Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ireland comes under full British rule; then independence

So it was that English rule was expanded and consolidated in Ireland, the Tudor reconquest resulting in near-complete control of the country by the turn of the 17th century. So many wars and religious conflicts occurred during this time, it is difficult to list all the various factions involved, but one underlying theme seems always to be the resentment of the English and their domination, coupled with the constant friction between Roman Catholics and their influence, and the Church of England of Henry VIII.

I started this series of posts to try and discover the roots of the still-simmering animosity that continues to this very day. I can't really find one thing that could be considered the root of the conflict, and I don't believe there is one single event that one could point to as a genesis. Rather, what we have in Ireland is the age-old resentment of conquest and occupation, and a guerilla violence which often surfaces - and never really goes away - born as a result of helplessness and impotence to rid one's land of what is still perceived by [much of] the Irish population as a foreign usurper. For this, I see no answer any more than others have. From a neutral vantage point, or as neutral as I can be, it seems to me that Great Britain has given what the Catholic Irish wanted: home rule and then entire independence - retaining only the 6 counties that chose to be and are (and this I don't know for sure) pro-British. What else can one do? One cannot abandon those with long-held ties with the British. I tread lightly here, and am not entitled to an opinion since I am a foreigner to both lands.

There is no need to talk about how the Republic of Ireland came about, or of the Time of Troubles in the 1960s and 1970s. These things are recent enough that most readers are already familiar with how they played out.

I do want to talk about some specific events that happened in Ireland, though, and in the next couple of posts will do that. I will in the process get to Boston.


  1. For myself, I wonder how long it takes for the collective memory of invasion and oppression to fade. There seems to be no resentment towards Italians (Romans) and little towards French (Normans). Somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 years? Not long to wait then.

    Still looking forward to the Boston "Irish".

  2. The European sense of "recent history" is far longer than the American. Our "old" stuff is a few centuries old, at most, while the "new" cathedral in Salamanca, Spain, for instance, was finished in the late 15th century.

    Shakespeare's language was "early modern," not Old English... that was at least 300 years prior. The nasty takeover in the 17th century is unlikely to be forgotten any time soon, nor are aspects of the Protestant Reformation. I can understand the continued resentment, even if I wish it would end.

  3. I should refrain from commenting on the subject of Ireland, but will I be wise enough to do so?

    Oh! it seems not, here it comes.... I've said before and I say again. Ireland, according to St Paddy's supporters in every country of the globe, is the finest land in the world, land of poets and song, land of strong drink and men who love to fight, land of beautiful women and so forth... Oh, I was drinking Guinness in an Irish pub the other night listening to this guff. The truth is that most of the people who claim to be irish have never been there, and if all the claimed "irish" in the world did go there, the country would sink.
    I'd like to propose that only someone who has lived at least ten years in Ireland be allowed to describe themselves as irish. And no fifth generation Bostonian be allowed to perpetrate the "Irish" mythos, on pain of deportation from the USA to the 'auld country'. That would shut the blatherskites up.

  4. Well then, I won't bother with the boring Boston stuff. If they must live in Ireland to retain their Irish culture, then I don't stand a chance because the vast majority of Bostonians live in Boston. :)

  5. The Boston stuff isn't boring, not to me. I'm interested to know how and why they have held on to this culture, how really Irish it is or whether it's evolved into something idealised. It's also interesting from the point of view of immigration. Most immigrants are encouraged to integrate and identify more with the host nation than the one they left.



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