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Quiz from O’er the Water – No. 2 August 14, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, History, Irish Politics, The Left.

Many thanks for this quiz which was set by NollaigO. Answers to follow in a few days time!

Q1 Famously, Napoleon invited the Pope to his coronation as emperor in 1804 but seized the crown out of the hands of the Pope and crowned himself. In which famous venue was the ceremony held and what was the name of the Pope? [Just the regnal name; not the number!]

Q2 On 17th December 1985, 15 MPs of the British House of Commons applied for the Chiltern Hundreds and for Steward of the Manor of Norstead [aka “resigned their seats”].

What caused this?

Q3 Following the establishment of the Irish Free State, three deep water Treaty Ports were retained by the United Kingdom in accordance with the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 December 1921. As part of the resolution of the Anglo-Irish Trade War in the 1930s, the ports were returned to Ireland in 1938.

Name the Treaty Ports.

Q4 What is the link in the following 16th century, chronological list:

1 : Peterborough Abbey; 2: Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London;

3: St Georges Chapel, Windsor; 4: Westminster Abbey;

5: Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London; 6: Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire.

Q5 The origin of the phrase “Your name is mud” is often wrongly attributed to a Dr Samuel Mudd because he sheltered and medically treated a famous fugitive at his home in Charles County, Maryland in April 1865. Who was the fugitive?

Q6 Which famous people were killed by the following assassins:

Prince Felix Yusupov
John Bellingham
Ramon Mercader
Marcus Brutus?

Q7 James Hoban was born in Callan, in County Kilkenny in 1762. He studied architecture at the Royal Dublin Society Drawing School. In 1781, he emigrated and in 1792 he won an architectural competition to design a still world famous building. In 1814 he was appointed to rebuild the building after it had been deliberately destroyed by fire.

Which building and who burned it?

Q8 What was the controversial publication, allegedly written by Gregori in 1924, that enabled Stanley overcome Ramsey?

Q9 The 1912 American presidential election was contested by the incumbent president, a past president and a third candidate who won the election.

Name all three.

Q10 Former Irish Naval Services vessel, Muirchú was withdrawn from service in 1947. The ship then sank off the Saltee Islands while being towed to the scrapyard.

What was the previous name and controversial role in Irish History of the Muirchú ?

Thermidor July 27, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in History.
1 comment so far

Plaque for Robespierre Concergerie Paris

In line with the posts earlier this month on the American Declaration of Independence and the Storming of the Bastille, I thought that I’d note the fact that it is the 220th anniversary of the coup of Thermidor against Maximilian Robespierre and his supporters on 9th/10th Thermidor Year II (27th/28th July 1794).

A quote from the man himself.

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.

Home Rule Act Centenary Debate: On TV Tonight at 9 July 5, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in History.

The event at which John Bruton plumbed new depths with his remarks about the effects of 1916 is going to be broadcast on BBC Parliament tonight at 9. Looks like it might be on iplayer after that too. I’m beginning to wish it was 2024 already.

Remembering and forgetting the remembering… April 5, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in History.

…from Paraffinalia an analysis of Elaine Byrne’s piece in the Guardian on ‘the Irish who fought for Britain in the First World War’. As someone who went through the school system five years before Michael I can fully agree with his point that there was a knowledge of the Irish who fought for Britain. And the following certainly rings a bell:

Part of the nationalist narrative was that Irishmen under Redmond had been, in effect, tricked into fighting for Britain, which claimed to be defending the rights of small nations such as Belgium, and which had granted Home Rule to Ireland, though it clearly had no intention of imposing it. Whatever the validity of that narrative, it certainly did not ignore Irish involvement in the war.

The idea that The Irish National War Memorial Gardens were unknown to most is also a somewhat dubious proposition not least because as Michael notes they were a source of controversy through much of the 80s.

So not so much forgetting as perhaps not quite contextualising that history in its entirety, which is as Michael implies a distinctly different matter.

More from wikileaks February 25, 2014

Posted by doctorfive in History, Irish History, Irish Politics.
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I have been rooting in wikileaks cables elsewhere but also came across this on the 1976 Labour conference

SUMMARY: The annual labour party conference in limerick (nov 19 – 21) produced no surprises. Brendan Corish was reaffirmed as party leader and his policy of continuing the coalition through the next election won a crushing 6 to 1 victory over a group of left-wing mavericks.

