January 22, 2006

P.J. O'Rourke on his kingly background in Ireland

A reader writes:

Just for your amusement, an excerpt from "That Piece of Ireland That Passeth All Understanding" by P.J. O'Rourke, taken from "Give War A Chance" by the same (New York: Vintage Books, 1993; p. 30 et seq.):

"An O'Rourke, you say?" And I got to hear the entire history of my clan.

It seems we were kings in the olden days. But who wasn't? It must have been interesting, the Ireland of Zero A.D.: "I'm the king--from this rock down to the creek and from that cow to the tree. And this is my wife, the Queen, and our dog, Prince." And it must have been every bit as peaceful as it is today, with a million or two kings on one island...

The best thing about the violence in Northern Ireland is that it's all so ancient and honorable. And I'm proud to say it began in the household of my own relative Tighernan O'Rourke, Price of Breffni. In 1152 Tighernan's comely wife Dervorgilla ran off with Diaruid MacMurrough, King of Leinster. Cousin O'Rourke raised such a stink (and army) that MacMurrough had to call King Henry II of England for help. The Brits arrived, somewhat tardily, in 1169 and proceeded to commit the unforgiveable sin of having long bows and chain mail. For the next 819 years (and counting) the English stole land, crushed rebellions, exploited the populace, persecuted Catholics, dragged a bunch of Scottish settlers into Ulster, crushed more rebellions, held potato famines, hanged patriots, stamped out the language, taxed everybody's pig, crushed more rebellions yet and generally behaved in a manner much different than the Irish would have if it had been the Irish who invaded England and the shoe was on the other foot (assuming the Irish could afford shoes).

For complicated reasons I can't quite recall, P.J.'s O'Rourkes are Protestants, not Catholics, which might explain the unsympathetic tone.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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