Lord Bannside (Dr Paisley) visit to Dublin: Part 2

On Thursday, 3rd June 2010 Lord Bannside (Dr Paisley), Baroness Paisley and I made a courtesy call on the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, (a) at Government Buildings. There we had morning tea with the Taoiseach and his Secretary General Dermot McCarthy. Following this we visited Leinster House, where we were received by the Ceann Comhairle (a) (Seamus Kirk TD) and Cathaoirleach (a) (Senator Pat Moylan) and introduced to Party Leaders. We were then escorted to the distinguished visitors’ gallery in the Dail for the “Order of Business”. Ceann Comhairle (a) acknowledged us and welcomed us to listen to the debate, which was boisterous. We then departed Dail Eireann (a) for Seanad Eireann (a), where we were acknowledged and welcomed by the Cathaoirleach (a).

Following this we visited the National Museum of Ireland, where we were greeted by the Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, Mary Hanafin TD and Director Dr. Pat Wallace. It was indeed a pleasure to see Mary Hanafin again. As Minister of Education and Science she had been the first member of the Government of the Republic of Ireland to attend the Somme Association’s Services of Remembrance at the Ulster Tower, Thiepval and Guillemont on the Somme Battlefield. And cultural tourism will indeed be essential in the economic recovery of both parts of the island. Together we viewed the National Treasures, particularly the metal work of the Monastic period, the Broighter Gold Hoard and the Shankill Crozier. Baroness Paisley had been presented by the Taoiseach with a “Tara” brooch and we saw the original. We were also shown the Ardagh Chalice, and objects from the Neolithic Bronze and Iron Age periods in Ireland.

I have had a long association with the Farset Youth and Community Development now on the Springfield Road in Belfast, out of which I formed the Somme Association. Farset continues to involve people from both sides of the divide in an exploration of their shared inheritance. It is appropriately sited to explore this inheritance, not simply because the citizens of Belfast are the predominant inheritors of the Ancient British or Cruthin Kingdom of Dalaradia, but because its location provides simple evidence of the continuity of that inheritance. In the Project’s catchment area flows the river Farset from which it takes its name. Close to the river once stood an old church mentioned in the document of 1306 as the “Ecclesia Alba” or White Church. The place name for this “old church” An tSeanchill (b), first documented in the 17th Century, has been anglicised as “Shankill”.

The old church has long since gone but its graveyard continued to be used for burial for succeeding generations. We were able to view the three fragments from the 9th Century Crozier found in the graveyard which now reside in the National Museum. These fragments along with the bullaun stone still found in the graveyard and now mounted near to the door of the adjoining St. Matthew’s Church provide evidence of pre-Norman ecclesiastical activity. Equally significant the medieval parish of Shankill not only embraced the Falls as one of its native divisions, was also directly linked to the monastery at Bangor. A church document of 1615 lists the chapel of Cromoge (c) located within the parish of Shankill as one of the six altarages or parochial chapels belonging to the monastery of Bangor where oblations might be presented and dues paid.

Imported objects from the Roman World are represented in the Museum by the most outstanding Irish Iron Age discovery made at the end of the 19th century during ploughing at Broighter, County Londonderry. This unusual group of gold objects consists of a model boat together with its fittings, a gold bowl with rings for suspension, two chains, two twisted collars and a large decorated collar with buffer terminals. The chain clasps are of a type which was widespread in the Mediterranean and it is clear that the objects were exotic imports possibly from Rome and Egypt. The two twisted collars appear to be of Southern British origin. The Broighter gold hoard was bought by the British Museum but claimed for Ireland under the normal conditions of treasure trove. Its claim was brought to the attention of the Westminster Parliament by the Irish Leader of the day, John Redmond MP whose bill to have it transferred to Dublin failed, though a Royal Commission was set up in 1898.

This Commission recommended that the objects go to Dublin on long term loan but the British Museum refused, and was subsequently brought to Court by the Crown. Crown’s Council fortunately was Edward Carson, the Irish Unionist Leader who was to become so significant a figure in Ulster’s history. Because of his efforts the Court declared the hoard to be treasure trove and Edward VII ordered its return to Dublin in 1903. This established the Museum, in the words of its then Director, Colonel G.T. Plunkett as a “National Museum”. In 1907 another Plunkett, Count George was made Director and the following year the Museum became the National Museum rather than the Dublin Museum of Science and Art. Count George was a strong nationalist and Home Ruler. He later had to retire when his son Joseph Mary Plunkett, a signatory of the 1916 proclamation, was executed. The then former Director was elected first Sinn Féin MP in the 1918 Roscommon bi-election and later first Minister for Arts in the Dáil of 1919.

