How the Irish Saved Civilization

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe

by Thomas Cahill

Hodder and Stoughton (1995)

Book Review

This book covers the history of Ireland from the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century to the sacking of most Irish monasteries by Viking invaders in the 11th. It mostly focuses on the life of St Patrick (aka Patricius), a Romanized Britain kidnapped into slavery by Irish pirates in 401. In Ireland, he was forced to work as a shepherd for six years until he heard God’s voice telling him he was free to leave.

On his return to Britain, he undertook religious studies to become a priest and bishop and returned to Ireland as a missionary – the first in Church history to minister to so-called “barbarians.” He was also the first person in history to speak out against slavery.

In addition to converting Irish Celts to Christianity, St Patrick played a crucial role in establishing a network of Irish monasteries. As Ireland lacked significant population centers prior to the Viking invasions, these monasteries served as hubs of wealth, art and learning.

As barbarian hoards overran most of the former Roman Empire, most European libraries were burned and “copyists” who had copied classical texts (mainly for the wealthy Roman elite) vanished everywhere except in Irish monasteries.

The Irish invented the “codex,” a method of producing books as multiple pages of parchment rather than a single scroll. Like the Jews before them, the Irish enshrined literacy as a central religious act. Irish was also the first vernacular language to be used (written down) for popular literature, at a time when books elsewhere in Europe were all in Greek or Latin.

 

Archeologists Find Indoor Stone Toilet from 3,300 BC

The World of Stonehenge – Part 3 The Age of Cosmology

BBC (2018)

Film Review

The Age of Cosmology describes Britain’s late Neolithic Age between 4,000 and 3,00 BC. The age Stonehenge dates from, this period is mainly characterized by the rise of a priestly class and an interest in spirituality and cosmology. Both Britain and Ireland are home to hundreds of large stone monuments like Stonehenge. They are all astronomically aligned to the summer and winter solstice and are unknown anywhere else. Some of Ireland’s neolithic stone monuments predate the Egyptian pyramids.

In addition to circular stone monuments, archeologists also find remains of large green stone axe “factories” and stone beads from this period, along with evidence of cremation. The latter was reserved for the priestly classes, to hasten their journey to the afterlife.

Archeologists have also found the remains of an indoor stone toilet in the Orkney Islands dating from 3,300 BC.

 

Stuff I Wish I Learned in School: The English Civil Wars

The English Civil Wars

Directed by Graham Holloway (1992)

Film Review

This documentary describes the three English civil wars that occurred during the 17th century. The first, between 1639-40, was the Bishops’ Wars; the second, between 1642-45, when Parliament’s forces seized London and King Charles I ruled from Oxford; and the third, between 1645-46, when Parliament held the King prisoner in London.

The film is very sketchy on the background of the Civil Wars, which Holloway blames on religious differences and the refusal of Charles I to recognize the power of Parliament. Under Charles I, the Church of England resumed many features of Catholic ritual that they had abandoned when Henry VIII split from Rome. This was especially unpopular in London where 50% of the population were Puritans.

When the King attempt to impose a new book of common prayer on Scotland, the Scottish army drove all the Church of England bishops out of Scotland, chasing the English army all the way to Newcastle.

Charles I was forced to recall Parliament (which he dissolved in 1628) to raise taxes to pay the debt he incurred for the Bishops’ Wars. Angered by his refusal to honor their sovereignty, Parliament refused. When the people of London rioted in support of Parliament, the King fled north to Hull to raise an army.

Most of the film focuses on the primitive weapons technology used in 17th century wars and the battlefield tactics employed as the King tried to recapture the south of England and Parliament’s army tried to wall the King’s troops up in the north. The musket, which was only recently introduced, took a minimum of 30 seconds to reload, with gunpowder and a musket ball, before being lighted with a match.

Oliver Cromwell, who would become Britain’s Lord Protector after the King was executed, first came to prominence in 1645 at the Battle of Glaston Moor. It was here his skilled leadership of Parliament’s cavalry won them their first decisive victories.

In the 1645-46 Civil Wars, Welsh and Irish troops supported the King and the Scottish military supported Parliament. During the two years he was a prisoner, Charles I secretly schemed with Scottish forces to invade England on his behalf. Following their defeat by Cromwell, this would lead to the King’s trial and execution for treason.

Although the film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, it can be viewed free at the Christie Books site:

The English Civil Wars

*The Puritans were English Reformed Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to “purify” the Church of England from its “Catholic” practices, maintaining that the Church of England was only partially reformed.

The Secret EU Drive to Privatize Water

Up to the Last Drop: Secret Water War in Europe

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

Up to the Last Drop is about the role of the EU Commission in pressuring member countries to privatize their municipal water supplies. Although the UN declared access to water a human right in 2001, the EU continues to exert pressure on indebted nations (ie Greece, Portugal, Italy and Ireland) to sell their water utilities to repay the debt they incurred by bailing out their banks in 2008.

Water privatization almost always leads to massive price hikes for consumers, who are fighting back. Between 2000-2017, popular unrest against privatization and price increases led municipalities in 37 countries to oust private water companies* and resume municipal control.

