From time to time as we research Celtic matters, we gain insights into contemporary issues, or see applications of lessons our forebears endured which seem forgotten now, yet needed. Our editorials reflect those insights and observations. We occasionally have contributors with important comments. We also have readers interested in re-reading our and our contributors comments or passing them on. So, we decided to dedicate a webpage just to our editorials separate from our "past newsletters," for those who consider our Commentry worth a repeat read, or a share or link to others.
Editorial: Celtic and U.S. Rebellions
The Work is Not Yet Done
By Celia Fabos-Becker and Tony Becker
On Thursday, November 17th, 2016 AmeriCeltic.net and San Jose-Dublin Sister Cities Program redressed an omission in the March commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland that ultimately led to Irish Independence. San Jose Irish history buffs visited the grave of Michael McDonnell, an Irish revolutionary who fought with Pearse and Collins that Easter in 1916, served under Collins during the terrible struggles of the Irish Civil War 1919-1921, came to San Jose, California and lived the rest of his life here in the South Bay Area.
In Autumn of 2015, President Michael Higgins of Ireland spoke at San Jose City Hall and, referring to the events of 1916 - 1922 in his speech, centered his remarks on the theme: "The work is not yet done."
Besides rebelling against rule by England, there are two aspects that the American Revolution that began in 1774-5*, the Scottish rebellions of 1715 and 1745, and the Irish Revolution of 1916 - 1922 all shared. Yes, Ireland, Scotland and the American Colonies wanted independence to assert their separate national identities and to have and run their own governments, but this itself was entwined with a second purpose: We all wanted to drive our own futures, to control our own economic affairs and to maximize the prosperity of our own peoples. In fact, the Irish named their revolutionary movement Sinn Féin , "We Ourselves", in the Irish language.
Americans, mostly Scots, Scots-Irish and Irish, all battled British elites, and their trade policies, particularly in manufacturing.
The British government, who ruled over all of Ireland, Scotland and what is now the U.S. , largely closed us off to trade both ways. The British Parliament kept our markets and manufacturing extremely limited, leaving us to export largely raw materials and semi-finished commodities at low prices while we were to required to import finished goods at high prices from English merchants. Not only could we not sell freely, we could not buy freely. Using their overwhelming force of arms, England, particularly the English owners of manufacturing companies, monopolized our trade, tightly controlling who could buy our goods and also who could sell goods to us.
The leaders of all three nationalities, Irish, Scottish and American, saw that external control hurt the prosperity of our peoples and limited their growth. These policies treated all of us as second class or lower citizens, existing only to serve external masters.
Today, there are too many corporate leaders in all our nations who are generally perceived as, and often consider themselves, elite globalists. These elites generally show no regard for workers of any nation. Through donations and other means many have forged alliances with entrenched politicians and political party elites who have forgotten their obligation to care for the people who elected them and trusted them with their economic well-being.
In the past year, we have seen the disgruntled, excluded voters of England itself vote narrowly for Brexit, which would, in turn, limit their subject peoples' trade and development and in effect, return to the worst days of economic dependence. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who also fought for the recent Scottish independence referendum, as well as Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness stand together against allowing their two countries to suffer such externally imposed economic hardships, and made statements similar to Irish President Higgins "the work is not yet done".
This latest, terrible election in the U.S., was a primal scream of rage from the forgotten non-elites. Hillary Clinton lost as much through her too obvious political donations from the wealthy and the rigging of the Democratic Primary by her party elite friends, whom she did nothing to dissuade, as from her own personal faults, and those of her husband.
Bill Clinton was seen as potentially too influential. He had enacted, rather than torn up, NAFTA, and then signed the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act, which had kept Investment Banks out of Consumer banking. Both of these greatly harmed the economy of the nation and the lives, well-being and security of millions of ordinary Americans.
Donald Trump was one of these significant donors to the Clintons for many years, and others of their ilk, for decades, and also socialized with them to gain influence. Whether Trump will be any different is yet to be seen. However, there is one possibly promising sign. Trump's apparent Secretary of Commerce nominee; Wilbur Louis Ross Jr.
Wilbur Ross is a person of Scots and Irish descent (his father is from a Ross family that has long lived in New Jersey and his mother is an O'Neill) and was among those to first suggest to Trump that "much of America is disgruntled because the economy has left middle class workers behind". He has a history of taking the bits and pieces of broken companies left by the mismanagement by greedy, selfish, executives and directors and turning them into more viable entities, four of which he kept himself to run and develop.
It is very interesting to note that a certain George Ross, an ancestral cousin to the New Jersey Ross's, was among the Signers of the American Declaration of Independence.
* The October 10, 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, in what is now West Virginia, preceeded the April 19, 1775 skirmishes at Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts by 7 months. After this Battle, victorious Virginia militias forced then Virginia governor Lord Dunmore to flee the Virginia colony, effectively ending British Rule in Virginia. The fight was instigated by the colonists anger at then Prime Minister of Britain, Lord North and his policies, carried out by Lord Dunmore, attempting to bring the American colonies under tighter control in all ways, but ultimately enriching English elites.
Women's Civil Rights in Celtic Societies
Published June, 2015
by Cecilia Fabos-Becker
By blood we are mostly a Celtic nation, with a long, rich history of Celtic culture in attitude and law regarding human and civil rights. If more people knew what that history was, they'd be appalled at the attitudes, behaviors, deals and stated goals of most of candidates for high elected office in the U.S., particularly as they regard women, the elderly, the truly skilled and educated, and living children. This article reviews the status and rights of Celtic women, a somewhat sensitive subject, but real Celts will appreciate it as part of their cultural heritage.'Bay Area author, Catherine Duggan, recently published a book, The Lost Laws of Ireland (2013, Glasnevin Publishing, Dublin, Ireland).
