Edward Carson (1854 -1935)


Founding father of Unionism, who made no outstanding contribution to British politics

On this Day February 9 1854 Edward Carson, lawyer and Unionist leader, was born in Dublin.He was raised and educated in Dublin, graduating in law from


Trinity College, and died in Kent, England.
As a barrister ( QC 1889) his main claim to fame was defending the Marquess of Queensberry against Oscar Wilde.

oscar wilde

Wilde, who had known Carson at Trinity, remarked

No doubt he will pursue his case with all the added bitterness of an old friend.”

Wilde was bankrupted, prosecuted for gross indecency in a second trial, found guilty and sentenced to 2 years’ hard labour, after which he moved to France, where he died penniless. Let’s consider Wilde’s legacy

and Carson’s. He was the first signatory of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant against Home Rule in 1912.

Historians have taken a different view of his actions. One denounced
Carson and his associates as “traitors” and recalled that under their leadership “rebellion was openly preached, men were drilled and arms were landed, the assistance of the Kaiser was invoked, the forces of the Crown were defied and their commanders were seduced from their allegiance”
In June 1920 Carson  made an inflammatory speech at Finaghy, telling the assembled Orangemen: ‘We in Ulster will tolerate no Sinn Féin’.

Comment: That was prescient, wasn’t it? No man can stop the march of a nation – even if most DUP MLAs won’t so much as pass the time of day with their Sinn Fein counterparts in Stormont 

Within two weeks loyalist gangs expelled 10,000 Catholics and several hundred Protestant socialists from the shipyards, engineering firms and mills in Belfast and neighbouring towns. Over the next two years 23,000 people, mainly Catholics, were driven from their homes in the city. The Irish government estimated that 50,000 persons left the North permanently in response to the violence and intimidation of these years.



English Heritage denied Edward Carson the founding father of unionism a commemorative blue plaque, saying  “his career in British politics was not sufficiently outstanding to justify commemoration”.

Comment: Hardly surprising since he fomented rebellion against government policy. Though Oscar got one!

oscar wilde plaque
Yet Carson  was held in sufficient reverence in his day to merit a British state funeral

Despite the commentary in the newsreel his ultimate political goal  ended in failure.

He desired an unpartitioned Ireland to remain within the UK.

A Northern Ireland statelet was a poor second prize.

He chose not to live in the Northern Ireland after it was set up but
his statue still looms over Stormont

carsons statue at stormont

People toppled statues of Lenin

and Stalin

They blew up Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin and sang songs about it




Isn’t it time for sun to set on this monument to failure?

carson sunset



6 thoughts on “Edward Carson (1854 -1935)

  1. Pingback: Carson’s Back!!! | the mirror@wordpress.com

  2. Pingback: The Troubles – time for a re-make? | the mirror@wordpress.com

  3. Stalin was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people.

    Lenin was seen as a head of a murderous Chimera.

    Carson, if he were alive today would be viewed in a Lundy like light by unionists given his views on the Irish language (he spoke it) and a fair go for Irish Catholics.

    Northern Ireland has a complicated zero-sum game mentality and removing statues is seen as cultural annihilation.
    England still has statues of people like Cromwell (hated regicidal republican), Boudica (Celt who would have opened the throat of every invader in the land presumably including the Angles and Saxons), Richard the Lionheart (who couldn’t speak a word of English).

    Removing statues like this is akin to ripping out undesirable rings in a tree trunk, to do so ultimately harms the tree,

    I don’t like the wee King Billy statue in Carrick but I wouldn’t get rid of it, it is a snapshot of a time and place.

    As is Carson’s statue.


  4. Welcome to the site Amghobsmacht and thank you for your comment. In my view, the proper place for Carson’s statue is the Ulster Museum. Place it in a nice exhibition room with lots of historical info, pics, videos etc. Given the stature of carson in Unionist mythology, the Statue should have been removed and a new one symbolizing peace and trust, going forward together etc erected before the re-opening of Stormont after the GFA/Belfast Agreement. Failure to do so confirmed the Unionist/Loyalist impression that Stormont was theirs and told the Republicans/Nationalists they were unwanted, unpleasant visitors. Thus making things difficult for everybody
    PS I hope you enjoy the post on Carson’s re-incarnation https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/carsons-back/


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