Nothing endures but change.
"An American citizen
who died that English might live."
- Epitah for American RAF pilot William Meade Fiske, killed during Battle of Britain
"Great Britain provided
time; the United States provided money and Soviet Russia provided blood."
"I find it hard even
now not to look on your North African strategy with a jaundiced eye. Cross
Channel operations for the liberation of France and advance on Germany,
we should finish the war quicker."
"Yes, probably, but not the way we hope to finish it."
- Generals Marshall and Brooke, reflecting Anglo-American differences in 1943
"When all the arguments
have been forgotten, this central fact will remain. The two nations fought
a single war, and their quarrels were the quarrels of brothers."
- Henry Stimson, reflecting on the Anglo-American alliance
All "progressive" thought
has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security
and avoidance of pain ... Hitler, because in his joyless mind he feels
it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don't only want comfort,
safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common
sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice,
not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as
economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than
any hedonistic conception of life.
- George Orwell
"We know the Race is not to the Swift nor the Battle to the Strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?"
- John Page to Thomas Jefferson, after the signing of Declaration of Independence
"If my people are wiped out you must destroy all photographs of us, because future generations will look at our photographs and be too ashamed at such a crime against humanity."
- Davi Yanomami
What an extraordinary
episode in the economic progress of man was that age which came to an end
in August 1914.
- John Maynard Keynes
We did not realise
how fragile our civilisation was.
- Friedrich von Hayek
"How's school? Don't
bother too much about European geography. I think it's all going to change."
- A French ambulance driver writes to his son from the Western Front (1914)
"The ceding of Alsace-Lorraine
is nothing but war in perpetuity under the mask of peace."
- Edgar Quinet, on the consequences of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War
I am responsible only to God and history.
"If you hold your fire
until you see the whites of his eyes, you will never know what hit you."
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt (May 1941)
"All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale."
- Emir Faisal, future King of Iraq, 1919
The whole world is in revolt. There will soon be only five kings left - the kings of England, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs.
- King Farouk of Egypt in 1948, deposed four years later
What made the war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.
"A nation can survive
its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.
An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his
banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely,
his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls
of government itself."
Crassus was in the
habit of maintaining that nobody should be called rich who was not able
to maintain an army on his income.
- Sir Ronald Syme, "The Roman Revolution"
"Kill them all. God
knows his own."
- Albigensian leader during their 13th century crusade against 'heretics'
"Religion may possibly
do more good in other places, but it does less harm here."
- English diplomat commenting on the Dutch Republic of the 17th century
"People are governed
by the pulpit more than the sword in time of peace."
- King Charles I of England (1626)
"He was not the greatest
of men but he was the greatest of kings."
- Voltaire, damning Louis XIV with faint praise
which was called and still calls itself the 'Holy Roman Empire' was neither
holy, nor Roman, nor an empire."
"In on summer they
have done their business... they have completely pulled down to the ground
their monarchy, their church, their nobility, their law, their revenue,
their army, their navy, their commerce, their arts, and their manufactures...
destroyed all balances and counterpoises which serve to fix a state and
give it steady direction, and then they melted down the whole into one
incongrous mass of mob and democracy... the people, along with their political
servitude, have thrown off the yoke of law and morals."
- Edmund Burke, on the French Revolution
"We are in a war of
a peculiar nature. It is not with an ordinary community, which is hostile
or friendly as passion or as interest may veer about: not with a state
which makes war through wantonness, and abandons it through lassitude.
We are at war with a system, which by its essence, is inimical to all other
governments, and which makes peace or war, as peace and war may best contribute
to their subversion. It is with an armed doctrine that we are at war. It
has, by its essence, a faction of opinion, and of interest, and of enthusiasm,
in every country."
- Edmund Burke, "Letters on Regicide Peace" (1796)
"Those who did not
live during the years close to 1789 do not know the pleasure of living."
- Charles Maurice de Talleyrand
"I don’t employ Talleyrand
when I want a thing done, but only when I want to have the appearance of
wanting to do it."
