On 16th January 1922 His Excellency, Lord Fitzalan, Viceroy of Ireland, graciously 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.
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.
In Volume 26 No.3 of HISTORY IRELAND (May/June 1918) a former Deputy Editor of THE IRISH TIMES, Dennis Kennedy, suggested that Ireland should celebrate an Independence Day. He insisted that it must be on January 16, in deference to Lord Fitzalan.
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.
If we were to celebrate Irish Independence day on 14 January in gratitude to our former Viceroy’s Beneficence, and to please Dominic Kennedy, we should go the whole hogand christen our capital city FITZALANBERG
Dennis Kennedy’s letter 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 and the begetter of most of the wars which have plagued the earth ever since. Dennis Kennedy exults in the near obliteration of the Irish Language in the 120 years between the Act of Union and the gift of Dublin Castle to Michael Collins. Though he doesn’t openly exult at the clearance of much of the population by starvation and eviction, it is difficult to infer from his article that he regrets, or resents it.
To Dennis Kennedy’s way of thinking Ireland was nothing before the English Language and should have no future unless her people become monoglot English speakers.
Despite boasting several academic achievements, he seems to know little about the English people, whose first historian, the Venerable Bede, tells how Irishmen like Saint Aidan, first taught his countrymen to read and write, and less about Scotland, evangelised by St Colmcille, or Europe and its Patron St Columbanus before England emerged as a nation or an English language was first spoken.
Ireland, and every person, matter and thing there came under the Imperial Government in London between 1801 and 1922. All rights conceded to her people during that time were gained through their blood, toil, tears and sweat. Not one was conceded gracefully. The Articles of Agreement signed by Collins and Griffith in 1921 were British Offers they Couldn’t Refuse like a scene out of the Godfather. There was no Treaty because ,Britain did not recognise Dail Eireann as a legitimate
Parliament with the power to ratify a Treaty.The British conduct over the Boundary Commission was like that of Big Julie when shooting
Crap in the famous scene in Guys ‘n’ Dolls.
And Britain waged a foul war in Ireland for nearly 30 years from 1969 deliberately setting communities at each others’ throats. Inquests are still pending for victims killed by the Crown Forces and their collaborators nearly 50 years ago.
Postscript; In Volume 26 Issue 4 (July/August 2018) of HISTORY IRELAND I answered Dennis Kennedy’s article advocating the establishment of an Irish Independence Day on 16th January. Dennis Kennedy (no relation) is a former Deputy Editor of the IRISH TIMES . The argument carried on in the HISTORY IRELAND columns over 4 consecutive issues which can be accessed on line. This BLOG has been in draft Form for some time. I submit it to bring some cheer to your Christmas.