdated industrial infrastructure which hurt the UK in the 1970’s and 1980’s .

    That said I agree celebrations re 1916 are in order. As for a century hence ? No country’s future is guaranteed and neither is humanity’s . But I’m an optimist and I’d guess that Britain and Ireland will have long reconciled their past issues and that Northern Ireland as a political entity will be regarded as one of those political failures that might have succeeded but for too many reasons to list here -could’nt quite escape it’s past in time ..

  • Greenflag 2

    While its easy from a 21st century political perspective to condemn Imperialism -British or any other as irredeemably evil – there is another side . Many ‘imperialists ‘ were teachers , missionaries , and settlers and people who made a big contribution to various regions of the world ..
    Sometimes imperialists forced change on traditional societies that would have had to change anyway . They also drove economic change which in time produced the political change which sent the ‘imperialists ‘ back home . Think India as just one example . Would these changes have happened without imperialism . Probably but decades later or perhaps not ? Think of two countries Japan and Thailand . Neither were invaded or colonised by the Imperial Powers in the 19th century . One went on to become an Imperial power following the earlier western model the other has only now in recent 20 years ‘modernised ‘.

    As to was the Rising ‘necessary ‘ ? I can’t answer that question either way . It happened and we live with the consequences mostly for the good imo .


  • Anglo-Irish

    I agree totally with you on the point that the majority of people of any race or nationality are decent people who left to their own devices would prefer to live in peace.

    The problem being that we aren’t left to our own devices and unfortunately too many of us, especially the young are influenced by people in positions of power with agendas.

    The influence varies from patriotism to religion to 72 virgins, the aim is the same, get these people to do what I want them to do for my benefit.

    As Lord Acton said ” Great men are almost always bad men ”

    One of our problems being the way we define ‘great’ as said elsewhere kill one man and you’re a murderer kill thousands and they put up a statue to you.

    Educating people at a young age to think for themselves and recognise vested interest when they see it would be good, but why do that when the powers that be may need them to kill for them?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Imperialism didn’t come about with altruistic aims though, did it?

    It’s main aim was the enrichment of a ruling class, and they were prepared to do whatever it took to ensure that.

    Good things did come from it on occasion, in the same way that there is almost always advancement in technology as a result of war but it hardly justifies warfare does it?

    As for ‘ traditional societies that would have to change anyway ‘, who says so?

    Being a bit presumptuous there I’m afraid.

    Who has decided that the western way of life is the one that everyone should adopt?

    Whilst that appears to be American foreign policy it doesn’t make it immutable.

    Despite what they may think, God did not die and leave America in charge of the planet.

    When Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilization he replied ” I think it would be a good idea. ”

    The rising has benefited Ireland and if we accept the premise that sometimes good things emerge from violence, which is what you are saying about the Empire then the rising was beneficial to the people of Ireland and should be accepted as such.

  • pablito

    There was nothing “glorious” about the rebellion of 1916. That year was the nadir of WW1, in which Irishmen along with many other nationalities were dying like flies in Europe. Home Rule had become law in 1914, after many failed attempts, and had been put on the back burner as part of the war effort, with the approval of Ireland’s elected representatives. While 200,000 Irishmen enlisted to fight for king and country. Of the 485 killed, all but the 78 volunteers were innocent victims of a terrorist plot. No wonder they were spat at in the street. The brutal way in which the rebellion was put down with the shooting of its leaders changed Irish opinion in a way that’s known history. But a horrible war was on and there was neither the patience nor the resources available to deal with it in a better way. Ireland was a worse place for it’s post 1916 history than it would have been had parliamentary democracy been allowed to take its course.

  • pablito

    The Unionists have always used their connection to the British crown as and when it suits them. Their real fear in 1914 and beyond was “Home Rule means Rome rule.” Given the subsequent history of the Irish Free State and later Republic, this fear was justified. The special place of the Catholic Church in Ireland meant it effectively ran the education system. Divorce and contraception weren’t available. In any mixed marriage, the Protestant always had to roll over to the prevailing culture. Which is why the already small number of Protestants in the Republic nosedived after partition. The recent referendum result on gay marriage shows that all this is in the past, and a united Ireland today wouldn’t be the threat to the way of life of the Unionists the way it was a century ago. But it was a very real threat then.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Absolute unmitigated nonsense and horse manure of the highest order.