- Napoleon's attitude to his foreign minister
"Men like M. de Talleyrand
are like sharp instruments with which it is dangerous to play."
- Prince Metternich, Austrian Minister
"Worse than a crime,
it was a blunder."
- Boulay de la Merthe, analysing Napoleon’s murder of the Duc d’Enghein in 1804
"I shall be an Attila
- Napoleon Bonaparte, before his sack of Venice (1797)
"If it had not been
for the English I should have been emperor of the East, but wherever there
is water to float a ship we are sure to find them in our way."
- Napoleon Bonaparte
"The most constant,
the most powerful, and the most generous of all my enemies."
- Napoleon Bonaparte, appealing to Britain after Waterloo
"Europe is not to be
saved by any single man. England has saved herself by her exertions, and
will, as I trust, save Europe by her example."
- William Pitt the younger, 1805, on being lauded as Europe's saviour for checking Napoleon
"Hard pounding gentlemen.
We will see who can pound the longest."
- Wellington, as Waterloo reaches its peak
"The scum of the earth...
but what fine soldiers we have made them."
- Duke of Wellington's opinion of the ordinary British soldier
"Mad is he? Then I
wish he would bite some of my other generals."
- King George II of England's response to suggestions that General Wolfe was mad
"When the house is
on fire, one does not worry about the stables".
- King Louis, refusing requests from New France for reinforcements from France (1759)
"A torch lighted in
the forests of America set all Europe in conflagration."
– Voltaire, 1756, on the outbreak of the global Seven Years' War
I desire no other inscription
over my gravestone than: 'Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the
responsibility of peace with France in the year 1800'.
- John Adams 
"Caesar had his Brutus;
Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third-"
"-may profit by their example. If this be treason... make the most of it."
- Patrick Henry, speech in Virginia's House of Burgesses in Williamsburg (1765)
"How is it that we
hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of Negroes?"
- Samuel Johnson
"While we remember
that we are contending against brothers and fellow subjects, we must also
remember that we are contending in this crisis for the fate of the British
- General John Burgoyne, speaking as an MP in Parliament
These are the times
that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will,
in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.
- Thomas Paine, writing during the American Revolutionary War
"I shall have a great
advantage over you, Mr. Gerry. When we are all hung for what we are now
doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes,
but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or
two before you are dead."
- Benjamin Harrison to Elbridge Gerry, before American Declaration of Independence 
But what do we mean
by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution
was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds
and hearts of the people.
- John Adams 
"They came three thousand
miles and died to keep the past upon its throne, unheard beyond the the
ocean tide, their English mother made her moan."
- Inscription on tomb for British soldiers killed at Concord (1775)
"If ponies rode men,
and if grass ate the cows
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse...
If summer were spring, and the other way 'round,
Then all the world would be turned upside down."
- lyrics of song reportedly played after the British surrender to the Americans at Yorktown
"What though you march
from town to town, and from province to province; though you should be
able to enforce a temporary and local submission (which I only suppose,
not admit), how shall you be able to secure the obedience of the country
you leave behind you in your progress, to grasp the dominion of eighteen
hundred miles of continent, populous in numbers, possessing valor, liberty,
This resistance to your arbitrary system of taxation might have been foreseen. It was obvious from the nature of things, and of mankind; and, above all, from the Whiggish spirit flourishing in that country. The spirit which now resists your taxation in America is the same which formerly opposed loans, benevolences, and ship-money in England; the same spirit which... by the Bill of Rights vindicated the English Constitution; the same spirit which established the great fundamental, essential maxim of your liberties, that no subject of England shall be taxed but by his own consent.
This glorious spirit of Whiggism animates three millions in America, who prefer poverty with liberty, to gilded chains and sordid affluence; and who will die in defense of their rights as men, as freemen."
- William Pitt, former Prime Minsiter, calling for removal of British troops from Boston, 1775
"I love the Americans
because they love their liberty, and I love them for the noble efforts
they made in the last war... The gentleman asks, when were the colonies
emancipated? But I desire to know, when were they made slaves?"
