Monday, August 23, 2010

At this rate, Boston Irish knowledge is many miles down the road

When one tries to give an overview of a country's history - say, Ireland's history - it is important not to go too far back in time. People don't want TOO much information, after all. This would seem to be especially true if the information were being given in a blog post. Accordingly, we are going to skip right over the Ice Age and the Bronze age and like that.

Actually, since this is really trying to be a history of only Ireland's POLITICAL association with England and, later, Great Britain, I am also going to skip right on over St. Patrick and the Norman Evasion. (I think the Normans more or less evaded Ireland; it may have been an oversight.) A few years after the Norman invasion of England, though, they DID begin to take notice of Ireland. You must understand this was back when Ireland still had trees.

Would that I could also skip right over the Roman Catholic church in Ireland. Or ANY church. No offense.

I DO want to fast-forward as much as possible, though, trying desperately to fly right up to Henry VIII's time, which, I think, at least, was quite a turning point for Ireland.

In order for me to do that you are just going to have to fill in the mental blanks about Ireland being invaded with some regularity by this or that king, resulting in various English kings more or less just assuming Ireland was, well, THEIRS.

You did have your Normans, accompanied by your assorted English. The Norman aggression in Ireland was led by Richard de Clare, I declare, who was also known as "Stongbow" due to his prowess with...... arrrrgh! don't make me say the obvious.

As you probably surmise, Norman/English history does not call this land grab an "aggression." It was more like, "We-just-wanted-Ireland-so-we-took-it." Like that.

Then there was more fighting and more treaties and finally some Bull by a papal, and, boy, when the papal bulled, the Normans listened, and you can take that to the bank, Betty.

Still not getting much closer to Henry VIII. I must leave even more out.

In the 14th century, following the Black Death, the Normans went into decline in Ireland. This was largely because they had all died in the Black Death. That's not precisely true, of course, since only 60% of Europe died of the Black Plague. But enough Norman descendants died so that a kind of hybrid Hiberno-Norman culture evolved. ::shudder::

To combat this cultural invasion-by-proxy, if you will, the Irish Parliament decreed that those buggers must speak only English and observe English laws and customs, so as to keep themselves obviously apart from the "real" Irish. No assimilation wanted, thank you very much. These were known as the statues of Kilkenny. Ummm... Statutes of Kilkenny.

The English paid as much attention to the Irish Parliament as they usually did, though, and, by 1494, everything the Irish Parliament did was subject to an okey-dokey by the English Parliament.

This brings us, historically-speaking, much closer to an event known as the Tudor reconquest of Ireland. If the name Tudor rings a bell, then you are up to speed with me.

There is even more.

You betcha.

Note: You would be wise not to click on Sue Thompson's album cover. Just a casual warning.


  1. Did you know that there are a number of words in Irish that come directly from French? Garsún (boy) from garçon, for instance.

    As you will have guessed, I did click. I am none the wiser.

  2. I must admit that I didn't know. I thought the French had borrowed garçon from the Irish. :)

  3. What I was trying to say, in the vaguest possible way, was that you could say that Ireland was occupied by the French. The Normans invaded Britain who went on to occupy Ireland.

    The English that people were compelled to speak had been infiltrated by French in the same was as the nation. But it's interesting, to me at the very least, that garsún skipped English but went straight into Irish.

  4. Yes. True, indeed. Actually, I sort of DID say that about the Normans, I think, down there next to Sue Thompson's picture. But I didn't get into what you are saying about the influence of the Normans' language on the Irish. A good point.

    As an aside, Norman wasn't really a Norman, I don't think. I took unconscionable liberties with that.



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