On 16th January 1922, His Excellency, Lord Fitzalan, Viceroy of Ireland, most graciously raciously bestowed Dublin Castle on the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland.
The Good Lord himself had been bestowed on Ireland by her Imperial Rulers in April 1921, to complement the British Military, Black and Tans, Royal Irish Constabulary, spies and hangmen who were attempting to break the will of the Irish people. Those people, in a peaceful, and classic exercise in self-determination, established an Independent Irish Republic by their votes in the General Election on 14 December 1918, one month after the victory of Britain and her allies in a war supposedly waged for the freedom of nations to determine how they should be ruled. It was a freedom denied Ireland by her nearest neighbours for 750 years.
Lord Fitzalan was a Roman Catholic, and since Ireland hadn’t had a Roman Catholic Viceroy for 230 years, somebody thought that most Irish people, being Roman Catholic, should be grateful.
When the idea was first mooted one prominent Irish Roman Catholic was unimpressed, and he was neither a Republican nor universally respected in Nationalist circles.
He had scoffed at the Republic, and been party to the disowning of Parnell thirty years earlier, earning the contemptuous title of “Lord Leitrim’s Coachman” from Simon Dedalus in the Christmas Dinner scene in “THE PORTRAIT OF THE ARIST AS A YOUNG MAN”.
When the idea of a Catholic Viceroy arose, Cardinal Logue let it be known that he’d as soon have a Roman Catholic Hangman.
A former Deputy Editor THE IRISH TIMES, Dennis Kennedy, believes that Ireland should show her gratitude to Lord Fitzalan by celebrating her Independence Day on 16th January. He made the proposal in an Opinion Piece in HISTORY IRELAND (Vol 26 No 3 May/June 2018) accessible online.
It’s a bizarre suggestion. The United States celebrates Independence Day on July 4, because Independence was declared on 4 July 1776. The US created a Federal Capital and named it after the General Commanding the Continental Army, George Washington. It would be odd if it celebrated Independence Day in thanksgiving for a favour from GEORGE III or named its Federal Capital after Lord Cornwallis.
Dennis Kennedy’s piece was couched in the most insulting manner and quoted, with approval, an anti-Irish sneer by Lord Balfour, the chief plotter of the destruction of Germany accomplished by the Great War, and the begetter of most of the wars which have plagued the earth ever since. He exults in the near obliteration of the Irish Language under the Union, and though he doesn’t openly exult at the clearance of most of the people by starvation and eviction, it is difficult to infer that he regrets, or resents it.
I’m surprised Dennis Kennedy hasn’t demanded that we Irish should go the whole hog and christen our capital city FITZALANBERG, run up the Union Jack and salute it.
I replied in HISTORY IRELAND (Vol 26 issue 4 of July/August 1918) which can be accessed online.