    A few points which have apparently escaped your notice.

    ‘Home rule had become law’, really?

    Ever heard of the Ulster covenant signed by over 100,000 men in direct opposition to Home Rule?

    25,000 rifles and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition were imported into Ulster from Germany to arm the UVF who made it quite clear what their intentions were if Home rule were to be enacted.

    In March 1914 fifty seven British officers based at the Curragh opted to be dismissed rather than oppose the Ulster threat of violence.

    The British government basically rolled over when faced with this threat.

    This showed the nationalists exactly what needed to be done to obtain concessions from the British.

    In the all Ireland general election of 1918 Sinn Fein won 73 of the 105 seats and had the unionists been prepared to accept the democratic will of the people then all the subsequent bloodshed would have been avoided.

    ‘Had parliamentary democracy been allowed to take its course’!

    You’re right about one thing though, there was nothing glorious about the Easter Rising but it was necessary and effective to a point.

    And having looked at the grave of my 19 old cousin killed on the Somme I can tell you that there was nothing glorious about that debacle either.

  • Thomas Barber

    Indeed Anglo and they built the Empire with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other.

  • pablito

    The question of what to do about the Unionists hadn’t been resolved in 1914, negotiations were put on hold for the war effort.. As I wrote elsewhere on this thread, “Home Rule means Rome rule” was a real fear of the Unionists and the subsequent history of the Irish Free State/Republic demonstrates that it was a justified fear. It should all of been up for debate at the proper time, as agreed by Ireland’s MP’s. You are right that it was effective to a point, as it totally transformed the Irish political landscape, but it didn’t “need to be done.” There was enough killing going on. And BTW, I think most of us lost relatives on the Somme.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well we will have to agree to disagree, without the rising there would not be an independent country called Ireland, and I believe that it is right that Ireland should be in charge of its own destiny, at least in as much as any country is in this day and age.

    As for people getting killed in order for that to be achieved – whilst that was obviously regrettable – I think that the Irish criticising themselves over events that took place 100 years ago is nonsense.

    In particular when you take into consideration the totally ruthless nature of their opponents and the amount of deaths they had been responsible for over the centuries the amount of negative introspection going on is ridiculous.

    As for the ‘Home Rule is Rome Rule’ nonsense maybe if the unionists had accepted the democratic wish of the people and joined in the running of the place they may have been able to have an influence on that?

    Incidentally, are you aware that out of 60 members of the first Seanad elected in 1922 there were 20 protestants 3 Quakers and 1 Jew ?

    Given the recent successful referendum on same sex marriage and condemnation by the Taoiseach of the churches inaction on abuse it is obvious that the any power that the church may have had is irreparably damaged and will not be recovered.

    As the population of the ROI has now proven without any shadow of a doubt that it doesn’t take instruction on the running of the country from Rome the unionists have less and less reason to keep defying the wish of the majority for a United Ireland have they?

    Think they’ll accept it in a peaceful manner? No, neither do I when it comes to using violence in order to get their way against the wishes of the majority unionists are old hands.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Bit like an armalite and a ballot box? : )

    Which is why although I detest violence from whichever direction it comes I don’t see why state violence is acceptable to some people whilst violence against an unjust state is abhorrent to them.

