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Archbishop Martin says Irish-American sentimentalism is incomprehensible: but it’s dangerous too

It hasn’t just been about singing ‘Danny Boy’: in Ulster it’s meant death and destruction

By on Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Archbishop Martin says Irish-American sentimentalism is incomprehensible: but it’s dangerous too

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, visiting Boston, gave a brave interview in that great, and very Catholic, City last week. Brave, because it contained the following response to the question as to whether or not he felt a connection between Ireland and Boston:

“I have no relatives in the United States of America, which is unusual for an Irishman. My father’s eldest brother’s children all emigrated to Canada . . . So I have no feeling for Irish-Americanism. I don’t understand it . . . American sentimentalism for a country they don’t know, it’s not my dish.” I, as it happens have some direct experience of Boston “Irish-Americanism”.

I had gone there for a discussion with the then Archbishop, Cardinal Law, who was in overall supervising control of the Anglican Use semi-jurisdiction, a kind of forerunner of the Ordinariate (I’ve been involved in all this for years).

The Cardinal introduced me to his secretary, then said, mischievously, Dr Oddie is an Englishman. Mrs so and so is Irish, he explained, as she glowered at me, she doesn’t like the English. Why not, I asked, puzzled: well because of the way you persecuted Irish Catholics, she said. Yes, I said, but they cruelly persecuted English Catholics, too, probably worse; I’m an English Catholic”. This was not a part of Catholic history of which she had been previously aware. She just knew that the Irish are supposed to hate the English.

Nor had she ever been to Ireland, about which she clearly knew nothing at all. I was an undergraduate in Dublin (one of the best decisions of my life) over fifty years ago, long before the vast improvement in Anglo-Irish relations that has taken place in recent years. In all my time there, including an extra postgraduate year, despite my evident Englishness I never once encountered anything but friendliness and courtesy.

From Irish Americans, I have through the years encountered a certain amount of discourtesy. “I’m Irish”, was the explanation, the first time I came across this phenomenon. “Really” I replied, genuinely puzzled, I wasn’t being a smartass; “you sound American to me: what part of Ireland do you come from?” He, too, had never been to Ireland. Neither had his father or his grandfather. But they all called themselves simply “Irish”, tout court.

“I don’t understand it”, said Archbishop Martin last week; “American sentimentalism for a country they don’t know, it’s not my dish”. Well, it’s not my dish, either. It can be entirely harmless, of course (though the real Irish do sometimes regard the phenomenon with puzzlement) and it does help the tourist trade. I remember, one St. Patrick’s day, in the entrance hall of a Dublin hotel, watching in astonishment as a group of Irish Americans, all dressed in bright emerald-green suits, stood drinking pints of bright green beer and smoking huge bright green cigars.

I expressed my amazement to the Hall porter, who simply replied, “Ah, sure, they’re enjoying themselves, and it does no harm”. Well, to be fair, it’s part, I suppose, not just of Irish American sentimentalism, but of a general tendency in the American mind to generate Disneyfied versions of other countries; but I’m not sure (certainly in countries which become over-reliant on the tourist trade) that that does no harm. Americans are a great and creative people. When you’re in America, the very many reasons there are to admire, respect and like them a lot quickly become very evident. That’s not always true outside the US (mind you, foreigners don’t always love the Brits who visit them, and neither do I).

Back to Ireland. Irish-American sentimentalism has been responsible for very much worse things than emerald-green suits: until 9/11 (when the penny finally dropped in the US, that you can’t on your own soil allow open and unimpeded support for terrorism abroad, either) it brought death and destruction as well. Only Libya supplied more financial aid and more weapons and logistical support to the Provisional IRA than Irish Americans did. The Provos were responsible for the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 630 civilians. But it was OK to collect money on the streets of Boston and New York for the funding of all this death and destruction as long as you knew the words and music to “Have you ever been across the sea to Ireland?” (answer, in most cases, no) and “Danny Boy”.

Archbishop Martin again: “Irish-Americanism… it’s not my dish”. Your Grace, many others feel the same, including (quite literally) thousands of widows and orphans in the six counties and throughout the rest of the UK, too. “Ah, sure, they do no harm”. Well, even about that small, peaceable, fuddled group of green beer drinkers, I begin to wonder: had none of them, perhaps walking down Fifth Avenue, ever reached into their wallets for a ten dollar bill, as someone approached them, smiling, with a bright green collecting box?

