A 14th-century Armenian gospel with jewelled binding in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. “In the production and reproduction of holy books, the medieval monks of Armenia far outdid their vaunted Irish counterparts. And a byproduct of this is that, today, there may be as many Armenian books in Dublin as actual Armenians.”
My mention of the Loyal League of Yiddish Sons of Erin last week (June 6th) provoked an email from, of all places, Hawaii. Patrick Fitzgerald Donovan was drawing attention to the existence of an even more select group of exiles. In poker terms, he was seeing my LLYSE and raising me IASZ – the Irish Armenian Sons of Zion.
The group was formed, Patrick says, back in the early 1970s, in Bennington, Vermont. He and the other founders, Eliot Cohen and Charles Bergamian, were relaxing “with a few beers”. Then, as often happens with beer, they decided to form a representative organisation to embrace their collective ethnicities. . . .
They considered several names, including “Irish Jews in Search of Armenia”, before settling on the IASZ. And although the group remains a small one, it’s still going, unlike the LLYSE. “We have been in existence now for over 40 years”, writes Patrick, “and have a number of younger members ready to carry on into the next 40”.
It’s not clear (and it seemed indelicate to ask) whether any of the younger members are the result of interbreeding between two or more of the diasporas involved. By the law of averages, I suppose, there must be a few genetically Irish-Armenian Jews somewhere. And if there are, they must feel uniquely oppressed.
On top of their history of invasion and dispossession, the Armenians have the added affliction that the world has largely forgotten what happened to them, even though the worst of it is still less than a century old.
What is now known as the “Armenian Genocide” of 1915 was called something else then, because the word genocide was not coined until 1944. But that another genocide had happened by 1944 was in part a consequence of international indifference to the earlier one.
Here is Hitler briefing his generals in 1939 about the need to obliterate Poland, and explaining why they’ll get away with it: “Only in this way will we win the lebensraum that we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
The email from Hawaii reminded me that we live on a small planet. I read it while strolling through central Dublin in the footsteps (probably) of that celebrated Irish Jew, Leopold Bloom. And it persuaded me to make a short detour, via Dublin Castle, for an overdue visit to that wonderful museum, the Chester Beatty Library of Oriental Art.
Among the treasures there, I knew, were more than 100 Armenian books and manuscripts of varying antiquity, part of a tradition for which that country was long famous.
Indeed, in the production and reproduction of holy books, the medieval monks of Armenia far outdid their vaunted Irish counterparts. And a byproduct of this is that, today, there may be as many Armenian books in Dublin as actual Armenians.
Not that I saw the books this time, to be honest. They’re mostly in storage, and I was in a hurry. So I confined myself to the museum’s suitably exotic Silk Road cafe, where I toasted the IASZ with coffee and a date biscuit. I think that qualifies me for honorary membership.
Speaking of honorary membership, and closer to home, I’ve also been hearing from Mark Minihan in Co Wexford, whose late father Andy once enjoyed such status with the LLYSE. Andy Minihan is now perhaps best remembered as the council chairman – or “Mister Mayor” – who in 1963 welcomed JFK to New Ross, and whose irreverent wit caused much laughter from the visitor. In the years following, he was invited to lead St Patrick’s Day parades with the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Jersey City. And it was while in NY that he was elected an honorary member of the LLYSE. In typical fashion, he accepted on condition that they didn’t expect him to have the “operation”.
The Dublin-born league chairman Mike Mann, a New York union boss, subsequently raised money for the JFK Arboretum in New Ross and travelled over for the opening with fellow union leader Harry Van Arsdale, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
With such powerful allies, Mark Minihan and a friend of his were not stuck for jobs when they went to the US on J1 visas the following summer. Sure enough, Mark got work with an electrical contractor in the New York Times offices.
His friend’s fortunes, meanwhile, were even more dramatic. He rose rapidly in the Big Apple. Then he went down, just as fast. Then up again. And so on all summer. You guessed it. He was a lift operator in the Empire State Building.
