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And speaking of 1916 March 27, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This from the Guardian/Observer interested me – not least for the range of opinions (some predictable) on display, but also for the very fact that the paper saw fit to talk to authors rather than, say, historians (and what of this, which surely is arguably misleading in the context of commemorations of the Rising more broadly).

One thing that also strikes me, and Brian Hanley and others have made this point before, so it’s not new, is the way in which issues from or closer to 2016 are projected backwards onto events which took place in a radically different socio-economic and political context and how 1916 is regarded by some as the genesis for attitudes and approaches that took place after and which seem to have marginal connection to it. The obvious one is the ever constant refrain that 1916 was somehow the initiator of 1969 onwards – which is problematic on a number of different levels. But there are others.

Yet foundational events will always have that capacity to provide both a touchstone and, in a way, something to blame.

Comments»

1. Paddy Healy - March 27, 2016

Would “inclusivity” include building a monument to the man (Maxwell) who ordered the executions ???
Marian Finucan’s Dinner Party was discusting. Anybody interested in doing a thesis on the prejudices and assumptions of the Irish elite as manifested in this programme?
Bowman, Ferriter etc scarcely mentioned the occupation and the fact that British Capitalists and landlords aided by the Irish rich were sucking the blood out of the country.
A guest at the Dinner Party said she was delighted to see the tricolour honoured rather than being abused by “wrapping it around coffins up the north”

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EWI - March 27, 2016

As well, TV3’s series purporting to put Padraig Pearse on trial(!).

The Dublin middle class, Catholic and Protestant alike, have never forgiven the 1916 rebels, and the past year has just been a reflection of that reality. I see that the Irish Times published a ‘corrected’ centenary facsimile of their 1916 rising issue, removing the headline reference to a Sinn Féin Rebellion.

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WorldbyStorm - March 27, 2016

+1 Paddy

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CMK - March 27, 2016

Looking forward to the unveiling at Westminster Abbey of a plaque commemorating all of the Fenians and IRA men hanged in Britain over the past 150. It would be an important gesture of ‘reconciliation’, surely? A symbol that Britain has matured. The whole 1916 centenary at official level has been stomach churningly gruesome so far. I predict no improvement as the year progresses. I would take a particular slant on 1916 but to see the alacrity with which the establishment are s**ting all over the Rising is interesting. They are very, very scared.

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gendjinn - March 28, 2016

I expect Taoiseach Enda to be condemning the violence of 1916 at the wreath laying in Belfast, November 11th later this year.

The idea that 1916 or 1921 were illegitimate because they had not been blessed by a referendum held by the UK is just plain ludicrous.

Furthermore, the idea that an indigenous people that are suffering under the rule of a foreign government require permission to establish a self-governing democracy is even more ludicrous.

Even then one has to ignore electoral history from 1872 which returned an overwhelming majority of Irish representatives in favour of Home Rule. Which was entirely ignored.

We defeated the greatest empire the world had ever seen. The Yanks, us, the Indians. And some are ashamed of this amazing feat. The British turned Dunkirk into a heroic story and a propaganda tale – you know their army ditching all of its gear and fleeing as fast as their little legs could carry them. If Catalpa was British there’d be movies of it every 10 years.

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oconnorlysaght - March 28, 2016

The IT reports that Michael Nugent, Chairman of Atheist Ireland, made a justified refusal to attend commemorative ceremonies with a religious content added his opinion that the Rising was (Yawn) ‘undemocratic and unjustified.’It must be hoped that his understanding of comparative religion is superior to that of his knowledge of c20 history, or else the cause he claims to espouse will have to look elsewhere than his organisation. For my part, on reading his rant, i felt a momentary urge to go to the nearest church of any denomination and get baptised. I wonder is he anything to the notorious John Dillon Nugent MP, secretary of the AOH and enemy of the working people of Ireland? Perhaps people should join Atheist Ireland and work within it to follow Voltaire and wipe out the [Nugent] infamy?

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CL - April 6, 2016

“All political revolutions by their very nature have lacked legitimacy, if they are to be judged solely by reference to the pre-existing constitutional order….
Legitimacy always follows rather than precedes revolutions, immediately successful or not, that become the basis of a new constitutional order….
Even if it started as a tiny, secret conspiracy, the 1916 Rising has been mainstreamed and democratically endorsed by the people of this State from 1918 to the present day….
A democratic Irish state replaced incorporation into the United Kingdom by decision of an utterly unrepresentative parliament, excluding the vast bulk of the population, that passed the Act of Union in 1800.”-
http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/martin-mansergh-legitimacy-and-the-1916-rising-1.2597880

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WorldbyStorm - April 6, 2016

BTW, that’s a point I’d forgotten about the order to fire no shots in Ulster.

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Ed - April 6, 2016

Strange echo of Rosa Luxemburg from Mansergh there:

“Every legal constitution is the product of a revolution. In the history of classes, revolution is the act of political creation, while legislation is the political expression of the life of a society that has already come into being. Work for reform does not contain its own force independent from revolution. During every historic period, work for reforms is carried on only in the direction given to it by the impetus of the last revolution and continues as long as the impulsion from the last revolution continues to make itself felt. Or, to put it more concretely, in each historic period work for reforms is carried on only in the framework of the social form created by the last revolution. Here is the kernel of the problem.”

https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1900/reform-revolution/ch08.htm

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2. RojavanDemocrat - March 27, 2016

“The names of all 482 fatalities were read aloud by members of the congregation at the Unitarian Church in St Stephen’s Green together with members of the public.

Another service was then held at which the names of all the more than 3,500 fatalities from the Northern Ireland troubles were read out.”

http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0325/777446-1916-commemorations-dublin/

I’m sorry for the language but these people are bastards.

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Joe - March 28, 2016

I do not agree that those people are bastards.

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3. roddy - March 27, 2016

I would’nt be surprised if “peace trainer” Hudson was involved in the above.

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WorldbyStorm - March 27, 2016

It’s amazingly inappropriate, isn’t it?

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RojavanDemocrat - March 27, 2016

Not to mention hamfisted.

