Ireland’s histories will remain a foreign country unless and until we make ourselves accountable?

What is it with Ireland and our  generally poor documentation of the past?

I spent the weekend reading Martin Sixsmith’s account of how the nuns at Sean Ross Abbey expunged any details that might have re-united Philomena Lee with her son Anthony in a bonfire. Yesterday afternoon, I picked up Kevin Cullen’s report of how Richard O’Rawe burnt his returned account of his life in the IRA.

Even though it wasn’t directly deliberate, the torching of the Public Records Office, shredded much of the details of our personal histories, so that our ancestors often only step out a deep historical darkness once they emigrate to America or Britain or Australia.

Perhaps we just aren’t good at living with our histories, or are at least have suffered considerable misfortune in that regard…. Nick Garbutt writes in the News Letter:

…where else in the world do you get politicians of all hues, invoking the distant past in order to make sense of the present? And wherever else do we have such a confused interpretation of what actually happened which so distorts our behaviour today?

Many historians have always known this. FSL Lyons famously wrote at the outbreak of the Troubles “to understand the past is to cease to live in it”.

Our #DigitalLunch session on History explored the tensions between historians and politicians and the accounting of facts, and the development of historical myth-making. The myth making is essentially part of the natural political bargaining that takes in the public square.

In much of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the pre-occupation was with turning ‘Peasants into Frenchmen’ or grafting older traditions onto the newly formed ‘nations’ of Italy and Germany, in order as Hobsbawm describes it, “to maintain or even establish the obedience, loyalty and cooperation of its subjects or members” .

But at this messier end of nationalism, accounting, accountability and the core data have to be  clear and trustworthy if further myth making (or political storytelling to use a less pejorative term) is to be both resonant and earn public trust.

Perhaps it is something that needs to begin (to borrow a Carl Rogers phrase) in the here and now, rather than just leaving it to another generation to ‘rise out of’ our habit of ‘covering up’ and ‘muddling through’?

“…the only simplicity to be trusted is the simplicity to be found on the far side of complexity.”

Alfred North Whitehead

  • Brian Walker

    Mick,
    I recommend The Oxford handbook of Modern Irish History (OUP 2014, editor Alvin Jackson) as an authoritative update of the scope of Irish historiography taking in social and cultural change and the revisionist/traditionalist controversies. I might blog on this when I get other stuff out of the way.

  • HopefulPessimist

    Great Whitehead quote!

    The difficulty for many in this neck of the woods is that complexity leads to shades of grey and consequently the need to admit that the black and white narrative which each sides perpetuates is somewhat flawed.

  • Mc Slaggart

    It not many places which do not “invoking the distant past in order to make sense of the present?”. Iraq is falling apart on lines as much defined by history as much as religion or geography.

    tephen Fry, launching Heritage Sector’s History Matters in “2006, related a story that after the Labour Party’s victory in 1997, Bertie Ahern, the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, was paying a call on Robin Cook, then Foreign Secretary.
    As he entered the room, a large portrait of Cromwell above Cook’s desk confronted him. He turned and immediately left saying he would not enter until the picture of “that murdering bastard” was removed. Cook, anxious to avoid a diplomatic incident, obliged.”

    http://www.thecnj.com/review/2009/062509/books062509_01.html

    To understand the history of Ireland is a task similar to the weather in that you need to understand the history of the world. Big task but a good starting point is:

    A History of the World in 100 Objects
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/

  • Zeno

    There are at least two versions of our history. They are soo diverse that agreement is impossible. Basically one sides brave freedom fighters fought a just war against the terrorist scum who murdered innocent men women and children.

  • tacapall

    “What is it with Ireland and our generally poor documentation of the past”

    How ironic then that the Irish actually saved civilization with the fall of Rome when hordes of barbarians sacked the Roman empire looting, burning and destroying the recorded history of the western world. It was the Irish who were just learning to read and write who luckily had copied western literature pagan and christian including Homer and Aristotle.

  • Tugger

    Zeno: There are at least two versions of our history. They are soo diverse that agreement is impossible. Basically one sides brave freedom fighters fought a just war against the terrorist scum who murdered innocent men women and children.

