IRISH IDEAS

By William O'Brien

Page 39

A GEM OF MISGOVERNMENT IN IRELAND

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her royal sister a state visit at Hampton Court, patronised the great Queen as graciously as the Emperor William patronises his grandmother; and, in strictest historical truth, the Irish Princess, who, throughout Spanish wars and Irish rebellions innumerable, managed to keep her head on her shoulders and save her dominions, and even practise her religion to her dying day, was a woman worthy to rank with Elizabeth and with the hapless Queen of Scots among the heroines of those spacious times. Grace O'Malley's profession was largely that of pirate, which was also the profession of Franky Drake, and, indeed, of Queen Elizabeth herself, who was only a more cautious practitioner. All was grist that came to her mill; a rich galleass of the Invincible Armada, which was wrecked on the rocks of Mweelaun, an English prize-ship which she tore from one of Drake's bull-dog captains; or, failing such big game, a wine-ship bound for Galway, or a Bristol merchantman's cargo of cloth. It was the statesmanship of those days, and was only disreputable where it failed, which was never Granu Uaile's case. The Clare Island of the Irish Princess, at all events, had its powerful fleet of galleys, and no stint of mountain mutton or of Spanish wine to wash it down, three hundred years ago.

Last year every man, woman, and child upon the island, except the priest, the police, and the landlord's bailiff, were in a state of starvation, and were only respited by public alms from death by hunger. What a commentary upon three hundred years of undisputed British supremacy! Grace O'Malley's grim fortress over the little island port has become a police barrack, where green-coated constabularymen with repeating rifles have set up a system of piracy more cruel and less breezy than ...continue reading »

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