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Joe - March 28, 2016

What’s hamfisted or inappropriate about it? People in a church praying for the dead. It’s what they do. The dead of 1916, the dead of 1969-2000. They’re all fucking dead and I don’t know, this thread is making me angry.

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Dr. X - March 28, 2016

I have no problem at all with people reading the names of all 482 fatalities of the rising. Unless it was handled very carefully, though, I’d be very suspicious of any attempt to link that with the 3500 fatalities of the 69 – 94 conflict.

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4. Paddy Healy - March 27, 2016

I found the following statement by Michael D very annoying:”the execution of Pearse and Connolly explains the very narrow conservative nature of the new Irish state.”
While Connolly and Pearse would have opposed this, their execution does not explain why it occurred.

It occurred because the whole Irish establishment were terrified of a victory by the risen people. The majority of the Irish Pro-British Gentry, capitalists, large farmers and the Catholic Church united around Collins to accept the Treaty and to crush those who were seizing land, running red flag creameries, striking against ranchers(farm labourers) and those who wished to struggle on for a 32-county republic.
Marxists have always held that social democracy historically capitulated to capitalism by each national group supporting their own capitalist class in the first world war. Ireland, being a colonially dominated country, had a different exxperience. It was the entry of the ITUC-Labour party into the free state parliament(before Devalera) which marked the capitulation of social democracy in Ireland. By their presence in the parliament the Labour party legitimised the free state army which was crushing all aspects of the Irish revolution.
Higgins knows all this……

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5. roddy - March 27, 2016

Have to say I did’nt watch any of the state ceremonies as no one can convince me that those organising them really believe in 1916.

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Dr.Nightdub - March 28, 2016

Roddy, you’d be surprised. One of the flags today was carried by a grandson of Cathal Brugha who was riddled in the South Dublin Union in 1916 but lived to tell the tale. The Proclamation was read outside the GPO today by a man whose two grandfathers were in the West Cork flying column during the War of independence. Both men in question happen to be serving officers in today’s Defence Forces – I reckon purely from a family history point of view, if nothing else, the importance of 1916 is not lost on either. Now that may be entirely coincidence, or it may be that whoever organised the personnel for today had an eye on historical significance…

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Donal Mac Carthaigh - March 28, 2016

+1,well said Paddy

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Donal Mac Carthaigh - March 28, 2016

re. Dr Nightdub’s post.
And I was disappointed that James Connolly’s grandson took part in the State ceremony, and what he said was the usual platitudes. He could have said that the principles of his grandfather were not those of the government and the objectives outlined in the Proclamation were yet to be made a reality.

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EWI - March 28, 2016

This was well-choreographed. The point of this parade (and the flags to the schools business) is squarely aimed at anything going by the name of IRA or Sinn Féin today.

Incidentally, Cathal Brugha’s descendant was introduced as the first serving Irish Army officer since Brugha. A highly problematic statement, not least because Cathal Brugha was killed fighting the National Army (the origin of today’s Permanent Defence Forces).

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rockroots - March 28, 2016

Just on that – I wonder about some of the prominence given to the relatives. I have no issue at all with them being involved and having pride of place, but there seems to be an implication that they have a greater entitlement to the legacy of the Rising than others, by virtue of their genetic inheritance – something the Free State enshrined by given higher pensions to the families of the seven signatories than to those of others executed, a kind of hierarchy which, if you think about it, is the complete opposite of republican (in its truest sense) and socialist principles. By the same measure, I’ve read criticism of Heather Humphreys’ involvement based on her grandfather signing the Ulster Covenant decades before she was even born. There are far more valid reasons to dislike the woman, like the McNulty business, for example. God help me if I’m ever held to account for the ramblings of my racist old grandmother!

The relatives of the executed – widows, fathers, sons, daughters – were elevated to prominence right after the Rising, and I think it feeds into the political dynasty thing we’ve tolerated ever since. I can think of two recent by-elections won by the relatives of deceased TDs. It’s not necessarily a criticism, just an observation that it seems contrary to liberal republican meritocratic values.

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6. gendjinn - March 28, 2016

Someone better read than me once told me that all history is as much commentary on the present as the past.

Which makes me wonder what the Tom Holland style of personality driven narrative histories say about us?

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dmoc - March 28, 2016

Voltaire described history as “a serious of tricks we play on the dead”.

2016 / 1916 = proving him right.

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7. dmoc - March 28, 2016

QUOTE: “One thing that also strikes me, and Brian Hanley and others have made this point before, so it’s not new, is the way in which issues from or closer to 2016 are projected backwards onto events which took place in a radically different socio-economic and political context and how 1916 is regarded by some as the genesis for attitudes and approaches that took place after and which seem to have marginal connection to it.” UNQUOTE

Some may be unfamiliar with the term, but some of this is the ‘Whig Interpretation of history’, in which a presentist gloss is placed over the past, to force it into a narrative in which it leads to the glory that is the present.

Tim O Neill’s site has a nice description here (This link relates more to the history of science, so a bit of thematic drift, but it may still be useful).

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2013/01/stephen-greenblatt-swerve-how-world.html

QUOTE: The “Whig interpretation” of Butterfield’s title was summed up in his essay as “studying the past for the sake of the present” as opposed to “trying to understand the past for the sake of the past” (Butterfield p. 13). Butterfield criticised most of the English historians of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries for a blatant tendency toward “dividing the world into the friends and enemies of progress”. Anything that historians like Macauley and Acton saw as moving toward things of which they approved (liberalism, Protestantism, democracy, industry, “progress”) was judged as “good” and written of approvingly. Anything that could be seen or painted as not doing so was judged as “bad” and its agents or proponents became the villains of the historian’s story. At the heart of the Whig interpretation was the historiographical fallacy of “Presentism”: the idea that what we have now is (mostly) good and wise and intelligent and all of the past has been a stumbling and wandering path progressing towards our wonderful and oooh-so-right present.

