A Postcard


I had decided last year not to stray too far from home for my ’06 holidays, and I now feel very clever in light of increased airport security. Time to look about Ireland again, I decided, and follow some of my passions here. I’ve mentioned my interest in Memorials and Commemorations on Slugger several times in the past, and last week I took an enormous step for someone steeped in the traditions of Fianna Fail.

I went to Béal na mBláth and visited Michael Collins Memorial. For some reason, that visit has stayed with me, and has affected me very deeply. I dont know how many of you have been there, but it really is an eerie and atmospheric place. There is only one sign post on the main road, and after that, you just play a guessing game. I ended up in circles more than a few times and when all seemed lost, I pulled into a filling station and asked meekly for directions to Béal na mBláth. The bored shopkeeper pointed up to the sign and drawled in her most Corkonian cork… ‘sure arent you here and all?’ If they still ran a prize for dirtiest toilet in Ireland, this place would be a clear winner. The shop itself was haphazard, with crowded tables and laminated A4 sheets of newspaper selling for 15 euro. About a mile down the road, with no sign or warning or notice, a Cross stands on the left hand side of the road. A little gate, and a box for contributions. On the base of the Cross is simply ‘Miceal O’Coleain’ and his date of birth and death. It is so stark and lonely and plain, it is one of the saddest places I can ever remember being.

As we walked away I noted a green jeep and a few people cutting grass. I assumed them to be Council workers, but as we chatted, I found that they were from the Irish Army and the Collins Memorial is unique in that it is tended and minded by them, as he was their first Commander in Chief. That made me feel a bit better about the Big Fellow, until I asked how often they tended this special place. ‘Once a year, before the commemoration’.

The soldier in charge couldnt have been more helpful, and laid out the 3 most common scenarios for Collin’s death. He opined the most likely option, a ‘soldier shot’ from 80 yards. And Collins lay and bled to death, robbing us of a great man, soldier and statesman and perhaps someone who could have balanced the more extreme policies and ideologies of DeValera in years to come.

The soldier finished by telling me that this area of Cork is still bitterly divided over the Irish Civil War, and that it is a daily subject of discussion and debate. That part reminded me of my time in Knoxville, Tennessee, where the doctors and nurses spent lunch breaks every day rehearsing the same civil war battles and outcomes.

In one way, it made me feel better about ‘us’ here in Northern Ireland. We’re not so different after all. But, in another way, maybe we have to move a little forward before we allow ourselves the indulgence and luxury of the past.

In any case, spare a thought tonight for Michael Collins, shot dead on a lonely, winding and unforgiving road in Cork.

  • Garibaldy

    “And Collins lay and bled to death, robbing us of a great man, soldier and statesman and perhaps someone who could have balanced the more extreme policies and ideologies of DeValera in years to come.”

    Miss Fitz,

    More likely there would have been no difference, unless of course he became a fascist dictator like his protege Eoin O’Duffy tried to become. Not to speak of course of what might have happened had be continued to play games in the north.

  • joeCanuck

    Whatiffing is equally as bad as whataboutery.

  • Miss Fitz

    I’m not so sure about that Garibaldy, although you could be absolutely right. I have no doubt that there is a romanticisation of Collins, indeed one of the over-priced laminates in that filling station was an article by Jack Lynch, and it looked like he’d a swung the other way, so to speak, if he had been older entering politices. Jack also said in that article that he mourned the fact that Collins didnt live to become involved in the economics of the country, which may have led me to my thoughts on his lost potential

  • Miss Fitz

    Only a wee bit sadder Joe, in these circumstances.

    I’d love to know if anyone else has been there, and has felt it to an atmospheric place?

  • joeCanuck

    Yes Miss Fitz.
    I visited it with my wife and son back in 1986 when we spent some time down there.
    It’s funny, but my son mentioned it to me the last time he was here, about a month ago. he was only 16 at the time but it had a huge impact on him, he said.
    I felt very sad too.
    It seems to be the norm in revolutionary wars unfortunately. Everyone unites to fight the common enemy and as soon as freedom is won, they turn on each other.

  • Miss Fitz

    Joe, you have no idea how surprised I was at my reaction! Indeed, as we came back through Laois today, I met my FF mentor, and mentioned it gingerly to him. Much to my surprise, he had also visited, and had been affected in a similar fashion.

