Graveyard of Buried Hopes

Recently I ran across some lyrics in an Irish song book that interested me. They go as follows: "When apples still grow in November, when blossoms still bloom on each tree, When leaves are still green in December, it's then that our land will be free, I wander her hills and green valleys, but still to my sorrow I see, A land that has never known freedom, and only her rivers run free." There were a few more verses in the usual style...tragic, stirring, patriotic, and fairly typical. What really caught my eye was the date this song was written: 1973. Normally, this kind of thing would be dated in the mid to late nineteenth century, certainly not post Republic of Ireland. This song made a strong impression on me because it's become more and more apparent that hoping for a re-unification of Ireland, hoping for the lost six counties to become part of the Republic is plain foolish. This cry of despair from whomever the poet was that wrote the lyrics touched me deeply because it's all so impossible. Northern Ireland was lost irrevocably when De Valera cut his deal with the British in the 1920's; there's no going back now. Of course it was horrendous for English families to come over to Northen Ireland in Elizabeth I's time and displace or kill the Irish Catholics whose land they took. But 500 years later those once English families now know Ulster as home, and have no reason to wish Northern Ireland's departure from the commonwealth. And in the end you have to realize that it has ceased to be a religious war. The IRA lost its identity when it forgot it was Catholic and started training with anyone who would help; from the Soviet Union to al-Qaida. It's not that the Northern Irish are Protestant and don't want to be one with Catholic Southern just that those in power can see no political or economic benefit in unification. Just as Partition has become a fact of Irish life over the years, so has secularization become a fact of life in the cities of Dublin and Cork. Scandals have hurt the Church in Ireland, and all but one of the seminaries has shut down. Ireland, quite simply, is not what she was, and probably never will be again. In a very real way, Anglican England won her war against the Irish papists; religion just isn't a good enough reason to take back Northern Ireland. Robert Emmet was a heroic Irish patriot, rebel and outstanding orator in the nineteenth century, who was executed by the British for sedition. He asked that there be no epitaph written on his grave until Ireland became a free nation once more, taking her place in the world alonside other free nations. Sadly, it doesn't look like Emmet's epitaph will ever be written. The dreams of all the Irish rebels who took their place in the rising of '98 and the Easter uprising of 1916 have been fulfilled in terrible incompleteness; their true desires for their country may remain forever buired with them.


Anonymous said...

i thought collins "cut a deal with the british" and strictly speaking, it was the english, not the british.

Catherine_Creagan said...

De Valera cut the deal and made Collins take the hit for him. And as for Brits being English...whatev. They're still Limeys. And British sounds better.

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