Sunday, March 27, 2016

The foul rag and bone shop of the nation

It's a relief to get to some actual 1916 commemoration events actually happening to provide an alternative to the 1916 chatter. The interpretation of the Rising has been going on for so long that most contemporary discussions have an abstract quality to them, with talking heads engaging in pre-emptive strikes against arguments that are out there, but that no one else in the active discussion has actually made. One example: the post-parade chatter on RTE with panelists asserting the Irish Defence Forces made sure that everyone knew there's only one Óglaigh na hÉireann; that's of course is true, but no else around the table had said otherwise and it will all seem a bit mysterious to the many Irish citizens and residents who didn't grow up with the underlying debate. And just to play along with that debate for a second, there is a political party in Ireland whose name seeks to claim the mantle of legitimate Irish defence forces to the extent that its initials appear in the crest, but it's not the party to whom the discussants above were referring.

Anyway given all that abstraction, our recommended read this Sunday is Maria Farrell's excellent reflection on her ancestor Eoin MacNeill and how his role in the Irish Volunteers was seen through the generations.

So as not to avoid the tough questions, this blog's (entirely unoriginal) assessment of 1916 is as follows: understandable given the profound cynicism and amorality of "Great Power" politics at the time; unfortunately became the prime example of how a seemingly outrageous act could jolt the public out of its complacency in favour of the cause; but ultimately even if unintentionally it saved Ireland from a civil war an order of magnitude worse than what actually happened i.e unionism versus nationalism, a war that given English support for unionism, nationalism would have lost.

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