This presentist perspective lent itself nicely to some other ideas many Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century historians (and many current popular history writers) rather liked. The idea of history being propelled by a series of “revolutions” and “rebirths”, where stagnant or retrograde tendencies are swept aside by a sudden wave of brilliant new developments was one. And the “Great Man” was another – the idea of a single, titanic intellect or personality who, by his sheer brilliance, changes everything largely by being “before his time” and therefore a force dragging the stupid sluggards of the past toward the glorious, sunlit uplands of the present (eg Galileo, Newton, Darwin).

Butterfield elegantly critiqued these ideas, arguing that they don’t actually illuminate history but, rather, completely distort it. He wrote:

The total result of this method is to impose a certain form upon the whole historical story, and to produce a scheme of general history which is bound to converge beautifully on the present – all demonstrating throughout the ages the workings of an obvious principle of progress, of which the Protestants and whigs have been the perennial allies while Catholics and tories have perpetually formed obstruction. (Butterfield, p. 11)

It was far better, he argued, to study the past as objectively as possible and to look at it for its own sake and on its own terms, without judging it against a measuring stick of how close it may be to things we happen to like about our present. We should seek to understand the past, rather than to judge it. We should try to find out what happened and why, rather than to divide it into good guys and bad guys according to a presentist calculus. Doing so means that, say, the history of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century ceases to be one of the triumph of the good and wise reformers over the corrupt and wicked Catholics and becomes a more nuanced and careful analysis of how such differing views arose within the same social and religious milieu. If we do this, Butterfield argues, “we will see Protestant and Catholic of the sixteenth century more like one another and more unlike ourselves than we have often cared to imagine” (p. 24) And, by looking at them directly rather than through the distorting prism of Whig Fallacy and presentism, we will see them more clearly.

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makedoanmend - March 28, 2016

+1 to dmoc

Esp. about science. Many good people have been “demoted” and/or “obscured” in science history and I’m sure many helpful suggestions by others completely forgotten.

I often thought Newton’s reference to standing on the shoulders of giants as a bit disingenuous given his documented behaviour towards competitors. But it makes good PR for himself in history and completes the progress narrative.

Also, as one who likes the “gossip” of scientific history, I’m often delighted how many discoveries were accidental.

But you have to be looking in order to find, and learn to become attuned to seeing what’s before one’s eyes. So I suppose even applying chance to understanding is problematic.

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Donal Mac Carthaigh - March 28, 2016

This is a very interesting piece and is relevant to many who consider themselves to be ‘Marxists ‘, but don’t really understand Marx’s approach to Scientific Socialism;a glaring example of this was a piece in a magazine or booklet published by the ICO in I think the early 70s, which claimed that the Jocobins were the ‘Bolsheviks of their day’, also many books on the Spanish Civil War.

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Donal Mac Carthaigh - March 28, 2016

I was referring to Dmoc’s post.

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WorldbyStorm - March 28, 2016

I think that’s about it dmoc, given a local and contemporary spin.

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8. Joe - March 28, 2016

I went in to the state ceremony, the military parade, in Dublin yesterday. I was proud of the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann who paraded. I enjoyed the day immensely as did the tens of thousands of others who were there. Up the Republic.

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Liberius - March 28, 2016

I’m not sure I can agree there, but then I have as little enthusiasm for ludicrous displays of militarism as I have for the supposed universal good of partitioning humanity into ‘nation states’. Tanks, planes (sans weaponry, though some might like to change that) and patriotic gun toting legalised murderers (aspiring murderers) aren’t exactly might cup of tea, at least not outside of works of fiction. If Ireland possessed ICBMs they’d likely have been on display yesterday, fucking grotesque.

Anyway, I’ll skulk off now back into my box.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

Depends on your view of 1916 to some degree: if you think the use of force was legitimate to win independence, you can hardly complain if the descendants (some of them literally) of those who won that independence parade.

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Liberius - March 28, 2016

So, what, persistent militarism as the price to pay for humanity’s lack of ability to coexist peaceably with itself?

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

That’s a different question, and a different principle. If you’re anti-militarist (I hope I am) then you choose to commemorate different things, in different ways. But why would anyone expect the winning of independence by force of arms to be marked in any other way?

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Liberius - March 28, 2016

I don’t expect it to be different, but that shouldn’t stop me from wanting it to be different. I don’t view armed conflict as some sort of inherently noble pursuit but rather as the end consequence of human intransigence, so inevitably I view the aggrandisement of soldiers, and soldiering, as negative to civil society. Put bluntly I don’t want potential killers marching in phalanxes down streets that I also walk on, I don’t view the violence they exist for, legitimised or not, as good. The barracks belongs to the soldier, the streets belong to the civilians.

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WorldbyStorm - March 28, 2016

I have a lot of sympathy with your view, but societies of a wide variety of types don’t seem to work that way in that those who are licensed to hold and use arms are regarded differently. I think in part that is because all those consequences you speak of are very negative and in some odd, perhaps even perverse way, this makes people try to support them (I wonder too is it some sort of response to the fact so many who do soldier and die are so young). It’s also problematic in that while one might want a situation to be extant where there was no necessity for force of arms it is very difficult to envisage circumstances where groups can at times avoid recourse to them. Moreover it is particularly difficult to ask people in specific circumstances to avoid using them. And, in doing so there is a certain bravery in either the willingness or the actuality of being willing to defend a society. I do think that the very name of the defence forces is important in relation to these matters and it’s something I’d like to see more widely applied elsewhere.

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EWI - March 29, 2016

There’s a non-militarist parade in April, with Reclaim 1916 and the trade unions. I was present at the one on Sunday, but I’m looking forward much more to the April one, and I hope that they don’t run into skullduggery to try and shut them down.

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9. roddy - March 28, 2016

Will you be proud of them when they eventually morph into a European “defence” force which is the way the free state establishment are steering them.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

Whatever might happen in the future (and it won’t be the fault of the defence forces but of their political masters), the Irish Defence Forces can truthfully say they have never invaded anyone else’s country, which is quite unusual for a European state.

On top of that, like it or not, they are the descendants of the pre-independence IRA, Volunteers, or Citizen Army, and as far as I am concerned they are the legitimate army of the Republic of Ireland, which was part of the point being made.