    Easily solved by using facts to decide which one of those narratives is true….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Tugger, “facts” do not stand alone, they need careful evaluation. The manner in which information (“facts”) has been distorted and suppressed in the past, especially to support the propaganda of several centuries of conquest, has utterly distorted our understanding of what history actually means. All too many people think that the “facts” of history are to be carefully selected and twisted into a carefully arranged shape to support pre-conceived political positions, but the serious practice of history should always be an attempt to gather all the evidence that may be found and to assess what plausibly might actually have occurred. This habit of mind burns out the myths, so “to understand the past is to cease to live in it”.

  • terence patrick hewett

    As an engineer that has studied history for 40 years my problem is: how do we judge the past in a spirit of impartiality; since as L. P. Hartley famously stated in the opening sentence of his novel The Go-Between “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

    It is difficult to judge even recent history with any objectivity especially for those with a contemporary axe to grind. A case in point is how we judge London Victorian society and mores. I knew many Victorians and Edwardians of all shapes and classes and they were very different from the people described by those whose only reference is contemporary text. What they really thought was never committed to paper, although some idea may be got from Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, Morrison’s A Child of the Jago, H H Munro, The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith and the pronouncements of Miss Marie Lloyd.

    I like to think I understand Hugh Leonard’s Da, but my Irish better half says I can’t: to which I reply “Well aren’t I the spit of Mr Drumm” To which she replies “Oh you are you are.”

    After study, I think you have to enter the realms of fiction and poetry to get the spirit of the age: into the dreams of R S and Dylan Thomas and of Chaucer: but I think in the end I will only get a shadow of a reality.

  • Tugger

    SeaanUiNeill: “facts” do not stand alone, they need careful evaluation. The manner in which information (“facts”) has been distorted and suppressed in the past, especially to support the propaganda of several centuries of conquest, has utterly distorted our understanding of what history actually means.

    ‘Facts’ cannot be distorted. If they could, they would not be facts in the first place.

  • terence patrick hewett

    @ SeaanUiNeill @ Tugger

    I found a new word by the benefit of Slugger and that is “whataboutery” Have you ever contemplated that you both might be right?

  • BarneyT

    The actuality\semblance of\essence of the bloody past cascaded through the centuries and decades. Similar and perhaps lessened deeds from the same masters allowed past atrocities to remain vivid as parallels were drawn. This led to a sense that nothing was resolved for the natives from the initial invasions, throughout the plantation, famine holocaust and the “provocation” of the most recent and fourth campaign. Rightly or wrongly the crimes prevailed and the sense that the British colonials are at it again made the distant past recent in our minds.

  • terence patrick hewett

    @ BarneyT

    “En in my droom is dit die pad na Potchefstroom”

    Another country where everybody was right.

  • BarneyT

    Well, you can lesson the deeds of the aggressor to a degree by the way you respond.

  • Seamuscamp

    Tugger
    Our minds are finite; information is nearly infinite, so real facts are nearly infinite. As are lies, and misunderstandings. Faced with the rubble of history, how do we sort out the relevant facts? The written record is incomplete; the oral record is biased; historians filter; politicians elide; memory fools us.

    To sum up, I agree that facts cannot be distorted; the problem lies in getting the facts, rather than getting what someone elseconsiders relevant information. While NI politicians seek to resolve “the past” they neglect the present and threaten the future

  • Greenflag

    tugger ,

    ‘Facts’ cannot be distorted.

    ?

    The entire advertising industry begs to differ – also the political spin industry also whats called the new phenomenon of ‘embedded war journalism .

    And of course those great stalwarts of thinly disguised mass lying

    Pravda , Tass , Volkischer Beobachter , the Daily Mail , Mirror , News of the World and even the Wall St Journal no less .

    They ALL lie -some more than others and more frequently .

    Of course the Independent /Freeman’s Journal never lied -not even during the Great Lockout of 1913 .

    Who controls the press /media controls the facts for at least long enough for them to be distorted or left as maybe -as long as they are not inimical or embarassing to the current establishment .

    A free press like the free market is a myth most of the time and only ever surfaces on rare occasions :(

  • Tugger

    Not sure what the ‘free press’ have got to do with facts.

    If you can give me a single example of a ‘fact’ being distorted I’ll happily reconsider my position.

  • Mick Fealty

    Tugger,

    As I think Hiram makes clear in that #DigitalLunch linked above ‘facts’ are non negotiable but, in history at least, the analysis of those facts are a playground for partial storytelling.