    Maybe we need to send Fair Deal down for a dispassionate point of view?

  • joeCanuck

    Miss Fitz
    Kicking and screaming comes to mind.

  • Nevin

    Miss Fitz, here’s a link you might like:

    Letter from Knoxville, 1804

  • Keith M

    Collins’ story is one of greatest examples of “what might have been” in Irish history. With a charismatic leader like Collins, the pro-Treaty side would not only have won the civil war, but would probably have resticted the political gains by DeValera in the late 1920s. Such a scenario might have meant that FG would have remained the biggest party with FF in second place.

  • Miss Fitz

    Nevin
    I enjoyed that immensely! I suppose all of these things have to be taken with some pinch of salt, I have my parents over at the moment, and it chills me to think that their comments would ever be taken as indicative of Irish opinion at any given time!

  • after that, you just play a guessing game.

    No shit, Sherlock. It took me two trips to find it.

    I was disappointed in the concrete memorial, too big, too gray, too Stalinist (not politically but architecturally.)

    Perhaps it was just my mood.

    For a better time try Clonakilty, near the place of his birth. The black pudding is better there as well.

    where the doctors and nurses spent lunch breaks every day rehearsing the same civil war battles and outcomes

    From the context I take it that they were talking about the War Between The States or, in some venues, The War Of Northern Aggression.

  • Miss Fitz

    Keith
    I tend to side with you on this one, with the greatest of respect to Joe. Such potential, and such control. It certainly makes one wonder about who would need this man to shut up

  • Miss Fitz

    I dont think it was your mood Jim, the whole thing was just wrong. No signs, no celebration, no nothing.

    In terms of Knoxville, I always think of it as the ‘War we shoulda won…..if only’

  • Nevin

    Talking of salt ……

  • ben

    As a by-the-way, calling it the “Irish Army” is considered insulting. You were in Cork, of course it’s the “Irish” Army.

  • Miss Fitz

    I didnt want to start this, as its unsure territory for me, and I should have asked.

    On the jeep, there was a sign that said ‘Oglaigh na hEireann’.

    That sent me into a tizzy, so to be honest, I have no idea what the name of the Free State army is.

    m?Where is Pete Baker when you need him?

  • Nevin
  • Miss Fitz
  • Donnacha

    Miss Fitz, I was at Beal na mBlath not a onth since and went into that very filling station. It was “personed” by a Polish girl who before I could stammer an apologetic inquiry as to the Big Fella’s monument, lazily rolled eyes towards it saying “Iss down theyurr”. Didn’t even have to mention what I was looking for. Good job I wasn’t bursting to go to the loo, really. I know what you mean about the eerieness, too. Couldn’t even hear a bird sing.

  • Garibaldy

    Joe,

    Whatifery is fun, unlike whataboutery.

    Miss Fitz,

    As for the people who wanted to shut Collins up, maybe it was because of the brutal free state campaign in the area, and across the country. Which of course got worse after Collins’ death, before anyone says all was hunky dorey while he was alive and it was the bad people afterwards who were responsible.

    The Civil War was made inevitable by the Treaty. Both sides had a more than arguable claim to democratic legitimacy. The people had voted for an independent Ireland in 1918, and the Treaty violated that. The majority in the Dáil accepted it, but in doing so they violated their oath and the wishes of their constituents. The election that confirmed the victory for the Free State can hardly be described as free or fair given the threats from Lloyd George. Obviously, the opposite spin on all these can be put. A sad event, but inevitable.

    As for Collins, more than enough evidence of his authoritarian tendencies and willingness to crush opposition, with with Kevin O’Higgins. Little evidence of his economic genius, and the Irish-Ireland economic ideology extended well beyond Dev. Its chief advocate being of course Arthur Griffith. There is little evidence of much difference in social or economic policy between FF and Fg’s forerunners. One of the reasons Ireland actually avoided fascism in the 1930s I would say, but that’s another story.

  • Miss Fitz

    Garibaldy
    I assume you are talking about Ballysheedy?

    I have no problem chatting about this, as long as you accept I have no agenda!