This book reveals the status, rights and obligations of Celtic women as described in Brehon and other pre-Roman and pre-English law. There are additional references to pre-Roman and pre-English laws in a number of Scottish history books and commentaries by the Romans and English about the Scots, particularly between the 3rd and 10th centuries.'The difference in status of women is startling. Compared to Brehon law and the Christian Church of Saint Patrick, Aidan and Columba, the Romanized Christian Church and related laws and cultures considered women mere property. It did not matter what was the status of their parents, what their parents contributed to the marriage, nor their education and skills. They could not own property, could not own labor, livestock, nor pass on anything to their children by choice. This was very different in Celtic societies.'Under Brehon law, women were ordered to be protected by their fathers, husbands and sons. If injured or killed they had an 'honor price' based on rank at birth and their own education, skills and integrity. If a woman married a man of equal rank, she continued to own property in her own right after marriage, and could buy and sell property, have separate as well as common earnings. According to her will, upon a woman's death she could could dispose of property inherited from her own family back to her own family under the care of the ranking male. Property acquired in a woman's own right, before or after marriage, could be disposed of by her choice and will to whichever sons and daughters she preferred. Primogeniture among males was not the sole rule of inheritance.
Marriage was governed by contract sections of law and also laws against extreme violence. Women could divorce men for violations of the marriage contracts, infidelity, slander and abuse, especially if any physical abuse left a blemish. Polygamy was also legal but the second wife had only half the status and honor price of the first, though her sons might be considered equal for a father's inheritance, since a father did not have to give everything to his first born son. A man could divorce a wife for having an abortion or for smothering or otherwise killing a child.
Brehon law continued to operate in Ireland until the 1600's and in Scotland a similar form of law continued until the beginning of the Stuart kings. In fact, according to Patterson's History of Ayrshire, widows had property rights and other rights up to the time of the Act of Union and later, at least until 1745, and a woman could demand and obtain a divorce. When the Presbyterian Church was formed in the 16th century, councils of elders were quickly agreed upon by the church communities to be elected by both men and women and both men and women could be elders, and religious teachers up to a point.
Scotland was at one time a matriarchy. Its Pictish kingdom was often ruled by a Queen in her own right. Over time, males were crowned, but becoming a king was determined by the mother's family, that is who your mother was, not the father's family. Even the Stuart kings ultimately came to the Scottish throne on the basis of the marriage of a daughter of the preceding king who had no sons. Civil strife sometimes occurred because there was no guaranteed preference of birth order among daughters, and outside mercenaries or mediators could be and were brought in by one husband of a daughter or another. This is how the Plantagenet kings of England began making inroads into Scotland began outright invasions at times into both Scotland and Ireland. It was, ideally, a combination of the marriage of a daughter and the honor price--the worth--of her husband that determined the support for the kingship of one husband of a daughter over another. Outsiders were supposed to be left out of the decision. In both Ireland and Scotland, leaders of families or clans was a combination of heredity and election, and likewise kings. However, disagreements could and did lead to violent conflict so it often was a combination of force of arms, as well as wealth, intelligence, and the degree of non-violent popular support that led to a clan or family chief being decided or a king. This was both a strength and weakness of the nations. Enemies could and did profit during civil strife over leaders at the lower and higher levels, especially when someone whose ego outweighed his sense of community invited them into the fray.
Women were also accomplished queens and warriors in their own right in pre-Romanized society. In the 60 CE the Romans battled Boudica (Boadiccea), Queen in her own right of the British Iceni tribe who led an army of 100,000 against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire in the then Roman province of Britannia. In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth contended and negotiated with Grania O'Malley, who ruled the provice of Connaught in Ireland, where the Brehon law of the native Celts still ruled.
By 1654, the English had finally completed the conquest of Ireland and their oppression began in earnest. These conquerors outlawed the ancient Brehon laws, imposed their English laws (see Penal Laws and Highland Clearances). Within a generation, Celts began emigrating to the North American colonies, and after serveral failed revolts, by 1750 over 1,000,000 Scottish and Irish emigrants had populated the American colonies, especially along the Appalachian Piedmont, where English law did not reach. Scottish and Irish famines of 1837 and 1847 added at least another 1,000,000 Scottish and Irish emigrants to America.
Though these more egalitarian laws and rights were in decline in Scotland and nearly wiped out in Ireland, the memory, and oral and written histories of what once was, continued for a time in the U.S.. The memory was refreshed by a huge new immigration of Scots and Irish who had continued to suffer under the English in the famines and Highland Clearances, and had kept the memory alive the stories of the old ways. In all these cases, the influence and greater control of the exclusively male, feudal, classist society of England was seen as a major cause of loss of rights of women, increased poverty of women and children, as Dickens and Austen described, and one more reason for emigration to America where a new society might be created and some treasured older values revived.
Unfortunagely, the lingering influence of the English usurping Brehon Law lasted for centuries. It wasn't until the mid to late 19th century that American women finally regained most of the civil-rights that they had 400 to 800 years earlier in Ireland and Scotland.
The battle for womens and human rights continues today, as too many ignorant men still cling to Romanized and pre-modern English traditions. Some still regard as women as little more than "senseless property" and and try to impose these more restricting attitudes, as law, upon a mostly Celtic nation. Like the Romans, they all too willing to use brute force when persuasion by their eloquence fails to convince their victims, and we still have a long way to go to restore justice for the still too prevalent oppression. Real full equality of women, as once existed in pre-Roman times, may still depend upon women being willing to do battle for their equality and rights as Celtic warrior women of yore once were willing and able to do.
The Centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916
Published April 8th, 2016
by Cecilia Fabos-Becker (late mother, nee Wallace)
The 100 year anniversary of any event only comes only once. When the event was a hard-fought Rebellion for Independence, it is a coming of age for a nation, and a special celebration of the feeling that "We really did it, and it's going to last".
The Centenary of the United States independence from the British Empire came in July of 1876 and the world had never seen such a massive Celebration, which began in January and continued through the entire year.
This month, culminating on April 24th, 2016, Ireland has such a Centenary - the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Irish independence from the British Empire came after a bloody rebellion that started with as little going for it as America's battles of Lexington and Concord. Irish independence was followed in short order by a bloody civil war, and then growing pains of a democracy that in part had been founded on religious differences and had to decide not to be a theocratic state, surrendering one outside power over itself for another.
Both Centenaries are somewhat painful for Scots, because independence from the British Empire is something Scotland has yet to achieve. This is especially painful because of the failed referendum on Scottish Independence of last year, and because Tartan Day has been subverted to serve UK interests as much as possible in recent years. See this website on what happened in 2000. However, it is up to the Scots to determine if, when and how to change their status to something like America or Ireland, and ensure that their parliament and / or independence can never be taken away again.
Until then, we encourage the Scots to have the generosity of spirit to respect and appreciate the successes of their Celtic brethren in Ireland, whose language and culture they share, and celebrate this Centenary of the full and complete Independence of at least one Celtic nation.
Antecedents of the American Revolution
Published June 17th, 2016
by Tony Becker and Cecilia Fabos-Becker
New Primary Sources on www.AmeriCeltic.net
Recently, we've seen ugly and violent acts of religious extremists in Africa, West Asia, Europe and now here in the U.S. Politicians here in the U.S. as well as Europe are now clamoring to put all the adherents of some religions or some sects on terrorist watch lists, or make them wear identifying badges to show what they are at a glance, or to ban them from entering the U.S., and other extreme acts of government.
On the scale of human history, the events of 1689-90 are recent. Human nature does not change across even millennia, and we are in danger of resurrecting a past that most of our ancestors fled when they came to this nation. For proof, just take a good look at the related documents and sources we found in the last few months.
As AmeriCeltic researches family history we look for primary source documents with the names of heads of families, and precisely where in Ireland they lived. Ongoing research has just made available another set of primary source reference documents, the Intro, Extracts of Walter Harris 1749 Book & List of Attainted Protestants and Catholics in Ireland. The 'Act of Attainder' was created by an extremist Parliament hastily appointed by the fanatic, the Earl of Tyrconnell, who had been given the task by the deposed King James II. This item will be of interest to family history researchers of Scots-Irish, Anglo-Irish and Irish families, students of the antecedents of the American Revolution.
In view of these current events, it is also timely for readers of this newsletter.
When we discuss 17th Century Irish history, we often hear only of the atrocities of the fanatical Protestant Cromwell and his ilk, but with their "Act of Attainder" the transient Parliament of 1689 dispossessed and imprisoned tens of thousands of people, both Protestants, and Catholics. They revoked prior Acts accepted by the majority of Irish who held power in Ireland, made under the preceding kings who were the parents and siblings of James II. It undid 150 years of history that began with rebellions to eject both English and Norman Anglo-Irish, who were both Protestant and Catholic, but seen as foreign invaders and occupiers, and owing allegiance to a now Protestant English crown. Many of these attained families, ordered to be either killed or ejected from Ireland, had been there since the 12th century!
It has often been said that 'those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.' When presented with the Act of Attainder by these fanatic Catholics in Ireland, James read it found it exceeded even his own wishes. James II himself responded, 'do you really want to engage in 1641 all over again?' 1641 was the year in which some Irish Catholic lords had led a rebellion against persons who were either non-Irish and/or non-Catholic, that went out of control and slaughtered several tens of thousands of Protestants, including Scots, as well as some Catholics who were of mixed heritage, both of whom the leaders had not wanted harmed. 1641 had led to Protestant reprisals, civil war, and then Cromwell who, under the Authority of the English parliament which had executed James' father, King Charles I, engaged in the complete devastation of nearly 2/3 of Ireland--Protestant and Catholic lands and families alike. Again, with the blessing of Parliament, Cromwell enacted the first harsh penalties toward Catholics as the general instigators of all that followed, which were only partly rescinded by Charles II.
Today's Irish politicians often acknowledge the value of Parlimentary government introduced by the English. In contrast, these rebel 16th and 17th Century Irish earls and lords had no accountability to anyone. They lived and acted by no Parliament, not even the minimal ones of England and Scotland, but only by their own interpretation of religion, and were willing to form military alliances with fanatical Catholic governments, such as Inquisition era Spain, which was literally ruled by persons whom their own peers in Europe called MAD.
At least twice, these unaccountable, rebellious earls, (one of whom was of Norman descent and whose direct ancestor owed feudal allegiance to Henry II of England), invited the king of Spain to rule Ireland! They did this without consulting parts of their own families, much less any ordinary people of Ireland. To use modern parlance, England, 'freaked out', as England had just endured the horrendous English Civil War and massacres of Protestants under "Bloody Mary," and just prior, had fought off the Spanish Armada.
The punishments for these rebellions were harsh, but actually less so than the previous 150 years of religious wars throughout Europe over which sect of Christianity was to be the official state religion of various independent, duchies, principalities, kingdoms and empires. The historical fact is that all the unaccountable, autocratic kings, and lords wanted to make their chosen religion, whatever sect of Christianity that was, the religion of entire countries and use that religion to bolster their repressive governance, including governing all thought, spoken and written expression, and behavior, right down to how people were to dress, speak to one another and to government officials, what rights they had in particular social and governmental orders, how churches were to be decorated or not, how Bibles were to be written and interpreted and much more.
