What Cromwell did next is not so well known. He "generously" allowed some of the captured Irish soldiers to go abroad and join foreign armies not at war with England rather than face execution. But there was a catch, they were not allowed to take their dependents along.
|Poor white plantation workers in the Caribbean|
Even more horrifying, they are still there. All these centuries later the direct descendants of those Irish slaves still exist on the island. They are referred to jeeringly as, "Redlegs", a nickname earned when they arrived 400 years ago and the tropic sun burned their fair Irish skin red. They never integrated with the rest of the population, mostly of African stock and descendants of slaves themselves, who look down on the Redlegs. Generations of inbreeding have left them afflicted with hemophilia, diabetes and in some cases mental problems. It makes me sick at heart that about 400 of these fellow Irish men, women and children remain victims even today, though now of poverty, ignorance and early death.
Sean O'Callaghan, the author of the book says the "Redlegs" are a reclusive, unfriendly group, distrustful of strangers, but who could blame them? They remind me of a quote of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”