英语学习杂志 2018-03-30 16:02





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By Christine Mc Cafferty

李梦瑶 注

Shannon and Christine were at an 18th birthday party in the Northern Ireland. It was nearly 3 am and time to go home, anyone would think. Instead they were invited to a secret political meeting by a young Irish man named Connor. The area they were visiting was a hotbed of unrest as the Irish fought and even waged war against the British government. They wanted Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland in the south.

The first thing we did after leaving the birthday party was to pick up chicken burgers; about 20 of them. It seems that even political rebels need to eat fast food in the early hours of the morning! Then we headed off in a car. We were told to lie down in the back. I thought it might be because we were driving through a dangerous area, but when we got there Connor told me that the reason was in fact because he did not want us to see where we were going– for our own sake! Might we be caught and interrogated by the police? That thought was scary. We arrived at a house on the outskirts of town; it was not a farm but it backed onto a field.

We entered the house, without knocking, with the burgers. There were about ten young men in the house already. Connor told them not to worry about us girls as we were travelers and on “their” side, and they seemed quite pleased about that. Maybe they thought it was good to have young people from around the world in support of their cause. They then spoke for hours about various locations, and people, and who would meet where, and who would dismantle something, and who would talk to someone, and so it went on. The Irish accent is very strong and we struggled to understand what they said anyhow.

One young man there seemed argumentative and angry, even with these people who were his friends and allies. Later Connor told us that the young man’s brother had been imprisoned for life for being part of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) . Connor told us that he is part of Sinn Féin which means “we ourselves” in the old Irish language. These words promote the idea that Ireland should have self-determination, rather than being part of a political union with Great Britain, under London’s Westminster Parliament. Sinn Féin was linked to the IRA. The IRA was involved in many acts of violence, killings and bombings as they fought for Irish independence.

The conflict and war in Ireland is often described as a war between Protestants and Catholics. These are two different Christian institutions or belief systems. Many people therefore imagine that the war was a religious war. But in fact the conflict has nothing to do with religion; their religions are just the way that the two groups have identified culturally, especially in the past. A thousand years ago it was mostly Celtic Irish people who spoke the Gaelic language in Ireland but, over the centuries, waves of people came from Scotland and England to settle in Ireland. Between 1534 and 1603, tens of thousands of people were sent by the British government as part of their plan to take over Ireland by populating the country with people who were British subjects. By different means they took the land and established settlements or strongholds, such as large farms, many known as plantations, and in this way ruled over large areas. Because England and Scotland were Protestant countries, most of these new settlers and landowners were Protestants while the original Irish inhabitants remained Catholic. The conflict has nothing to do with religion but rather is about “original ownership” of land.

The way many Irish see the conflict is that their country was stolen from them by England. By the end of the 1600s, the Catholics, despite being 85% of the country’s population, were banned from their own parliament. The Irish parliament was abolished in 1801 and Ireland was ruled from London.

For centuries, the Irish had battled and staged rebellions in an attempt to free the country. By1921, after two and a half years of war, they managed to free the whole of the south, at least three quarters of the country.

It was after 5am before the political meeting ended. The men left in different directions, many of them disappearing on foot through the fields. We felt like we had been part of something important…part of history…It was a little troubling, but exciting at the same time.

We got dropped back at John and his sister Mary’s farmhouse, where we were staying. Their lovely family didn't mind us coming home so early—late I mean; they just wanted us to have a good time. We told them how we met the man from Sinn Féin. Mary said it was good that we got to learn more about Irish politics. I asked her what her political beliefs were. She said that their family belonged to a political party that wanted an independent Ireland, but peacefully. “I don’t believe in violence,” she said, “but I do want to see Ireland united as one.”

Things of course are never simple though and many people’s ancestors came to Ireland many hundreds of years ago. They regard themselves as Irish. Some of them, like the Ulster Scots, fled Scotland to Ireland to escape land clearances by the British in their own country. In fact, in some areas of Northern Ireland, the majority of people would choose to remain aligned to the UK.

I really enjoyed hearing all the political talk. I loved hearing different views though it was so sad about the tension, even amongst young people. While I understood the IRA cause and supported their desire for Independence, I abhorred the violence and killing. Despite all this, I decided that I loved Ireland. It is a great country.

We had an early night that night and a fond farewell to the Mohan family the next morning. John and Mary, and their parents, were so sad to say goodbye to us. Everywhere we went, we took people’s addresses and promised to visit them once again. The Mohans had been so kind and helpful, and asked us to stay longer. But we were determined to keep moving. We wanted to go south and that very day we did, crossing the border into the Republic of Ireland at a place called Black Lion. Though you did not have to have your passport stamped, we went up to the office and asked a border guard to please stamp ours. The stamp was in the Irish language, not English, and included the word Learga which is the original Irish name for Black Lion. We truly were in Ireland. How exciting it was to cross into what felt like the Promised Land!


1. 由于爱尔兰人反对英国政府,甚至发动战争,他们所在的北爱尔兰地区,成了滋生动荡的温床。hotbed: 某事物的温床(尤指坏事和暴力活动);wage: v.发动,进行(战争或斗争)。

2. rebel: n. 反叛者。

3. interrogate: 审问,盘问。

4. outskirt: 市郊,郊区;back onto: 背朝着,后面和……相邻。

5. cause:(为之尽力的)目标、事业。

6. dismantle: 废除,取消。

7. argumentative: 好争论的,好争吵的(带贬义);ally: n. 支持者,盟友。

8. the Irish Republican Army: 爱尔兰共和军(简称IRA),是一个谋求爱尔兰脱离英国而独立的秘密组织,由于长期通过暴力活动实现其政治诉求,被一些国家视为恐怖组织。

9. Sinn Féin: 新芬党,北爱尔兰社会主义政党,也是IRA的官方政治组织。

10. Westminster Parliament: 指代英国议会。威斯敏斯特宫(Palace of Westminster),又称议会大厦(Houses of Parliament),是英国议会(包括上议院和下议院)的所在地。

11. Protestant: 新教徒,指不受天主教或东正教控制的其他任何基督教徒;Catholic: (与新教徒相对而言的)天主教教徒。

12. Celtic Irish people: 凯尔特爱尔兰人,意指现今的爱尔兰人(Irish)在民族上属于西欧代表民族凯尔特人(Celt)的后裔;Gaelic: 盖尔语,一种凯尔特语,尤用于苏格兰部分地区和爱尔兰。

13. 在1534至1603年间,英国政府将成千上万的英国国民派遣至爱尔兰定居,作为他们占领爱尔兰计划中的一步。populate: (大批地)居住于,生活于……; subject: 国民,臣民 。

14. settlement: 殖民地,居留地;stronghold: 据点,大本营;plantation: 种植园,大农场。

15. inhabitant: 居民。

16. abolish: 废除,取消。

17. stage: v. 组织,筹划。

18. Ulster Scot: 阿尔斯特省的苏格兰人,爱尔兰北部的阿尔斯特省(Ulster)是大量苏格兰人的主要移居地;flee…to:从(某地)逃离到……;land clearance: 开荒,这里主要指英国人侵占苏格兰的土地。

19. align: 与……结盟,支持。

20. abhor: 憎恶,对……深恶痛绝。

21. a fond farewell: 深情的告别。

22. Black Lion: 阿尔斯特省卡文郡的一个小镇,位于英属北爱尔兰爱尔兰共和国的边界区。

23. stamp:盖章;borderguard:边防人员。

24. Promised Land: 应许之地,即迦南之地,上帝许给了亚伯拉罕及其后裔继承的地方。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:董静)

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