Suffice to say, by the late 17th Century, in the minds of both Irish Protestants and Catholics it was time to 'move on' and over the next two centuries more than a third of all Catholics and Protestants in Ireland emigrated abroad, mostly to what became the United States.
We seem to be sliding toward revisiting those horrendous experiences upon one another in our own lives, and unluckily, the option to 'move on' as our Celtic ancestors did, no longer exists. Luckily, the children of our mass-homicidal ancestors, and those who were attempting to flee from them, had the sense to enact a Constitution that governed an elected Congress and an amendment that separated Church and State. It's time to remember that, and why they did so. Since independence, even Ireland itself has separated Church and State and more recently has increased the distance.
We hope it will be useful then to review some of the very experiences of our own Protestant and Catholic ancestors at a time when religion was combined with state and each side was willing to deny rights, even massacre the other.
The Future Possibilities for Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland
by Anthony Becker and Cecilia Fabos-Becker
Published June 26th, 2016
Last Thursday in the UK "Brexit" referendum, 62% of Scottish voters voted to remain in the EU. Since the majority of the UK, primarily those in England and Wales voted to leave the EU, the only way Scotland can maintain its membership in the EU two years from now will be as an Independent nation. Although the result of the last Scottish Independence Referendum, was, narrowly, to remain in the UK, that vote was contingent upon Scotland retaining EU membership. It seems clear that there will be another referendum, either later this year or next, and that is where the Government of Scotland is leading the Scottish nation.
57.5% of Northern Ireland's voters also voted to remain in the EU in the UK "Brexit" referendum. If 'Norn Iron' wants to remain in the EU, it has two choices. It can either join the Republic of Ireland, (Eire), as they are a full member of the EU, or it can join Scotland, which, like Northern Ireland, is currently a member of the UK and in two years must leave to maintain its EU membership.
Independent Celtic Nations
One way or another, it seems very likely that there may be two newly independent Celtic nations. The remaining question is; How shall they be governed and what should their relationships with one another be? We suggest that the answer should be to emphasize and recognize what these Celtic nations have in common, form a working Celtic alliance, and work as closely together as possible in these areas.
Only larger nations and blocs have the most influence in the EU and in world trade agreements. Only larger nations or blocs have the best ability to maintain themselves in varied circumstances.
If it is to be ensured of being regarded as a completely independent nation for EU status, Scotland cannot be a 'dominion' of The Crown. Scots cannot to sing "God Save the Queen", acknowledging fealty to the UK monarch of a non-member nation, and be credible as a member of the EU. Nor should Scotland restore any monarchy. It should build on the more democratic principles, established by its history of clans and its independent Presbyterian Church centuries ago. Scotland should elect its own Leaders, etc., and if it decides upon a two-house Parliament, make the upper house either Scottish notable, honored citizens (clan chiefs!) or a form of Senate representing larger districts than those of the House or Commons.
It's time to fulfill the empty promises of "one man-one vote, representation" of too many UK prime ministers, monarchs and political party leaders in England, and make it happen in a free and independent Scotland and all of Ireland, including Northern Ireland. End ethnically based classism. Both these newly independent Celtic nations must do something that remains undone in the UK to this day: guarantee all citizens equal enfranchisement by the principal of one man, one vote. All districts of the house or houses based on population must be the same size and their representatives represent the same number of legal residents and voting citizens.
Taxation without representation was a primary reason for revolution among the Scottish/Scots-Irish/Irish-descended Americans and has to this day been an issue and very real grievance for many parts of the UK. Residents pay taxes and need services also. They should have representation even without yet having a right to vote as full citizens. Children can earn or inherit income and pay taxes, and certainly need services and we do not deny them, so neither should legal residents be denied.
The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was written and adopted by the descendants of Scots, Scots-Irish and Irish emigrants, both Protestant and Catholic who had become more than fed up with religious strife in these very countries. Beginning 400 years ago, religious intolerance, often tied to one monarch or another, tore their countries apart and caused the terrible deaths of millions. This horror continued for more than two centuries! Recognizing that, only 20 years ago, related intolerance was rampant on the Irish island, and is still tearing the U.S. apart where some religious zealots would still have human and civil rights limited or denied and laws otherwise made on the basis of religious beliefs, it is imperative that all three nations guarantee complete freedom of religion with NO discrimination, nor denial of equal civil or economic rights based on religion. Religion should never again be allowed to be a part of state government. We suggest a Constitution in a united Ireland and independent Scotland, rigorously enforced, guaranteeing freedom of religion and stating that the government shall neither prohibit a religion, nor make it part of government laws and rules.
We suggest adding a couple of more things to both Constitutions to avoid oligarchies, filled with non-citizens, gaining control over citizens, (as the U.S. has done): declare that corporations are not 'persons', shall have no rights to make political donations, and if they state themselves to be "global," have no private lobbying rights, and all records of their meetings with government officials shall be made public. The same must be true for any international churches or unions. Only individual, adult, human beings who are citizens should have the right to make political donations. Also, to avoid the idiotic partisan gridlock that has increasingly rendered the U.S. Congress impotent and threatens to cause yet another Civil War in the U.S., when our refusal to enforce keeping religion out of government doesn't, require that once a person is elected or appointed to any public office, in which he or she must serve all citizens and legal residents equally, they must resign any political party membership.
Celtic Co-operation Blocs
A strong, united front when dealing with the EU, any large Asian nation, and/or the U.S. is also imperative. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the bigger and more powerful a nation, or pact of nations, the more likely smaller ones will be exploited and/or abused. It can be much worse than merely unfair trade deals. A new independent Scotland should form a tight alliance with all of Ireland and they must agree to support, assist and defend one another, and to not war on the remaining UK. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries the opposite was done, and this lack of fair dealing directly led to devastating multi-area conflicts. Learn from and don't repeat this part of the past. Additionally, the minimum wage, quantities and amounts of services must be very nearly the same for Scotland and Ireland and use the Euro monetary unit, as close as it is to the Canadian and U.S. dollars. Environmental standards must be nearly the same and equally well enforced, and likewise education standards.
