Category Archives: Ireland

Imperial Britain’s German, Irish, and Iroquois Warriors

From Hessians: Mercenaries, Rebels, and the War for British North America, by Brady J. Crytzer (Westholme, 2015), Kindle Loc. 1331-39, 1366-86:

The [Hessian] captain’s fascination with partisan warfare make his recollections especially insightful; nearby villages, most notably the former rebel post at Peekskill, were now all but abandoned. Surrounding him in the days that followed their victories were a motley collection of soldiers, none of whom could be identified as Englishmen. Along with his Jägers from Hesse-Cassel, Ewald noted that much of the fighting was accomplished by fellow Germans from Anspach as well as a multitude of Irish volunteers. Ewald would have been considered a hardened veteran of wilderness combat and his Jägers in their forest green had been on the continent almost continuously with him since 1776. In contrast, the Anspachers, who spoke his mother tongue in their royal blue jackets and tall black fur caps, had only been in America for days. Those representing the Emerald Isle were assembled from within existing provincial units by the Irish Lord Francis Rawdon-Hastings during the occupation of Philadelphia in 1777. These Irish volunteers had performed so well that they were named the 2nd American Regiment. Although the American Patriot politicians desired a clear enemy to vilify, King George’s imperial forces were actually something of a patchwork army.

It was soon revealed that this mysterious Loyalist ranger was in the service of Lieutenant Colonel John Butler, and he had seen more than his fair share of action. Butler, a native of New York’s war-torn Mohawk River valley, was for many the face of the Loyalist movement in the colonies. He led dozens of his “rangers” across the frontier, raiding Patriot homesteads and villages with extreme prejudice. Fighting with Butler in the service of the Crown were the warriors of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Mohawk nations, collectively known as the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois had been longtime allies of the British Empire before the conflict, and following the defection of the Oneida and Tuscarora to the Patriot side they were almost fully aligned with the king. The unified forces of Butler’s rangers and the Iroquois warriors saw some of the most brutal fighting of the entire war, and were considered a vital part of Britain’s overall strategy for success in the colonies.

Ewald was familiar with the exploits of men like Butler and Joseph Brant, sachem of the Mohawk, and his guest claimed to have served alongside both. Ewald proceeded to inquire into his experiences, and as a testament to his deep interest made a nearly exact transcription of their conversation in the glow of the campfire that evening. He began by asking about Butler’s overall strength; the man replied that he had fifty Loyalist Americans and upwards of five hundred Indian warriors on hand.

The tactician Ewald could not help but inquire as to how they supported such a large force of men in such difficult wilderness conditions. The ranger explained that in the beginning they lived entirely on the wild game hunted by the Indian warriors. As soon as they reached the borders of Pennsylvania and Maryland, though, they found provisions in abundance. It was clear to Ewald at that point that this man must have had a range of hundreds of miles during his guerilla campaign. But what of the ferocity of the Indians? The Jäger captain was a man of modern European military training, and the tales of the Indian fighting style was as ferocious as they were legendary.

The stranger explained that they rarely took prisoners, and every man, woman, or child was either cut down or carried off. He continued by claiming that the dwellings were plundered, devastated, and burned. He concluded his conversation by recalling that he and his Indian allies killed two entire regiments along the Susquehanna River with no thoughts of taking a single prisoner. To Ewald this was a great affront. The European tradition of war grew out of medieval chivalric values under which men who surrender were allowed the dignity to live to fight another day. The Indian tradition of war, however, was largely in place centuries earlier. It seemed that 1492 and its aftermath could do little to redirect it.

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Medieval English and Spanish Colonial Expansion

From Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830, by John H. Elliott (Yale U. Press, 2006), Kindle Loc. 437-457:

Medieval England pursued a policy of aggressive expansion into the non-English areas of the British Isles, warring with its Welsh, Scottish and Irish neighbours and establishing communities of English settlers who would advance English interests and promote English values on alien Celtic soil. The English, therefore, were no strangers to colonization, combining it with attempts at conquest which brought mixed results. Failure against Scotland was balanced by eventual success in Wales, which was formally incorporated in 1536 into the Crown of England, itself now held by a Welsh dynasty. Across the sea the English struggled over the centuries with only limited success to subjugate Gaelic Ireland and `plant’ it with settlers from England. Many of the lands seized by the Normans in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were recovered by the Irish during the fourteenth and fifteenth; and although in 1540 Henry VIII elevated Ireland to the status of a kingdom, English authority remained precarious or non-existent beyond the densely populated and rich agricultural area of the Pale. With the conversion of Henry’s England to Protestantism the effective assertion of this authority over a resolutely Catholic Ireland acquired a new urgency in English eyes. The reign of Elizabeth was to see an intensified planting of new colonies on Irish soil, and, in due course, a new war of conquest. The process of the settlement and subjugation of Ireland by the England of Elizabeth, pursued over several decades, absorbed national energies and resources that might otherwise have been directed more intensively, and at an earlier stage, to the founding of settlements on the other side of the Atlantic.

In medieval Spain, the land of the Reconquista, the pattern of combined conquest and colonization was equally well established. The Reconquista was a prolonged struggle over many centuries to free the soil of the Iberian peninsula from Moorish domination. At once a military and a religious enterprise, it was a war for booty, land and vassals, and a crusade to recover for the Christians the vast areas of territory that had been lost to Islam. But it also involved a massive migration of people, as the crown allocated large tracts of land to individual nobles, to the military-religious orders engaged in the process of reconquest, and to city councils, which were given jurisdiction over large hinterlands. Attracted by the new opportunities, artisans and peasants moved southwards in large numbers from northern and central Castile to fill the empty spaces. In Spain, as in the British Isles, the process of conquest and settlement helped to establish forms of behaviour, and create habits of mind, easily transportable to distant parts of the world in the dawning age of European overseas expansion.

The conquest and settlement of Al-Andalus and Ireland were still far from complete when fourteenth-century Europeans embarked on the exploration of the hitherto unexplored waters and islands of the African and eastern Atlantic. Here the Portuguese were the pioneers. It was the combined desire of Portuguese merchants for new markets and of nobles for new estates and vassals that provided the impetus for the first sustained drive for overseas empire in the history of Early Modern Europe. Where the Portuguese pointed the way, others followed. The kings of Castile, in particular, could not afford to let their Portuguese cousins steal a march on them. The Castilian conquest and occupation of the Canary Islands between 1478 and 1493 constituted a direct response by the Crown of Castile to the challenge posed by the spectacular expansion of Portuguese power and wealth.

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Sudetenland, Ireland, and Rand Uitlanders

From The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, by Niall Ferguson (Penguin Press, 2006), pp. 346-347:

The term Sudetenland was not much used before the 1930s. At the end of the First World War an attempt had been made to associate the predominantly Germanophone periphery of Bohemia and Moravia with the new post-imperial Austria by constituting Sudetenland as a new Austrian province, but this had come to nothing. The Germans who found themselves under Czechoslovakian rule after the First World War – they accounted for over a fifth of the population, not counting the mainly German-speaking Jews – had at no time been citizens of the Reich of which Hitler was Chancellor. They were first and foremost Bohemians. The role of Bohemia in the evolution of National Socialism had nevertheless been seminal. It had been there that, before the First World War, German workers for the first time defined themselves as both nationalists and socialists in response to mounting competition from Czech migrants from the countryside. It had been in Bohemia that some of the most bitter political battles in the history of inter-war Czechoslovakia had been fought, over issues like language and education. The industrial regions where German settlement was concentrated were hard hit by the Depression; Germans were over-represented among the unemployed, just as they were under-represented in government employment. On the other hand, Czechoslovakia was unusual in Central and Eastern Europe. It was the only one of the ‘successor states’ that had arisen from the ruins of the Habsburg Empire that was still a democracy in 1938. It also occupied a strategically vital position as a kind of wedge jutting into Germany, dividing Saxony and Silesia from Austria. Its politics and its location made Czechoslovakia the pivot around which inter-war Europe turned.