  • Guest

    I am not ‘Irish-American’. But I would be more careful about what you say.

    You imply that people who admire Ireland, or an idea of Ireland, or Ireland as it was, are funding terrorism. That is a pretty bold claim and you don’t really provide any backing for it except that the IRA was funded in America (was it?) and the IRA has ‘Irish’ in the title. Must it be that the ‘Irish-American sentimentalists’ funded the IRA? How many of them, exactly? Please avoid rash and unfounded claims.

    In addition, sentimentality for a smaller, community-like nation with a pervasive Catholic foundation seems to be a good thing. Ireland may or may not have been such a rosy picture, but I would say that is how people probably think of Ireland. Longing for such a place seems both understandable and desirable; why criticize ‘Irish-American’ associations that come together for their admiration of such a heritage, real or imagined?

  • J S

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that he was implying that people who were funding terrorism were funding terrorism, and that this could be motivated by a sentimentality that caused (some of) those to not really understand what they were doing, as sentimentality often does. There is a bit more to his piece than “IRA has Irish in the name, so American sentimentalists funded it,” and a bit less than “all Irish Americans funded the IRA”.

    I am an Irish-American, or so I’m told, but I don’t like beer, so maybe I don’t count.

  • SS1

    Don’t forget that the US played a decisive role in the Northern Ireland peace process, and has continued to play an important role in the economic regeneration that has followed. But for the presence of the Irish in America, it’s unlikely that the US would have concerned itself with the travails of a small country. Irish-America has been, in the main, a good thing. The fact that Archbishop Martin feels no affinity with it is neither here nor there.

  • W Oddie

    You don’t appear to be responding to my article but to something else. Why not read it, then comment, if you must.

  • W Oddie

    You, on the other hand, obviously have read it. Thank you.

  • The Big Fella

    A disappointingly shallow piece from Dr. Oddie, echoing an old and predictable view from Britain. Too much perhaps to expect some appreciation of the natural inclination of free peoples to resist occupation, or some reference to how the Irish Americans happened to end up in America?

  • Bwaj

    Did they? I don’t think so.

  • http://robkphd.myopenid.com/ robkphd

    Hmm. Good points, but I don’t think you understand Americans and our attachments well.

    We are all children of immigrants, and our families came here for various reasons. A branch or two of mine came from Ireland – other branches from Germany. Part of our many stories of those descended from Irish immigrants is how people fled Ireland in part because of English oppression. Like it or not, that is a part of our past – those of us with those roots. That many have never been to Ireland does not negate the family story. Perhaps a bit of respect to those who at least carry with them the heritage that their parents handed onto them is in order.

  • Ratbag

    Perhaps the ancestors of some of these Irish-Americans were thrown out of their homes by English landlords who have never even set foot in Ireland themselves. Perhaps the ancestors of some of these Irish-Americans were starved out of Ireland and just about survived to see the New World, either in Canada or the United States or Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Argentina.

    Do you honestly think, Mr Oddie, that generations hence would not have been told how they got to their new homes in the first place? Or that their own history would have an impact on them?

    Don’t forget the Americans fought the British themselves and declared their Independence, which is celebrated on the 4th July every year with fireworks, parades and festoons of stars, stripes, red, white and blue.

    And why not???

    The Americans used guns, bombs, cannons and swords in their fight for independence in a war fought between military men… NOT through terrorism, bombing, maiming and killing innocent people.

    How many Irish people in the USA would, in years past, closely relate to that aspiration? In 1916, the Irish at home gave it a darn good try… the rest we know only too well…

    The Irish-Americans – or wherever anyone with Irish roots come from – I am far more concerned about are those who do not lay any claim to the above and yet perpetuate the stereotypical Oirishness of green beer, paddywackery and begorrah; they think that those in Ireland itself are like them. These are the real ‘Plastic Paddies’ that get a rocket when they discover that Ireland is not like that.

    If you don’t know any Irish songs besides ‘Danny Boy’, ‘The Wild Rover’ and ‘The Fields of Athenry’… or that you think sinking barrels of any brand of Irish alcoholic beverage is a good excuse to sing rebel songs then you qualify as a ‘Plastic Paddy’!

