It is interesting when opportunities arise to make points relating to how aspects of history can continue to be misused. Conor Coffey has made it clear that in sending this letter to newspapers in Ireland it was definitely not an attack on the famine committee who, he clearly states, are doing great work. His grievance, in this matter is with the Town Council and Town Merchants who, he claims, keep the Vandeleur name out of convenience and not any conviction.
Read on and if you know similar instances of misuse of history please leave a comment below.
A letter from Conor Coffey, formerly of Kilrush, Co. Clare.
A Dhuine Uasail,
I followed closely the visit to Kilrush recently of President Michael D. Higgins, who was there along with a host of foreign dignitaries to commemorate the terrible times of the famine. Kilrush was chosen for this special famine commemoration as it was an area greatly impacted by an Gorta Mór. Lording over the thousands of deaths of the famine times was the landlord John Ormsby Vandeleur, widely regarded as one of the worst landlords of the time. He was succeeded by Hector Vandeleur who was no better and indeed who in turn lorded over the area as thousands continued to perish annually well into the 1850s.
Was it not a national disgrace then that to arrive at the site of this special famine commemoration President Higgins and his cavalcade entered Kilrush directly by Vandeleur Street, named in honour of John Ormsby Vandeleur, proceeded down Henry Street, named in honour of John Ormsby Vandeleur’s son, onto Frances Street, named in honour of John Ormsby Vandeleur’s wife, to the solemn remembrances of our famine victims. Indeed if coming from the East, North or South it mattered not which route President Higgins took, whether by Grace Street, Moore Street, Toler Street, Hector Street or John Street he would have had to travel via a street still eponymously honouring a Vandeleur.
Perhaps the planners should have had President Higgins arrive from the West by sea: passing the remnants of the old workhouse and poorhouse where so many perished, and landing at Paupers’ Quay where so many of the famine survivors departed to their exile and death on coffin ships.
Is mise le meas,
formerly of Kilrush, Co. Clare