Ireland. The land of Saints and Scholars.
It’s St.Patrick’s! Dia Dhuit!
Fact: “Top of the morning to you” isn’t just an American term created for advertising by the Americans, it’s highly offensive to the Irish. The Irish say Dia dhuit or sláinte (pronounced slan-cha) and means “Good health.”
So I’m one more American mutt calling myself Irish. Especially on this day. My family names are Fitch and O’Lundy so maybe I have a bit of the Irish in me. If you’ve read Broken—even passages of Broken—you may know just what being Irish means to me. What Ireland means to me.
Quick background. I was raised with Irish music. And like so many other Irish-wanna-be’s, there are elements of my personality that just… powerfully draws me to Ireland. I hear bag pipes and I groan. I can’t hear Irish Washerwoman without jumping into a barefooted jig and a giggle. The trills and lilts of their language is pure music that lulls me into a drug like stupor. My heart bleeds for want of green.
Today, this day, means so much to me. First, St. Patrick’s doesn’t last the day. For me, it lasts the month. THAT’S RIGHT!
I’ve been cross-stitching an Irish Cat all month, I have soda bread and lamb… and Irish stew… cooking all month. The Irish folk music blasts all March… okay. That’s a lie. I listen to Irish music year round.
But why the Irish? What is it about them that everyone wants to be them? They haven’t exactly had a past to envy. No other race has seen more abuse than the Irish. Not even African Americans. I In fact, if you look into Irish history… they have a slave history of their own.
I don’t believe in re-writing what has already been said so perfectly, so here are some excerpts from “The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves”
They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.
Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.
The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.
Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.
From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.
During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.
And we all know about the potato famine. What you don’t know is that the world heard about this famine and shipped a surplus of food to Ireland. They had so much food that they threw it out. Yet 1 million Irish died between 1845 and 1852. View Source.
The most astounding abuse I ever came across was in the research I unearthed while studying Ireland and Celtic culture for Dolor and Shadow and Tales of the Drui.
Drui is Old Irish for “Druid.” My book is actually called “Tales of the Druids” or “Druid Tales.” The Drui (according to my story) were a race of magic users created by the Celtic gods, Danann herself, for the sole purpose of using, learning, and keeping the Seidr, which is the Old Norse word for magic.That’s the part that I made up. But this part is true… The Norse and Vikings had so much influence in Ireland that the High Kings of Ireland were founded by Ivann, son of Lodbrok. You know Lodbrok as in Ragnar Lodbrok… You’ve most likely seen him on the History Channel’s Vikings. Lodrbrok’s son would go on to not only become the High King of Ireland, but in 200 years, his bloodline would birth the Line of Ivann: The royal line of Ireland herself.
So it was no wonder I added so much Irish into my Norse book.
It was in all this research that I learned of the most horrific story ever.
I am no stranger to the process of imperialism. The first rule of imperialization? Destroy the culture. How do you destroy the culture?
- 1 – Kill all the men.
- 2 – Rape all the women and impregnate as many young ones as you can with your offspring, taking the women as a slave-wife.
- 3 – Hire a scholar to tutor your bastard child in your religion, practices, and ways. It was common to teach the child to hate the enemy race you destroyed.
- 4 – Burn the books, scrolls, and writings.
- 5 – Burn the buildings, rent their cities so that no architecture survives.
Within three generations, 100 years, no culture will survive. Americans did this to the Native Americans from the 1400’s to the 1970’s (we’re still doing it). So what does this have to do with Ireland? I will tell you.
Long ago, when Christianity was new, Rome was sending out people to convert cultures. In the 3rd and 4th century this meant, travel abroad, threaten to kill their children if they don’t take our gods. Needlessly to say, it worked. Around this time, a certain… man was sent to Ireland. This man was born and raised in Ireland. He spoke the language and knew the free spirit of the Irish people. The pope had selected one advocate to go. This advocate was notorious for his cruelty. But when the pope learned that Patrick could speak the language, they sent him instead.
Patrick was… amazing. I won’t tell you he was kind or good. I don’t know this and the history books are written by the winners. Of course he was good, according to them. One thing Patrick was though, was laid back, and “cool.” He was probably more lax about the religion that the pope would have liked, which is why Patrick was not his first choice. Patrick knew the Irish. He did express an interest and love in this land. He did know that if anyone else made it to Ireland, the people would be wiped up. The Irish can be a bit stubborn.
So Patrick went to Ireland. He spoke their language. He laughed and drank with them. He told them of Christianity, but didn’t take any other action to force it.
Now… in the 3rd and 4th century, the Irish had learned what no other culture has ever learned. And this, dear reader, this is why I do so love the Irish. For this little nugget of history. While the rest of the world was dividing and conquering, Ireland became masters of intellect. The first education system was being developed. They taught reading, writing, story, music, and lore all before anyone else. But the Irish are different.
You all know “Druid” and “Bard.” But let me introduce you to “Fili.” The Fili were advanced history keepers… storytellers… scribes who recorded all of a history in their memory. Studies would take a lifetime. And it took a lifetime to then pass the oral records down to the next apprentice. There is one story told of a king who angered a bard. In retaliation, the bard composed a story about the king, changing the memory of this king. Bards had power, substantial power, and everyone respected them. A bard was no small thing and not just anyone could join.
Ireland began developing their history and culture around 300 BCE and 200 BCE. By 300 CE, they had developed preserved a collection of scribes who dedicated their lives to the arts. While all the warring went on, the Irish preserved their ancient history.
When Patrick arrived in Ireland, he was more concerned with preserving that precious artwork than pillaging and plundering. He was more concerned with preserving the culture and his kin, instead of converting the new religion. As a result, Ireland was saved from the cultural slaughter, and their artwork flourished. Patrick wrote back to Rome confirming that Ireland had accepted the new religion. In part they did. Over time, the Irish peacefully accepted Christianity and Rome, thinking they were all devout Christian’s in their likeness, left Ireland alone. From almost 400 CE on to 1600 CE marking nearly 2 thousand years, the Christian-Roman Empire would ransack Europe, convert and killing millions, while Ireland remained untouched and at peace, preserving their culture.
In the 1600’s, a darker terror moved in, which would mark the end of Ireland’s golden era. “From 1536, Henry VIII decided to conquer Ireland and bring it under crown control.” With this, Irish slavery began, and the situation in Ireland would escalate until the 1700’s when King James would infiltrate Ireland and destroy 2,000 years of ancient Irish writings and history.
King James was a dick.
So it is in honor of St. Patrick.. for the culture, people, and land of Ireland, that I present this small cultural tour. Kicking off with Carrickfergus.