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Subject: Cultural Heros
From: Bernard T Morgan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Thu, 24 Aug 1995 15:17:53 +0100

text/plain (84 lines)

Well I tried this message on  [log in to unmask] but got no response
but then again I doubt if anyone knows much about Gaelic history, has I found
I hard to find out what I know.
>One the hardest things I find Gaelic culture is to get a sense of their
history, or should I say that they were not a bunch of backward peasants
doomed to destruction.
Growing up in England you learn how great the English are, their Empire and
their Cultural Heros (its a bit ruff if you are not English). There's
Shakespeare the greats Bard of them all, and throughout English history it is
lit-up with characters and personalities. People who can be idealized as
heros, Drake, Rayleigh, Nelson, Wellington, Stevenson, Brunel, Keats, the
list is endless etc...(They all make good stories for the film industry)
Its not so when I come to read Gaelic history. Its fall of nameless people,
and when people are mentioned it seems that they are just local one offs.
In reading the book great gaelic Hero Alister MacColla it still feels very
distant, but then the problem seems to be that history is written at a
national level with national governments at it centre. In the case of the
Gael the only goverment is that of the English, so in the history they seem
to be just pawns of the English crown with no goal of a Gaelic state.
Take the historical view that Culloden is presented to us (the next year will
be the 250 anniversary of the battle). It is presented as the last Jacobite
rising of the Highland Clans for the claim of Bonnie Prince Charlie for the
crown of England against the Hanoverian Kings of England. But this even
misses the fact that the event had a European context, it was part of the
Austrian War of Succession. The rising was a diversion created by France in
their on going war with it neighbours. Even the fact that a large part of the
English army was not English but made up of continental mercenaries bought
across from the continent, there they had been fighting France.
The same story come be said for the Battle of the Boyne.
But I drift because what I look for is a history centred on the Gael. The
problem is to find a centre to there history. Only with their support of
Stewart cause from 1642-1746 do you find a figure head for the Gaelic people,
but then again this figure head was no supporter of Gaelic culture.
So any suggestions as how to view Gaelic history?
All I have got is a few dates and names
Hugh O'Neill
Red Hugh O'Donnel
Graine O'Malley
1607 Flight of the Earls
1609 Statues of Iona
Owen O'Neill
Alister MacColla
1641-1650 Gaels raise for Charles I
1689 Gaels rise for James II
1690 Flight of the Wild Geese
1691 Glencoe massacre
Rob Roy
1715 Another Rising
1745 Gaels rise for Bonnie Prince Charles
I could add a few Irish Poets but that is about it.
ps. Does anyone know the name of the book about Graine O Malley? or about the
Irish Confederates of the 1640's?

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