When I read or hear someone say something like: “We should stop supporting Israel” or even “We need to stop ignoring Israel’s crimes”, my hackles rise somewhat and I ask myself “Who are this ‘we'”?
Are you turning a blind eye? No, you are not. Amy I? Are those who post the crimes of the Zionist state and all the others who have “liked” those posts, or the thousands who have demonstrated in Ireland in solidarity with Palestine? Or those who go on solidarity visits every year, braving Zionist surveillance and traveling under cover? Or the unknown thousands who don’t buy goods produced in Israel, so much so that when supermarkets display avocados from Israel they leave off the country of origin and one no longer sees herbs for Israel on sale in their shops (not in Dublin anyway). No matter the limited effect these actions have, clearly “they” are not supporting Israel and are in solidarity with the Palestinians.
This is more than personal protest at being lumped in with the imperialists and their collaborators or even the apathetic in the “we”. More importantly, I am making what I consider to be an essential political point.
I and “we” are not part of the oppressors (nor of the apathetic sections, those who have not yet awoken). To speak in that way is liberalism. It implies that you and I and so many others are part of a society that we order and run and that its rulers represent us. We are not and they do not.
Our society’s managers are representatives of capitalists and worse, monopoly capitalists, whose governing ethos is profit, maximisation of profit and continuation of profit, amen. In pursuit of that they compete with other monopoly capitalists and other monopoly capitalist-run states but also cooperate and collude with them when their interests coincide. Clearly for some substantial time now the interests of the rulers of the EU and other Western capitalist states coincide with those of the USA. And clearly, Israel serves US interests in the Middle East, the only state in that region which is safe from a) socialist revolution and b) take over by anti-imperialist Islamicism.
So if WE are in solidarity with Palestine and WE want to see it free, WE must be against Israel. And if WE are against Israel, WE have to be against the USA. And if WE are for that people and against those powers, then WE are on the other side of a line from the Zionists and their local supporters. The greatest help WE can give the Palestinians in addition to expressions of solidarity is to overthrow the imperial powers and their monopoly capitalist allies wherever WE are.
If we think of those rulers as being part of us, as part of “We”, we are ideologically disarmed and unfit to go into battle against them. In that case, the assistance WE can give the Palestinians will be even more limited than that for which we have the potential at the moment.
The oppression of the Palestinians led to an outbreak of active resistance recently in Jerusalem, to which the Israeli Army reacted with increased repression, timed to harass Palestinian Muslims during the period of Ramadan and the height of devotees attending the Al-Aqsa mosque, escalating into attacks on worshippers within the temple itself. At the same time, Israeli Zionist settlers threatened dozens of Palestinian families with eviction from their homes in East Jerusalem. Reacting to these events, one of the Palestinian organisations fired home-made rockets into officially Israeli territory, to which the Israeli armed forces responded in turn with drone missiles and missiles from its air force jets on Gaza. As Palestinians in the West Bank came out on to the streets to protest, they were fired on with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers. The death toll has climbed to 200 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, including 59 children and 35 women, with 1,305 people wounded; while ten Israelis have been killed, two of them children.
The casualty figures once again show the gross disproportion between what the Palestinians and their Zionist masters experience: in civil and human rights, citizenship, in land ownership, electricity and clean water supply, heating, fishing, education facilities, building materials, freedom to travel inside and outside the state, in depth and breadth of surveillance, in arms and defence capability, in states that support them. And in city structural damage: despite the many home-made rockets launched against the zionists, there has yet been no significant damage in Israeli towns, while their armed forces have effected large-scale structural damage in Gaza and bodies are still being pulled from the rubble.
In only one area perhaps do the Palestinians have the advantage over the Israeli Zionists: in support among the people around the world.
PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY MARCH DEFIES POLICE THREATS
Responding to these attacks on Palestinians the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the main organisation for Palestinian solidarity in Ireland, called for solidarity demonstrations and in particular advertised a solidarity rally to take place in Dublin’s city centre for 2pm on Saturday 15th May, asking those in attendance to comply with measures against Covid19 infection, to wear masks, maintain social distancing and comply with stewards’ instructions.
The IPSC was contacted by the Irish police force, the Gardaí, who told them not to go ahead with the event, that if they did they would intervene to stop it and also made threats of €5,000 fines and prison against the organisers. In a later public statement the Gardaí declared that they “have no role in permitting or authorising marches or gatherings. There is no permit/ authorisation required for such events”! But there is apparently an ability and power to intimidate and threaten progressive organisations to deter them from organising solidarity events.
Or to kettle socialist and socialist republican Mayday marchers and demand all their names, addresses and dates of birth before threatening them with arrest if they did not disperse. Or to threaten Debenham workers and their supporters, assaulting some of them while escorting KPMG forces in to evaluate stocks during pandemic restrictions.
The predicament of the IPSC exposed the vulnerability to this kind of intimidation of a broad organisation that seeks to win friends in ruling circles. The leaders and organisers are placed in a position of not only personal but also of organisational vulnerability. Even should they be prepared to defy the State to fine and/or imprison them, would they also be prepared to damage their organisation, to lose some friends they are cultivating in the circles of political influence? What was one of the strengths of a broad organisation can thus be converted into a weakness, whereas a more radical or even revolutionary organisation, with less influence in influential circles can decide on defiance, risk fines and jail with however perhaps less possibility of influencing official opinion and ultimately, action.
Fortunately in this case one such organisation did step forward and took up the baton: the Trinity College BDS group expressed its solidarity with the IPSC on its treatment by the Gardaí and called their own rally for the exact same place and time as the original one called by the IPSC.
Video of rally at end of demonstration, near Israeli Embassy
Despite concern over Covid19 transmission and Garda threats – and the extremely short notice and much smaller circle of contacts of the TC BDS group — the response was magnificent, both in expression of internationalist solidarity and in maintenance of the right of the people in Ireland to organise such progressive events.
Before the appointed hour, people began to gather in large numbers at the Spire in O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main street and north city centre and, after being addressed by a number of speakers, set off in a march towards the Israeli Zionist Embassy near Ballsbridge, beyond the south city centre. As they marched their numbers grew until, approaching the Embassy, they numbered several thousand. Along the way, bystanders applauded the marchers and passing vehicles blew their horns in solidarity.
Marchers shouted slogans of solidarity with the Palestinians, calling for the freedom of Palestine and the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador as a mark of the Irish people’s objection to what is being done to the Palestinians.
