Tag Archives: United Ireland

Ireland Under Coercion, Revisited: Battling books

This is a work-in-progress blog serial about aspects of the 1888 book Ireland Under Coercion: The Diary of an American, by journalist William Henry Hurlbert. Previous posts and other background material are available at the project landing page#IUCRevisited

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“This sort of ostrich fury is common enough among the regular drumbeaters of the Irish agitation.”
–William Henry Hurlbert

An earlier post in this series mentioned Hurlbert’s reference to French journalist Paschal Grousset’s 1887 newspaper dispatches from Ireland, which were collected into the book Ireland’s Disease, the English in Ireland. It was among numerous books published during the 1880s by visitors to Ireland, including Hurlbert’s Ireland Under Coercion.

In a late February 1888 diary entry from Partumna, County Galway, Hurlbert discussed two other recently published books about Ireland, also both written in French: Chez Paddy (Paddy at Home), by Baron Edmond de Mandat-Grancey, and the rebuttal, Pour l’Irlande (For Ireland), by Emile Piché, a French-Canadian priest. The former book favored the conservative government in London, the latter title was sympathetic to Irish tenants.

Hurlbert’s view of Piché’s book is summarized by his quote at the top. He scoffed at Pour l’Irlande’s  frontispiece, which featured a three-headed Cerberus-type monster with three collars labeled, in French, “Flattery,” “Famine,” and “Coercion.” The creature stands atop a pedestal with the inscription: “1800 to 1887. Erected by the grateful Irish to the English Government.”

The year 1800 refers to the Act of Union, which dissolved the Irish parliament and created direct rule from London, which prompted the Home Rule efforts of the 1880s. The labeling of one of beast’s collars as “coercion” refers to government actions against the agrarian uprising. It is opposite of how Hurlbert used the word in his book’s title and throughout its text to refer to the tactics of the Land League and other agrarian activists against landlords and the government.

Hurlbert complained that Piché’s description of the 1887 Glenbeigh evictions wasn’t fair to the land agent or the police. Remember, he had just visited Glenbeigh a few weeks earlier to report about landlord-tenant relations. The American also wrote he was “quite certain” that de Mandat-Grancey came to Ireland “with no prejudice in favor of the English Government, or against Nationalists.”

In discussing other contemporary reporting about Irish issues, Hurlbert knew that his own book would face scrutiny when it was published later that year. The conservative Times of London would write that Ireland Under Coercion was “quite different in character” but “not less interesting” than Chez Paddy, largely because both opposed Home Rule and agrarian reforms. The pro-Nationalist United Ireland described Hurlbert’s “libelous book” as being “fit to take its place amongst other grotesque foreign commentaries [such as] Chez Paddy.” In his criticism of Pour l’Irlande, Hurlbert described United Ireland as “that dumb organ of a downtrodden people.”

More reviews and reactions to Hurlbert’s book in a future post.

NOTES: From pages 249-252 of Ireland Under Coercion: The Diary of an American. … Times of London, 18 August 1888, and United Ireland, 25 August, 1888.

NEXT: Pope’s decree

Copyright 2018 by Mark Holan

Irish government report inches toward island’s reunification

An Irish government committee 2 August released a report provocatively titled “Brexit & The Future of Ireland, Uniting Ireland and its people in peace & prosperity.”

It focuses on what Ireland needs in the final Brexit agreement now being netotiated between the E.U. and the U.K., “particularly in the event of the people of Northern Ireland voting for a United Ireland and what Ireland needs to do in order to peacefully achieve its constitutional obligation.” The report outlines 18 recommendations.

I’m still working my way through the report. I’ll come back with more.

Of note for now, it includes a December 2016 analysis of Northern Ireland finances by the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional Research Office, starting on page 14. U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat, requested the analysis, which highlights “the difficulty in getting the accurate figures” about expenditures and revenue in the six counties.

 

Sinn Féin: Diaspora has role in Ireland’s reunification

Irish republican political party Sinn Féin has released its Towards a United Ireland “discussion document” to renew debate about ending the nearly 100-year-old partition of Ireland. The party’s effort is spurred by the Brexit vote earlier this year.

The 60-page paper, in English and Irish, says the Irish diaspora has a vital role in accomplishing reunification of the island. Of note to Irish Americans, it says:

In the United States, the number of Irish and those of Irish descent numbers in the tens of millions and they enjoy significant political strength. … Many are openly supportive of a united Ireland. So, in any conversation about Irish reunification we need to involve the Irish Diaspora, to reach out to it and to marshal its political strength in support of our goals.

More on reaction to the document in a later post.

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Evolving Ireland: This 1937 map shows the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland 16 years after partition. The Republic of Ireland was created from the Free State in 1948.

 

Adams calls for “new Republic” in Ireland

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called for “a new republic” on the island of Ireland. In a recent County Donegal speech he criticized the 1922 partition for creating “two conservative states ruled in their narrow self-interests by two conservative elites.” Adams said:

The northern state was a one party state which reinforced the institutionalised use of discrimination, sectarianism and segregation. …This [southern] state is the product of the counter-revolution that followed the Rising and of a dreadful civil war which tore out the heart at that time of what remained of the generosity of our national spirit. As the idealism of the aborted revolution waned a native conservative elite replaced the old English elite with little real change in the organisation of Irish society and no real movement towards a rights based dispensation. …Religion was hijacked by mean men who used the gospel not to empower but to control, and narrow moral codes were enforced to subvert the instinctive generosity of our people.

For kicks, I did a select word analysis of Adams’ 3,000-word speech. My findings:

Catholic, 2; Protestant, 2; British/English, 6; Ireland, 16;  USA, 2; republic, 26; partition, 7; democracy/democratic, 11; religion, 1; Good Friday, 17; freedom, 1; justice, 3; equality, 17; fairness, 4; people, 14; politicians, 0; vote/s, 6; poll, 4; Sinn Féin, 11; Fianna Fail, 1;  Fine Gael, 4; Labour, 4; unionist/unionism, 12; united Ireland, 2.

The full speech is on the Sinn Féin website. News coverage in Irish Central included four pages of reader comments that cheer and disparage Adams.

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“People’s Referendum” shows support for united Ireland

An unofficial poll in two Ireland/Northern Ireland border communities shows strong support for re-uniting the island, The Irish Times reports.

Not surprisingly, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams welcomed the result, saying “a debate on Irish unity and the type of agreed Ireland people wish to create for the future has now begun.”

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Other media outlets such as the Irish Examiner, Irish Independent and BBC ignored the vote organized by the pro-republican United Ireland – You Decide campaign. The 92 percent “Yes” tally among 1,000 or so ballots appears at odds with historical polling on the issue.

That said, it’s interesting to read the post-vote comments on the Facebook page of Protestants for a United Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 provides a mechanism for such a border poll. Some unionists have suggested holding a referendum as a way of calling the bluff of republicans, since another provision requires waiting seven years before allowing a second poll.

Six northeast counties were partitioned as Northern Ireland in 1922 as 26 southern counties achieved partial independence as the Irish Free State. Ireland is now at the beginning of a 10-year stretch of centennial anniversaries that are rekindling that history and debate.