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Britain’s Legacy In Ireland, 800 Years In The Making

A British Unionist and Orange Order bonfire decorated with sectarian and racist messages, Ireland, July 2014
A British Unionist and Orange Order bonfire decorated with sectarian and racist messages, Ireland, July 2014

Pictured above is an “Eleventh Night” bonfire, one of many dozens erected across the north-east of Ireland by usually adolescent members of the British Unionist minority to commemorate a series of 17th century Protestant British victories over Catholic British and Irish opponents during localised conflicts in the pan-european War of the Grand Alliance. In Ireland the primary struggle, known as Cogadh an Dá Rí or “War of the Two Kings”, reasserted Britain’s colonial rule over the island nation and the association of militant Protestant fundamentalism with Britishness. As is now the (controversial) tradition in some districts the bonfire is “decorated” with a number of sectarian, racist and homophobic symbols and slogans aimed at those deemed outside or anathema to British ethno-national culture and identity.

Starting from the top of the pyre we have:

A number of Irish flags, both current and historical, including the national flag of Ireland (commonly called the Tricolour), the Irish Harp flag (superseded by the Tricolour) and the Gal Gréine or Irish “Sunburst” banner, a symbol derived from indigenous literature.

A Palestinian flag (some British Unionists in Ireland believe in the pseudo-historical and messianic myth that their community or “folk” is descended from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel while others identify with contemporary  Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories).

A Rainbow or Gay/LGBT Pride flag, homosexuality and gender-realingment being widely viewed as a biblical abominations by Protestant fundamentalists amongst the Unionist minority.

Various banners painted with political acronyms and slogans:

Keep Antrim Tidy = KAT = Kill All Taigs “Kill All Irish/Catholics”

We’re Not Racist We Just Don’t Like Cotton-Picking Niggers / We’re Not Racist, Just Don’t Like Niggers

I Ran Away = IRA = Irish Republican Army

[With thanks to babeufinsiberia]

 

 

19 comments on “Britain’s Legacy In Ireland, 800 Years In The Making

  1. They fear so much, no wonder they have to build it so big. Would this hate pyre be tolerated any where else?

  2. john cronin

    “…members of the British Unionist minority to commemorate a series of 17th century Protestant British victories over Catholic British and Irish opponents during localised conflicts in the pan-european War of the Grand Alliance. In Ireland the primary struggle, known as Cogadh an Dá Rí or “War of the Two Kings”, reasserted Britain’s colonial rule over the island nation and the association of militant Protestant fundamentalism with Britishness.”

    Er, since no such country as “Britain” existed at the time of the Williamite wars, this assertion is somewhat dubious.

  3. There would be a media firestorm in the US if, say, a bonfire were built and Mexican flags were covered with slurs and burned on the day that marked the end of the Mexican-American War. Or on any other day. Unbelievable.

    • It is a bit crazy. Sometimes one has to take a step back in order to see how it must look to outsiders. Yet we are told that is the cultural right of the British minority in Ireland. Cultural rights that an alliance of extreme Unionist politicians, clergy, activists and terrorists are threatening to pursue even if it means wrecking the delicately balanced Peace Process to achieve them.

      Militant colonial/settler culture, even some centuries on, is never a pleasant thing.

  4. john cronin

    “Militant colonial/settler culture, even some centuries on, is never a pleasant thing.”

    Where do you think you get all these Catholics called Hume and Adams and Morrison and Sands and Rodgers and Hendron, if not from the ranks of the settlers?

    • Note the use of the word “culture” in the quotation from my post. That is not restricted to any surnames.

      • john cronin

        I’ve often wondered whether the Adams family of the Falls and the Adams family of Islington were any relation. Similar people in many ways. One can only disapprove of the kind of bigotry displayed by the bonfire makers, but the bit about “Hide your kids, Gerry’s around” was quite witty for the Prods.

        • Shut up your ‘whataboutery’ you anti-irish… [ASF: Text removed. Relax the personal abuse, please]

          • john cronin

            “Shut up your ‘whataboutery’ you anti-irish ******”

            Gee, well that clearly clinches the argument. Nice debating with intellectuals. Are you Sionnach in disguise?

  5. john cronin

    I was born in London in the mid 60s. My name is Cronin, which means “saffron coloured” in Gaelic ie blond haired, which probably means they were descended from the Vikings who colonised most of the coastal areas of Ireland from c 800-900 and fought and colonised the Gaels.

    My grandmother’s maiden name was Costello, which marks her family out as descendants of the Anglo-Norman settlers who colonised the Gaelic Irish I(and the descendants of the Vikings who had by then assimilated) after circa 1270.

    My maternal grandfather was an Antrim Catholic who was brought up a couple of miles down the road from the photos of the bonfires above. He moved south in 1922 mainly to escape from the sectarian unpleasantness which we still see in that benighted county. He and his brother joined the Garda Siochana -had Garda badges 24 and 25, apparently – but, since they had Northern accents, were basically regarded as undesirable aliens by most other Garda officers who were highly dubious about anyone, Catholic or Protestant, who came from the black North, and were therefore sent to police the border in Cavan and Monaghan.

    Grandpa’s great grandpa was an English Methodist railwayman who was sent over to Antrim in circa 1840 to build the first railways in that area. He married a local Catholic girl called McGill and converted to Catholicism in order to keep her family happy. He then moved down to Wicklow, and died of dysentery during the famine. He was not a “settler” he was a migrant worker who assimilated into the local Catholic community.

  6. John, the post was about racist and sectarian aspects of historic British settler culture in Ireland that are still a potent social and political force in the north-east of the country. It was not about ancestry since such things are largely meaningless. It is certain well-known Unionist leaders who make nebulous claims about unique ancestries and pure blood-lines. I have yet to hear a Republican adhere to such frankly racist theories.

    My own family on my grandmother’s side are Fermanagh Scottish-Irish Protestants/Unionists/Nationalists. Her father fled the north following partition because he opposed it and continued British rule.

    We are all a mix of our many and varied antecedents.

  7. john cronin

    or antecedents.

  8. john cronin

    If you’re a member of the Adams family, how do you know your father is abusing your brother?

    His… [ASF: Egregious text removed]

    • Maybe the Adams you speak of could have hereditary links to betty and philip battenberg???
      After all that carry on runs deep in that family dont you know? They even give out medals for it.

    • John, we have some standards around here.

  9. john cronin

    The dead, the dead the dead: they have left us our Fenian fools

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