Now that St Patrick's Day has passed by and the world has as per usual forgotten about Ireland, the Irish and their history I am putting this down as it has been on my mind for a while.
My friend Jim Morrow the lover of Yeats and son of the West tells me there is a new history of Ireland he is reading and related to me how difficult it is to read about Cromwell's conquest. This from wikipedia:
The extent to which Cromwell, who was in direct command for the first year of the campaign, is responsible for the atrocities is debated to this day. Some historians argue that the actions of Cromwell were within the then-accepted rules of war, or were exaggerated or distorted by later propagandists; these claims have been challenged by others.
The impact of the war on the Irish population was unquestionably severe, although there is no consensus as to the magnitude of the loss of life. The war resulted in famine, which was worsened by an outbreak of bubonic plague. Estimates of the drop in the Irish population resulting from the Parliamentarian campaign vary from 15–25% to half and even as much as five-sixths. The Parliamentarians also deported about 50,000 people as indentured labourers.This from Irish Central:
Clearly the "Lord Protector" was responsible for yet another of Ireland's "holocausts", perpetrated by the English over the ages. The English to this day don't understand why the Irish in particular do not wish to be maltreated and denigrated as second-citizens, to be cursed as "papists", etc by joining them in the "Greater Britain" which now seems to be devolving anyway.
For me I have always been astounded by the virulence of the hatred the English developed for the Church in such a short time and for the most immoral and flimsiest of reasons.
Today the media in Europe, Canada and the USA never discusses a more complete Irish history which must include an honest look at all the nightmares visited on Ireland and the Irish by the English through power, greed and hateful racialism down through 800 years.
In our time if it is discussed at all, it is as if Irish history begins with the Easter Uprising of 1916. The centuries before that occurrence - all of the complexity, characters progress, defeats, movements, and political discourse - is submerged below a sea of British history in which the Irish are viewed as ungrateful, contrary, bog-stomping, savages, quaint in manner and appearance when the English observer feels benevolent, and ugly, backwards, and violent when he's not.
Just as Europeans, (who love to call the USA "racist") never seem to have a frank, open, serious debate on their parts in the African slave trade. These nations like Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and of course England that commenced, developed, profited immensely by, and in the end summarily abandoned all responsibility for the victims of what must be viewed as the worst single atrocity in the history of human interaction.
When one looks back and compares it is easy to see that the English practiced for their future empire, on poor Ireland and its peoples, instituting all the hateful policies (rendition, deportation, partition, racialism, genocide, forced-labour plantations) that became so well known as Britannia ruled more and more of the world's peoples. When it became apparent there weren't enough Irish to man their outposts, they plundered an entire continent to staff their sugar, cotton, and coffee plantations.
They love to point fingers now, the Europeans, and perhaps that is a good thing, but at one time they countenanced no interference or showed any tolerance toward critics of their imperial will. I think it's high time for more serious re-evaluation and compensation if not reparations.