- William Pitt the Elder
"[France is] a vulture
hovering over the British Empire, and hungrily watching the prey that she
is only waiting for the right moment to pounce upon."
- William Pitt the Elder, speech to Commons in 1775
"Reflect how you are
to govern a people who think they ought to be free, and think they are
not. Your scheme yields no revenue; it yields nothing but discontent, disorder,
disobedience; and such is the state of America, that after wading through
up to your eyes in blood, you could only end up where you begun; that is,
to tax where no revenue is to be found... all is confusion beyond it."
- Edmund Burke, speech in British House of Commns opposing Townshend duties (1774) 
"The use of force alone
is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment, but it does not remove the
necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed which is perpetually
to be conquered... this fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English
colonies probably than in any other people of the earth... the people of
the colonies are descendants of Englishmen, they are therefore not only
devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English principles. The
great contents for freedom in this country were from earliest times chiefly
upon the quetion of taxing... The colonies draw from you, as with their
lifeblood, these ideas and principles. Their love of liberty, as with you,
is fixed and attached on the specific point of taxing. Liberty might be
safe, or it might be endangered, in twenty other particulars, without their
being much pleased or alarmed. Here they felt its pulse."
- Edmund Burke 
"In all their wars
against the French they [the Americans] never showed such conduct, attention
and perseverance as they do now."
- General Gage, commanding British forces at start of American Revolutionary War
We might have been
a free and great people together.
- Thomas Jefferson, from his original draft of the Declaration of Independence
The Citizens of America,
placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole Lords and Proprietors
of a vast Tract of Continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates
of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of
life, are now by the late satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be
possessed of absolute freedom and Independence; They are, from this period,
to be considered as Actors on a most conspicuous Theatre, which seems to
be peculiarly designed by Providence for the display of human greatness
and felicity... at this auspicious period the United States came into existence
as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy,
the fault will be intirely their own.
- George Washington, writing in 1783 after independence was secured 
"Men are very apt to
run into extremes, hatred to England may carry come into an excess of Confidence
in France... I am heartily disposed to entertain the most favourable sentiments
of our new ally and to cherish them in others to a reasonable degree; but
it is a maxim founded on the universal experience of mankind, that no nation
is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interest; and no prudent
statesman or politician will venture to depart from it."
- George Washington, speech to Congress in 1778 
"There is on the globe
one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy.
It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory
must pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere long yield more
than half of our whole produce and contain more than half our inhabitants."
- Thomas Jefferson, with a warning to France in 1802
"If he does that, he
will be the greatest man in the world."
- King George III, hearing that Washington would hand over control of his army to Congress
If we should change
from a mixed aristocracy to a mere democracy, first, we should have no
warrant in Scripture for it; there was no such government in Israel. We
should hereby voluntarily abase ourselves, and deprive ourselves of that
dignity which the providence of God has put upon us, which is a manifest
breach of the Fifth Commandment; for a democracy is, among most civil nations,
accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government; and therefore
in writers it is branded with reproachful epithets as bellua mutoru capitu,
a monster, etc., and histories do record that it has been always of least
continuance and fullest of troubles.
- John Winthrop (Boston 1644)
"If peace cannot be
maintained with honour, it is no longer peace."
- Lord John Russell (1792-1878)
I believe we are gradually
becoming the target at which the whole world wants to shoot its arrows;
and you know that no empire, however great, has been able to sustain many
wars in different areas for long. If we can think only of defending ourselves,
and never manage to contrive a great offensive blow against one of our
enemies, so that when it is over we can turn to others, I doubt whether
we can sustain an empire as scattered as ours.
- Duke of Sessa, Spanish diplomat, writing at the height of Spanish Empire (1600) 
"I think it would be
an excellent idea."
- Gandhi, when asked his opinion of Western Civilization
"We want to go in for
suffering, and there may be torture. If we put the women in front the Government
may hesitate to inflict on us all the penalty that they might otherwise
- Gandhi, explaining why he refused to all women on his anti-colonial salt march
The Earth is degenerating
these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their
parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.
