The boys of 98

VinegarHill

The boys of Wexford, the Croppy boys, the Whiteboys, the celebrated rebels of 1798.  Remember today the anniversary of the Battle of Vinegar Hill.  Irish Rebels foolishly tried to make a stand to fight a pitched battle against the English troops.  Unshod farm-boys armed with pikes standing toe to toe against the cannons and muskets of English regulars.  Foot soldiers trying to stand against professional cavalry.  Brave, misguided and badly led fools.

Think what it says about the English rule of Ireland, that the rebels risked so much with so little.  On this week, when Britain decides to remain or to Brexit the EU there is a voice calling from the depths where Ireland says “good riddance to bad rubbish”.  Truth is we were treated pretty shabbily over here on John Bull’s Other Island.  I doubt the great potato famine would have happened if the blight struck Yorkshire.  It was a kind of handy form of genocide on the Catholic Irish.

Personally I would not like to see Britain depart from the EU.  European Union has become the greatest force for peace (there’s an oxymoron) in the history of the planet.  There are problems with the experiment that is Europe.  You don’t make progress by leaving.  You make progress by engaging.  Britain has ever been the reluctant bride in the Euro experiment.  Vested interests in the London Stock Market have much to lose from further integration.  Stock market traders thrive on chaos and uncertainty.  Stability is their enemy, they see no profit in peace.

These vested interests have a lot of money and they own many media outlets.  Their voices are strong and they chant their jingos to fools to the beat of a war drum.  They tell the uneducated classes blatant lies that suit their own agenda.   They are no friend to those uneducated classes.  Just be clear, if Brexit happens they will simply swap the Polish immigrant workers for immigrants from Africa, Asia or South America.  The English working stiff who waves the flag and votes to leave will pay by throwing out the very protections that are afforded to workers by the EU.

The value of Sterling will plummet, and the market traders will make a fortune selling currency hedges.  They will celebrate Brexit with a new Porsche.

 

Requiem for the Croppies; by Seamus Heaney

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
we moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching… on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
and stampede cattle into infantry,
then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until… on Vinegar Hill… the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
and in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.

Republic of Connacht

Flag of Connacht

Flag of Connacht

Little known fact, but the province of Connacht in Ireland, was established as an independent republic on 27th Aug 1798.  It existed, very briefly, 12 days in fact, as a client republic of Revolutionary France.

On this day lets remember the men of the West, and Wolfe Tone, a great revolutionary who came close so many times, but never quite managed to bring it off!

Wolfe Tone

Requiem for the Croppies: by Seamus Heaney

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching… on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until… on Vinegar Hill… the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.