Nonsectarian coffee

Left Belfast this morning (now back in Dublin), which means this morning was my last visit to Clements.  Keep in mind that this is a chain from Belfast, Northern Ireland and see if you can spot why the slogan might be a bit…unexpected.

Good coffee and softball-sized scones.

This chain was formed in 1999 and is named after Pope Clement VIII, who supposedly helped popularize coffee in Western Europe. We asked our local host how this name and slogan got through (given how touchy everything else dealing with religion is here).  His response?  “The coffee is just that good.”

Speaking about touchiness and Irish history, on the way to Dublin, we also visited Hillsborough Plantation and the site of the Battle of the Boyne.

Hillsborough Fort.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the plantations trace back to the policy put in place by Queen Elizabeth I to try to consolidate state power in Ireland’s north (the crown was having a bit of difficulties with the locals).   So, she and later monarchs appointed (Protestant) loyalists to settle the northeast of the island, a policy that would establish many of Northern Ireland’s Protestant communities.  Hillsborough was given to Colonel Arthur Hill, who built the fort in 1650 on confiscated land.

As for the Battle of the Boyne, it was a decisive battle that pitted King James II against King William III (James’ son-in-law who had deposed him during the Glorious Revolution).  It is also known as the War of the Three Kings, as King Louis XIV of France supported James.  I think you could also call it the War of Three Kings and a Pope (sounds like the beginning of a bad bar joke…) since Pope Alexander VIII supported William since Louis XIV was being a bit of a royal pain.

The field in front of the Battle of the Boyne Visitors’ Center. It’s very green in Ireland.

The Battle of the Boyne was a major event during the Williamite War and would be a major turning point in British, Irish, and European history.  Long-term consequences of this battle:

  • James permanently flees to France.
  • Protestant domination of the UK; Catholics are denied power.  To this day, the British monarch is forbidden to be or to marry a Catholic.
  • Europe’s “Grand Alliance” (basically, everyone at that time who was not French) was strengthened and Louis XIV’s expansionist tendencies were checked.
  • Britain takes a significant step towards democracy.  James II was Britain’s last absolute monarch;  William III co-ruled with his wife Mary at the request and approval of the Parliament.  In 1689, the parliament would pass the Bill of Rights.

So wrapping it all up (and being a bit facetious about it): Northern Ireland has some 400+ years of touchy political-religious history, but they can agree on a good cup of coffee.


Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s