Tag Archives: Maggie Plummer

Spirited Away le Maggie Plummer – Léirmheas

Is dócha go gcuimhneoidh léitheoiri an bhlag seo ar na haltanna a phostáil mé anuraidh inar thacaigh mé le Liam Hogan ó Luimneach, duine a bhfuil cion fir déanta aige le troid in éadan mhéim (nó mhiotas!) Sclábhaíocht na nGael. Is píosa raiméise é seo, cacamas athbhreithnitheach a bhfuil cuma bhréagach na staire air. De réir na méime seo, cuireadh neart Gael chuig na coilíneachtaí i dTuaisceart Mheiriceá agus i Muir Chairib sa tseachtú haois déag, san ochtú haois déag agus fiu sa naoú haois déag, díoladh mar sclábhaithe iad agus caitheadh ní ba mheasa leo ansin ná mar a caitheadh leis na sclábhaithe Afracacha. Is é an ‘ceacht’ atá le baint as seo, dar lena lán, ná más féidir le Gael-Mheiriceánaigh iad féin a tharraingt amach as ainnise na sclábhaíochta, ba chóir go mbeadh Afra-Mheiriceánaigh ábalta an rud céanna a dhéanamh. Ni nach ionadh, is Forchiníochaithe Geala iad an chuid is mo de na daoine a chuireann an raiméis seo chun cinn.

Má amharcann tú ar Irish Slavery ar Twitter, tá a lán barúlacha ann ar nós ‘The Irish were slaves too’ agus a lán barúlacha eile a bhréagnaíonn iad. Ó am go chéile, áfach, bíonn teachtaireacht ann faoi leabhar darb ainm Spirited Away le Maggie Plummer. Tá léirmheasanna léite agam ar an úrscéal seo faoi na ‘Gaeil a goideadh’ roimhe seo, ach roinnt seachtainí ó shin, shocraigh mé go gceannóinn cóip de agus go léifinn é. Ní as siocair go raibh dúil agam san ábhar, ach mheas mé gur chóir do dhuine éigin atá in éadan na méime é a léamh agus léirmheas ionraic a chur ar fáil.

Is raiméis lom an leabhar seo ó thús go deireadh. Tosaíonn sé le Plummer ag labhairt ar an ‘taighde’ a rinne sí ar théama Sclabhaíocht na nGael. Deir sí gur díoladh Gaeil tríd an chéad trí scór bliain den 17ú haois agus go raibh suas le 100,000 duine i gceist. Mar a chonaic muid roimhe seo, is figiúr randamach an 100,000 a chum Thomas Addis Emmett (agus a luaigh James Connolly agus A.M. Sullivan ina dhiaidh.) Nil sé bunaithe ar fhianaise ar bith. Na Gaeil a fuadaíodh nó a gabhadh mar chimí cogaidh i gcogaí Chromail, is mar sheirbhísigh dhintiúir a cuireadh chuig na coilíneachtaí iad, ní mar sclábhaithe. Tugadh dintiúr suas le deich mbliana do na príosúnaigh chogaidh. Is cruálach agus is uafásach an scéal é go bhféadfaí dintiur níos faide ná sin a thabhairt do pháistí, mar níor saoradh iad go raibh bliain agus fiche bainte amach acu.

Is le moll amaidí a thosaíonn an leabhar seo agus téann rudaí chun sioparnai as sin amach. Insíonn sé eachtraí cailín a bhfuil sracadh inti darb ainm Frederica (Freddie) O’Brennan. Tá Freddie trí bliana déag d’aois agus ina cónaí i gCill Chainnigh nuair a thosaíonn an leabhar sa bhliain 1653. Seo i ndeireadh ceann de na tréimhsí ba mheasa agus ba choscraí i stair na hÉireann. Bhí cogaíocht agus gorta agus galar i ndiaidh slad a dhéanamh ar an tír (mar a deir Plummer sa réamhrá, cé go bhfuil na meastúcháin faoi chéatadán an phobail a fuair bás ró-ard, mar is gnách le Plummer). Ach de réir cosúlachta, níor chuir na heachtraí tubaisteacha sin isteach ar mhuintir Bhraonáin. Bhí feirm acu, a lán bia, roinnt capall agus bó, agus cairt. Agus arán agus mil.

Ar ndóigh, ní raibh ach fíorbheagán daoine de bhunús Gaelach in Éirinn sa tseachtú haois déag a raibh Béarla acu. Agus nuair a bhain siad úsáid as an Ghaeilge, bhíodh a gcuid ainmneacha i nGaeilge. Ní O’Brennan nó Ó Braonáin a bheadh uirthi, ach an leagan baininscneach, Ní Bhraonáin. Agus maidir le Frederica nó Freddie, ní ainmneacha Gaelacha iad sin. Bheadh sé chomh maith ag Plummer Cheyenne nó Chelsea nó ainm randamach ar bith eile a roghnú ó scuad áitiuil na ngárthóirí molta in Montana. Níl leagan Gaeilge ann de Frederica, go bhfios domsa, agus ní bheadh an t-ainm sin in úsáid ag Gaeil in Éirinn sa 17ú haois. Mar an gcéanna leis an ainm Ryanne. Is ainmneacha Gael-Mheiriceánacha iad sin, ni ainmneacha Gaelacha.

