An excerpt from a speech delivered to the Hong Kong branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in November 2012. Since then, I rewrote it a bit to better suit the format of a blog.
- Unfair land ownership policies coupled with a lack of urbanization. For centuries in Ireland, power and wealth had been based on owning land. The laws were heavily skewed in the favour of the landlord, who was all too often absent and based in England. The Irish economy was essentially a rural economy, with little urbanization. Ireland had no coal, or major industries, aside from the linen trade, so the fuel to build cities simply wasn’t there. The country’s culture was essentially rural.
- The impact of proxy wars. These wars which were fought by France and England and others in Ireland over several centuries resulted in a dangerously militarized countryside. This meant that most males were skilled at fighting, either as members of a formal army on the one side, or as guerilla activists on the other.
- A cultural chasm that divided people along religious, political, and economic lines. As a result of the proxy wars as well as the effects of land ownership policies, Ireland was deeply divided. This polarization obscured the fact that policies governing land ownership and voting rights were the more likely roots of the divide - not religion. Religion was often exploited as a diversionary proxy for what was really wrong.
- Until they had come to Hong Kong, most of them had been wearing shirts that were hand-sewn by their sisters.
- Their education was not at the prestigious schools favoured by the British banking class.
- Most of them grew up eating their family meals in the company of the hired help.
|Andrew Hugh Gilmore JACKSON, the man on the right, was a nephew of Sir Thomas. Like his uncle, he grew up as a farmer’s son, and then worked at HSBC. Later, he worked as an independent broker. He died in Hong Kong of Hong typhoid fever in 1918. He is buried at Happy Valley, just across the street from the Race Track that he and his uncle often frequented. The surname of the person on the left is MOORE. I know nothing more of him.