Towards Commemoration: Ireland in war in revolution 1912-1923

Towards Commemoration: Ireland in war in revolution 1912-1923

John Horne
Edward Madigan
Ian Adamson
Tom Hartley
Paul Bew
Tom Burke
Anne Dolan
David Fitzpatrick
Paul Clark
John Horne
Keith Jeffery
Pierre Joannon
Fintan O’Toole
William Mulligan
Brian Hanley
Edward Madigan
Catriona Pennell
Stuart Ward
Jay Winter
Fearghal McGarry
Heather Jones
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
Pages: 182
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14jxtrg
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  • Book Info
    Towards Commemoration: Ireland in war in revolution 1912-1923
    Book Description:

    This book arrives on foot of a decade of commemorations. Contemporary Ireland was founded during the fractious years of 1912-1923. This volume features essays by leading historians, journalists, civic activists and folklorists. The outstanding body of scholarship offers a complexity of new views in the debate how to commemorate a divided past.

    eISBN: 978-1-908996-53-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    John Horne and Edward Madigan
  4. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Edward Madigan

    The years between 1912 and 1923 were arguably the most transformative in modern Irish history. Beginning with the mass signing of the Ulster Covenant and ending with a bloody civil conflict in the nascent Free State, this long decade of war, revolution and rapid social change gave birth to contemporary Ireland, North and South. Many of us hold different, even conflicting, views on the real significance of this violent but fascinating period, and we are unlikely to reach a consensus on episodes as contentious as the Easter Rising, the Battle of the Somme or the War of Independence. We can...

  6. SECTION 1: HISTORIES

    • 1 Violence and War in Europe and Ireland, 1911–14
      (pp. 13-20)
      William Mulligan

      Both Irish and European politics were riven with conflict between 1911 and 1914. For all the difference of scale between them, they were connected both by the nature of the tensions involved and also by the potential impact of the Irish crisis on the United Kingdom as one of the leading great powers. At the international level there were wars between Italy and the Ottoman Empire in 1911 and 1912, and two wars in the Balkans in 1912 and 1913. In addition, the great powers consolidated their alliances, gave increasing weight to narrowly defined conceptions of military security, and embarked...

    • 2 The Strange Death of Liberal Ireland: William Flavelle Monypenny’s The Two Irish Nations
      (pp. 21-28)
      Paul Bew

      George Dangerfield’sThe strange death of Liberal England(1935) is a conundrum. All the senior historians of either Labour or Liberalism—scholars like Henry Pelling, Ross McKibben or Roy Douglas—refute his thesis that the Liberal Party received a decisive destructive blow before 1914. If we shift the argument and say that Dangerfield was merely talking about a liberalmentalité, this hardly helps. The liberalmentalitéis still strong in England, and is to be found in all the major parties, which, of course, includes the Liberal Democrats.

      Yet, in one respect, Dangerfield has received wide historiographical support. This lies...

    • 3 Parallel Lives, Poles Apart: Commemorating Gallipoli in Ireland and Australia
      (pp. 29-37)
      Stuart Ward

      At a key moment in Sebastian Barry’s award-winningThe secret scripture(2008), the ageing Roseanne McNulty casts her mind back to Ireland’s turbulent Twenties and Thirties, reflecting:

      I wonder is that the difficulty, that my memories and my imaginings are lying deeply in the same place? Or one on top of the other like layers of shells and sand in a piece of limestone, so that they both have the same element, and I cannot distinguish one from the other with any ease, unless it is from close, close looking?¹

      As for individuals, so, too, for whole communities the business...

    • 4 More than a ‘Curious Footnote’: Irish Voluntary Participation in the First World War and British Popular Memory
      (pp. 38-45)
      Catriona Pennell

      In 2009 the popular British Radio 1 DJ and television presenter Chris Moyles took part in the much-watched BBC genealogy series,Who do you think you are?in order to trace his Irish heritage.¹ His journey ended in western Belgium. Here, on 2 November 1914, his great-grandfather, James ‘Jimmy’ Moyles, aged forty, was shot dead whilst serving with the Connaught Rangers. A tragically familiar story, he was one of the more than fifty-eight thousand British casualties of the First Battle of Ypres (October–November 1914). However, what came as a surprise to both Moyles junior and the television audience was...