    While the Free State forces were brutal, did they respond to what the anti-Treaty men were doing? As they left Cork city, they burned down the bridges, hospitals, jails and any other civic building left standing.
    Perhaps one thing we should agree on is that Civil War is never a pretty picture?

  • KOD

    As someone originally from near clonakilty, i have also found Beal na mBlath a very sombre place. Its strange, but probably more a sign of the times, that I, and a a few other people I know would be Fianna Fail supporters generally, but would have more respect for Collins than Dev. Among older people this would amount to treason!!

  • Garibaldy

    Miss Fitz,

    I’m perfectly sure you have no agenda, and it’s interesting to see your emotional responses to this. I think this is one of the things you have brought to Slugger that is unique to yourself.

    Having said that, I hate this fetishisation of Collins these days. As I said on another thread, he even turned up in the front window of the PSF shop on the Falls. Dev was an ass of the first order, but actually much better than a lot of people give him credit for.

    There’s lots of incidents of Free State brutality, and some of Republican brutality too, but, to use a topical phrase, there was disproportionate violence. Which is of course inevitable when a state is being founded in violent circumstances. As you say, Civil War is always horrible.

  • Miss Fitz

    Garibaldy
    Why do I feel that was more insult than compliment!!

    I guess I have always tried to portray things honestly and as balanced as possible in the context of my personal perspective. In this case, I went to Cork to look at this Memorial, quite unsure as to what to expect. In my research on commemoration, I am compeletly open and receptive to anything I come across.

    In this particular case, I was surprised at the emotional impact this site held for someone who could be considered ‘alien’ to the cause in question.

    I take all of your points on board seriously, and will keep them in mind as I compose my final thoughts on this

  • Garibaldy

    Miss Fitz,

    Not insults at all but compliments. See what happens when you try to be nice. Women! I would be tempted to think if I weren’t a new age man.

    Commemoration is certainly an interesting topic, particularly to see how the past is rewritten and reshaped in mounuments to suit presentist political agendas. The William Wallace mounument at Stirling is a great example. There’s one of Mel Gibson now as well as the old one.

    I wonder when and where the first statue to some of our current political leaders will be built. My money’s on Paisley due to the age factor, but given the sensitivity to equality and court cases, can say Ballymena Council really get one built, or will it have to be funded by the Free Ps? Will Hume get a statue in Derry? What about Adams in West Belfast – more than just a mural surely.

    But I could have sworn I saw a photo of some blueshirt, sorry FG TD, giving a speech under a statue of Collins recently. Anyone know where it is?

  • Miss Fitz

    Garibaldy
    Prior to becoming a sluggerette, I would certainly have taken your remarks as a compliment. Now, I check under my car every day, just in case!! Thank you kindly though, and excuse the churlishness.

    On to commemoration then. You are correct in your assessement that any commemoration has the potential to be hi jacked for a particular poitical perspective, or re-interpretation of fact to myth.

    I think we need to be mindful of that, and be very careful what type and level of memory we wish to develop with any type of commemoration we propose in the future

  • In terms of Knoxville, I always think of it as the ‘War we shoulda won…..if only’

    Save your Confederate money honey, the South is gonna rise again.

    I meant the play on the Civil War as an oblique reference to the code words used in NI like the “six counties” versus “the province”. To my surprise, though, your thread also stirred up nascent civil war politics both covert code words and the overt. I’ve heard most of the references already except the 77 dead men. I thought all this stopped when the Celtic Tiger drove Darby O’Gill off the island. So it goes.

    After reading Sir Keith of the Blue Shirt I mused if Collins were to return how the head of the Irish Republican Brotherhood would view Fianna Gael, possibly the most conservative party on the island after the DUP?

    I also mused closer to home after your ……..if only’, what would have happened if Clinton had only just lit that cigar?

    So it goes.

  • Mmmm….

    Freudian moment.

    Make that Fine Gael

  • Comrade Stalin

    The people had voted for an independent Ireland in 1918, and the Treaty violated that. The majority in the Dáil accepted it, but in doing so they violated their oath and the wishes of their constituents.

    Garibaldy,

    You, perhaps conveniently, seem to have forgotten the endorsement won in the 1922 election by Collins following the ratification of the treaty by the Dail. Rather than avoid violence the anti-treaty side decided they wanted a war instead – a war they had no mandate to wage.