Tá Freddie amuigh ag marcaíocht ar chapall breá nach mbeadh sí ábalta é a choinneáil, is dócha, agus cogadh dearg ag dul ar aghaidh sa tír, agus nuair a fhilleann sí ar an teach, tá saighdiúirí Chromail ag tógáil a hathar leo. Tá sé le dul chun na Spáinne le troid ar son na Corónach, mar dhea. Cé acu coróin, áfach? Coróin na Spáinne? Ba phoblacht nó ‘commonwealth’ é Sasana in 1653 agus bhí Cromail ann mar cheann stáit in áit rí nó banríona. Agus ní raibh cogadh ann idir na Sasanaigh agus na Spáinnigh go fóill.

Ar scor ar bith, deir duine de na saighdiúirí Sasanacha go gcaithfidh siad imeacht agus an fheirm a fhágáil, ach fágann sé na rudaí luachmhara uilig acu, rudaí ar nós na mbó agus na gcapall. Ó aidhe, agus tá cead acu an Bíobla a thabhairt leo fosta. Teaghlach Caitliceach in Éirinn sa 17ú haois, agus Bíobla acu. Tugann siad aghaidh ar Ghaillimh, mar a bhfuil aintín dá gcuid ina cónaí. I nGaillimh, bualann strainséir bob ar Freddie agus a deirfiúr Aileen. Cuirtear ar bord loinge iad agus cuirtear chuig oileáin Mhuir Chairib iad.

Ag an phointe seo, éiríonn gach rud cineál gáirsiúil. Díoltar na cailíní ar ceant mar sclábhaithe agus iad lomnocht. Bíonn íomhánna de na ceantanna lomnochta seo coitianta go leor ar line i gcomhthéacs ‘Sclábhaíocht na nGael’. Is seanphictiúir ón 19ú haois déag iad, pictiúir Fhrancacha a bhí lonnaithe i saol na seanRómhánach nó i saol na nArabach, cosúil leis an cheann thuas.

Díoltar Freddie, brandáiltear le hiarann te í agus éignítear í. Tá an chuid seo tipiciúil de chineál ficsean stairiúil ar a dtugtar bodice-ripping i mBéarla (scéal réabtha cabhlach). Is iontach an méid uaireanta a luann Plummer an focal cabhail (bodice). Cibé rud a tharla do na cailíní óga Gaelacha a cuireadh chuig oileáin Mhuir Chairib – agus ní duine saonta mé agus is cinnte gur imríodh mí-úsáid ghnéasach ar chuid de na daoine óga seo – ní sclábhaithe a bhí iontu. Níor díoladh mar sclábhaithe buana iad. Ní dhéantaí iad a bhrandáil, mar ní earra nó sealúchas nó maoin a bhí iontu. Agus is rídheacair a shamhlú gur cuireadh cailíní óga ar ceant lomnocht faoin tseanPhiúratánach sin Cromail, cibé rud a tharla go príobháideach. Bhí Cromail agus a chuid maolagán sásta go leor babaithe a dhúnmharú ach daoine gan éadaí in áit phoiblí – sin scéal eile ar fad!

Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, níl a fhios ag an údar faic na fríde faoi Éirinn sa tseachtú haois déag agus níl a fhios aici faic na fríde bídí faoin sclábhaíocht ná faoin tseirbhíseacht dintiúir sa Mhuir Chairib sa tréimhse sin.

Aisteach go leor, ní dóigh liom gur ciníochaí í Plummer. Bíonn Afracaigh nó Bundúchasaigh Mheiriceá uasal, cineálta sa leabhar seo. Is Sasanaigh iad an chuid is mó de na drochearraí in Spirited Away. Agus is aisteach an dóigh a mbíonn sí ag díol an leabhair seo ar Twitter taobh le daoine a chreideann nach bhfuil daoine de bhunús Afracach chomh maith le daoine geala ó thaobh na géineolaíochta de. Ar dhóigh, cuireann sé i gcuimhne dom duine a bhíonn ag freastal ar linseálacha le líomanáid a dhíol agus a ghnóthaíonn neart airgid as. Mise? Níor linseáil mise duine ar bith riamh! Níl mise ach ag díol líomanáide le duine ar bith atá á hiarraidh …

Lena rá ar bheagán focal, is cacamas an leabhar seo. Cuireann an drochscríbhneoireacht agus an drochthaighde ó mhaith é. Ní fiú faic é. Duine ar bith a mheasann go bhfaighidh siad eolas iontaofa faoi stair a shinsear ó Éirinn (agus ar an drochuair, tá a lán daoine dá leithéid ann, de réir na léirmheasanna deimhneacha ar Amazon), tá dul amú air nó uirthi.