    It’s all wrong but there are times when it’s necessary,

  • John Collins

    (1) There is no guarantee Home Rule would ever have been followed through on and Ulster would never have agreed to be part of it anyway. (2) GB had broken promises made at the Treaty of Limerick and at the time of the Act of Union before, so Irishmen could not trust them. (3) At the time of the Act of Union the population of all Ireland was 5 million and that of the larger island was 15 million. Fast forward 111 years to the 1911 census and the all Irish population had fallen to 4.3 million, or a drop of 15%. Meanwhile the population of mainland GB had increased to just short of 41 million, an of almost 170%. The Union just was not working for Ireland as a whole. (4) Ulster would always get preferential treatment from any GB Government. As Churchill said ‘We must always look after our friends in Ulster’. Well that made the rest of us understand ‘our place’ in his World all right. (5) By contrast, with Independence ROI representatives were able to go to places like the USA and foster friendships and state their case for American and other multinational firms investing here. Anyone who thinks a British Administration would fight the case for a part of their country that had none of their Party returned, as would be the case for what is now Southern Ireland, is in cloud cuckoo land. It should also be noted that Ireland’s representation at Westminster was going to be reduced to about 50, out of about 680, if Home rule had come. Remember before 1970 Ulster had the princely sum of 12 MPs in the HOC in London.In short our representation in the HOC would be about as useful as a poorly directed fart in a hurricane

  • John Collins

    (1) Well the President or any person holding any position in the ROI was not specifically excluded by law from holding any position by virtue of their religious affiliation unlike GB where the Sovereign, the PM (effectively) and the Chancellor of Exchequer cannot be RC even today.(2) And remember the British were not too keen on divorce at the time the Irish Constitution of 37. After all Edward V111 had to abdicate because he wanted to marry a divorcee. (3) The reasons for the decline of the Protestant population are much more complex I feel that simply blaming ROI governments for it. Firstly the Ne Temere RC Church rule, which was grossly unjust, was in operation since 1908 and their is no evidence that the GB governments of the day ever severely challenged the RC Church authorities about it. Secondly a normally low birth rate, combined with high emigration and little if any inward movement, would not have helped as shown in Germany to day, where it is alleged every second pregnancy ends in an abortion. Thirdly there was a serious loss of men from the Protestant tradition in WW1 and of course this impacted on the maintenance of Protestant numbers. Fourthly the big Houses,where Protestants usually held the best jobs, all but disappeared, thus forcing further emigration.
    (4) It should be also remembered that the plum clerical and administrative positions in large Protestant firms like Guinness were the the domain of Protestants. The first RC to work in a clerical position in Guinness was a brother of Gay Byrne and he was not appointed until 1953 a full 31 tears after independence

  • Greenflag 2

    Generally agree but human nature in its political manifestation is subject to all kinds of environmental , economic , religious and other influences . Societies have always had to adapt to new conditions , environments or whatever . Traditional societies adapt or they go under has been the human experience everywhere . The adage that no man is an island also holds true for nations . North Korea in todays world might say otherwise but I’ll bet that there will be a United Korea before there is a UI .

    Nobody decided that the western way i.e capitalism in its modern guise is the only way for nations to govern themselves . It is the outcome of 500 years or so of economic development and the Age of Enlightenment and the American and French Revolutions .

  • Blamigo

    Spin it all you want, the economy tanked and had to be bailed out.

  • Anglo-Irish

    I doubt that there will be a United Korea before a United Ireland.

    Also, many countries claim to be democracies but not so many actually are.


    A good case could be made for claiming that the UK is not a democracy in the true meaning of the word.

    A democracy is government by the people, in other words the people vote and the majority of the votes elect the government.

    No UK government since WW2 has managed to obtain even 50% of the votes cast.


    The Labour government of 2005 held a majority in the House of Commons despite the fact that it obtained only 35.2% of all votes cast.

    In other words more people have voted for parties other than the government which was elected since the war, in what way is that democratic?

    Add in an unelected upper house which has an input into legislation, an unelected monarchy which is allowed access to state business not available to the electorate and the presence of the unelected Remembrancer on the floor of the house of commons when it is in session and the claim to be a democracy starts to look a little iffy.

    Ireland is a far more democratic country than the UK.

  • Blamigo

    Irish peple don’t give a rats ass about the sins of Empires, only their next door neighbours.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Why do you think that might be?

    Could it in any way be connected to the fact that those other Empires didn’t invade their country and murder their people?

    You really need to think things through before posting.

    You’ve just responded to a day old posting and that’s the best you could come up with?

  • Anglo-Irish

    I don’t engage in ‘spin’ I prefer facts, and the facts are that the UK had no choice but to support Irish banks because UK banks were equally culpable when it came to unsecured lending.

