Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dear Daily Telegraph ...

Dear Daily Telegraph,

I wish to apologise. Over the past few days, I’ve been guilty of some sinful thoughts. I have actually taken some pride in honouring the people who lost their lives in the fight for my country’s freedom.

I know, I know … I should be ashamed of myself. They were “terrorists”, the equivalent of Islamic State today if I was to believe what I read in your newspaper.

Those cowardly men and women stabbed the British Empire in the back at the height of the Great War, they were traitors one and all at a time when Irish people should have known that their real “enemies” were over in Germany, Austria, and Turkey.

Dublin, of course, was a “British” city, part of the greatest empire in the history of the world. It was an empire which civilised the “savages” from Egypt to India, Kenya to Pakistan, for so many years.

It was all the rebels’ fault. England was eventually going to treat Irish people with a modicum of respect. It was just a matter of time before you’d begin to treat us as equals and grant us our independence.

I know, I know. The 1916 leaders’ parents and grandparents had seen thousands of their countrymen and women perish in the Great Famine just 70 years before, but it wasn’t Britain’s fault. There was no famine. Food was still being shipped to Britain as the Irish lay dying on the roadsides.

We have a homelessness crisis today, so we haven’t done a great job at ruling ourselves, although there was a bit more of a homelessness crisis in the 1840s, when starving people still had to pay rent to absentee landlords in Britain.

But let’s not talk about that, or the cartoons in British magazines at the time which depicted the starving Irish peasants as a sub-human species.

You didn’t give Catholics a vote for many years, hell you didn’t even allow them to own any land. But, of course, it was just a matter of time . . .

The “terrorists” in the GPO were murderers and you did wonders for the law and order problem by bringing in the Black ‘n’ Tans in response to their terrible uprising. Do English people even know the atrocities that raggle-taggle band of brothers carried out across my land?

I guess the Black ‘n’ Tans don’t feature too prominently on your schools’ curriculum these days. Might make for uncomfortable reading.

By executing the 1916 leaders, the British Empire was only sending out a message. It was wrong, so wrong, to take over the centre of Dublin when Britain was at war and Home Rule was on the way. Eventually. Maybe not for ten years or 20 years or 50 years, but it was on the way. Eventually.

Ireland was part of a parliamentary democracy and we all know that the MPs who sat in Westminster had the best interests of the Irish at heart.

Your columnists believe that the 1916 rebels were their era’s equivalent of Islamic State, and who am I to disagree?

Can’t imagine why my grandfather despised the British Empire after armed soldiers shot up his house in rural East Galway. You can still see the bullet holes today.

Can't imagine why his neighbour hated anything to do with Britain, after being hunted down for five years while he managed to survive "on the run" in haysheds across the West of Ireland.

Can’t imagine why the people of Ardrahan were anti-British after the Black ‘n’ Tans shot an unarmed woman dead at the door of her house as she held a baby in her arms.     
The executed 1916 rebels, by Jim Fitzpatrick

Can’t imagine why the starving Irish who took the ‘Coffin Ships’ to America – and were damn lucky to survive the voyage – might have decided to send funds back to support the “rebels”.

It has taken Ireland a hundred years to come to its senses, you claim, notwithstanding the fact that millions of people of Irish descent are scattered throughout North America because of racist British policies towards my people in the 19th century.

You condemn “our” terrorists for the “collateral damage” caused by the rebels in 1916, yet I never see you question how many innocent lives were lost when Tony Blair decided to join George W. Bush in his ill-fated Afghan and Iraqi wars as recently as a decade ago.

It’s still ok, it seems, for the former empire’s forces to bomb innocent civilians thousands of miles from home in the 21st century, but not for Irish rebels to take over Irish cities and towns in order to proclaim a republic, where men, women, and children might have equal rights.

When your country kept playing the Irish along, promising but never delivering home rule, you played into the hands of the “terrorists”. Irish people instinctively knew they would never achieve freedom without spilling blood.

When your empire’s forces executed the 1916 leaders, you lost all moral authority over the Irish. People would not have voted Sinn Fein 'en masse' in the following General Election if they did not have genuine grievances over the way the country had been governed by colonisers for centuries.

It’s no fun being treated as a second class citizen in your own land – ask the people of Palestine, another country you meddled with for so long. They are still feeling the pain caused by British meddling in other people's affairs to this day.

When you continued to rule part of the island of Ireland, you played into the terrorists’ hands again in 1972, when your wonderful forces shot 14 innocent people in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

They were guilty, too. Guilty of demanding equal rights in a sectarian state, in a city where a single Protestant had a better chance of getting a Council house than a large Catholic family.

You could not have come up with a better recruitment policy for the IRA than slaughtering innocent people on that horrible January day on the Bogside. In one afternoon, you managed to turn a whole generation of young men in a run-down part of the city into "terrorists". Well done.

So spare us your observations about what a backward, priest-ridden society Ireland became after the Empire left these 26 counties.

But, in case you haven’t noticed, we have moved on. Irish people voted overwhelmingly for peace in 1998 and nobody wants to steamroll a million Unionists into a United Ireland. Not against their will, anyways.

We have a President we can be proud of, rather than a “Royal” family – what a quaint and simply absurd concept in the year 2016.

