Letter: Irish "obsession"

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Sir: History may indeed be bunk. Finnen 'Cuinn-De Tiits conception of the capture of Drogheda in September 1649 certainly is.

Most intriguing of all are his assertions that Cromwell was guilty of "genocide" and condemned himself by his words.

Genocide is the deliberate killing of a nationality or ethnic group. The Drogheda garrison was made up of a hotch-potch of nationalities and under the command of a renegade English Cavalier - Sir Arthur Aston.

There is little, if any, contemporary evidence of indiscriminate killing of civilians. Accusations of wholesale massacre of women and children orchestrated by Cromwell appear no earlier than the mid-19th century as an invention in support of Irish nationalistic polemics. As for Cromwell's own words, I quote from his letter of 12 September 1649 : "I offered mercy to the garrison of Treedagh (sic) in sending the Governor (Aston), a summons before I attempted the taking of it, which being refused brought their evil upon them..."

It was Aston, with his customary rashness, who put the lives of the town's people and garrison at peril, by attempting to fight off 12,000 troops with 3,000 poorly equipped men.

The claim that Cromwell wrote of burning alive "near 1,000 Irish" is nonsense.

Your correspondent would do better to turn his vitriol upon eight centuries' worth of murderous efforts of English, then British monarchs and their agents to impose themselves on the people of Ireland, with particular attention to the policies of King Charles I.

Oliver Cromwell knew how to deal with him.


Montgomery, Powys