The first and greatest weakness of Chamberlain’s foreign policy was that by accepting the legitimacy of ‘self-determination’ for the Sudeten Germans, it implicitly accepted the legitimacy of Hitler’s goal of a Greater Germany. Chamberlain’s aim was not to prevent the transfer of the Sudeten Germans and their lands to Germany, but merely to prevent Hitler’s achieving it by force.* ‘I don’t see why we shouldn’t say to Germany,’ so Chamberlain reasoned, ‘give us satisfactory assurances that you won’t use force to deal with the Austrians and Czecho-Slovakians and we will give you similar assurances that we won’t use force to prevent the changes you want if you can get them by peaceful means.’ His comparison with the English settlers in the Transvaal on the eve of the Boer War said it all; Chamberlain did not mean to imply that a war was likely, but that the German demands for the Sudetenlanders were as legitimate as his father’s had been for the Uitlanders. To use a different analogy, it had taken generations for British Conservatives to reconcile themselves to the idea of Home Rule for the Irish; they conceded the Sudeten Germans’ right to it in a trice. Since Versailles, Germany had been aggrieved. The transfer of the Sudetenland was intended to redress her grievances in what Chamberlain hoped would be a full and final settlement.

* The ‘Uitlanders’ (Afrikaans for ‘foreigners’) were the British settlers who had been drawn to the Transvaal by the discovery of gold. They were treated by the Boers as aliens, furnishing the British government with a pretext for intervention in the region. Joseph Chamberlain, the arch-enemy of Home Rule for Ireland, demanded ‘Home Rule for the Rand’, meaning that the Uitlanders should be granted the vote after five years’ residence.

POSTSCRIPT, pp. 367-368:

What was more, Hitler gained immediately from Munich. With Czechoslovakia emasculated, Germany’s eastern frontier was significantly less vulnerable. Moreover, in occupying the Sudetenland, the Germans acquired at a stroke 1.5 million rifles, 750 aircraft, 600 tanks and 2,000 field guns, all of which were to prove useful in the months to come. Indeed, more than one in ten of the tanks used by the Germans in their Western offensive of 1940 were Czech-built. The industrial resources of Western Bohemia further strengthened Germany’s war machine, just as the Anschluss had significantly added to Germany’s supplies of labour, hard currency and steel. As Churchill put it, the belief that ‘security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves’ was ‘a fatal delusion’: ‘The war potential of Germany will increase in a short time more rapidly than it will be possible for France and Great Britain to complete the measures necessary for their defence.’ ‘Buying time’ at Munich in fact meant widening, not narrowing, the gap that Britain and France desperately needed to close. To put it another way: it would prove much harder to fight Germany in 1939 than it would have proved in 1938.

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Ferguson on the Appeal of Fascism vs. Nazism

From The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, by Niall Ferguson (Penguin Press, 2006), pp. 230-231, 239-240:

Considering the emphasis the new dictatorships laid on their supposedly distinctive nationalistic traditions, they all looked remarkably alike: the coloured shirts [German Brownshirts, Italian Blackshirts, Irish Blueshirts, Romanian Greenshirts], the shiny boots, the martial music, the strutting leaders, the gangster violence. At first sight, then, there was little to distinguish the German version of dictatorship from all the rest – except perhaps that Hitler was marginally more absurd than his counterparts. As late as 1939, Adolf Hitler could still be portrayed by Charlie Chaplin in his film The Great Dictator as an essentially comic figure, bawling incomprehensible speeches, striking preposterous poses and frolicking with a large inflatable globe. Yet there were in reality profound differences between National Socialism and fascism. Nearly all the dictatorships of the inter-war period were at root conservative, if not downright reactionary. The social foundations of their power were what remained of the pre-industrial ancien régime: the monarchy, the aristocracy, the officer corps and the Church, supported to varying degrees by industrialists fearful of socialism and by frivolous intellectuals who were bored of democracy’s messy compromises.* The main function the dictators performed was to crush the Left: to break their strikes, prohibit their parties, deny voice to their voters, arrest and, if it was deemed necessary, kill their leaders. One of the few measures they took that went beyond simple social restoration was to introduce new ‘corporate’ institutions supposed to regiment economic life and protect loyal supporters from the vagaries of the market. In 1924 the French historian Elie Halevy nicely characterized fascist Italy as ‘the land of tyranny … a regime extremely agreeable for travellers, where trains arrive and leave on time, where there is no strike in ports or public transport’. ‘The bourgeois’, he added, ‘are beaming.’ It was, as Renzo De Felice said in his vast and apologetic biography of the Duce, ‘the old regime in a black shirt’….

