What a mistake to make

The editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica look to be hanging their heads in shame at an almighty blunder regarding Irish history. As the Press Association reports:

A concise version of Encyclopaedia Britannica which was first published seven years ago wrongly described the 1922 conflict over partition as a war between Catholics in the south and Protestants in the north.

Encyclopaedia Britannica managing director Ian Grant said the offending article may have been wrongly compiled by an editor attempting to condense complex history. “This is very rare,” he said.

The error was carried on a hand-held device first sold six or seven years ago by Japanese firm Seiko but was only spotted this week.

The online and print editions are apparently unaffected, but it really undermines my confidence in the publication. For those unaware, the conflict would more accurately be described as being between those favouring the treaty with Britain that lead to partition of the island and creation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State, and those who opposed it and sought more. But even that is an almost gross summarisation of a conflict the effects of which can still be felt in Irish society. However, it was certainly not a conflict between Catholics in the south and Protestants in the north.

It also begs the question of why it took seven years for the mistake to be noticed: Did people not look at the article or did they just assume it was right?


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