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Revisionists gathering July 31, 2017

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Was away so didn’t get to this until today… from Archon of the Southern Star, some thoughts on the West Cork History Festival in advance of that event.

Mocked by the satirical Phoenixmagazine as the ‘West Brit History Fest,’ the forthcoming West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen could turn into an old-fashioned dog fight should umbrage be taken at the obscurantist stance of certain revisionists invited to address the €180-a-skull event.

According to the Dublin magazine, participants include well-known anti-Republican critics who have a habitual liking for historian Peter Hart’s contention that Tom Barry ordered the execution of British soldiers (Auxiliaries) after they surrendered at Kilmichael. It is expected that revisionists will advance their unique and narrow interpretation of the freedom struggle in West Cork.

All this will take place against a background of accusations by the North Cork Aubane Historical Society, which says that the deceased historian, Peter Hart, broke the rules of historical scholarship by blatantly distorting, censoring and misrepresenting historical sources. It maintains he used anonymous interviews – one with a dead participant in the Kilmichael Ambush.

Worse still, ‘by innuendo and insinuation, Hart alleged that sectarianism and ethnic cleansing were the driving forces behind the War of Independence.’

No soft punches in that critique!

Tom Cooper (cathaoirleach, Irish National Congress), set the ball rolling in letters to this newspaper when he drew the attention of readers to the controversial revisionist line likely to be promulgated at the Festival. While welcoming West Cork’s first history festival, he feared efforts would be made to resuscitate the false sectarian notion that a bigoted engagement with Protestantism was a characteristic of the IRA’s activities.

Certainly, accusations relating to the so-called sectarianism of the IRA in West Cork, and to what the organisers provocatively refer to as the Bandon Valley Massacre, have been a feature of the ‘revisionist’ line pushed by media pundits who at one time were prominent in the Workers’ Party.

Generally accepted is the fact that when historian Peter Hart tragically died he left an intellectual mess behind him, particularly with respect to his allegations that sectarianism played a part in the murder of Protestant farmers, and that Tom Barry and his men butchered prisoners at Kilmichael.

Over the years such assertions contributed to irrelevant political sideshows that diminished the value of genuine historical scholarship relating to the armed struggle in West Cork.

Ominously, to judge by the history of bizarre ‘revisionist’ comments made by those pencilled-in to address the Skibbereen event, more allegations of sectarianism may surface as a tool with which to denigrate the achievements of the IRA.

Yet, as Tom Cooper has pointed out in his letters to The Southern Star,‘there is no solid evidence of religion-based targeting’ by the IRA.

Intriguing too is that in the case of Ireland’s premier revisionist who set the standard for others to follow, Hart’s former disciples have drawn a discreet curtain over his controversial opinions, including (it seems) the organisers of the History Festival. They do not mention or include a single session on his work.

The Aubane Historical Society wonders why and asks if his opinions are now those of a non-person, ‘almost unmentionable by his previous admirers.’ To help solve the mystery, they’ve published a contribution to the Festival, ‘The Embers of Revisionism,’ which deals with Hart’s controversial legacy.

However, a possible explanation for the absence of any reference to Hart may well reside in the fact that his type of crude revisionism is out of date, superfluous to current political and propagandistic needs, and manifestly wrong.

After all, he based his claim of butchery at Kilmichael on an alleged conversation that he had with the last surviving member of Barry’s Flying Column, a person who died six days before the interview took place!

Which seems to support the truth of the old adage that ‘all matters of history are matters of rumour and that well-documented history is well-spun rumour’!

Of course, pseudo-historians (mainly Sindo/Indo ‘revisionists’) have a tendency to move furtively at the edges of legitimate historical research, particularly when they try to rewrite the historical record in order to make it ‘fit in’ with contemporary politics (such as supporting Northern Loyalism and condemning Republican aspirations).

In recent years, there were no better practitioners of political chicanery than the Workers Party-Official IRA which was embedded in RTÉ and popular newspapers. The party engaged in mythmaking on a grand scale as it developed a reactionary political agenda, which then was fed with the repetition of wild claims.

In pursuit of a North Korean-style society, they threw logical consistency, relevancy, fairness and honesty out the window. Fortunately, Irish people copped on to their antics and politically gave them the bum’s rush. Thankfully, political action has moved on since the WP infiltration of RTÉ, the Ned Stapleton Cumann, Section 31 and other nefarious activities.

Maybe the ‘revisionist’ leopard at last has changed spots even if some of its former media stars, including those likely to speak in Skibbereen, remain caught in a time warp?

The North now is entering a new political phase, unification in the Brexit context makes sense for pragmatic unionists and hardline unionism is decaying. All of which is a challenge for our beached ‘Southern Ireland revisionists’ who have to make a greater effort if they want to be intellectually consistent with the historical record. Hence, possibly, the reason for the history festival in Skibbereen.

