Ireland's role in British Empire


Madam, - While I agree with Tom Cooper's sentiments on the long dry spell for Dublin hurling (September 6th), I cannot agree with his statement that Ireland was once "part" of the British Empire.

My understanding of the "British" Empire is that it was it was created by the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland", a single state of which the territory now occupied by the Republic of Ireland was an integral part, just as Munster is an integral part of the Republic.

We were never a colony - one the contrary, we were the colonisers. Irish soldiers, sailors, civil servants and politicians all participated in the creation and administration of that vast worldwide empire, as did the English, Scots and Welsh.

By achieving independence we also seem to have achieved collective absolution internationally for our part in the colonising of so many parts of the world. Also, like the young protester outside Croke Park before the first rugby game played there, holding a sign saying "no foreign games" while wearing a Celtic soccer shirt, we also seem to have a mixed-up national memory.

If the empire existed today, to be politically correct, it would have to be known as the British and Irish Empire, just like the Lions rugby team.

There is perhaps a PhD awaiting some young history student for researching and reclaiming our role in empire-building. - Yours, etc,

SEAN O'BYRNE, Aranleigh Court, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.