Jottings of my Life in Tyrone, Ireland –Protestants and Catholics

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Protestants and Catholics

Having Catholics and Protestants on both sides of the family, we were brought up to respect everyone’s belief and, of course, naturally I had not much use for bigoted or narrow-minded people, I looked on bigotry as a mental affliction. In fact, I could see it marked all over their faces, even their smiles seemed to be tainted with bitterness that nothing could eradicate, no matter how serene their later years may have been.

One case was a girl cousin of mine, who was rather jealous of my being a favourite with my Uncle James St. George. She, being a Protestant, hated to think that I had asked him to carry a little medal and scapular in his pocket. Of course, he had a reverence for anything that was considered sacred and he never forgot to have them with him. My mother said he mentioned this to her before his death. However, when he passed away, the first thing this cousin did was to go up to his bedroom and remove them from his vest pocket, with the intention of destroying them later. When a servant in the room saw what she was doing, she said to her, “Miss Charlotte, he wore them in life and, if you do anything wrong with them, you will never have an hour’s luck.” She took them away, however, but on the day of his funeral they were found in a little black-edged envelope tied to one of the handles of his casket.

My grandfather, who was a wonderful example of broad-mindedness, was a member of the Church of England. He always insisted on us speaking the truth, no matter what it cost us, and to respect any p1ace in which the Word of God was spoken. His orders were that no one was to be detained for any work that would keep him or her from attending whatever church service on Sunday. Also, he provided cars to take them to church if they wished to drive. There was no extra cooking to be done, and everything was made as easy as possible.

We were always made to understand that a liar was much worse than a rogue, and much harder to get away from. If any of the servants caused trouble by telling untruths in the servants’ hall, they were promptly dismissed with a month’s salary paid in advance and their expenses allowed to wherever they came from.

My Aunt Henrietta came the closest to what I called narrow mindedness. She would not have a Roman Catholic in her home. She told my father that she would tolerate us at her receptions because we were related to her. She considered it a condescension to receive Catholic friends,  and as there were so many of those lovely old families. She certainly won their hatred by her ugly disposition. Even her Protestant friends could not admire her.

1 have been to funerals of my own relations and friends, and I have seen so much bigotry displayed at these sad events that, if it were-not so serious, it would be comical. One instance of this was when one of my uncles died. His tenants would not carry his casket into the vault because it was “Protestant.” At another time when my Uncle Tom Lambert was buried, not one of his Protestant friends would go with his funeral procession when it went into the Catholic cemetery because he had become a convert before his death. Even the Protestant clergyman attacked the priest for admitting Uncle Tom into the Catholic Church. Another funeral service of a relation of mine became very awkward when the casket was about to be consigned to the vault. The clergymen of both denominations happened to be there, but each of them was afraid to say a prayer on account of certain people standing nearby who might cause a riot in the graveyard.

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About this record

Written by Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert

Published here 08 Sep 2022 and originally published 1979

Page 0096 of the Athenry History archive.

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