Near the Embassy, a number of speakers addressed the crowd and after dispersing, a number of demonstrators boarding public transport to return home were congratulated by the drivers.
LESSONS FOR US
The situation regarding calling and holding the demonstration in Dublin outlined some of the weaknesses of a broad organisation when it faces repression from the State and the greater resilience of a smaller organisation in being able to defy the State. It may be necessary in future to maintain support for both types of organisation, each being appropriate for particular situations.
Also demonstrated was the necessity to openly defy unjust laws and prohibitions at times and particularly around the right to organise, to protest and to show solidarity, which the demonstrators did so well on Saturday. Such situations also reveal the difficulty for the Gardaí in carrying out repressive actions and they are reduced to threatening individuals.
THE FAR-RIGHT MARCHES TOO – FOR WHAT?
Meanwhile, a couple of hundred of the far-Right also marched in Dublin, allegedly in defence of civil liberty. Not in solidarity with the Palestinians’ civil liberties and not in defence of our civil liberty to organise to show solidarity with people in other struggles. No, they marched in defence of the right to defy health protection regulations, in proclaiming the Covid19 pandemic to be a) a hoax or b) greatly exaggerated, in claiming that wearing masks damages one’s health and even intelligence(!), in insisting that vaccinations are a) dangerous to one’s health or b) means of injecting nano-machines into people’s bloodstream in order to control them.
A clip posted by Ireland Against Fascism showed one of the QAnon Saturday screechers for months outside the GPO, Dolores Webster, aka Dee Wall, lately self-declared “digital journalist” (don’t laugh), in total ignorance of the actual reality (but when has that mattered?), broadcast a claim by video from her studio (her car), accompanied by the strains of Abba from the headphones of her head-bobbing passenger, that the “scum in the Dawl” had allowed the Palestinian solidarity march to go ahead to distract from the alleged general removal of freedom and in particular from the far-Right group Irish Yellow Vests to hold their rally on May 1st.
When all the Covid19 precautionary restrictions are removed, what will these elements have to march about? The will need to return to the topics that engaged many of them in the recent past: racism, anti-immigrants, islamophobia, homophobia and anti-socialism, along with their false patriotism. None of that is welcome of course but at least it will be without this false concern for “civil rights and freedom” and closer to the reality of what the far-Right in general stand for – and fascists in particular.
SUPERPOWER BACKING AND IMPUNITY
The current atrocities of the Zionist State, which it carries out with impunity, along with its history, starkly reveals the effect of its main backing power, the USA, and the imperialist alliance dominated by that Power. The USA backs Israel with military aid to the tune of $10 Million daily, which is aside from other direct and indirect aid. Israel is the only state in the Middle East which is not only very friendly to the USA but totally dependent on the support of that superpower. For the ruling class of the USA, Israel is the only state in the Middle East which is totally safe forever from fundamentalist Muslim revolution or from left-wing anti-imperialist revolution and is therefore an extremely important factor in the USA’s plans to totally dominate the Middle East.
This imperialist alliance finds reflection not only in the action/ inaction of governments in Europe, for example but also in the reporting of the mass media. One of the latter’s tropes is the constant emphasis on the numbers of Palestinian missiles fired, without revealing their general ineffectiveness in delivering destruction, in total contrast to the Israeli missiles. Another is their constant repetition of a lie, that “Hamas seized power in Gaza”. The truth is that Hamas swept the board in the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006. The “seizing” that was done was by Al Fatah, which usurped the results in the West Bank and installed themselves there; they tried to do the same in Gaza and, in a short fierce struggle, were beaten.
But the Western powers decided that Hamas was illegitimately in power, seized funds due to it and supported its blockading – by both Israel and Egypt. No explanation is offered in the general mass media as to how a generally politically-secular Palestinian public would turn from its decades of allegiance to Fatah to vote for the fundamentalist Muslim Hamas, which was Fatah’s surrender of the goals of Palestinian independence and freedom and the return of the refugees, in exchange for running a colonial administration with opportunities for living off bribery and corruption and Fatah’s settling down to that status quo.
CASTING A GIANT DARK SHADOW
It was not only in Dublin and in towns across Ireland that Palestine solidarity demonstrations were held on May 15th but by people across much of the world, generally in opposition to the wishes of their governments and ruling elites. It is worth thinking about how this has come about, in particular in contradiction to a mass media hostile to the Palestinians.
The Zionist state of Israel was declared in 1948, its anniversary actually only three days ago – May 14th, the first states to recognise it being the USA and the USSR. In Ireland at the time, there was general support for the new state which continued to the “June War” of 1967 and somewhat beyond. The general Irish population were horrified by the history of the Nazi-organised Holocaust and sympathised with the Jewish survivors. Irish nationalists and even Republicans empathised with the Zionist civil and armed struggle against the British (who, ironically, had begun the process of Zionisisation of Palestine). The 1966 film Cast a Giant Shadow purporting to show that struggle, starring Kirk Douglas and a cameo appearance by Frank Sinatra, was widely enjoyed and cheered in cinemas across Ireland. Though some of the film’s characters were based on real-life counterparts, the general narrative was a grotesque distortion, hiding the massacres of Palestinians and the expulsion of thousands as the Zionist state was created.
Many Irish language supporters admired how the new state had brought the Hebrew language, for centuries only spoken in religious contexts, back into everyday usage.
Yet, a few years ago, general pro-Palestinian sympathy across Ireland had become so strong that Israel’s Ambassador to Ireland declared the country “the most anti-semitic in Europe”. That of course is what the Zionists call anyone who supports the Palestinians or criticises the Israeli state harshly and only a few days ago, the current Ambassador accused some politicians of spewing hate towards Israel. He was responding not only to Left and Sinn Féin TDs who criticised the actions of Israel towards the Palestinians, but also to the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister equivalent) Leo Varadkar who commented that Israel’s actions are “indefensible” and Government Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who said at an EU conference that the EU had “fallen short” and failed to project its influence in agreeing a common position in opposition to illegal activity by the Israelis against Palestinians.
The fact that establishment right-wing politicians feel obliged to take a public stand, however ineffectively, against actions of the Israeli Zionists and implicitly against the Zionists’ biggest international backer and world superpower, the USA, is a strong indication of how much Irish public opinion has changed over decades. Since the Cast a Giant Shadow film, the state’s shadow of which we are aware now is indeed frighteningly giant and very dark. In response, the natural cultural and historical feelings of the Irish people have stirred in sympathy with the oppressed Palestinians – and in defiance of threatened police repression at home.