- Assyrian Stone Tablet, c.2800BC (Probably Apocryphal - but Funny)
"All Cretans are liars."
- Epimenides... of Crete
When Alexander saw
the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer
- Milton, on Alexander 'The Great'
"On their side more
men are standing, on ours more will fight!"
- Alexander 'The Great', rousing his troops before the battle of Guagamela (331 BC)
"I'm not very keen
for doves or hawks. I think we need more owls."
- Senator George Aitken
"When slavery is established
in any part of the world, those who are free are by far the most proud
and jealous of their freedom."
- Edmund Burke (1729-97)
"They (the Chinese
workers) were a great army laying siege to Nature in her strongest citadel.
The rugged mountains looked like stupendous ant-hills. They swarmed with
Celestials, shoveling, wheeling, carting, drilling and blasting rocks and
- Albert Richardson, on the building of America's transcontinental rail-line , "New York Tribune"
"The Chevalier de la
Salle left with a detachment, entered the Illinois area, took possession
of the country in the name of Louis XIV, called it Louisiana in honour
of this prince, and constructed a fort there; the Spaniards would have
built a church, the English a tavern."
- Abbe Delaporte, "Le Voyageur Francais" (1769), on French exploration in the 1680s
"A more damned crew
hell never vomited."
- Opinion of early 17th century colonists by the President of the Virginia Company
Many things they sawe
with us as mathematicall instruments, sea compasses... spring clocks that
seemed to goe of themselves — and many other things we had — were so strange
unto them, and so farre exceeded their capacities to comprehend the reason
and meanes how they should be made and done, that they thought they were
rather the workes of gods then men.
- Thomas Harriot, one of first English settlers in Virginia, from his "Briefe and True Report" 
No greater glory can
be handed down than to conquer the barbarian, to recall the savage and
the pagan to civility, to draw the ignorant within the orbit of reason,
and to fill with reverence for divinity the godless and the ungodly.
- Richard Hakluyt, letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, patron of the Virginia colony 
"People with a family
advanced in life find great difficulties in emigration, but the young men
of Ireland who wish to be free and happy should leave it and come here
as quick as possible. There is no place in the world where a man meets
so rich a reward for good conduct and industry as in America."
- James Dunlap, printer of the Declaration of Independence (1785)
"The life my people
want is a life of freedom. I have seen nothing that a white man has, houses
or railways or clothing or food, that is as good as the right to move in
the open country and live in our fashion."
- Sitting Bull, Chief of the Lakota Sioux
"I have killed, robbed
and injured too many white men to believe in a good peace. They are medicine
and I would eventually die a lingering death. I had rather die on the field
of battle. Look at me, see if I am poor, or my people either. The whites
may get me at last, as you say, but I will have good times till then. You
are fools to make yourselves slaves to a piece of fat bacon, some hard-tack,
and a little sugar and coffee."
- Sitting Bull, Sioux Chief, speech encouraging resistance to White encroachment (1867) 
"Nothing but nakedness
and starvation has driven this man to submission, and that not on his own
account but for the sake of his children."
- Captain Walter Clifford, escorting Sitting Bull to capitivity 
"I surrender this rifle
to you through my young son, whom I now desire to teach in this manner
that he has become a friend of the Americans. I wish him to learn the habits
of the whites and to be educated as their sons are educated. I wish it
to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.
This boy has given it to you, and he now wants to know how he is going
to make a living."
- Sitting Bull, to Major Brotherton, preparing for reservation life 
"The genius of you
Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated
stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be
something to them we are missing."
- Gamel Abdel Nasser, President Of Egypt
"I do not like this
word bomb. It is not a bomb; it is a device which is exploding."
- Jacques Le Blanc, French ambassador to New Zealand, describing France's nuclear testing, 1995
"This is the epitaph
I want on my tomb: Here lies one of the most intelligent animals who ever
appeared on the face of the earth."
- Benito Mussolini
"Whoever heard of such
a mixture of languages in one army, since there were French, Flemings,
Frisians, Gauls, Sayonards, Lotharingians, Allemani, Bavarians, Normans,
English, Scots, Aquitanians, Italians, Danes, Apulians, Iberians, Bretons,
Greeks and Armenians."