    However, the term ‘Plastic Paddy’ should never be used in relation to the Irish, or those of Irish descent, who help promote Ireland, take an active interest in their history, culture and current affairs (and who have knowledge of the history behind well-known rebel songs… and Orange songs… enough to educate people whose brains are not marinading in alcohol) and try their best to help Ireland financially – just like the emigrants did in years past… to the tune of £5BILLION!

    Some Jewish businesspeople take an active interest in Israel, so why stick one’s nose up at the idea that Irish people abroad are now being asked to do the same?

    It is often said – and, by and large it is true – that the Irish abroad are more Irish than those in Ireland.

    I’m one of them.

    In my experience of visiting relatives or on pilgrimage to Ireland, I try my best to melt into the place and not stick out like a sore thumb.

    The world’s first St Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in the 1700′s.

    That’s why Boston is a very Irish place – think John F Kennedy…

  • The Big Fella

    Anyone thinking that Boston is still “very Catholic” should read Phil Lawler’s “The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture” (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faithful-Departed-Collapse-Bostons-Catholic/dp/1594032114/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303233934&sr=8-1)

  • Caitlin ni Griobhtha

    Mr. Oddie:

    This is a very superficial, one-sided, offensive, and frequently idiotic article.

    My grandparents all immigrated from Ireland in the early 20th C. Unlike your stereotypes, the family has kept in touch; due to our incomes, I have been to Ireland only 3 times; few of my cousins have visited America. We write letters & now e-mail each other. Is this the mindless sentimentalism you, and Archbishop Martin, deplore, or is it family affection?

    NONE of my family has ever indulged in green beer or green cigars, which is YOUR very false image of the Irish-American in Ireland. I have seen a poor soul in an emerald green suit; he was an Ecuadorian hired by an “Irish” bar on East 40th St.

    You ignorantly imagine that every Irish-American supports terrorism; to “prove” that, you imagine bright-green collection boxes on the streets of Boston (really NOT an observant Catholic community! think the Kennedy heathens) and NYC. Show a photo, please. Evidence please. Your personal, unproven remarks just show your personal opinion.

    Your “point” is that Irish-American “sentimentalism” is responsible for everything bad that has occurred in Ireland since 1916. Presumably you “think” that Rev. Ian Paisley, Orange Lodge terrorists, British Army “security forces, etc.,” are all Irish-American Catholics??

  • Gregory Murphy

    Perhaps. However, (without getting into the tiresome “internet anonymity” debate) it would be good to see some surnames on here. For I speak as someone who, at 21, realised he was quite English when Houghton looped that header over Shilton in Stuttgart back in 88 (you, of course, know of that to which I refer) and I witnessed all sorts of faux-paddywhackery around me from people I had, hitherto, assumed to be English. I reasoned that, given that the bulging net appalled me, and that I had been born in England and that both of my parents had also, that I was, in fact, English (despite the fact that two of my four grandparents hailed from Drogheda and Cobh and a third, a Scot, from Coatbridge). Really, at which point does an Englishman become an Englishman, or, for that matter, an American an American?

    I, too, experienced the “it’s because I’m Irish” anti-English syndrome from an “American-Irishman” in Mexico several years ago and then listened to a story of how “great, great, great, great, great Grandpa Tim…”. And yet he was disdainful of me because I was “English”! Then, on discovering my very recent, certainly by comparison, family history, he was confident enough to inform me that I’m not English at all and, like him, I am an Irishman.

    Utter nonsense.

    Moreover, though I know intuitively and accountably that I owe my Catholicism to my Irish ancestry, I have also witnessed the toxic (yes) effects that the peculiar “Irish Catholicism” of Liverpool has had, to a greater or lesser degree, on the faith in this Archdiocese in which I’ve generally always resided. The tendency towards a schmaltzy, over-sentimental, borderline superstitious, Catholicism that characterises much (not all) of “Liverpool Catholicism” is a direct legacy of the tribal aspects of imported Irish Catholicism which, by the middle of the 20th century, was more keen to define itself by what it wasn’t (Anglo) rather than by what it was, or should have been (truly Roman). It ultimately proved itself to have so little substance that all it took for it to be all but obliterated was for a Catholic Archbishop and a Church of England Bishop to be seen walking along a Liverpool street “together”, circa 1980, for both sides to giddily declare “ahhh, for shure, we’re all the same aren’t we?”. Great, let’s pour some “black stuff”.