Apparently the Subjunctive Mood is disappearing from modern languages, including the Indo-European groups of Celtic, Germanic, Nordic, Romance and Slavonic. The Subjunctive is the grammatical mood by which we expressed wishes and desires, with an underlying feeling that their realisation was uncertain. But why is the Subjunctive disappearing? I think that its disappearance reflects a profound change in our general thinking, a definite shift towards a scientific view of the world.
“Subjunctive forms of verbs are typically used to express various states of unreality such as: wish, emotion, possibility, judgement, opinion, obligation, or action that has not yet occurred; the precise situations in which they are used vary from language to language.” (Wikipedia)
Firstly, let’s look at relatively common phrases where we find the Subjunctive Mood and in English, these are not as common as in other Indo-European languages such as Irish and Castillian (Spanish), for example.
In its article on the grammatical use of the subjunctive mood in English, the online Collins Dictionary gives, among others, these examples:
Heavenforbidthat that should happen to me.
Sufficeit to say he escaped with only a caution.
As an antidote to monarchical and religious expression, I give you the example Long live the Revolution! which is also in the subjunctive mood.
Often we can arrive at the subjunctive form by beginning the sentence with the word “May”: e.g May God bless you; May Heaven help us; May Heaven forbid. Sometimes when we use “May” we have to change the order of words a little: May it suffice to say from Suffice it to say; May you go with God from Go with God; May the Revolution live long from Long live the Revolution! And sometimes the May or even more words might have disappeared in common modern usage but be understood as in (May) thy Kingdom come1 and (May you be) welcome or (May) God speed (you).
Certainly the calling or greeting of Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year heard and read everywhere around this time of year were originally preceded by May you have a ….
Well and good2 but what has that to do with the “profound change in our general thinking, a definite shift towards a scientific view of the world” which I interpreted as the cause of the disappearance of the subjunctive?
Well, although the use of the subjunctive expressed a wish about the outcome of which we were not certain, it seems clear that its use was believed to have power. So to wish someone to (May you) go with God in English ((Que) Vaya con Dios3 in Castillian and still common in most of South and Central America and in the USA Southwest4) expressed a feeling that by saying those words, one could invoke protection upon the person leaving. Go5 dté tú slán, an equivalent in Irish but without any mention of God, one can find in the last line of the chorus in the Irish Jacobite song Siúil a Ghrá. And when we did not wish someone well, we might express a curse, invoking ill upon them: May you go to Hell! May you never prosper!
Uncertain as the outcome of expressing a wish for another, whether good or ill, was believed to be in more ancient times, we are fairly convinced today that it is empty of any predictive or enforcement power, i.e we can’t make it happen by wishing alone. The only power left in the words is in the expression of emotion for us and to convey a strong wish of good (even if only socially conventional) or conversely an intense dislike towards the object of the phrases.
So when we wish someone well today we are only expressing a positive regard (whether strongly emotional or only as a social convention) and similarly the reverse with an ill-wish. Gone is the belief that the use of the words themselves had any power at all over the outcome. If we were to say nowadays May you go to Hell or the truncated Go to Hell, we would do so without the slightest belief that we can somehow convey the person to that destination6 by the use of those words – we’d merely be saying something like “I really dislike (or hate) you” or perhaps “I am angry with you at the moment”. To really express a malevolent feeling, we might instead use “I hope” but again with without any expectation of realisation, as when Bob Dylan sang to the Masters of War:
“I hope that you die
and your death will come soon”.
Today, we find the remains of the Subjunctive mostly in prayers and greetings7 and to some extent in curses and in prayers. In religion, the traditional forms of prayer tend to be preserved, whether through strong devotion, convention or habit. The survival of the Subjunctive in greetings is probably retained through the inertia of convention. We also find its survival in a few grammatical constructions and in the feeling that “I wish I were in Carrickfergus8” is somehow better than the more commonly-heard “I wish I was in Carrickfergus”.
In general we no longer believe in the power of invocation, in making things happen by expressing a wish for them in a certain verbal way. We know now or believe that to make something happen, that we need to act. Even if wishful thinking can still be seen in much of political and social expression, that is more a reflection of a reluctance to confront reality or of hope for the future, rather than a real belief in the power of expression in verbal form. A scientific outlook has replaced that of the religious, of the otherworld, giving us a stronger intellectual tool to govern our actions, to bring a wish to reality.
As with the study of history, the study of language tells us a lot about who we were and who we are now — and helps us to speculate on who we are becoming.
1go dtaga do Ríocht in Irish, from The Lord’s Prayer of Christians.
2 Or the full Conditional Mood: That may be all well and good 🙂
3“May you go with God” — the subjunctive mood – compare with Ve te con Dios (“Go with God”), the imperative mood.
5The Irish word Go (pronounced as guh might be in English) in the Subjunctive precedes the verb to correspond to the use of the word May in English we saw earlier. In Irish, the name for the group of greetings is Beannachtaí which interestingly translates as “Blessings”.
6If we even believe any more in the existence of that place.
7And since greetings are important for social communication the Subjunctive often gives the learner of a language some difficulty, as in the Irish Go raibh maith agat, for example.
8A line in a centuries-old macaronic Irish song (i.e a verse in Irish followed by one in English etc), Do Bhí Bean Uasal or in English, Carrickfergus. Sadly most people are probably completely unaware of the verses in Irish.
One of the consumables most regularly needed in households is bread. In the present circumstances it may not be so easy to purchase some and also going to shops and bakers entails a certain amount of health risk. However, we can make soda bread at home easily enough and have fresh, healthy bread daily.
Soda bread, brown, white, with and without dried fruit, is a traditional Irish bread and for decades was the daily bread in the rural areas. This is not a traditional recipe.
Apart from a source of sufficient heat, we will need
bicarbonate of soda,
a little salt,
and a little edible acid like lemon juice or vinegar.
And since milk is another consumable that needs replenishing regularly, we can use it when it is ‘going off’ or dried milk powder instead.
We will need also some kind of mixing bowl, a strong metal fork and a heat-resistant receptacle.
The following directions are for making small amounts of bread at a time, not in ovens but on top of hot plates or gas rings. The heat-resistant receptacle will be a frying pan or wok. In order to contain the heat sufficiently for long enough, we will also need something like a curved lid (the dough will rise or expand).