These newly Independent nations must avoid being treated as the Czechs, Hungarians and Poles were just after World War I. This advice proceeds from the lessons of hard experiences, and ultimately successes, of the nations of the Visegrad Group. These small, weak, divided nations of Central and East Europe found only by doing these things could they end the constant efforts of large nations of Western Europe, and Russia to divide and conquer/exploit them. In the first years after World War I, after their borders were seriously re-arranged to suit these same larger powers, those larger powers deliberately sowed division and competition for the advantage of the larger powers. The larger powers had the weak, divided nations of Central and East Europe constantly fighting for the bottom in wages, standards etc. just to have any investment money, loans, jobs and industries, and at the same time competing to pay the highest prices for the most and best imported manufactured goods for their own peoples from these larger nations who jealously guarded and promoted their own manufacturing industries. The Germans, French and the UK, as well as the Russians and Italians haven't changed the 'dark side' of human nature of their leadership that much in only one century, and would be only too happy to take unfair advantage of the several small Celtic nations, as they have other small European nations.
There is strength in numbers, and we suggest a unity of some sort, such as a Celtic-Atlantic Trade Association (CATA) Pact, or to honor their shared history, they could call it the Dalriada Pact. Negotiate with Europe and the U.S. on the strength of 12 million people in tight agreement with, and who mutually support one another, not several small competing smaller nations of only 6 million people each. It was by sticking together as a pact of over 25 million people in the three nations of Visegrad Group as they entered the EU together under the same terms and benefits, and likewise NATO. (Editor's note: Cecilia was involved in these negotiations).
We suggest that both Scotland and Ireland also become members of NATO, and as nearest neighbors, cooperate with one another as well as the other NATO members. Neither of these Celtic nations would like to contend with Russians on the issues of who owns or has exclusive rights to what in the Arctic, on your own, any more than, after a series of events in the 19th and 20th century, any of the Visegrad Group of nations wanted to deal with Russia on their own ever again. Polar bears don't change their colors any more than leopards change their spots.
The Celtic countries should learn from their histories, as well as the mistakes and successes of their cousins in North America, Australia and New Zealand to build their great futures. Who knows--maybe they will someday inspire the U.S.A. to regain it's sanity and unity!
Message from Philip Grant
Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States
Published June 24th, 2016
Ireland advocated that the European Union is better with the United Kingdom as a full-member and that the United Kingdom is stronger inside the European Union.
Regrettably this was not the outcome of the vote - but the people spoke and we fully respect their decision.
There will be no immediate change to the free flow of people, goods and services between our islands.
Ireland is fully prepared to meet the many challenges that will arise. The Irish Government has published a summary of the key actions it will now take to address the issues arising from the UK's decision to leave the European Union, available at this link: http://www.merrionstreet.ie/en/News-Room/Releases/Government_Brexit_Contingency_Plans_announced.html.
These will be difficult challenges. The decision by the United Kingdom raises many concerns for Ireland and for our communities around the globe, especially in Britain. The answers to many of these issues are likely to be complex. Examples of some of these and their implications have been detailed by the Irish Government at http://www.merrionstreet.ie/en/EU-UK/FAQs/. Many are relevant to the Irish-born community in the US and Americans of Irish heritage especially to ensure that stability and progress in Northern Ireland is maintained.
Our primary objective going forward must be to protect and advance our interests and also those of the people of Northern Ireland and the special set of relationships that connect the people of Ireland and the people of Great Britain.
Ireland will remain a member of the European Union and of the Eurozone. That is in our national interest. After more than 40 years of membership, we have built up strong bonds of partnership with all the other member states, and with the European institutions, that will continue to serve us well. It's important to remember the enormous achievements of the Union. For all its flaws, the EU remains the best structure for advancing prosperity, promoting peace and confronting the many and complex problems of today's globalized world.
There will be a discussion of the next steps at the meeting of the European Council next week. The Taoiseach will set out our position and ensure that our national interests are respected as we prepare to enter the next phase of negotiations. These negotiations will not commence for some months yet and will take a considerable amount of time to complete. Until that time the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union and will continue to be so until those negotiations have concluded.
While Ireland's future lies within the European Union, we will work to maintain our excellent bilateral relationship with the UK and continue to work closely with the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive as co-guarantors of the peace process.
We welcome the backing of the US Government as expressed by President Obama and especially Vice President Biden, who has been visiting Ireland this week. We are especially grateful to have support and goodwill of our community and friends here in the United States. These bonds of kinship will be of great as sistance in helping to meet the difficult challenges ahead.
Stay Positive and Focus on Your Circle
by Donagh Mc Keown
Published July 15th, 2016
"The world is heading to hell in a handcart" Every other posting on social media would lead you to think it was going that way. Postings linking to videos of a man's death, opinion postings on mass shootings in a Texas city, doom and gloom around every corner. Analysis of past wars (Chilcott) email destruction, and much much more. As human beings with compassion and consideration for our fellow humans, we are easily sucked into expressing those opinions, multiplying the negative energy and enmity aroused by such sharing.
I think once, twice, nay twenty times before saying anything about such incidents. Of course, as a caring human being, I wish well for my fellow man and woman. I am, however, careful not to act as a catalyst to increase anxiety or pain, particularly by sharing video of horrific events. The need to see someone's final moment of life or to share in someone else's nightmare is one I most definitely can live without.
