Tuesday 6th September 2005
Ireland is only now coming to terms with the changes and the division introduced in the aftermath of the Flight of the Earls, Nobel laureate John Hume has told a conference in Donegal.
Mr Hume said the departure of the Irish chieftains from Rathmullan on 4th September, 1607, made possible the Plantation of Ulster, which introduced a deep religious divide in Ireland for the first time.
"We all know the price that both sections of our community has paid for that division in the years since then," he said. "Now for the first time since the Earls left, the people of Ireland as a whole have agreed a way to live together, an agreement which allows everyone to build a new island together."
The former SDLP leader was speaking as a part of the weekend conference at Rathmullan House to mark the 398th anniversary of the Flight of the Earls.
Representatives from four Councils across the north of Ireland attended the event, including the Mayor of Newry and Mourne, Pat McGinn, and the Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council, Francis Molloy. Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council has launched a 'Return of the Earls' programme over four years to promote reconciliation.m Councillor Ian McGarvey from Ramelton also attended.
The leader of the weekend, Dr John McCavitt from Rostrevor, who's written a book on the Flight of the Earls, said the historic departure of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell had ushered in a physical and mental siege in Ireland. He said: "It's very appropriate that we had John Hume speaking on this, as he has played a major part in building the process which is now lifting that siege, after almost 400 years."
During the weekend, Dr McCavitt made public a translation of a bardic poem giving new details of who was on board the vessel which took away the Earls and their retinue, the so-called 'Noble 99'. There was also an exhibition of photographs and translations of contemporary documents, many of them being displayed for the first time.