I am going to describe two variations in preparing the dough, one needing a board to work it on and another straight from the mixing bowl to the heat.
In the mixing-bowl
pour the flour (for quantities and recommendations see further below)
a level teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda
a few pinches of salt
soured milk (either gone sour already or soured with a squirt of lemon juice, a few drops of vinegar etc.)
Mix with fork, not only round and round but folding over and over
Put frying pan or wok on to heat high with little oil or butter (to prevent the dough sticking)
Drop the dough into the pan or wok, turning it often
Turn the heat down low within a minute of turning the dough
Cover with a curved lid in which you have sprinkled some water (for steam for the bread)
It is useful to turn the dough a few times while baking to prevent a very hard crust forming
After about five minutes, take the bread out and tap it sharply with your fingers
When the bread gives a hollow sound on both sides when tapped, it is ready
Leave out to cool
1. Type without working the dough:
Mix it quite wet, adding a little water from time to time if necessary
Divide the mix into two or three lumps
Drop into the heated receptacle
You may want to smooth it with a damp spatula, back of a spoon, etc
Turn not only front to back but on all sides too
Lower heat, cover etc.
This will tend to produce round or oval shapes of bread
2. Type working the dough:
Mix it as dry as you can (but still mixed thoroughly into one mass)
Lay out your board, lightly sprinkled with flour
Tip the dough onto the board
Dip your hands in nearby flour, getting it all over palms and fingers
Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough mass
Press down on the mass, flattening it
Turn it and press down again
Keep dusting your hands with flour as often as necessary (and the board, if the dough sticks)
When the mixture is totally flat, fold it half over and press down again
Continue doing this a number of times (you may notice a tendency for the shape to become triangular or even square through the folding)
Place on the heated receptacle (or, before doing so, press down the edges particularly all around the mass and cut in half)
Turn a few times while lowering the heat
Cover and test in about five minutes, etc.
FLOUR TYPES AND APPROXIMATE QUANTITIES
Wholemeal flour and oatmeal (as for porridge) are healthier than white flour (which should be plain, not self-raising) but white gives a lighter bread and is cheaper than wholemeal, because it is easier to keep. I mix one half mug of wholemeal to one mug-and-one-half of white plain, with a quarter of oatmeal.
Add a little milk at a time as necessary until you get used to knowing how much is needed. When using dried milk, we can mix it in the flour dry and add water as we mix or mix it in advance to make liquid milk; in this case every single ingredient can be a dry food with a preserve (if using vinegar).
In Ireland, I prefer to use established brands like Odlums or Flavahan’s, rather than supermarket brands, even though the latter are usually cheaper.
The bread tastes better if made daily but to keep fresh, place inside a paper bag inside another of polythene and slice as needed. Making smaller amounts at a time, it is easier to judge the heat and time, otherwise one may find that the bread sounds hollow when tapped, as though cooked through, but at the centre there is still a mushy part.
The most taxing part of the process is the mixing the dough which is wearing on the wrists and men, known to generally have stronger wrists (no bawdy comments please) can at least carry out this part of the process and, having done so, sure might as well see the whole thing through.
Language is a treasure chest, full of jewels: history, philosophy, humour, politics, sex, literature, natural history ….. It is a chest full of wonders but it has some horrors in it too. I want now just to run my fingers through a few of those jewels, letsome of those wonders trickle through my fingers and before your eyes.
Language is composed of symbols – spoken words, then squiggles to represent those words on stone, wood, paper and electronic screens. In visual interaction, those symbols are accompanied by other symbols such as facial expression, hand gestures, bodily posture, tone, pitch, volume, emphasis …. yes, and chemical emissions. Different languages — sophisticated whole systems of symbols – have been developed for communication of information and recording but not only for those: for expression of emotion too. And each carries the history, philosophy etc of the particular culture that gave rise to that language and often many other cultures too. In turn, language comes to leave its imprint on the speakers of the language, to mold their very minds to some extent, shaping their culture. So when a language dies, much more dies than just a system of recording and communication.
We can see residues of Irish and the Gaelic culture in the way Irish people speak English, even those who have not been Irish-speaking in generations. We go to see a filum, sweep with a floor brush instead of “a broom”, reply to a question with a positive or negative of the same verb (will you go? I will/ I will not). Or we might have a thirst on us and go to a pub if the humour was on us. That pronunciation of an imaginary vowel between the ‘L’ and the ‘M’ is a residue of the Irish language and having physical and emotional feelings being on us, instead of having them, as in standard English, are the ghosts of expression in Irish. When other cultures are happy to thank us a thousand we say thanks a million, not because we are a thousand times more thankful than every other culture but probably because a million sounds like the Irish word for thousand, míle, from Go raibh míle maith agat.
* * *
Recently I was reading a novel, mostly based in Exeter, a city in Devon, SW England and I learned that the city’s name is derived primarily from the river Exe, with the ‘ter‘ being part of the noun ‘ceaster’ which meant first a Roman military camp (caster) and later, a town. Many place-names in England contain that ‘ceaster’, ‘caster’ or its variant ‘chester, for example “Lancaster” and “Manchester”.
Of course, with regard to the ‘Exe’, I could not help but think of ‘uisce’, the Irish word for “water”. And I’ve known for some time that Devon and Somerset have a great many megalithic monuments (more than Ireland even I read somewhere) and that nearby Cornwall has a surviving Celtic tongue (though spoken by few today). Anyway, I did a little digging with the help of the Oracle of Delphi, which today goes by the name of Google (which by the way in a short space of time has become an internationally-recognised noun and verb!).
The Wikipedia entry for Exeter tells us that the river Exe in the name of the city is from Old Brittonic, a Celtic language and means “ ‘water’ or more exactly ‘full of fish’”. Well that sounds pretty much like the meaning of the word “uisce” in Irish, which is also a Celtic language. But the Wikipedia entry for the river itself, as distinct from the town, says that the word “comes from the Common Brittonic word ‘iska’” meaning ‘water’ etc. But then the entry goes on to make the extraordinary claim that the word is unrelated to the word “whisky” while at the same time stating the latter word comes from classical Irish/Gaelic “uisce beatha” (‘water of life’). But since the Brittonic word for the river means ‘water’ and the Irish ‘uisce beatha’ (which became ‘whisky’) means ‘water of life’, then the words iska/ exe and uisce are obviously not only closely related but almost exactly the same!