Respect the dignity of a life lost, and of those involved in the activity that caused it. To watch it may be a personal choice. I leave that up to you. I believe it degrades me as a human being to watch it. I also know, from bitter experience and mental health circumstances, that it affects my long and short term sense of wellbeing. To me it serves no purpose other than demean, desensitize and demoralize the human spirit. The act itself is no less horrific. I know that reporting of such instances is necessary, so that we are aware. A free press is vitally important. I believe that it should not be so invasive and graphic.
On a second point, let's not get caught up in the vehicle of sensationalism and scaremongering that is mass media. Yes, atrocities are happening in this world, some closer to us than to others. Let us just consider how good things are for us in the immediate center of our lives. Despite shootings, from whatever sources they come from, most of us are living in a free from violence, healthy environment. We are able to walk our streets, share a coffee and a smile with our neighbour. Yes, there are many in our wider society who don't have just the same sense of freedom. I don't ask anyone to forget that either. I just ask that we start to realize much of what we have to be grateful for in our immediate circle. This attitude of gratitude keeps me grounded, rather than falling into a state of melancholy or fear. It won't immediately solve the problems of those more closely linked to violence and confrontation. Neither will, may I suggest, the sharing of graphic pictures of violence. Be aware and be vigilant, for sure. My choice is not to get caught up in the vitriol of violence, the sharing of such acts, for whatever purpose. Maybe it's because I'm a hippy, whose just moved to his spiritual home in San Francisco. I don't think so. I was a supporter of non violence all of my life, in a society where it was take one side or the other.
Smile at the next face you meet, say hello to all who cross your path. Build trust in your own circle. It's the only place you have any real influence in. Use it wisely.
Editorial: Celtic American Heritage and Collaboration
Our community is made up of MIXED Irish, Scots-Irish and/or Scottish ethnicities
By Cecilia Fabos-Becker
As measured directly by over 4 million DNA tests of Americans, (our own included), and depicted in the Venn diagram at right, the number of Americans who have greater than one-third Irish, Scots-Irish and/or Scottish ancestry is now about 50% of the U.S. population. This means that, as of the 2010 census total of 320 million total US population, about 150 million Americans have at least 1/3 of their tracable DNA originating in Ireland and/or Scotland. Additionally, the majority of these 150 million are a MIX of Irish and Scottish. Despite a growing number of Americans with Hispanic ancestry, the population of the U.S. is still substantially Scots, Irish and Scots-Irish in ethnic origin. This mixing will continue, with Hispanic DNA slowly being added to the mix. For examples, one need look no further than the ancestry of the parents and grandparents of San Jose's own city councilpersons!
In the past, errors have been common in calculating numbers of Scottish Americans, Irish Americans, etc. by Scottish and Irish governments, and Americans themselves, trying to determine numbers of Irish OR Scots over 350 years of emigration to the U.S. as well as intermarriage before and after emigration. Since arrival in the U.S., a large amount of intermarriage has been almost constant, starting typically with the children or grand-children of immigrants. In Ireland, intermarriage between Scots, Normans and "native" Irish has been going on to one degree or another, for about 700 years--even prior to emigration.
First, for 1500 years, religion didn't matter. It only really mattered for 300 years. In fact, all three groups were Catholic until the reign of the Tudors in England and subsequent, gradual Protestant conquests forced change of religion upon all parts of Ireland, and Scotland. Religion, until the Tudors, was originally no bar to intermarriage because everyone adhered to the same religion.
After Henry VIII, choice of religion could make it hard to survive, much less prosper. Particularly after repressive measures following the Catholic Irish rebellion of 1641, and after 1707, when the Penal laws imposed by England on Ireland, persons who chose to become or remain Catholic could not own land, own a business, hold political office or even vote and intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants was also forbidden. However, many Catholic Norman Irish and native Irish families urged the oldest and biggest land-owning sons in the family to change their religion, at least publicly, to retain land and to have some political power, and many actually did. At that point, as Protestants, they could intermarry with Scots Irish and Anglo-Irish who were Protestants and did. After 1867, the laws eased again, Catholics increased in numbers, after being diminished after 1707, and more intermarriage occurred.
Last, in both the UK emigration records (such as existed and not many) prior to 1831 and the U.S. immigration records to 1922, there was NO distinction made in records of the emigration from Ireland and immigration into the U.S. by religion, nor the cultural identity of the emigrants/immigrants. They were ALL listed as simply "Irish", whether Protestant or Catholic, Scots in Ulster, Anglo or Norman-Irish or Native Irish. All were Irish. Over time, particularly since the 1870's when the U.S. celebrated its centennial as a nation and first began thinking of cultural heritage and compiling or making up family histories, this is how many Americans began to think of themselves in their cultural heritage/identity. All they knew by the 1870's was where the emigrant ancestor got on the ship--Ireland, for most. Other than the immigration or importation/naturalization records, if there was a sense of Scottish identity, it came from surnames with Mc or Mac in them, compared with O'. Ulster being heavily Scots-Presbyterian, once upon a time, was long forgotten. Even by 1876, religion was getting to be less a consideration in sense of historic identity. This continues to this day, and DNA tests are now surprising a lot of people who thought of themselves as purely "Irish," and forgot about difficult periods in Scotland, Ireland, and the U.S., regarding religion.
James Leyburn's 1962 History of the Scots-Irish being a good example, it used to be thought that once the Scots, and Scots-Irish crossed the Appalachians they intermarried so much with English descendants and German immigrant descendants that the DNA and culture became very dispersed and these Americans lost all sense of identity. However, our new DNA tests are showing otherwise--that they mostly married whatever they thought of as "their own kind", and well past the famous 1960's song in West Side Story where Anita is admonishing Maria to "stick to your own kind, marry your own kind."
