On a recent social media post I was called a ‘paddy’ by an Englishman.
I was told to go back to muck raking, I was told that the English didn’t steal, they created wealth, that these foreigners in foreign lands were hunting and gathering before the British arrived, before those same British interlopers became not migrants, but ex-pats.
I was told that everyone needed saving, and the English should be proud of their achievements abroad, regardless of what the history books say.
I asked about the millions of dead in India. I asked about the million dead in Ireland, about the two million dispossessed, I asked about Trevelyans Corn and the new conservative International Development Minister. I asked about old money, privilege and irony.
I was told to go back to muck raking.
I asked about aboriginal people the world over, about the hilariously named ‘Elgin’ marbles, the stolen artwork, about the thousands of pieces of stolen loot in the British Museum, and the pink prayer mats in the ladies pink rooms in countless National Trust properties, I asked about slavery, about brutality, about where wealth comes from.
I was told to go back to muck raking.
I asked about the Brehon Laws, about chieftains and clans, about The Sun and English Breakfasts and about English speaking towns in foreign lands, about how that is okay, and tourism is good.
But ‘them’ coming here isn’t so okay.
I asked about Brexit and 400 years of history.
I was told to keep muck raking.
(I may have used a word that sounds like old Irish money)
In the year of our lord 1650, some time after the Flight of the Earls, after the first Presbyterian plantation of Ulster from Scotland, after the first Irish Rebellion of 1641, an odd, spiky little bridge was built between Cloghfin in Donegal and Clady in Derry.
Doire, the Oak Grove.
Before the Presbyterians got here.
It was built before King Billy, King William III, King William of Orange turned up, before the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, before the penal codes, it was built around the time the Supreme Council of the Irish Catholic Confederation were in power.
They signed an agreement with King Charles I to give the Irish catholics ‘some rights’, not too many obviously, just enough to keep them quiet, keep them in line, keep them in their place; they got those rights in return for their support of the royalists in England.
Betrayal in any language
I say all this, while I ignore the four hundred other years of detail, dilemma, death and distrust, as a precursor to this video, as a point in time to start in which all this madness began.
A time when the Irish Question was in its infancy, when the English monarchy and her loyal servants felt they could take what they wanted, where they wanted, when they wanted.
And didn’t care as to what happened, anywhere.
This odd little bridge was built across a stretch of water to connect two tiny Irish villages that none of them had likely ever heard of. I cannot imagine its builders considered that it would become part of a large cultural, economic, politial discussion, those spikey sides seem to tell of trouble ahead.
That odd little bridge, over the River Finn, would later become a border crossing, a hard border crossing, one built of stone in 1650, regardless of what the ill-educated Toby Young thinks.
It could be argued this was a border very few wanted, a border that seemed to most of us to disappear after the Good Friday Agreement, after years of a bloody, costly, painful war.
When it disappeared it seemed to have taken with it its memory of centuries of armed British military guardsmen, a much more modern military, enforcing that border so many didn’t want.
And here is where Stephen Rea recorded this piece about Brexit, about Jacob Rees Mogg, Conservative arrogance and bolshie Etonian bullshit.
I can imagine the location was an accident.
I can also imagine it was a very specific drive to a very specific bridge.
This odd little bridge has seen a lot, it’s been through a lot one would imagine, it has helped many a soldier, militiaman, terrorist or freedom fighter cross a border that causes so much division and pain.
And still, here we are, two years after this video was released and the British Government are still seemingly rudderless, clueless, without any compassion or consideration.
Without care for what their Brexit is likely to do.
A British Government who have said that they no longer like the deal they negotiated, the deal they agreed to, the deal that was oven ready, good to go and good for Britain.
They say they will break the law in a limited and specific way, regardless of this border, regardless of what it does to rights and relationships. And hope.
Two years old, and still, we wait for sense.
Any kind of sense, truth would be good too. Because while they tell us there will be no hard border, along the River Finn, or the Irish Sea, the British Governement are seeking contractors to do just that.
Build brand new hard border points.
Jacob Rees Mogg, Toby Young and the rest of them, don’t just misunderstand the border, they don’t just underestimate it’s importance, it’s not that they just don’t consider it an issue…
They just don’t care.
We live here
And we’re holding our breath
Because we know chance and hope
Come in forms like steam
While you’re here…
Brexit Borders again
“The impact on festivals, tours, one-off events, or on events like Sound City will be huge. The chances of seeing unique shows travelling across the UK will be diminished in ways we can only speculate on.”
Carnets & Carriage
“We were told the piece was an anti-Brexit rant (it was), that Brexit wouldn’t change life for musicians (it will), the requirements wouldn’t apply to them (they will) and the introduction was too long, (how very dare you!).“
“I know many musicians who work across the whole island of Ireland, the border is invisible, both in any physical way of in any psychological way. Now, well, most of them know that a no-deal will cause huge headaches for those who can play a gig in Dublin on a Tuesday, Enniskillen on a Wednesday, Galway on Thursday and come back to Belfast for a Friday night show with your mates and a few quid in your pocket. What happens to those who cross that border every day?“