Perhaps the entry meant something else and merely expressed it badly.
However, I am grateful to Wikipedia for drawing my attention to the connection between the Celtic words for ‘water’, ‘river’ and ‘fish’. Because the word for ‘fish’ in Irish is of course ‘iasc‘ which is not a million miles away in sound from ‘exe’ or even ‘uisce’. And if we were to stick the letter ‘P’ before the word ‘iasc‘, which the Gaels would never do, given that they avoided that letter and sound whenever they could, we would get the word ‘piasc‘, quite like the plural word for fish in Welsh, ‘pysg‘. And of course sisters of this word can be seen through some of the Romance languages, which in many ways are close to the Celtic: pez in Castillian, peixos in Catalan, peixe in Portuguese, pesce in Italian. And of course, for the astrologers, Pisces (Pis-kays) from the Latin, the star sign of the fish.
Now, the Greek word for ‘fish’ is psari, not all that similar (although it begins with the letter P too) but here’s a weird coincidence: the Greek name for the fish symbol used by early Christians, which is supposedly based on the first letters of the Greek words for Jesus, anointed, son, God and saviour ….. is the ‘ichtus‘. And the sound of ichtus is not a million miles away from the sound of iasc!
Anyway, back to Exeter, probably a Celtic settlement in a Celtic land by a river with a Celtic name, in a Celtic language, later a Roman town (perhaps preceded by a Roman military camp) with the word for ‘town’ coming from Latin, then overlaid by Saxon language.
“Old Brittonic” is the name given by philologists to the Celtic language once spoken all over Britain and of which the remaining survivors are Welsh and Cornish and, on the European mainland, Breton in Brittany and some words in Gallego in Galicia. Philologists call that branch of the Celtic languages ‘P-Celtic‘ because of its many old words beginning with the letter “P” which in Irish and other Goidelic or Q-Celtic languages (Manx and Scots Gaedhlig) begin with the letter “C”.
Exeter is an old place name in Devon and old place-names – as distinct from new ones like “Sea-View” used by property merchants to sell housing estates – tell us a lot about the history and culture of the people who named them and, often, something about their past in nature (for example all the places named after trees in this now-deforested Ireland).
Twenty-six, more than half the names of the 50 states that form the USA, are formed from Native American words or phrases. The original Americans, dispossessed, so many of them wiped out and a very small minority remaining in their ancestral lands, must find it hard to insist on the usage of their own place-names. Yet many of those have survived – European colonisers learned the names from the natives and for convenience continued to use them in their European languages so that they have now become US English words.
Of the Anglicised names of the 32 Counties of Ireland, only three are not of Irish origin – and the “English” names of those three were given to them by the Vikings. We are surrounded by the signs of our native language and culture but, for most of us, also cut off from them. This is hard to justify since unlike the Native Americans, for the most part, we have absorbed the invaders and we remain the majority on our land.
And yes, “Britain” and “Britons” were words associated with Celtic culture, derived from Praetani or Pretani, meaning “the people of Britain” and perhaps once a dominant Celtic tribe. Yes, and “Scotland”, it turns out, referred to a land in the north of Britain colonised by the Irish, to which they brought their language which has now developed into Scots Gaedhlig. And in the Middle Ages, a “Scotus” (Scot) was more likely to be an Irishman than what we today call a “Scotsman”.
And the “Scots” language of the poetry of Robbie Burns, including its practically extinct variant “Ulster Scots”, is actually based on German from Saxony and, except for some words, not Celtic at all!
Yes, it can all be a bit confusing. But interesting too.
Most modern criminal detectives have sex – I know this from reading, thankfully not from personal experience.
The older set, Holmes, Inspector Maigret, Nero Wolfe, Miss Marple – they didn’t. Holmes was into a barely-concealed opium habit and Wolfe had an obsession with orchids; Poirot was obsessive-compulsive and probably fetish-obsessed with his patent-leather shoes. Miss Marple, who first appeared in a novel published in 1930, reflected her times even when the times passed her (Nemesis was published as late as 1971) and as to a suggestion of sex: “Good God! What kind of a degenerate are you? A woman detective having sex? And a pensioner?”
In modern times we might reflect that “of course there was her live-in maid … and that succession of young women she trained as maids ….”
Not only did they not have sex on paper, they were all single except for Maigret, so there was an absence of potential sexual activity to distract one. Maigret of course was French so like many middle-class men of his time would have had not only a wife but a mistress too but …. we don’t talk about that.
Yet sex is one of the most basic driving instincts – it governs procreation of species and, working in tandem with natural selection, rules on evolution of all species. How come it was left out?
The characters reflect their times and their class, of course, as well as what was expected of their class, sometimes with a little added taste of the unexpected – but not in sex. Yes, we know that DH Lawrence’s sexually-explicity (and trans-class) Lady Chatterly’s Lover was published two years before Agatha Christie Miss Marple’s first appearance in a novel, in Murder at the Vicarage (1930) – but Lawrence was published in Italy. Sniff! — those Continentals! A year later Chatterly was published again in France and – interestingly – in Australia. But all that publishing was done privately. In 1960, when an unexpurgated edition was finally published in the “United Kingdom”1, Penguin, the publishers, were subjected to a famous obscenity trial but, when they won, sold three million copies. It was still banned in the Irish State, of course but we weren’t alone – the USA, Canada, Australia, India and Japan all banned it too.
Romantic and gothic novels of the time didn’t have sex either, except in the mention of a child born out of wedlock, though the suggestion of or even history of rape was there at times. Sexual feelings of the heroine (and sometimes of the hero) were conveyed through descriptions of a blushing cheek, longing looks, palpitating heart and breast (but no mention of nipples!), feeling faint in the head …. all above-board and more importantly, all above the waist (though still allowing the reader’s imagination to eroticise, of course).
The most important point to grasp here I think is that something being published does not necessarily reflect the dominant social mores – it is its acceptance by society and its popularity that tells us most. There has always been material around that transgressed socially-dominant sexual standards but those standards were still dominant – and the material may even have worked as a pressure-release valve, as for example with the huge numbers of sex-workers, female and male, that walked the streets or entertained in special houses in sexually-repressed Victorian Britain, particularly in London.
The 1960s brought about a huge jump in tolerance of explicit sexuality, partly fueled by a decade of expanding consumerism and a push for more of the same and partly by the rise of the youth and student movement and its challenge to hierarchical values and control.
