1916-1922: Piracy’s Greatest Error

Ahoy Shipmates!

Every Old Salt knows that Ireland’s pirates have been the least successful of all the nations of the sea. And every Pirate knows how this came to be so- the great swell o’ events of 1916-1922 did sweep aside the normal tide of history wherein Pirate and Landlubber are locked in an eternal struggle.

Now, as those long years of insignificance are drawn to a close, not least by the actions of the Irish Pirate Review, it be important to know where it did go wrong for Ireland’s privateers. Mayhap, a repeat of errors will be avoided like a well-mapped reef.

Pirates had long dominated the Irish Parliamentary Party. It was said to be Isaac Butt who introduced the one gold hooped earring to the court of the Landlubber queen, Victoria. Parnell himself could spit chewing baccy further than any man in Westmminster. By 1912 nobody would have guessed that the long rule of the cutless and the lash, loved by all, was about to end.

As all the contempary portraits show, a combination of privateers, pirates and adventurers made up most of those in the GPO. It was said there were more peg-legs in the post office than anywhere else. A tradition which continues to this day. The only reason none of the fearsome captains signed the proclamation was the difficulty of holding pens with hooks for hands.

But those portraits were altered after the Pirates and their ilk withdrew from the field of battle. Knowing that the fight against the Great Landlubber Power of Britain was but a prelude to the final struggle for the soul of Old Ireland’s waves, the pirate captains of the day allowed the country’s landlubbers a chance to decide who would represent their kind in the final duel to the death.

Of course, we now know this was a terrible mistake. Without a strong, assertive Pirate presence, backed up by the threat of piliage at cutless point, people fell into abject Landlubberism. The figures speak for themselves;

1914; 7,653 cabin boys press-ganged
1923; 4 cabin boys press-ganged

It’s a shameful litany when you realise that at the same time across Europe the waves were crammed to the spray with the greatest buccaneering surge the world has ever seen. In France, by 1918 production of peg-legs topped 7 million, and hook hands werre so common that a popular song of the day referred to the problem, familiar to every true Pirate of getting caught in your own button hole.

Y’arr, but those were great days for all Pirates- eveywhere but Ireland. Here ne’re a port did ring to the lusty sounds of the sea shanty, for nigh… Well, to this day.

A future article will set out the many failings and capitulations of self-styled Pirate captains in the intervening years.

‘Till the morrow or our shared doom in Davy Jones’ locker, I bid thee well.

Yo! Ho! Ho!

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1 Response to “1916-1922: Piracy’s Greatest Error”


  1. 1 Malore 16 April, 2008 at 9:06 am

    This blog is sweet matey.


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Arrh! The Photo above be available for us to be using though Creative Commons by missy_1074 from Flickr. We thankee!
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