Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Turkish Delight

Beautiful cartoon from Matt in the Daily Telegraph today.

Lots of Irish resonances if all be told.

Such a boycott, if successful, in the old days, could have caused unemployment not alone in Turkey but also in Cork, where Hadji Bey had a thriving business making high quality Turkish Delight. I remember it well from when I was small. Large cubes of Turkish Delight with a fine sugar coating. You never went near Cork without bringing back a box of these.

But there are other resonances, perhaps more obscure, but interesting nonetheless. Hadji Bey was not a Turk but a Christian Armenian, named Harutun Batmazian, who had actually fled Constantinople to escape a Turkish pogram. And what did he end up doing in Cork? Making Turkish Delight. And you know what the Turks did to the Armenians. Ironic.

It reminded me of another irony. My French teacher in school, nicknamed Froggy of course, was actually Albert Folens, a militant Flemish nationalist who fought against the all pervasive French language in his own country, Belgium, but who, in the aftermath of WWII, ended up in Dublin teaching French and was known as Froggy. Ironic.

And, of course, the word boycott comes from ...


  1. I met Albert Folens - A number of teachers in my school St Kevins CBS in Ballygall wrote textbooks for his company - Liam McCarthy and John McCormack, English and Geography, Ciaran Foley - Geography and Dermot Lee - French and I was used as a Guinea Pig as a semi-intelligent student.

    There was more to him than his involvement with the Flemish Nationalists (Led by an Englishman called John Ireland!) but there was a slight question of his wartime collaboration with the Germans and the fact he couldn't return to Belgium!

  2. @Dáithaí

    There is no question but that Folens collaborated with the Germans. The issue is what did he do and what was his motivation.

    I went into this in some detail in my post in 2007 when RTÉ screened a programme attempting to implicate Folens in interrogations. I gather that, although he was encarcerated at the end of WWII, and subsequently escaped to Ireland, he could have returned to Belgium not so long afterwards without any legal problems. But I'm not an expert on that.

    He was a very effective French teacher, though.

  3. Absolutely fascinating.
    You might find interesting a memoir called The Blood Dark Track about a guy who had both grandfathers interned. The Turkish one by the French and British in Palestine and thereabouts, and the Irish one by the Irish state. Can't remember the author's name offhand. He wrote Netherlands as well.


  4. @blackwatertown

    There's clearly more than yourself who appreciated that book:

    I'll have a go at getting it in the library. Thanks for the reference.


  5. @blackwatertown

    Have just finished the book. Fantastic read and very challenging.

    Beautifully written.

    I've posted a review on Amazon but it may take a while to appear.


  6. Link above to Amazon turns out to be to my reviews in general.

    This is more specific link to the review of the book.