- Fulcher of Chartes, participant in the first Crusade
> From William Waller, General, Parliamentarian forces to Ralph Hockton, Royalist. Letter written > during hostilities in the English Civil War :
To my noble friend,
Sir, my affections to you are so unchangeable that hostility itself cannot violated my friendship to your person - but I must be true to the cause wherein I serve. That great god which is the searcher of my heart knows with what a sad scene I go upon this service and with what a perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemy.
But I look upon it as an opus domini which is enough to silence all passion in me. We are both upon the stage and must act those parts that are assigned to us in this tragedy. Let us do it in a way of honour and without personal animosities whatsoever the issue be.
I shall never relinquish the dear title of your most affectionated friend and faithful servant.
# OUT OF IRELAND
For the great Gaels
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.
- G. K. Chesterton
"Seldom dry, but often
running over, as if the Heavens were a wounded eye, perpetually weeping
- 17th century French observer comments on Ireland's climate
"Parties on the back
of Parties, at war with the world and with each other."
- Thomas Carlyle, 19th century historian, on Ireland of the mid-17th century 
"The vast majority
of those of Scots lineage living in the Ulster counties in the 18th century
had come across, or their people had come across, in the 1690s. And they
were victims of famine. Over that decade, 30000-50000 people were fleeing
from that disaster. In terms of per capita loss, it was of the same order
of magnitude as the Irish famine (of the 19th century)."
- Prof. TM Devine, in the documentary "On Eagle's Wing"
"A waste land lit by
- Sean O'Casey, describing the Ireland of his time
In prison we are their
On trial their judges
Persecuted their punishers
Dead their conquerors
- Eoin MacNeill, on death of Irish patriot hunger strikers in British Jails
Although the Irish
language is connected with the many recollections that twine around the
hearts of Irishmen, yet the superior utility of the English tongue, as
the medium of all modern communication, is so great that I can witness
without a sigh the gradual decline of the Irish language.
- Daniel O'Connell, champion of the Emancipation of Irish Catholics
"What really surprised
the majority of those who contemplate the affairs of Ireland is to see
that people of the same nation and of the same religion, who are well aware
that the resolution to exterminate them totally has already been taken,
should differ so strongly in their private hostilities; that their zeal
for religion, the preservation of their country, and their own self interest
are not sufficient to make them lay down, at least for a short time, the
passions which divide them one from the other."
- France's Ambassador to England, writing in 1648
"What is unique about
Drogheda is the very large number of Protestants in the garrison and the
fact that it's commanded, by and large, by Englishmen, who have come over
from the English Civil War and are fighting in Ireland, and Cromwell is
extraordinarily savage against these... Drogheda, after all, was a Protestant
- Prof. Ronald Hutton, on the complexities of the infamous massacre, "Cromwell in Ireland"
Surely the state of
Ireland ought for ever to teach parties moderation in their victories.
People crushed by law have no hopes but for power. If laws are their enemies,
they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing
to lose will always be dangerous more or less.
- Edmund Burke, writing in 1777 
England and Ireland
may flourish together. The world is large enough for both of us. Let it
be our care not to make ourselves too little for it.
- Edmund Burke 
I find along with many
virtues in my countrymen there is a jealousy, a soreness, and readiness
to take offence, as if they were the most helpless and impotent of mankind,
and yet a violence... and a boistrousness in their resentment, as if they
had been puffed up with the highest prosperity and power. they will not
only be served, but it must also be in their own way and on their own principles
and even in words and language that they liked... which renders it very
difficult for a plain unguarded man as I am to have anything to do with
them or their affairs.
- Edmund Burke 
"The optimist view
of politics assumes that there must be some remedy for every political
ill, and rather than not find it, will make two hardships to cure one.
If all equitable remedies have failed, its votaries take it as proved without
argument that the one-sided remedies, which alone are left, must needs
succeed. But is not the other view barely possible? Is it not just conceivable
that there is no remedy that we can apply for the Irish hatred of ourselves?
