Saving Ireland from ‘the revisionists’, or firefighting the truth?

If you think northerners are bad at rucking over history, try this controversy over one documentary programme about Richard and Abraham Pearson, two Protestant brothers were killed by the IRA back in June 1921, at their home in Offaly has fanned some very large flames on an RTE phone-in programme. Ann Marie Hourihane in today’s Irish Times picks up the story:

Irish history is so fragile to some, and so sacred, that they confidently assert that the Pearson brothers must have been British spies, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, not pacifists at all but given to taking pot shots at IRA men, arrogant towards their Catholic neighbours – in other words, asking for it.

It appears impossible for these people, standing guard over Irish history, even to countenance the possibility that the Pearsons were innocent men.

And so we had the strange sound of Joe Duffy speculating on the question of whether you can have a court martial without the defendants (that would be the Pearson brothers) being present, and whether members of the Cooneyite sect – to which the Pearsons belonged – would have even owned a shotgun, considering that the Cooneyites were widely believed to have been pacifist.

All this on a radio programme going out live on a busy weekday in November 2007. This group of people – which seems to be quite small – seems happy to talk and argue tirelessly on the most minor details of the Pearson killings in their efforts to justify them.

The trigger was an RTE documentary called Hidden Histories, which explored the case of the Pearson brothers in some depth, charting the eventual hounding of the family into emigration after the killing. Several have joined in with the counter blast, not least Pat Muldowney at the Village, who argues the documentary ignored the findings of a British Military Court of Inquiry. Hourihane again:

Thousands of us enjoyed the Hidden History television documentary about the Pearson killings simply because we had never heard about them before.

It aroused the suspicion in us that there are other stories like it – and we have no way of knowing how many, or how few, there might be – burning underground, stories that live on in the families of those who suffered, passed on in the deep privacy of family life so that, as one man told me last week: “It’s as if it would be disloyal to talk about it.”

He meant that it was as if it would be disloyal to talk about it in public. Within his family such matters were not discussed routinely, but only when he and his father were feeling particularly close to each other.

They became a family secret, in a country too full of family secrets. And so these stories, these whispers, are lost to the larger, Catholic population – perhaps forever.

It might be time now for the larger, Catholic population to ask itself: are we happy about this? Would we like to look at this small slice of our history, not in order to condemn men and women long dead, but because it is interesting and true?

See also: Indymedia and Niall Meehan in Counterpunch and the Offaly Historical and Archeological Society all of which argue that this is all as a revisionist attempt to re-write history.

, ,

  • red branch

    http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/speak-it-in-a-whisper–irish-ethnic-cleansing-1200486.html

    the story is well covered in the irish Independent, what is amazing is the enduring “justitication of two brutal murders”. Curiously today we see another attempted murder and amazingly the condemnation by the D. First Minister, can be read, it’s wrong today – but a few years ago this wouldn’t have been wrong.

    irish history is littered with dreadful murders, attacks, and explusions, none of which were or are justifiable, but amazingly they are still “explained”

    The relevance for today – well it just proves any hope of truth and reconcilliation for this society is light years away. If after 80 odd years we can’t accept that these were just two dispicable murders, what hope have we of coming to terms with the last 40 years

  • Suilven

    Ye gods – so much for the ‘two sides to every story’ school of history, if you’re the Offaly Historical and Archeological Society that is. They should invite David Irving over sometime for an encore…

    ‘The lecture will give an in-depth profile and analysis of the spies and informers executed by the Offaly IRA. Who were they, why did they inform and to what extent did they damage the IRA? Philip McConway will attempt to answer these and other pertinent questions such as the role of ex-soldiers in the Intelligence War. The activities of the Pearson family of Coolacrease, Cadamstown will be covered. Two members of the family, Richard and Abraham, were executed and their home burned down by the IRA in retaliation for their militant loyalist activities which culminated in an attempt to kill IRA Volunteers manning a roadblock. The male members of the family were deeply hostile and presented a dangerous threat to Republicans in the area. The Pearsons were also suspected informers. Recent revisionist claims that the Pearson killings were sectarian, propounded in sections of the media, will be challenged and debunked.’

  • I Wonder

    Don’t ya love that word: “executed”?

    Pearsons: “executed”

    Shot in the groin, then the buttocks and left in agony for hours…

    Eamon Collins: “executed”

    Chisel through the eye socket, brains mashed, face unrecognisable: No open coffin.

    Oh and I see Slab had a heart attack…

  • red branch

    See also: Indymedia and Niall Meehan in Counterpunch and the Offaly Historical and Archeological Society all of which argue that this is all as a revisionist attempt to re-write history.