'Indeed, in the production and reproduction of holy books, the medieval monks of Armenia far outdid their vaunted Irish counterparts.' I don't see how you can make this statement. While almost all early Church communities were heavily active in book production - necessarily so - the Irish are indeed rightly 'vaunted' in this regard. Although we can never know the true scale of medieval Irish bibliographic output, the sheer number of monastic scriptoria in Ireland and in Irish foundations on the continent points to it being particularly impressive. The already sizeable surviving corpus of written material produced in Ireland or by Irish monks in England and on the continent during the medieval period, then, represents just a fraction of what would have emanated from this wider Irish milieu. I do not say this to detract from the Armenian achievement, which, like the Irish tradition, has suffered unknowable losses yet remains magnificent, but to highlight that the extent of activities such as medieval book production cannot be measured accurately. To that end, no one, not even historians, can or should say that any one tradition was more or less productive than another for fear of appearing to inflate or reduce the value of their cultural importance.
@Shane Lordan : Well Shane, if this could make you feel better, I can tell you that there is at least one Irish pub in Armenia, which is an infinity % more than there are Armenian pubs in Eire.
I consider that to be ample payment for the debts the Irish may have incurred in the middle-ages.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) stated in its verdict of on Dec 17, 2014, Perincek versus Switzerland, that it "doubted that there could be a general consensus as to events such as those at issue (meaning claims of genocide) , given that historical research was, by definition, open to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths (such as genocide)". Moreover, it has been proven that Hitler quote is a forgery, by none other than Armenian historians themselves (see Robert John, "Hitler Quote is A Hoax and Should Not Be used Anymore", 1984.)
Dr. Arnold Reisman, a Holocaust survivor and a researcher, studied the oft-quoted fallacy about the alleged Hitler quote. Reisman obtained the transcripts of the Nuremberg tribunals and traced the events. According to Reisman, the Associate Press Berlin Bureau chief Louis Lochner, an Armeno-phil American journalist, submitted to the U.S. Prosecutor Alderman during Nuremberg Trials, a document purportedly of Hitler’s speech on Aug 22, 1939, in Obersalzberg, addressing his commanders-in-chief , just one week prior to the launching of the attack on Poland
That doctored version, referring, to Armenian, was found by the U.S. Prosecutor later to be unreliable and was never not used, as it was a garbled mish-mash of two speeches delivered by Hitler that day. The U.S. Prosecutor was able to locate, among the captured OKW (German equivalent of our Pentagon) documents, to reveal not one, but two meetings that day between Hitler and his top generals. Both documents are authenticated and they do corroborate each other. Those two genuine German documents do not have any reference to Armenians whatsoever. So, the U.S. Prosecutor decides to number all three (US 28, US 29, and US 30) but only use the genuine German issues in the captured documents, and decides to dismiss Lochner’s jumbled, combined and doctored copy.
Sukru Server Aya
Historical facts must depend on undisputed judicial documents and should be differentiated from books about religions based on myths. The writer was easiy carried by hearsay and had no dependable references, such as:
Official US State records prove that alleged statement is a complete fallacy.
The writer is also unaware that a 22.000 men “Armenian Legion” served Hitler during WW-2 and they were instrumental in sending Jewsw to death camps.
He is also unaware that the last of the Jewish Tribes in the Hakkiari mountains, South of Armenia were decimated by Armenian Revolutionaries.
Suggest writer view:
Write can write counter comments to the blog, so it can be shared by the World.
Armenian Catholics of Turkish ethnicity were printing their “Books of Prayers & Proverbs in Turkish” 1845
in Lazarus Dr. Pat Walsh is an “authority of WW-1 and the Ottoman History”, his books as well as my two books are available at https://www.atholbooks-sales.org .
My first two books are on the internet for quite some time in pdf format and no one could refute even one word so far. See:
Link to The Document
The writer can view documents: and learn about the relief of the Ottoman Turks to Ireland in 1850s during the Great Famine!