    What’s particularly galling is that shortly after the “principled” anti treaty people all gave up and worked the treaty anyway. The civil war was a lot more about egos and power than it was about making a stand for the republic.

  • darth rumsfeld

    ah -pissing on the monument in 1996- happy memories.

  • Garibaldy

    Darth,

    Good man.

    CS,

    I said this: The election that confirmed the victory for the Free State can hardly be described as free or fair given the threats from Lloyd George.

    If you note the bit where I said the opposite spins could be put on all the stuff and I talked about, and I did say that both sides had an arguable case for democratic legitimacy. As for the reasons for the Civil War, to suggest it was about ego rather than ideology on the basis of what happened in 1925 is, in my opinion, teleology. 1925 was a recognition of defeat and deciding to work within the system that could not be overthrown.

  • Harcourt

    Miss Fitz-

    Thanks for the really evocative post.

  • Rory

    Towering historical figures do not require towering statues to commemorate their legacy. A simple cross, if appropriate, or plaque with their name and years of life inscribed is sufficient and all the more quietly impressive for that. For that reason Collins memorial at Beal na mBlath is indeed moving as is Yeats’s gravestone in Sligo. I was also very moved as a young man when I came across the cemetry near Roundwood in Wicklow where lay the remains of German pilots who had been killed after crashing in the Wicklow hills. Simple, carefully tended, low granite crosses in rows in a natural grotto in the hillside with the name rank and age of the dead inscribed. No political anti-German partisanship could intrude upon one’s reverence and sadness at the thought of such young men brought down before their life had barely begun.

    But perhaps the Irish-American poet (and funeral director), Thomas Lynch, said it best at the beginning of his small and beautifully produced book of memoirs and reflection The Undertakingi:

    “The dead do not care, We may bury them, throw them in the sea, burn them on a pyre, roll their old bones into a ditch. It is those who are left behind who care, who undertake the task of caring and it is for ourselves that we do it so that in giving dignity to the dead we accord it to ourselves.”

    I am afraid that I do not have the book to hand so I am quoting badly from memory – but I trust I have captured the tenor of Lynch’s remarks. If not – apologies.

  • darth rumsfeld

    I’m sorry that miss fitz- who’s usually someone with whom I can empathise-parts company with me here. Collins was just an earlier version of the “good terrorist” that -ironically enough-Gerry Adams wants to be.
    He ordered or oversaw the murder of innocent men, women, and children with a ruthlessness that meant his death was a relief to the Unionist people and law-abiding citizens generally. There are still bodies of people murdered by his IRA lying buried in bogs in Ireland that have never been reurned to families-no melancholy memorial for them.

    Before the usual cries come up about the merits of the war or the means of conducting it, I’ll ask those posters who will doubtless tell me to respect their truth to tell me they extend the undoubtedly genuine respect miss fitz feels for this man-will you do the same for-say, Cromwell?

  • Garibaldy

    Darth,

    It was of course Cromwell who introduced republicanism to Ireland after all.

  • Mick

    The statue to the Commander General is in a square in Clonakilty near his sisters house where he used to live after he left Sam’s Cross.

    Which is consequently a much better place to visit in terms of the Collins tour. It’s down a small country track and consists of the remains of the house built (burnt by the Tans) during his childhood and some sheds. It’s ironically a very peaceful place for the origination of a man that has shaken, divided and unified the Irish even till today…

  • Jo

    Miss Fitz

    A thoughtful post. You will of course now be branded a Republican, as was I. 😉

    I feel the same way about the WW1 cemeteries in northern France. Pointless loss and the air pregnant with thoughts of what might have been.

    On the latter subject, has anyone seen the Mel Smith play that was on in Edinburgh and attracted attention for reasons other than Irish politcial possibilities?

  • Jo

    That was a nice post too, Rory. I think there are some young Polish men buried out in the Ards peninsula who met a similar, untimely end.

    Strangely moving to see their small monuments in a setting familiar to us but in a land so far from any that they knew.

  • Garibaldy

    There are also Polish airmen’s grave, and I think some British soldiers, in Milltown. The plots of the various paramilitary groupings there are all very close, clearly illustrating the nature of internicine conflict.