The worst hypocrite on the day was the member of the Army Council of what claims to be the army of Ireland, sitting on the reviewing stand as the real army passed by.

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yourcousin - March 28, 2016

Far be it for me to criticize other people and their love of their country, but folks tend to puff their chests out as if Ireland’s place, a rock in the North Atlantic is something other than a happy accident of history. Plenty of Irishmen have invaded plenty of countries, killed and died for bad reasons and no reasons at all.

While most folks would condemn (and one would hope that what they represent is now firmly in the past) the masked men of Lurgan they are a far closer approximation to the men/women of 1916 than the modern day IDF.

And for all the talk of “Up the Republic”, “of Ireland” should be tacked on as that is what the state parade was about yesterday.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

I have no illusions about Ireland’s place in the world: it’s a small weak country which managed to free itself but, for good reasons or bad, its prowess as an armed power ends there.

Definitely Irish men (mainly) and women have served with other powers and done their bit to oppress others, but the Irish Defence Forces haven’t (and probably couldn’t). The masked men of Lurgan might be close to the men of 1920, but they’re not close to the men and women of 1916. If nothing else, whatever you might think of James Connolly, it’s hard to imagine him shooting up a prayer meeting or putting a bomb in a pub.

Yes, the state parade was about `Up the Republic of Ireland’. What else would it be about?

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yourcousin - March 28, 2016

it’s a small weak country which managed to free itself

Except for the six counties.

There is no need to apologize for Irish neutrality. But it’s not as if say Lithuania wouldn’t love to be neutral either. Not every country is lucky enough to be geographically isolated.

And who were the men of 1920? Were they really so different than the men (used in the gender neutral sense here) of 1916? Or were they the same people who were prosecuting that war of Independence for four more years? No I wouldn’t see St. James perpetrating some of the worst acts of the Troubles, but then I wouldn’t want to make him in to a saint either.

the state parade was about `Up the Republic of Ireland’. What else would it be about?

I guess I differentiate between the Republic of Ireland and The Irish Republic .

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

Except for the six counties

You can’t have everything, and Northern Ireland would always have been `problematic’ even if the UK had conceded independence to the whole island. (Unless your `except’ refers to the bit of Ireland that’s not small and weak.)

I’m not apologizing for Irish neutrality, and I think there is far too much talk of it as `traditional’, but I do think it should be held on to.

Clearly some of the men of 1920 were literally the same people as in 1916, though they had had the good sense to change their methods. Even then, given it was a guerrilla war, it was not fought in the same way as the modern conflict was fought, certainly after about 1972. Bluntly, Collins would send men to shoot spies but he didn’t put bombs in pubs in Birmingham or Guildford, though he could have done.

(One thought that now comes to me in passing: pound for pound, did the Paras commit worse atrocities than the Tans?)

Connolly was no saint but he was a better political thinker than most who claim his mantle, and certainly a more decent human being, for all his flaws, than many of them.

I guess I differentiate between the Republic of Ireland and The Irish Republic.

So do I. Why would you expect the actually-existing Dublin state to mark a state that never came into independent existence?

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oconnorlysaght - March 28, 2016

As far as Irish interference in favour of oppressive regimes is concerned, the much praised (as ‘heroic’!) Fr. Francis Shaw in his notorious attempt to rubbish the 1916 people set up the wild geese mercenaries of the absolutist monarchies as positive examples of a contrast to the Easter rebels.

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yourcousin - March 28, 2016

I’m not trying to say that gaining freedom for any part of Ireland was easy. The north would have and will be problematic in the future no doubt. But it is part of Ireland no?

And I would point out that the words “small and weak” were your words not mine.

As for tactics deciding the righteousness of a cause, I will demur.

A pound for pound comparison between the Tans and the Paras is moot. I could draw a comparison between state violence against ethnic minorities here in the States from the early twentieth century until today and it would appear that we’ve made great strides. And truthfully we have, but to say which is better and which is worse misses the point.

I have a great deal of respect for Connolly. But the reality is that he is put on a pedestal and his writings are cherry picked to support people’s positions whatever those positions might be. Much like the bible. I’ve said this before but Sean Swan wrote a great book and he high lights the contradictions of we’re talking about here.

I expected nothing less than Enda and company to lay claim to the Easter Proclamation. I guess I was just a little taken aback about some CLR denizens being quite so vocal in their support of that.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

Ireland is small and weak. Most countries are. What’s so terrible about saying it?

Tactics don’t decide the righteousness of a cause, but if you claim high principles (“we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine”) you can’t use any tactic you please and also claim to be immune from criticism.

It is moot, and comparisons across history can be dubious, but if you want to justify more extreme tactics that Collins used, it might be the kind of comparison you have to make.

As for Connolly, I sometimes think of him the way I think of Trotsky: he may well have been right about absolutely everything, but he ended up dead (shot/axed) and his opponents got what they wanted.

I’m not supporting Enda and the boys laying claim to 1916 though FG have as much right to the tradition as anyone else. I’m asking why anyone would be surprised. I only saw it on television (I live in England), but I was impressed by the fact that there were no speeches from politicians, and on the whole the official commemoration was relatively uncontentious, except for those people who think 1916 should never have happened in the first place.

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yourcousin - March 28, 2016

As long as it’s clear that I’m not denigrating your country you can say whatever you like about Ireland.

No tactics are above criticism. But it should be noted that you invade another country while abiding international law and conversely you can commit war crimes in defense of your homeland. International law really just dictates how you fight not the merits of why.

This is also an area I want to be sensitive of because the fact is I’m an American with an interest in Irish politics, nothing more. I don’t have skin in the game so to speak. No one I have ever known or related to has ever been touched by the violence or the injustices that have plagued Ireland. It is all very well and good to be a keyboard warrior but it is not my war and I try to have respect for that fact.

It should be noted though that the Provisionals have probably been the most forthright about admitting previous wrong doing and acknowledging mistakes while it took HMG over a decade to state the obvious in terms of Bloody Sunday. And even then they couldn’t just say, “our bad” and own it.

