Idly?

Published in Issue 6 (November/December 2020), Letters, Volume 28

Sir,—I was surprised to see the famous Jack Lynch quote misquoted (HI 28.5, Sept./Oct. 2020, editorial). I believe he never used the word ‘idly’. Even though it is only one word, it was used by loyalists for propaganda purposes to indicate that an Irish Army invasion of the six counties was imminent, causing widespread hysteria amongst unionists. It is just one word but it had huge implications for the beleaguered Catholic population.—Yours etc.,

GEORGE LAMBERT

Sir,—I wish to object to the incorrect quotation ‘stand idly by’ in the editorial in the last issue and to the implication that the Republic should have intervened using military force in 1969. The Irish army was not capable of an effective intervention and, in my opinion, it would have led to a wider conflict.—Yours etc.,

KIERAN CONNOLLY

Both Messrs Lambert and Connolly are, of course, correct; Jack Lynch never used the word ‘idly’. Yet that is how it is remembered, or mis-remembered—another illustration of the difference between ‘history’ and ‘memory’. There was no other intended ‘implication’ in my editorial, other than to draw parallels between the plight of Northern Catholics in 1920–22 and in 1969.—Ed.

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