It appears as of 11 September that the visit is being scratch. There is confusion and conflicting statements from the White House and media sources.
Protesters say a giant “Trump Baby” blimp will fly over Ireland during the U.S. president’s November visit. … Of more than 2,500 people taking Irish Central’s online poll, 71 percent said Trump “shouldn’t visit” Ireland.
Not two weeks since Pope Francis left Ireland, it has emerged that U.S. President Donald Trump will visit the country in November. The timing will be either just before or right after Trump attends a Paris event marking the centenary of the armistice ending World War I.
Trump will visit his golf course in Doonbeg, County Clare, and Dublin, according to press reports. His itinerary also will have to accommodate the scheduled 11 November inauguration of the Irish President, as well as a planned Irish commemoration of the 1918 peace.
The timing is within days after U.S. elections on 6 November, when Trump could face a rebuke if Democrats take one of both chambers of Congress. As it turns out, I also will be traveling in Ireland, 7-13 November, for the 2018 Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland Conference, “The Press and the Vote.”
Talk of massive protests against Trump is quickly beginning to stir, along with push back from opposition leaders in the government and members of the current Irish administration.
“Yes, we have strong disagreements with [Trump’s] policy decisions but we also have a very friendly relationship with the United States,” Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told The Irish Times.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t have direct discussions from a policy perspective. That is how mature countries interact with each other. Rather than taking approaches that are unhelpful and will damage a relationship, we will have blunt, straight and honest discussions with a friendly country.”
Obviously, this story will develop over the next 10 weeks.
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
“For today in Ireland, as then in America, we find a grave question of politics … seriously complicated and aggravated, not only by considerations of moral right and wrong, but by a profound perturbation of the material interests of the community.”
–William Henry Hurlbert
In addition to his comments about the Irish in America, Hurlbert also made numerous references to the U.S. Civil War, which he witnessed a quarter century before his visit to Ireland. “Hurlbert’s home country and its history were never far from mind as he explored the Emerald Isle,” historian Daniel Crofts wrote in his book about the 19th century American journalist.
Hurlbert suggested the 1867 Fenian Rising “was undoubtedly an indirect consequence of our own Civil War in America.” He wrote of meeting a Colonel Talbot, “the only foreign officer” at the Battle of Petersburg [Virginia], who relayed a story about then U.S. General and later President [1869-1877] Ulysses S. Grant. He reported the U.S. northern state of New Hampshire was the only state to lose population during the war decade of the 1860s, which he compared to Irish emigration in the 1880s:
This phenomenon, unique in American history, is to be explained by only three causes, all active in the case of congested Ireland,–a decaying agriculture, lack of communications, and the absence of varied industries.
Hurlbert’s assessment of Ireland during the Land War as similar to America during the Civil War is most evident in this extended passage from the Epilogue of Ireland Under Coercion. The Border States were slave states that did not secede from the Union and did not join the Confederacy:
Not once, but a hundred times, during the visits to Ireland recorded in this book, I have been reminded of the state of feeling and opinion which existed in the Border States … of the American Union … For today in Ireland, as then in America, we find a grave question of politics … seriously complicated and aggravated, not only by considerations of moral right and wrong, but by a profound perturbation of the material interests of the community. … [I]t would be uncandid not to say that the optimists of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee had greater apparent odds in their favor [for reaching a peaceful solution] in 1861 than the optimists of Ireland seem to me to have in 1888. Ireland stands to-day between Great Britain and the millions of the Irish race in America and Australia very much as the Border States of the American Union stood in 1861 between the North and the South. … [T]he Border States enjoyed all the advantages and immunities of ‘Home Rule’ to an extent and under guarantees never yet openly demanded for Ireland by any responsible legislator within the walls of the British Parliament. But so powerful was the leverage upon them of conflicting passions and interests beyond their own borders that this sovereign states, well organized, homogeneous, prosperous communities, much more populous and richer in the aggregate in 1861 than Ireland is to-day, practically lost the control of their own affairs, and were swept helplessly into a terrific conflict, which the had the greatest imaginable interest in avoiding, and no interest whatever in promoting.
As Crofts noted, “Hurlbert recognized that analogies were deceptive,” yet he “understood, better than many of his contemporaries,” the similarities of “ideological polarization” and “absolutist mentalities” at work in America during the mid-1800s and Ireland in the late 1800s. Crofts continued:
[Hurlbert’s] dour warnings about how the Irish situation might trigger a civil war were not fulfilled during his own lifetime, but he was correct to predict that the struggles of the 1880s could have a violent sequel [and did in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, 1919-1923]. … The conflict that led to partition [in Ireland] was mercifully less bloody than the American Civil War, but it was bad enough [and] persisted for the rest of the 20th century.
