2000-04-08 / Columnists


A Commentary by James Conway Sullivan

As the song goes, "From a County Mayo town, came a man of great renown. A sailor and a soldier t'was no bolder. He went to Americay, at an early age, they say. As a cabin boy to sail the wide world over. Then adventure took him south..." The song is about the George Washington of Argentina, Mayo man Admiral
William Brown, an Irish immigrant who defeated the British in another land.

Admiral Brown fought the Spanish and the English in order to achieve freedom and independence for his adopted home of Argentina, in South America. William Brown's deeds are almost legendary. He founded an Irish paper for South America, "The Southern Cross". He started out by purchasing three whaling ships and proceeded to grow with his founding of the Argentinean navy. His exploits and valor in battle are simply too numerous to outline in this short article. The song continues, "and freedom then he sought for
Argentina...Las Islas Malvines Argentina..." The forementioned passage refers to the British re-invasion of the Malvines Islands (also known as the Falklands). Britain in search of land and plunder had steamed over five thousand miles to sleepy Argentina. In the late 1700s to early 1800s, South America was still a cornucopia of warring parties. Invaders, colonists, plunderers, settlers, and natives,...Europes' colonial powers were drooling at the reports of South America's bounty of gold, jewels, livestock, land, and natural resources. Chief amongst them of course was Britain, Spain, and Portugal. Admiral Brown did not join with the violators of human rights; and instead, became a rich man who stood with the natives and new settlers who hoped to forge a great nation without colonial influence or control. We all
know that mother England, of course, re-invaded the Malvines Islands and
fought a short and furious war there in the last few decades. British colonialism continues and not just in occupied Ireland.

William Brown's handiwork and legacy is the prosperous and free country of Argentina, whose freedom was largely shaped by freedom loving
hands--Irish hands!

The song continues, "In the empire days of old, where they murdered for
their gold, and paraded it around the streets of London. Sure no human
rights were given, to the natives dead ot living...Las Islas Malvines,

It’s interesting to note that the anti-colonialist spirit, after 200 years, is still willing to assert its right to freedom through force of arms, if necessary--hence, the British-Argentinean Falklands war of recent times. I'll never forget, I owned a pub called the old Claddagh Pub in Rockaway Beach. I'm sure many of you will remember this one evening when
a news flash came across the base of the TV screen. It announced the sinking of a British ship, by Argentineans, with Prince Andrew aboard.
Instant, unrehearsed pandemonium broke out. People cheering, yelling, a rake of Irish songs blared from the jukebox, and rounds of celebratory drinks went around. "With the empire tumbling down. Let no Paddys back the crown. Las Islas Malvines, Argentina!" Just the pure, pristine emotions of people with their own, and that of their family's lives, adversely affected by the old enemy, Britain. Just a snapshot of one time and place.

It’s interesting to note that there are different cultures on virtually
every continent that share a specific part of their own history with that of
Ireland's history of slavery, bondage, and oppression that relates directly
to British colonialism.

As we approach a new presidential election, what can, and should the Irish community expect from the two major presidential candidates? Well, my opinion is that Gore would continue on with Clinton's interest in and on the peace process and give it a high visibility on his own agenda. Texas Governor Bush would take a lower profile stance than would Gore. Although Bush has been a late convert to the peace process, he is committed to it. So, what are we left with? Clinton, again, and Clinton-light! There are, however, vast differences between the two contenders on Irish-Catholic issues as immigration, school vouchers, euthanasia, abortion, and problems of poverty and discrimination.



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