THE NEW DETECTIVES
But for decades already, the new criminal detectives had arrived – or at least their advance skirmishers. One of the most influential, beating the later pack of the 1960s by a good three decades, Dashiel Hammett was hugely influential with the creation of what became known as the “hard-boiled” genre of detective stories and also in the “talking detective” style, in which the central character is also the narrator.
Hammett, a left-wing activist who got blacklisted as well as a popular crime fiction writer, had been employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency2 and wrote many published stories but only five novels, all between 1929 and 1934 (even though he lived to 1961): Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key and the The Thin Man3.
Raymond Chandler, who acknowledged his debt to Hammett, had The Big Sleep published in 1939, based on a couple of short stories (he’d been writing those for decades). He banged them out pretty regularly after that: Farewell My Lovely (1940), The High Window (1941), The Lady in the Lake (1942); then a break until The Little Sister (1949), another gap until The Long Goodbye (1953) and Playback in 1958, a year before he died.4 at the age of 71.
The gap in the 1940s is easily explained by the film scripts for Double Indemnity along with And Now Tomorrow (both 1944), The Unseen (1945), The Blue Dahlia (1946). Strangers On A Train was produced in 1951.
James M. Cain (1892-1977) published The Postman Always Rings Twice in 1934 and, as well as short stories, another fourteen novels during his lifetime. Among those was Double Indemnity which, like Postman etc, was made into a film.
Mickey Spillane published his first novel, I, the Jury in 1947 and went on to publish another twelve before he died in 20065.
The new private detectives novels between the 1920s and the 1960s introduced detectives who had or were tempted by hetero sex but, however graphically the allure might be described, the sex was never described in detail. These novels also featured the femme fatale, the attractive and sexy woman who was also dangerous – capable of murder and treacherous. The detective was more likely to have the sex-interest woman jailed or even killed, or walk out on her, than claim her as the prize. And yes, the detectives in this genre were all male.
These novels featured violence – not just the violence to the homicide victim but regular knockouts with a pistol butt across the head, graphic physical fights with fists and feet (and even teeth!), shootouts … the detective characters not only suffered violence but engaged in it too (particularly Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer).
During the 1940s and ’50s the novels were paperbacks, low-priced, produced on cheap paper to a size that could fit into a man’s jacket or coat pocket (and some handbags or, in the USA, “purses”). This form of private detective and some other kind of publishing came to be called “pulp fiction”, from cheap magazines of short stories, i.e destined to be turned back into paper pulp soon after reading).6
The covers (or “jackets”) of “pulp fiction” novels were often lurid, portraying violence and heterosexual sex. Women dressed in revealing deshabille, often with seductive expression and posture, tended to share the cover with a “hunky” type of man, with a gun visible in the hand of either. Sometimes a dead body, male or female, lay on the ground too.
This kind of writing was baptised “Noir”, i.e “black”, mainly reflecting the dark sides of the detective’s character and especially of his clients and of surrounding society, cynical, corrupt, characters often morally-flawed, doomed, dogged by ill-luck and bad choices.7 Production in film of that writing came to be called “film noir”, the content reflected in low-light shots in black & white filming, which later transferred (with some difficulty) even to colour film. But still, the sex was never graphic in the writing and was more pruriently hinted at than witnessed by the reader.
The writing could be elegant in descriptions and it could also be tight; dialogue was very important, with the detective and his adversaries dueling in verbal repartee, which the detective usually won in the verbal category but for which he often paid physically.
Of course, some cities in the United States had seen a lot of violence in reality, in particular during the ill-fated years of alcohol Prohibition (1920-1933) and the attendant rise of crime syndicates seeded in the working class immigrant communities of Irish, Jews, Italians, Sicilians …. Reading about such events as arrests, trials and mobster shoot-outs in newspaper reports provided also an audience for the material in the form of short stories, novels and later films. That audience grew during the succeeding decades and is still a wide one today, with a diversification of sub-genres and detectives in countries other than the USA or Britain, usually also in translation from their native languages.
But … back to sex and the detective. As the years rolled on past the 1960s towards the end of that millennium, the sexual activity of the private detectives became not only implicit but often explicit (with the possible exception of the Nordic detective novels). And we now had some female protagonists too: police detectives, uniformed police officers, private detectives and forensic pathologists. And if none of the main characters were ever gay, lesbian, transgender or transvestite, such characters did appear, usually treated more gently than in the past and at times actual second-line “good guy” actors in the stories.
It appeared that all previous sexual taboos in the detective story – all legal ones at any rate – had been broken.
Well, not all. Not masturbation.
Not even modern private detectives masturbate. Which is truly remarkable, when one considers, according to all research, how common that activity is in the non-detective population.
REFERENCES & SOURCES:
For dates of authors’ birth and deaths, also of bibliography, Wikipedia entries on the authors.
1I somehow doubt it would have got far in the Six Counties (“Northern Ireland”)
2 See Rebel frontier [electronic resource (video)] : organized labor vs. the Anaconda Copper Company / Network Ireland Television. New York, N.Y. : Films Media Group, , c2004.1 streaming video file (66 min.) : Martin Sheen – impersonating the voice of author DashiellHammett – narrates this compelling docudrama on immigrant labor and anti-war politics in 1917. As a young employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Hammett spied for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in Butte, Montana, during the height of labour struggles there. AU STREAMING MEDIA http://digital.films.com/PortalViewVideo.aspx?xtid=35494.
3 The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key and the The Thin Man were made into films.
4All based on earlier short stories, except the last, which was based on an unpublished screenplay.
5A number of others, based on previously-unpublished material or short stories, were published posthumously.
6Even after the pulp fiction heyday ended in the 1950s, paperback novels are still being produced in roughly the same size, albeit with somewhat better quality paper pages and covers.
7“Noir” also came to be a literary descriptive term and is often used to describe a certain kind of writing today.
The Shamrock, contrary to expectations, cannot be said to be a specific plant. It is of course a kind of clover but which one? People writing about it frequently state that it is generally accepted that the most likely candidates are the species Trifolium dubium (variously called Lesser Trefoil, Suckling Clover, Little Hop Clover and Lesser Hop Trefoil; Irish: Seamair bhuí), with yellow flowers or the white-flowered Trifolium repens (White Clover; Irish: Seamair bhán). But which one? Well, excuse the pun but take your pick.
