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Irish History

I am not a history buff, by any stretch of the imagination, so off I went in search of a reliable source to document some Irish history for Erin's Web. I found them at The Irish Times - A Historical Prespective. To read these chronologies yourself, click on the Irish Times link above.

After reading the Irish history chronologies compiled by The Irish Times, I had a pretty good idea of what events occurred since the beginning of time in Ireland. Wars battled and blood shed. Lots of it. It was spilling over the brim with racism, prejudice and hatred for one another. Were you Protestant or Catholic, you had enemies you didn't even know you had, and who knew when they'd appear and make themselves known?

The Irish were treated as second class citizens where ever they went whether it be into a town infiltrated by the English or in America, should they survive the passage. Starting with the Kilkenny Statutes and the Penal Laws in the 1600's and early 1700's, it was against the law to use the native Irish. Teaching of Irish was forbidden by the English and was done so in an effort to subjugate the Irish to British rule and law. They were forbidden to own land of more than 31 acres. The Irish were also forbidden to educate their children. The term hedge row schools arose in this time, with children being educated in the seclusion of the large hedges you still see in Ireland, so they all could scatter quickly if they learned an authority was coming. Many Americans are not even aware that the Irish have their own language --just as Germans, Russians, Chinese and Swedish, etc., have theirs. Recently, I was asked to translate words on a bumper sticker tacked to the bulletin board in my office at work. When I translated the Irish words into English ones, she exclaimed, "But the Irish speak English!" I said yes, but they also have their own language. She looked at me in disbelief at first and then issued a resounding "I didn't know that!".

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I was a child who grew up amongst radical activists against the war in Vietnam, and those dedicated to bringing about and maintaining the fair treatment and equal rights of every human on this earth. Not the average childhood, I assure you. I believe that were it not for my environment, I would not have been aware of or paid attention to the many things going on around the world. I distinctly recall a memory that surrounded an event in Ireland. I was two weeks shy of ten years-old and it was 1972. Despite my youthful attention span of about two minutes long, it caught my attention.

It was called Bloody Sunday.

On January 30, 1972, soldiers of the British Army's 1st Paratrooper Regiment opened fire on a peaceful unarmed demonstration in the Bogside, Derry, Ireland (N.Ireland), killing 13 people and wounding many others, one who would later die from his injuries. The march, which was set to protest internment (imprisonment) without trial, was deemed "illegal" by the British Government. Internment was introduced by the British Government in August of 1971. The soldiers would later be found not guilty of murdering these 14 people, half of which were teenagers, barely a few years older than myself. This would be what hit home for me. The fact they were so young, and how could anyone kill anyone, let alone a teenager and get away with it? This would be what would set the stage for my interest in Ireland, or for that matter, being of Irish descent period.

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Later in life I discovered it wasn't the only Bloody Sunday to have occurred. There were Bloody Monday's and Tuesday's and Wednesday's and Thursday's. Friday's too.

Recent events in the North of Ireland surrounding the IRA and those they murdered have really caught my attention. It involved the IRA agreeing to literally unearth some people they murdered during the last twenty years. This act on the IRA's part didn't produce very many bodies and one in particular, Jean, mother of four, was not produced. How would YOU like it if your Mother disappeared one day, never to be seen again, only to find out twenty years later that she's been in some shallow grave somewhere, only her murderers have forgotten where exactly.

A tribute, in the form of a mural, to those killed in the January 30, 1972 Bloody Sunday
A tribute, in the form of a mural, to those killed in the January 30, 1972 Bloody Sunday. Half of those murdered were teenagers. (photo credits-- this photo and one below are unknown)

Someone "in charge" decided she was an informant and decided she should die. Truth was, she was helping someone who had been shot and was lying in the street, bleeding to death. Human nature cost Jean her life and robbed her children of their mother. Having lost my Mother to Cancer, I know what it's like to go without.

Everyone seems to be in charge.

This all proves a very good point: The Irish fighting the Irish in every way possible. It reminds me of something my father said to me once. He said, "...Ya got two Irishmen standing there having an argument and a third Irishman walks up. The third Irishman agrees with the first Irishman and gets the rope that the first Irishman is going to hang the second Irishman with. The Irish have been killin' the Irish for years...".

Tribute Mural

Which brings me to this memory...
I knew someone who lived in Belfast. Both of his parents were killed in a bomb explosion when he and his brother were quite young, and they grew up in Catholic orphanages. Not knowing at the time about the loss of his parents and the manner in which they were taken, I asked him once whether he supported the IRA (Irish Republican Army). He was silent for a time, careful in his answer, and then said, "No, but I can understand how some would". Not quite understanding the gist of his answer, I pressed him further. He said, "It's like if you come into my backyard and do "this", I'm gonna come into your backyard and do "that" ".

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Information to Reflect Upon

The Irish in America
Covers topics such as music, Notable Irish Americans, Genealogy and Language. This is a PBS owned Web site and very easy to interpret for the newbie. It also offers the outline of the program of the same name run on PBS. If you weren't lucky enough to catch it on the tube, it was an excellent production in this Webmistress' opinion. They often re-run these documentaries/programs, and offer a variety of programs about Ireland. Stay tuned to your local PBS stations for future scheduling. Watch the credits though, many are produced by the BBC.

Irish History on The Web
A Web site for Irish history on the Web, composed mostly of links to other sites. It has what looks to be the pathway to every subject known to relate to Ireland and its history. A nonpartisan web site that covers general Irish History to Historical Documents, as well as Irish Studies Programs, Immigration and Genealogy.

LarkSpirit
To quote the creator of LarkSpirit: "LarkSpirit was formed to bring better visibility to the Irish struggle by providing an Internet resource for organizations, publications and individuals who promote freedom with justice for Ireland". Larkspirit is a site that leans to the left.

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