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Ruth Dudley Edwards urges Queens University audience to ignore 'well known eccentric'

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Thursday June 01, 2006 15:55author by Niall Cusack - Irish Political Review June 2006 Report this post to the editors

She does this while not gazing into a mirror

Belfast actor Niall Cusack attended the launch of the republication of Ruth Dudley Edward's biography of Patrick Pearse, at Queens University Bookshop. He recounts Ruth's performance, including his own bit-part in the proceedings - taken from the just published June Irish Political Review.

Ms Ruth Dudley Edwards in person inspires a number of adjectives - 'frail' first and foremost. One thinks of Blanche in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Other adjectives include: fragile, confused, nostalgic, brave, timid, hopeful, pessimistic... oh, one could ransack Roget!

She chose to devote her entire speech at the launch of her book in the Bookshop at Queen's in Belfast to a review in this journal (May IPR page 3, graphic attached) and to the absurd allegations made by 'a well-known eccentric' called Jack Lane. 'He may be here now!' she cried, with great bravado, peering around a uniformly sycophantic Queen's academic audience. A shudder went round the room. But no, the Great Ogre was conspicuous by his absence.

NIall Cusack piece taken from June 2006 Irish Political Review
NIall Cusack piece taken from June 2006 Irish Political Review


But Ms Edwards had badly misjudged her audience. One could palpably sense their mystification. Who was this well-known eccentric? No-one in Belfast (that is, Queen's University) had ever heard of him. The jokes fell flat. There was a vague unease that such a Great Historian should spend so much time obsessively refuting allegations made by a nonentity in a nonentity's magazine.

But refute them she did. How dare Jack Lane suggest that she was ashamed of her book 'Patrick Pearse: the Triumph of Failure' ! She was proud of it, stood over every word, ...dammit, she was young and innocent when she wrote it, had no inkling of the trouble it might cause, particularly the bits about Pearse being unconsciously homosexual (sic), she was working at the Department of Trade and Industry, she was a lowly civil servant, she just wanted to get it

'The bastard!

At this stage the present writer was so carried away that if he had looked round and caught Jack Lane standing beside him he would have punched him in the nose, the bastard!

Ah, but then we went a trifle downhill.

Revisionist? A title of honour! "I wear the badge revisionist as a badge of honour! Patrick Pearse had a right to sacrifice himself but not all those civilians! If seven people can determine these things, the Continuity IRA has the right to style themselves the heirs of 1916. There is a flouting of democracy."

'Bad taste' interruption

As regards the celebrations of 1916: "There is a small but adult debate this year: get rid of the lot or accept it all. It is a huge
leap forward that the dead civilians were remembered by a minute's silence."

Ruth Dudley Edwards ended on a very dignified note, which I can't quite remember. There was quiet applause, which I had the bad taste to interrupt.

"Can I ask a question," I said, "what do you mean by flouting of democracy? Are you saying that the Easter Rising was a flouting of democracy? What democracy was there in Ireland or Britain in 1916?"


Ms Edwards was already quitting the podium but she muttered: "I don't want an argument!". I responded: "I don't want an argument either, I just want an answer to my question: what do you mean by flouting of democracy? When was the last General Election?" Ms Edwards muttered : "Home Rule was on the statute book", and turned her back on me. By
this stage there was the sort of palpable embarrassment among the audience as when someone has farted in church: acute discomfort combined with lack of courage to speak.

Someone else (of no consequence) made a speech (of no consequence). People came up to me and congratulated me on my intervention, in low tones. "Speak to her!" they said, "she's really very nice when you get to meet her."


Sure enough, after the inconsequential speeches, I approached Ms Edwards and said to her: "So, what do you mean by flouting of democracy?" She turned her back on me, without dignifying my question with a reply. She got stuck in signing copies of her book. A woman with big soulful eyes turned them on me and asked me who I was. I told her (admitting in the process that I was not Jack Lane) that I represented the Aubane Historical Society. She asked me what I thought of 'Patrick Pearse; the Triumph of Failure" and I said I thought it was a very good book. "But have you told Ruth that?" she wailed. I took the hint.

On my way out, I leaned over and said to Ms Dudley Edwards: "It's a very good book". She shuddered and turned her back on me.

