Most oppressed people ever


Sir, – Kieran Fagan (Letters, December 28th) errs in attributing the acronym MOPE – Most Oppressed People Ever to your former columnist Kevin Myers, as the latter had used it in 1999 in An Irishman’s Diary. Prof Liam Kennedy introduced the acronym in his 1996 book Colonialism, Religion and Nationalism in Ireland.

The economic historian cites similar sentiments to MOPE that were expressed in the 19th century by Charles Stewart Parnell (Ireland “was the most miserable country on the face of the earth”), Daniel O’Connell (“In the history of mankind there is nothing to be compared with the atrocity of crimes which England has perpetrated on the Irish people”) and in the American newspaper the Shamrock in 1812 (“they are the most oppressed people on the face of the earth”). – Yours, etc,


Kuala Lumpur,


Sir, – Kieran Fagan protests at the attribution to Liam Kennedy of the acronym MOPE (Most Oppressed People Ever), which he remembers Kevin Myers using in 1999 in “An Irishman’s Diary”.

I am a long-time admirer and friend of Kevin Myers, one of the most sparkling, brave and original Irish journalists ever, but MOPE appeared in 1997 in “Out of history: Ireland, that ‘most distressful country’”, one of the brilliant essays in Prof Kennedy’s Colonialism, Religion and Nationalism in Ireland.

Mr Myers, like me, was an early fan of the term, which we have both since then used liberally in our journalism and helped to popularise.

An updated version of the essay appeared in 2015 in that great read, the professor’s Unhappy the Land: The Most Oppressed People Ever, the Irish?, in which, as the late Senator Maurice Hayes put it, “he slaughters almost every sacred cow in sight, from the Famine to the Rising, the Ulster Covenant and the Proclamation of the Republic, the Troubles (however labelled retrospectively) and the Civil War.” – Yours, etc,