August 4th, 2011A Tale of Two Irelandsby Joseph Pearce

Robert Asch's post earlier this week highlighting the hypocrisy of secular Ireland has prompted me to add my voice to the discussion.

One of the major misunderstandings about modern Ireland, particularly amongst Irish Americans, is the belief that the Emerald Isle was an avowedly Catholic land until relatively recently. The truth is that large sections of the Irish population were seduced by the spirit of secularism many years ago. Take, for instance, the Irish flag. Why did the Irish choose to model their national flag on the anti-Catholic tricolor of the French Republic? Why didn't they simply remove the St. Patrick's Cross from the flag of the United Kingdom, thereby separating the Irish flag literally as well as symbolically from the Union? The answer, of course, is that many of the architects of Irish independence were more enamoured of the secular fundamentalism of the Enlightenment than of the Catholic orthodoxy of Christendom. In turning their back on their patron saint, they were symbolically turning their back on their Christian heritage and prophesying the eventual apostasy of the nation as a whole.

As for the Irish tricolor, it symbolizes the travesty and tragedy of modern Ireland. The green was meant to signify the nationalist or Catholic element in Ireland and the orange the unionist or Protestant element. The white in between the orange and the green signified the peace between the two parties. In fact, of course, the flag became a cause of great division so that the white has really come to signify the no-man's-land that separates the two communities, a separation that is as brutal as the political separation via apartheid of blacks and whites in South Africa. In consequence, the Irish have now symbolically erased the orange from the flag, referring to its colours as green, white and gold. There is no room for any "orange" on the flag, any more than there is any room for any "orange" in the nation. The white on the flag is therefore besmirched with the blood of the thousands who have been killed in the sectarianism of "the Troubles".

The choice facing modern Ireland is as stark as it is simple. She can either return to St. Patrick and the Faith that is her true inheritance, or she can follow the secularism of Sinn Fein, with its Marxist ideology and its support, in the past, for Colonel Gadaffi and Islamic terrorism.

True Irishmen should take up the Cross of St. Patrick and brandish it as a flag and as a sword in the war against secular fundamentalism. The alternative is the sinking of Irish identity in the quagmire of euro-globalism.

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  • August 4 2011 | by shane

    The so-called Cross of St. Patrick is from the coat of arms of the Geraldine family. It has no connection with Ireland's patron saint but was conveniently adapted by Grattan's parliament at the time of the union. It deserves no respect or reverence whatsoever and few people in Ireland would even recognize it, let alone feel any allegiance to it.

    I find the author of this post to be very poorly informed about Ireland.

  • August 5 2011 | by Jack Swan

    While I completely agree with your sentiment, I disagree about the flag. The "St. Patrick's Cross Flag" was an invention by the Hanoverian occupation government.

    A more suitable flag would be the Flag of the Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny (the gold harp on the green field), or the Four Provinces Flag.
  • August 5 2011 | by timothy tiernan

    mr. pearce,
    you seem to forget, the modern i.r.a. was born from the i.r.b. which had it start in the fenion movement born in the united states. holy mother church did more to repress irish freedom than to help it. if sinn fein has turned toward marxsism in its quest for irish freedom than the princes of the church have no one to blame but themselves. having said that mr pearse i am both an unabashed supporter of jerry adams and a devout catholic as was my father before me. you have confused the policy of the cardinals with the faith. the church itself recognizes the need to wage just wars. ta tu madre sassanna . by the way the loudest voice against ireland staying in the e.u. is gerry adams. ireland is by far still the most catholic nation on the planet. if you insist on hiding your colors behind the visor of faith please join the church of england.
  • August 7 2011 | by Kate

    This article is a much better explanation of the problem the church in Ireland has. Our problems are not down to a flag.
  • August 10 2011 | by Andrew Lomas

    Mr Pearce: while agreeing with you about the flag, I would like to insist that in the Irish context republicanism in no way meant a turn away from Catholic orthodoxy, and that it was indeed supported by the overwhelming majority of the priests. Given the centuries of injustice the Irish endured under the English monarchy, it should not be suprising that upon gaining their freedom they opted for a different form of government. Also, in this historical context, republicanism was rebellion against a Protestant monarch, and a Protestant Established church.
    As for there being a close link between republicanism and secular fundamentalism more generally, I would like to remind you that this idea is contrary to the judgements of your heroes Chesterton and Belloc, and also of Pope John Paul II. All three of these great men contend that the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity are 'values which are rooted in the Gospel', and even when proclaimed without reference to Christ 'point naturally to their proper origin' ( John Paul II, Memory and Identity, sec. 18). It is indeed to be hoped that the Irish return to these (Gospel) values, and to Catholicism. Still in the mean-time I think they might be shown a little more respect for the role they played in establishing the Church in America, Australia- and England. For there would be no Chesterton, or David Jones, or Waugh without Father John O'Connor, Father Vincent McNabb, and Father Martin D'arcy.
    N.B. For the Irish Catholics their 'Troubles' began not in the 1960s but in the sixteenth century with invasion, spoilation, and dispossession by the English monarchs: and the casualties are in the millions, not the thousands. ( The Great Famine was a direct result of English misrule.)