Monday, March 2, 2009

Above all, fear God... and then thank Him to be Irish

It is my understanding or belief that my family on my father’s side came from Ireland in the early to mid 1700’s. Now it might be disputed by some who might care to dispute it for the sake of dispute, but I am happy to believe it and proud of it.

I don’t remember, as a youngster, it ever coming up or being discussed but I have always been curious about from where my ancestors came. I remember grandpa Dulaney owning a book that supposedly mapped out our lineage to some degree. As I remember, someone sold it to him. Some in the family have questioned whether or not it held any factual information; nonetheless, I remember being very proud of the fact that my grandpa had that book. For some reason it made me feel that I came from “somewhere” and that “somewhere” was Ireland.

Grandpa Dulaney was a “tough old coot”, or at least that is what I recall. He never had much time for small talk that I can remember unless it was at Doice’s, but he sure seemed proud of that book and I was glad to see him happy about something.

I recently read another book on Irish history by Paul Johnson titled “Ireland, A Concise History from Twelfth Century to the Present Day”. This is a good little book, not so much for the gripping story but for the simple history it presents. The Irish people have been oppressed from their very beginning, that much is clear. It depends on with whom you are talking as to who was at fault for this oppression. As I understand it, the main character playing the part of “villain” in the Irish story is England. Whether or not this is true can be debated; however, England has ruled Ireland in some form or fashion for centuries.

Now I don’t know all the facts and I am sure there are those who would hang me for saying so but I gather from my studies that two things played an enormous part in the Irish never obtaining complete sovereignty.

The first is that the island is positioned is such a way that makes it nearly impossible to defend with its own resources. Without a major power at her side, Ireland cannot stand on her own, at least not yet. Therefore, since Ireland was placed in such a way that created a natural barrier for England, it made complete sense for England to secure the land. If you know anything of Irish history you know that “securing Ireland” for England was much easier said than done.

The second contributor to Ireland’s lack of true sovereignty was the Irish people themselves. Please don’t misunderstand my statement. The Irish are a strong, proud and good people; however, they don’t like to be ruled. Throughout history many a monarch found this out the hard way. The Irish have been painted as, among other things, “scrappers”, and rightfully so. In times past, if you were going to war, you better hope the Irish were on your side. The hard-headed, ill tempered, little buggars would climb up the very largest of men at the drop of a hat. The very nature of the Irish has caused them great trouble throughout history simply because they wanted to be free, yet lacked the means to obtain freedom.

It is said that Ireland had over 150 kings between the fifth and twelfth centuries when the island was inhabited by no more than 500,000 people. In my mind it is a sorrowful thing to know that such a great people could never agree upon a system that would provide security and comfort for all. I suppose today Ireland is closer than it has ever been to freedom but what freedom she enjoys has come at a very great price.

So when someone talks to me about the trials and tribulations of their forefathers, I can’t help but think of the Irish. They are a people who were among the first slaves, the first hunted, the first sold, and first trampled upon. As late as the 1960’s the Irish were described in an American newspaper as “almost white”. Knowing this gives me a new respect for all who have been “less than white”, but it does not give me the right to demand anything of anyone.

I am proud of the Irish. I may never set foot on Irish soil but my heart is there on those quiet days in the spring when everything is green. It is an honor to be Irish and to be able to appreciate the sacrifices that have been made by such a great people. I hope to share some Irish history with those who care to read my posts. If you are so inclined, I invite you back soon and ask you to share your thoughts on whatever you read.

Until then, I will be researching the term “roundheads”. I think you will find it interesting what this term means and from where it comes. Here is a hint…."Cromwell".

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