Monday, 25 February 2013

I'm an Irish aboriginal. Ireland – Land, People, History by Richard Killeen. An excellent read.

You know the way cultural nationalists/Gaelic revivalists try to use the argument of primary possession to justify their plans to turn the clock back?

"We" spoke Gaelic before "we" spoke English, "we Gaels" were here before the Vikings/Normans/Scots settlers/Anglo Saxons were here...  you know the guff.

Well I am an Irish aboriginal if I'm not a descendent of any of the above.  It's the only way I can explain why, even as a child, I never had any truck with our state's definition of official Celtic Irishness. 

I've just finished reading a fascinating work called "Ireland, Land, People, History" by Richard Killeen, bought recently in Chapters of Parnell Street – the country's best bookstore. 

Killeen describes how Ireland was inhabited for about 6,000 years before the Celts, who started arriving about 500 BC,  displacing the country's original inhabitants – the people who gave us Newgrange, among other ancient marvels of our pre-Celtic heritage.   Down with the Celtic invader! Down with Celtic Imperialism!

There you have it then, the first instance of primary possession -  the Irish aboriginals.  I trace my contrariness back to them. 

There are other interesting snippets in the book too, which is nearly conversational in tone at times.  Did you know that the Orange Order was opposed to the Act of Union, for instance?  That Protestant women and children were rounded into a barn which was then set alight by so-called "republican" United Irishmen at Scullabogue, Wexford, during the 1798 rebellion?    No doubt you've only heard of Boolavogue, and Father Murphy and all the rest.   And here's the author's take on de Valera:

"De Valera was a romantic reactionary.  He believed in the moral superiority of the small family farm, of simple rural life over urban life, of an Ireland living as far as possible in seclusion from the world and steering her own course.  

The net effect of all this was the the Republic of Ireland (as it was formally declared in 1949) was the only country  in the capitalist world whose economy actually contracted in the post-war years.  

The population of the state declined in the first forty years of independence.  By the late 1950s, the game was up for social and economic self-sufficiency.  This old ideal, which went back to Arthur Griffith's Sinn Fein, had brought the country to its knees".

Killeen cites how over 400,000 Irish people voted with their feet, and got the hell out of the place between 1951 and 1961 alone – from a population of less than 3,000,000.  So much for independence.

"Ireland - Land, People, History" is an excellent read.  I can't remember how much it cost, but it was certainly under a tenner.

Well worth getting yourself down to Chapters for. 

Back to Gombeen Nation main page


Nenad said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll check it out


The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Ned.

Well worth doing. Nice guitar, by the way.

Nenad said...

Thank you!

Jim Spriggs said...

Will have a look in Chapters for it tomorrow. Killeen knows his Gombeens.

DC3 said...

Great thanks GM. Seems like a good'un.

John said...

Good one to look out for.Nice to see that at last there is some revisionism and decent research and analysis going into the writing of Irish history, compared with the crap I endured in the leaving Cert. I went into Chapters to flog off my book collection before I left Ireland and they were rude to deal with and the prices offered a joke, books that cost me 18 euro, they offered 2 Euro etc: and the dismissive tone, if you do not like it we do not need them!!. Gave the lot away to Oxfam.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ DC3, Jim. A good read indeed.

@ John. "An Outline of Modern Irish History, ME Collins". I still have my copy, c/w doodles and graffiti on every page. Must scan a couple in.

Sorry to hear of your bad experience in Chapters - I've only ever bought there, as I'm an awful hoarder. And in the "new" section too... so at least I know I haven't bought the books of some sod who was ripped off. You were right to take the Oxfam option. Another unpleasant Irish experience though, isn't it? As if we needed convincing.