A famine ship, like a ghostly galleon, has resurfaced this week and with it, great lessons about the English ruling class attitude to Ireland for the modern day.
Lord Palmerston, (1784-1865), twice Prime Minister of Britain, owned 10,000 acres in North Sligo and when the Famine struck he exported thousands of his tenants on coffin ships to America in order to clear his land. Some of the ships he chartered were among the worst of the coffin ships, indeed conditions on board were compared to the horrific passage on slave ships.
Palmerston detested the Irish, hoping a Confederate victory in the US Civil War would eliminate all the Irish emigrants who had flocked to the Union side.
This weekend came the news that a ship that Palmerston had chartered to rid himself of the Irish off his estate, has emerged from the past like a ghostly galleon, a reminder of what was done to the Irish by men like Palmerston.
Remains of 21 Irish Famine victims, who died when Palmerston’s ship was lost off the Canadian coast in 1847, were positively identified by Canadian authorities 174 years later.
Three of the victims, two 7-year-old boys and an 11-year-old boy who were found first in 2011, bore severe malnutrition evidence in their bones. Eighteen more, mostly women and children, also with extensive Famine diseases, were found in 2016.
The misery the 180 Irish on the boat and the horror of the deaths of so many of them, mostly women and children, would not have cost Palmerston a thought.
It would be foolish to think of Palmerston or the toffs of his time who considered the Irish nuisances who were better got rid off were unique to their time and era.
There are English nationalists today with massive superiority complexes who think like Palmerston when it comes to Ireland. Consider the Brexiteers for instance.
They have been warned that a hard border could well facilitate a resumption of The Troubles which tore Northern Ireland apart for thirty years.
Their answer it to try to ridicule such sentiment and make the border expendable in pursuit of their greater goal of restoring even remnants of the empire that men like Palmerston left to them.
They have as little sense of the catastrophic consequences of their current action as Britain did when the Irish Famine struck.
Sure there are enlightened British politicians but they are not the drivers of the Brexit train nor will they be able to prevent the train crash that surely awaits.
Palmerston was in power at the height of the British Empire that the Brexiteers are desperate to harken back to those days.
What the actions of men like Palmerston and the Brexiteers tell us that British malign influence on Ireland has not gone away you know. The Jacob Rees Mogg maniacs will gladly abandon the Irish and catapult them back into war and ruin if it means the Union Jack can fly alone again.
Famine and the Brexit madness come from the same rot, diseased British thinking that can lead to catastrophic consequences.We are living it again today.