    A particular madness of Post GFA Northern Ireland is the mildly psychotic idea that there are only two narratives which derive their historic authority from their respective mandates.

    If that’s pluralism, then it’s a pluralism with a peculiarly mid 20th Century fascist twist, since it’s accompanied by the delusion that only one of them is right!! :-)

    Hence the Whitehead quote.

  • terence patrick hewett

    The development of the transistor by Bardeen/Brattain, at AT&T Bell Labs in 1947 and then microprocessor has changed the world forever. Now we can express our mildly psychotic indugences, a remission of temporal punishment (I am a Catholic) to whomsoever we wish.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, Tugger, “facts” and facts are two very different things. Facts are some Platonic ideal where all the information is collected and defined and we can pin it all down finally, but “facts” are that portion of this relative world we all use every day in their place. Mathematical reality is alone quantifiable in any exact way, everything else is reliative, and is only ever partially understood, as Seamuscamp and Greenflag have started describing above.

    In practicing “history” we assemble all we can find out and come to our conclusions as to the plausibility of what we have discovered, for in “real” history, all is in the interpretation, all relies on fine judgements based on our all too fallible understanding, and the fine line between propaganda and history is drawn in respect of our personal integrity in handling the evidence.

    A few weeks back someone on another Slugger thread answered me with “I know the history.” Alas, none of us do, we ‘know” that portion we “know”, and then only to the degree that we can ever “know” anything. There is no “final solution” to the problem of history in any kind of terminal factuality that can one day close the story down.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, I almost forgot! Tugger, have you ever come across the concept of Postmodernism?

  • Tugger

    I see a lot of huff and puff there but not what I asked for. Please provide an example of a ‘fact’ being distorted.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Tugger

    “I see a lot of huff and puff there but not what I asked for. Please provide an example of a ‘fact’ being distorted.”

    Well, might as well make it topical:

    FACT: The Glorious revolution and William of Orange’s ascent to the British & Irish thrones was about religion.

    vs

    FACT: The coup was heavily financed and backed by merchants and bankers who had an interest in the duplication of the Dutch financial system, hence the appearance of the Bank of England shortly thereafter and a newly founded culture of stock trading.
    Which lead to a the rise of British sea power and Imperial ambitions.

    So, two ‘facts’ and two drastically different views of the same event (though I have my doubts about fact ‘a’, I just blindly accepted it as the truth as I grew up within the Orange community ).

  • Tugger

    I don’t think you get it….

  • terence patrick hewett

    Are well Kipling said;

    All good people agree,
    And all good people say,
    All nice people, like Us, are We
    And every one else is They:
    But if you cross over the sea,
    Instead of over the way,
    You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
    As only a sort of They’

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Tugger

    would you say that orange culture gives due acknowledgement to fact ‘b’?

    if not, then would that not be a distortion of sorts?

  • terence patrick hewett

    Or to put it another way:

    “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve”

    God bless Ivor Brown, H W Fowler, C T Onions and all who sail in her.

  • New Yorker

    Am Ghobsmacht

    FACT: William of Orange led the successful Dutch invasion of the UK.

    Tugger

    We select facts to include in history because of the zillions of facts and the selection is subjective. History composed of only facts is unsatisfactory. It is important to know people’s intentions, strategies, emotions, beliefs, etc., because people are the fact makers.

  • Mick Fealty

    Tugger,

    “Facts are cherry picked according to how they align with the preferred illusion.” – John Kellden, http://goo.gl/BJK4Hk

    Any if politics is any ‘thing’ it is a competition between competing illusions.

    “What our perception of illusions tells us about perception of reality, and how our perception of the present is influenced by our expectations of the future.” – Allison Sekular, http://goo.gl/9IhTH9

    There’s event a whole new area of research in neuroscience opening, which looks at a range of topics under the heading of cultural psychology, including…

    “…cultural variations in the default (resting) network, which may be social; regulation and inhibition of feelings, thoughts, and actions; prejudice and dehumanization; and neural signatures of fundamental warmth and competence judgments.” – Georgio Bertini, http://goo.gl/qCoqaO

    “While we have historically thought of our brain as the rational organ, opposed to the heart’s emotional pull, today we understand that our gray matter is not automatically suited to a thoughtful dissection of the facts. Instead, it tends to choose the path of least resistance. “When explaining confirmation bias, for instance, DiSalvo cites brain scans showing that we treat conflicting information as if it is a physical threat. As a result, we choose the ‘happier’ option of ignoring details that don’t fit our views.”