The long popularity of what is called "old-time music" in Ireland and Scotland, played and danced to all over America with many pieces little changed since their origins on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, also contradicts this idea. Over time in the U.S., as religious identity became less important, the places one left and the older shared history became more important as identifying kind. It became ok for Presbyterian and later Baptist and Methodist Scots and Scots Irish to begin marrying Catholic Irish, especially when private schools were increasingly seen as better schools for education to get into college and well paid careers and the Catholic schools were outnumbering all the other church schools put together and providing a well-rounded education to get into college, not just a theology based education to become a preacher. By the 1920's, with Catholic politicians becoming legislators and state governors and more, all of this intermarriage and genetic integration only accelerated.
The result is, we now have an increasingly intermarried population of Scots, Irish and Scots-Irish, for nearly a full 100 years, four generations. It is impossible to state, using simply emigration, immigration and census records, how many Americans are purely Irish or purely Scots, because the vast majority of Scots/Irish/Scots-Irish Americans are not purely either one - they are a mixture of both. With only a 13 mile gap across the Irish Sea, a distance that we bridged in the San Francisco Bay area between San Mateo and Hayward at least 80 years ago, the U.S. has returned to what was the reality for Scotland and Ireland, together, for 1500 years prior to that unfortunate interlude when religious intolerance dominated.
For the 150 years since the dark age of intolerance, religious preference has gradually become less of an issue for the Scots and Irish themselves, especially in the U.S., where religious tolerance was practiced, and economic discrimination on the basis of religion was banned starting in some American colonies in the late 1600's. Americans were determined not to bring the hatreds and conflcts from the old world to the new. In 1787, we made that idea of religious tolerance and equality part of our Constitution. Religion can be part of culture and history, but it is not the sole or most important element of culture, especially not a historic culture that is more than 2 millenia old, and Religion is certainly not in our DNA.
This newsletter is read widely by both musicians and artists who want and need an audience, and members and supporters of Scottish and Irish societies and clans, all of whom want attendance at their events, financial support for their bands, organizations, scholarships, etc., and membership for organizations (and clans). Yet we are all here together, now, in a U.S. where the recent immigrants purely from one partly-religiously-identified nation or another is a tiny, tiny, tiny minority. The number of immigrants and first generation Americans who are purely either Scots, or Irish is less than one-tenth of one percent of the entire U.S. population--nationwide. Our present shared need for audiences, supporters and members, and your future, here, in the U.S. must rely upon the 150 million or more Americans whose DNA is 36-50% identical with the recent immigrants, who are the product of 350 years of immigration from Scotland, Ireland and Scots-Irish Ulster and intermarriage, and who, for various reasons, may indeed have lost their identity and who are also more than fed up with conflicts involving religion--and in fact mostly FLED those conflicts.
Think of it this way: How are you going to reach out to the 150 million MIXED heritage people all around you, who should be your supporters? How are you going to help these 150 million persons, become more aware of their own MIXED Scottish and Irish heritage, and support you, without you trying to constantly ask them to choose one over the other, as if they were children of a nasty divorce with the fighting still ongoing? How are you going to help "build the bridges between the Scots, the Irish and Ulster, and among them and their U.S. cousins, that the current modern leaders of all three are now asking to be built?
We have some ideas on that, but we'd like to hear/read from others, those who especially want audiences and supporters, in the U.S., about their ideas for outreach, building support for all the bands and organizations and "building bridges, not walls" among Celtic descendants, here in the U.S., and between the Celtic descendants in the U.S. and their cousins east of the Atlantic Ocean. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brexit Progress and Movements by Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland
by Cecilia Fabos-Becker and Anthony Becker
Published April 7th, 2017
Like their cousins in Northern Ireland, Scotland voted decisively to remain in the European Union (EU) in the Brexit vote of last June. Recently, the UK Parliament decided not to hold a second vote on their exit from the EU (Brexit).
On Tuesday, March 14th, 2017, Martina Anderson, member of the EU Parliament for Northern Ireland, told the EU assembly that any border between Northern Ireland and Ireland was unacceptable in unequivocable terms: 'Theresa (May) ... stick (a border) where the sun don't shine because you're not putting it in Ireland.' Ms. Anderson's expressed sentiments may be extreme, but it seems impossible to find anyone on Erin's isle who favors a new internal border.
Just ten days ago, on Tuesday, March 28th the Scottish Parliament passed a motion to authorize Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to negotiate with the UK parliament for a second referendum on full Scottish independence, to be put to a vote within the next 2 years. On Wednesday, March 29th, the government of the United Kingdom delivered the official "letter of divorce" to the EU, a process which by statue, must be completed within the same 2 years. Most observers expect this second Scottish Independence Referendum to succeed.
Over these last 4 years, there have been many talks between the UK's Royal Family and Northern Irish leadership, particularly the Sinn Fein party leadership. When former First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness died on March 21, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II sent a note of 'personal condolence' to his widow. There is a growing sense that soon Northern Ireland and Ireland will merge. Ireland has demonstated that is separating the policies of the Catholic Church from government policy, and in turn Catholics have gained greater political and economic rights in the north. Ireland has a strong economy, and all see trade as the matter of most important for both.
If Northern Ireland became economically separate from the rest of the island, Northern Ireland, would be dependent, once again, upon relations solely with England and the Commonwealth, which were disastrous the last time Northern Ireland was so limited, after the passage of the Act of Union of 1707. After 1707, Northern Ireland was limited primarily to exporting raw materials and semi-finished products to English manufacturers who, in their turn, sold the high-value-added finished goods back to the Irish, and the price of goods produced in Northern Ireland plumetted. This resulted in the emigration of a large part of the Northern Irish population, particularly to what became the U.S.A. In the 20th century, Northern Ireland struggled with civil strife, which devastated the economy and discouraged trade and investment. It has only in the last 20 years, since the Good Friday Agreement, that Northern Ireland has overcome the centuries of dependency and strife, and with the 'Leave' vote of the majority of English voters, Brexit threatens to yank the new floor from beneath Northern Ireland's feet.
