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Oliver Cromwell Expresses Feelings Of Many Irish Men

Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658)

Oliver Cromwell is still a figure of hatred in Ireland, considered a regicide dictator with his name being associated with massacre, religious persecution, and mass dispossession of the Catholic community.  A traditional Irish curse still used is ‘mallacht Chromail ort ‘ or translated into English ‘the curse of Cromwell upon you ‘.

On 15th August 1649 Oliver Cromwell landed at Ringsend,Dublin, with an army of over 3,000 battle hardened ‘Ironsides‘. The civil war in England had come to an end, and King Charles I had been executed seven months previously.

In Ireland the Roman Catholics had been in revolt since 1641 and now held much of the island. They had in general taken the King’s side, encouraged by the Church of Rome, though some inhabitants had observed that in England’s civil war internal turmoil a chance existed to restore independence to Ireland.

From Dublin Cromwell marched north to Drogheda, which was defended by an English Catholic Royalist, Sir Arthur Aston. When Cromwell’s surrender demand was ignored, he stormed the city ordering the death of every man in the garrison who held arms, describing his actions as “a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches“. The nearby garrisons at Dundalk and Trim, on learning the news, ‘took to their heels’.

Realising he had secured the route into Ulster, Cromwell turned on the south eastern port of Wexford town, slaughtering townspeople and the garrison alike. Neighbouring towns quickly submitted.

Oliver Cromwell’s campaign ended with an assault on Clonmel here in Co.Tipperary, where, after some stout resistance, the defenders withdrew, under the cover of darkness.

But the reign of Oliver Cromwell was not all bad, under his rule in England the contract between a monarch and his subjects was analysed and clearly defined.  An elected representative must represent the best interests of his electorate and each subjects must obey the law of the land, as represented in the person of that elected individual.
Cromwell established that a parliament exists only to serve its electorate, and not the other way round. He demonstrated that governments were fully answerable to their subjects for any wrong doing. Under his leadership the reigning king, Charles 1, indeed was executed for the treason of ‘making war on his own people‘.

He demonstrated that good organisation and administration was more important in government than any  social position, to get things done properly and that leadership can exist at all levels of a country’s society. He invited the expelled Jewish community to return to England, following their 400 years in exile, and thus began massive expansion of financial and trading services across Europe with England as the centre. Further proof of his appreciated governance is that in a 2002 BBC poll, in Britain, Cromwell was selected as one of the ‘Top 10 Britons’ of all time.

Cromwell’s principles of government have in the past been quoted by American colonists to justify their rebellion against British rule, by moderate French Revolutionaries, by the 1830 revolutionary leaders of Paris, by the 1848 revolutionary leaders of Vienna and Paris, by Frederick Engels in the Communist Manifesto, and by early Trade Union pioneers. His ideas have become relevant to many societies and world governments where it became necessary to overthrow tyranny and reckless greedy corruption.

His speech to the House of Commons on 20th April 1653, just minutes prior to him dissolving the Long Parliament, perhaps expresses the true feelings of many politically disillusioned men and women in the Ireland of 2011.

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice. Ye are a factious crew, (Exp: Given to promoting internal dissension) and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would, like Esau, sell your country for a mess of pottage or like Judas, betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God.

Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes, have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here, by the people, to get grievances redressed, are yourselves gone!

So!  Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

You have sat too long, for any good you have been doing lately.  Depart, I say; and let us have done with you.  In the name of God, go!”

Where can we find an Oliver Cromwell in 2011?

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3 comments to Oliver Cromwell Expresses Feelings Of Many Irish Men

  • Proinsias Barrett

    Interpretation of historical events is unfortunately a selective process, influenced by one’s own ‘positionality’ in relation to events, characters, outcomes, reasons etc. Like a child given free reign at the ‘pick-n-mix’ sweet counter in a supermarket, bag in one hand and scoop in the other they proceed to make selections based on what they like and just leave the rest out.

  • Thank God for the ability to speak freely and without censorship. Thank God for freedom of expression, to search out, receive and impart information and ideas, based on our own interpretations. Are not every man’s stated views, influenced by his positionality and postmemory?

  • Rudd

    To sum it all up; A cruel vicious pig of a man, like a lot of the English, who themselves have always had a cruel streak in them, and are not to be trusted.

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