    David DiSalvo, http://goo.gl/GBL0uz

    My personal criticism of the SF approach is not so much that it’s non factual but that it too casually dispenses with any robust notion of what’s ‘true’ in pursuit of the old hand beating the eye trick

    “It is a characteristic relativist claim that, in principle, we can always make up alternative versions of the stories that we tell about the world. But one finds, if one actually tries, that it is surprisingly hard to do so.”

    Jerry Fodor, http://goo.gl/BRkR9

    Hope that clears things up?

  • Mick Fealty

    That last brings us nicely back to the OP, and the matter of accountability…

  • socaire

    Tugger, if an RUC man in Fermanagh and in the Orange order was blown up, there are several reasons.
    1. He was wearing a British uniform
    2. He was a Protestant
    3. He was an Orangeman
    4. The area was being ethnically cleansed
    5. He was suspected of being a terrorist
    6. His own side did it
    Which fact do you pursue as the truth? Does it depend on what point you are trying to make at the time?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Tugger, as Mick points out, taking the time to watch the Digital lunch offers valuable insights to how fact is thought of by professional historians as opposed to the popular understanding of history and historical fact.

    You wanted some examples of “fcat” and fact, here goes….

    On the video Hiram Morgan mentions the flat earth of the early sixteenth century as a version of “fact” as understood by a much earlier genertion, history still full of similar “facts.” I had a long discussion about such “facts” with Nevin on a Slugger thread about Presbyterianism during March 2013. The “Wigtown Drownings” was a propaganda story referring to an “event” that never occurred, set during the “Killing Times” in Scotland. It had become embedded in the historical record, was (and is) referred to by reputable historians, and is supported by a considerable amount of almost contemporary textual “proof”. But when properly looked into the only really objective, safe, document from the period was a boring order to release the women, the only textual item in existence from the actual date of the event. But it is one that entirely contradicts the story that was propagandistically “fixed” for later generations by a victorious Presbyterian establishment from 1688.

    For another example, see Hiram Morgan’s own “Tyrone’s Rebellion” where Hugh O’Neill is accurately described in the O’Neill family diagram as “affilliate”. A good popular version of the arguement behind this can be found on the Wikipedia article on Hugh:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_O%27Neill,_Earl_of_Tyrone

    Now if Hugh O’Neill is possibly not even an O’Neill, being the son of “One, Kelly” as Shane so claimed, although it does not change a general pattern of events, it does change much of the meaning of these events. Which in turn, Mick, actually does completely change the history, in a seemingly much easier way than what Fodor claims. Our contemporary historical research is filled with such endless posiblilities, where previously unused or ignored evidence can entirely shift the plausibility of any received historical story. The use of Irish language source material for early modern history offers much that has been entirely ignored by a previous Anglo-centric emphasis in our historiography. Hiram’s own excellent research, and the boundless energy with which he can approach a wide diversity of themes, has added great depth to our understanding of the dynamics of the end of the sixteenth century, and has generated endless radical alternatives, developed through the process of “checking and verification”, for much that has been considered as firm fact in earlier historiography.

    So, Mick, I must beg to differ with you over the endless diversity of possible stories that may be generated by even the most objective historical research, but I think we are on much the same page over the way that SF selects “facts” (in my sense) to support their own versions of both historical and current events, rather than respecting the integrity of the material for its own sake.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, for anyone with time on their hands, the entire Wigtown Drownings discusion (and much else on the problem of “historical fact”) is on:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2013/03/11/ulster-presbyterians-and-the-endurance-of-principle/

  • Mick Fealty

    Soc,

    Or you accept they were all true all at the same time? As old Che so eloquently put it, “hatred as an element of the struggle…”

    To ‘off’ any other human being, even if you don’t know them, takes an immense degree of that raw stuff, but to off neighbours you mat pay have grown up with must take some pretty and varied deep wells of resentment…

    This is why I think the two narrative view is simply a recipe for further collective psychosis… It’s an insistence on the retention of old wartime binaries at the expense of reasonable accountability in the here and now…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, New Yorker, (tut, tut, tut):

    “Am Ghobsmacht FACT: William of Orange led the successful Dutch invasion of the UK.”

