Queen and Ireland

Author: Eoghan Fay

As news broke on Sept. 8 of Her Majesty the queen’s death, the eyes of some of those I know fell on me. Perhaps, being Irish, some of my American peers expected me to celebrate the demise of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. In reality, Ireland’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth II was complicated, but no cheers greeted her death among the overwhelming majority of Irish people. On Sky News’ online public tribute page to the queen, for example, numerous Irish people left messages of gratitude to Her Majesty. As neighbors go, few share as painful and bitter a past as the United Kingdom and Ireland. After all, Ireland only won independence from British rule in 1921, and memories of the bloody “Troubles” in Northern Ireland endure. Enmity, stretching back to 1169, dominated Anglo-Irish relations until quite recently. The Crown seemingly epitomized all things British, including the country’s dark legacy in Ireland. Elizabeth II, however, proved crucial to normalizing our countries’ relations and nurturing the process of reconciliation between the two islands. As John Hume, architect of peace in Northern Ireland, said, “The trouble with the English is that they never remember, and the trouble with the Irish is that they never forget.” Her Majesty the queen, nevertheless, undertook enormously symbolic work to bridge the divide between those polar positions. With tact, delicacy and sincerity, the queen helped bury the phantoms of our shared traumatic past.

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