A Decade of Commemorations in Ireland

Ireland Demands Home Rule - Photo: www.tcd.ie 2014 marks the centenary of the start of World War I. In Ireland (and Britain) it also marks a century since the narrow avoidance of a civil war.

In a strange twist of fate, the opening salvos of the guns of August 1914 in France came just in time to prevent bloodshed between Irish Nationalists, who wanted to separate from Britain, and Irish Unionists, who did not. The last self-governing Irish Parliament in Dublin had voted itself out of existence and into union with Britain in 1801. Supporters of some form of renewed Irish self-rule campaigned from early in the nineteenth century to reverse the process; some by political means, some by violent actions. Neither approach had had much success.

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Irish Library, English Books

Just a few hundred yards from the Pantheon in Paris, tourists who wander slightly astray will happen upon a narrow street where the Irish flag flies.  This is the rue des Irlandais and the building over which the green, white and orange tricolour flies is the Centre Culturel Irlandais – the Irish Cultural Centre in the heart of the French capital’s Left Bank. The Irish presence in the area goes back well over three centuries.

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Historical Quotes

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, 'This was their finest hour.'
Winston Churchill