February 22, 2016

Sir James Craig was Irish

Sir James Craig, Viscount Craigavon, by society painter Sir John Lavery

William O'Brien wrote a description of Sir James Craig, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, in ‘The Irish Revolution and how it came about’ (1923):
"Sir James Craig… The Ulster leader was never an incorrigible enemy of a modus vivendi with his Southern countrymen. Like so many of the higher Orange type, if he was an irresponsible being for half a dozen mad “ anniversary ” days, he was for all the rest of the year a kindly neighbour, a fast friend, more honest of heart than complex in the convolutions of his brain matter, but in all things, flattering or otherwise, as irredeemably Irish as the granite ribs of Cave Hill."
TIME Magazine featured Sir James Craig on the May 26 1924 cover of the magazine. Inside it produced a short feature on the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland:

"Sir James Craig has been reviled and praised by Irishmen more than any other denizen of the Emerald Isle. Of course, the Irishmen that do the reviling will not admit that Sir James or any of his admirers are Irishmen, while the Irishmen that do the praising stoutly affirm that they are every bit as Irish as those who revile... 
As a man he is solemn, strong, sober; as a leader he is cool, discreet, able. In politics he is a staunch, and an unbending imperialist, has “no foolish fastidiousness about democratic principles.” As an orator he is a failure, but as a man of action he is “a national asset”. Two un-Irish features stand out in his physiognomy and character; he has an egg-shaped head with eyes deep set and far apart; he is “an Irishman without a sense of humour”."
Ronan O’Brien wrote in the Irish Times:
"John Redmond saw no contradiction between having his children taught Irish, flying the Union Jack with the Green Harp at his home in Wicklow and, like Collins, was photographed at GAA games."
John McCallister addressed the Collins 22 Society by saying, "I am no settler, no colonist", and further said:
"George V addressed the overwhelmingly Unionist members of the Stormont Parliament as "Irishmen". It is a reminder of something that unionism has too easily and too readily forgotten: That being a British citizen, supporting the Union with the rest of the United Kingdom does not mean that we do not share values, interests and an identity with the rest of this island. It does not mean that being British excludes or denies a sense of Irish identity."
Richard Rose's 1968 Northern Ireland Loyalty Survey found that republican violence turns protestants away from feeling Irish. For example, Sir Basil Brooke, writing wrote from the western front in early 1916, said:
"I regarded it [the Easter Rising as treachery] as treachery. I felt it personally, to the extent that I had been fighting since 1914… This was a stab in the back not only for England but for me personally… I refused to describe myself as an Irishman thereafter."
Read my post here on how Sir Edward Carson was very Irish here

Read my previous post here on loyalists who are Irish here

Read here on how everyone born in Ireland, north and south, is Irish. Brian Faulkner said in 1949:
"They have no right to the title Ireland, a name of which we are just as proud as they."
And said in 1971:
"The Northern Ireland citizen is Irish and British; it is a question of complement, not of conflict."
George Bernard Shaw said:
"I am a traditional Irishman, my family came from Yorkshire." 
Read Nick Laird here on the protestant-Irish identity. My post here on being a protestant atheist.
Read about having an ethical Irish identity here.

Read here how it is to be an Irish protestant and deal with Bloody Sunday.
Read my post on the stereotype of the Northern and the regular Irish protestant here.

My post here on the "protestantisation" of Southern Ireland.  And here to read about the Catholicism of the Calvinist Ulsterman.

Seán Ó Faoláin said a fixation on Britain and anglophobia was bad for mental health.

Read about the work of Patrick Kavanagh and Sean O'Faolain to tackle de Valera's Mytholgised Irish-Ireland.


Read my post on how being Irish is not about being not British here. In that I said that there is no such thing a model Irish person. Cultural nationalism may have created an mono-type set ideal, but these notions are incredibly dangerous. As Conor Cruise O'Brien said, it's "recklessly idiosyncratic." Fintan O'Toole said that Irish cultural nationalism has created:
"A prison for the Irish people which [has] crippled their true identity. To be Irish was not enough. To be Irish you had to be not British... [A] new identity has to be positive rather than negative. But it also has to find a way to include Britishness."
This is the status quo. A perverse ideal that seeks a prelapsarian Irishness. And if you can't reach this, you're denounced as a "west Brit." You can't win. As Fintan O'Toole said, "the choice was to hate England or to be a West Brit." The supreme irony Anglo-Irish relation is, as Michael Kirke said, that "The Irish constitute Britain’s biggest ethnic group and vice-versa." As Brian O'Connor said:
"Being Irish involves a lot more than some uber-Gael, Provo-lite, pub-patriot wet-dream. It always has."
More on how being Irish is not about being not British here.

Fintan O'Toole reminds us that the Good Friday Agreement "defines national identity as potentially both mutable and multiple, and rests sovereignty, not on history and geography but on that most complex and fluent of things - the collective mind of a majority of the population."

I wrote here about the similarities between Muslim and Irish anti-British language and feeling.




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