Sunday, January 22, 2012

Celtic Corner - January 2012

Celtic Corner:

To continue the Irish Famine:

Irish and American Voices:

Professor Dennis Clark, an Irish-American historian, wrote in The Irish in Philadelphia that the famine was “the culmination of generations of neglect, misrule and repression. It was an epic of English colonial cruelty and inadequacy. For the landless cabin dwellers it meant emigration or extinction. The dimensions of the calamity can hardly be delineated by simple statistics. England had presided over an epochal disaster too monstrous and too impersonal to be a mere product of individual ill will or the fiendish outcome of a well planned conspiracy. It was something worse: the cumulative antagonism and corruption of the English ruling class was visited with crushing intensity upon a long enfeebled foe. It was as close to genocide as colonialism would come in the nineteenth century.” About the 50,000 evictions took place during the Famine, Clark Wrote: “The British government’s insistence on “the absolute rights of landlords” to evict farmers and their families so they could raise cattle and sheep was a process “as close to ‘ethnic cleansing’ as any Balkan war ever enacted.”

Professor James S. Donnelly Jr., a historian at the University of Wisconsin, wrote the following in Landlord and Tenant in Nineteenth Century Ireland: “I would draw the following broad conclusion: at a fairly early stage of the Great Famine the government’s abject failure to stop or even slow down the clearances (evictions) contributed in a major way to enshrining the idea of English state sponsored genocide in Irish popular mind.  Or perhaps one should say in the Irish mind, for this was a notion that appealed to many educated and discriminating men and women, and not only to the revolutionary minority.”

But Donnelly concludes otherwise: “And it is also my contention that while genocide was not in fact committed, what happened during and as a result of the clearances had the look of genocide to a great many Irish.”