    It is also a fact that the ROI is currently growing at a faster rate than the UK and can borrow money at a more advantageous rate than the UK.

    It is also a fact that the UK has in the past had to go cap in hand to the IMF.


    You do need to think things through before posting.

  • Thomas Barber

    “Bit like an armalite and a ballot box”

    Would anyone object if ……

    Someone was involved in an IRA operation and while trying to escape was stopped by the RUC or British army and asked where were they coming from or where were they were going, they would hardly say they were just involved in an IRA operation and were heading home, they would say they were just returning from or just going to a St Vincient De Paul meeting.

    The ballot box in one hand and an armilite in the other analogy is no different than the above in most republicans eyes which was the context Danny Morrison was using, like you said its wrong but sometimes neccessary in the minds of those who would use any means neccessary to achieve their aims.

    The British were no different just swap SLR with Armilite.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Agreed , although I always thought that the traditional response when asked by a member of the British army ” Where are you coming from? ” was ” Kilnaman ” and when asked ” Where are you going now? ” it was ” To Kilmore “.

    The old ones are the best! : )

  • MalikHills

    Whether Pearse was “blasphemous” in linking himself and his movement with the martyrdom of Christ is irrelevant.

    He was a man of his time and that’s the way people thought, calling him blasphemous now is as irrelevant as the endless histories and articles condemning Churchill as an imperialist or racist (and there are a gazillion such pieces, despite the claim by Anglo-Irish that British history is never subject to revisionism).

    However, for the modern-day Irish state to commemorate the 1916 Rising on Easter Monday rather than the historically accurate anniversary on which it actually falls is a teeny bit blasphemous. It is wrong to link the commemoration of a significant historical event that deserves recognition not with the actual historic anniversary but with an entirely separate and sacred religious celebration.

  • pablito

    However I still believe that the only excuse for politically inspired violence is when they take away your vote. Irish nationalism is and always has been a legitimate political aspiration, which would have come about in the 20th century through democratic means. Taking the gun out of Irish politics was always the hope of its greater statesmen.

  • pablito

    It may well be that if the Unionists had participated fully in Irish politics that their voice would have been heard. But following partition, De Valera’s government set out to thoroughly gaelicise and Catholicise the 26 counties to the extent that they could never have expected the Northern Protestants to want to be part of such a state. I remember Garrett Fitzgerald in the 1980’s saying that before we can talk of a united Ireland, we need to be the sort of country to which people would want to be united.

    Many things have changed in that time. Ireland has become a prosperous country, and as you point out, the Church isn’t something to fear as it was a century ago. So now, there would be a lot to say in favour of a united country, provided it’s the democratic wish of the people there.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Where did I say that British history is never subject to revisionism?

    What I said was that the British as a people don’t continually beat themselves up over the transgressions and crimes of the Empire.

    Unlike the Irish who have way too many people wringing their hands and wittering on about ” should we have done it, wasn’t it awful blah blah blah!”

    Both points are of course generalizations, and there are obviously many exceptions but generally speaking ;

    English person ” God was an Englishman and we brought civilization to Johnny Foreigner. ”

    Irish person ” Weren’t we a terrible bunch altogether, going off like that and fighting those lovely Brits who would have given us all our hearts desire if only we weren’t such an impatient bunch, sure it was only 747 years, couldn’t they have waited a bit longer?

    As for Churchill, he was both a racist and corrupt ( check out Burmah Oil ) he was also the right man at the right time, but if it hadn’t been for WW2 his career would have ended in ignominy.

    Agree about the date by the way and as the 24th is on a Sunday what’s the problem?

