Winston Churchill was not a man to bear grudges, and firmly admired the Irish. Yet he was strangely oblivious to the widespread, albeit not universal, hostility still felt towards him in nationalist Ireland. In 1953 he faced a libel action in Ireland arising out of his memoirs. It was brought by Eric Dorman-Smith, an Irish-born general whom he had dismissed during the Desert War. He expressed doubt that “an Irish jury would necessarily be unfair or that they would be prejudiced against me.” His legal advisers knew better. They made sure the case was settled before it got to be heard before a jury in Dublin. When Churchill died in 1965, de Valera, now President of Ireland, lauded him as a great Englishman. He could not omit to add the rider that Churchill had been a “dangerous enemy” of the Irish people.
Churchill, who won a Nobel Prize, and did a few other things, cannot reply. He lies at Bladon in English earth, “which in his finest hour he held inviolate.” He’d love the controversy he stirs, on media he never dreamed of. He once said the vision “of middle-aged gentlemen who are my political opponents being in a state of uproar and fury is really quite exhilarating to me.”