    The lasting legacy is a faith eroded and a ridiculous surfeit of century-old churches built with the pennies of Irish immigrants, in hideous disproportionality to the population of the city and the Archdiocese of Liverpool, that were full to the seams in 1911 and represent little more than houses built on sand in 2011.

    Lastly, typing as an Englishman, who observes March 1, March 17, April 23 and November 30, I’d have to point out that I’d sooner nod to a national flag with a red Christian Cross proudly emblazoned across it rather than the dubious, deliberately Cross-avoiding, awkward rationale for the three slabs of migraine-colour on bratach na hÉireann.

  • Oconnor17

    “I begin to wonder: had none of them, perhaps walking down Fifth Avenue, ever reached into their wallets for a ten dollar bill, as someone approached them, smiling, with a bright green collecting box?”
    I am sure it’s likely many did. As I grew up in Ireland in the 70′s and 80′s we also believed they didn’t realise the damage they were enabling.
    Whereas the catholics priests who heard the terrorists confessions, served them communion and encouraged, if not actively supported them are far more culpable.
    My advice Mr. Oddie would involve mentioning a pot and kettle discussing colours.

  • The Big Fella

    And here we have it! Good old-fashioned dislike of the Irish. You and Dr. Oddie clearly share this sentiment. Get over yourselves.

  • Gregory Murphy

    How you’ve reached your conclusion is beyond me. In Catholic charity, however, it’s probably best to cease the correspondence.

  • Bill Logan

    Are you unfamiliar with George Mitchell’s role in the peace process?

  • The Big Fella

    No peace process without the United States, and thank God for them. The Americans had to act as guarantor of the agreement, an essential requirement due to Britain’s record of murder, torture and general untrustworthiness in Ireland. How proud we are of our American cousins. So forgive us if we treat this sneering article with disdain.

  • Sandy O’Seay

    Well, this is a one sided, uninformed and biased article. My family immigrated to America in 1693. I have a great interest in Ireland, have been there four times and would not come within a mile of a green beer. I would point out to you that, as bad as the PIRA was, the terrorists associated with the Orange Order are equally despicable and are responsible for at least as many deaths. England occupying the north of Ireland is very much like Canada occupying New England.

    Sandy O’Seay

  • W Oddie

    I’m not defending the protestant terrorists either, of course I’m not. Or the B specials.. But your reference to the orange order and your preposterous claim that loyalists killed as many as the provos shows 1) that your view is as biassed as mine 2 that it is very much less based on the facts long since accepted by anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

  • W Oddie

    Of course Catholic priests who encouraged the provos (and they did exist) were despicable. But there were far more like Mgr Denis Faul, who took their lives in his hands every time they denounced the provos

  • W Oddie

    I didn’t say that every Irish american supported terrorism: simply that many did. That’s undeniable. Your final paragraph is grotesque: I never claimed anything remotely like this.

  • W Oddie

    Don’t you dare accuse me of disliking the irish. I love Ireland and the Irish. But that’s because unlike many so-called American “Irish” who’ve never even been there, I ACTUALLY KNOW THEM. “Big Fella” be damned.

  • Wilsonia

    You’re a couple of hundred years late with this essay, mate.

  • Joshua Fahey

    I have to say that this article was interesting, my feelings on the contents were truly ambivalent. Okay enough of wordy words.

    I am a Catholic American, in fact an Irish German Russian Italian French Canadian American (“So, what does that make us?”, “Absolutely nothing! Which is what you’ll be!”). This so-called ‘Irish Americanism’ isn’t confined to Irish Americans and Ireland, so I’ll call it American sentimentalism. As for why and how this phenomenon exists, my theory is that many people were forced out of their homes because of oppression and starvation, then thrown into an alien culture that became more or less hostile toward the newcomers. The combination created a bond among these families and reinforced the pride of having come from X (Ireland, China, Germany, etc.) so much so that generations later we still follow and modify traditions that were started because of that. This identity phenomenon combined with a lack of a strong unifying culture (God knows that some have tried, and we somewhat have something like that now, somewhat) is partially the basis of American sentimentalism. This may be why it is incomprehensible to those who haven’t grown up in this environment, just as much as it is incomprehensible to me that anyone would call a dish they were eating Spotted Dick.

