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SENTRY JOURNAL » Local Politics, Lord Conway, Portmore, Ronald Reagan » The Fate of Bonny Portmore

The Fate of Bonny Portmore

by RightHandMan

On the eastern bank of the lake of Portmore in North Ireland there used to stand a magnificent castle – Bonny Portmore. It was built in 1664 by Lord Conway between Lough Beg and Lough Neagh (lakes). For twenty years the Earl lived in the castle and was generous to the serfs in the area. Lord Conway became ambitious and hired Dutch engineers in order to drain Lough Beg into arable land. In this work he created a huge drain that still exists today called “Tunny Cut” between the two lakes. Unfortunately the project failed and cost the Earl his fortune. He was forced to sell Bonny Portmore and it and his land became the property of English proprietors who had no inclination to stay in Ireland.

While Conway’s castle was elaborate, the area was better known for its enormous trees and beautiful forests. To illustrate how great the forests were, there was an oak that stood on the shore of Lough Beg called “the ornament tree” which was blown down by a great wind. There are many Irish poems that still speak of its falling. The oak was gathered and sold. The first branch from the ground was 25 feet long, and the trunk was measured fourteen yards in circumference.

The people of Portmore were tied to the forests like Pittsburgh is tied to steel. It was their livelihood and it became their identity. This was of no concern to the English who lived in South Wales. Of the 2000 acres of oak and ash forest, not one tree remains, of the once great Bonny Portmore, only a few stones stand. The trees were sold to make ships and the land was changed to corn and pasture fields. The castle stones of Bonny Portmore were taken to build fortifications elsewhere. The people of Portmore had no voice in the matter – so they created poems and folk songs to lament their faded heritage. Today the song is put to music.

Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree.
For it stood on your shore for many’s the long day
Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.

O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand.
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before,
All the Lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.

All the birds in the forest, they bitterly weep
Sighing, “Where shall we shelter, where shall we sleep?”
For the Oak and the Ash tree are all cutten down,
And the walls of bonny Portmore are all down to the ground.

The people of Portmore were left helpless because those that had dominion over them lived in a distant land and had no concern about their well being, heritage, or concerns. Unlike the people of Portmore, Americans have the ability to influence many of the things that directly affect us. Unfortunately, this power to influence is being slowly exchanged for the same fate of the Portmore inhabitants. We are trading our more concentrated voices in local politics for diluted murmurs on the national stage. This exchange means greater power from afar and less from the local, more connected politicians.

People in Butte, Montana know far too much about the Senatorial election in Connecticut and far too little about the city ordinances, elections, and town meetings going on near their homes. How many people in your city/town know the name of the mayor? Yet, how many of them know who Christine O’Donnell is?

There’s a problem here. We, as a United States, have become too involved in national scale politics and interests. The blame falls entirely on the people. Why are we so willing to give authority to those that do not understand us? Who honestly believes that what is good for California and New York is good for Alaska and Texas? Few do, yet we give into the gimmick that national power is more important.

The people of Portmore were proud of their long standing oak, and found comfort and security in Conway’s castle. Our ornament tree is rooted in the principles found in the 1st and 10th Amendment, our Bonny Portmore is the the beacon of hope that liberty provides. We have an obligation to our cities, families, and free loving people abroad to exercise these rights in their purest form, to stay vigilant and educated in our immediate issues, and to fortify and nurture our democratic powers. I assure you, if we do not, a great wind will blow from Washington and we will write songs to lament the day we allowed our tree to fall and our castle to come to ruin.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. – Ronald Reagan, 1964


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Filed under: Local Politics, Lord Conway, Portmore, Ronald Reagan

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  • John Carey October 11, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    Great post Right. I loved the poem and song.

  • KingShamus October 11, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Well written, Right.

    Great points about the difference between our knowledge of local and federal politics.

  • Infidel de Manahatta October 11, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    My only hope is that Federalism will prevail as our political system. I has many lined up against it (our elite not to mention instantaneous modern technology which can make people feel that distances have been abolished.)

    We'll see this election day.

  • Gorges Smythe October 11, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    Haunting melody, interesting history, spot-on commentary!