Northern Irelands citizens do not want to return to these burdens of the past, and in our opinioy, this makes the unification of Ireland inevitable. As part of the Republic, Northern Ireland can retain its trade with the EU, and Ireland can join NATO, which may provide additional stimuli to the economy of all of Ireland as a full, supporting NATO member.
As for Scotland, the issues that prevented passage of the last independence referendum have changed. The threat that if Scotland voted for independence the UK would make it difficult for Scotland to join the EU is moot if the UK leaves the EU. This leaves one other former issue: Scotland's financial footing. The threat that if Scotland voted for independence the UK would make it difficult for Scotland to use the Euro as its monetary system, limiting Scotlands ability to make and sell enough goods to provide revenue for services, is also moot.
There are several things Scotland could do. First it must remember that Scotland is no smaller than many of the smaller, successful countries in Europe in geography and population. If Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Austria can survive and thrive, so can Scotland. Neither land area or population are determinants of success or failure of small nations. Over nearly two centuries, Ireland and Scotland, have both been artificially deprived of manufacturing investment by the UK, dominated by England and English interests. For 30 years, Ireland has been attracting more investment than Scotland and doing generally well with it. Both these Celtic nations could do more, especially if they cooperate with and support one another as much as possible, sharing resources, and both making themselves more self-sufficient in critical components of human needs, such as food, building materials for housing, hotels, schools, factories, etc., transportation and medical equipment and services.
Even for the most northern lands, there is potential for multiple sources of energy today: wind, oil and gas, tides, heat pumps etc. More food can be grown year round to provide adequate nutrition without excessive imports. Both nations have abundant water. More could be done with green-houses for vegetables, berries, even dwarf citrus, and more varieties of trees as well as just more trees generally could be planted, as well as hemp for wood and paper. We were amazed to see how much land in Ireland has very little diversity in its agriculture, and little space devoted to home gardens. Scotland doesn't have as much arable land as Ireland does and it is further north, but it is highly efficient in grain and livestock production with what it does have. Yet Scotland itself could do better with timber and some greenhouse agriculture as well. There is no reason that either nation should be importing as much food as either does. If the state of Minnesota's major grocery chains could make money with greenhouses using excess warm water from power plants and produce tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, etc. for 8 months of the year supplemented by freezing or canning fresh local produce during the few months of its limited growing season, there is no reason why Ireland and Scotland cannot both as well. With all the dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees, even citrus, that have been hybridized for home and small gardens, there is no reason they can't produce some of these fruits as well - they have something many North African countries don't have - year round water supplies. If they are to do well with tourism, (another important industry), then they will want to become more self-sufficient in food, shelter and transportation for both residents and visitors.
Recently, we did our own research using census and immigration records and results of DNA tests, and found that, compared to estimates of just 10 or 20 years ago, a much larger percentage of the U.S. is 50% or more Scottish and/or Irish. It's 160 million or so, not a 'mere' 35 or 40 million. The DNA is there, the awareness of the reality is growing, and people do like to travel to where they think they have roots. This is a huge potential for financial success for both Scotland and Ireland together, as most Americans have both Irish and Scottish ancestry.
Some small nations do very well with a combination of tourism and limited manufacturing, provided they can balance the expenses for the needs for residential and visiting population with its revenues. Some charge high hotel and meal tax rates to do this. Scotland and Ireland, share a huge, largely untapped, potential for revenue from tourism, particularly from the U.S. In just the last rew years, DNA tests and other mediums have developed, and so people are much more aware of their real Scottish and Irish heritage. However, the majority of these 160 million or so U.S. citizens of Celtic descent who might travel, are not all rich as the oil princes of Saudi Arabia and although they are a bit more budget minded, are a huge potential in sheer numbers of travelers.
If both are independent, both are members of the EU, and they are financially cooperative with one another as well, such as having a monetary system tied to one another, more tours could be arranged that cover both countries together. If Scotland follows Ireland's lead and adopts the Euro, it too would also have a strong financial system. If the two countries' systems and policies are coordinated, and the Euro is equal in value in both, they strengthen one another, because now they become a two country financial bloc. They can become as alike as North and South New Zealand, or closer than the U.S. and Canada, long considered financially/economically close where manufacturing, trade and travel moves freely between the two.
The UK has its needs also, and one, very big, concern over the centuries in its dealings with both these Celtic nations, has been its national security. It was hard enough for the UK to let Ireland go, after several times in the 16th and 17th centuries Irish leadership made alliances with France and Spain, for assistance and even offered to let Spain rule, when those powers were inimical to England. Scotland shares an island with England. if it's agreeable to the EU under these circumstances, Scotland can become a Commonwealth country, like Australia, promising not to make war on the UK, vaguely acknowledging the Crown, and allowing relatively free travel to and from the UK, but in all other respects run its own financial, taxation, trade and foreign policies. This can can work well between Ireland and Scotland, similarly to the relations between Canada and the U.S., where Canada is a Commonwealth country and the U.S. is not.
Ireland and Scotland are only a short distance apart, as little as 12 miles at one point. That's just about the same distance as between San Mateo and Hayward across the San Francisco Bay. The San Mateo bridge connects them, despite the fact that the two cities are on two separate, active earthquake faults. A real, physical, rail and highway bridge would develop the economic relationship between Scotland and Ireland uniting their common interests and goals, and two such plans are extant. The Scots and Irish could build their bridge together and call it the Dal Riata Bridge.