The Queen of England is visiting Ireland—the Republic of Ireland—not Northern Ireland. She will be the first British monarch to visit the country since the Irish Revolution. It’s a (an?) historic day. It’s shite. Her route—from which the Irish citizenry will be banned—will allow her a brief, and politically correct, tour of specific historical sites.
I doubt her route will include Kilmainham Gaol. She won’t see the courtyard where the leaders of that revolution, Irish patriots, were shot—for fighting for what was rightfully theirs. One, James Connolly, was wounded in battle and was tied to a chair before he was executed. She won’t see the plaques that hang in memoriam on the bullet-pocked walls. She won’t see the tiny windowless cells or the stone steps, so worn from the footfalls of tired, disenfranchised men, that they are dangerous and difficult to navigate.
There was no mention of the Post Office on O’Connell street where the rebels made their stand; where the marks of gunfire are still visible in the columns. She won’t see Oliver Shepherd’s beautiful—poignant—sculpture of the Dying Cúchulainn that stands therein.
I read nothing of the Queen leaving Dublin to tour a hedgerow school, like the one in Clare where my grandmother learned to read and write. She learned in both English and Irish—her native language—that had been made illegal by the British Monarchy. Nor was there any mention of the famine houses in Kerry or Cork. A famine exacerbated by the British government’s refusal to compromise, to show compassion or mercy—in a situation so desperate that Native Americans, who had walked the Trail of Tears, took up a collection for the starving Irish. It was an avoidable tragedy that decimated a nation. But, the Queen’s ancestors had potatoes for dinner… Does she know that?
Will she visit any of the old Catholic churches that dot the countryside? Catholicism that her ancestors outlawed in Ireland, despite the fact that it was the dominant religion there?
I wonder, will she visit the church that stands on the hill overlooking the harbor in Cobh where families gathered and held mock funerals before loved ones boarded ships and headed out in search of a better life—or death? She won’t be touring the museum that chronicles the desperation of the people of Ireland.
Will she see the statue of Annie Moore?
The first British troops invaded Ireland in 1169, some 850 years ago. Somehow, to think the Irish—who still do not have their whole country free from British tyranny—would forget in a mere 90yrs seems arrogant, your majesty.
There are six counties in Ireland that are still subjected to British rule. An article on CNN yesterday stated that they chose to remain a part of Britain. I’m sure my grandparents—who were there in 1916—are rolling in their graves! If you wish to gain the respect of the Irish, perhaps you should give back to them what is rightfully theirs. An apology is in order. Maybe then, people won’t be barred from walking their own streets when you visit. Maybe then, a British Monarch will be made welcome on the streets of Dublin.
In the mean time, your majesty, póg mo thóin.