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Red Legs in Barbados


The Irish Times IWAS DELIGHTED that Caroline Walsh focused on the plight of Ireland’s lost tribe, the Red Legs, in her article a couple of weeks ago on Barbados. This group, made up of the descendants of 50,000 Irish men and women who were sold into the white slave trade between 1652 and 1659, have been largely ignored, apart from in Seán O’Callaghan’s wonderfulTo Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland , published almost 20 years ago.
They were innocent Irish people who were rounded up from across the country by teams of Oliver Cromwell’s “man-catchers”, bound in chains and shipped to Barbados to work on sugar plantations.
Their descendants are still there today – some of them in absolute poverty – isolated, unassimilated and uneducated. It is about time we acknowledge them, our beleaguered kinsmen, innocent victims first of British injustice, then of landlord cruelty and now of our lack of interest.

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