We have an army we can be proud of, who represented us on peace-keeping missions all over the world, from the Congo to the Lebanon.

We have music, games, and a culture we can be proud of, instead of going cap in hand to our bigger neighbours who treated us with disdain – and even racism – for so long.

We still have our ancient language, despite your best efforts to kill it off and to ridicule the peasants who spoke it for centuries.

We didn’t like being subservient to a Government which discriminated against us and we get on much better with the British now, don’t you think, that you treat us as equals.

So, instead of focusing on the shortcomings of our revolutionary “heroes” on this side of the Irish Sea, maybe it’s time to take an uncomfortable look at your own nation’s legacy down through the centuries all across the globe.

Your Empire didn’t “civilise” the Irish, or the Indians, or the Egyptians, or Palestinians, or Malaysians . . . you raped their countries’ resources for as much as you could get and it wasn’t the natives’ fault that you left chaos in your wake, when your beloved Empire began to crumble.

But I guess you don’t teach the lessons of your own troubled history to your children. It might be just a tad too painful to examine how much pain you yourselves have caused for so many years.


* Thanks to legendary Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick for the superb illustration of the 1916 leaders


  1. Good man Ciaran. Very well written.

  2. Oh mo Dhia a Ciaran! Tá an litir seo go hiontach ar fad. Maith thú mó chara!

  3. Oh mo Dhia a Ciaran! Tá an litir seo go hiontach ar fad. Maith thú mó chara!

  4. This article is written in response to a newspaper article. WHAT A BLOODY SHAME the author couldn't not have addressed it TO OUR POLITICIANS ALSO, for the rape and pillage our nation in the name of the common good - Europe, they have subjected our great nation to the same if not worse than the British empire ever subjected the Irish to. By their submissive approach, the politicians of today seem all too willing to adopt all that is Europe and by doing so, they have insured that we Ireland, the Irish People, will always be subservient to the "Master" who ever they may be. I hope I live to witness the day when the ordinary citizen of this beautiful nation, like the patriots of 1916 say "No we've had enough" and take Ireland back for ALL it's citizens, as the so carefully thought out and worded proclamation stated, so that right or wrong WE the people of Ireland, can, as it should be, choose our own destiny. May God Bless Ireland and all who believe in her.

  5. Was shocked when I read the article this letter is written in response to. The author literally hasn't a clue about the subject he chose to write about. So much so, that he actually thought the Irish rebels of 1916 stole the phrase Easter Rising from Jesus. Even though naming their actions was probably the last thing on their minds. Surviving the coming onslaught was more likely the focus of their efforts.

  6. Question: what was he doing reading that load of bollix in the first place?

  7. Very fine ; martyrs from so many lands that the sun would never set on them are smiling !

  8. Two things. The Home Rule Bill had been signed into law and was on the Statute Book and was merely suspended for the duration of hostilities. It was not a case of whether but when. Secondly, I don't believe in using violence to achieve political ends and in this I am fairly absolutist. However those who do excuse it can hardly complain when bombs kill innocents, whether in Lahore or Omagh.

  9. I'd like to see the Telegraph reply to this. Probably get lost in the post!

  10. I'd like to see the Telegraph reply to this. Probably get lost in the post!

  11. Gerard, Gladstone introduced the Home Rule Bill in the 1880s. As Ciaran says, its implementation was coming...eventually.

  12. Brilliant article .Says it all really,

  13. Well said Ciaran. Brilliantly written.

  14. Daily Telegraph scratching heads.

  15. Haystacks!? Whatever about your convictions this is worse written than the tabloid editorial you object to!

  16. Whist as an English man I find the actions of our forbears reprehensible, I was led to believe that the land owners included a lot of Irish landlords! That certainly does not exclude the actions of any during the famine or afterwards and today it appears that some of the Irish politicians are making free with the economy and clearly wasting tax payers money whilst they decide if they can form a government. I guess the issue has been and will always be those with power abusing it.
    I have not read the telegraph article and frankly wouldn't read anything in that staunchly Tory rag. It, as well as the daily mail, is well known for its unbalanced drivel and please let me assure you that the majority of British people would not even use it to wipe their arses.
    The problem that pervades Britian is that it is so embarrassed by its Empirical history that as a nation we are not allowed to be proud of being British or we are branded racists or members of right wing groups like the English Defence League or worse still UKIP. The Irish celebrate St Patrick's day and their proud traditions of culture and music. In Britian, St Andrew, St David and St George are all but forgotten as to celebrate them is to remind everyone about the Empire and all its mistakes.
    I guess the point I'm making is I now live in Ireland and love Galway, Mayo, Connemara were I have chosen to bring up my children. I would urge all take no notice of the claptrap that gets published in shitty foreign comics and smile knowingly at the sad feckers who write it. After all those of us in the know, know this is a great place and are secretly jealous that you have so much to celebrate.

    1. Daniel,

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply and I'm delighted you are enjoying life in then West of Ireland.

      In parts of Connemara some British landlords had "first night rights" with new brides.

      I think most Irish people realise The Mail and Telegraph don't reflect the views of the majority in Britain.

  17. Says it all and brilliantly so. Thanks