That Most Distressful Nation: The Taming of the American Irish

That Most Distressful Nation: The Taming of the American Irish

That Most Distressful Nation: The Taming of the American Irish

That Most Distressful Nation: The Taming of the American Irish

Excerpt

I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand,
Saying, "How is old Ireland and how does she stand?"
"She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
"They are hanging men and women for the wearing of the green
."

I care not for the Thistle and I care not for the Rose.
When the bleak winds round us whistle, neither down nor crimson shows,
But like hope to him that's friendless, when no joy around is seen
O'er our graves with love that's endless blooms our own immortal green.

"The Wearing of the Green," Irish revolutionary song

The whole race . . . is madly fond of war, high-spirited and quick to battle, but otherwise straight forward and not of evil character. And so when they are stirred up they assemble in their bands for battle, quite openly and without forethought, so that they are easily handled by those who desire to outwit them; for at any time or place and on whatever pretext you stir them up, you will have them ready to face danger, even if they have nothing on their side but their own strength and courage. On the other hand, if won over by gentle persuasion they willingly devote their energies to useful pursuits and even take to a literary education. Their strength depends both on their mighty bodies, and on their numbers. And because of this rank and straight forward element in their character they assemble in large numbers on slight provocation, being ever ready to sympathize with the anger of a neighbour who thinks he has been wronged.

STRABO, speaking of pre-Christian Celts, quoted by Myles Dillon and Nora K. Chadwick in The Celtic Realms . . .

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