    Its amazing how some in ireland can still get themselves hot under the collar protecting the actions of IRA men years ago. regardless of what your view on the Pearson Killings is, a quick look at the reference above will convince you that Ireland is historically knackered.

    Objectivity, evidence etc not required, 2007 speculation and republican purity is all that’s needed. Where the facts don’t fit make it up.

    I would love to hear the views of some of these commentators on the deaths of Tim Parry or those who died at Enniskillen. These guys would probably justify the actions of the brave IRA on the basis of some fictional notions of a glorious war against British Imperialism.

    Accepted none of us are unbiased but these diatribes masquarading as history is shocking.

  • I Wonder

    I have been struck by how much the word “revisionist” or “revisionism” is somehow used as an insult of worts – somewhat akin to the use of the word “Communist” or comunism” would have been, oh say, in the McCarty era?

    The implication is of course that facts, events, opinions never, ever should be revised or revisited.

    That, no matter the passage of time or more information coming to light, there is one, only one version of truth, of reality, of the facts.

    The basis of that absolute certainty must never ever be questioned and that those who do question should be abused, not argued with.

    What’s a good word to describe this attitude?

  • Peadar O’Donnell

    Revisionism in Irish history is a good thing.
    The struggles of 1916-23 were bloody and brutal. Republicans cannot be allowed to whitewash that.

    Problem is many prominent revisionists only see it cutting one way – the tribal, primitive nationalists need to overcome their myths and fairystories and come into the modern world.

    Doesn’t cut the other way though. Bomber Harris is celebrated on the Strand in statue and on the terraces. No revisionism about the bombing of Dresden or Hamburg, or the Amritsar massacre.
    No call in shows, no agonized debates in the newspapers. Just Gordon and a lot of telly historians telling us to be proud of the empire.

    Revisionism for the natives and impunity for the empire, it seems.

  • dewi

    Fundamentalism?

  • daithi

    I did history for 13 years in the Republic, up to honours Leaving Cert level – not a word in any of the history books about these murders (nor so many others which took place in rural Ireland in that period).

    Very positive sign for Ireland as a whole that this “hidden history” is now being told, and hopefully future schoolchildren too will learn of these experiences, so that all sides of Ireland’s story can be better understood.

  • I Wonder

    “No revisionism about the bombing of Dresden or Hamburg”

    But, shouldn’t there be? Isn’t there?

  • Suilven

    Come now, Peadar, I don’t think you can really argue that there hasn’t been a heated debate in recent years about the morality or otherwise of Dresden, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, the Somme, the list goes on. The Raj maybe less so, admittedly, but that’s because few people on these islands know very much about it.

  • Joey

    There certainly has been some focus on the bombing of Dreden, perhaps not sustained revisionist research but a fair amount of discussion nonetheless.

    ‘Revsionist’ interpretations of history do sometimes border on political attacks. There are better ‘revisionist’ historians (thinking Townshend for istnce, who wrote a brilliant, even moving book on Easter 1916) who avoid that. But you can view the trajectory of a tendentious gnome like Kevin Myarse as embracing revisionism purely because it traduces Republicanism. That is not history, or thinking intelligently about history like the suprior reviionists do.

  • red branch

    Revisionism and “bomber harris” – i think if people take time to remember there was a debate about the Harris monument. As far as NI is concerned the last 10 years has been a continuous discussion about the role the Army and the police played in our recent conflict. In fact the role of most groups has been looked at critically with the exception possiby of the paramilitaries. Whilst there has been some analysis of the histories of the paramilitaries there has been little objective analysis of motives.

    Everyone who lived through the troubles clearly has a biased perception but there has been little analysis.

    Hopefully we as a society will mature quicker than our Southern cousins and will be able to step back and realistically look at our selves.

    Bloody Sunday, Bloody friday, La Mon, Enniskillen were all unacceptable massacres. But whether they all were driven by the same hatred or bigotry – well that’s harder to say.

    One man meat is another man’s poison, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. One man’s noble cause is another man’s bigoted reaction.

    Sadly history is usually written by the victors – our problem is that nobody really won.

  • Garibaldy

    “Objectivity, evidence etc not required, 2007 speculation and republican purity is all that’s needed. Where the facts don’t fit make it up.”

    It seems to me that the reason there is a whole debate on this particular incident, and on allied controversies like Peter Hart on the Kilmichael ambush and the murders at Bandon, is exactly because the people who claim they are waging a campaign against revisionism HAVE gone and looked for original documentation, and found stuff to support their case, including in the archives of the British military.

    Of course there was sectarianism in the IRA in this era. But many of the instances taken as emblematically and uncomplicatedly sectarian have turned out to look at lot more complicated after further research. It seems to me that this is exactly what the revisionists have been doing for decades. Ironically, they have their own myth, and some of them don’t like it very much when research shows it up as that.