Minister Hanafin then accompanied us to the National Library in Kildare Street, where we viewed the Northern Ireland Coat of Arms, registered in Dublin in 1924. The Great Seal and flag of Northern Ireland had been designed by the Ulster King of Arms, Neville Rodwell Wilkinson in 1923. He then entered into negotiations for the Coat of Arms ,which were completed by his Deputy, Thomas Ulrick Sadleir, and received a Royal Warrant under George V on August 2nd ,1924. The post of Ulster King of Arms, Herald of all Ireland, was created by the Crown (Edward VI) in 1552.It continued under this name until 1943, when the Office of Arms was transferred to the Government of Ireland, and renamed the Genealogical Office. It is now a branch of the National Library under the direction of the Chief Herald of Ireland. We were also able to see some of the oldest maps in Ireland , including those of the walled citadel of Mountjoy.

Accompanied by Minister of State for the Arts, Martin Mansergh, Bertie Ahern TD , the Director Peter Wyse-Jackson and Denis Carr of the Office of Public Works we toured the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. We then proceeded to Prospect Cemetery, Glasnevin where we were met by J Green, Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, with George McCulloch, cemetery manager. We were shown the Crypt of Daniel O’Connell and the graves of Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, Charles Stewart Parnell, Arthur Griffith, Maud Gonne, Countess Constance Markiewicz, James Larkin, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, Kevin O’Higgins, Erskine Childers and Gerard Manley Hopkins among others. We also saw the grave of Francis Browne, MC and bar, SJ , who took the last photographs of the Titanic and served with great distinction as a chaplain to the Irish Guards during the First World War. Present at the Battle of the Somme and in Flanders he is an iconic figure in the Somme Association. We finally attended a Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials, conducted by Lord Paisley.

We then returned to Farmleigh, where we were staying, for an informal dinner. This was hosted by Éamon Ó Cúiv TD, Minister for Social Protection, and Áine Úi Chúiv. Lord Paisley, Baroness Paisley and myself were joined by Maj Gen David O’Murchoe (retd) RBL, Ambassador Julian King, Tom Burke, Dublin Fusiliers Association, Dr Rory O’Hanlon TD, Dr John Horne, TCD, and John Kennedy, Principal Officer (Secretary General’s Office) and Paul McGarry, Principal Officer (Northern Ireland) of the Department of the Taoiseach, along with Denis Carr of the Office of Public Works. Farmleigh House was built mainly in the 1880’s by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the eponymous brewery, around a smaller Georgian edifice which he had purchased in 1873. He considered it “a rustic retreat”, his main residence being at 80 St Stephen’s Green, now Iveagh House, the Headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Iveagh, the old Cruthin territory in County Down was the ancestral home of the Guinness family.

Editor’s Notes

(a)Taoiseach; the Prime Minister
Ceann Comhairle; the chairman (or speaker) of Dáil Éireann
Cathaoirleach; the chairman (or speaker) of Seanad Éireann
Dáil Éireann; the lower house of the Irish Parliament
Seanad Éireann; the upper house, or Senate, of the Irish Parliament.

All these Irish Gaelic terms were introduced by De Valera’s Constitution of 1937, which passed the country by only a narrow majority. De Valera’s aim, and the declared aim of Fianna Fáil, the party which he founded, was to replace English as the common language of the country with Irish. To this end the constitution likewise introduced Éire (Gaelic for ‘Ireland’) as the official name for the country which term continues to be used on stamps, coins and for many other official uses. Yet opposition forced De Valera to accept the name ‘Ireland’ in his constitution as a subordinate name “in the English language” alone.

It’s obvious to most that modern Ireland has today rejected De Valera’s vision.

(b) sean ‘old’; cill [from Latin cella] [monk’s] ‘cell’ or, possibly, ‘church’

(c) today Cromac, an area of Belfast

Ed: Ian tells me that he has received photos from John Kennedy of the Taoiseach’s office. I
can’t load the photos on Impala for some reason, but you can view them on Paisley Visit on Mister Keep Fit viz.

1. Welcome to the National Museum of Ireland by Mary Hanafin & Dr Pat Wallace
2. At the National Museum with Dr Pat Wallace
3. Shankill Crozier
4. Broughter Gold Hoard
5. Tara Brooch

Dr Adamson tells me that Part 3 will be delayed until after he returns from the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme; the commemoration takes place on the site of the battle on 1st July. The Battle, one of the greatest of the First World War, opened on 1st July 1916 and lasted for several months. The strategic goal was to relieve German pressure on the French at Verdun, pressure which risked taking the French out of the War.

The British Army suffered 57,000 casulties on the first day, mainly from “Kitchener’s Army” of volunteers which included the 36th (Ulster) Division [recruited mainly from the preWar Ulster Volunteer Force]. In the latter stages of the battle, the Ulstermen fought alongside troops of thje 16th (Irish) Division [recruited mainly from the Irish National Volunteers]. Although British forces suffered terrible casulties, little ground was gained from the Germans.

To be continued.

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