...May it not, on the contrary, be our incessant doctoring and meddling,
awaking the passions now of this party, now of that, raising at every step
a fresh crop of resentments by the side of the old growth, that puts off
the day when these feelings will decay quietly away and be forgotten? The
free institutions which sustain the life of a free and a united people
sustain also the hatreds of a divided people."
- Lord Salisbury (1872)
"Is not that state
a warning and a judgment for our heavy sins as a nation?"
- William Gladstone (1880)
"We are bound to lose
Ireland in consequence of years of cruelty, stupidity and misgovernment
and I would rather lose her as a friend than as a foe."
- William E. Gladstone
"The Skibbereen Eagle
has got its eye both upon Lord Palmerston and on the Emperor of Russia."
This terrible warning has elevated the little insignificant town of Skibbereen,
in the southwest coast of Ireland, quite into a Lilliputian pre-eminence
. Beware, beware, ye statesmen, emperors, and thrones, for the Skibbereen
Eagle has its eye upon you!
- And let that be a warning for you.
"Why should we do anything
for posterity; what has posterity ever done for us?"
- Richard Boyle, speech to Irish House of Commons
"In later years, it
was common, and I was guilty in this respect, to question the motives of
those who joined the new British armies at the outbreak of the Great War,
but it must, in their honour and fairness to their memories, be said that
they were motivated by the highest purpose, and died in their tens of thousands
in Flanders and Gallipoli, believing that they were giving their lives
in the cause of human liberty everywhere, including Ireland."
- Sean Lemass, Prime Minister of Ireland, 1966.
"Here is a shared memory
that we didn't share, forgot to share, for almost ninety years."
- President Mary McAleese, commemorating fallen Irish soldiers in Flanders, 2004.
"I joined the British
Army because she stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilization,
and I would not have her (Britain) say that she defended us while we did
nothing at home but pass resolutions."
- Francis Ledwidge, Irish volunteer, killed in action at Ypres, 1917
More Irishmen died
fighting for Britain in World War I than died fighting against her in all
of Ireland's bids for independence combined.
- David Frum
"An independent Ireland
would see its own independence in jeopardy the moment it saw the independence
of Britain seriously threatened. Mutual self-interest would make the peoples
of these two islands, if both independent, the closest possible allies
in a moment of real national danger to either."
- Eamon de Valera, 1920.
"This Treaty gives
us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all Nations desire and develop
to, but the freedom to achieve it"
- Michael Collins, defending the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922
"To go for a drink
is one thing. To be driven to it is another."
- Michael Collins in a letter during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.
"What the hell difference
does it make, left or right? There were good men lost on both sides."
- Pat, on losing a leg in a battle of the Irish Civil War, "The Hostage" by Brendan Behan
"We were the most conservative
revolutionaries in history."
- Kevin O'Higgins, Minister for Justice in post-independence Ireland
The Irish Free State
was one of dozens of new European democracies to emerge from the cauldron
of the 1914-1918 war. It was one of the very few that was still democratic
in 1939. This book shows how the steely determination of one man, Kevin
O'Higgins, made this possible. O'Higgins faced down mutinies in both the
Gardai and the Army. He dissolved the Dáil Courts which were a parallel
system that might easily have undermined the conventional courts. With
WT Cosgrave, he put through a constitution which reconciled the local opponents
of independence with the new State.
- John Bruton, reviewing "Builder Of The Irish State", "The Irish Independent"
It was a state forged
through violent struggle, its troubled birth leaving deep scars in a society
already overwhelmed by economic disadvantage. Yet, despite such unpromising
origins, the Irish Free State not only survived, but developed into a vibrant
democracy, one in which the rule of law, parliamentary authority and the
will of the people remained paramount, just as supremely cultured nations
such as Germany and Italy were succumbing to tyranny. As Richard English
points out in his new book, Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in
Ireland, such an outcome was never a certainty. But the first factor English
identifies as being behind this achievement is striking. “Irish nationalist
success,” English says, rested on “British legacies”. Even in independence,
one might infer, Irish nationalists were guided by the benign hand of Britain...
