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THE ELIZABETH WINDSOR PROGRAMME

An 'Outline Media Programme' has been released by An Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha (the Department of Foreign Affairs) ahead of the State Visit of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh to the Republic of Ireland.  It is a document which in and of itself is a mass of controversy and Anglo-Irish Politics.  Why is NAUTICAL LOG covering this at all?  Well the State Visit is a historical event - to some a hysterical event - and Ireland is the birthplace of NAUTICAL LOG and never in our lifetime did we expect to see such a visit happen.


From the first moment of Elizabeth Windsor's arrival in Ireland the places involved mark the history of the British in Ireland and their earning the title 'Perfidious Albion'.  On Tuesday May 17, 2011 - a date that may live in infamy for many Irish persons - to borrow a phrase from history, the controversy starts.  Her flight is due to land at Casement Aerodrome the Irish Air Corps Base at Baldonnel, County Dublin.  The Aerodrome is named for Roger Casement who was executed by the British for having taken part in the Easter Rising of 1916.  He is a controversial figure in Anglo-Irish politics and a personally controversial person in life itself.  Rather than comment we suggest our readers research it for themselves perhaps starting with the short version in 'Wikipedia' before taking on the longer version.


From there she goes to 'Aras an Uachtaráin' the Official Residence of the President of the Republic of Ireland.  During the British Occupation of Ireland this was the Vice Regal Lodge and the Official Residence of the Viceroy who was the representative of the British monarch in Ireland.


Various other points of  interest will be visited over the next days, memorials to the War of Independence from the British, the National Stud and the Rock of Cashal a principal religious site for Irish Catholics in defence of their Faith against it's suppression by the British.  Elizabeth Windsor will be getting a history lesson though one suspects she already knows it all very well, quite unlike her country persons who have no real idea of Anglo-Irish history.


Interior fountain

Roof and Upper level
 And so by Friday May 20, 2011 she will arrive in Cork the birthplace of the 'Big Fella' himself Michael Collins and her 'meet and greet' at the Cork English Market.  This is a classic choice and one has to wonder if the true story of this market will be told to her.  The Cork English Market was founded in 1788 some 80 years before the famous Boqueria in Barcelona, Catalan.  It was founded so that the Anglo-Irish and English Ascendency would not have to associate with the Irish 'potato-people-peasents' who were quite unwelcome in the Market and expected to shop elsewhere.  The Market survived its business ups and downs, revolutions, The Famine and fire.   Which leads us to the night of Saturday December 11, 1920 and the actions of the RIC Auxiliaries and the 'Black and Tans' thugs.  For that story we go to An Comhairle Cathrach Chorcaí (Cork City Council) account:


" During the War of Independence Cork was one of the main centres of resistance to the British Rule.  In one of the worst atrocities committed during the War of Independence British forces delibrately set fire to several blocks of buildings along the east and south sides of Saint Patrick's Street during the night of 11 December 1920 and the following Sunday morning.  The City Hall and the Carnegie Library were also completely destroyed by fire."


"The loss of the stock of the library and of the records in Cork City Hall was a huge blow to future historians.  The Chief Secretary for Ireland Sir Hamar Greenwood immediately denied that Crown forces were responsible for the conflagration.  He also refused demands for an impartial enquiry which was called for by several bodies in Cork.  In spite of Greenwood's obstinacy a booklet published by the Labour Party and Trades Union Congress appeared in January 1921 entitled 'Who burned Cork?'  which on the evidence of eye-witnesses to the events, showed that British forces had set fire to large sections of Cork City.  The eye-witness depositions had been gathered by Seamus Fitzgerald and statements collated by Alfred O'Rahilly the President of U.C.C.  A British Army enquiry subsequently placed blame for the fire on rengade members of a company of Auxiliaries.  The Auxiliaries and Black and Tans were allegedly taking revenge for an earlier attack on British troops."





Fire and damage map

viewing the distruction on Sunday morning
As can be seen from the fire map one of the places burned was the Cork English Market so the attacks were indiscriminate by the RIC Auxiliary and Black and Tans thugs.  In fairness many Regular British Army Officers and their troops would have as little as possible to do with these thugs.   On occasions it is possible and generally believed  intelligence about the 'Black and Tans' plans were passed to the Irish independence forces.  There was a highly placed source in Dublin Castle the British control centre for security who was never caught and after Independence received a pension from the Irish Free State Government.


So it might be that Elizabeth Windsor will see for herself on this State Visit how the British behaved in Ireland - perhaps she will be couragous, recognise it for what it was and make an apology - it was after all in the lifetime of her grandparents and mine.


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Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with maritime interests and others to free them.

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