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Spirited Away by Maggie Plummer – A Review

Readers of this blog may remember that I posted a number of items last year in support of Liam Hogan of Limerick, who has done great work in standing up to the Irish Slavery meme. This is a piece of revisionist nonsense masquerading as history. The meme claims that the Irish were sent to the colonies in North America and the Caribbean in the seventeenth, eighteenth and even nineteenth centuries as slaves and that they were treated worse than African slaves. The usual ‘moral’ drawn from this is that if the Irish-Americans could pull themselves up from the degradation of slavery, African Americans should be able to do the same. Not surprisingly, most of the people who promote this nonsense are White Supremacists.

When you look at Irish Slavery on Twitter, there are lots of comments saying that ‘The Irish were slaves too’ and lots of comments saying the opposite. However, every few tweets, there is one about a book called Spirited Away by Maggie Plummer. I have read reviews of this ‘novel of the stolen Irish’ before, but just recently I decided to buy a copy and read it. Not because I wanted to, but because I felt someone should read it and provide a review.

This book is absolute nonsense from beginning to end. It starts with Plummer’s ‘research’ about the theme of Irish Slavery. She states that the Irish were sold as slaves throughout the first six decades of the 17th century and that up to 100,000 Irish were treated this way. As we have seen, this figure of 100,000 is a random figure invented by Thomas Addis Emmett (and later quoted by James Connolly and A.M Sullivan.) It is based on no evidence at all. The Irish who were kidnapped or taken as prisoners of war in the Cromwellian wars were sent as indentured servants, not as slaves. Prisoners of war could be given up to ten year indentures, while children, perversely, couild be kept for longer until they reached the age of majority.

The book starts with a great deal of silliness and gets worse. It recounts the adventures of a spirited girl called Frederica (Freddie) O’Brennan, who is thirteen and living in Kilkenny in the year 1653 at the start of the book. This is the end of one of the most traumatic periods in Irish history. The land had been ravaged by war and disease (as Plummer states in the introduction, though her estimates about the proportion of the population who died are characteristically high). Yet the O’Brennan household had not been affected by these catastrophic events, apparently. They had a farm, plenty of food, several horses and cows, and a cart. And bread and honey.

Of course, very few Gaelic Irish people spoke English in the 17th century. And where they spoke Irish, they would have used Irish forms of their name. This girl would not have been called O’Brennan. She would have been called the female form, Ní Bhraonáin. As for Frederica or Freddie, she might as well have called her Cheyenne or Chelsea or any other random name from the local cheerleading squad in Montana. There is no Irish form of Frederica and nobody would have called their child that in 17th century Ireland. The same goes for Ryanne. These are Irish –American names, not Gaelic names.

Freddie, as she’s known, is out riding a fine horse which probably would have been taken from her by somebody in this time of war, and comes back to find English soldiers leading her father away. He’s being taken to fight for the Crown in Spain, apparently. Whose Crown? The Spanish Crown? Because at this stage, England was a Republic, or Commonwealth, with Cromwell at its head. And the English were not fighting the Spanish in 1653.

Anyway, an English soldier tells them to get off their farm, but leaves them all the valuable things like cows and horses. Oh, yes. And they take their Bible with them. An Irish Catholic family in the 17th century. With a Bible. They head off to an aunt living in Galway. In Galway, Freddie and her sister Aileen are tricked and forced to go on board a ship. They are sent to the Caribbean.

Here, the whole thing becomes pretty lurid. There is a naked slave auction. Images of such slave auctions are common enough on line in the context of ‘Irish Slavery’. They are taken from 19th century French pictures of slave auctions in Ancient Rome or in the Arab world, just like the one above.

Freddie is sold, branded, raped. It’s typical of a certain genre of historical fiction called bodice-ripping. It’s amazing how often Plummer mentions bodices. Whatever happened to young Irish girls who were sent to the Caribbean – and I’m not naïve enough to think that such sexual abuse didn’t happen – these people weren’t slaves, sold in perpetuity. They wouldn’t have been branded because they weren’t property. And it’s hard to imagine that slaves were auctioned naked under the old Puritan Cromwell, whatever happened in private. Cromwell and his roundheads were quite happy to slaughter babies but people naked in a public place – that’s another matter entirely!

In other words, the author knows damn all squared about Ireland in the seventeenth century and damn all cubed about slavery and indentured servitude in the Caribbean.

Strangely, it seems to me that she is probably not a racist. Black characters are generally depicted as noble or kind, while the villains are all English. Which makes it doubly strange to find her peddling her wares on Twitter beside people who think African Americans are genetically inferior. In a way, it reminds me of someone who attends lynchings to sell lemonade and makes a huge amount of money out of it. Me? I never lynched anybody. I’m just selling lemonade to whoever wants it …

In summary, this book is dross. It is badly-written, badly-researched and entirely devoid of merit. Anyone who thinks this will inform them about the history of their Irish ancestors (and sadly, there seem to be a lot of them, judging by the positive reviews on Amazon) is deluding themselves.