    As for Rory’s points about the statues, I think people are moving away from them, but equally a good statue is hard to beat. Every time I pass the Lenin statue outside the Kremlin I feel restored.

  • Jo

    Is that “pass by” or “pass under” Gari? 😉

  • Garibaldy

    Jo,

    Too funny to give an answer to.

  • mickhall

    Miss Fitz,

    I will get the complement out of the way first, I greatly enjoyed your piece which started this thread.

    Don’t you find it just a tad off putting that we make journeys where so called great men lived, or lost there lives, yet where the ordinary solders fell seem to be all but ignored [admittedly not by Jo, bless her]

    Of course history is written by the victors and it is mainly they who nominate who gets to become a great man and when they nominate someone they have a political axe to grind. Collin’s greatness is mainly based on his work as IRA director of intelligence during the tan war. Yet Bobby Storey, who it is said played the same role and with a similar level of effectiveness within a latter incarnation of Óglaigh na hÉireann, has not been elevated to greatness, indeed many Irish people, bar the security services would never even have heard his name.

    Some may think that Collin’s spat on the oath of elegance he swore to the Republic, was taken in by the sweet charms and enticements of the English bourgeoisie and started the civil war by his attack on the Four Courts with artillery borrowed from the English State and his main legacy to future generations was to will them 30 years of heartache and bloodshed.

    That an office of Sinn Fein had a poster of Michael Collin’s in its window, tells us where that party is heading, not where it has been. Although I have to say, I doubt Dev would have acted in such a hypocritical as Gerry Adam’s seems to as regards Collin’s.
    20 years ago Michael Collin’s was rightly regarded by the PRM as an implacable foe of Irish Republicans, now it seems he is a poster boy. The views and acts of Collin’s have not changed, now have they, so what and who has?

    Regards to All

  • darth rumsfeld on Aug 17, 2006 @ 09:03 AM wrote “ah -pissing on the monument in 1996- happy memories. “
    that kinda says a lot to me… I don’t think DR’s from the Cork area so traveling there, possibly on holidays; going out of his way to find the momument which is difficult to find for those looking for it (it doesn’t seem likely that he just happened upon it) and then displaying the maturity that one would hope for from a regular Slug poster…he displays his opposition to a Irish Rebel with the great intellect of urinating on a monument. Charming product of the Sick Cos… house trained anyone?

  • darth rumsfeld

    boo hoo anonymous.
    You didn’t get worked up in the slightest about the dead and maimed that Collins was responsible for but you’re all exercised because I expressed my views in the traditional Zulu custom? Perhaps I should have smeared excrement on the memorial too, and then I could have been feted by tens of thousands of people at Casement Park as a freedom fighter.

  • Miss Fitz

    Thanks for that Mick, very interesting and thought provoking comments.

    I wont fall into an easy trap of replacing history with myth, so at the outset I am aware of those dangers.

    However, I think that Michael Collins was able to demonstrate growth, change and an ability to become a Statesman, by dint of the role he played in the Treaty negotiations, and his realisation that the reality of Ireland included an accomodation with Unionism. That accomodation was by neccesity a 2-state country, and both our ancient and recent past have proven that we need 2 states to accomodate both tribes on this island.

    As to the start of the Civil War, surely there remains some contestation on that? And Mick, even if it was started on the Treaty side, what was the alternative? A return to the War of Independence? An early start to the provo campaign of the 1970’s? What options do you really think that the Treaty side had?

    I dont fullly understand why Collins has been adopted by RM, as his message was starkly different to the one being enacted by them in modern times.

    As to both your and Jo’s point about the non-leaders that die in war, that does nothing more than underscore the futility and manipulation of most combat. There is nothing heroic about dying to enrich another man, or dying over an oath of allegiance that your leader ultimately goes on to describe as a ‘meaningless form of words’ and takes it anyway after the war was over.

    Not every man or woman is a leader, and leaders sometimes certainly deserve the recognition they achieve

    Regards to yourself
    MF

  • Miss Fitz

    Darth
    I’d be interested to hear you expand your argument against Collins. Keeping in mind that the context was Civil War, and it was a dirty bitter war whose legacy lives on to this day.