    But it is the meaning of this fact that gives it any significance. And it’s interesting to deconstruct your statement just a bit.

    “Dutch Invasion”, all too true, I agree, but not the way the English, who were last invaded “in 1066″ think about the event. The nature of the relationship between Holland and Britian (ie: national enemies) gives the “fact” a nice Quisling twist, too, that is usually overlooked. Otherwise they might have problems calling such a farago of manipulative lies and betrayals a “Glorious” revolution.

    “Sucessful” needs to be looked into, ie: sucessful for whom, and here AG’s comments are all important. A sizable part of the population impotently sided with James, (for a start two thirds of the British army deserted, and the rest were hard sifted for “loyalty” in the re-building William undertook in 1689) so it was hardly sucessful for the British and Irish people in general. And even as the sense of the phrase suggests, it was hardly sucessful for the Dutch, as the status as dominant financial power in Europe shifted from Amsterdam to London and to the Whigs.

    “UK”, not in existence in 1688, a period of three nominally kingdoms united only by the person of the monarch.

    And although William was nominal commander, i seem to remember that overall command of the expeditionary force was in the hands of the Schoenberg, but I may be wrong.

    Now I would be the first to admit that all of these assertions can be argued, but all of them are heavily supported by “factual” evidence. The further in you go into the real historical evidence of contemporary documentation, the more the certainties and “facts” begin to weaken and, at times, even dissolve.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    That re-write button is very long in coming Mick!

    ““UK”, not in existence in 1688, a period of three nominally independent kingdoms united only by the person of the monarch.” is how it should read……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Mick, Jerry Fodor’s comment back in 2005 deserves quoting in full for those too lazy to press the link: “You say there’s nothing that you know for sure? What about whether you have a nose? No? But what’s that thing just south of your eyes and north of your mouth? And what’s holding your glasses up?” It is a characteristic relativist claim that, in principle, we can always make up alternative versions of the stories that we tell about the world. But one finds, if one actually tries, that it is surprisingly hard to do so. “Maybe it’s all just a dream?” Well, maybe; but how would that explain what holds your glasses up? Explaining, in any detail, why things are as they appear to be is hard; science is our best try so far, and it generally succeeds only under extreme idealization from much of the data.”

    Still a bit of a simplification in the light of how thoroughly the linguisitic and sensory construction of what we think of as “reality” has been so thoroughly questioned from (at least) George Berkeley’s time to poor old Foucault (“The Order of Things”, Foucault, that is). The nose/spectacles bit is no more conclusive a proof of any concrete factuality than Dr Johnson’s refuting Berkeley by kicking a brick. Berkeley would still say Johnson’s mind was fully expecting the brick to be hard and firm before ever his toe met it. On a less neo-idealistic level, I’d posted a few words over on the 29th June Peter Hain thread about the concept of “mindlock” and our habit of predicting oncoming “facts” in much the same way as predictive spelling tells us what we are going to write, with much the same tendency to mendacious interpretations. I think its my training in psychology, but my sense of the highly subjective nature of all perception never lets me put my feet down too firmly in any camp. I’m too aware that the person I’m agreeing with may be using the very words we are agreeing on in an entirely different way to myself. But at least it makes for an interesting reading of history……..

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    socaire,
    In your example, there still facts – the real reason(s) the bomber did it – as distinguished from non-facts.

    It may be impossible to get to every precise neurological pulse of thought within the murderer’s mind – but you can establish a sufficient mens rea, for example, to establish what he intended well enough get a sound conviction in court.

    Not perfect conceptual entities perhaps, but facts we can establish beyond reasonable doubt, which is good enough for all practical purposes (including sending people to jail for life, for example).

  • Greenflag

    Tugger ,

    ‘If you can give me a single example of a ‘fact’ being distorted I’ll happily reconsider my position.’

    Dear oh dear ;)

    The Law of Gravity is a fact Every time a bird flies through the air it ‘distorts ‘ that fact . Alternatively fly Ryan Air to Birmingham as an exercise in factual distortion ? Some say the eh ‘coming rapture ‘ will distort gravity even more although I’m not going to comment further on that cirque de soleil .

