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Wednesday, 29 February 2012


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Having done a fair amount of research on the matter, I wrote an article on Irish wartime neutrality, entitled "Who was De Valera Neutral Against?" which was eventually printed in both unionist and nationalist periodicals.

Having regard to the political situation in Eire at the time, I think it was probably the most sensible policy and not as unhelpful to Britain as was made out in wartime propaganda. An Irish government throwing its lot in with Britain would have faced insurrection and such instability would not have been to Britain's benefit. Neutrality was a policy around which the Republicans and Free Staters (who had fought a vicious civil war with each other in the previous decade) could rally and unite.

From anecdotal evidence, many of the tens of thousands of Irishmen who volunteered for the forces of the Crown felt much the same.

Edward, welcome to D&N and thanks for your comment which is obviously based on greater knowledge than I possess - so no change there, then!

However, further to "the tens of thousands of Irishmen who volunteered for the forces of the Crown" to whom you referred, many of them were members of the Irish armed services and by volunteering they were, therefore, classed as deserters. At war's end not only were they prosecuted as such but the government went even further and without legal justification they banned these men from state employment and also from receipt of any State welfare benefits. This, of course, punished not only the men but also their families. It stands in contrast to the treatment of those IRA detainees with Nazi sympathies who were detained in the UK but against whom no action was taken upon their return to Eire and who were allowed back into semi-state employmnet with their pension rights fully restored.

I am prepared to accept Irish neutrality on the grounds of real politik but, as the USA demonstrated, there is neutrality, and there again, there is neutrality! De Valera's government was a putrid disgrace and the stink of it should stick in the nostrils of all decent Irishmen - which includes those brave men who volunteered to fight Hitler.

"My first thought was surely they had enough home-grown murderers to choose from without going abroad."

Gratuitously offensive, tasteless, and borderline racist.

Which is, of course, why we love this blog. Best laugh of the day so far - really cheered me up!

We aim to please!


May I say one thing in Che's favor. He was basically incompetent in anything he attempted to do. Let us hope that all the spoiled rich kids with sociopath inclinations who want to follow in his footsteps are equally incompetent .>Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

Re-reading events in WWII reminded me that our greatest secret weapon was the incompetence of Adolph Hitler. He only got as far as he did because he got lucky. Thank God, Che didn't!

I wonder David if it ever dawned on the Yanks that seem to look with nostalgia at the so called Free State that this same State did not allow one Yank on its soil to train to fight the Nazi. Meanwhile the troops were packed into the North the actual real free state.

To be fair, Jimmy, I suspect the only Yanks who look back with nostalgia to 'the Free State' are those who came from there or whose parents did so.

"they were exceedingly sympathetic to the German cause in both world wars"

Not so.

This guy was on my grandfather's ship as they headed for Suvla Bay.

"After the War he returned to his medical practice in Clonakilty where he proudly continued to wear his British Army Greatcoat. Inevitably, during The Troubles, he became a target for the IRA and an ambush was laid for him. The “brave boyos” got in a couple of shots before Grandad drew his old Service revolver and returned fire; the boys fled and he was never bothered by them again.

In later life he acquired a reputation for his blunt, single mindedness and a fearful temper. He always drove in the middle of the road, expecting everyone else to get out of his way. In a memorable exchange with the Mother Superior of my mother’s convent school, he turned to my grandmother and bellowed, “Julia, will you speak to this bitch...!” A complaint was registered with the Archbishop of Dublin who, rather than risk the wrath of the unholy doctor, did nothing. He always refused to pay his taxes and each year he’d argue his points in Court before paying – it was his way of making the Government answerable to him for every penny of their expenditure. He never forgave Churchill for the fiasco at Gallipoli and he blamed De Valera for everything else. He died in 1958, aged 70, and is buried outside Clonakilty in the same graveyard as Henry Ford. Unfortunately he died before I was born but on a visit to SW Cork a few years ago I met a couple of ancient fishermen who remembered him: - “Jaysus, I knew the old bugger, he horse-whipped me down the road for sitting on the grass outside his house” said one – “A great man, great man” said the other!

R I P Charlie Nyhan. "

Sorry, getting careless with words in my old age, Laban, but I did draw a distinction in a comment above:

"De Valera's government was a putrid disgrace and the stink of it should stick in the nostrils of all decent Irishmen - which includes those brave men who volunteered to fight Hitler."

Hello David. Check out the website of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Thanks, Jimmy, a nice site and thank God for the internet that keeps such memories forever (more or less).

David. I was listening to the BBC WS yesterday. Hundreds of young Irish are returning to agriculture to the relief of their parents.
One agriculture college that could only get around sixty students per anum now has 350 students. All thanks to the collapse of the so called great Celtic Tiger (that Alec Salmond used to bum about) and mainly the building trade.

I suppose they are the ones unable to emmigrate!

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