December 05, 2018

"Look to Belfast and be a repealer if you can..."

Illustration depicting Cooke’s Challenge to O’Connell within the context of the Union.

Henry Cooke issued this challenged to Daniel O’Connell when the latter came to Belfast in January 1841:
"Look at Belfast, a glorious sight, the masted groves in the harbour, the mighty warehouse, the giant manufactories, the rapidly growing streets, all owed to the Union. Look to Belfast and be a repealer if you can."
Edward Carson said in 1912:
"That minority which is there gives an answer to the argument of the failure of the rule of the United Kingdom Parliament in Ireland. The success of Belfast, which has grown from 15,000 or 16,000 people before the Union to a population of 400,000 or thereabouts, the success of the surrounding counties, not at all the most prolific or the most fertile in Ireland, give the lie to those who say that it is English misrule in Ireland, as they call it—though why it should be called English I do not know—that has prevented the other parts of Ireland attaining a similar state of prosperity. Those are the men at all events that I represent here—the men whom you invited into your Parliament when Pitt passed his Bill."
It was written:
"William McComb, a Belfast Presbyterian, was first a schoolmaster. He became a bookseller and publisher and released The Repealer Repulsed following O’Connell’s visit to Belfast. With Cooke he had edited the Orthodox Presbyterian, and attacked the politically liberal Belfast newspaper the Northern Whig. He wrote a moving ballad about Betsy Gray, the murdered County Down Presbyterian heroine of the 1798 Rebellion. In the poem he deplores what he considers the foolishness of the ’98 insurgents and stresses the advantages of Union. McComb greatly admired Cooke. Maume suggests he saw him as a modern John Knox – the formidable founder of the Presbyterian church in Scotland."
It was also written that '"The Repealer Repulsed' has been described as a ‘foundation text of Ulster Unionism’. Several pieces employ Scots language or references to Ulster’s Scottish links. Later in the
century northern opponents of Home Rule would directly reference the importance of the
close Ulster-Scotland connection as they campaigned to maintain the Union."






"O'Connell driving the foreign toads and vipers from the land", William Tell, Dublin, 1844

O'Connell is the new St Patrick driving out Ireland's enemies; Wellington and Peel at the bottom with Archbishop Whately representing the 'endless plunder' of the Church of Ireland; 'Either-side Graham' and Scorpion Stanley' (deserters from the Whigs in 1834-5; a flying TBC Smith clutching his '60 names', trailing conspiracy and accompanied by a 'bad judge'; and the Times, singled out for its vituperative coverage of the state trials.



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