Contrary to the old claims that it was the party of the countryside, or of the north, or of the middle class, the NSDAP attracted votes right across Germany and right across the social spectrum…. It is true that places with relatively high Nazi votes were more likely to be in central northern and eastern parts, and those with relatively low Nazi votes were more likely to be in the south and west. But the more important point is that the Nazis were able to achieve some electoral success in nearly any kind of local political milieu, covering the German electoral spectrum in a way not seen before or since. The Nazi vote did not vary proportionately with the unemployment rate or the share of workers in the population. As many as two-fifths of the Nazi voters in some districts were working class, to the consternation of the Communist leadership. In response, some local Communists openly made common cause with the Nazis. ‘Oh yes, we admit that we’re in league with the National Socialists,’ said one Communist leader in Saxony. ‘Bolshevism and Fascism share a common goal: the destruction of capitalism and of the Social Democratic Party. To achieve this aim we are justified in using every means.’ It was a mark of Goebbels’ skill in making the party seem all things to all men that, simultaneously, dyed-in-the-wool Prussian Conservatives could regard the Nazis as potential partners in an anti-Marxist coalition. Thus were political rivals lured into what proved to be fatal forms of cooperation. The only significant constraint on the growth of the Nazi vote was the comparatively greater resilience of the Catholic Centre party compared with parties hitherto supported by German Protestants.

Other fascist movements, as we have seen, depended heavily on elite sponsorship to gain power. The Nazis did not need to. For all the attention that has been paid to them, the machinations of the coterie around Hindenburg were not the decisive factor, as those of the Italian elites had been in 1922. If anything, they delayed Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor, an office that was rightfully his after the July 1932 election. It was not the traditional elite of landed property that was drawn to Hitler; the real Junker types found him horribly coarse. (When Hitler shook hands with Hindenburg, one conservative was reminded ‘of a headwaiter closing his hand around the tip’.) Nor was it the business elite, who not unreasonably feared that National Socialism would prove a Trojan horse for socialism proper; nor the military elite, who had every reason to dread subordination to an opinionated Austrian corporal. The key to the strength and dynamism of the Third Reich was Hitler’s appeal to the much more numerous intellectual elite; the men with university degrees who are so vital to the smooth running of a modern state and civil society.

For reasons that may be traced back to the foundation of the Bismarckian Reich or perhaps even further into Prussian history, academically educated Germans were unusually ready to prostrate themselves before a charismatic leader.

(*A list of all the treasonous clerics who flirted or did more than flirt with fascism would be a book in its own right. If only to give an illustration of how widespread the phenomenon was, dishonourable mention may be made of the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio, who established his own tinpot tyranny in post-war Fiume; the poet T. S. Eliot, who wrote that ‘totalitarianism can retain the terms “freedom” and “democracy” and give them its own meaning’; the philosopher Martin Heidegger, who, as Rector of Freiburg University, lent his enthusiastic support to the Nazi regime; the political theorist Carl Schmitt, who devised pseudo-legal justifications for the illegalities of the Third Reich; the novelist Ignazio Silone, who shopped former Communist comrades to the fascists; and the poet W. B. Yeats, who wrote songs for the Irish Blueshirts. Thomas Mann, who had made his fair share of mistakes during the First World War and only with difficulty broke publicly with the Nazi regime, was not wrong when he spoke of ‘the thoroughly guilty stratum of intellectuals’.)

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Father Pat’s Old-time Syncretic Religion

From Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds—On the Track of Unknown Mammals in Wildest New Guinea, by Tim Flannery (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998), pp. 186-187:

Father Pat is an Irishman for whom Gaelic is a first language. He is one of the new style of Roman Catholic missionaries and is a vital force in the lives of the people of the Torricelli Mountains. As we got to know each other, I began to see what motivated Pat. He told me that his own language and culture had been banned and belittled at the hands of the invading English and that he was certainly not going to see that happen to his Papua New Guinea parishioners. They had, unfortunately, been converted in the 1930s by Catholic missionaries of German extraction who had suppressed the local culture. Pat was determined to redress that.

Under Father Pat, the region had experienced a dramatic cultural revival. The Mass was now said in Olo (the local language) by this Irish priest dressed to a turn in Melanesian finery. His cuscus-fur head-dress and bird-of-paradise plume armlets shook gloriously as he sang. Indeed, hearing Mass said by Father Pat dressed in his full regalia was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had in a church.

It was with some pride that Pat told me that the revival of old traditions had gone so far that, as a special favour to the visiting Bishop of Vanimo, parish women had danced bare-breasted in procession through the church while singing hymns.