Poor Blanche.

by Niall Cusack - June 2006 Irish Political Review

The June Irish Political Review includes an account of revisionist historian Peter Hart’s recent brief visit to UCC and the ambush that awaited him there. Correspondence with a nameless Queens University historian on the subject of Peter Hart's methods is also published. See

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The item so offending Ruth Dudley Edwards (IPR May2006) - double-click to read, left-click to save
The item so offending Ruth Dudley Edwards (IPR May2006) - double-click to read, left-click to save

author by Dudley Owenpublication date Thu Jun 01, 2006 18:04Report this post to the editors

The former Dubliner, from an academic family, Ruth Dudley Edwards is the author of ‘True Brits’, which some have mistaken for her autobiography. In fact it is an authorised history of the British Foreign Office (sympathetic foreigners make the best sycophants).

She has a further claim to fame as the defender of the indefensible, the Orange Order, in her book “Faithful Tribe’. This ‘liberal’ defender of the worst sectarians in Northern Ireland has a habit of pronouncing black white. Thus Protestants in the south of Ireland who are not unionists are the followers of ‘tame clerics’ who do not recognise that their manifest destiny is to be both Protestant and British at the same time.

Ruth livens up her Sunday Independent journalism by excoriating 1916, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and all as apologists for murder. She defends the tout, and political associate of fellow has-been David Trimble, Sean O’Callaghan, who has more than a few questions to answer in that department. Ruth is full of life in the sense that the latter is full of contradictions

Ruth likes the attention her pro-British observations induce in critics. She even publishes select criticism in a monument to narcissism, her website. Were I to write that this is unlikely to appear, she would re-publish it there.

Irish Embassy event
Besides Ruth, who denounced her own Granny as a fan of Hitler, and who damned her own book with no praise, there were other authors present at the Irish Embassy event that Jack Lane commented on, who were more than happy to promote their books.

They were:

Keith Jeffery (The GPO and the Easter Rising), Jonathan Githens-Mayer (Myths and Memories of the Easter Rising), Robert Lynch (The Northern IRA and the Early Years of Partition). All published by Irish Academic Press.

Here is a picture of the party at the Irish Embassy – spot the pooper.

Posers - Irish embassy event at which 'bounder' jack Lane affronted fragile author's sensibilities
Posers - Irish embassy event at which 'bounder' jack Lane affronted fragile author's sensibilities

author by Dudley Owenpublication date Fri Jun 02, 2006 00:00Report this post to the editors

Joining The Sun and Dominic Lawson, Ruth Dudley Edwards has joined the British media attack on the Cannes prize winning film, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, that deals with the War of Independence struggle in Cork.

Ruth’s piece was headlined:


As with her attack on Jack Lane, Ruth would do better addressing the charge to a mirror.


Ruth's latest target, Cannes prize winning film maker Ken Loach
Ruth's latest target, Cannes prize winning film maker Ken Loach

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author by roosterpublication date Fri Jun 02, 2006 23:19Report this post to the editors

and found it to be pretty much on the ball

author by Barrypublication date Fri Jun 02, 2006 23:33Report this post to the editors

if ever there was

( not)

author by Donnchadhpublication date Sat Jun 03, 2006 02:09Report this post to the editors

Dont know what "on the ball means" but presenting an openly sectarian organisation like the Orange Order as some kind of quaint and harmless cultural phenomenon is an example of the revisionist craft at its finest.

author by Harry Wellspublication date Mon Jun 05, 2006 17:21Report this post to the editors

The bounders criticised her but did not mention her name - at least jack lane had the courtesy to do that:

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author by Annie Ryan - Nonepublication date Mon Aug 07, 2006 21:48Report this post to the editors

Indymedia is most useful . Sometimes well known facts are pretty hazy. When was Emmett Dalton in the U,S, army?
Who stood for the Irish Party in the Election after Redmond's death?
How deep was the emotional attachment to the British Empire in 1916-1921?Have the Fenians/I.R.B. been of no account , due to infiltration by informers?

author by Richardpublication date Tue Aug 08, 2006 03:44Report this post to the editors

Is Jack Lane the same Jack from the Casement Asscociation (or whatever you call it)?

author by Sacha Ismailpublication date Mon Jun 15, 2009 17:12Report this post to the editors

Was Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising justified?

A discussion of Irish history and Irish politics today

Sean Matgamna of Workers' Liberty (YES) debates Ruth Dudley Edwards, biographer of James Connolly and Padraig Pearse (NO).

7.30pm, Thursday 18 June
The Lucas Arms, 245a Grays Inn Road (Kings Cross)

Hope to see you there

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author by Ruthlesspublication date Mon Jun 15, 2009 17:36Report this post to the editors

Ruth Dudley Edwards has the most finely honed penchant for projection I've ever encountered. There's more than one well-known eccentric who deserves to be ignored here...

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