But the book also highlights the more dominant strand in Irish nationalism:
the moderate, constitutional approach. “People often look at the history
of Irish nationalism and say it’s a story of extremism triumphant. It seems
to me that the opposite is nearer the truth. The only time Irish nationalists
are hugely supported as a party — O’Connell, Parnell, the SDLP and now
Sinn Fein — is when it’s not violence on offer. So for someone who is fundamentally
a pragmatist rather than an idealist, it’s a story which has much to comfort
you.” English’s broader theory is simple enough: “Nationalism offers you
the capacity to change the world, and at the same time have a community
that’s small enough to be meaningful but large enough to be powerful.”
- Mick Heaney, reviewing "Irish Freedom", "The Sunday Times"
Few, but readers of
the Old Colonial Papers and records are aware that a lively trade was carried
on between England and the Plantations, as the Colonies were then called,
from 1647 to 1690, in political prisoners, where they were sold by auction
to the Colonists for various terms of years, sometimes for life.
- Colonel AB Ellis, "White Slaves and Bond Servants in the Plantations" (1883) 
The Rising was mainly
a piece of streat theatre designed by poets for dramatic effect. For better
or worse, it became part of the founding myth which states need — but which
they should move on from after a time. Major John MacBride, in a cameo
performance in which he left Jacobs Mill, as he had entered it, immaculately
dressed down to the white spats, told his colleagues "Next time lads, don't
shut yourself up behind four walls." It was good advice.
- Maurice Hayes, reviewing "Easter 1916" by Charles Townshend
I am fed up with the
foolish cliche that the Irish and British troops who fought in the First
World War were "lions led by donkeys" and died for nothing. Modern military
scholarship shows that most British officers were brave men leading brave
men, doing their best to survive in a system of warfare that could only
stay stagnant until the arrival of airpower and the tank. Far from fighting
for nothing, they were fighting a terrifying tyranny. The Kaiser was a
killer. The brutal rape of Belgium showed what was in store for France
and Russia if he was not fought to a finish. In fact Britain, America,
France and Russia were fighting the forerunner of Adolf Hitler. Although
it was a long way from Tipperary, there was nothing ignoble or ignorant
about Irishmen joining in the struggle to stop the spiked helmet and the
jackboot from grinding down the peoples of Europe. The men who died at
Messines died fighting a far greater tyranny than the men of 1916. So say
all those whose grandfathers and granduncles fought and died for the freedom
of small nations.
- Eoghan Harris, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"
Why, some people ask
(in response to Kevin Myers' magnificent and sustained campaigns to respect
the Irish soldiers of the Great War), should we commemorate the men of
1914-1918, and not those Irishmen who fought in other wars -- the Boer
War or the American Civil War, for example? By all means commemorate those
who fought in all wars, but the reason for commemorating the Great War
is that it has a special relevance to reconciliation here, north and south.
John Redmond did not turn out to be right in saying that 1914-1918 would
bring North and South together: at least not at the time. But as we mark
the 90th anniversary of the ending of the Great War tomorrow, there are
still opportunities for realising John Redmond's dream. That epiphany surely
occurred when Dr Ian Paisley, the symbol of resistance to a United Ireland,
speaks about his gratitude to the Irish Government in marking that remembrance:
and placed flowers on the grave of the great Home Ruler John Redmond.
