2 APRIL 1948, Page 16


SIR,—As a constant reader and admirer of your paper, I am both amused and annoyed at the articles which have appeared in it from time to time on the subject of Ireland. This last one is the limit. The " uncouth Celtic noises," to which Mr.. Taplin refers, are our Irish language, and even at the risk of being accused of being a rabid Irish language fanatic (which I'm not); I think the remark is in the worst possible taste. If Mr. Taplin arrived by air in China, would his sensitive ears be offended if he heard something being announced in Chinese ? From Mr. Taplin's description of his arrival in Dublin, I imagine that he was floated in on a bus from Collinstown, and before he had time to say " Begorra " he found himself in " The Buttery " swapping yarns and whiskies with his compatriots " whose uniform is tweed and whose emblem the horse." The next time he wants to write an article for The Spectator, let him come down to the Midlands (where we never eat lobster, because we can't afford it). He will find it all " weary, stale, flat and unprofitable " for the white-collar worker, the shop-assistant, the school-teacher and the bus-driver. (Sorry, this last chap is a small-town Crcesus.) To be serious, I cannot agree with Mr. Taplin that ours is a land of plenty. It is, only if one can afford to ignore enormous bills. Fresh fruit is practically unobtainable, and oranges are not within the reach of the £3- a-week worker. Vegetables are scarce and dear. I refused to buy a head of cauliflower the other day because it cost Is. 6d. Brussels sprouts are sold at ls. 4d. per lb. I don't have to labour the food problem as every- one is heartily sick of it. Not the Englishman's problem of how to get food, but the equally important one of how to pay for it.

Mr. Taplin writes of his friends being "tolerated and exploited." Foreigners are exploited in every country by a small section of the popii- lation, but I say, and without fear of contradiction, that it isn't in the character of the Irish to exploit anyone. We are the most exploited people on earth, and I don't think it is necessary for me to elaborate my meaning. Our country is drained of its youth. When Mr. Taplin used the word " populated " when alluding to the city of Dublin, perhaps he meant " over-populated." But if he ever left Stephen's Green or its environs and took a trip down the country, he could travel for miles without seeing a single young person or a homestead.

As for the " prodigal ice-cream parlours," most of us, who are ".,Irish and proud of it," regard them as a blot on the face of one of the loveliest cities in Europe. I hope we arc never to be judged by their multiplicity. I am perfectly sure that they are neither owned nor run by Irishmen for Irishmen. A story was related to me which may help to illustrate some of what I have written. A young matron had the misfortune to serve afternoon tea in those " china buckets " to her friends in a small Irish town, into which she had recently corm as a bride. It was after- wards remarked that she had started off on the wrong foot by commit- ting such a breach of etiquette. This story is probably completely irrele- vant, but perhaps there's a moral in it somewhere ; whether for the English writers of articles on Ireland, or for the Irish themselves, I leave