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.
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