    Even on this thread we can see hints of the attitudes that the opponents of the revisionists are nutters (which some of them are) and shouldn’t be taken seriously because they are not professional academics (which is the wrong way to look at things).

  • Joey

    Problem for the chappy above is that some revisionism is serious-minded and scholarly, but other revisionist poitions patently are not. The latter are purveyors of the ‘game’ aspect, as satirised and depicted in Alan Bennett’s ‘The History Boys’. The way you get a First class degree or ‘get noticed’ is by producing an eye-catching thesis, nothing to do with the truth (‘boring truth’ about Stalin being a tyrant; revisionist responds by venerating Stalin). Televison historians such as Ferguson follow this inept style in different ways, thus lauding something like the British Empire. That is not good revisionist history, and neither are recent Spanish historians re-assessing General Franco. Must be understood properly.

  • I wonder…

    Joey

    Good post above, I missed seeing “The History Boys” My loss, I think.

    Jo

  • andy

    Peader and Garibaldy are spot on here.

    Revisionism is to be applauded in history – things should be re-examined. The difficulty with “revisionism” in an irish context is that it has often simply meant a return to an imperialist view of history. The actions of republicans were interpreted in the most negative way, the actions of “crown forces” given the most positive spin.

  • The reason why this causes such excitement is because it attacks at Ireland’s MOPE founding myth; that we are an entirely blameless Opfervolk, savaged in an entirely unique way over centuries by fascistic neighbours, yet still, thanks to our pristine goodness, preserving our decency and tolerance and not doing really bad things to innocent people in wars for base reasons.

    Of course it’s bullshit; founding myths usually are. But it’s not uniquely Irish; try pointing out to your random Englishman that Churchill was a war criminal (gassing Kurds in Northern Iraq, early ’20s, and wasn’t Harris involved in all that too)? Or go around the Holocaust Museum in Washington asking why there’s a museum to somebody else’s holocaust but not to the extermination of the native population of the United States?

    That doesn’t change the fact that counter-revisionism is often squalid and base and jingoistic, but it’s hardly unique to Ireland.

  • lib2016

    Sammy Morse,

    Another excellent post.

  • Joey

    I Wonder – ‘The History Boys’ is well worth a look, because it elucidates a lot of this debate. Though ‘revisionism’ is not mentioned by name, the subject covers the terrain of ‘re-interpretating’ something for the sake of interest alone. There is a difference between listening to the alternative voices and stories chapioned by the best revisionist historians, and the attacks levelled by lacklustre attention-seekers.
    Cruise O’Brien was once at the forefront of trying to decimate the national ‘myths’ of Irish nationalist ideology. But as Terence Brown has argued, these myths ‘tapped very real historical and cultural wells’. At its best ‘revisionist’ history is a very fine thing indeed – improving debate and study – but at its worst its earth-shatteringly glib and spurious.

  • barneyben

    The Pearsons shot at the IRA, according to their friend Stanley, their brother, their father, the RIC reports and the IRA statements. Consequently the IRA shot the Pearsons. Isn’t war hell? As the Pearson’s (Protestant)neighbours said at the time “they brought it on themselves”.
    BTW, the medical reports on the Pearsons show that they both died from shock many hours after recieving superficial wounds. The execution was bothched. I believe there’s also a rather juicy revisionist detail doing the rounds that they were shot in the genitals. Not mentioned in the medical reports, or anywhere else for that matter, but what the hell? You have to wonder what goes on in the dark recesses of the dirty little minds that pedal this stuff.

  • dewi

    Quality of last couple of days blogs outstanding I have to say. Perhaps, however, not the best illustration of Catholic secterianism. And Sammy Native American museum in NY (might have moved to DC by now) very good.

  • The Spectator

    For me the test is simple. Which came first, the historical story, or the political message it aims to illustrate.

    A good revisionist historian looks again at the evidence, and goes where it leads him, including new areas.

    A mediocre one, like Ferguson, does the research, but always with the narrative in mind, usually one that backs his own political leanings.

    A crap one, like Harris, settles on a political view, often contrarian, and trawls for stories and narratives to back it up, even to the point of shoddy historical research as in this case.

    Harris cannot ignore the Crown report on this and hope to maintain historical credibility. but he doesn’t want historical credibility. He wants political and media influence, to get at his enemies. And he was successfull in that.

  • Richard James

    Sammy Morse,

    The Kurds in Iraq were never “gassed” by the British, let alone by Winston Churchill’s orders.

    The myth you are peddling here (for courtesy’s sake, I’ll assume you are doing so through ignorance) is a memorandum of his taken out of context. He advocated the use of tear gas to put down a rebellion, ironically because he believed it would minimise loss of life.

