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The great Republican

Thursday, 2nd July, 2020 11:16am

Story by Tony Galvin
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The great Republican

THE Republican we Irish love to hate — Oliver Cromwell.

The great Republican

THE Republican we Irish love to hate — Oliver Cromwell.

FOR a State founded on the traditions of republicanism dating back not only to the United Irishmen but Ancient Greece and Rome itself, we have a remarkably ambiguous attitude to one of the greatest exponents of this noble political philosophy ever to tread Irish soil — namely, one Oliver Cromwell.

Yes, it was Oliver and his troops who cried whatever was the 17th-century equivalent of “Up the Republic” when they stormed the walls of Drogheda and, contrary to our historically amnesiac version of history, the defenders weren’t blameless Irishmen in the wrong place at the wrong time but Royalists fighting for the restoration of the British monarchy. Oliver’s campaign in Ireland was an away-leg of the English Civil War. The Scots didn’t fare any better than us in this regard.

The history taught in our schools has traditionally been a cartoon version designed to airbrush out uncomfortable, inconvenient discrepancies that might challenge the accepted national narrative. We were all happy Celts living in Eden as God had intended, the odd cattle raid aside, until the heathen Sassenach blighted our shores and remained in situ for 800 years until we wrested back three of the four green fields. A work in progress.

Interesting to note, by the way, that in an almost Stalinist reaction to the much-needed revision of the comic-book presentation of our history, the State’s response was to forsake the whitewashing process and abolish the teaching of history almost in its entirety. Problem solved. Fake history, indeed.

Read the full feature in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald, on sale in shops and online

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