    Evolution is a fact . The structure of your inner ear shows your inheritance of skeletal features from your ancient piscean (fish) ancestors . Creationists distort that fact by numerous half baked ‘facts ‘ that suit their religious beliefs .

    Others above have tried to give you examples from the political, historical and economic fields so I’ll not labour the point bar this example from the onset of WW2.

    Fact 1 . Polish troops invaded Germany at the Danzig Corridor.

    Fact 2. German troops invaded Poland in retaliation in blitzkrieg .

    Fact 3 . ( the not so well known fact ) The Polish troops who invaded Germany were in fact German soldiers temporarily attired in Polish Military uniforms in order to give some semblance of ‘legitimacy ‘ for the ‘blitzkrieg ‘

    History and it’s interpreters , analysts etc can no doubt supply you numerous other examples of how our ‘facts ‘ today are often the passed down lies /mistruths / exaggerations etc of the ‘winners ‘ and ‘losers ‘ of previous generations .

    AG & SeaanUI Neill give you some examples and Mick hisself mentions the ‘line of least resistance ‘ which is the oldest and longest lasting human survival trait in nature .

    Human beings don’t do unlearning very well even if what we have to unlearn has been proven to be a n unmitigated heap of falsehoods without the slightest evidence . Most never get there -it’s too discomfitting .

    Nonetheless the ‘truth ‘ and ‘real facts ‘ will continue to be searched for and the search itself is what pushes innovation , progress , human advancement generally .Although the search sometimes brings with it the possibility of a return to past errors and behaviour patterns .

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    sorry, *they’re*
    too many early mornings …

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Having recently taken part in a short social anthropology course, and reading a bit of philosophy here and there, I was also under the impression that no one in those fields really argues for the old Cartesian ‘it may all be a dream’ canard, which was anyway apparently intended really as a saying ‘ask hard questions about how any piece of knowledge is founded’ rather than ‘there is no such thing as a fact’.

    Anyway I find the idea that we might just be imagining everything quite anthropocentric. What was that Echobelly song – ” I Can’t Imagine A World Without Me.” Well quite. Get over yourself.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, Mainland Ulsterman, glad that the latest fashion for hard headed “reality” has taken firm root from your social anthropology and philosophy course. (Actually, British Social Anthropology tends to be 80% Sociology and 20% Anthropology, unlike the American version which is more evenly divided, so should I say “Sociology”?). Yes, please really do ‘ask hard questions about how any piece of knowledge is founded’ but you might just discover that the “facts” fail to settle and tend to warp. I found that my sorties into postmodernism pulled all these hard answers you suggest are out there to pieces, but that might just be me. However, even if neo-Idealism has never been the Anglo favourite in Brit. Philosophy departments, Europe and the United States have always been different, and amongst non-british philosophers these issues have not been buried under the last thin rags of the long defunct logical positivism that you appear to be invoking. But, sadly, as in all other fields of enquiry, there is no “Final Solution” to the philosophy problem that may be authoritatively invoked against the old Cartesian ‘it may all be a dream’ canard. Nothing in philosophy is ever really ever over……..

    After all, who is thinking your thoughts, if not you? And haw are those thoughts framed, except in terms of a linguistic construct, which is already interpreting any “reality the senses may be experiencing? The canard is calling this line of serious questioning “a dream”! No, it is simply recognising that every experience of the senses when it is made sense of, is, in its essence, an act of the mind, and not a solid external reality that is in any way verifiable beyond the mind’s act of perception. Although, of course, it may be that the mind is actually forming impressions from an unverifiable external reality. “This cow is small, Dougal, and that cow is far away…..”

    But this is all so much theory, and we could go on for megabites with this, so to get back to history (the whole point!), there is just so much that has long been regarded as hard “fact” that simply does not stand up to the activity of asking “hard questions about how any piece of knowledge is founded”. These are the facts that I’m referring to. I’ve mentioned a few of them above.

  • AMS2013

    Well Mick.
    On the subject of Irish History.
    What do you think of the British Government sealing up their “archives” of what they done in the 1919 War of Independence for 100 Years??
    Will they even release those files??? in 2019..I very much doubt it.