To Hell or Barbados

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Mon Nov 6 22:32:46 MST 2000

The enslavement of Irish and their transportation to the Caribbean is
certainly an interesting, and rarely covered, part of Irish history (or
British oppression in Ireland).

It's also interesting to look at British representations of the Irish in
the 1800s.  Most of the ape-like depictions of Africans during and after
the European 'scramble for Africa' in the late 1800s can be found in an
earlier form in relation to the Irish.  Irish peasants, especially the
rebellious ones, are over and over again depicted with extremely simian
features in British papers and magazines - this reaches its most extreme
with the Fenian era and the Land War.  Sometimes the irish are presented as
reptiles and even fish.  My favourite is the 'Irish Devil Fish'.

A good book to check out on this score is 'Apes and Angels'.

The only problem I have with the article from the Sunday Business Tribune
is the reference to the Holocaust.  Cromwell was a murdering bastard in
Ireland, but the Cromwellian conquest was not the same as the Holocaust.
The current trend to bandy about this word ends up relativising the
*actual* Holocaust and thus trivialising it.  The Holocaust should be left
to refer to the planned extermination of an entire people (or all the ones
that could be grabbed) - the Jews - by the Nazis.

Ireland has been viciously oppressed and exploited by Britain, and the
Irish people have paid a very heavy price in underdevelopment, blood, pain
and misery, but there was not a *holocaust* in Ireland.

Philip Ferguson

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