Irish History 3

Paddy McEvoy, Author and Teacher


Readers of Paddy McEvoy’s Humanist “Catechism” series and subscribers to his Blog were eagerly anticipating his four volume Disobedient Irish History. Books 1 and 2 did not disappoint.
Volume 3 finds him, once again, in top form, ploughing the foamy seas of Irish history like some modern-day Brendan, undeterred by leviathans, icebergs or stormy weather, and not at all phased by a lack of discernible maps or navigational aids. Well-read and superbly ubiquitous, Paddy McEvoy illuminates his writings with tales, anecdotes, songs and poems and stirs the reader with his obvious passion and enthusiasm for his subject.
Most histories are constrained by the shackles of chronology and the restrictive template of sequential thinking; not so here. Paddy McEvoy’s thought-processes are multi- lateral, his targets diverse and endlessly shifting like North Atlantic ice-floes. In this book among the first icebergs we crash into are Ireland's colonial past and the Ulster Covenant. Our authors navigate past such issues as Irish neutrality, the Irish language movement and the impact of emigration. The major themes of this work are speculations on what Ireland might have been "if" the relationship with England had not been fractured and prey to the fathomless contradictions of the Irish psyche.
If Brendan (known as “the navigator”) was a little challenged on the “where are we now” side of historical voyaging, he wasn’t one to baulk at obstacles and was even known to cook his breakfast on the backs of large sea beasts. As in previous volumes, Paddy McEvoy knows a leviathan when he sees one, and is inclined to pursue it like some latter day Irish Ahab until he has it harpooned with argument and reduced to blubber through insightful thrusting. In this successor volume, he continues breakfasting on the backs of some very big beasts.
Like Brendan, who was seeking a new perspective from which to view the ancient world, Paddy McEvoy sets himself apart from the orthodoxies and hypocrisies of the history of Ireland drilled into him as a schoolboy, and which he has seen visited on Ireland throughout his adult life.
The series is sub-titled “Awkward Questions and Divergent Answers” and this is an accurate summary of what this entertaining, energetic and emancipated series of short essays is all about. This, the third of four volumes of “A Disobedient Irish History”, will transport the reader to familiar places, but by new routes, and challenge her/him to see things from an altogether alternative view-point.
As always, Paddy McEvoy’s ideas and opinions are deliberately provocative and the reader may disagree (sometimes violently), as well as agree, with his conclusions. No matter! The continued objective of the quest is to disturb the big beasts, disperse the mists, harpoon the hypocrites, and re-discover some of the truths skulking deep within the rich and disobedient history of Ireland.