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grufty jim
grufty jim
1978 posts

Re: National humiliation in the national interest?!
Mar 10, 2019, 11:42
I honestly don't think Ireland expects or wants any more respect than anyone else. It's just having to settle for far *less* irks a bit.

I think I've said this before here, but I'm not sure anything shocked me in my entire life as much as moving from the Irish school system into the British system (albeit not in the UK... but if you want an English-speaking school in most of the non-English-speaking world you get to choose between UK curriculum and US curriculum... my parents chose UK :)

Anyway, I can still remember my shock at how differently The Famine is viewed / treated (or not!) by the "history" being taught in schools. It's something I've discussed at great length with all my close English friends because it's a genuine perfect Case Study in how history can be unhealthily "relative".

And I'm genuinely not claiming Irish schools have "the right version" of history. We have our own biases over here. And some of them are insane. But even so, the fact that most English people have never heard the name "Sir Charles Trevelyan" is mind-blowing to an Irish person. It's such a bizarre white-washing of history that automatically we get very suspicious of anything else an English person might have learnt about Ireland.

Can you imagine if Irish schools taught the history of the 1970s and 1980s but literally never mentioned Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness? Or if they did... it was such a brief, "in passing" reference that nobody remembered those names after they left school. "What else are they dumping down the memory hole?" you would ask with some justification.

Trevelyan is the man that the British Crown placed in charge of alleviating The Famine. He was the most important British figure in Ireland during that period and only the Irish seem to remember his name (he's name-checked in that most famous of famine songs, "The Fields of Athenry"... "for you stole Trevalyan's corn, so the young might see the morn, now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay").

Trevelyan would make public pronouncements in London claiming that the British Empire "would see to it that the Irish will never be allowed to starve". Meanwhile, private letters have since shown him to be an incredible anti-Irish bigot who viewed the Irish as fundamentally savage and believed (I quote):

"the judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson"

Far from preventing the Irish from starving, Trevelyan oversaw a significant increase in food exports from Ireland to mainland Britain during the 5 year period in which almost 20% of the Irish population died of starvation.

That should be part of the history curriculum for everyone on these islands. But then... I *would* say that ;-)
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