Thursday 14 December 2017

Wellington was not all bad - he did 'heal wounds of this country'

The Wellington monument in the Phoenix Park, Dublin
The Wellington monument in the Phoenix Park, Dublin
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Kim Bielenberg ('Embracing our own horrible history with pillars of the past', Irish Independent, August 29) is not the first to question memorials to the 'Iron Duke' of Wellington, principally because of disobliging remarks he made about this nation, as he did about a lot of other people, including his wife and his soldiers.

Against that, he was the only Irish-born British prime minister who in the end used his powers to persuade a highly emotional George IV that Catholic emancipation had to be enacted in 1829, the main credit for which belongs of course to Daniel O'Connell and earlier campaigners like Denys Scully.

As Dr Thomas McGrath of Carlow College has documented, the Catholic bishops of Ireland in 1830 expressed extravagant gratitude to Wellington, stating in a national pastoral letter: "Among the counsellors of his majesty there appeared conspicuous the most distinguished of Ireland's sons, a hero and a legislator - a man selected by the Almighty to break the soul which scourged Europe [Napoleon] - a man raised up by providence to confirm thrones, re-establish altars, to direct the councils of England at a crisis the most difficult, and to staunch the blood and heal the wounds of the country which gave him birth."

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