- Mary Kenny, "The Irish Independent"
If Fiji and Canada,
India and Nepal, South Africa and Nigeria, can gather in the Mall to recall
their men who died in the service of an extinct empire, why do we have
such trouble in doing the same? And how can our national pride be nourished
on the sullen neglect and a righteous disdain towards those innocents who
in 1914 onwards merely did the bidding of their betters? The Sikh who lays
his wreath at the Cenotaph does honour to neither emperor nor the butchers
of Amritsar: the Zulu who bows his head before that unpeopled tomb is not
praising those who slew his kinsmen at Rorke's Drft and Islandwhana; yet
they can stand with members of the diplomatic corps and remember their
dead fellow-countrymen of two world wars, and be not a whit diminished
by that deed of remembrance... Dogmatic neutralists have turned a temporary
ploy of 1939 into an enduring principle, a permanent declaration of a greater
virtue than those who go armed. But piety does not guard a country's beaches
or protect its airspace. Steel and sinew alone do that, and we have never
had enough of either. Ireland's defences in 1940 began not at Dun Laoghaire
in Dublin but Dungeness, in Kent: and Irish bellies were fed by wheat-bearing
allied convoys we refused to protect. If Britain fell, so should we, the
helpless fen beyond the dyke. That fen now stands proudly aloof from the
London remembrance of those who perished in the dyke.
- Kevin Myers, on official Ireland's shameful neglect of its war dead, "Irish Independent"
On September 4, 1939,
the day after Britain declared war, five RAF bombers attacked the German
naval base at Wilhelmshaven. Four were shot down, the first flown by Pilot
Officer William Murphy (23), the son of William and Katherine Murphy, of
Mitchelstown Co Cork. The sole survivor from the four doomed aircraft was,
rather strangely, Laurence Slattery of Thurles, Co Tipperary. Billie Murphy
was thus both the first Irish and British victim of the Second World War...
About 5,000 Irishmen died serving with the British army in the Second World
War -- rather more from the South than from the North. This means that,
roughly 53,000 volunteers served from southern Ireland, and 52,000 from
the North. With air-force, merchant marine and naval losses, independent
Ireland's wartime death-toll alone might be four thousand... From May 1945,
Irish newspapers began to carry a roll of honour of Irish military personnel
whose deaths had been concealed by the censors. One death notice from "E.G.S,
a friend", for a Royal Artillery subaltern killed in 1944, stands out.
It read: "Williams, in memory of a dear friend, a noble character, a loyal
companion, and former student. Lieutenant Sean Williams RA (TCD) who gave
his life so that I and others might live to pursue our ideals in freedom."
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
As exciting as the
novel "The Riddle Of The Sands" is, it pales beside the life of its author:
born into Ireland's Protestant Ascendancy, Erksine Childers become a seaman
as skilled as his hero Arthur Davies. He fought for Britain in the Boer
War, returned home to smuggle arms to Irish rebels against Britain, then
joined the Navy, serving as one of the first naval flyers and then as an
intelligence officer. After the War, he joined Sinn Fein and the uprising
against British rule. Secretary-General of the Irish delegation at the
negotiations for Irish independence, Childers ultimately sided with the
militants who rejected the agreement establishing Irish statehood. A rebel
against the new Irish Free State, he was caught and executed by firing
squad. But even that is not the end of the story: His son and namesake
was elected president of the Irish Republic in 1973.
- David Frum, "National Review"
Ireland or Erin is
Celtic; from Eri or Iar (western). Lloyd (State Worthies, article "Grandison"),
with a gravity which cannot but excite laughter, says the island is called
the land of Ire because of the broils there, which have extended over four
hundred years. Wormius derives the word from the Runic Yr, a bow. (See
Ireland : Called by the natives "Erin," i.e. Eri-innis, or Iar-innis (west island). By the Welsh "Yver-den" (west valley). By Apuleius, "Hibernia," which is Iernia, a corruption of Iar-inni-a. By Juvenal (ii. 260) "Juverna" or "Juberna," the same as Ierna or Iernia. By Claudian "Ouernia," the same. By moderns "Ireland," which is Iar-en-land (land of the west).
- The Origins of the name Ireland (of Unknown Accuracy)
NOTES ON SOURCES
 Quoted in "Big
Chief Elizabeth" by Giles Milton
 Quoted in "To Hell or Barbados!" by Sean O'Callaghan
 Quoted in "John Adams" by David McCullough
 Quoted in "The Lance & The Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull" by Robert Utley
 Quoted in "Empire, War and Faith" by Geoffrey Parker
 Quoted in "Founding Brothers" by Joseph J. Ellis
 Quoted in "Edmund Burke: His Life & Opinions" by Stanley Ayling
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