Tempora mutantur (the times change) and, with change in the air, who trusts in ancient revisionist myths fabricated by the Workers Party and the Indo/Sindo? To believe the fabricators would be like swallowing the myth that once involved the killing of Michael Collins at Béal na mBláth.

He is supposed to have said with his last breath: “Let the Dublin Brigade bury me”. (Forensic medicine can show that having had most of his skull blown away it would have been particularly difficult for him to have said anything).

And let’s not forget the myths concerning Sonny O’Neill’s elephant gun that did the trick for Collins and the myth that, no, Jim Hurley wasn’t responsible. And the story that Collins was shot by one of his own men (Emmet Dalton)!

Fact is that in a time of political flux, people believe anything; but in today’s Ireland the myths currently manufactured by Indo/Sindo revisionists have run their course. And although sometimes such myths are grist to the folklore mill, they have as much indisputable veracity as the tale of IRA ethnic-cleansing in West Cork.

So, with a feeling of expectation and a desire for something important to happen, is there a possibility that Skibbereen’s history festival will clean up revisionism’s political junk, its mythmaking, so that tall tales are no longer confused with fair-minded historical commentary? We await the outcome with bated breath!

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Comments»

1. EWI - July 31, 2017

Well, this should be an interesting thread.

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2. Jim Monaghan - August 1, 2017

Embers of Revisionism
The Embers of Revisionism

Critiquing Creationist Irish History
Dr. Niall Meehan, Faculty Head, Journalism & Media, Griffith College Dublin ÔAdulterers, homosexuals, tinkers, beggars, ex-servicemen, Protestants: these were the many dangerous and potentially lethal labels for IrelandÕs inhabitants in the revolutionary period.Õ David Fitzpatrick,
The Two Irelands
, 1998, p
On Academia. https://www.academia.edu/34075119/The_EMBERS_of_REVISIONISM_PDF_preview_ You can access this and otehr works by Niall Meehan using a facebook login.

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3. Ramzi Nohra - August 1, 2017

Not sure if the crack at the WP is really helpful. Best to focus on the matter at hand.

However the critique of the festival is generally sound. I really can’t see the point of including Myers and Harris at a history festival unless you are trying to push a certain political agenda.

Fitzpatrick and Morrison are at least professional historians even if I do disagree with them and think their support of the Peter Hart is generally misplaced.

Against this the festival did include Andy Bielenberg who I suppose one could put in the “counter-revisionism” camp.

He was the one exception – all the other speakers that I saw listed were of the same mind in relation to the War of Independence.

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EWI - August 1, 2017

He was the one exception – all the other speakers that I saw listed were of the same mind in relation to the War of Independence.

ALL of the other speakers were more or less of this tendency, Andy Bielenberg aside. Even the British rabbi was a trustee of the Imperial War Museum and former UU chancellor who appears to think that Catholics are the problem in Ireland, and (up until Sunday) apparently admired Myers because of his PR campaign for the British Army.

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4. Joseph - August 2, 2017

I met that Rabbi in a social setting last year and I can confirm she was very hostile to Catholicism and was reveling in the allegedly ‘high’ numbers of Catholics converting to the CofI. She was very pleased with herself.

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5. lapsed methodist - August 3, 2017

Hardly suprising that the rabbi would harbour dark thoughts about catholics i polling by the ADL shows that anti- semitism is much more prevalent in catholic and orthodox countries than in protestant ones. For example Ireland – republic of – has a score of 20 , Denmark 4. Greece off the charts. Oh, and if there wasn’t a surrender at Kilmichael, why did Barry and his men spend so much time hunting down the last wounded survivor when common sense would seem to dictate that a column engaged in an action like Kilmichael would withdraw quickly before the enemy would arrive to look for them.

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EWI - August 3, 2017

Hardly suprising that the rabbi would harbour dark thoughts about catholics […] For example Ireland – republic of – has a score of 20 , Denmark 4.

That Ireland – republic of – has an absence of the public neo-nazi groups which plague other countries shows that that ADL ‘score’ is garbage. I’d very strongly suspect that it’s based on criticism of Israeli actions and policies in the occupied territories, correct?

Oh, and if there wasn’t a surrender at Kilmichael, why did Barry and his men spend so much time hunting down the last wounded survivor when common sense would seem to dictate that a column engaged in an action like Kilmichael would withdraw quickly before the enemy would arrive to look for them.

That’s some fine grasping at straws, indeed. After seeing some of their comrades shot down by a treacherous fake surrender, I can perfectly understand wanting to get every one of the Auxiliaries. I suspect many other people will agree with me.

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