Donnybrook: Fun and Strange Facts

Donnybrook: Fun and Strange Facts
John Myers,

Last month saw the annual celebration by the Unionists of “The Twelfth”.   This is celebrated with provocative marching and other celebrations, with hundreds of marches on July 12th.   Usually this is explained that the Orangemen are celebrating the victory of protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne. 

But did you know that the Battle of the Boyne did NOT take place on July 12th?  It took place on July 1, 1690, another battle took place on the 12th.  King “Billy’s” military victory ended the Catholic/Protestant fight over the English crown where it now, still is law that one must be a protestant to be the King or Queen of the United Kingdom. 

King Billy is also the William of “William and Mary”.  Extraordinarily, Billy married his wife Mary when she was fifteen years old; by the way, Mary was his first cousin, as well as the daughter of King James II. So Billy fought and defeated his Uncle and Father-in-Law at the Battle of the Boyne.  Seems like it would lead to awkward conversation at Christmas Dinner… 

Who Done it?
If you enjoy true crime stories, you will want to check out two recently released documentaries set in rural Ireland, a modern Irish murder mystery. Interestingly, both documentaries deal with the same murder of a beautiful, 39-year-old French woman: Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Sophie was found bludgeoned to death outside her Irish Cottage, located in Schull (Scoil mHuire), in remote western County Cork. The murder took place twenty-five years ago, on December 23, 1996, but the mystery remains.

That two different documentaries are released at the same time focused on the same twenty-five-year-old, unsolved murder is remarkable.  What is doubly intriguing is that both documentaries lead the viewer to different conclusions.  Much like Ohio’s most infamous unsolved murder, Marilyn Sheppard (July 4, 1954), the story and the facts provide much fodder for lively discussion and debate in the community and those watching the series. 

Sophie, A Murder in West Cork” is streaming now and readily available on Netflix. This documentary was produced by an Oscar winning team and tells a compelling story.  The scenery of the beautiful Cork’s Mizen Head Peninsula is a good reason to watch in and of itself. 

The family of the victim, Sophie, participates throughout this series.  While no charges were ever brought by the Irish authorities, “Sophie” directs your attention to who Sophie’s family believes to be the murderer.   

The three-part series brings in several leading Irish newspaper reporters, including the Irish Times Paris correspondent, Lara Marlowe. “Sophie” holds your interest and keeps you guessing. 

And if your ready to binge watch, you can move from Netflix to Sky Crime TV on Sky’s platform “Now Tv”.  It is harder to track down to watch than Netflix, but once you see one you will want to see the other.  It is human nature to try to figure it all out. 

Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie” is created by acclaimed Irish director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot & In the Name of the Father). Sheridan takes five episodes to tell the story of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. 

Sheridan has been fascinated by the story.  He ended up on Sky TV as RTE (Irish TV) turned him down.  Too bad RTE passed to continue the search for resolution to one of Ireland’s most infamous, officially unsolved crimes. Regardless of “who done it”, the sad fact remains in the words of the local pub owner Sullivan’s in Schull, “She doesn’t come here anymore”.  Check it out.

Good Night Pootsy 
Last month, the Democratic Unionist Party was in turmoil, with the resignation of their Leader Arlene Foster.   She was replaced by arch conservative, Edwin Poots. Pootsy lasted only twenty-one days, as part of the soap opera raging in what in recent years has been the North of Ireland’s largest political party.

Good Friday Agreement
Poots was replaced by Jeffrey Donaldson, who is conscious of work to be done to hold the party together, as they look at new elections in May of 2022.  The stage is set for Sinn Fein to become the largest political party in the Six Counties. Unionists already feel abandoned by the Brexit-caused Northern Ireland Protocol (creation of the Irish Sea border for trade purposes).   Ironically, The DUP advocated for Brexit, now it has become their worst nightmare. Unionists continue pressing on PM Boris J. to end the Protocol, but Boris’ options are limited with Dublin, Washington and the EU united in support for keeping the trade border in the Irish sea and off the island of Ireland, All are not united to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

* John can be reached at [email protected]

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