I had no doubt that Enda and company would claim THE Republic for the ROI, but there is no reason why they cannot be called out on it.

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10. CL - March 28, 2016

This time it seems quotations from Yeats have been outsourced to gobdaws elsewhere.

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dmoc - March 28, 2016

CL, every time one of those middle class twits on RTE says “all is changed, utterly changed” or quotes “terrible beauty”, I cringe. What is their effing problem? (apart from being middle class twits on RTE).

I guess a bit of P Kavanagh is too much to ask.

Patrick Kavanagh
– from ‘Lough Derg’ (~1940s)

“And who are you?” said the poet speaking to The old Leitrim man.
He said, ‘I can tell you
What I am.
Servants girls bred my servility;
When I stoop
It is my mother’s mother’s mother
Each one in turn being called in to spread –
“Wider with your legs” the master of the house said.
Domestic servants, no one has told
Their generations as it is, as I
Show the cowardice of the man whose mothers were whored
By five generations of capitalist and lord.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

I’m surprised more of them don’t turn to MacNeice:

I come from an island, Ireland, a nation
Built upon violence and morose vendettas.
My diehard countrymen like drayhorses
Drag their ruin behind them.
Shooting straight in the cause of crooked thinking
Their greed is sugared with pretence of public spirit.
From all which I am an exile.

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oconnorlysaght - March 28, 2016

And yet Kavanagh voted Fine Gael.

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CL - March 28, 2016

“Chef Yeats, that master of the use of herbs
could raise mere stew to glorious height,
pinch of saga, soupcon of philosophy
carefully stirred in to get the flavour right,
and cook a poem around the basic verbs.
Our commis-chefs attend and learn the trade,
bemoan the scraps of Gaelic that they know;
add to a simple Anglo-Saxon stock
Cuchulainn`s marrow-bones to marinate,
a dash of Ó Rathaille simmered slow,
a glass of University hic-haec-hoc:
sniff and stand back and proudly offer you
the celebrated Anglo-Irish stew.”-

Michael Hartnett.

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dmoc - March 29, 2016

CL!!!! I revisited to specifically post this! (Hartnett was friends with my uncle back in the 60s; they and James Liddy were collaborators on an arts magazine).

Michael Hartnett
– from ‘A Farewell to English’

We woke one morning
in a Dublin digs
and found we were descended
from two pigs.
The brimming Irish sow
who would allow
any syphilitic boar
to make her hind-end sore
was Mammy.
Daddy was an English boar
who wanted nothing
but
a sweaty rut
and ownership of any offspring.
We knew we had been robbed
but were not sure that we lost
the right to have a language
or the right to be the boss.

So we queued up at the Castle
in nineteen-twenty-two
to make our Gaelic
or our Irish dream come true.
We could have had from that start
made certain of our fate
but we chose to learn the noble art
of writing forms in triplicate.
With big wide eyes
and childish smiles
quivering on our lips
we entered the Irish paradise
of files and paper-clips.

They push us towards the world of total work,
our politicians with their seedy minds
and dubious labels, Communist or
Capitalist, none wanting freedom –
only power. All that reminds us
we are human and therefore not a herd
must be concealed or killed or slowly left
to die, or microfilmed to waste no space.

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11. roddy - March 28, 2016

Carley,I agree McGuinness should’nt have been among that shower of shite like Kenny and Bruton.But no stater will tell me or 100’s of thousands like me that Tom Clarke who effectively ran the rising would have accepted the 26 county state as the embodiment of the Republic he declared.Would Clarke have excluded himself to live in a fascistorange state that you and the rest of the staters left us to our fate in.You’re “dads army” laughing stock will never be our army .The “army of the republic” will only come into being when the republic declared in 1916 comes into being.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

I’m a bit young to have abandoned anyone to anything.

We don’t know what Tom Clarke would have done (and he would have been very old for doing anything) when the ultimatum came from Lloyd George. It may well be that like other people he would have decided it was better to stop with 26 counties rather than have Britain lay waste to all 32.

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EWI - March 28, 2016

But Clarke and the others certainly never mentioned partition in the Proclamation, and Clarke himself was from Tyrone. His wife and confidante, Kathleen, certainly strenuously opposed the Treaty.

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12. Brian Hanley - March 28, 2016

It doesn’t make a difference to the political arguments one way or another, but what has struck me looking a bit more in detail at the 1916 generation recently is the substantial number who weren’t active after the Rising; and the very large number who took neither side in the Civil War. You had a couple of successive waves of new recruits of course.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

Were there any predominant reasons for that, political, personal or otherwise?

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EWI - March 28, 2016

Health issues from incarceration or injuries, emigration, affect of families of incarceration, moving into other areas of the struggle (such as electoral politics or the the Labour Board), change of heart on realisation of the danger, preferring a stand-up fight to ambushes…

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EWI - March 28, 2016

*effect on

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

Does anyone have a sense of the numbers? In other words, of the 2000 or so people involved in 1916, how many were involved in 1920, or 1923?

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EWI - March 28, 2016

There’s been a curious reluctance so far to tote up the numbers for that – not to mention the numbers who were pro-, anti- or neutral in the Civil War. This could be (hopefully) possible when the 1916 medals database finally comes out, joining the BMH witness statements and the MSPC files. Of course, you’ll also need to add in those who died too early or emigrated, and the Elizabeth O’Farrells who refused to apply or cooperate on principle with the twenty-six county state.

Jimmy Wren did do a count for his wonderful book on the G.P.O. garrison. I don’t have my own copy to hand, but maybe someone else might?

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Brian Hanley - March 28, 2016

For the GPO garrison Jimmy Wren’s calculations were 41% neutral- 35% Anti-Treaty, 24% Pro-Treaty – though that doesn’t include other garrisons.
EWI is right re the differing reasons for dropping out.
There are also a few strange cases; I’ve come across four men who fought in 1916 and then joined the British Army and fought in WW1 (all survived).