But the revival had gone much deeper than ceremonial formalities. Pat had questioned the old men closely concerning their pre-Christian customs and had incorporated traditional elements, where appropriate, into the celebration of the sacraments. Thus, traditional words from birth and initiation ceremonies, many long forgotten by the community, were now said at baptisms and confirmations. Pat also bought ochre for decorative purposes and sponsored festivals on these occasions.

For the first time in decades a haus tambaran (ancestral spirit house) had been built in Wilbeitei village and in it were stored the spirit masks, all newly made, for which the area was formerly famous. But the house now had a double purpose. Though great spirit masks, some five metres tall, were hung around its walls, at its centre was parked the new community truck, the result of an investment and savings scheme instituted by Father Pat.

Pat’s revival of the village traditions had come at a critical moment. The Olo had been influenced by Christianity for the best part of sixty years. They were a lot further down the road to westernisation than even the Telefol. It was dismaying to find that Pidgin was commonly used, even in conversations between the Olo themselves, and that only the very oldest members of the community remembered what traditional clothing looked like. Had Father Pat arrived just a decade later, he may have found precious little to preserve.

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Overview of Southern Immigration

The latest issue of Southern Culture (vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 24-44; Project Muse subscription required) contains an article by Carl L. Bankston entitled New People in the New South: An Overview of Southern Immigration (voluntary immigrants only; not slaves). Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye.

Old South

In 1850 Louisiana had the largest concentration of immigrants in the South, about 75,000 people and approximately one-quarter of Louisiana’s free population. New Orleans, the largest port in the South and the second largest in the nation after New York, was a natural point of entry for people from other countries. Between 1820 and 1860, over half a million immigrants arrived in Louisiana. Given Louisiana’s French history and the large French-speaking population in the state during the nineteenth century, it is easy to assume that France would be the place of origin for most of the state’s foreign-born residents. Many immigrants to Louisiana were, in fact, from France. About 15,000 people in Louisiana in 1850, or one out of five immigrants in the state, gave France as their birthplace. The largest immigrant group in Louisiana, though, came from Ireland. An estimated 26,580 Louisianans, or nearly 38 percent of the state’s immigrants, were born in Ireland in 1850. The Irish are generally described as having arrived in Louisiana in two waves. Those known as the “Old Irish” came primarily from the northern part of Ireland between 1803 and 1830. These earlier immigrants became part of the middle classes of New Orleans. The “New Irish,” consisting mainly of peasants, left their homes because of poverty and famine, particularly after the potato blight, which hit Ireland about 1845 and lasted into the following decade, leaving Ireland devastated. They settled in the area known as the City of Lafayette, which was later incorporated into New Orleans and is still identified as the Irish Channel. The New Irish provided much of New Orleans’s low-paying manual labor.

Germans made up the second largest immigrant nationality in antebellum Louisiana. Over 20,000 people in the state in 1850, or 28 percent of all immigrants, had been born in Germany. Germans first arrived at the port of New Orleans when Louisiana was a French colony. Many settled just north of New Orleans in the Parishes of St. John and St. Charles, in an area known as the Côte des Allemands, or German Coast. A second wave of peasant German workers followed the first wave of German settlers between 1820 and 1850.

New South

As a consequence of geographic access, Texas’s main immigrant population is Hispanic or Latino, yet Texas also has a substantial Asian minority (see Table 1), attributable to some extent to the general rise in Asian migration around the United States and to the booming economy in Texas cities such as Houston. In 2000 the Vietnamese were Texas’s single largest Asian immigrant group, accounting for one out of every four foreign-born Asian Texans, and the state had the second largest Vietnamese population in the United States, after California, with 12 percent of all Vietnamese in the United States.

The case of the Vietnamese illustrates the importance of Texas as a point of access even for members of these more distant national-origin groups. Initial U.S. government resettlement efforts in 1975 had planted Vietnamese communities in the cities of Dallas and Houston. Additional Vietnamese Americans were drawn to Texas by the existing ethnic communities, combined with the availability of jobs in that state. Shrimping became something of an ethnic specialty for Vietnamese Americans along the Gulf Coast of Texas and other states….