NOTES: From pages 145, 220, 394, and 417-18 of Ireland Under Coercion: The Diary of an American. Pages 183-84, 186-87 of A secession crisis enigma : William Henry Hurlbert and “The diary of a public man, by Daniel W. Crofts.
NEXT: Hurlbert reviewed
Copyright 2018 by Mark Holan
Irish voters overturned a 35-year-old constitutional abortion ban by a decisive two thirds margin. More about that at the bottom of this post. First, a quick look at some other Irish news in May, from both sides of the Atlantic:
- Ireland moved to sixth place from ninth place in the E.U. Digital Economy and Society Index. The improvement in the rankings came from progress in the areas of basic and advanced digital skills, online transactions, and Irish people’s use of internet services, SiliconRepublic reported.
- Apple paid 1.5 billion euros ($1.76 billion) into an escrow account set up by the Irish government to hold 13 billion euros in disputed taxes. The State and the tech giant are appealing the European Commission ruling that requires the tax payment.
Irish Ambassador to the United States Dan Mulhall wrote a blog post “Explaining Ireland’s Bexit-related Concerns to American Audiences“:
Let me make it plain: the departure from the EU of our nearest neighbour is not a good thing for Ireland. This development generates unwelcome challenges and uncertainties for us. It deprives Ireland of an influential, like-minded country around the EU negotiating table. It complicates our bilateral relations with Britain at a time when we continue to need to work closely together as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement so as to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
- Researchers in universities across Ireland are embarking on an effort to help Irish bees survive and thrive. Their work grows from the 2015 All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
- Solas Nua, the Washington, D.C.-based Irish arts group, staged “The Frederick Douglass Project” over several weeks. The “project” is actually two short plays about Douglass’ 1845 lecture tour of Britain and Ireland – D.C.-based Psalmayene 24’s An Eloquent Fugitive Slave Flees to Ireland, which deals with Douglass’s life before his eastward journey across the Atlantic, and Dublin-based Deirdre Kinahan’s Wild Notes, which explores his arrival. As The Irish Times reported:
The aim of the production is to highlight this critically-important time in Douglass’s life to an American audience. “This is about exploring the parallels of the Irish and African-American experience – Douglass arrived in Ireland during the Famine – but it is also about what happens when two worlds meet and the perceptions and misperceptions that both sides hold,” said Rex Daugherty, the show’s artistic director.
My wife and I enjoyed the production. I think it would do well in Ireland, where there is probably more awareness of Douglass’ 1845 visit than in America. The themes of human subjugation are universal, as made more clear in Kinahan’s play.
Is Catholic Ireland dead and gone? Probably not
The most predictable commentary about the 25 May abortion referendum has focused on the diminished role of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Some examples:
The New York Times headlined the referendum result as a “Rebuke to Catholic Conservatism.” A follow up story described Ireland as “a country that is clearly part of Europe’s secular sprint out of the Roman Catholic fold” and noted Pope Francis’ focus on the Southern Hemisphere. But an opinion piece by Eamon Maher, co-editor of the 2017 title Tracing the Cultural Legacy of Irish Catholicism: From Galway to Cloyne and Beyond, offered more nuisance:
The importance of Friday’s vote as a blow to the institutional Catholic Church should not be understated. … But if it’s clear that the institution of the church no longer commands the moral authority or the loyalty in Ireland that it once did, the end of Catholic Ireland, too, is an overstatement. Ireland remains defined by its relationship with Catholicism, because it has yet to develop another way to be.
Patsy McGarry, the religious affairs correspondent at The Irish Times since 1997, added some historical perspective in his column, which described as “out of kilter” those observations that the referendum outcome represents the end of Catholic Ireland:
More accurately, what it illustrated was an end to a particular model of clerically dominated Catholic Church in Ireland. … What we are witnessing is the disappearance of what might be described as “the church that Paul built,” a reference to Cardinal Paul Cullen. Archbishop of Dublin from 1852, he “Romanised” the church, centralized its structures, and introduced processions and devotions from Europe. He laid the foundations for an Irish Catholic Church which became a powerful alternative institution in the late 19th century so that by independence in 1922 it was more powerful than the new state itself, particularly in education and healthcare. It dominated Ireland through most of the 20th century. [That institution may be gone, but with] 78.3 per cent of Irish people still identified as Catholic … reports of the death of Catholicism in Ireland are, to borrow from Mark Twain, “greatly exaggerated.”