  • barneyben

    Britain did gas the Kurds. The RAF bombed them with mustard gas on Churchill’s orders.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,939608,00.html

    Hardly Britain’s greatest war crime or the Kurd’s worst affliction but nasty enough.

  • The Penguin

    “The Pearsons shot at the IRA, according to their friend Stanley, their brother, their father, the RIC reports and the IRA statements. Consequently the IRA shot the Pearsons. Isn’t war hell? As the Pearson’s (Protestant)neighbours said at the time “they brought it on themselves”.”

    These are lies, pure and simple. Posted here in the belief that no one knows enough about the case to properly challenge them.

    The “friend” Stanley was actually a cousin staying with the Pearsons because he had been driven out of his own home by the IRA because of his religion. The “neighbour” mentioned was a Catholic who actually said, “Shooting was too good for them, they should have been drowned in the river”.

    The above by barneyben are lies, I suggest for a true account people read “I Met Murder on the Way” by a son of Stanley’s.

  • Garibaldy

    The Penguin,

    IIRC from the stuff on Indymedia, the Pearson family said in a later claim for compensation that they had always helped crown forces. Of course, you had to say that to get any chance of money, but it can’t simply be dismissed as lies. There were also citations from investigations by the authorities that give credence to the account offered by Pat Muldowney. He offers arguments in refutation of the book you mention, some of which are grounded on archival records, and some of which aren’t.

    But there is enough evidence that we can’t just say the counter-argument is lies.

  • Turgon

    Getting back to the issue of the murder of the Pearson brothers. I know nothing about the specifics of their lives. However, it is correct to say that Cooneyites are generally pacifists. http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_2x2.htm

    They are counted by many in fundamentalist Christainity as not true evangelical christians as they deny the atonment and may not accept the divinity of Christ. http://www.reachouttrust.org/articles/othergrp/coony.htm

    I say may as they will not usually discuss their beliefs. Indeed they reject the name Cooneyite and would usually call themselves Followers of the “Jesus Way” or Interdenominational. Elenwe has Cooneyite friends but we have never been able to establish much about their beliefs. They seem to mainly be from round Fermanagh.

    They can be regarded as aloof and odd. This may have explained their murder. For them to have been murdered was not, however, war but a sectarian murder of harmless people who were identified as odd, different and of course “Prods”. That was probably enough to sign those young men’s death warrants whatever some may suggest.

  • barneyben

    Stanley was driven out of Laois for his Loyalist paramilatery activities and was received by his distant cousins, and great friends, the Pearsons in nearby Coolacrease. His son went on to write his now infamous book, taking care to wait until all the local IRA volunteers were dead and unable to defend themselves. He also took care not to interview any of them when he was ‘researching’ his book. Nevertheless, Stanley does, somewhat inadvertantly, confirm the central fact that the Pearsons shot at a local IRA unit having first argued with them. So they knew who they were shooting at and they should have been able to guess at the consequences. I recommend Stanley’s book for anyone interested in an alternative version of the subject. But it is not the only one available and it’s easily the sloppiest.

  • The Penguin

    “Stanley was driven out of Laois for his Loyalist paramilatery activities…”

    Again, this simply not true.
    One of the litany of charges levelled against the Pearsons, as each is destroyed another is thought up, is that they were covertly training UVF members.

    UVF members, in Co. Offaly? For God’s sake how ridiculous does it have to become before people see it and accept it for what it was?

    One of the Offaly IRA men, who later became a Garda, said years later, “It was wrong, totally wrong. We murdered these people. There is no other way to describe it.”

    They murdered them only days before the heavily trailed cessation because they were Prods and they wanted their land.

  • shawn

    Last few posts are perfect illustrations that ALL history is revisionist. At its core every history has a perspective and weighs the facts in relation to that perspective.

    To claim that history is blatantly false the only thing being revised is the perspective. Adn consequently as the republican movement has comne in from the cold their perspective is also being introduced into main stream history.

    The protestant communities belief’s about the IRA are no more true and unasailable then the catholic communities beliefs are about the RUC. Both perspectives have a certain validity but determining where that validity lies is where the conflict arises.

    Architectural Blue Prints have a little box on the corner that denotes which revision of the drawing that they represent, perhaps history books should have those as well

  • andy

    Penguino
    So – did the family claim they were acting for crown forces or not?

    I dont know one way or another but it seems ther is some mixed evidence about the sectarianism of the case

  • Sometimes this Process seems so absurd, sometimes I think it may work

  • Dan

    “I was always known as a staunch Loyalist and upholder of the Crown. I assisted the Crown Forces on every occasion, and I helped those who were persecuted around me at all times.”

