Thursday, 22 October 2015

Lord Carson...

We commemorate far too many anniversaries in Britain and I think that many of them could be dispensed with without any significant loss of either patriotism or due deference. Every Armistice Day, for example, lots of people stand in silence at the Cenotaph to commemorate the fallen of the two needless and bloody conflicts that destroyed countless lives (and religion, morality, and much else) in the last century. Before you say, "oh, he's off again," just consider how intertwined with religion these commemorations are. When else, other than at state funerals and royal weddings, would you see Anglican clergymen in surplice, tippet and hood? It's as if those clergymen are the witnesses of their own dirge.

But I've digressed already. To-day is an important anniversary for Ireland. It is the 80th anniversary of the death of Sir Edward Carson, the prime mover of Unionism in Ireland from 1910. If he is remembered at all to-day it is as Queensbury's counsel at the trial of Oscar Wilde, an unfortunate legacy for so great a statesman. Unlike many contemporary unionists Carson was a singular Unionist. As a Leinsterman he argued against Home Rule from the perspective that the whole island of Ireland was better off in union with Britain as opposed to just the Ulster province. At least he held this view until he came under the influence of James Craig, the man chiefly responsible for Partition. In 1912 Carson drafted his Solemn League and Covenant, which was signed by 237,368 men (my great-grandfather was one of the signatories). I wonder if, post-1998, Carson will get even a cursory mention by BBC Northern Ireland, or RTE? I mean he was given a State Funeral. At the very least he is remembered by me, and by my fellow Unionists in Ulster to-day. May he rest in peace.

Since our Union matters not a bit compared with the monster European Union it's an interesting day to reflect upon the life's work of one of Britain's and Ireland's patriots. I believe Lord Carson was the Lord Bannside's hero.


  1. Needless to say not a mention of the anniversary on BBC Northern Ireland's webpage. How sad for the British people that there politicians are now made of very different stuff to Lord Carson. We now even have clergy destroying Royal British Legion flags! Enough to make the element of Ulster Blood in me boil.

  2. To be fair, Carson also done good, defending young George Archer-Shee against a virulently anti-Catholic Liberal Establishment, largely on a point of moral principle - and winning against all odds.

    1. There is no question of Lord Carson's integrity. Very different from James Craig, the man who gerrymandered the Ulster province with deliberate intent to divide and humiliate the Roman Catholics of the nine counties as well as unionists in Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan. A lot of my sympathies are with Lord Midleton, who led the southern Unionists, who suffered just as much as the nationalists in the North because of Partition. Many in the south mistrusted the Ulster unionists and their culture of Orangeism. If it were up to me I would close down the Orange lodges.

  3. Saw one yesterday thus attired at Evensong.

  4. And then there's the kind of Irish nationalism on American St. Patrick's Day (a celebration of Catholic Irish immigrants succeeding here, not really about the saint or Ireland). Don't say this at one of our bars, but as you probably know, the Catholic Church and Irish republicanism have never been synonymous. I think the Popes wanted to work from the top down: bring the King back to the church in Britain, and Ireland will follow. Before 1916 and in many cases after, many Irish were loyal Britons, proudly helping build the empire, serving around the world in the forces and civil service. I met a man from the south who had served in the RAF in the '50s, after complete independence. Volunteers from the republic still join the Irish Guards (not allowed to recruit in Ireland since the separation).