1. The quote moderate unquote leadership thoroughly slapped down the leftists led by David Thornley, Noel Browne and John O’Connell. A motion was passed forbidding any labour member or group to associate publicly with another political party without the prior permission of the administrative council. This effectively prevents the leftists, known as quote the alliance unquote from continuing their quote left alternative unquote dialogue with the official Sinn Féin and communists.

2. Corish gave a lackluster performance, very much in the tradition of Irish political leaders, but it was obvious that his leadership is stronger than ever and he will continue as labor leader unless he voluntarily steps down. Corish promised that he would have very tough conditions for partner Fine Gael before he would agree to coalition. Easily the best speech of the conference was given by dr. Conor Cruise O’Brien, who castigated the Fianna Fáil quote support of the provo demand for British withdrawal unquote as the height of irresponsibility. He also strongly condemned the continued sectarianism in the republic. These positions are not new with O’Brien, but he expressed them with a particularly caustic brilliance.

3. Of the old leadership Jim Tully and Justin Keating were strong and persuasive. Keating, especially, gave a long and convincing defence of the Labour performance in the coalition. Two new stars received considerable attention: new td Brendan Halligan and new party member senator Mary Robinson (a former independent, she joined the party just prior to the conference).

Halligan did little speaking from the floor, but according to a number of sources he was the principal deputy of Corish in managing the conference. He did very well, and everyone was surprised at the smooth handling of dissidents – the 6 to 1 vote for coalition was far higher than expected. Halligan is also very popular with the press. Mary Robinson is somewhat the opposite of Halligan – a fiery orator, rather leftist, and not an organization type at all. If she enters the Dáil in the next election as expected she will make the old guard rather uncomfortable. Already she’s being touted as the quote conscience unquote of the Labour party.

4. The show of unity and tight control was a bit tarnished by rumblings in the trade union ranks over the conduct of the party. The most serious defection from that side was Denis Larkin, head of Ireland’s second largest union (worker’s union of Ireland), who announced that his union would hold a special delegate conference to examine its relationship to the party and coalition. Larkin also flatly warned that the unions would not accept a statutory wages policy.

5. Comment: although the conference was the smoothest and least contentious on record, there is little to indicate that labour has done anything to arrest its slow decline. It slipped to 13.6 percent of the vote in 1973, down from 17 percent in 1969, and the few polls indicate that it has not regained any ground. Unfortunately for labour its constituency tends to blame it more for the current economic woes than the Fine Gael constituency blames the Fine Gael. (fancy that -d5)

The labour party leadership in Ireland has always been a small, rather politically inept group of intellectuals. Unlike the British labour party there is no symbiotic relationship between the unions and their party, and at present union and party leadership seem to be drifting further apart. There is, however, no comfortable place for disaffected labour voters to go. Both of the major parties are conservative and have no historic attraction to Labour. The two tiny left wing parties, official Sinn Féin and the communist, are beyond the pale because of their quote atheist unquote approach which does not go down in this catholic country.

At present it seems that Labour will either stay about the same or perhaps increase slightly in next year’s election, maintaining enough seats to constitute the balance of power. However, labour disaffection could result in a lost election for the coalition if Labour voters show their dissatisfaction by shifting their second preference votes to Fianna Fáil.

I wasn’t aware of these older cables until reading this fascinating LRB piece on Assange. The period released covers Kissinger’s time as Secretary of State and 1973 to 1976 was an equally interesting time here at home. I have compiled what’s there on the McGee case for rabble and will be taking a look at the Sinn Féin split and other matters over the next few days. 

Europe’s Violent Memories February 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in History.
1 comment so far


“The Lockout And Its Heritage” 6th February The Teachers’ Club January 26, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in History.
1 comment so far

A poster advertising “The Lockout And Its Heritage” with speaker Rayer O’Connor Lysaght which is in The Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square on the 6th of February.
Many thanks to the sender.

Stories of the Congress ….. January 3, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in History, Religion.

Two small excerpts from a 1932 edition of a Hong Kong Catholic Magazine ‘The Rock’ which was a special issue covering The Eucharistic Congress which came into my possession today.


Social capital? January 2, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, History, The Left.

There was a curious and thought provoking piece on Slate some time back on the issue of social capital. It argued that the contemporary concentration on civil society may be a little awry. Now, let’s start by noting that for some on the right this approach would be a boon.

The term social capital is generally used to describe the trust and cooperation in a community that is the result of formal social institutions—associations, clubs, and the like—as well as personal networks and relationships. On some level, economists think of it as another source of productivity in an economy, just like tractors or new technologies (physical capital) or a better-skilled workforce (human capital). Trust makes it easier to do business on a handshake (or indeed to do business at all). A trustworthy labor force will work diligently without supervisors peering over their shoulders or burdensome regulations, and a trustworthy boss will return the favor, ensuring employees are paid on time and in full, and generally treated fairly.

