Letters to the Editor: ‘Peace of the graveyard’ ended conflict in UK

Letters to the Editor: ‘Peace of the graveyard’ ended conflict in UK

'Wales and England were both staunchly Catholic when Edward I invaded in the mid-1200s. Scotland was almost entirely Protestant when Protestant England finally defeated them at Culloden. Did sharing the one religion spare either country its fate, prevent bloodshed and massacres?'

I read Sean O’Brien’s letter with a sense of astonishment — ‘Religious divide prevented peace’ ( Irish Examiner, November 27). Mr O’Brien writes that ‘peace was achieved’ between Scotland by the mid-18th century and between England and Wales two centuries earlier. In both instances, it was the “peace of the graveyard”: both unions were the result of military conquest by England.

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 ended Scottish ambitions to be independent of England for at least two centuries and was accompanied by disarmament and in some cases, massacres of Highland clans.

The Welsh had been subdued by Edward I, who ruthlessly hunted down their leaders and built a ring of castles around Wales to enforce his writ. Mr O’Brien seems confused as to why — despite invasion, plantation, colonisation and ‘to hell or to Connaught’ — the Irish didn’t simply take their medicine like the Scots and Welsh.

Unable to see that perhaps it’s because we dislike being invaded and colonised very much, he decides it’s ‘because of religion’, that old bugbear that divides people and keeps them from living in peace.

But here’s the problem: Wales and England were both staunchly Catholic when Edward I invaded in the mid-1200s. Scotland was almost entirely Protestant when Protestant England finally defeated them at Culloden. Did sharing the one religion spare either country its fate, prevent bloodshed and massacres? Did suppressing all religion prevent Soviet Russia, China, or Cambodia from killing millions in the name of progress?

Perhaps if the Irish had all simply agreed to abandon their sincerely held beliefs, or just stop being Irish altogether, they’d have been allowed to vegetate in peace and all the rebellions and uprisings that have taken place since need never have happened. Wales and Scotland, joined geographically at the hip to England, knew their cause was hopeless, the Irish never truly gave up hope. We might as well blame the sea that separates our islands for being the real cause of all the division. If we all just agreed to abandon this Island and live in England instead we could all get along. At any rate this argument makes at least as much sense as the ‘religious divide’.

Nick Folley


Co Cork

Convert LÉ Eithne into naval museum

On July 8, 2022, the naval service decommissioned three vessels, the LÉ Eithne, LÉ Orla, and LÉ Ciara. At the time, Minister of Defence Simon Coveney referenced the fact that one possible option been explored was the donation of the ships to be used as a visitor attraction or museum.

Of the three vessels the LÉ Eithne, the last Irish-built vessel for the naval service, and the only ship capable of operating helicopters, should be saved and turned into a museum that would chronicle the history of the naval service and become a visitor attraction alongside the highly successful Spike Island experience in Cork Harbour. The possibility of doing so should be explored alongside some input from the private sector in developing such an attraction.

It would indeed be very disappointing to see a significant piece of our naval history heading to Turkey or elsewhere, to be broken up. Currently, we have an opportunity to develop a unique naval service attraction, which could bring many benefits.

Why waste such an opportunity, LÉ Eithne should be saved.

Conor Hogarty


Co Dublin

Dublin rioters need Hume’s wisdom

Given the violence, prejudice, and intolerance displayed by a minority last week, it is timely to recall the inspirational and powerful words from John Hume’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance address in 1998.

“The Good Friday Agreement now opens a new future for all the people of Ireland. A future built on respect for diversity and political difference. A future where all can rejoice in cherished aspirations and beliefs and where this can be a badge of honour, not a source of fear or division …

“I want to see Ireland as an example to men and women everywhere of what can be achieved by living for ideals, rather than fighting for them, and by viewing each and every person as worthy of respect and honour.

“I want to see an Ireland of partnership where we wage war on want and poverty, where we reach out to the marginalised and dispossessed, where we build together a future that can be as great as our dreams allow.”