As a world center, Atlanta has attracted a diverse Asian population. The largest grouping of Atlanta’s Asians in 2000 consisted of people from the South Asian subcontinent, with just under 36,000 Asian Indians, over 1,000 Bangladeshis, and well over 3,000 Pakistanis. At that time, Atlanta was also home to nearly 25,000 Vietnamese, close to 22,000 Koreans, and just under 21,500 Chinese. Largely members of an educated work force, the South Asian migrants were drawn to this international-airport-hub city by its professional, white-collar opportunities in professional, scientific, and technical industries, which in 2000 employed one in five of the Asian Indians in the metropolis.

As in Texas, the Vietnamese first came to Atlanta as part of government resettlement efforts, and the initial Vietnamese communities provided bases for secondary migration from other parts of the country while Vietnamese job seekers looked for work. They found it in the blue-collar sector, with nearly one-third of Atlanta Vietnamese occupied in the city’s manufacturing industry in 2000. Koreans, as in New York and Los Angeles, became the small shopkeepers of Greater Atlanta, with about 22 percent of Koreans in retail trade. Chinese, like the South Asians, had often come with educational credentials to seek jobs in professional, scientific, and technical fields, which held 17 percent of the area’s Chinese workers. Other Chinese migrants tended to go in to restaurant and related work, as accommodations and food services held 16 percent of the city’s Chinese workers. A diversified metropolitan economy with global connections had pulled in workers from all over the world into a mosaic of national-origin specializations.

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Judt on the British Quagmire in Ulster

From Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, by Tony Judt (Penguin, 2005), pp. 466-469:

The Provisional IRA was much like [Basque] ETA in its methods, and in some of its proclaimed objectives. Just as ETA sought to make the Basque provinces ungovernable and thereby secure their exit from Spain, so the Irish Republican Army aimed at making Northern Ireland ungovernable, expelling the British, and uniting the six northern provinces with the rest of Ireland. But there were significant differences. Since an independent Ireland already existed, there was—at least in principle—a practicable national goal for the rebels to hold out to their supporters. On the other hand, there was more than one Northern Irish community, and the distinctions between them went back a very long way.

Like French Algeria, Northern Ireland—Ulster—was both a colonial remnant and an integral part of the metropolitan nation itself. When London finally relinquished Ireland to the Irish, in 1922, the UK retained the six northern counties of the island on the reasonable enough grounds that the overwhelmingly Protestant majority there was intensely loyal to Britain and had no desire to be governed from Dublin—and incorporated into a semi-theocratic republic dominated by the Catholic episcopate. Whatever they said in public, the political leaders of the new Republic were themselves not altogether unhappy to forgo the presence of a compact and sizeable community of angrily recalcitrant Protestants. But for a minority of Irish nationalists this abandonment constituted a betrayal, and under the banner of the IRA they continued to demand the unification—by force if need be—of the entire island.

This situation remained largely unchanged for four decades. By the 1960s the official stance in Dublin somewhat resembled that of Bonn: acknowledging the desirability of national re-unification but quietly content to see the matter postponed sine die. Successive British governments, meanwhile, had long chosen to ignore so far as possible the uneasy situation they had inherited in Ulster, where the Protestant majority dominated local Catholics through gerrymandered constituencies, political clientelism, sectarian pressure on employers, and a monopoly of jobs in crucial occupations: civil service, judiciary and above all the police.

If politicians on the British mainland preferred not to know about these matters, it was because the Conservative Party depended on its ‘Unionist’ wing (dating from the nineteenth-century campaign to maintain Ireland united with Britain) for a crucial block of parliamentary seats; it was thus committed to the status quo, with Ulster maintained as an integral part of the United Kingdom. The Labour Party was no less closely identified with the powerful labour unions in Belfast’s shipbuilding and allied industries, where Protestant workers had long received preferential treatment.

As this last observation suggests, the divisions in Northern Ireland were unusually complicated. The religious divide between Protestants and Catholics was real and corresponded to a communal divide replicated at every stage of life: from birth to death, through education, housing, marriage, employment and recreation. And it was ancient—references to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century quarrels and victories might appear to outsiders absurdly ritualistic, but the history behind them was real. But the Catholic/Protestant divide was never a class distinction in the conventional sense, despite the IRA’s efforts to import Marxist categories into its rhetoric. There were workers and priests—and to a lesser extent landowners, businessmen and professionals—on both sides.