    Can you re-evaluate your opinions in that context and let us have a little more detail. I am particularly interested in your pronouncements of ‘disappeared’ in bogs all over Ireland. It is news to me, and I would really appreciate if you could tell us more

  • Garibaldy

    Miss Fitz,

    There are rumours of informers buried in bogs in various parts of Ireland. Of course the point of killing informers is to so publicly as a deterrent, so the stories may not be true. Then again, sometimes there are reasons to hide what you have done. I saw a story a while back about the Disappeared, where a Continuity person argued that there were still secret graves from the Collins era so the secrets regarding the Disappeared should not be given up.

    We have no idea of exactly how many people were killed in the 1919-23 period, and there is a project at TCD to count them to try and end the uncertainty as far as is possible.

  • mickhall

    Miss Fitz,

    I honestly feel it is ridiculous to call Michael Collin’s a great Statesman, unless you understand the meaning of that word to be someone who is willing to make compromises to more powerful states, in any case he was not in the game for long enough. Although Dev, who is far from my hero could be regarded imo as being a great Statesman, not least for the manner he kept the then Free State out of WW2. Which was little short of miraculous, we can argue whether he was right to do this, but that is a different argument altogether. The manner in which he replied to Churchill nasty speech at the end of WW2, not only raises Irish men and women up to the status they were put on this earth to attain, but does the same to any freedom loving person.

    Those who now call MC a Statesman basically do so because they either agree with the massive compromises he made when agreeing to the treaty or those who benefited from his act.

    That Gerry Adams is being called a Statesman to day for making much the same compromises is very telling, as to is the fact it is the same type of individuals who are heaping such praise upon him as those who did the same to Collins.

    Fitz, you say Collin’s had no other choice, perhaps but why is it always the weaker party who is expected to compromise and when they refuse, why do people such as yourself blame them if war erupts. If the 1920s IRA was forced back to war by refusing the treaty, how is that their fault. It was not the IRA who were illegally occupying Ireland but the bloody British State. Thus surly it should have compromised?

    Might is not always right and those who refuse to bend to its will are not always wrong, more power to them.

    Regards.

  • Miss Fitz

    But Mick
    Surely to God the point is not that the British were occupying the State, but that the Unionists in the north were willing to die to avoid joint Home Rule? The whole compromise had more to do with what was happening on this island than it had to do with the deal with the British government?

    As to the nature of the maturing role of Collins, I remain convinced that he fits the role. Henry Kissinger said ‘The statesman’s role is to bridge the gap between experience and vision’ When Collins conceded that the Treaty would allow the country the freedom to fight for freedom. Collins was an unwilling participant in the negotiations, but I fail to see how this could have been altered in any significant way.

    A United Ireland forced upon Unionism at that time would have led, without doubt to a far bloodier and wider civil war, whose end I cannot imagine.

  • Jo

    “a Continuity person argued that there were still secret graves from the Collins era so the secrets regarding the Disappeared should not be given
    up.”

    Really? Because I presume, anti-Treaty bodies were never found, so, out of historical spite(!)those who suffer today should just continue to suffer and wait for those who could tell them where the recent Disappeared are, die?

    I thought the f*cked up morality of CIRA had reached a botom with McKevitt’s wanting suicide bombers to attack British ships in Carlingford Lough. (he didnt volunteer himself of course) Proves even I can get it wrong.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Can you re-evaluate your opinions in that context and let us have a little more detail. I am particularly interested in your pronouncements of ‘disappeared’ in bogs all over Ireland. It is news to me, and I would really appreciate if you could tell us more ”

    well no, I don’t buy this argument that contextualising 1919-21 as the birthpangs of the state makes the killings and intimidation acceptable- any more than it would have done in 1776 when the loyalists in America were on the receiving end of history. I don’t know how many people were “disappeared” by Collins’ gangs- I don’t know if anyone does- but even as recently as last month someone was posting gloating comments onthis blog about the deaths of Mrs Lindsay of Coachford and her driver, and others were expressing doubts that policemen were being thrown alive into the furnace at Tralee, and that a wounded magistrate was buried up to his neck at the seashore to drown.

    I remember as well that some dissident republican claimed at the time of the GFA that the whereabouts of some soldiers’ bodies were known to people in Cork, but they would never be revealed until a united Ireland came about. Now that’s either unimaginable cruelty to inflict on a family for 80 years, or a mischieviously sick comment devoid of all humanity.

