Irish History, the Short Version

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Hattip to Dale Price.  Of course it is unfair to characterize Irish history as mere drunkenness.  My sainted Mother had me listen to quite a bit of Irish music as I grew up,  and I still enjoy it, and Irish ballads also feature these elements of the Irish careening through this Vale of Tears:


1.   Be maniacally happy.

2.   Be maniacally sad.

3.   Blame the English for everything bad that has happened to the Irish.

4.   Celebrate an Irishman who left Ireland as soon as he was able.

5.   A celebration of the charms of rural Ireland written by someone who would have sooner died than leave Dublin.

6.   Mention the IRA, without mentioning that during the 60’s many Irish said the letters actually stood for I Ran Away.

7.   Be about the death of a beloved pet or child.

8.   Idolize near alcoholism.

9.   Mention Saint Patrick or a leprechaun.

10. Throw in a few Irish gaelic phrases for the singer to mispronounce.

Only a truly great people can laugh at themselves, and the Irish, throughout their travails, have always been a great people!

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  1. “6. Mention the IRA, without mentioning that during the 20’s many Irish said the letters actually stood for I Ran Away.”

    I am prepared to be corrected but I am pretty certain that this actually dates to the late 1960s rather than the 1920s. The barb was aimed at OIRA by, among others, those who would soon form PIRA.

  2. PS “Risen” was released in the UK yesterday. I read your post of 22 February with interest. Taking some godweans to see it on Monday. I have always thought that Frank Morison’s “Who Moved the Stone?” would make the basis of a good screenplay along these lines…?

  3. That seems to correct Kennybhoy, although I vaguely recall hearing my Mom use it earlier in the 60s. I thought it derived from the Irish Civil War, when the IRA for the pro-treaty forces was referred to as the National Army. However, everything I can find on the net supports your statement.

  4. PS “Risen” was released in the UK yesterday.”

    I hope you enjoy it. I don’t know why it wasn’t released in the States just before Holy Week. It would make more sense from a marketing stand point.

  5. You know you have Irish Alzheimer’s when you forget everything except the grudges.
    An Irish seven course meal consists of a six pack and a potato.
    And an Irish six course meal consists of a Fifth and a potato.

  6. My mother is Scots. A McLuckie, a family of the grand and noble Clan Lamont.
    The thing is, both my mom and her dad considered themselves to be Irish. “Mcs, not Macs!”
    Mrs. Penguins Fan, being adopted, took a DNA test. She is from Colombia and has Irish ancestry. So, Little Penguins Fan and Littler Pengiuns Fan are both….Irish and Scot.
    I need a placard to drive thru tunnels with the Little Penguins Fans.

  7. The history of Ireland in brief: a register of crimes, follies, and misfortunes (Edw. Gibbon); and, in particular, of invasions, plantations, massacres, fratricides, famines, and debacles. N.B. the long-suffering Irish are the only conquered people in the so-called British Isles that regained their national independence.

  8. Dear Penguin Fan-“Lamont” my middle name! Check out the clan tartan-to me it is one of the most beautiful. Story in our family-the infamous Campbells, wicked to the bone, invited all the Lamonts, the peaceful loving gentle Lamonts, to meet to discuss peace. Wicked Campbells then slaughtered the Lamonts; but some Lamonts escaped, to Ireland and then to USA, my forbears including Capt Samuel McClung who fought with Washington to West Va. Some say those who escaped were the really smart Lamonts (Guy Sr’s forbears, Guy Sr -WWI veteran, Guy Jr-35 missions in a B17, and me Guy III included). Others say these Lamonts, cowards to the bone, ran rather than fight. One thing about the Irish-we can laugh at ourselves. Scots too. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  9. Rather fittingly, that list about Irish songs sounds a heck of a lot like the lists I’ve seen about Country or Western songs. (The “cowboy song” tradition is an awful lot like the sea song tradition, which is a lot like the bar song tradition. I have no idea who got where first. 😀 )

  10. Hi, Guy,

    The Campbells did indeed shift with the prevailing political wind so as to be at an advantage, and if it meant brutalizing the Lamonts, well, so much the better from their POV. Clan Lamont no longer owns any of its historical lands (to my knowledge, I get my information from the Clan Lamont website). The current president of Clan Lamont is an Australian Catholic priest! The Lamonts trace their history to fifth century….Ireland.

    Clan Lamont is many things but not cowards. Being Catholic in post Reformation Scotland was a dangerous thing.

    During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a number of Scots emigrated to Poland, which had no laws mandating a state religion. Eventually, most Scots left, due to Poland being attacked by its “neighbors”.

    During the centuries Ireland was suppressed by England, Spain granted Spanish citizenship to any Irish who could make it to Spain. As a result, the Liberator of Chile, Bernardo O’Higgins, was a descendant of this migration.

  11. Penguins Fan wrote, “Being Catholic in post Reformation Scotland was a dangerous thing.”
    The Catholic clans tended to be clustered in the West Highlands, such as the MacDonalds and in the North-East, such as the Gordons, Leslies, Irvines and Setons.
    The last person to be tried in Scotland simply for being a Catholic priest was Bishop Hugh MacDonald of Morar, the Vicar Apostolic of the Highland District. He was tried as “a Jesuit, priest, or trafficking Papist” on 3 January 1756, convicted and sentenced “to be banished forth of this realm, with certification that if ever he return thereto, being still a Papist, he shall be punished with the pain of death,” a sentence he simply ignored. His real offence, in the eyes of the English government, which instigated the prosecution, was his blessing the Jacobite standard, when Prince Charles Edward raised it on 19 August 1745 at Glenfinnan.
    Indeed, in the aftermath of the ’45, the Highland clergy were treated with a savagery unexampled since Decian persecution. Of the priests who had accompanied the Prince as chaplains to his forces, Rev Mr Colin Campbell of Morar was killed at Culloden, shot down in cold blood by Hessian mercenaries, whilst trying to rally the fugitives for one last charge. Rev Mr Allan MacDonald, rector of the seminary at Scalan, near Glenlivet was imprisoned for a year in a military garrison and then ordered to leave the country. Scalan itself was burned on the orders of the Duke of Cumberland, as a “nest of traitors.”
    Rev Mr Aeneas McGillis of Glengarry was put to the horn (outlawed) and fled the country.
    Of those who had stayed at home, but had “prayed for the Pretender,” Rev Mr Neil McFie of the Rough Bounds, Rev Mr Alexander Forrester of Uist and Rev Mr James Grant of Barra were bundled on board ship and deported to France, without the formality of a trial, where they might have perished from mere want, had not his Most Christian Majesty made them an especial object of his royal bounty.
    Rev Mr William Harrison of the Rough Bounds was later captured carrying Jacobite dispatches and similarly deported.

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