    As for sentimentalism being dangerous, I agree. The list of what is dangerous also includes God, St. George, and baseball. Sentimentalism is a shallow point of a deep pool, if allowed to mature correctly it will lead to an empathy and an understanding woven into our culture. I hope that this happens to my country, the alternative seems too dreadful to contemplate.

    I do apologize for my pretentiousness, no offense is intended.

    God bless,
    >P<
    Joshua Fahey

  • Jeannine

    ” “I’m Irish”, was the explanation, the first time I came across this phenomenon. ”

    This self-identifying ethnicity in America occurs not just with the Irish but with all “recent” large group of immigrants (2 or 3 generations back the earliest) who have not married outside the tribe. Once the children do marry outside their ethnicity & have their own children, it becomes less & less pronounce in the succeeding generations, generally.

    I also think it has something to do with the lack of common history among the immigrant groups & the country being so young in relative terms. I bet Great Britain, Italy, Spain, France, & Prussia had similar problems when they were in their nation-building period, trying to unite the various tribes within their respective borders.

  • The Big Fella

    Just think about this for a minute (for clearly you didn’t do much thinking about your article). So you love us and our country, do you? You condemn our cousins who’ve never been here. The cheek! Maybe if your countrymen hadn’t been here, our people wouldn’t have had to leave in the coffin ships. You condemn our cousins who showed solidarity with us while combat troops poured into our country from yours, while your government tortured prisoners, suspended human rights, operated kangaroo courts, directed loyalist death squads, and behaved in line with an established pattern going back centuries. No mention of any of these little details in your article. As I say, the cheek of you! I for one thank God for Irish America! (And God is the One who will determine who is “damned”, Dr. Oddie).

  • Oconnor17

    Indeed there were heroes of honour amongst the clergy. But I found they were far outnumbered by priests in the (safe) South who gave tacit encouragement to “The Cause”. In fact the further south and safe the less tacit their speech was.
    Rather to make the point in a flippant manner, it’s hard to blame a tourist who is stupid enough to drink green beer thinking it shows his identity, when a clergyman, resident and national, will allow these crimes to be committed unchallenged.
    I don’t think I am being unfair by using priests in this debate as I am replying to an article based on your comments. I also insist that clergy of any cloth need to be held to a far higher standard of judgement than any “unordained” person.

  • Oconnor17

    Sorry this was a reply to the author in an earlier comment. As such it is out of place in the debate…

  • Oconnor17

    “I do apologize for my pretentiousness, no offense is intended.”

    No apology needed.

    Your family history is a great example for the “Melting Pot” example.
    Much more valuable than “Multiculturism”
    The question is not whether you are sentimental about history and culture. What’s important is does your family live a better life than they would in their native countries.
    There are many following questions which could be asked but they are pretty much irrelevant.

  • Oconnor17

    This is one of the few debates/comments where I think everyone has put forward a valid point.

    I do think we have forgotten a serious fact. We now have instant access to information about the world. If we disbelieve a report we can with a touch of fingers try to figure out the facts. (I did not use the word truth).

    At that time each side were fed information through channels that were controlled by the groups with most to gain. Be it TV, newspapers, newsletter, gossip or plain propaganda.

    Remember even history is written by the victors.

    I think the worst of human impulses is to blame someone else for your problems. In the recent past we never knew who “someone else” was but we should be a lot smarter now.

    I hate tree hugging hippie types but I thought I needed to point it out…

  • bt

    Hmmm….as an American living in Seattle (not Boston) with Irish heritage as well, I guess I can see where there could be a danger, but as someone who has been trying to plunk out Irish tunes on the piano the last few days, and who has been researching our beloved composer broadway George Cohan, I have to say there are many upsides to the link. The American family across the street has visited their relatives in Ireland a few times. Another family of Irish descent in our parish goes back to Ireland regularly. My brother’s wife is Thai. Their two children enjoy Irish music, and in fact, the one child’s gradeschool class sang Galway Bay to their parish priest, who is of Irish descent. In fact, I hope my nephews get to visit Ireland some day. This year I bought them a book on the life of St. Patrick, so they would realize that the importance of the day is in St. Patrick’s converting an entire nation. We also celebrated the 17th with corned beef and soda bread. Can learning about a saint and enjoying good food with family not be a bad tradition, even if it is infused with sentimentalism? I have read St. Patrick’s confession. Even if my link to the country is touched with sentimentalism, I believe I have been enriched by exploring this link. I think the link here, in fact, goes transcends the sentimental, but like with all human family relationships, there can be evil as well as good, and it is part of our work in this life to root out and avoid the evil. I have never sent a dollar to the IRA. I hope to visit Ireland some day.

