Date: 11 August 2008 at 14:53:07 BST
Subject: IRISHMEN IN BRITISH ARMY UNIFORMS
Patrick D Coggin (Capt,rtd), (May 11) subscribes to the idea that ethnicity matters more than character. Any Irishman that carries a gun, wears a uniform, and gets paid by a Government, any Government, should be honoured by his compatriots.
By contrast any Irishman who carries or recently carried a gun, not paid by a government, and strives/ strove to make good the promise of 1916 should be despised.
Captain Coggin makes great play of honouring those who followed Tom Kettle, Pied Piper of Irish Nationalism, to death in British uniforms.
But he does not share Kettle’s generous sentiment or breadth of sympathy.
According to Robert Lynd, Kettle’s friend, the poem REASON IN RHYME, written in answer to an English plea for Irishmen to forget the past, expressed Kettle’s dying sentiments. I make bold to quote some lines, for no revisionist will –
“This mate and mother of valiant “rebels” dead
Must come with all her history on her head.
We keep the past for pride:
No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb:
No rawest squad of all Death’s volunteers,
No rudest man who died
To tear your flag down in the bitter years,
But shall have praise, and three times thrice again,
When at the table men shall drink with men.”