    • 5 1916 and Irish Republicanism: between Myth and History
      (pp. 46-53)
      Fearghal McGarry

      By exploring the question of what republicanism meant to the rebels of 1916, before the Rising became burdened by the weight of its own myth, this chapter seeks to identify some connections between the history of an event and its commemoration. It emphasises how unpredictable the Rising’s success in creating popular support for republicanism was, and argues that this contingent outcome was largely a product of its wartime context. Although the Rising is now synonymous with republicanism, its ideological significance was less apparent at the time: many rebels fought for Irish freedom rather than a republic. The implications of this...

    • 6 Ireland and the Wars After the War, 1917–23
      (pp. 54-64)
      John Horne

      What happens if we enlarge the time frame of the Great War? European and world politics were militarised well before the war. In both Ireland and the Balkans, the violence that fed directly into the war started in 1912–13, as William Mulligan has shown in chapter 1. Continued militarisation of politics and far worse violence prolonged the fighting beyond 1918. In fact, the Great War was the epicentre of a larger cycle of conflict that did not finish until 1923, with the end of the war between Greece and Turkey, the resolution of the crisis over German reparations—which...

  7. SECTION 2: MEMORIES

    • 7 Two Traditions and the Places Between
      (pp. 67-73)
      Paul Clark

      When I was growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1960s, your religion defined your identity and there was one common question: ‘Are you one of us or one of them?’ This was shorthand for ‘Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?’ In truth, I belonged neither to ‘us’ nor ‘them’. My father, an Ulster Presbyterian, had met my mother, a Leinster Catholic, when she nursed in Belfast in the early 1950s. Such is the power of love that, much to the dismay and anger of his parents, my father turned his back on the religion of his birth. He...

    • 8 Church of Ireland Great War Remembrance in the South of Ireland: a Personal Reflection
      (pp. 74-82)
      Heather Jones

      It is 1987 and I am nine years old. My mother is preparing Sunday lunch in our home in a Dublin suburb, after our Remembrance Sunday service. We are not long home; I still have my poppy. On the radio the news is on. My mother suddenly turns to me, shock pale, and says, ‘There’s been a big bomb in Enniskillen.’ We listen to the news. Other people, wearing poppies like me, have been blown up and killed. I realise for the first time that remembrance can be dangerous. A Dublin Protestant child, I start to understand that, in the...

    • 9 The Long Road
      (pp. 83-90)
      Tom Hartley

      It is often said that the journey is more important than arriving at the destination. Life as a political activist has posed many challenges, with many twists and turns, and it has often been uncomfortable. If there is one thread that holds this experience together, it is my political aspiration for a thirty-two-county united and independent Ireland. I cannot tell you when this aspiration entered my consciousness, yet it has always been there in my living memory, and it is probably fair to say that my own aspirations and political experience are reflective of the journey of the Northern nationalist...

    • 10 Somme Memories
      (pp. 91-97)
      Ian Adamson

      William Sloan was born in Newtownards, Co. Down, in 1897. He was the only son of Anthony and Lizzie Sloan, who lived in Roseneath Cottage, Main Street, Conlig, Co. Down, near my father’s shop at the corner of Tower Road; this leads past Clandeboye Golf Club to Helen’s Tower. The couple were married on 24 August 1896 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church. Anthony worked as a general labourer, and his two nieces, Martha and Isabella, eventually became my two grannies. Anthony and Lizzie had two children, William and Lillah, to whom my grannies were therefore cousins. Shortly after the outbreak of...

    • 11 Rediscovery and Reconciliation: the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association
      (pp. 98-104)
      Tom Burke

      During the opening of the exhibitionLet Ireland remember, organised by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association (RDFA) at the Dublin Civic Museum in November 1998, Pat Cummins took my hand and said to me, ‘Thank you for remembering my father.’ Pat was named after his father, Paddy Cummins, who was a transport sergeant in the 6th Royal Dublin Fusiliers (RDF). Paddy was a married man when he enlisted. His wife Winifred lost her brother when he was killed while serving with the Highland Light Infantry during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After the war, Paddy returned to Dublin...

    • 12 Charley Bourne, Jack Ford and the Green Fields of France
      (pp. 105-114)
      Brian Hanley

      On 21 March 1918 the German armies launched a huge offensive that drove the Allies back across the former Somme battlefields. An estimated twenty thousand soldiers lost their lives that day. Among them was Private Michael Leahy of the Royal Irish Regiment. From Caherconlish in east Limerick, Leahy was thirty-nine and left a widow, Ellen, of Portlaw, Co. Waterford.¹ Four years later, his nephew, nineteen-year-old Thomas Leahy, also from Caherconlish, would die while serving with the new Irish National Army. Thomas was accidentally shot by one of his comrades while guarding Cahir Castle in Co. Tipperary. He had joined the...