    – William Pearson, in his compensation application to the Distress Committee/Grants Committee

    They were murdered, either way.

  • barneyben

    Stanley hid out with the Pearsons and assumed the name of Barry, even his own son agrees on that point. You threw in the “UVF in Offaly” and so far as I know it is entirely your own invention

    Shawn,
    Do you have anything to contribute apart from the traditional APNI “well there might be something in it” bullshit? There’s only ever one truth, what people choose to believe is another matter entirely.

  • The Penguin

    shawn
    What absolute post-modernist crap. If I go out and kill someone because of their religion or because they have something I want it doesn’t matter how many other excuses I or anyone else makes, I killed them for those reasons.

    “I was always known as a staunch Loyalist and upholder of the Crown. I assisted the Crown Forces on every occasion, and I helped those who were persecuted around me at all times.”

    – William Pearson, in his compensation application to the Distress Committee/Grants Committee”

    This was, as you should know, after a previous application was turned down and he was advised to exaggerate the family loyalty in order to get any compensation.

    “Stanley hid out with the Pearsons and assumed the name of Barry, even his own son agrees on that point. You threw in the “UVF in Offaly” and so far as I know it is entirely your own invention.”

    Of course he adopted an assumed name when staying with the Pearsons, the IRA had driven him out of his own home because of his religion. Does the fact that he assumed the name of Barry prove he was a loyalist paramilitary (too laughable for words) or that he was afraid of being attacked by the IRA again? If you think the former is proof enough, then I’m beginning to understand the mentality of those that killed him.

    Your second point is lies yet again. For years, and even on the Duffy show this week, there was talk of the Pearsons holding secret night-time training sessions for the UVF. Anything to blacken their name and try and justify the murders to local people who were mostly apalled.

    Another claim was that the house roof blew off because of hidden ammunition. The fact that it had been doused in petrol and was certain to explode was conveniently ignored.

  • Harry Flashman

    *No revisionism about the bombing of Dresden or Hamburg, or the Amritsar massacre.*

    Oh yes, I mean it’s been wall to wall glorification of Dresden and Amritsar in the British media and history text books hasn’t it?

    You’ve never ever heard anything negative about those incidents have you?

    I mean where are the British revisionist historians to point out that Amritsar wasn’t a jolly good thing?

    Jesus wept some people talk such drivel sometimes!

  • barneyben

    Turgon,

    There were, and still are, many protestant families in the Kinnity/Cadamstown area of Offaly. They were not shot at and did not feel any need to flee the area. This is because of a simple fact that was, and still is, well known to everybody in the area: the Pearsons were shot for firing on an IRA unit. That they did so is confirmed in IRA, RIC and British Military records. It is also confirmed in Stanley’s book.

  • barneyben

    Penguin
    “Your second point is lies yet again.” You are becoming a little offencive. You are the person who brought the “Offaly UVF” canard to this thread. How is that a lie? I never heard of it before and I was brought up in the area. If it came from the Joe Duffy show then take it up with him, I never mentioned it and never even heard of it before reading it here, from you.

    Do you deny that the Pearsons shot at the IRA, as mentioned in Stanley’s book?

  • Dan

    The Penguin,

    Do you believe the Pearson family was sympathetic to the goals of the IRA and felt any loyalty to the First Dáil?

    Like I said, they were murdered. Whether it was because they were Protestant and the IRA just decided to kill them for land or for kicks because of their religion (unlikely), or because they were loyalists and spies, or because they had shot at IRA members, they were murdered in cold blood.

    That much we know.

    Care to comment on barneyben’s post?

  • The Penguin

    Strange you never heard that rumour about UVF training, amongst countless such rumours I know, seeing as it was aired on the programme and (coincidentally?) tied in nicely with your charge that Stanley was a loyalist paramilitary and, according to you, deserved to be attacked because he assumed the name of Barry when staying with his cousins. After being driven from his own home, I might add, by the IRA because of his religion. Is it any wonder he assumed another name?

    Did the Pearsons fire at some thugs cutting down a tree on their land without permission?
    Firstly, this is recounted as yet another rumour in Stanley’s book.
    Here in Northern Ireland we know all about the justificatory rumours that spring up for plain murder, and how eagerly communities will grab on to them rather than face the fact of such murdering monsters in their midst.
    Second, it is debatable that they even owned a gun, given their religious beliefs, never mind shot at anyone.

    Do I believe the Pearson family was sympathetic to the goals of the IRA and felt any loyalty to the First Dáil?

    I have no idea, but what I do know is that you cannot murder people simply because they disagree with you. You cannot murder people when, just because of their religion, you presume they must disagree with you.
    And you cannot murder people because you tie the above two together to give you an excuse to murder them, when really you just want something that they own.