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13. roddy - March 28, 2016

The predominant reason was your bullshit about a hypocrite “member of the army council” which could easily have been utttered by the likes of Des O’Malley or the worst scumbag of an indo journalist.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

So you think there was nothing hypocritical about Martin McGuinness attending a military parade by the `free state’ armed forces? He’s entitled to his view that the Irish Defence Forces are not really the army, but he should have the decency to stick to it.

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yourcousin - March 28, 2016

I think folks should be happy that MM and company have evolved in their views. I would have thought that Ireland is a better place for it. But it should also be remembered that they were a product of their environment. As we have gone over many times the “slow learners” of Sunningdale were primarily the British goverment and unionist camp. To play it otherwise is disingenuous. Roddy is at least honest in his assessment that the ROI was built upon the exclusion of a lot of people just like him who were jettisoned for expediency. It may have been the least bad option for the nascent nation but I’m sure looked different depending on which side of the border you were on.

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14. roddy - March 28, 2016

You’ve just confirmed your stater mindset,”It was better to stop with 26 counties”.As far as I’m concerned you can stick your 26 counties where we told the Brits to stick their rubber bullets ,1916 was NEVER about the creation of a gombeen free state.

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Michael Carley - March 28, 2016

I didn’t actually say what my opinion was. I said that there were plenty of people who decided they’d rather not have “immediate and terrible war” with the most powerful armed forces in the world. It might have been better to hold out and risk a civil war with the unionists, or maybe not, but I’m not inclined to be fundamentalist with people who might already have seen quite enough suffering and didn’t want any more, especially since there was a fair chance they’d lose everything.

1916 wasn’t about the foundation of a gombeen free state, but nobody said it was.

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15. 1798Mike - March 28, 2016

Our history was reduced by the Catholic Nationalism that dominated the new Sinn Fein movement, which refounded itself after 1916, to a very simple narrative. This was enabled, particularly by the Labour Party, which sidelined itself to accommodate Sinn Fein. Indeed Collins & the IRB insisted that the first draft of the 1st Dail’s Democratic Programme be radically watered down.
Let us not delude ourselves either about the political & social attitudes of the bulk of the Irish Volunteers who participated in the rising. The witness statements given by former volunteers to the Bureau of Military History are very illuminating – particularly with regard to their attitudes to the population of inner city Dublin, the residents of the tenements and ‘back lanes’. The descriptions are full of class-ridden bile & prejudice.
I remember how the Catholic nationalist narrative of faith & fatherland dominated the 1966 commemoration. I now realise that in my own family there was a ‘great silence’. I now know that, young as I was, I felt ashamed of my own family. One grandfather, in 1916 was with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers on the western front. Highly decorated, he was dead by early 1919. My other grandfather was a member of the Orange Order, he lived, as he used to say, in Kingstown! No doubt he came out to welcome the Sherwood Foresters.
Let’s recognise that nothing is simple when it comes to identity, memory or our history. There are many overlapping strands. My grandmother (the soldier’s wife) was a cousin of Kevin Barry and had to hide her husband’s photograph when the Barrys visited her. Her house was raided by the Tans during the war of independence. My father told me once that when his father brought him to an Orange gathering in Dublin, as a child in 1921, he was asked to sing. He sang ‘Kevin Barry’ !!
He would not discuss what happened to him afterwards.
So let us not get carried away by any kind of overblown mindless nationalistic emotion. The present commemoration has just about got it right. If there is exaggeration about the progressive or left-wing credentials of the 1916 insurgents, personally I don’t mind, at least it’s an improvement on what went before

Liked by 1 person

Joe - March 28, 2016

But before I go, 1798Mike you’re spot on. “The present commemoration has just about got it right.” Couldn’t agree more.

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16. Joe - March 28, 2016

Ah fookin hell Roddy. Enough of your bitter, twisted, sectarian murder-gang supporting bilge. Would you ever go and attack the WP or whatever it was you allegedly did so that WBS can ban you again. And this time for good please. So my head can have peace. If you are typical of what are termed northern nationalists then I hereby swear to fight to the death to keep you and your like out of a ‘united Ireland’ forever.
I’m doing an EamonnCork and fookin off outa here for a spell. Before I burst a blood vessel.

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17. roddy - March 28, 2016

So stating that the 26 county state is not the republic proclaimed in 1916 is”bitter ,twisted sectarian murder gang supporting bilge” Seems like the staters are out in force here today and the mask has slipped.

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WorldbyStorm - March 28, 2016

I don’t know roddy, I really don’t. I can never quite understand why you come here given that you take offence at the most minor stuff, including as above misreading what others say.

I can’t help but think that you have this picture in your mind that this is a WP site, or a ‘stater’ site or whatever, but the truth is it isn’t and it isn’t.

Sure. People here hold a wide range of views – though you’d be hard pressed to find anyone on this thread who thought 1916 was a bad thing or didn’t want to commemorate them, or indeed most would most likely want some form of unitary socialist republic (albeit that may take a while and will probably involved something that has multiple overlaps of sovereignty and identity for many many years to come).

And yet that’s not good enough for you. It’s either total agreement with your views or nothing. We’re either 100% with you or we’re staters or whatever.

It’s not even as if you’re proving some concealed agenda here again given that we’re all open about our views (and that the site has zero influence more widely).

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Brian Hanley - March 28, 2016

In October 1934, when discussing nationalist politics north of the border, An Phoblacht asked ‘who let the North down?’ and answered ‘the North let itself down.’ It offered the observation that ‘self- pity they say is the prelude to senility. If that be so then the nationalist people of the north are well advanced in their dotage.’ The article went on to criticise northern nationalists for their alleged refusal to support Parnell, for their allegiance to the Home Rule movement in 1918 and most of all because it claimed ‘when the Treaty came nowhere was it supported more scurrilously and venomously than in the six counties. The numbers who joined the Free State Army from the north-east was far in excess in proportion’ of the rest of the country.
Well worth a read Roddy.

