On Thursday 3rd November a new talk series begins on the Antrim Road at the Duncairn arts venue, otherwise known as the 174 Trust. The series is called ‘Towards a divided island’ and it is focused on a close look at the next part of the decade of political centenaries, which is in fact the most difficult part to handle.
Arguably the years leading up to 1923 saw polarisation, partition and daily violence of a kind not witnessed in Ireland since the end of the 18th century. yet they also witnessed the creation of new jurisdictions that have survived throughout a century of global turmoil which saw many states, regimes and ideologies come and go.
The six topics we have chosen could have been accompanied by many more but the ones we picked should be of deep interest.
During the past few years, dealing with the legacy of the Ulster Covenant and the Irish Volunteers, the Suffragettes and the Lockout, the Somme and the Easter Rising was relatively straightforward. It was a challenging set of anniversaries but the process of learning together was often refreshing. Now we face into more choppy waters. Issues to do with policing, civil war and sectarian violence are but three of many which will require a real sensitivity if we are to deal with the past with a careful blend of commemoration, debate, empathy, honesty and informed understanding.
Each talk in this series will be followed by discussion in which we will ponder the significance of historical events for today. We will ask who may want to remember these particular events and discuss the best ways to invoke and learn from them. The talks are all free, there will be an intimate and positive atmosphere and you will be very welcome to attend.
Philip Orr – Talk series organiser.
THE 1918 GENERAL ELECTION
The first general election of the post-war era was also the last all- Ireland one. It took place with a greatly expanded electorate. It saw the rise of Sinn Fein to Nationalist dominance in southern Ireland and the consolidation of Unionism in the north. This was the first general election in which women could vote
Thursday 3rd November, 7.30 pm
Guest Historian: Marie Coleman
THE IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY IN BELFAST
Between 1920 and 1922 the Irish Republican Army in Belfast was a potent force yet by 1923, with civil war still taking place in the south, it had virtually vanished.
Who were the leaders and what were the strategies and operations of the IRA during these fateful years?
Thursday 10th November, 7.30 pm
Guest historian: Jim McDermott
JAMES CRAIG AND THE ULSTER UNIONIST LEADERSHIP
Unionists modified their opposition to Home Rule, as expressed in the Covenant of 1912, to a quest for the exclusion of nine and then six northern counties. The role of the Unionist leader James Craig was crucial as was the impact of the Great War, the Rising, the electoral changes in 1918 and the Irish-Civil War.
Thursday 17th November, 7.30 pm
Guest historian: Joridthan Bardon
THE LABOUR MOVEMENT
The First World War created unrivalled opportunities for the growth of the labour movement in Ireland as in many other places. Why did appeals for working class unity fail to transcend the sectarian divide, prioritise the war on poverty or break the affiliation of most Irish people to ‘Orange’ or ‘Green’?
Thursday 24th November, 730 pm
Guest historian: PadraigYeates
IRISH WOMEN AND POLITICAL CHANGE
Despite the inclusion of women in the electoral franchise, there were many challenges facing Irish women in the period that had begun with the Easter Rising and ended with adjustment to the uncomfortable realities of post-partition Ireland. The women’s movement found itself very much divided at this time—so what impact did this have?
Thursday 1 st December, 7.30 pm
Guest historian: Margaret Ward
THE IRISH CIVIL WAR
Though a major step forward for Irish Nationalism, the Treaty of 1921 fell short of the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation. It split every organisation from the Dail to the IRA and brought leaders such as Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera into conflict. The bitter war which followed left lasting scars behind.
Thursday 8th December, 730 pm
Guest historian: Eamon Phoenix