Water Man Spouts

Monday, August 01, 2005

H2O Man's "appreciation" to DUers.....

{1} Introduction
"If you had the luck of the Irish,
You'd be sorry and wish you were dead.
You should have the luck of the Irish,
And you'd wish you were English instead.
A thousand years of torture and hunger
Drove the people away from their land.
A land full of beauty and wonder,
Was raped by the British brigands.
.....In the 'Pool they told us the story
How the British divided the land.
Of the pain, the death and the glory
And the poets of auld Eireland."-- John Lennon; "Luck of the Irish"
I wanted to thank the people on DU who contributed to the "H2O Man Appreciation Thread" today. Although I'm a gruff and grumpy old man, it meant a lot to me. I had thought I would put something organized on here tonight, and was sitting trying to write an outline in my mind, when my older daughter walked by, and asked me if she could use the computer, as I was sitting and staring into space. So I showed her the thread, and said that apparently a few people care about what goes on in my head when I stare blankly.She said, "Well, since I turned 11, I've found that your opinion isn't always right." Probably exactly what I needed to hear, before my head expanded, and all traces of thought become lost. Anyhow, I am not going to say anything very organized or planned out .... because I have an 11-year old girl who wants a turn on the computer. But maybe, in some strange way, I can tie a few random thoughts together.
{2} The Irish Penal Laws"...a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment, and degradation of a people, and debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man..." --Edmund Berke; Letter to Sir Hercules LangrisheIn an essay on the Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, that I posted earlier this week, I wrote about the trade relationships between urban city/states, and outlying rural areas. The city/states depend on the natural resources of the rural lands, in order to support them.For example, a city doesn't produce enough food to provide for its inhabitants; hence, a New York City will "import" both food and water. Food, fuel, and "man-hours" are the three most important resources that city/states import.The larger the city/state, the larger the area it needs to trade with in order to meet its needs. When the rural population shares the same racial, ethnic, religious, language, and other "identities" of the city/state, the more pleasant and fair the trade relationship. When the peoples are different, we have something that is defined as imperialism, which often becomes colonialism. More, the relationships become far more exploitive and oppressive.Many years ago, mid-way between the Roman Empire and the Bush Empire, the British Empire was so large, that the sun never set upon it. One of the places that the most exploitive and oppressive examples of imperialism was found in Ireland. I think it might be of interest to us to take a look at the "Later Penal Laws" in Ireland.
{3} "Like good wine the Penal code improved with age."-- Seumas MacManus; "The Story of the Irish Race"The early penal laws in Ireland were primarily imposed as a means to oppress the largely rural population, so that the English could have a favorable trade relationship. This included introducing a certain amount of non-Irish to the island, generally to settle in the port areas. But the majority of the island remained "Irish," though its resources were being stolen.Now, most DUers are familiar with the earlier Cambro-Norman invasions of Ireland, and how over the years, the invaders became absorbed into the Irish culture .... giving the world families like the Galloways. The English were also aware of this, and so they attempted to keep as many social walls between the Irish and the colonists in the norhwest as possible. We are all aware that the Catholic-Protestant divide has been used to oppress Ireland for centuries.It's interesting to note, however, that after the "Williamite" wars,(which led to a temporary role of traditional Irish influence in self-government) and as a consequence of the Limerick Treaty, in the early 1700s, the colonists in Ireland were afraid the Catholics would exact a bloody revenge. The Irish militia, though appearing to be peasants, had defeated the professional army of the Brits in terrible battles, and there was fear they would be vicious.But those who suffer oppression often are the most peaceful when they gain power. The Irish actually passed laws granting freedom of religion, so that being Catholic or Protestant made no difference in a person's status. And other parts of Irish culture were attracting attention in Britian and Europe. The single most important one was the long-recognized belief that women were equal to men. Not exact. Equal. (Now you understand why my daughter's comment got me started on this!)
{4} "... Conceived by demons, written in blood, and registered in Hell." -- Montesquieu; A French Jurist's Description of Irish Penal Law.People do not kill that which they hold in contempt; they kill that which they fear. And the British "royalty" feared the ideas expressed by the Irish. For those ideas -- freedom, equality, and the value of being sovereign -- were ideas that threatened the status of those who lived in luxury, but who contributed no more to society than a tape worm does to its host.The Irish could no longer be simply colonized and exploited: they had to be utterly destroyed. Hence, we find these laws were imposed:The Irish were forbidden to practice their religion.It was illegal to be educated.It was illegal to practice a profession.They could not hold public office.They could not own a business.They could not live in a corporate town, or within 5 miles of