Generally accepted by whom? One supposes by botanists and Irish folklorists but those sites rarely supply a reference. However, amateur botanist and zoologist Nathaniel Colgan (1851-1919) askedpeople from around Ireland send him specimens of what they believed to be an Irish shamrock and identified the five most common plant species, of which the two most common were the yellow clover followed by the white.A hundred years later, Dr Charles Nelson repeated the experiment in 1988 and found that yellow clover was still the most commonly chosen. According to Wikipeida, yellow clover is also the species cultivated for sale in Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day and is the one nominated by the Department of Agriculture as the “official” shamrock of Ireland.
The word “shamrock” is an Anglic corruption of the Irish seamróg, itself a contraction of seamair óg, meaning a sprig of young clover. The Irish shamrock is usually the species Trifolium dubium (lesser clover; Irish: seamair bhuí), with yellow flowers or the white-flowered Trifolium repens (white clover; Irish: seamair bhán).
A trawl through the internet looking for images of shamrock plants throws up a bewildering multiplicity of images of trefoil plants, the only thing they have in common being that they are (mostly) green. It soon becomes apparent that many of the images are taken from a different genus, that of oxalis, usually the one named wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) in English-speaking Europe1.
People today should know better. Edmund Spenser, an anti-Irish colonist and commentator on Irish culture, also poet and ancestor of the late Princess Diana, reported the Irish eating shamrock and so have some other colonial observers but almost certainly what they observed was the Irish eating the wood-sorrel – in Ireland it has some common names associated with eating. Spenser and other colonists can be blamed for many things but not that confusion – they were not botanists and did not have access to the Internet. Also, seamsóg, the Irish name for wood-sorrel, does sound a bit like seamróg, especially if one is not listening carefully. The confusion can be continued in English, where the common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a completely different plant and a common enough culinary one.
Many species of the genus oxalis close their leave sand flowers at night – a handy trick which the trifolii do not have; indeed, try as they may, trifolii could not possibly close their flowers since each one is in the form of a cluster, while those of oxalis tend to be trumpet-shaped.
The wood-sorrel grows typically in woods which are shady but not too dark and is characterised, as with many other oxalis, by an acidic taste in the stems. As children in the area in which I grew up in south Co. Dublin we chewed the stems of a cultivated species with large green leaves and pink flowers,commonly grown in window-boxes and gardens and known to us by the name of “Sour Sallies”.
The shamrock (both varieties of trifulium) grows best in meadows receiving a fair amount of sunlight, in among grasses. It belongs to the clovers, a different family completely from oxalis, belongingin turn to a very large group of plants as different in appearance from one another as peas and beans on the one hand and furze (also known as gorse) on the other (but many bearing fruit pods). They are the legume group, plants that concentrate nitrogen in nodules around their roots, making many of them good crops with which to precede plants that require a lot of nitrogen, such as the cabbage family or cereals.
The expression “in the clover” as an idiom for being successful or having a good time alludes to the alleged fondness of grazing animals for the plants but this is much more likely to be the white clover, Trifolium repens (Irish: seamair bhán) than dubium, as the former grows bigger and thicker. Clovers are important plants not only for grazing animals and nitrogen-fixing but also for bee-keepers, being rich in nectar and pollen.
Jean-Ann Day, who has just died, visited Dublin in January 2012 to help push an international campaign to free Leonard Peltier, also a warrior of the First People and longest-serving prisoner in the US after a travesty of a trial in 1977.
Due to a family tragedy hitting her contact here I had to step in as Jean-Ann’s contact but it was an honour for me. I progressed arrangements and took her to see Joan Collins TD and arranged for a radio interview with a program on Near FM.
I remember that on our way across the Liffey, Jean-Ann took a pinch of tobacco and offered it to the river with a prayer. The Gaels also thought of their rivers as divine, most of them goddesses. Although an atheist, to my thinking such belief systems seem greatly superior to those that think it fine to convert a river into a sewer or a toxic waste outlet.
On Saturday 4th February 2012 a small crowd of varied political backgrounds, including a significant proportion of independents, staged a protest outside the US Embassy in Ballsbridge as part of a world-wide week of protests seeking Peltier’s release. Jean-Ann delivered a simple speech there that I believe reached into the heart of every one of the participants as it did into mine.
A small musical evening in Dublin organised by supporters was another occasion at which she appeared and I understood she went to Belfast and Derry too.
Jean-Ann, warrior for justice has walked on and left us her memory. Her former comrade, another warrior, Leonard Peltier, remains in jail in serious ill-health.
Peltier is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary of Coleman in Florida and given that he is 72 years of age and that his next scheduled parole hearing will be in July 2024, it is clear that the FBI and USA state want him leaving jail only in a coffin. Barring appeals, parole or presidential pardon, his projected release date is October 11, 2040.
Jean-Ann Day, Bear Clan of the Ho-Chunk Nation, age 65 of Stevens Point, Wisconsin walked on Sunday, September 4, 2016 at the University…
Leonard Peltier Regarding the Passing of Jean-Ann Day
When I heard the news of Jean’s passing I was both saddened and surprised. I did not know she was ill. If I had known I would have reached out to her and tried to support her in any way I could.
Jean was a true friend to me for all the years I knew her. Her passing reminds me of so many things back in those days at Oglala so long ago.
She was a such a bright light and a young woman full of courage who came to Oglala without hesitation to join us in protecting the elders there. And she did so much work to free me from prison all these years. I am grateful to her for that.
Over the years here I have thought of her often and in my dreams of freedom there were always a few faces I expected to see if I ever walked out of here. Jean’s was one of them.
I know she was doing wonderful work in the effort to bring healing and positive change to her Ho-Chunk people and I was always proud of her for that.
I regret that I could not be there for her ceremonies so I could offer comfort to her children and grandchildren, but I can only send these few heart-felt words.
You were a great woman and your life made a real difference to me… and to so many others.
Rest in peace, my dear friend. ‘Til I see you again.
The new €2 coin design is now published and the coins will themselves be put into circulation in the New Year. Designs were submitted and the winning design for the ordinary currency coin is by Emmet Mullin, while the design for the gold and silver special editions is by Michael Guilfoyle. Both designs incorporate the statue of “Hibernia” and that name is prominently displayed on one of side of the coin and although Guilfoyle’s design incorporates some words from the 1916 Proclamation, they are in the background to the representation of “Hibernia”. The image is taken from a the centre one of a trio of statues erected on the GPO in 1814, while still under British occupation.