And continues:

The same civic associations that build trust, cooperation, and community also serve as ready networks for the spread of new movements and ideas. It is in this sense that Voigtländer and his colleagues argue (following an idea put forth by Barnard political scientist Sheri Berman) that the richness of interwar Germany’s social capital was critical to the success of Hitler’s National Socialist party. They quote one member’s recollection of his conversion to Nazism to highlight the role of social networks in making party dogma palatable to a wide audience. The young recruit describes how he “became acquainted with a colleague of my own age with whom I had frequent conversations … whom I esteemed very highly. When I found out that he was one of the local leaders of the National Socialist party, my opinion of it as a group of criminals changed completely.”

Worse again, Weimar was notable for the range of such civic associations.

If the prevalence of civic associations is a measure of societal well-being, the Weimar Republic was in excellent health as Hitler began his march to power in the 1920s. Many of these organizations were built on an already rich history of associations from the 19th century, and while a few of these were explicitly nationalistic and even anti-Semitic in nature, the vast majority of membership groups were comprised of those united by rabbit breeding, stamp collecting, singing, gymnastics, and other decidedly apolitical interests.

But one thinks of the Rotary Club, which the Nazi’s used to spread their message. In a way one can see the benefits. Here were fairly innocuous effectively social organisations with a fairly markedly middle and upper middle class aspect to them. By engaging with them the Nazi’s were able to mask their agenda and to further it by drawing more towards them.

Of course one must point to caveats. Not all organisations are the same. Obviously more political groups weren’t open to the Nazi’s in quite this way. But their ability to use those that they could enter is striking.

Of course many of us are, if not quite sceptical of civil society or civic associations of one form or another, aware of the fact they can be diversionary and open to co-option. One thinks of how parts of sectors in this society were cooped by the state during the boom in such a way as to defang them. The unions obviously, part of the voluntary sector, and so on. So there’s no harm at all in recognising that the uncritical view of them as a near unalloyed good is perhaps a little wide of the mark, and a lot to think about here.

Operation Unthinkable: The war that never happened December 26, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in History, Uncategorized.

I hadn’t heard of this before, though apparently it became public knowledge in 1998, but apparently according to this pretty comprehensive overview in a Russian/Indian online publication:

…the ink had barely dried on Germany’s surrender document when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill asked his War Cabinet to draw up a plan to invade the Soviet Union.

This was driven by a sense on Churchill’s part that the USSR had gained too much and Britain too little from the war. Perhaps he realised that the post-War dispensation was going to see the latter displaced by the United States and the Soviet Union. Perhaps too he was, quite simply, too old, too used to violence. It’s somewhat chilling to read the following:

According to Alan Brooke, Britain’s Chief of Army Staff, Churchill told him at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945: “We can tell the Russians if they insist on doing this or that, well we can just blot out Moscow, then Stalingrad, then Kiev, then Sevastopol.”

That sort of glibness about what would – of course – be mass murder, whatever one’s thoughts about Stalin and the high Stalinist period in the USSR, suggests a certain detachment from reality. This wasn’t unnoticed by his own armed forces:

Asked to prepare for war just days after the end of the bloodiest conflict in history, the British generals thought the Prime Minister had really lost it. Brooke wrote in his diary: “Winston gives me the feeling of already longing for another war.”
The generals drew up a plan, appropriately codenamed Operation Unthinkable, which proposed Western forces attack the Soviets on a front extending from Hamburg in the north to Trieste in the south.

And the British military was all too well aware of how thinly spread their forces were during that period. With 103 divisions against the Soviets 264 it is implausible that any conflict would have been easy, even if one factors in the then dubious proposition that Poland and others states being subsumed into the Soviet orbit would have been in any position to rise up and assist such a war.

Ironically, in view of the rhetoric of the subsequent Cold War, British military planners thought it possible that the US might simply not be interested, particularly since they were bearing the brunt of the war in the Pacific. Of course this wasn’t the only curious plan unveiled in the dying days of the Second World War.

There’s more on this here.

The article mentions the Morgenthau Plan, whose aim was to destroy ‘forever’ the prospect of a united, industrialised Germany by destroying the country’s industry and forcing it to return to an agrarian stage of development. Thankfully wiser heads prevailed.


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