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BBC NI's Dublin correspondent, Shane Harrison
"It would be like showing the head of Hitler to Jews"
 real 28k

Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 22:05 GMT 23:05 UK
Anger over Cromwell death mask plan
Cromwell portrait
Oliver Cromwell: Reputed to have slaughtered townspeople
Plans to exhibit the death mask of Oliver Cromwell have sparked controversy in an Irish town whose inhabitants he is believed to have slaughtered.

The 17th century anti-monarchist and former Lord Protector of England attacked the town of Drogheda in County in 1649 with 12,000 Round heads.

The town, which still has preserved sections of its ancient walls, was defended by 3,000 Royalists.

When Cromwell's forces eventually overwhelmed the town's defences, it is reputed that he slaughtered all the survivors.

The town's deputy mayor has expressed objections to the proposal to exhibit the artefact in a local museum.

Independent councillor Frank Godfrey said: "The people in Drogheda in 1649 suffered greatly, they were massacred, children, mothers and fathers.

"We don't forget and the people of Drogheda haven't forgotten."

He likened the proposed exhibition to people showing off the head of Adolf Hitler to a Jewish community.

Local historian Tom Reilly described the accounts of the slaughter as a "myth".

"That myth is unsubstantiated."

Townspeople questioned about the proposal seem to be ambivalent about the idea.

According to one shopper, the death mask was a "historic artefact" of no more significance than that of the Pope.

Another expressed the view that it would be a "good idea" as it would lead to people learning more about history and, perhaps, open up a debate about the subject.

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