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Dr.Nightdub - March 29, 2016

On top of that, Éamon Phoenix in “Northern nationalism” has argued fairly convincingly (to me, at any rate) that the big split in the north after the Treaty wasn’t north-south but west-east. SF in Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry city were happy to go with the Treaty as the Boundary Commission was gonna be like the Fairy Godmother, whereas Belfast, Antrim and Down were always gonna be screwed, notwithstanding poor Joe McKelvey’s delusion that west Belfast could vote itself into the Free State.

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18. CL - March 28, 2016

” while the long shadow cast by what has been called ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland has led to a scrutiny of the Irish Republican tradition of ‘physical violence’, a similar review of supremacist and militarist imperialism remains to be fully achieved.”-President Higgins.

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19. roddy - March 28, 2016

I think WBS you would need to take a look at the client who ” swears to fight to the death to keep me and the likes of me out of a united Ireland”! (I’ll certainly be upping my security tonight!) In fact I never mentioned the sticks but was replying to Mr Carley who out of the blue started a sindo type tirade about ” hypocrite army council members”. Joe then stepped in with his “fight to the death” and it’s Roddy who is the culprit.I think if you take anything like a balanced look at the posts in this thread that you might be going slightly over the top with your own response.It’s very interesting to see a “left wing” site so in love with the military of a bourgeoise state, a military with not quite the unblemished record that some would have us believe.In it’s early days it invented the human bomb at Ballyseedy and executed prisoners en masse for “crimes” that were commited when they were imprisoned and could have had no part in.And Brian I need no history lessons as to how many of my compatriots here followed Redmondism in all it’sforms up to and including the SDLP who of course are the darlings of the free state establishment.Thankfully they have been on the wane for the past two decades despite the best efforts of their”gallant allies” south of the border from all parties.Of course Tom Clarke and Roger Casement really let the North down in 1916 which I thought what this thread was all about.!

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Dr.Nightdub - March 29, 2016

Roddy, apart from SF TDs and councillors south of Newry, and pro-SF Republicans north of Newry, are there any children of the nation that you cherish at all, let alone equally?

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WorldbyStorm - March 29, 2016

Roddy the point about the sticks is not that they were mentioned in this thread but that you seem to have preconceptions about people here and the site itself – that’s self evidently true and it suggests you visit in bad faith permanently expecting the worse and indifferent to however provocative your comments or their impacts on others. The stuff about ‘in love with a bourgeois military’ is of a piece with that. It’s nonsense, ahistorical nonsense at that and you know it but it suits you to present it as if it were true.

Finally my comments here are I’d have though quite measured and mild in relation to yours. Something to think about, no?

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Brian Hanley - March 29, 2016

Roddy, I posted the An Phoblacht quote just an illustration that this north/south stuff has been going on among republicans for quite a while. I don’t doubt that Clarke and Casement would have opposed partition but northern and southern nationalism were already on divergent paths by 1916. And there was no consensus on how they would handle ‘the North’ at all between 1916-21.

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20. CL - March 29, 2016

-“Life here in Stalag 11B Fallingsbostel during the last months of the war is hard and unpleasant. Yet it is heaven on Earth compared to my life” at Letterfrack….
Free Ireland sustained a vast infrastructure of enslavement for those of its unwanted people who could not or would not do the decent thing and leave.-
http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-we-should-not-replace-one-form-of-forgetting-with-another-1.2590174

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gendjinn - March 29, 2016

Indeed it did. Much evil was done, ignored, condoned, covered up. Much of it an open secret.

Be nice of the 4th estate ever turned a critical eye at their collusion in said establishments. Might as well dream here as in bed.

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21. gendjinn - March 29, 2016

Why are some always stoking criticism of the foundational events of the state?

For Jaysus sake, Ireland was a colony of the British Empire.

We asked them to leave many times over the centuries and for 40 years we asked them at the ballot box with what little enfranchisement we had.

The British could have left at any time but they chose not to.

Those making the assertion that 1916 and/or WoI lacked democratic legitimacy need to make the case that the British empire had a greater democratic mandate to rule Ireland than those of 1916/WoI.

In this debate the only thing you can consider a win is spluttering outrage at the vile slander on beloved mother.

Liked by 1 person

22. roddy - March 29, 2016

So Joe’s calling me “bitter twisted .sectarian murder gang supporting” is fine .Give me one comment of mine that was comparable to that in this post. Joe was ready for a scrap from earlier in the day when several posters were less than happy with northern troubles victims being used to make a point at a church service.I only responded to Michael Carley bringing up the “army council hypocrite” line which I regard as opportunistic and not even factual. As someone who lives at the very heart of one of the staunchist republican communities in Ireland,I have never heard anyone claim that McGuinness sits on the army council (if it even exists anymore) and in fact most people would say that McGuinness has gone much too far in acceptance of establishment norms.His meeting with royalty in an attempt to be representative of the unionist community as well as the one he comes from is one example and his enthusiastic embracing of the PSNI being another.He has taken great risks for the peace process ,far ahead of any political leader in the North and to the unease of many grassroots members of the republican community.Yet someone based in England can glibly state that he is a member of an “army council” which nobody outside the the columns of the Indo and their ilk claims to know even exists.Finally Joe is going to “fight to the death” to reinforce the border and I’m wondering if he is going to come up himself to fight or is he going to do it by proxy.If its the latter I hope he’s not going to enlist the help of “group B” in my area as firstly they are much too old for active service and secondly when they arrive at my house they will look a bit foolish “fighting” with someone that they come to for help in every day life.