Finally, some voices from the Irish Catholic Church itself, as reported in Crux:
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said the referendum result “confirms that we are living in a new time and a changed culture for Ireland. For the Church it is indeed a missionary time, a time for new evangelization.”
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin added, “The Irish Church after the Referendum must renew its commitment to support life. … Reshaping the Church of tomorrow must be marked by a radical rediscovery of its roots.”
There will more about this issue in the run up to Pope Francis’ scheduled August visit to Dublin for the World Meeting of Families.
Political turmoil is growing on the island of Ireland. Each new development complicates the other. Here’s a quick summary:
- The minority government coalition in the Republic of Ireland is on the verge of collapse. The opposition Fianna Fail party is threatening to break the three-year deal it made with the Fine Gael party just 18 months ago. A dispute over a police whistleblower case is the surface reason, but don’t be fooled: this arranged marriage was rocky from the start. If Fianna Fail walks, Irish voters may have to trudge to the polls before Christmas.
- As Reuters reports, this crisis comes three weeks ahead of a European Union summit in which the Irish government has an effective veto on whether Britain’s talks on leaving the bloc (Brexit) meet the Republic’s concerns about the future of the border with Northern Ireland. A weakened Irish government means less power at the bargaining table.
- In Northern Ireland, the power-sharing Assembly has been suspended since January, when the nationalist Sinn Fein withdrew from government over concerns about the role of Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster in a renewable energy scheme. The New York Times does a good job of piecing together the ensuing events. “This is a more profound crisis than we’ve had at other times in the last 20 years,” said a member of the Alliance Party, a smaller centrist group that does not identify as either nationalist or unionist.
- Complicating the border issues, Foster has written to the leaders of all 27 E.U. countries, telling them that Northern Ireland will not tolerate any difference in status between itself and the rest of the United Kingdom, after Brexit. She wants Northern Ireland to remain identified with the U.K. rather than any special arrangement with the Republic, as Sinn Fein wants. This reduces the chance of compromise on restoring the Assembly.
- Remember, earlier this year Foster also entered into coalition government with British PM Theresa May. As The Guardian reports, Foster now accuses the Irish government of exploiting Brexit to attempt to unify Ireland.
- The ongoing Brexit negotiations, and what happens to the government in the Republic, will continue to impact Northern Ireland. Given the current difficulties, there may be calls to renegotiate the governing framework of the Good Friday Agreement, which reaches its 20th anniversary in April. Or political control may simply revert to London, a huge step backward. Next year also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and start of the Anglo-Irish War, which resulted in the island’s partition in 1921. Foster is right, in that talk of a referendum to reunify the island is only likely to increase.
As the holidays close and we begin walking the footpath of the new year, I want to thank the readers and supporters of this blog. In 2016, annual traffic increased by 71 percent compared to 2015, and average daily views were up 53 percent. The numbers behind those percentages are small compared to commercial sites, but I appreciate everyone’s support, especially those of you who have subscribed via email.
In 2017, I expect to publish my 500th post about the time the blog reaches its fifth anniversary in late July. I’ve also created a new Facebook home: https://www.facebook.com/markholan.org/.
This year, I’ll cover such contemporary issues as the effort to reunify the island of Ireland before the 2021 centennial of partition, attempts to overturn the abortion ban, and most likely a new national election in the Republic. As with my New Year’s Day post about Ellis Island, I’ll continue to delve into historical anniversaries, including the July 1917 election of Éamon de Valera’ to Parliament and becoming president of Sinn Féin, and America’s entry into World War I.
Thanks again for joining me.
UPDATE: Readers have helped add several names to the list below. Thanks! I’ll soon create a permanent home for this information on the menu at the top of the blog. Keep those contributions coming. MH
The Irish American Museum of Washington, D.C. has not responded to my email asking for an update on the proposed project, which I raised in a recent post pegged to the opening of the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Someone at the @ Twitter account offered links to the virtual museum’s online posts about President Barack Obama and the late boxing great Muhammad Ali, suggesting it “shares profound history” with the NMAAHC.
On Facebook, one of my former Mobile Press-Register colleagues asked: “Do Boston or NYC have such museums? It would seem they would considering how important they were to the formation of both those cities.”
That’s a great question, one that reaches beyond those two cities and the DC Irish American Museum effort. The information below is the beginning of an answer. It is not a complete list. I’m hoping readers will let me know about other U.S. museums, libraries, cultural centers and programs devoted to Irish ancestry and contemporary connections. (List is in alphabetical order by location.)
Irish Railroad Workers Museum, Baltimore, Md.
