In my BLOG “STRIKING ATTTITUDES “(May13) I quoted an ex-Minister for Education, Gemma Hussey whose ignorance of and contempt for Irish history, culture and sentiment were the most striking components of a galaxy-embracing ignorance which served neither the Glory of God, nor the Honour of Ireland, to which the electorate dedicated our Constitution when they enacted it.
For the life of me I cannot see what cause she could have served even if the Constitution had been dedicated to Old Nick and his minions.
The Department of Justice under Charlie Flanagan, together with Ministerial colleagues and Collaborationists in other parties, have attempted to have citizens honour theRoyal Irish Constabulary- characterised by Dail Eireann in April 1919 as the eyes and ears of the enemy, spies and perjurers.
A resolution that the RIC be ostracised by the people was carried unanimously. By May 1920 the RIC (excluding recently introduced auxiliaries) had added to its long record of brutality, murdering the Lord Mayor of Cork in his own home, arresting TDs, local Sinn Fein and Labour Councillors , teachers of Irish, and ,in my home patch, Howth, occupying the Parochial Hall and ejecting children who were staging a St Patrick’s Day Concert.
In the 1980s one of my English Brothers-in- Law, a history graduate, visited Dublin and asked at a Bord Failte Office for information on sites connected with the 1916Rising. He got no help, nor a single Failte, but was asked what he would want to visit them for.
I recently quoted from an article in this months Irish Political Review “Revisionists and Trees” by Philip O’Connor. If anyone doubts my contention that Irish Goevernmentagencies are not all fit for the purposes to which the electorate dedicated them to on the enactment of our Constitution I need only refer to “Irish Forests -A Brief History”published by The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
( Re- afforestation had been a Sinn Fein objective since its founding in 1905, and significant advances had been achieved by Fianna Fail under de Valera and magnificentones arising from Haughey’s initiatives, but the Department’s “Brief History” I think still allows me to pose the question headlined above.)
It blames the reduction of forests which covered 80% of the land in the 16th Century to 0.5% in 1920 on the native peasantry who frustrated the efforts of the landlords to conserve it.
In fact from the time of Sir Walter Raleigh, who asset-stripped the the trees on lands he had seized around Youghal, a practice continued after he got the chop, by SirRichard Boyle, Earl of Cork who succeeded to his estate, and procured others. Successive “planter” Landlords planted no trees but levelled them and made huge profits from selling them,or burning themfor charcoal to smelt iron. The ironworks rarely employed Irishmen, but English ones to ensure that the native Irish have neither habitation nor employment on the land.
When the Landlords were being bought out in the Land Acts from 1880 and later, they cut down much of what remained of the forests, making, one might say, a killing.
Ireland was committed, by John Redmond, to mass killing on England’s behalf in 1914, what little remained of her forests was conscripted in England’s sevice.
“In the interval, in 1903, when a Conservative Government wa trying to Kill Home Rule With Kindness the (Dublin Castle) Department of Agriculture had decided that 25% of Ireland was good for little other than forestry and encouraged the planting of fast-maturing cash crops.”… “These came to nothing, as the ‘Great War’ delivered a further, final blow.”
When Ireland was ruled by her own laws.the “Lords of the Woods” were not landlords, but Trees, – Oak, Hazel, Holly, Yew, Ash, Scots Pine and the Wild Apple Tree.For an offence against one of these Lords there was a fine of two milch cows and a three-year old heifer.
Ranked below these Lords were the “Commoners of the Woods” an offence against which merited a fine of one milch cow.
There were two lower classes of tress and bushes, offences against which merited lesser fines.
From the days of the Druids trees were sacred. The modern Irish Alphabet has eighteen letters. All of them are named after trees.
When I worked for IRISH SHIPPING all its fleet were named after trees, including the Irish Oak, the Irish Hazel, the Irish Holly, the Irish Pine, the Irish Spruce.
The idea that the indigenous population were unappreciative of nature’s bounty and that their enemies, who had seized the land by force and fraud Activists were GreenActivists and Passionate Friends of the Earth is an inversion of the truth and a perversion of history.
Irish folklore and high culture described and celebrated the flora and fauna of Ireland and not too long ago the fate of the woods and the overthrow of theGaelic order,the subject of an 18th Lament ,was known to every educated citizen-
“Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?”
Readers who know that line will know the next three. For readers who don’t I’ll translate.
“What will we do in future without wood? The last of the forests destroyed There’s no more trace of Cill Chais nor its Household, And its (Mass) bell will be rung no more.”
As I observed earlier trees had sacred connotations in the days of the Druids as they had for whoever wrote the lament for Cill Chais. Perhaps the connotations are not extinct yet?
For the bell of Cill Chais survived, and was rung at the Consecration, in the Phoenix Park, when Pope John Paul II said Mass there.