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July 12, 2007

History - Irish style

Today marks the Battle of the Boyne, a rather unremarkable river in the borderlands between Northern and Southern Ireland. The battle fought here in 16-- saw the overthrow of the Stuart King's and confirmed William III and Mary II on the throne of the then very disunited kingdom. Given the Stuarts record on just about everthing (Charles II was just about the only one with a modicum of sense) it never fails to surprise me that they got the support they did in Ireland, let alone Scotland.

For Catholic Ireland all that seems to have mattered was that James II was Catholic, William was a Protestant.

James landed with an army raised in France and marched north, gathering support as he went. William seems to have been not only shrewder than his wife's brother, but the better general. He landed with his army, and skirmished back and forth until he found the place he needed. James army suffered heavily at the hands of William's regulars bolstered by the Protestant supporters and troops raised in Ulster. As is ever the case in Ireland, the battle split families, set brother against brother and set up the divisions that still sunder this beautiful land.

No doubt today will see the usual "marches" and protests. It may be worth remembering that the Orange Order was a response to the formation of the exclusively Catholic Defenders of Ireland, a forerunner of the Sinn Fein and the IRA. Feeling still runs extremely high on this issue, but perhaps it is time to start healing the wounds and allowing people to lay aside the blood and hatred of the past.

Easy for me to say? Perhaps, but let us not forget that both sides have suffered grievously in this long and troubled history and the reason I live in England and not the land of my ancestors is that my grandfather refused to be a part of that conflict any longer. I love Ireland and hate to see the divisions and the bitterness. I pray that this generation though, will see, finally, the start of a better and more harmonious future.

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 12, 2007 09:25 AM

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