“Hibernia” was regularly used as an image to represent Ireland by “Punch”, a satirical racist British publication and she was always
shown as a pretty younger sister of “Britannia”, in need of her older sister’s protection (usually from the rebellious Irish, the despair of poor “Hibernia”). She was never in martial garb, unlike Britannia herself who was usually represented as a majestic and martial figure, with a crested war-helmet and shield and sometimes carrying a trident (perhaps to indicate domination of the seas).
That representation of Britannia appeared not only in the cartoons of “Punch” and other publications but also in sculpture — for example at the top of Somerset House, in the Strand, London – and also on many mints of British penny coins.
Of course, in British history the most likely model for the representation of a female fighter was Boudicca (“Boudicea”) who, after her humiliation and the rape of her daughters by Roman Legionnaires, raised her formerly pacified tribe of the Icenii against the Roman occupation and came close to driving them out of Britain. The irony is that the whole of Britain at that time was Celtic, as were Boudicca and the Icenii. But the English ruling class appropriated Boudicca into their English iconography as they did also with King Arthur and the Round Table knights.
Romanised and civilised
Ireland had many names among the Gael but “Hibernia” was not one of them. “Hibernia” was a late Latin name for Ireland, which the Romans had previously called “Scotia” (yes, “Scotland” originally meant something like “the land the Gael have invaded and settled and defend”).
The Roman linguistic connection is interesting – Irish Anglophiles and some English lovers of Ireland have been wont to bemoan the fact that Ireland was never conquered by the Romans. These commentators have tended to see Romanisation as civilising, forgetting perhaps the words of Rome’s own greatest historian, Publius Tacitus (or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus; c. 56–after 117 AD) who said that “they have created a desert and call it peace.” Calling Ireland “Hibernia” might be a way to bring that Roman conquest belatedly to the unquiet isle, to make her more “civilized” — in fact more like her neighbour and therefore more accepting of her neighbour’s domination and of her ways.
When John Smyth designed the statues to go on top of the General Post Office building in Dublin’s main street, then Sackville (but now O’Connell) Street, Dublin was widely considered the second city of the British Empire, next to London. The building opened to the public in 1818 but Dublin’s slow decline in status had already begun. Since the abolition of the Irish Parliament by the Act of Union in 1801, following the suppression of the United Irish uprising three years earlier, the Irish Members of Parliament had to go to London to take their seats, taking a great deal of political, commercial and social life with them. Irish landlords deserted their Irish estates in greater numbers, leaving them in the hands of their often rack-renting agents as the owners demanded more and more rents to keep them in their homes in Britain and their lifestyle there and in Europe. Throughout the 19th Century the social focus slowly followed the political to England – except where a militant nationalist one arose.
Submission or subversion?
Perhaps the representation of Hibernia by John Smyth, reflecting that of Britannia, was meant to show Ireland as equal in grandeur to her dominant neighbour. The Society of the United Irish had been part of a wider cultural movement that sought to explore and appropriate an older Gaelic culture for the colonists, many of them settled for generations on Irish land. Assertions of autonomy and complaints about English political and commercial restrictions had been part of that movement too and had found sharpest expression in the republican and separatist ideas of the United Irish. Some aspirations remained, severely modified. Perhaps it was John Smyth’s intention to show Hibernia as grand but there was no mistake about who was really in charge in Ireland, Hibernia or Britannia.
As if to underline the relationship, Smyth placed a statue representing “Fidelity” on Hibernia’s left on top of the GPO. What could that fidelity be, except to the Empire? Some suggest that because Fidelity holds the Key and is with the Dog, that she really represents Hecate. I know nothing about Smyth nor have I the time to research him at the moment but it is possible he was being somewhat subversive in that representation. Hecate had a number of earlier and later interpretations and the key seems to have appeared later – the key to the household perhaps but also to Hades, the Underworld.
On Hibernia’s right, John Smyth erected the statue of Hermes, known to us as the messenger of the gods but also representing commerce. Commerce, then as now, was the backer of military and political initiatives, indeed often the driver. Of course, many of the Irish bourgeoisie, both native and colonist in origin, wanted a successful commercial Ireland. But after 1798 and 1801, they were not going to get it. From then on, most progress for Irish finance would be made through investing in the Empire rather than in Irish industry and trade.
Whether the representation of Hibernia was intended as some kind of subject of Britannia with pretensions to something grander or was in fact just aping her better, dressing in her mistresses’ clothes when the lady was away, is a moot point. What is certain is that neither the image nor the name itself is of native origin.
The names for Ireland
As noted earlier, among the many names of the Gael for Ireland, “Hibernia” does not appear. The clan-based resistance had used Irish names to describe the land and this continued in the wars against Cromwell and William, with “Ireland” being the most common name when speaking in English by both sides of the wars.
The United Irishmen, a late 18th Century republican movement for independence led mostly by descendants of colonists and largely English-speaking, called the land “Ireland”1 or “Erin” (a phonetic representation of the Irish-language “Éireann”, the dative case of “Éire”). These names, along with “Éireann” later, continued to be those most often used by nationalists of the 19th Century, the Young Irelanders, the Fenians, the Land League, as well as by the various advanced nationalist and revolutionary organisations in the early years of the 20th Century2.
This continued to be the case during the War of Independence and by both sides in the Civil War and was the case with the setting up of the 26-County state and with the various national resistance movements to that state of affairs since then. One finds “Hibernia” in the Ancient Order of Hibernians, of course and in the Hibernian Bank but they are exceptions – it is “Éire”, “Erin” or “Ireland” over all – and has been so for many centuries.
“Hibernia” is a foreign colonial import, both in terminology and in concept. She is poor image of her big sister on “the mainland”, the real boss. The use of her image and of her name is inappropriate to commemorate the 1916 Rising but their use may signify much more than an error – they may reveal a subliminal desire to return to the Empire, or at least the Commonwealth, in the psyche of those who were never all that sure they should have left it.
1“From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain as the curse of the Irish nation …” Theobald Wolfe Tone
2Inghinidhe na hÉireann, Na Fianna Éireann, The Irish Citizen Army, The Irish Transport & General Worker’s Union, The Irish Volunteers, Óglaigh na hÉireann. Also, when the Abbey Theatre was founded by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904, they declared it was “to bring upon the stage the deeper emotions of Ireland”.