Twelfth of July

Bridge in Powerscourt

I put this bridge as a symbol to bridge the two communities in Ireland.*

Today is the day, The Twelfth of July celebrations Northern Ireland, when the memories from long, long times past are stirred up; mostly in hatred and anger. Yes, it is the day to remember the Battle of the Boyne which took place in 1690. The battle was between the Protestant Prince William of Orange and the Catholic King James II; William of Orange took the victory. Here is a link to the official site of the Battle of the Boyne. Much of the hatred that has had an effect to the present times stems from this very event.

When my daughters were still in the primary education in Ireland, we had this school run with some other parents and one time it was our turn to collect the kids from their homes bringing them all to the school. So, there we are in our thoughts – morning sleepy, you see – when this little girl pipes up and says:

“My mum is a Catholic and my dad is a Protestant.”

And then she is waiting for the response from my girls. But nothing came, because my daughters did not know what it meant to be a Catholic or a Protestant! They had never heard about it before this in their short lives and they did not know what it meant. The event passed uncommented by any of us except for an ‘I see’ from me at the time until later on, when the girls wanted to know ‘What did she mean?’

My in-laws and himself were of Anglo-Irish background deeply rooted in the Protestantism and yet very deeply rooted in their Irishness as well. They were and are first and foremost Irish in their own eyes and thinking. (I will get into this deeper another time.) The Northern Irish Protestants see themselves, normally, first and foremost, as British, and that is where there is this vast gulf between them and the Catholics who see themselves as Irish. There is also an abyss of differences between the Protestants of the North and the South because of the fact that the southern Protestants see themselves to be Irish and the northerners to be British.

These parades and commemorations of things long past on both sides add extra fuel to the volatile situation that at times boils over. The Twelfth of July is the prime example of this; every year we became suddenly aware that the date must upon us, when the South started to get filled with northerners wanting to escape the tension and the hatred stirred up.

Tis for now. Rii xx

* I took the photograph in the Japanese Gardens in the Powerscourt Demesne, Enniskerry, Ireland.

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