Tag Archive | Ireland

No Treasure But Hope

I really know very little about Irish history, it is not something we are taught in British schools (not even the British side of the story – it’s just brushed aside completely, at least it was when I was at school, and I doubt things have changed significantly in that regard) which makes me a little sad as it is part of my heritage.

So I thought I would share this famous poem from the Easter Uprising of 1916 to mark its centenary, and since hope and despair as well as freedom and escape are such common themes on this blog.

The Rebel

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,

I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!

I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars

P H Pearse



It’s all nonsense, constable! I’m telling you, I knew the man.”
“But did you know the symbiont inside the man?”

– Sisko and Odo, discussing the murder charges facing Curzon Dax


This episode features the trial of Jadzia Dax for a murder which may or may not have been committed by one of her antecedent selves, previous hosts of the Trill symbiont she carries.

The trial is reminiscent of Data’s trial which is to determine whether or not he is legally ‘alive’ for the purposes of deciding whether or not ‘human rights’ to self-determination apply to him.

I had not realised that this episode happened so early on in the series, and I suppose that really it was included in order to explore the idea of what it means to be Trill. We learn that not all Trill are lucky enough to become hosts; indeed there is enormous competition for the privilege, and Jadzia is impressively accomplished in her own right with several academic degrees to her name.

We learn about her immediately previous host Curzon, who was a friend and mentor to Commander Sisko, and quite different to Jadzia as a sometimes drunken, philandering, badly behaved Trill versus Jadzia who was an innocent, prim and proper young woman before joining.

Being joined with a symbiont has the effect of combining the young Trill’s personality with elements of all its previous hosts – in other words, it changes her so she is a new person. But to what extent does this change affect the host Trill? Does the newly joined Trill become responsible for the actions of its symbiont or its previous hosts?

As it happens, Curzon had not committed the murder, and it all comes out in the wash, but the question is never fully resolved – Dr Bashir testifies on her behalf to say that that the joined Trill is a completely new person and should not be held responsible for anything that happened prior to her time as host.

In real life, the application might be to look at whether individuals can be held responsible for the actions of their parents or ancestors. Benedict Cumberbatch recently spoke about his ancestors having owned slaves. It’s a horrible thought. He is obviously not proud, but should he feel guilty? Assuming he is not still benefiting from the wealth his slave-owning ancestors made off the back of slaves, is it best to leave it all in the past? If his family does still benefit from that wealth on the other hand, should they be made to give it up? give it back? to whom? How can past wrongs be righted so many generations later? Is it even possible?

I was thinking about the skeletons in my family’s cupboard. It was rumoured that my great grandmother on my father’s side, after having six daughters, had conceived her last child, a son, with another man, and the husband may have been ‘bumped off’! I never met that generation, so I know nothing of their characters or if there is any truth in the rumour. But what if it was true? What if the inheritance of the father went to the son who wasn’t his? It’s entirely possible.

Also on my father’s side, my cousin claims that when he traced the family tree he found that, beyond our Celtic heritage in Ireland, we had actually been descendants of Norman nobility, going all the way back to the wicked King John. I rather like that one. That makes me royalty. Bow to me, peasants! Haha! Sadly, second sons (and daughters) never inherited the title or the wealth.

On my mother’s side, the claim was that my grandfather had been a wealthy man of nobility with a title and wealth to his name, but had to give up his inheritance to marry my grandmother. I have no idea whether or not it’s really true. (I think my grandmother thought he was a teller of tall tales.)

What about you? Do you have ancestors that you are proud of? Ashamed of? What do you think you might find if you trace your family tree?


Thoughts on the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

I’m seeing rainbows everywhere and it’s all very pretty…

But I’m curious to understand how the Supreme Court of the United States works, how did the case come before the Supreme Court, who brought the case, and is the granting of rights over all of the states the norm, or is it unprecedented? Is the Constitution affected in any way, and if so how?

I am wondering how the decision (that no state can deny marriage to a homosexual couple) affects the separation of church and state – does the ruling affect only civil weddings or religious weddings as well? If not, will the US take the next step, as the UK has, to permit gay marriage in churches? (If churches had decided to do it before the ruling, would the Government’s rules trump the churches? Would such weddings / marriages be declared illegitimate?)

Here in the UK we’re left with the ridiculous situation that only Anglican Churches are not permitted to conduct weddings for homosexual couples, not to mention the discrepancy between civil partnerships only being available to homosexuals, a situation which cannot possibly continue. The next logical and inevitable step is to declare, on equality grounds, that no churches are permitted to deny weddings to homosexuals.

That, like the ruling forcing businesses like Asher’s bakery and the bed & breakfast in Cornwall to do business against their conscience, would be a step too far, in my opinion, since it tramples on the rights of others to freedom of conscience amongst other things. But again, this is the inevitable logical conclusion when government is the arbiter of rights and liberties and has unfettered power to prioritise one group’s rights over another’s.

The permitting of rights, by the way, is antithetical to the very basis of UK law, which is grounded on the foundational idea that anything is permitted except that which is banned by government, as opposed to Napoleonic law which automatically bans anything which is not permitted by government – a very dangerous precedent and a very slippery slope. As I understand it (and I may be wrong, perhaps somebody can clarify this for me), this basic system of permitting rights is the US system as well.

And so then, more fundamentally, if the Supreme Court had ruled against gay marriage, how legitimate would that ruling be? (Was there an existing law banning gay marriage, or was it just automatically banned because it was previously not permitted?) At what point did the US Government become empowered to grant or deny rights? Do people even realise and understand the implications of it having such power?

If the Ireland vote a few weeks ago had ruled against gay marriage, the majority ruling against the rights of a minority, would that have been ok? Would it have been legitimate?

The whole idea that anybody should be permitted to vote against somebody else’s rights is troubling to say the least.

I saw a snippet of Rand Paul saying that the government ought to get out of the marriage business, and I’m inclined to agree (although I can’t find the exact quote, and I don’t know his reasons, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say I agree with him personally).

There’s a much bigger question about the role of Government, its boundaries, its legitimate powers, and I haven’t even touched upon the religious / spiritual dimension. That is perhaps for another post, when I have sorted through my thoughts.

Suffice to say that I’m uneasy about the whole idea of governments granting marriage licences (or refusing to do so), and on the other hand religious weddings aren’t, or perhaps shouldn’t be, the same entity as civil weddings. Of course there is no separation of church and state in the UK, so it’s all a bit more complicated.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts from a legal / liberty perspective. I hope it’s not too disjointed.