  • Jack

    would the Archbishop also urge Irish Americans to discontinue sending money to Irish churches, missionaries, and religious orders?

  • The Big Fella

    How uplifting it is to hear how you and yours are savouring your rich Irish heritage. Please don’t feel that you have to tone this down in any way to suit people like Dr. Oddie, a man who clearly has problems with us (his, not ours, I may add). Your Irish heritage fully belongs to you. It’s been bought and paid for with the blood of your ancestors. God bless you and your family! Or as we say in our ancient faith-filled Irish language, Dia agus Muire Dhaoibh (May God and Mary be with you).

  • The Big Fella

    So now our priests are “despicable”? Is there no end to the depths you will stoop to insult us, Dr. Oddie? There are limits! I am beginning to wonder just what kind of man you are. It has long been (12th century onwards) a source of frustration for Englishmen that our Holy Mother Church steadfastly refuses to order the Irish to bend our knee to the likes of you. I think you really have done enough damage with this article and your follow up comments! Desist.

  • Patt

    I know what you are talking about. I learned of this friction in childhood, mother’s family form Ireland (1900′s)
    father’s from London (1835). They joked about it, but never dwelled on it. I don’t know about other families, but the Irish side of mine was always looking for a fight–an attitude that was not appreciated by me.

  • AgingPapist

    In New Jersey you have thousands of people who will immediately introduce themselves as “Irish”, or “Italian”, or “German”. The vast majority of the so-called “Irish”, have never stepped outside of the New Jersey-New York metropolitan area, let alone been to Ireland. They are the most clueless Irish to be found anywhere. They know little or nothing about Ireland. The same is true of Irish-Americans in Philadelphia over in neighboring Pennsylvania.
    Those fortunate enough to visit the “old country”, learn little about it, but use their travels there to find reinforcement for their own uninformed ideas of Ireland. So many Irish Americans do not grasp the totality of the Irish people’s rejection of the Church, it’s teachings, and it’s hierarchy after the sexual abuse scandals.

  • AgingPapist

    A nice piece of utter blarney. The Irish Americans are the most uninformed Irish in the world, as well as the least traveled to the “old country”. Their perpetual bellyaching and whining about how badly they’ve been treated down through the centuries really is a terrible bore!!! Next to the Armenians, they never cease getting a thrill from laying their troubles upon the first person they meet and recounting their history of suffering and misery. Enough already!!!

  • Daniel

    Good article. One small point of inaccuracy, though – Archbishop Martin has not been raised to the cardinalate (yet) and should not, therefore, be referred to as ‘Your eminence’.

  • Horace Zagreus

    The sort of bizarre logic that creates “Irish-Americans” presumably makes me Romano-British.

  • http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/ The Catholic Herald

    Thank you for pointing this out. We have now corrected it.

  • W Oddie

    I didn’t say your priests were despicable at all , I defended most of them (why can’t you read what people actually say?): but i do say that any priest who supported the murdering terrorists who killed so many men women and children WAS despicable. And if you support what the provos did, then so are you. I will not desist from saying THAT. Most Irish people I know would agree with me. But are you Irish (that is, from Ireland itself) or are you American? I notice you don’t say.

  • Leonard

    Terrorism is always wrong and to be condemned. Most American Irish have had nothing to do with it. Sentimental love for Celtic Ways is a large part of Americanism and the roots of much American Culture and Art in both Catholic and Protestant circles. I think the Good Bishop should condemn support for the IRA but be more careful not to, “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Slapping American Catholic Irish in the face for deads of American Pagan Irishmen is a stupid thing to do especially if you are a Bishop.

  • gloria

    This is extremely insulting.
    In New York City where I grew up, among mostly working class first and second gereration Irish Americans, no one I knew supported terrorists. And although it was comforting to share a common heritage with others in such a mix of different people, Irishness was not our primary identity.
    There are way more of us here than there are in Ireland and most have been too busy caring for this country, to worry about England or Ireland.
    I suggest Archbishop Martin visit other American cities.
    And I suggest Mr.Oddie refrain from siting imaginary scenarios to accuse us of supporting murder.