Center for Irish Programs, Boston College, Boston
Irish Cultural Center of New England, Canton, Mass.
Irish American Heritage Center, Chicago
Irish Collections, The Newsberry Independent Research Library, Chicago
Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Hamden, Conn.
Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans, New Orleans
Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, New York City
Irish American Historical Society, New York City
Irish Arts Center, New York City
Omaha Irish Cultural Center, Omaha, Neb.
Irish Heritage Theatre, Philadelphia
Philadelphia Irish Center, Philadelphia
Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
Irish Nationality Room, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
Irish Cultural Center of California, San Francisco
Embassy of Ireland, Washington, D.C., plus Consul General offices in six cities and honorary consulates in 11 cities.
Fenian Brotherhood Records and O’Donovan Rossa Personal Papers, and Connolly Irish Collection, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Washington Ireland Program, Washington, D.C.
The American Ireland Fund has chapters in 12 U.S. cities. The global network of friends of Ireland is “dedicated to supporting programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland.”
Irish Network USA has 19 chapters. Its mission is “to bolster business opportunities and economic development between the United States and Ireland; to support and encourage Irish Arts and Culture through film, literature, theater, dance and language; to encourage and promote the mission and expansion of Irish sports, throughout the United States; to support the efforts of local Irish organizations and associations; to serve as a conduit between newly arrived Irish immigrants and their communities in member cities and states.”
Both U.S. presidential candidates have links to Ireland, golfing and otherwise. But the Irish are baffled that the historical refuge of so many of their sons and daughters has settled on such disagreeable candidates.
Read my freelance piece for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
I’m always happy to publish a guest post from people visiting or just returned from Ireland. My good friend Sister Cathy Cahill, OSF, a veteran retreat leader and spiritual director, sent this correspondence from Dublin. MH
When I visited Ireland the first time in the spring of 1986, the talk on the radio and on the streets was all about the divorce referendum. It didn’t pass that year, but narrowly prevailed 10 years later by 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.
When I was here last year, all the buzz was around the marriage equality referendum. I was part of the rejoicing when the “YES” vote succeeded 62.1 percent to 37.9 percent, making Ireland the first nation to do so by referendum rather than legislation.
This year, the big concern is that Ireland is without a government because of an inconclusive election (the incumbent party got only 25.5 percent of the vote) and the inability of politicians, so far, to form a coalition. Sound familiar: elected officials having trouble finding agreeable solutions to problems?
Of course, this year is also the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, when brave Irishmen and Irishwomen said “No More!” to English rule. I arrived a few weeks after the official commemoration on Easter Sunday. Imagine my delight when I happened upon the “Citizens’ Centenary Celebration” in front of the GPO on Sunday, 24 April, the actual 100th anniversary of the event that change Ireland forever.
I was surprised at the tears that welled up as I listened to the speeches, the songs, and reading of the great proclamation. I wondered about my grandfather, who left County Roscommon in 1895 and settled in Providence, Rhode Island. What were his reactions when the news of the insurrection made its way across the Atlantic? I’m sure he was a nationalist sympathizer.
When the names of the proclamation signers were read and I heard “Joseph Mary Plunkett,” I immediately thought of his poem, “I See His Blood Upon the Rose.” It’s been 60 years since Irish nuns in America had us memorize it!
There also were songs about the women who took part in the Rising and then written out of history. There were songs bemoaning the divisions that still exist and songs celebrating the strides toward unity that have been made. The variety of groups taking part in a parade reflected the needs of today’s Ireland. Labor unions, refugees, Travellers, homeless, and many others.
As an Irish American, I am grateful to be here at this time. I pray for the day when striving for liberty and independence does not involve violence.
I’m taking a break here from my historical series about U.S.-Irish relations at St. Patrick’s Day since the Rising to post updates about “Acting Taoiseach” Enda Kenny’s 15 March visit to the White House, as Irish ministers fan out to other locations. I’ll update through the next few days, with newer posts at the top of the column. And look for my re-tweets of media reports in the column at right.
- More than a bowl of shamrocks: the Irish Farmers Journal reports all the Irish products in a food and drink hamper that Kenny brought to the White House.
- “It is Mr. Obama’s last St. Patrick’s Day as U.S. president, and, depending on government formation talks, it could also be Mr. Kenny’s last as taoiseach.” From Donegal Now.
- Kenny says Ireland will be able to put together a “stable government” during the next “short period ahead,” RTE reports.
- Here’s the official advance statement from the White House.
- In a preview piece, The Irish Times said Kenny “would cut short the original two-day program as he was said to be eager to return home for potential discussions on forming a new government.”