    These people were the softest of targets, Protestants, so people wouldn’t get too vexed over their murders, and owners of a prime farm.

  • The Penguin

    “…because of their religion (unlikely)”

    Why unlikely?

    Try checking out the Fethard-on-Sea story.

    Or what happened to the Protestants in Cork during the United Irishmen uprising.
    While Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter were coming together in parts of Ulster in common cause, the UI were butchering every Prod they could get their hands on in, most notably, Co.Cork and other parts of southern Ireland.

    Read Kevin Myers column today if you think republicans are above sectarianism. Just because people claim high ideals doesn’t mean they stick to them – in fact it usually means the opposite.

  • Gum

    Joey, Garibaldi and Red Branch –

    good posts lads.

  • barneyben

    Penguin,

    ave you actually read Stanley’s book? His own father confirms the Pearsons shot at the IRA.

    “Stanley was a loyalist paramilitary and, according to you, deserved to be attacked”.
    I did not say Stanley deserved to be attacked. In fact he was not attacked, he was captured by the IRA later the same day and released.

  • Garibaldy

    Penguin,

    I think you’re getting Cork and Wexford mixed up in 1798. Although again, while there were egregious sectarian murders in Wexford in 1798, the Scullabogue incident is slightly more complex (relating to the politics of at least some of those involved and the possibility it was done out of revenge for military killing of rebel prisoners), and there was considerable Protestant participation in the Rebellion there.

    I couldn’t agree with you more that those who today are termed republicans are a disgrace to the name. They dress squalid sectarian nationalism up as the democratic, internationalist progressive, anti-sectarian politics of republicanism. Unforunately sectarian nationalists have often called themselves republicans when it suited, and this was certainly true for some in the 1919-23 period. However, there are elements in this particular case that mean we cannot simply say one way or the other. If anything, the archival evidence swings away from the version offered by the producers of the programme, though as you’ve said there are questions about it too.

    As for the possibility of them having a shotgun, or shotguns. Didn’t most farmers have them for dealing with vermin (and many still do)? Is it not possible that they had them for this reason? I don’t know if not killing animals was part of their religion, but I doubt it as I don’t know of any other Christian sects that forbid it.

    There is an excellent post by World By Storm at the cedar lounge revolution blog putting the southern media coverage of all this in context.

  • The Penguin

    “…WITH YOUR CHARGE that Stanley was a loyalist paramilitary and, according to you, deserved to be attacked because he assumed the name of Barry when staying with his cousins.”

    Please don’t quote me out of context. You contended (laughingly) that Stanley was a loyalist paramilitary, not me.
    And that because he was living under an assumed name at the Pearsons, to protect him from further sectarian attack, he came under suspicion and, therefore, deserved to be targetted.

    Stanley’s father was not present at the “tree felling incident” and speculated to his son that, according to local rumour, this was one of the reasons for the murders. But, as for local rumours, see my point above.

    I fully realise it must be difficult for you and many others to accept that amongst those you thought of as heroes were many sectarian bigots, thugs and criminals. If, as you say, you are from the area then possibly family connections make it all the more difficult, so understandably you grasp at any available straw.

    But you should at least admit that throughout Offaly, but particularly in the area we are talking about, the majority of people have been quietly – and fearfully – deeply ashamed of what happened to the Pearsons.

    To openly acknowledge that profound wrongdoing is all that is being asked, and is the least that can be expected.

  • Ulster McNulty

    The Penguin

    “While Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter were coming together in parts of Ulster in common cause, the UI were butchering every Prod they could get their hands on in, most notably, Co.Cork and other parts of southern Ireland…”

    You need to revise your historical perspective a bit here – you’ve completely forgotten to mention the papishes who were being terrorised in parts of Ulster because many protestants didn’t want them about the place.

  • barneyben

    I have no family connections whatsoever to the incident, except to say that my own father talked about it as a tragedy. He as eight at the time and is unlikely to have been involved. How did you work out what the majority of the people in Offaly are thinking? From the Joe Duffy show?
    As for Stanley’s Snr, junior’s book shows him to be a liar. And junior does confir the incident, although he maintains the Pearson’e only fired over the IRA’s heads.
    “And that because he was living under an assumed name at the Pearsons, to protect him from further sectarian attack, he came under suspicion and, therefore, deserved to be targetted”
    Once again, I never said Stanley Snr deserved to be attacked. But the Pearsons must have known they would bring attention to themselves when they decided to shelter a known paramilitary like Stanley. However, that is not why they were attacked either. They were shot for shooting at the IRA. The “straws” I am grasping at are the IRA, RIC and British Military written accounts of the incident. They all agree. What are your sources?

