He is the Father of Northern Ireland.
But whisper it in Ulster, Sir Edward Carson never wanted the mantle, nor even the country.
A hundred years ago Carson turned down the invitation to become Northern Ireland’s first Prime Minister.
Not that his fellow unionists held it against him.
Instead they erected a statue to him in front of their imposing seat of Government, Stormont in Belfast.
Like much else in Northern Ireland everything and everybody isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
And it makes them all the more interesting for it.
Carson the Dub
Just like King William of Orange, who isn’t the figure you see on flags and murals on a white charger….
The giveaway is that as a monarch he would have been far back from the River Boyne and would have worn a garter.
And you don’t need to do much digging to see that Carson never wanted the creation of Northern Ireland and supported a united Ireland.
Toby Carson, a teacher in the south of England, recalled that his great-grandfather had just sired a son a year before to his young wife.
And he wanted to devote his attentions to them while also holding out for a major legal position.
Carson was a leading legal light of his day.
And he even cross-examined his fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde in the case which led to the poet being sent to Reading Gaol.
The Great Carson was no Ulsterman it must be said.
A Dubliner, who spoke Irish and played Gaelic Sports as a child he lived in the south of England.
But he always remained in high demand in the new partitioned country he neither lived in nor wanted to lead.
So that when the Northerners asked him to grace Stormont with his presence when they put up the famous clenched fist statue he obliged.
On a podium
A man after my own heart… and I have just the spot atop Bray Head in Co. Wicklow instead of that cross.
While if you’re of the Republican persuasion then check out the Irish Republican History Museum, though Carson would spin in his grave.