Saturday 24 February 2018

Playing a game of thrones

Madam -- John Paul McCarthy challenged the Irish collective psyche when he advocated that we merge "...the ideas of O'Connell, Griffith and de Valera and create some unique link between our Republic and the far-flung British crown" (Sunday Independent, June 10, 2012). There are some flaws in this argument: Griffith was a romantic with notions of a dual monarchy based on the Austro-Hungarian empire; Dev was always cynical about the institution and O'Connell could not give a hoot who was on the throne of England or Ireland. Nostalgia for the days of Commonwealth when Ireland attended "imperial conferences" will not go down well with the more republican elements of Fine Gael. It was John A Costello who, in a fit of pique at Ottowa, took Ireland out of the Commonwealth and there seems little enthusiasm for a return.

It is strange that such an investigative historian decided not to mention "our own" Irish monarchy. I am referring to the Irish Chiefs of the Name -- the descendants of the old Irish princes and kings who ruled Ireland before the Tudors replaced their power by a form of "surrender and regrant". The O'Connor Don, the direct descendant of the O'Connor High Kings of Connacht and Ireland, has the strongest claim to the Irish throne.

Talk about Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth is a nebulous pastime. Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland in 2011 was an unqualified success mainly because it was the visit of one sovereign head of state to another. Most Irish people respect the institution of the British monarchy but also guard the ideals of the republic. However, some constitutional "recognition" of the Irish Chiefs of the Name would undo a great historical wrong.

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