  • Ulster McNulty

    Harry Flashman

    “You’ve never ever heard anything negative about those incidents have you?”

    Yes we have, they were bad examples – here’s a good example:

    http://www.ulsterhistory.co.uk/henrypottinger.htm

    Note how the Ulster Historical Circle completely fail to mention that this fella was one of the most vicious international drug traffickers in history.

    Historical revisionism is a good thing and should not be mistaken for myth-making or political point scoring, which some posters have already pointed out on this thread.

    Now – if possible, can somebody please refer me to an unbiased account of the events in question here.

  • The Penguin

    Ulster McNulty
    No you need to revise yours. It’s no accident that the great majority of northern heroes of the UI campaign were Protestant (not just Presbyterian, by the way).
    While some Catholics were defending the town hall in Ballymena against the UI the Scots Presbyterian parts of the town were involved in hand to hand fighting with, of all things, a Scottish regiment sent to quell the rebellion. Same thing was happening all over the north.

    “But the Pearsons must have known they would bring attention to themselves when they decided to shelter a known paramilitary like Stanley.”

    “…a known paramilitary..”(?)
    You continue with the lies to try and justify the unjustifiable.

    Your father was wrong, it wasn’t “a tragedy” it was cold blooded, sectarian murder, inspired by greed for land.

    “The “straws” I am grasping at are the IRA, RIC and British Military written accounts of the incident.”

    Well we can dispense with the IRA account for a start, it’s a bit like taking as gospel the Paras account of Bloody Sunday.

    And you deliberately misrepresent the RIC and “British Military” accounts that you cite. These were merely reports of rumours in the area after the murder and were not the result of any investigation that actually determined the motive.

    If you are going to present the reporting of rumour as fact, and as though derived from investigation, then at least be honest enough to outline all of the rumours that were carried in the reports as possible motives.
    These included land aquisition, sectarianism and an eagerness by one of the most ill-disciplined and woefully inadequate IRA units in the country to prove themselves before the cessation came into force.

    My sources are the same as yours, except I am reading and quoting them honestly and not in a cherrypicking and contorted fashion.

    How do I know how the people of that area felt and feel about the butchery of the Pearsons? Wouldn’t you like to know!
    Just take it from me that I know only too well.

  • Peadar O’Donnell

    *I mean where are the British revisionist historians to point out that Amritsar wasn’t a j
    jolly good thing? *

    Sure a few left over lefties from the 60s maybe -stuck in the ex-polytechnics. Haven’t seen them on tv though.

    No kid studying history will know about it because at school British history begins in 1939 and ends in 1945 and it only happens in Europe.

    I’ve never heard a phone in on the subject on five live or radio 4. Apart from the odd corner of the Guardian, its seldom in the papers.

    The British imperial state, and its successor, are like the Irish nationalist state. Both were founded on bloodletting and myths. Both have trouble admitting this – the debate about Harris’s statue was as defensive as the debate about the IRA.

  • Ulster McNulty

    The Penguin

    “No you need to revise yours. It’s no accident that the great majority of northern heroes of the UI campaign were Protestant (not just Presbyterian, by the way).
    While some Catholics were defending the town hall in Ballymena against the UI the Scots Presbyterian parts of the town were involved in hand to hand fighting with, of all things, a Scottish regiment sent to quell the rebellion. Same thing was happening all over the north.”

    Yes while at the same many protestants were beating the heads off the papishes at other locations in the north. You can’t ignore it anymore than you can ignore sectarian atrocities in the south – revisionism required.

  • The Penguin

    You have a point, but only up to a point.
    Prods and Catholics were getting the heads beaten off them by both Prods and Catholics, and sometimes the British Army. But not because of their religion.

    Religion for that short time was very much secondary to whether people were with the UI or not.
    Those for and against were right across the religions.
    Hence you had the strange situation of some members of a minister’s congregation plotting to mudrder him because he was anti-UI.
    And the opposite situation where pro-UI ministers sometimes helped plot the killings of some of their own congregations.

    It is wholly wrong to try and suggest that, during that period, Catholics were being picked on solely because of their religion. Prods and Catholics suffered because of their support or otherwise for the UI.

    But all of this, like the Bomber Harris stuff, distracts from the issue under discussion, the murders of the Pearson brothers.

    Incidentally, do people not realise that by introducing the likes of the Bomber Harris stuff into this discussion, they are displaying their own sense on inadequacy by always measuring themselves or their own against Britain?
    “The British did it so it’s all right for us to do it”.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “It is wholly wrong to try and suggest that, during that period, Catholics were being picked on solely because of their religion. Prods and Catholics suffered because of their support or otherwise for the UI”

    It isn’t wholly wrong, it’s wholly right. At that time, in certain locations, protestants were beating the heads off papishes simply because they were papishes.