one.They couldn't vote.They couldn't own land.They could not leash land.They could not use their land as a security for a loan.They were forbidden to keep any weapons.They couldn't buy, inherit, or receive a gift of land from a Protestant.They couldn't rent land worth more than 30 shillings a year.They could not reap benefit of over 1/3rd of their rent.They could not be guardians to children.They could not leave children with Catholic relatives. They were compelled to attend Protestant services, and donate to Protestant church-schools their children were forbidden to attend.Attending church or school were offenses that were punishable by death. Both priests and school teachers were hunted by professional military men, using Irish bloodhounds.In most city-state relationships with rural populations, there is found a tendency to have those displaced from the land move into the city. There, they form ethnic neighborhoods, and provide large pools of cheap labor for industries. As we can see, in Ireland, the goal included keeping them out of the cities. There "No Irish allowed!" signs that would become a part of the American experience actually started in Irish cities at this time.On the gates of one town was a sign which read: "Enter here, Turk, Jew or athiest; Any man except a papist." Below it, an Irishman wrote: "The man who wrote this wrote it well; For the same is writ on the gates of Hell."
{5} "But sometimes the troops came on them unawares, and the Mass Rock was bespattered with his blood -- and men, women and children caught in the crime of worshipping God among the rocks were frequently slaughtered on the mountainside." -- MacManusTwo figures that stood out in the "Later Penal Law" era were the rebel priest, and the hedge school master. The priests had to live in the wilderness. They lived in caves and under rock ledges in the most isolated mountains in the southwest. Some, who dared to venture closer to populated hamlets, lived in the bogs that allowed them to escape the bloodhounds.They held religious services at the old, pre-Christian sacred sites. These included at boulders on the mountains; near springs and wells that were long recognized as being where powers existed; and at the cromlechs (or dolmen) that are composed of three great standing stones, connected by flat slabs resting on them -- which had a special symbolism to the Irish.The "hedge masters" were the school teachers. They tended to fit in with the general population, much like a fish in the ocean. They were usually tenet farmers who did not appear as anything other than peasants to the British. But, at odd hours, they would teach small classes of Irish children, hidden by the hedges along a lonely stretch of road.In my family, there were both rebel priests and hedgemasters. The rebel priests rarely had children, or so I have been told. But for this discussion, I shall focus on one hedge master. He lived near Limerick, and records from the Royal Irish Academy show that he had taught "Fair Penmanship, Correct Reading, Arithmatic, Book-keeping, Euclid's Elements, Algebra, Geography, and the Greek and Latin languages." His specialty were the Gaelic languages, and his manuscripts on the relationship between Irish, Scottish, and Manx are still housed in the RIA.
{6} "My lords, it may be a part of a system of angry justice, to bow a man's mind by humiliation to the proposed ignominy of the scaffold; but worse to me than the purposed shame, or the scaffold's terrors, would be the shame of such unfounded imputations as have been laid against me in this court. You, my lord (Lord Norbury), are a judge, I am a supposed culprit; I am a man, you are a man, also. By a revolution of power, we might change places, though we never could change characters." -- Robert Emmett; (quoted in "The World's Famous Orations," by William Jennings Bryan; Vol VI, pages 137-8; copyright 1908) My ancestor joined the United Irishmen and was sentenced to die after the Uprising of 1798. He was friends with men like Robert Emmett and John Philpot Curran. Being friends with Curran, the noted attorney, saved his life.I'm far more proud that he was a hedge master, than that he was to become an "Honorary" Member of the Gaelic Society, with manuscripts that are still considered of great value in the study of the Irish language. It means more to me to sit along the "information higfhway" on DU, and to debate the great issues of the day, than to mingle with the high and mighty. I've done both. Today I am in a position to do whatever I please, and I like that I can post my little essays on DU, and discuss them with people here.
{7} Robert Kennedy:"What do you think of Che Guevara?"Roger Baldwin: "I think he's a bandit. What do you think?"Robert Kennedy: "I think he's a revolutionary hero."-- "Robert Kennedy"; Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.; page 861Of course, the United Irishmen's uprisings led to greater oppression, including the Great Starvation, where the British royalty were guilty of genocide in Ireland in one of the ugliest chapters of human history. At that time, more than a million Irish came to North America. It changed the culture here.One of the greatest Irish-American politicians was Robert Kennedy, Sr. Towards the end of his life, he told a British journalist that if he had not been born rich, he would been a revolutionary. Alice Roosevelt Longworth saw this quality in him, and Schlesinger quotes her as saying, "Bobby could have been a revolutionary priest."If people find this interesting, I may do a second part that explores part of the Irish contribution to American culture that our history books ignore. Are people familiar in the Anti-Rent War? Interested in learning about it?


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