    And while I respect your opinion as to the potential of Collins I fundamentally disagree with it, just as I cannot ever see Gerry Adams as a statesman in waiting- in fact I don’t think any Unionist worth his salt would see any difference between the two-with the obvious exception that Liam Neeson hasn’t yet been asked to star in a soft-focus revisionist Ken Loach biopic-thank heavens for small mercies

  • Ferfeckssake

    Darth Rumsfeld,

    Are you a zulu? I suspect you are not.

    Did you really urinate on a monument to a dead person? Even more unbelievable is the fact that you would admit to it. Shame on you.

    Anyone who would do such a thing is scum, whether to a monument to Collins or Cromwell.

    “Darth,

    Good man. ”

    Garibaldy – same rules apply.

  • darth rumsfeld

    OK- if it’s parity you want, I’ll settle for Cromwell’s fate being applied to Collins. Dig up the corpse and hang it for treason.

  • Garibaldy

    Darth,

    Never heard the Tralee or seashore stories. Find them a bit hard to believe. Although if you have evidence or know a book that talks about them I’d be interested.

    I note the examples you pick are from countries seeking independence. What about British actions in America, or the way NI was founded, were those actions just as unacceptable?

    For fecks sake, I find Darth doing that childish, but I find his brazen admitting it admirable. And entertaining. Although I imagine if some Muslim takes a dump on a memorial to the Queen Mother he might see you point a bit more.

  • Metacom

    Never been to Beal na Blath, but I did once stumble through the undergrowth in the back of the churchyard in Grey Abbey to find the grave of the Rev. James Porter. Quite a poignant moment standing there contemplating the man’s fate. Shouldn’t he be memorialized somehow?

  • Garibaldy

    Metacom,

    In us all trying to fulfil his anti-sectarian vision.

  • Mick

    Posted by darth rumsfeld
    “OK- if it’s parity you want, I’ll settle for Cromwell’s fate being applied to Collins…”

    You mean we would have a statue of the Commander General outside Dail Eireann just like that bastard Cromwell is remembered outside the British HOP…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Garibaldy :
    I said this: The election that confirmed the victory for the Free State can hardly be described as free or fair given the threats from Lloyd George.

    Are you sure you want to go down the road of casting doubts over election results due to dodgy background while they were taking place ? If so how can you defend the 1918 election which was used to justify the war of independence to begin with ? A hell of a lot of uncontested seats there, weren’t there ?

  • Garibaldy

    Yes there were I think around 20 uncontested seats, because it was obvious who was going to win. That was entirely within accepted parameters of political practice at the time. It also makes a mockery of those who try to argue the fact that SF got 48% of the vote or whatever it was means there was not a majority in favour of independence. The last time I got involved in this debate on Slugger I hunted out the figures from an excellent website analysing results but couldn’t be bothered now.

    As I said, both sides in the Civil War had viable claims to democratic legitimacy. It’s far from clear-cut

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yes there were I think around 20 uncontested seats, because it was obvious who was going to win

    Come on Garibaldy, as a Bolshevik. You don’t think it’s possible that other candidates were made offers that they couldn’t refuse ? I bet it’s not hard to find stories of intimidation.

    There are plenty of ways to pick holes in it. Was there universal suffrage or a property qualification in either 1918 or 1921 ?

    It also makes a mockery of those who try to argue the fact that SF got 48% of the vote or whatever it was means there was not a majority in favour of independence.

    48% doesn’t look like a majority endorsement for a war. Mind you, this is all academic now.

  • Garibaldy

    The point about the 48% being that had those seats been contested, there would have been at least (from memory the website said) 56% of votes for independence. More likely approaching two-thirds.

    As for intimidation, there is some evidence for some, including intimidation of, as well as by, SF. Peter Hart’s book on the IRA in Cork, although discredited in places, describes the violence beteen IPP people and its opponents before WWI. Also Joe Devlin was not shy of throwing weight around. However, there’s nothing to suggest that in any of those seats an alternative candidate would have won.

    There was not a vote for war. There was a clear majority in favour of independence, which was denied by Westminster, just as the Home Rule majorities had been ignored for 30+ years. Who was behaving anti-democratically?

