The subject of the fate of southern Protestants during the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War has featured again recently in your columns.
For those who wish to learn more baout this matter, I would like to recommend an important contemporary source to which all have easy access (for a very modest fee!) I refer to the excellent historical archive of The Irish Times. This is available now on the web and can be searched easily for subjects or individuals, by date.
A valuable insight into the position of southern Protestants in this early period is provided by the reports of Church of Ireland diocesan synods which were usually held annually and which covered the whole country. Thanks to your web search facility these can be found quickly.
These reports in The Irish Times reveal a harrowing picture of what many members of the Protestant community experienced at this time. On June 14th 1923 the paper recorded that at the Cork diocesan synod, Bishop Dr Charles Dowse spoke of how: 'many of our people have gone. Neither we nor their country could afford to lose them. Their homes have been burned. Destruction has marched through the land.' At the Kilmore synod, reported on July 6th, 1923, Bishop Dr William Moore described how: 'One of the saddest features of the situation is that so many of our communion have been driven from the country. By their expulsion such citizens ... are now much fewer than they were'. Another insight can be found in the frank and courageous condemnation of these events contained in pastoral letters and speeches of various Catholic bishops.
The paper reported on February 17th 1923 that the Bishop of Cork, Dr Daniel Colohan, described how 'Protestants have suffered severely during the period of civil war in the south' and urged that 'charity knows no exclusion of creed'. On May 8th 1923, it recorded an appeal from the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Michael Fogarty, to a higher sense of patriotism, noting that 'their Protestant fellow countrymen - he regretted to have to say it - were persecuted and dealt with in a cruel and coarse manner.'
Thanks to your excellent website, people can now investigate our history for themselves.'
Professor BRIAN WALKER
School of Politics
Queen's University of Belfast
For too long this period of Irish history has been largely ignored. In recent years there has been a growing acknowledgement of the persecution of Protestant in southern Ireland in the 1920s but there is much more that needs to be done to research this era. A lot of attention has been focussed on the situation of Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland but much less on the plight of the Protestant minority in southern Ireland and the sectarian persecution directed against them by Irish republicans.