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Getting His Irish Up

October 20, 1985

I was very interested in Charles Champlin's feature on the life and career of Greer Garson ("Mrs. Miniver Goes West," Oct. 13.)

It is quite true that at the time she was born (1908) it was correct to describe her birthplace as Castlewellan, County Down, Ireland. At that time, the whole of Ireland was one administrative unit, a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

However, partition of the island in 1921, which took into account (albeit too roughly) the differing allegiances of the two peoples of the island of Ireland, placed County Down very firmly within the boundaries of Northern Ireland. Only the seceding, 26 southern counties should now be described as simply "Ireland."

I submit this elaboration not out of any wish to be pedantic. I regret that there is an all-too-common trend for Irish nationalists, and even Irish chauvinists, to hijack the achievements of Northern Ireland Protestants, and incorporate them as part of the Irish-Catholic-Gaelic mystique.

Not only is this done with living Ulster Protestants, such as Greer Garson, James Galway, Van Morrison, George Best, etc., even the Scotch-Irish (i.e., Ulster Protestant) Founding Fathers of the United States are regularly and posthumously conscripted.

Although most of Ulster's living legends tolerate this inaccuracy without protest (so as not to make political waves), I am quite certain that Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Arthur, Johnson, McKinley, Crockett, Bowie, etc., would be spinning in their graves!


Director, Ulster-American

Heritage Foundation

Manhattan Beach

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