This morning here in Boston I listened as the BBC tried to put a smiley-face sticker on the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, Ireland. The word "conciliatory" was used over and over again. Well, that certainly would make the Brits feel better, wouldn't it. Then there were the subtle comments blaming the Irish celebrations in 1966 of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising for the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Really?
English oppression and exploitation of Ireland began in force with the Anglo-French Normans (1169-1541). One of Normans' first aggressive actions after conquering England in 1066 was to dispatch invading armies to Wales and Ireland. The Norman aristocracy were close descendants of Vikings who had once besieged Paris in the 9th century. The French King bribed the Vikings who remained after the bulk of the Viking force went back home. He bestowed the Duchy of Normandy upon their Norwegian leader, Rollo, who became Duke Robert I of Normandy. So, the Norman invasion was basically an attempt to renew previous scores between the Irish and the Vikings, whom the Irish had repeatedly repelled. Patriarchal men and their pissing contests are the thread of military history. The rest of us simply pay the price.
I am somewhat disappointed in the choice of Easter Sunday this year for the celebration of the uprising which eventually led to an autonomous Irish Republic. The actual 100th anniversary falls a month from now on April 24th, 2016. The choice of a Roman Catholic religious holiday is a reminder of the remaining domination by the superstitions of Rome. This is a disservice to the memory of those who were actually largely opposed in their deadly struggle by the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland in 1916. They mostly sided with the wealthy class of Anglo-Irish for all the usual reasons.
My body contains Irish DNA through my paternal grandfather's family. My surname is present in the city of Cork today, though my branch fell away from Bantry on the West Cork coast. My grandfather's grandfather brought his wife and infant son to the U.S. during the Great Famine (1845-1852), an atrocity largely engineered and exploited by the British occupiers. That DNA rises when I look at Irish history, but I am not really Irish. I am simply a human being who lives in a time when all the assumptions of aristocrats and proletarians who see the world through the eyes of exploitation and greed are being tested. This is its own rising on a threshold of monumental change.