THE Causeway Coast Peace Group met recently in Dunluce Parish Centre.
Canon George Graham opened with a reading from St. Mark and prayers for peace in the world and in our beautiful land. Joint Chairperson, Ann Irvine, then welcomed Gerry Burns from Armoy who introduced himself and spoke briefly of his wish, as part of the Peace 3 initiative, to invite dialogue between the Glens of Antrim G.A.A. and the Causeway Coast Peace Group to encourage cross-community understanding.
This proposal was received enthusiastically by the group
Eleanor Duff, joint chairperson, then introduced the guest speaker, Frank Rogers.
Mr Rogers was formerly Head of History at Mount Lourdes School and is the author of two books on stained glass and three on church history. His talk was on “Myths in Irish History” and he took his audience on a challenging journey from pre-Celtic times in Ireland to the present day.
He began by defining a myth as a fiction, half truth or an uncritical acceptance of a belief that is difficult to prove or disprove. He pointed out that myths can be more potent that historical facts because they appeal to the emotions and they permeate national life through song, art and stories from childhood.
Among some of the unexpected facts which Frank revealed in his wide-ranging presentation were that William of Orange was partly supported by Pope Alexander and his personal bodyguard, the Dutch Blue Guard, were Catholic; Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was a Catholic Unionist; Wolfe Tone, regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism, was Protestant; Sir Edward Carson’s cousin, Mary Butler, created the name Sinn Fein, and the Penal Laws punished Presbyterians as well as Catholics.
Frank ended with the quotation, “Flag waving thrives because it saves politicians thinking up serious policies” and encouraged his audience to look closely at the Irish tricolour which is green, white and orange, bringing together the two traditions with the white of peace and that the union flag incorporates the cross of St Patrick.
The Peace Group wish to thank Mr Rogers for reminding them that while they may value traditional stories and be stirred by the singing of “The Sash” or “A Nation once Again”, they should not let historical inaccuracy and false perception feed prejudices or lock them into continuing conflict.
Events for the diary are the Lenten Breakfast on 9 February, in St Patrick’s Hall, Portrush, at 9 a.m. with guest speaker, Rev. John Stanbridge, and the next meeting of the Peace Group is in St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s, Ballycastle, on March 19th at 10.15 a.m. when the guest speaker is Rev Andrew Rawding. Newcomers, as always, will be most welcome.