  • Big Irish

    There is no totality about it.

    Don’t be so general as to say the Irish people have rejected the Church. It’s just not the case.

  • Big Irish

    “Have you ever been across the sea to Ireland?” isn’t a song… its “If you ever go across the sea to Ireland…” and its the first line of “Galway Bay”.

  • The Big Fella

    We do not need you to judge our priests, thank you – we’ve had enough unwanted inputs from your side of the Irish Sea. My issue with your article concerns your stunning hypocracy, and your seeing of only the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. I assume you paid taxes to the British government during the period of its sordid little war in our country? If you did so without objection, one assumes that you were happy to fund the murder and mayhem that was visited upon our people for all those years? Your comments about our priests bring to mind the likes of Father Hugh Mullan of Belfast, may God have mercy on him, murdered in cold blood by your country’s Parachute Regiment “heroes”, for the crime of going to the aid, white flag in hand, of a parishioner shot by these same gentlemen. I pray for you Dr Oddie, but in the meantime get off our backs!

  • Weary Convert

    Rather unusually I fully agree with Mr Oddie on this item and find it extraordinary that so many Irish, former Irish, would-be Irish and the like, make such a fuss. The comment to which I am specifically replying and on which I am intrigued is from the gentleman who calls himnself “The Big Fella.” Was not that the nickname for Michael Collins who tried to leave terrorism behind him and had the courage to sign the famous treaty and was later murdered in cold blood by anti-Treaty Irish? Does that mean that the gentleman posting having taken that name (assuming I am correct), supports the position of Collins rather than de Valera, a Spanish-American-Irish terrorist who ended his life so respectable that the Pope awarded him the highest order he could find (St Pius or something like that?).

  • W Oddie

    I see that you don’t deny supporting the provos. Did you, or not? I’m entitled to ask. This has nothing to do with my attitude to the Irish clergy (though I may simply interject that if it weren’t for them, i probably wouldn’t be a Catholic now). And when the English security forces behaved excessively, nobody defends them. But this has to do with luring innocent civilians to their deaths by bogus emergency calls, and all the other filthy murdering tricks of the provos’ arsenal. Do you, or do you not, support THAT?

  • The Big Fella

    Once again your hypocracy seeps through your posts. As a faithful Catholic, I will not play the role of apologist for anyone who takes life, unlike you, who characterise British terrorism in Ireland (such as murdering priests and children) and as mere “excessive” behaviour, as opposed to “filthy murdering tricks” on the Irish side. Would you listen to yourself please? What this has to do with, Dr. Oddie, is you taking an innocuous point made by Archbishop Martin, then stretching and twisting it to manufacture an insult to the Irish, betraying an unfortunate age-old prejudice, in an article that really is too lightweight to warrant publication. I have made my point. And you have shown who you are. As I say, get off our backs.

  • Guest

    Mr. Oddie,

    I did indeed read your article, and I assume you read my post; snide remarks are not the way to carry on civil dialogue.

    I do not think you can escape the criticism that you are overreaching in your article. You are attempting to draw a connection between Irish-American sentimentalism and IRA terrorism. You have suppositions based on common sense, but not on facts. You do not consider other suppositions that could be made from common sense, like what could be good about these Irish-American sentimentalists. (You also misconstrue what the Archbishop said. “I do not understand it.” is not the same thing as “It is incomprehensible.”)

    It is an appeal to common sense notion that an undiscerning person (like a sentimentalist) might give money to whomever solicits them when that solicitation is attached to a sentiment. But that charge is levelable at any undiscerning person. You suppose it is “dangerous” in one case, but you do not discuss any other. For that reason, you seem to single out persons wearing Irish colors. Don’t we need some more evidence before we start calling affections dangerous? Especially given the possibly harmless, or beneficial, effects of this sentiment (which you did not see fit to respond to).

    In sum, you have made a poor argument. You might be right; Irish-American sentimentalism might be dangerous. But your article does not help to judge whether that is the case or how true that is. As I said, perhaps too subtly, if Irish-American sentimentalism has been the motivation for providing monetary contributions to terrorism, how much has it done so? Are 99% of such people guilty? Or 1%?

    You broadly accuse and make no distinctions.