A day without crime fiction and with Ireland
To an intelligent but inattentive and relatively ignorant North American, such as your humble blog keeper, Irish history has heretofore been simple: English = Protestant = Unionist, and Gaelic = Catholic = Nationalist. But even a short introductory history may disabuse you of some of these notions as it did me.
Start with the "English" invaders of the 12th century, whose language was French. Move on to John de Courcy, one of their number, who, in one commentator's words, "was converted into a true Irishman." This "Englishman," among other things, commissioned a life of St. Patrick. Add the great 18th-century Irish Protestant nationalists, such as Wolfe Tone, or the Act of Union of 1800 to merge the Irish and British parliaments, a move opposed by some Protestants wary of English interference, favored by some Catholics who anticipated better treatment from the English than from Irish Catholics.
Or splits between Presbyterians and the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. Or the violent divide between Irish nationalism and republicanism. Or my favorite, a historical fact that might earn anyone who cited it an arse-kicking on either side of the sectarian divide: that William of Orange was a political ally of the pope's when he fought the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. (Their common enemy was Louis XIV of France.)
This blog will return shortly to its regular programming. Until then, may the wind be always at your back except when you're coming toward me from the opposite direction.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008