    I think universal male suffrage was in place in 1918, plus votes for women over an older age qualification than for men, but can’t remember for certain and am open to correction on that.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Never heard the Tralee or seashore stories. Find them a bit hard to believe. Although if you have evidence or know a book that talks about them I’d be interested”

    easy enough to find evidence with a quick google. The two policemen were mentioned in leargas programme in 2003. RC & Irish speaking Constable Patrick Waters and his colleague were thrown into the furnace at Tralee gasworks in October 1920.His son is a republican.

    Likewise the RM’s murder.Check out wikipedia for the full story.

    Butisn’t it interesting that your instinct is to deny the possibility-and your posts show you to be more intelligent than the provo trolls who pervade slugger. Why would you find such cruelty hard to believe? Did you really think the IRA fought a clean fight?

    Truth is, the only difference between IRA 1919-21 and IRA 1969-2006 is the dubious mandate retrospectively claimed for the good old IRA. And as Gerry and his mates know only too well, the collective amnesia of the excesses such as I have described then are already applying to his men-hence the Late Late show interviews, international peace awards, and publishers killing trees to print his musings. But victims and their families can’t forget, and I happen to think they deserve our repsect far more than ruthless killers who use democracy when it suits them, and the gu when it doesn’t.

  • darth rumsfeld

    er gu=gun

  • darth rumsfeld

    the RM was Lendrum, and he was kidnapped near Doonbeg.
    Garibaldy, can I ask if any of these evil acts either surpise or revulse you? Were they mandated in 1918? Or is it just the usual “war is hell” excuse, shrug the shoulders, and don’t kill the shibboleths?

  • Garibaldy

    Darth,

    Thanks for the info. I’ll check that stuff out. The reason I was sceptical is because history is full of stories of extreme cruelty and violence that turn out to be false. For example, the French during the Revolution supposedly roasting two Austrian soldiers. A myth about a crucified soldier in Belgium in WWI. Someone told me that during WWI a lot of stories of mutiliation were told but in reality the state of the bodies was due to machine fire, and people not being used to seeing its effects. And much more recently than that, some of the stories that came out of Kosovo (or Iraq for that matter) that turned out to be absolute lies designed to encourage support for the war. My personal favourite from Kosovo was The Times (the paper of record remember) having a headline that 250,000 had been killed. The Spanish head of the UN team charged with recovering bodies after the war resigned because he said it was clear that the stories of massacres were false, and he had been lied to.

    As for the instances you brought up, of course I find them repulsive. I’m somewhat surprised at the burying story because of the dangers involved in moving somebody and doing that in a heavily patrolled country, with much less traffic than these days. Like with the drowning, I’m surprised at the brutality of the burnings.

    I’m under no illusions that the 1919-23 period was nasty and brutish, on all sides (if we include some actions around the establishment of NI as well as IRA-government conflict, and the Civil War). However, I would dispute that the 1919-21 campaign was morally equivalent to that of the Provos.

    As for victims, I agree absolutely that they are people who deserve our sympathy and respect.

    Just a quick word as I have to go out on the war is hell thing. I seek to understand and contextualise events rather than issue blanket condemnations based on my morality, and that of my times. Consequence of studying history.

  • darth rumsfeld

    actually recent research confirms the British soldier being crucified.

    And the magistrate was actually a memebr of the Gaelic league, who had been courtmartialled for refusing to courtmartial one of his own privates in WW!

  • andy

    Darth
    I did some googling and the stuff about the policeman and furnace seems pretty tenous – its only ever said “reported to be thrown into the furnace” with a number of entries talking about other reports being they were shot and buried/ burned afterwards ( the “disappeared” of your earlier post I guess).

    Likewise a few entries on google about Lendrum talk about him being shot rather than hihgly unlikely story about him buried up to his neck.

    Hardly case closed I would have thought.

    My first instincts were to check such odd stories Darth. I hope you don’t think I’m an unintelligent Provo troll 🙂

  • Garibaldy

    Darth,

    The last I heard, Adrian Gregory, who was behind the TV show about it, said that it wasn’t real.

    Anyway, the substantive point holds, especially after Andy’s post.