The Troubles in Northern Ireland (1969—91) were stoked by Ian Paisley, a hate-spewing Presbyterian minister. David Duke and Jerry Falwell in one body.
For nearly 50 years from his pulpit and in his newspaper (Protestant Telegraph), he raged against homosexuality, abortion, civil rights, liberal churches, Catholics, and the pope (“the Antichrist!”). He riled up Protestants to destroy Catholic homes and businesses. He sabotaged every effort to reconcile Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.
Prime Minister Brian Faulkner says it’s “hands across the border” to Dublin. I say if they don’t behave themselves in the South, it will be shots across the border!
He organized paramilitary groups—the Third Force and the Ulster Resistance.
My men are ready to be recruited under the British Crown to destroy the vermin of the IRA. But if they refuse to recruit them, then we will have to destroy the IRA ourselves! We will stop at nothing!
Every Catholic in Ireland despised Ian Paisley. And even though he defiantly left the (moderate) Presbyterian Church of Ireland in 1951 to form his own denomination (Free Presbyterians, who make up 1 percent of the population), he was the face of Presbyterianism.
There are many kinds of Presbyterians. But he gave all Presbyterians a bad name in Ireland.
I’m Presbyterian. Ian Paisley made my blood boil.
In July 1989, during The Troubles, Paula and I went to Belfast and then to Corrymeela Center on the northern tip of the island. Corrymeela was founded in 1965 by Ray Davey, a Presbyterian minister, to aid individuals and communities suffering through the violence and polarization of the conflict. (Mother Teresa and Bishop Tutu paid visits.)
After a day of tours, workshops, testimonies, songs, and prayers, we returned to the nearby town of Ballycastle. That evening we went looking for a pub. (When in Ireland…)
We found one and went in, not knowing it was a “Catholic” pub. Everybody else just knew. We didn’t. (It didn’t have a NO PRODS sign outside.)
Twenty or so men sat quaffing pints. We ordered Guinness. The barkeeper said: Americans?
Well, I’m a Presbyterian minister, and I’m…
WHAT?! A PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER?!
What are you over here for?
GULP[ … ]
Actually, I came over to convert Ian Paisley to Christianity.
We didn’t have to pay for a single drink all night.
I love the Irish.
That’s a great story! I love it!
What a great way to begin Sunday morning with this post. Love it and love Ireland also. Hope someday to get back for another visit. That is if we ever get on the other side of this pandemic. Thank you for your posts every week. I look forward to them.
Wow, what a transitioning experience in reading your blog—from my blood boiling to a belly laugh! Perhaps laughter–and more of it–can help to heal the hatreds of the world.
You are fast on your feet and heart my friend.
First, thank you! I love, love this story (the part that includes you and Paula!). Second, and I still hear the audience clapping, I wish all peace negotiators were as successful as you are! 🍻(And it really is an abomination that people who wear a cloak of Love and Faith can be so filled with hatred and inspire so much harm). As always, in gratitude.
Here’s raising a glass with you and Paula!
We were in Ireland in 2011. Our Scottish guide, Gordon, knowing I was a Presbyterian minister, told us a story about Ian Paisley as we drove around Belfast. It seems that Paisley was, as usual, laying into his parishioners about the punishments of hell. “And there will be gnashing of teeth,” he spewed from the pulpit. That was when an old man on the front pew piped up and said, “But Pastor, I ain’t got no teeth!” Paisley, in his harsh, guttural Ulster accent, shouted back. “Teeth will be provided!”
Laughter is truly the best medicine… we need more of it! You levied an instant ice-breaker & warmer of hearts…humor is a healer. Fortunate are those who live with mirth & laughter – and blessed are those who spread them freely! What a lovely story, & fantastic twist. Reminds me of all the Irish jokes we heard one summer at our UN affiliated Peace Camp – told by our Irish Catholic Counselor Kenneth Vaughan from Cork…”An Englishman, an Scottsman & Irishman walked into a pub…”. Now we add an American Presbyterian Minister…lol
Thank you for sharing this life experience. My own juxtaposition has been in my many trips to Israel. Visiting a Palestinian girl’s school in East Jerusalem and seeing a map of Palestine with all the place names written in Arabic and learning of the more than 400 villages that were simply bulldozed and destroyed by the Israelis after the villagers left out of fear and never allowed to return. Seeing a village divided in half by a concrete wall (just like when I visited the Berlin Wall), one side the West Bank, the other side Israel. I remember visiting a wonderful village of Israeli artists with my longtime Jewish friends. My American/Palestinian friend declined to join us, as he said this was once the Palestinian village where his parents lived before they were chased out by fear, disowned, and never allowed to return.
We so badly need a John Lennon or a Pete Seeger to help us all join hands and live in Peace.
On your next trip could you visit Donald?
Yes please. Visit the Donald!
Loved the story.
There is a plaque by our door. Irish Diplomacy : The art of telling someone to go to hell and having them look forward to the trip. i have never had the opportunity. yet.
Oh my God! This is such a wonderful tale! Thank you; I will read this to everyone in the house and send it to everyone I know. Good thing you are so quick-witted. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! By all the Saints!
Read “Say Nothing” an account of the Irish troubles and search for truth regarding a murder. Hard to read because the era was so brutal.