Saturday, 14 December 2013

My Grandfather would be Proud

The following letter appeared in the Irish Independent on 24th February 2007. On that day history was made when Ireland played England in a rugby International game played at Croke Park.

I take the liberty of reproducing the letter, having known the writer's grandfather, father and two uncles. His father, Pete Lanigan, played at mid-field on the Tipperary senior football team in 1950 when he partnered the great Mick Cahill of Mullinahone:
At about two in the afternoon on 21st November 1920, the players of Tipperary lined up for a team photograph before the match against Dublin. At the rear, three good friends from the village of Grangemockler stand side by side: Jerry Shelly, my grandfather Richard (Dick) Lanigan and Mick Hogan. 
Within minutes Hogan would be dead, shot by British paramilitaries, along with 13 other people, the youngest a fourteen year old boy. 
In recent weeks much has been written about men like my grandfather. They would be "turning in their graves" when England play Ireland at Croke Park today. My grandfather is buried in the village cemetery where Mick Hogan is. Nevertheless, he accepted the partition of Ireland in 1922, like the big majority of the electorate, and got on with his life. 
More likely my grandfather would be proud that a team representing Ireland is playing in the stadium where he won his All-Ireland medal in 1922. Perhaps he would even want to thank the British officer who came into the changing room preventing more players being shot. It is Irish people that will raise the English flag in Croke Park today, not a queen. 
And if people are objecting to the singing of the British national anthem, what about the Danes and Norwegians who also raped and pillaged Ireland in the past? 
All those people who claim to be indignant about Bloody Sunday, where were they on the 50th anniversary in 1970 when they unveiled the plaque in the Hogan Stand? 
I attended with my father and granddad. There was only a handful of people at the commemoration. Today, Granddad would also be reminded that England gave his son and many Irish people a living when the Irish republic could not provide work for them in the '50s and '60s. 
I spent many happy times with granddad when my parents broke up in the '60s and he never commented that his grandson considered himself to be English back then. 
Today his great grandchildren have an English mother and a plastic Paddy for a father. If he were alive, he would be cheering the Irish like the rest of the family, hoping sportsmen can set an example where politicians have failed. 
Dr.Richard Lanigan
Park Road
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT2 6DQ

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