  8. SECTION 3: COMMEMORATIONS

    • 13 Irish Varieties of Great War Commemoration
      (pp. 117-125)
      Keith Jeffery

      The First World War has been, and is, ‘remembered’ and commemorated in Ireland in an extraordinary range of ways. Over recent years, moreover, the intensity of this commemoration appears to have increased, as the events themselves have receded. This is especially true in independent Ireland, where commemoration has ebbed and flowed since the end of the war itself, but where now engagement with the war and its commemoration has become especially striking and prevalent. And over the coming years, during which the centenary of the First World War will be marked, this trend is likely to be further intensified. It...

    • 14 Historians and the Commemoration of Irish Conflicts, 1912–23
      (pp. 126-133)
      David Fitzpatrick

      History and commemoration are not incompatible, but the proper relationship between these two pursuits is contested and uneasy. As participants in the public debates and manifestations associated with the current ‘decade [sic] of commemorations’, historians should warn planners against the perils of adopting bad history when designing their commemorative programmes. Though many may reject the very concept of ‘good history’, few would deny that historical research is capable of identifying elements of falsification, distortion and undue political influence in the way that past events are narrated. Academic historians are not privileged arbiters of historical truth, but they should be better...

    • 15 Beyond Glory? Cultural Divergences in Remembering the Great War in Ireland, Britain and France
      (pp. 134-144)
      Jay Winter

      In 1936 William Butler Yeats explained the omission of the poetry of Wilfred Owen from hisOxford book of modern versein these terms:

      I have a distaste for certain poems written in the midst of the great war; they are in all anthologies, but I have substituted Herbert Read’s ‘End of the War’ written long after. The writers of these poems were invariably officers of exceptional courage and capacity, one a man constantly selected for dangerous work, all, I think, had the Military Cross; their letters are vivid and humorous, they were not without joy—for all skill is...

    • 16 Divisions and Divisions and Divisions: Who to Commemorate?
      (pp. 145-153)
      Anne Dolan

      In June 1928 Cavan Circuit Court made Philip Smith pay £10 damages to a Mrs Galligan for calling her virtue into disrepute.¹ Whether she was as chaste as she might have been is another matter, but in the exchange of words between the two, Smith added that Galligan’s husband ‘ought to be shot for thatching Soraghan’s house’.² The Soraghans were murdered in December 1923: husband and wife shot in their own home in Cavan several months after the end of the Irish Civil War.³ It had been described as ‘the most atrocious murder ever committed in this country’, perhaps because...

    • 17 Beyond Amnesia and Piety
      (pp. 154-161)
      Fintan O’Toole

      Marion Square is the main public space of the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Within it, a tall, four-sided iron screen contains a sixteen-foot-long bronzed sculpture of an abandoned tallith, a Jewish prayer shawl. Jews also use the tallith as a burial shroud, with one of its four fringes removed as a symbol of death and mourning. The sculpture, erected in 1999, is a subtle and moving memorial to the Holocaust and to survivors of the concentration camps who came to live in the city.

      Given the scale of the horror it recalls and the quiet sensitivity of the sculpture,...

    • 18 Lest We Forget: Commemoration Fever in France and Ireland
      (pp. 162-168)
      Pierre Joannon

      The French, no less than the Irish, are obsessed by history. In 1940 Elizabeth Bowen wrote in one of her reports from Ireland to the British Ministry of Information: ‘I could wish that the English kept history in mind more, that the Irish kept it in mind less.’¹ Likewise, the French are not known to be suffering from memory loss—quite the contrary. Consequently, there is nothing that the French or the Irish love quite so much as a good commemoration.

      However, the exercise has its limits. Like the abuse of drink, the abuse of commemoration is fraught with danger....

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 169-176)
    John Horne

    Ireland will not be alone in marking the events that transformed the world a century ago during the decade of the First World War. From a divided Middle East to a reunited Germany, from Poland and the Czech/Slovak Republics—which first won their modern independence in 1918—to a Hungary that still mourns the territory it lost in 1919, the legacy of the ‘Greater War’ of 1912–23 is written into the geopolitical landscape, just as it is with the partition of Ireland. The legacy is even stronger in the cultural sphere. Rituals that are now commonplace were invented to...

  10. Index
    (pp. 177-182)