Education system airbrushes many periods of history

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

The educational system airbrushes much more than the period noted as airbrushed by unionist groups (‘Young people need to learn bonfire culture,’ March 19).

It airbrushes the years in which Ireland was held as a papal fiefdom with the king of England being lord of Ireland. The income from the papal Taxation Ecclesiastica being often divided between the bishop of Rome and the king of England as lord.

The fiefdom to which Henry was the last to succeed to came to an end with Henry VIII proclaiming Ireland a kingdom and the Gaelic chiefs and others pledging their allegiance to Henry as king of Ireland at a mass in what is now Dublin’s Christ Church Cathdral.

It is not only the educational system that airbrushes. There are others besides. It is airbrushing all round.

The BBC airbrushes in referring to the commemoration of the battle of the Boyne as the victory of the Protestants over the Catholics or the Protestant king over the Catholic king as though that is how the battle is to be seen, rather than a major European battle, not in numbers but in significance for the future of Europe.

It airbrushes — as does the educational system and the bonfire tradition airbrush — when it treats the battle as though it was a mere sectarian fight, ignoring William of Orange’s tribute afterwards to “our allies of the Roman communion” (see The English and Their History, by Robert Tombs). William had support from more than one side and for more than one reason.

And Penguin Books, the publisher of Tombs’ history, similarly airbrushes in dropping the introduction to its earlier printing of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man and replacing it in later printings by an introduction that avoids mentioning what the earlier did mention — Tom Paine’s attendance at the dinners of the then Orange Clubs in Lewes where he would toast The Glorious Revolution as opposing autocratic rule and opening the way to what would become parliamentary democracy and the rights of man.

That is something that, at least, those concerned with bonfire culture might take up.

W A Miller, Belfast BT13