Twenty-five years on, let everyone on this island, regardless of our politics, creed, or culture, renew our commitment to build an Ireland that respects diversity and difference.

Tim Attwood


40-year wait for ‘new’ road to start

When I was 10 years old my mother pointed out where the new Buttevant bypass was to go through Ballybeg Quarry. She then showed me the stone wall being built on the Limerick side of Buttevant.

This wall that still stands was built to demote the route of the ‘new’ bypass. That was 40 years ago. Hopefully, I will be around in another 40 years to see the opening of the ‘new’ Cork-Limerick road.

Brian Ward


Co Cork

Paying for water prevents its waste

While Ireland may not be the best at managing its wastewater, many people in the country do know how to waste water.

For more than a decade I’ve been based in a country — Colombia — where there are water charges per household. This is, of course, standard in most jurisdictions.

Paying for water does make one more cognisant of usage and encourages practices that lead to lower consumption.

In contrast, in Ireland, from my observations, particularly on farmsteads, water profligacy is the norm.

It may be time to turn off the free water tap. This will make many boil with anger but they’ll find ways to cool down eventually.

Brendan Corrigan


Co Roscommon

Triple lock change and Irish neutrality

Billy Kelleher, in presenting the government’s case for amending the triple lock, snipes at “neutrality hawks” for “claiming that this is a first step on a slippery slope to joining Nato, and to ending Ireland’s long-standing policy of military neutrality” — ‘Our neutrality will not be affected by triple-lock change’ (Irish Examiner, online, November 23).

Actually, this would be the fifth step on the slippery slope to joining Nato and ending neutrality. Step one was permitting the use of Shannon Airport as a transit hub for the US Armed Forces en route to war (1991 to date). Step two was Ireland joining Nato’s Partnership for Peace (1999). Step three was Ireland joining Pesco, the EU’s military pact (2017). Step four was Ireland providing flak jackets and military training to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Step 5, if it is not successfully opposed, will be amending the triple lock so as to supplant the UN as the competent international authority for approving Irish peacekeeping missions. Mr Kelleher suggests that the EU and — improbably — the African Union might play this role. Twenty-two EU member states are also in Nato; their foreign policies are shaped by this. It is hardly a stretch to suggest that, were the triple lock to be amended, critical aspects of Ireland’s foreign policy would be indirectly shaped by Nato.

Revising the triple lock would make the slippery slope toward membership of Nato and the abandonment of neutrality even more slippery.

Dominic Carroll

Cork Neutrality League Ardfield

Co Cork

Varadkar a victim of black propaganda

Regarding your editorial — ‘Words are weapons in war for minds’ (Irish Examiner, November 27) — I understand completely that Mr Varadkar’s initial statement was deliberately echoing the New Testament for rhetorical effect as you note in Luke 15:24 “my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found”.

This is deliberate mischief-making by Israeli foreign affairs minister Eli Cohen and, as always, is an attempt to blacken the reputation of Ireland for having the temerity to question the actions of Israel.

Black propaganda to smear those who disagree with the actions of a state engaged in conflict is as old as recorded history itself. Aeschylus famously said truth was the first casualty of war.

Aeschylus (c 525BC — c 456BC) was a playwright and former general who fought at the battles of Marathon and Salamis during the Persian wars (c. 492BC — c 449BC) a long and brutal struggle. He fought alongside both his brothers and lost one in the conflict. Known as ‘the father of tragedy’, he wrote some 90 plays, with half of them winning at the great Athenian festivals of drama.

Aeschylus didn’t live in a remote ivory tower writing plays, he served in the brutal world of close combat warfare, he saw it all, lost men under him, lost family members, and survived.

Aeschylus knew firsthand the horror of war and the lies and propaganda that accompany it.

Mr Varadkar has been on the receiving end of this propaganda, but Irish people must not be fooled, the killing of children in Gaza will not be obfuscated by such empty words.

Leo Sharkey



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