West Cork and the battle for history…

Indymedia has played host to a vigorous dispute (previously here) involved three separately focused accounts of one of the most vividly related episodes of the Irish War of Independence – the flying columns of West Cork and in particular the ambushes at Dunmanway and Kilmichael, and the killings of protestants before and after the truce. The three historians are Peter Hart, Meda Ryan and Dr Brian Murphy. RTE current affairs programme Leargas ran an edition on this subject a few years back.

  • Davros

    Mick , been these two articles as well:
    An Phoblacht Feature
    Defending Tom Barry and the Boys of Kilmichael

    and in today’s Blanket Liam O Ruairc, with links
    Kilmichael Controversary Continues

    Compulsive reading for a picker of nits.

    Blanket also has includes another Coulter article as well as some Vitriol aimed at SF.

  • James

    Vigorous dispute?

    It looked to me to being a hit piece on Hart. Taking Ryan’s data at face value Hart would have had to dig up one of his sources. Surely the kid mounted more of a defense than reported? Otherwise the dead vote, collect welfare, anoint IRA hit lists and testify in Ireland. So that’s why Fad saol agat, gob fliuch, agus bas in Eirinn is such a popular toast?

    Is this “dispute” as common as Ballyseedy in Independence and Civil War whataboutry?

    I wish the kid luck in Newfoundland. I always liked the maritime provinces, black flies and all.

  • David Christopher

    I hadnt noticed the debate on indymedia. I actually did a study on this Cork 1919-23 period in college –

    Violence, Intimidation and Terror: The experience of Unionists in Cork, 1919-23

    Clearly, much of the violence against the unionist minority in Cork was blatantly sectarian in motivation – these episodes constitute a particularly blood-soaked and disgraceful blot on republican history.

    The Protestant population of the 26 Free State counties dropped by about a third between 1911 and 1926. In Cork, the figures were closer to 50% – the Protestant community was literally halved:

    Cork County Borough* -49.8%
    Queenstown* -54.9%
    Youghal* -57%
    Mallow* -54%
    Bandon* -45.5%
    Middleton -59%
    Bantry -52.2%
    Skibbereen* -33.2%

    (* denotes a branch of the Irish Unionist Alliance in the town)

    (Source: Saorstat Eireann, 1926 Census)

  • David Christopher

    Oh, that link didn’t work out okay. The link to the article is:

    http://www.reform.org/TheReformMovement_files/article_files/articles/cork.htm

  • Davros

    David, Do you mind if, in future, I quote from the article, attributed and linked of course ?

  • James

    Mr. Christopher:

    “much of the violence against the unionist minority in Cork was blatantly sectarian in motivation”

    No doubt being a protestant in Ireland during both the Civil and War of Independence was no picnic, especially if you were somehow identified with the English or the Ascendancy. We “allowed” quite a few of the 30% of us who were Crown sympathizers to scurry off to Canada during our Revolutionary War. Hanged a couple too, I wager.

    My only criticism of the piece in the link you cite is that it does your cause no good unless you represent the facts fairly. If you do not the piece can be read and dismissed as yet another advocacy hit piece, as if there are not already enough of them. Let me cite one example which fairly jumped off the page.

    I have toured West Cork twice. In the two or three protestant churches I visited there, as at every protestant church I have seen on the island, is a dismally inevitable large plaque commemorating the dreadful toll of young men and husbands lost in WWI. Yet, when I read your essay, I find the subject coyly covered with a bland dismissal whereas population data is given elsewhere in detail abundant enough to bring a tear to the most anally retentive of us.

    That turned me off immediately. Fix it and you might hold my attention.

  • David Christopher

    Davros – of course you can quote from the article 🙂

    James – I certainly accept the criticism about the essay showing my pro-unionist bias – my lecturer justifiably made the same point 5 years ago!

    Reading over the article again myself this morning, I think it’s fair to say that the rather obvious pro-unionist tone throughout detracts from many of the factual points I was trying to make.

    (The same criticism could be levelled at Niall Meehan’s articles on Indymedia though. It’s not the easiest period in our history to examine with calm eye, and balanced quill)

    Re the WW1 casualty figures, there are numbers – I think in Hart’s “The IRA and its Enemies” (which wasn’t yet published at the time I wrote this article) – that show clearly these only account for a small portion of the loss in Protestant population. Protestant church attendance records for the period show most of the loss of population to have been in the 1919-23 period, and shortly thereafter.

  • Davros

    Thanks David.

  • davidbrew

    perhaps some Cork republican will consider it appropriate to reveal the whereabouts of the bodies of the original disappeared from that time. Did they ever give upthe remains of that intrepid septuagenarian Crown agent /evil Protestant Mrs Lindsay of Coachford, I wonder?

    West Cork is choc a bloc with maudlin memorials to the IRA, yet remains in denial about the victims of those men, many of whom were simply lawabiding Protestants, not of ascendancy stock at all-as in Dunmanway. If the RoI can finally recognise the role of many Irishmen in King’s uniform abroad-at Messines-why not recognise the vctimhood of many irishmen at home 5 years later?

  • unionist_observer

    “West Cork is choc a bloc with maudlin memorials to the IRA, yet remains in denial about the victims of those men, many of whom were simply lawabiding Protestants, not of ascendancy stock at all-as in Dunmanway. If the RoI can finally recognise the role of many Irishmen in King’s uniform abroad-at Messines-why not recognise the vctimhood of many irishmen at home 5 years later?”

    Absolutely David, we’re up to our eyes in inquiries in Northern Ireland, what I’d like to see is an inquiry into the hate campaign waged against protestants in West Cork in the 1920s and also the border campaigns. The protestant population in the republic of Ireland has gone from 20% before 1921 to current levels of about 3%, how could such a huge population shift happen in less than a century. Questions need to be asked.