Moreover, many Ulster Catholics felt no urgent desire to be ruled from Dublin. In the 1960s Ireland was still a poor and backward country and the standard of living in the North, while below that of most of the rest of the UK, was still considerably above the Irish average. Even for Catholics, Ulster was a better economic bet. Protestants, meanwhile, identified very strongly with the UK. This sentiment was by no means reciprocated by the rest of Britain, which thought little of Northern Ireland (when it thought of it at all) .The old industries of Ulster, like those of the rest of the UK, were in decline by the end of the 1960s, and it was already clear to planners in London that the overwhelmingly Protestant blue-collar workforce there had an uncertain future. But beyond this, it is fair to say that the British authorities had not given Ulster serious thought for many decades.

The IRA had declined to a marginal political sect, denouncing the Irish Republic as illegitimate because incomplete while reiterating its ‘revolutionary’ aspiration to forge a different Ireland, radical and united. The IRA’s wooly, anachronistic rhetoric had little appeal to a younger generation of recruits (including the seventeen-year-old, Belfast-born Gerry Adams, who joined in 1965) more interested in action than doctrine and who formed their own organization, the clandestine, ‘Provisional’ IRA. The ‘Provos’, recruited mainly from Derry and Belfast, emerged just in time to benefit from a wave of civil rights demonstrations across the North, demanding long overdue political and civil rights for Catholics from the Ulster government in Stormont Castle and encountering little but political intransigence and police batons for their efforts.

The ‘Troubles’ that were to take over Northern Irish—and to some extent British—public life for the next three decades were sparked by street battles in Derry following the traditional Apprentice Boys’ March in July 1969, aggressively commemorating the defeat of the Jacobite and Catholic cause 281 years before. Faced with growing public violence and demands from Catholic leaders for London to intervene, the UK government sent in the British Army and took over control of policing functions in the six counties. The army, recruited largely in mainland Britain, was decidedly less partisan and on the whole less brutal than the local police. It is thus ironic that its presence provided the newly formed Provisional IRA with its core demand: that the British authorities and their troops should leave Ulster, as a first stage towards re-uniting the island under Irish rule.

The British did not leave. It is not clear how they could have left. Various efforts through the 1970s to build inter-community confidence and allow the province to run its own affairs fell foul of suspicion and intransigence on both sides. Catholics, even if they had no liking for their own armed extremists, had good precedent for mistrusting promises of power-sharing and civic equality emanating from the Ulster Protestant leadership. The latter, always reluctant to make real concessions to the Catholic minority, were now seriously fearful of the intransigent gunmen of the Provisionals. Without the British military presence the province would have descended still further into open civil war.

The British government was thus trapped. At first London was sympathetic to Catholic pressure for reforms; but following the killing of a British soldier in February 1971 the government introduced internment without trial and the situation deteriorated rapidly. In January 1972, on ‘Bloody Sunday’, British paratroopers killed thirteen civilians in the streets of Derry. In that same year 146 members of the security forces and 321 civilians were killed in Ulster, and nearly five thousand people injured. Buoyed up by a new generation of martyrs and the obstinacy of its opponents, the Provisional IRA mounted what was to become a thirty-year campaign, in the course of which it bombed, shot and maimed soldiers and civilians in Ulster and across mainland Britain. It made at least one attempt to assassinate the British Prime Minister. Even if the British authorities had wanted to walk away

from Ulster (as many mainland voters might have wished), they could not. As a referendum of March 1973 showed and later polls confirmed, an overwhelming majority of the people of Ulster wished to maintain their ties to Britain.

The IRA campaign did not unite Ireland. It did not remove the British from Ulster. Nor did it destabilize British politics, though the assassination of politicians and public figures (notably Lord Mountbatten, former Viceroy of India and godfather of the Prince of Wales) genuinely shocked public opinion on both sides of the Irish Sea. But the Irish ‘Troubles’ further darkened an already gloomy decade in British public life and contributed to the ‘ungovernability’ thesis being touted at the time, as well as to the end of the carefree optimism of the 1960s. By the time the Provisional IRA—and the Protestant paramilitary groups that had emerged in its wake—finally came to the negotiating table, to secure constitutional arrangements that the British government might have been pleased to concede almost from the outset, 1,800 people had been killed and one Ulster resident in five had a family member killed or wounded in the fighting.

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