Page 11, 21st May 1937

21st May 1937
Page 11
Page 11, 21st May 1937 — Irish Letter

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Locations: Cookstown, Dublin, Belfast, Derry


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Irish Letter


From Our Dublin Correspondent The speed of present-day events makes Coronation Day seem distant, but I must go back to that for some of my news, of which you are likely to have read only broken reports.

May 12 was a day of brilliant and unbroken sunshine, like the rest of the week. Farmers worked all the week from dawn to dusk, getting in the crops, which are more backward than in any year that I can recall; so the week's sunshine and dryness was a true God-send.

In the North, the party tension continued, and there were many violent incidents; but it is pleasant indeed to chronicle

the action of one big employer. This decent man gave all his Catholic workers a fortnight's holiday with pay, thus removing them from the persecution which is considered the mark of loyalty under the " Protestant parliament for a Protestant people.When the hubris of the Coronation has evaporated, it will be safe for an Irish Catholic to work in an Irish mill again.

Dublin Demonstrations

In Dublin, there were some deplorable scenes. On the eve of Coronation Day, certain extreme groups called a demonstration, which the Government banned, as calculated to disturb the peace. Crowds assembled, but were kept moving. Some rowdy groups got out of hand and smashed shop windows.

Next day, Labour called a demonstration in honour of James Connolly, whose anniversary it was—he was executed, a wounded man in a chair, on May 12, twenty-one years ago. There were speeches in College Green, and one speaker said that the rowdiness of the night before would have been avoided if the Government had permitted an open meeting.

However, all was not to pass off quietly; for next morning, at eight o'clock, the lofty equestrian statue of King George 11 in St. Stephen's Green was blown to bits by a time bomb which, presumably, was planted overnight. This statue was about 160 years old, and was much admired by Dr. W. B. Yeats, the poet, who wrote to the Irish Times saying that he would go into mourning for its shattered beauty, but that his only black suit was worn out.

Coronation Films Stopped

Another impact of British events was seen in the cinematograph world. A deputation called on the rulers of the cinematograph trade and asked that no Coronation films, other than the short " takes " in the newsreels, be shown in Free State houses, and the trade agreed to this request.

The feeling of many of us is that these unofficial measures and the rows and explosions weaken the national dignity. It should be for the official representatives of the nation to decree what may or may not be shown, done or said, and a disciplined people behind its Government would be stronger. One recalls what the patriot Thomas Davis wrote on this head, ninety years ago, for all time.

School Books

At this season, the reading-books for the next school year come on the market. 1 looked through a counter full of new books in an educational shop this week.

A great, and much needed, improvement is noticeable in the readers in the Irish language. Children now start with Gaelic and go a considerable way before they take up English as a secondary language. Hence, the standard of books in Irish is of the highest importance; for they now become the foundation of literary culture.

Compilers of Gaelic readers, of course, have a narrow field of selection. seeing that Gaelic hooks have not been produced year after year in abundance. It is good to find that they are making more use of Irish proverbial verse and folk song, while the collections made by the Irish Folklore Institute yield tales that are both simple and racy. I have before me a new series named after St. Brigid, and admire the splendid literary quality, with the true marks of a Catholic and patriotic culture. It is a mark of the progress made in education through Irish that the best Gaelic poetry of the last three centuries is used here, for the education of children in elementary schools.

English, not so Good

So high a standard, I think. has not been attempted in English in our schools in recent times. As English is started late, the usual course now is abbreviated and scaled down as to difficulty.

The new English readers that are out are infused with new material, bearing on the native culture, and the place of Eng lish classical poetry is dwindling. I think that we are likely to lose familiarity with the English poets, but to arrive in some years, at a simple, hardy English, such as is written by a large number of Irish authors whose native language is Gaelic, and whose English is not rich in polysyllabic Latinisms—but may be none the worse for that.

We are, in effect, in transit between two cultures, with neither language is a satisfactory state. It may seem paradoxical, but I believe it true that English will be better taught when it comes to be taught as a strange language. That is seen in Gaelic-speaking districts, where the children hear no English save at school, and then acquire an accurate knowledge and are conspicuously correct speakers. Meanwhile, this year marks a great advance in the standard of school Irish.

Dublin Labour March

We saw a big labour march during the week, by the Dublin unemployed and strikers of the building trade. A big strike has begun in the Dublin clothing industry, too, and another industrial stoppage is threatened in Belfast. These are symptoms of a social malaise that has nothing to do with politics or economics—like the flight into emigration. Last week, I heard of whole families migrating from the most prosperous Southern counties, leaving excellent employment to join in the wander-fever.

Slump in Spain Interest

Owing to the interruption in posts at holiday time. I will be unable to send this week an account of Father Gabana's lecture, delivered at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, under the auspices of the Irish Christian Front. The bringing of Father Gabafia to Ireland is the best thing the I.C.F. has done, and is even overdue.

Though interest in Spanish affairs has cooled, owing to the long-drawn out struggle and the proximate withdrawal of the Irish Brigade, the truth from Spain still is sorely needed; for we still are getting little more than biassed newsagency reports. such as those about Guernica.

Death of Many Clergy

Death is preying on our clergy. The archdiocese of Armagh, in particular, has lost numbers of priests by untimely death of late, and especially among young men. The last to be lost is Canon John McLaughlin. P.P., V.F.. Cookstown, who has died while comparatively young. He was a brother of Senator McLaughlin of the Northern Parliament.

Parliamentary Elections

in Derry, a Nationalist city within the Six County area, Mr. Patrick Maxwell, solicitor, has been returned unopposed as

Nationalist Member of Parliament. He was proposed by the Bishop of Derry. The Standard points out that the utterly unopposed return of a Catholic Nationalist Member in the second city of the North is a nice sidelight on the " Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People."

Meanwhile, at Downpatrick. where St. Patrick. St. Brigid and St. Colincille lie —though it is outside the effective realm of the National Parliament—a Catholic youth was beaten by five Orange roughs to celebrate the Coronation, and is lying in danger of his life, according to reports.

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