  • Anglo-Irish
  • John Collins

    Well as far as the vote is concerned in 1916 only men over 35 years could vote and women had no vote and really Home Rule was going to be only applied to 26 counties at best. And you see what had happened the greatest constitutional nationalist of the all back in 1843 when O’Connell’s popular repeal movement was bullied into submission by the threat of military force. I firmly believe also that if we had remained part of Britain we would be substantially worse off that we are now, despite all our difficulties. Since Independence our population in the Republic has grown by about 60% which is almost the same percentage as GB over the same period. And no without force we would probably never have achieved full independence. You should read a speech in the HOC by Dr Robert Ambrose MP on the 24 February 1901. (It is available on line through Hansards) In it he quotes several prominent English Politicians of the Nineteenth Century, who opined that any major concession Catholic Ireland got in that century was achieved by violence or the threat of it. Tellingly they also state that those concessions should not have been given and would not have given if solely peaceful means were used to obtain them. The simple fact is that in 1916 there was a widespread view that the only language that the British understood came from the barrel of a gun. The outcome of the 1918 election adequately bears this out. I do not agree with violence of any kind but without I think it is true we would never have achieved the level of independence we have today.

  • pablito

    I don’t dispute that Ireland is much better off in every way than had it remained part of Britain. I just abhor political violence. In 1922 the British Empire was still intact. Ireland was the first country since the American Colonies to buck its might. Considering how the Empire unravelled in the 20th century, do you really believe that Ireland would have a problem with independence today? The violence with which the Free State came into being. The trade wars of the 1930’s. The enshrining of the special position of the Catholic Church in Irish Society, Ireland’s neutrality in WW2 and the way in which the UK depended so much on the help it received from the North, all served to copper bottom the partition in a way it was never meant to be, except in the minds of hard line Unionists. I’ve always believed that Ireland should have followed Wolfe Tone’s United Irishmen and given up sectarianism in 1798, but that’s another story. Much of the history of the 20th century only served to exacerbate sectarianism.

  • John Collins

    Well we agree on the first sentence anyway. And I do abhor political violence also. However when you look at how the British threatened the Scottish people in the recent referendum you see how difficult it would have been to beat the Brits in a straight fight with the main parties,every major media outlet and a hard core of elderly voting, who would always vote for the status quo. And anyway if they wrought the same economic devastation on us that they had during the time of the Act Of Union we would have nothing left worth in this country worth fighting for. We would be left with a huge amount of dependence on the UK as can be seen north of the border at the moment. I am not sure we should be regretting our neutrality in WW2. As De Velera said when major wars are finished only the big boys get anything out of it. This must have rung very true for Churchill when Rossevelt and Stalin sidelined him at Yalta. If British world influence was diminished after WW 2 how little would our contribution be regarded, Anyway we took a full part in WW1 on the side of Britain and they did their level best to frustrate the will of the Irish people after it.

  • Thanks Tank

    Patsy has views on many things that can only be described as exceptionally bizarre.

  • Mac an Aistrigh

    You clearly don’t read the Guardian!

  • Anglo-Irish

    No I don’t and not many do.


    When you consider that the Daily Mail and the Sun are among the most popular papers you can hazard a wild guess as to the general attitude of the English toward ‘Johnny Foreigner’ which tends to include anyone not not born in England, and some who are but from the wrong ethnic group.

  • Mac an Aistrigh

    Gott strafe England;
    God save the King;
    God this, God that and God the other thing
    On every side the warring nations shout:
    My God, said God, I’ve got my work cut out!

  • Greenflag 2

    Indeed -the 1914 version of a multi tasking Deity confronting the insanities of his/her own creation according to some . A full time job even in 2016 from the Middle East to North Africa and Ukraine to the Khyber Pass .

  • Croiteir

    Irish republicanism has never taken its cue from French republicanism. The founding document, the Proclamation, in its penultimate sentence states: “We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God”. In the GPO, Desmond Fitzgerald was deeply unhappy with a note from a subordinate officer dated the first (or second etc.) day of the republic, “as that method of dating seemed to associate the Rising with the French Revolution, an association that was utterly repugnant to me”. He had long discussions adducing theological arguments in favour of the Rising with Joseph Plunkett, whose father, a Papal Count, had gone to Rome to make sure at least that Pope Benedict XV would not condemn the Rising under British pressure. Afterwards, Bishop O’Dwyer reacted forcefully and publicly to General Maxwell’s attempts to induce the hierarchy to do that. – See more at: http://irishcatholic.ie/article/secular-agenda-should-not-hijack-rising#sthash.sJfzA0Cq.dpuf