In 2005, mass protests over skyrocketing water prices led Bolivians to overthrow their government.

In 2011, 98% of Berlin residents voted “yes” on a referendum for local authorities to resume control of the city’s water supply. Italy also blocked water privatization (with 95% voting no) via referendum.

Ireland blocked a wholesale water privatization scheme via mass protest, and Portugal ended it by electing a new left-leaning government.


*Two French companies Suez and Veolia monopolize nearly all private water schemes worldwide.

The film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons but can be viewed free at the Al Jazeera website: Secret Water Wars

Ireland, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Origin of Scalping

The Story of Ireland Part 2

BBC (2011)

Film Review

Part 2 of the Story of Ireland covers the period 1100 – 1500 AD

During the 12th century Ireland was ruled by five provincial kings. One of them, Dermot of Lenster, sought an alliance with the Anglo-Norman (English) king Henry II to make himself king of all Ireland. Pope Adrian, who disagreed with the gnostic Irish version of Catholicism, granted permission for Henry to invade.

After Ireland became an English colony, new Anglo-Norman lords claimed the best land for their estates and created an Irish parliament and a judicial system based on English common law. However they held no sway outside the townships and were subject to constant raids by Irish peasants.

After the Black Plague hit Ireland in 1348, many English lords fled back to England and the Gaelic kings regrouped and reclaimed their old estates.

During his reign (1509-1547), Henry VIII made several half-hearted attempts to subdue the Irish lords. His daughter Elizabeth I would engage Sir Walter Raleigh to subdue Ireland by destroying its infrastructure and massacring its civilians.*

Thirty thousand Irish died under Raleigh, many from famine.

Raleigh could not subdue the northern province of Ulster, and which allied with King Phillip of Spain in 1601 in an unsuccessful attempt to retake Ireland from England.


*Ireland was the birthplace of warfare directed against civilians, also known as “total warfare,” “irregular warfare,” or “counterinsurgency.” It was here the practice of scalping and paying bounties for severed heads or scalps was first introduced. For centuries, it has been blamed on Native Americans, but it was initiated by the English in Ireland.

 

Reclaiming Our History: The Myth of Celtic Purity in Ireland

The Story of Ireland: A History of the Irish People

BBC

Film Review

This is the first (of five) episodes in the BBC documentary series on the history of Ireland, which provides a comprehensive history of the use of (English and Scottish) settler colonialism to subdue the indigenous population. This model which would be copied in North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and by Israel in the displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population.

Part 1, covering the period 8000 BC to 1100 AD, dispels the myth of Celtic purity in Ireland.

It describes the first human settlers arriving in Ireland immediately after the last Ice Age. They would begin farming around 4,000 BC, and there is clear evidence of trading with the Baltic region and Iberian peninsula from 2,500 BC on. Contrary to more recent mythology, ancient Irish inhabitants weren’t genetically distinct from Celtic settlers in Britain or northern France.

During the Roman occupation of Britain (55 BC to 383 AD), the early Irish exported cattle and leather products to British elites.

Following the departure of the Roman legions in 383 AD, Irish raids on the west coast of Britain increased. Britons were captured as slaves to fuel Ireland’s thriving slave trade. St Patrick, who is credited with bringing Catholicism to Ireland, was a Welshman initially brought to Ireland as a slave.

Ireland’s feuding tribal kings welcomed the advent of Christian monasteries to help them consolidate their power. The monks developed a written alphabet for the Celtic language, and Irish monasteries became a global center of learning as literacy declined on the European continent.

Over the 8th, 9th and 10th century, Ireland was hit by a series of Viking raids and invasions. The latter, who had trade routes extending as far as the Baltic Sea and Constantinople, established the city of Dublin as Europe’s largest slave market.

By the 11th century, the Vikings had thoroughly integrated into Celtic society through intermarriage and conversion to Catholicism.

Paradise Papers Expose Trump Administration Tax Cheats

10 Minutes: the Paradise Papers

Press TV (2018)

This short video provides a capsule summary of the Paradise Papers, 13.4 million electronic files leaked in November 2017 about the wealthy tax dodgers who use offshore tax havens to avoid taxes and conceal illegal financial dealings.

Although the Paradise Papers scandal has received less publicity than the Panama Papers did in 2015, its list of culprits is far more comprehensive. At the top are the Queen of England, Madonna, Bono, Apple, Nike, the Queen of Jordan, the ministers of finance of Canada and Brazil, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (who used tax havens to conceal illegal dealings with sanctioned Russian businessmen) and Gary Cohen, who wrote Trump’s new tax law. The EU has slapped a $13 billion fine on Apple for tax evasion, which they refuse to pay.

Analysts who have studied both the Paradise and the Panama Papers estimate that approximately $7.8 trillion is held in offshore tax havens or 10% of global GDP.

The best known tax havens are Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and British-controlled Cayman Islands, Bahama, Jersey and the Isle of Mann. There is growing pressure on the British government to crack down on tax and banking policies in their tax haven colonies.