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WorldbyStorm - March 29, 2016

This is a perfect example of what I mean. Joe makes a comment I don’t and won’t stand over but it is but a single one and Joes interactions with you have been overwhelmingly positive and constructive on his side – and by the by Joe has been a lot more supportive of SF than most on here whereas you simply forget your continual single transferable muttering about the sticks and expect everyone to tolerate your obsession and to be honrst often gratuitously insulting and provocative comments about that topic. Yet when after weeks and months of those comments and people snap you attempt to present yourself as the wronged party. It doesn’t wash Roddy, I already had to point out to you once this last week that you were making very unreasonable comments about the WP (and irony of ironies I’m not a member of that outfit but I do value fairness, and just on that when others have cone on here and said similar stuff about SF I’ve been the first to push back against them – indeed given I’ve been regularly told I’m a crypto-provo I think I’m reasonably fair). Finally again if you haveca problem with Michaels point about MM (ghe latter who I have enormous respect for btw) don’t just complain about indo thinking or go to obvious insults. Engage point out where you think he’s wrong etc. There’s a good balance in this site where even if we think someone goes abut far because we generally trust each other. Examples i disagree with michaels point about McGuinnsss but im not worried about it. Another exampls i disagree with Joes comment that reading out a list of those dead in the Troubles is appropriate in their context of 1916. But I am not going to sit here and complain they’re staters or whatever. I trust their broad views and broadly share them and I’m not about finding fault. So what I’m saying is rather than looking for betrayal or worse you might be better served accepting that on this site you’ll read a range of views good bad and ugly and that they don’t require insults or complaint but engagement or on occasion ignoring.

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23. Michael Carley - March 29, 2016

For them as are interested, Colm Toibin’s account of 1916 in the London Review of Books is quite good:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n07/colm-toibin/after-i-am-hanged-my-portrait-will-be-interesting

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Gewerkschaftler - March 29, 2016

I look forward to reading that – despite the shoe-horning in of the literary angle. But I guess that’s part of the man’s shtick.

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Michael Carley - March 29, 2016

Actually, the literary angle didn’t feel forced and, avoiding spoilers, he covers Yeats, O’Casey and Joyce and their response to the rising in a reasonably interesting way, and only after he’s given a very good account of some of how it happened. It’s certainly better than the usual smear of terrible beauty you get lipsticked on to everything when the author needs to demonstrate their cultural sensitivity.

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Gewerkschaftler - March 29, 2016

Fair point, Michael.

And that last sentence is so appropriately acid that I’m going to steal it forthwith.

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gendjinn - March 29, 2016

Gotta ditto/+1 that!

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24. Michael Carley - March 29, 2016

And for the benefit of those seeking something to tune their anti-revisionist antennae on:

The centenary of the Easter Rising was commemorated in Dublin yesterday. The unsuccessful revolt of Irish Republicans helped pave the way for the breakaway of southern Ireland from the United Kingdom in 1922 and the horrible civil war.

In the phrase “Easter Rising” is contained the central blasphemy of terrorist acts committed in the name of God. What has the resurrection of the Prince of Peace got to do with trying to shoot the British out of Ireland?

Patrick Pearse, the rising’s leader, who proclaimed the republic outside the General Post Office, suffered from what Yeats called “the vertigo of self-sacrifice”. He had a homoerotic vision of the macaomh, the beautiful young scholar warrior who would die for his country – half the Irish mythical hero Cuchullain, half Jesus. The night before he was shot by a British firing squad, Pearse wrote a mawkish poem comparing the Virgin Mary’s loss of her son to his own death.

A century later, this distasteful confusion of political fanaticism with faith is even more in fashion, but nowadays in Islam, not Christianity. Among those rebels executed by the British shortly after Pearse was his devoted brother, Willie. In Brussels last week, a pair of brothers, Ibrahim and Khalid al-Bakraoui, detonated

two of the three bombs which killed 31 people.

In modern Ireland, I am glad to say, sentimentality about the murderous and self-righteous revolutionaries who helped condemn the Republic to

70 years of economic backwardness and narrow priest-domination – and the North to terrorist guerrilla warfare – is at last being superseded by a more clear-headed approach. I strongly recommend Ruth Dudley Edwards’s new book, The Seven, which dissects the attitudes of the founding fathers. The repentant IRA terrorist Sean O’Callaghan has published a brave, hostile account of the life of Pearse’s socialist co-conspirator and martyr, James Connolly.

It no longer seems so heroic to have provoked violence against a parliamentary democracy and slaughter among one’s own people, however much one may support an independent Ireland. Must it take another century before a comparable questioning of supposedly holy killing comes to dominate the Muslim world?

“A terrible beauty is born”, famously wrote Yeats. Actually, it was a terrible ugliness, and it is getting uglier.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/12205271/Islamic-State-and-the-Easter-Rising.html

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Gewerkschaftler - March 29, 2016

Classic.

A few precious pro-Brexit column-inches wasted, however.

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gendjinn - March 29, 2016

Ah yeah, but wit coulda been a lot worse, doncha know? We could have been as bad as the Nazis. Or shudder the very thought, as bad as the British empire. But let’s not get carried away.

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EWI - March 30, 2016

The resort to Yeats as authority and deity ought to be challenged more, especially when the Irish Times euphemistically refers to his ‘later attraction to authoritarianism’.

Yeats was all too happy to put on O’Casey’s (anti-1916) The Plough and the Stars, but indignantly refused to allow his (anti-WWI) The Silver Tassie to be put on at the Abbey Theatre, which seems to have been the last straw for O’Casey who then emigrated.

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25. Gewerkschaftler - March 29, 2016

I guess in terms of the bigger picture the rising was a surprise attack on an extraordinarily bloody empire that didn’t realise that it was beginning to disintegrate.

A military suicide mission but a limited political success in the longer term on the national level, and a more significant global one in terms of encouraging revolt against the empire.

I learnt little from the official commemoration – which was probably deliberate – but quite a bit from the flurry of writing around it.

How about a commemoration of the Limerick Soviet in 2019? Now that’s something I’d come back for.

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oconnorlysaght - March 29, 2016

As a longterm historian of the said Limerick Soviet (Pamphlet: ‘The Story of the Limerick Soviet’), I have no doubt that it will be celebrated as it has been every decade. You will be very welcome.

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Gewerkschaftler - March 29, 2016

Thanks for the invitation.

The pamphlet is presumably this one here? Or have you updated it since then?

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oconnorlysaght - March 30, 2016

That seems to be the latest published version. I am hoping that there will be a new edition, as some new stuff to be considered has appeared recently.
By the way, have you seen the DVD ?Quite good, but a bit weak at the end (re. the causes of the Soviet’s ending).

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