    You are simply ignoring the intense sectarian bigotry of the time and focusing only on the enlightened political philosophy – you need to revise your historical perspective.

  • The Penguin

    “At that time, in certain locations, protestants were beating the heads off papishes simply because they were papishes.”

    Where?
    You have mentioned this incessantly but have noticably failed to name even one location.
    Let’s see what you really know about 1798 in the north, but be warned, I know a lot.
    And, don’t forget, it is during the time of the Uprising that we’re talking about because that is what your original intervention specified.

    And well done, you’ve managed to take the whole thing away from the Pearson family.

  • Erasmus

    Penguin,
    Regrettably your postings indicate the extend to which the Hidden History misinformation is becoming accepted truth. I suggest you read this Indymedia link from start to finish (will take about one hour) and you will see all of your points answered :
    http://www.indymedia.ie/article/84547
    One important point out of many – the Pearsons shot at and seriously wounded a member of an IRA squad mounting a roadblock. The IRA *of the time* were then acting under the authority of the democratically elected first Dail.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “You have mentioned this incessantly but have noticably failed to name even one location.”

    Would “Armagh” come as a big surprise to you? (Must be the elephant in the room).

    “And well done, you’ve managed to take the whole thing away from the Pearson family”

    There is denial about sectarian attacks in the south. I haven’t come accross a full impartial story of the Pearsons yet – what I’ve read so far looks to me like plain old sectarian murder.

  • The Penguin

    “Would “Armagh” come as a big surprise to you?”

    County or city or both, or is this an educated stab in the dark?

    LMAO, actually. Has there ever been as much as a school sports day in Armagh that didn’t end up in a sectarian fight?

    Seriously, my general point is valid, for that short time the fissure was not along straight sectarian lines but political.

    Look at Betsy Grey, her brother and boyfriend murdered just outside Hillsborough on the Ballynahinch Road, all Presbyterians but killed by soldiers for wearing their green favours.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The British imperial state, and its successor, are like the Irish nationalist state. Both were founded on bloodletting and myths. Both have trouble admitting this ‘

    Both ? Every State in existence has been found on bloodletting and myths . The Soviet totalitarians and Nazi States were the ‘cream of the crop’ in terms of the slaughter of innocents in the 20th century .

    Wonder who will take the top spots in the 21st century ? Congo (est 4 million to date ) Zimbabwe ? Sudan ?

    Among the larger States the USA has taken an early lead but there’s along way to go .

    And of course there’s always a good reason and justification for those who push for war . Nothing at all hypocritical in a country exporting ‘democracy’ while at home less than half the electorate bother to exercise their vote ?

    Never heard of the Pearson tragedy until now but then I also never heard of the ‘plight’ of the Irish nationalist minority in NI until as they say they ‘appeared’ on the TV screen !

  • The Penguin

    Erasmus

    Indymedia? Catch yourself on, that highly selective, twisted account. I know only too well the sort of clowns that put those points on there about this case.
    I have looked at all of the papers of the time. I also know what was recorded and what wasn’t.

    Even if it is true that they committed sectarian murders and drove people out of the country to get their land under the authority of the first Dail, does that make it right?

    If you think it does, then congratulations, you have just pardoned every atrocity committed by Nazis in Germany who were also acting under the full authority of their duly elected government.

  • Ulster McNulty

    The Penguin

    “..is this an educated stab in the dark”

    Hardly, it’s out there, in the public domain, it’s a matter of public record.

    “LMAO…Seriously, my general point is valid, for that short time the fissure was not along straight sectarian lines but political”

    You may well laugh, but your point is invalid, the fissure was as solidly along sectarian lines in 1798 as it was in 1978.

  • Erasmus

    Penguin,
    On the contrary first prize for a ‘highly selective twisted account’ goes to the RTE documentary. Dr. Muldowney attempted to ‘unmuddy’ the waters in Indymedia and in stark contrast to Sammon and co based his arguments on extensive quotation from contemporary records. The Indymedia discussion thread is highly illuminating and includes contributions from all angles. Seeing both major Dublin dailies are feebly parrotting the Harris/Sammon line Indymedia stands as a tiny beacon of light.
    Even if it is true that they committed sectarian murders and drove people out of the country to get their land under the authority of the first Dail
    This is just classic Harrisist propaganda/confabulation. The only possible exception to this might be Frank Aiken’s Armagh
    outfit when local time-honoured sectarian pressures were in operation.
    Seeing we are into Godwin’s Law territory let us suppose French nationals fired on and seriously wounded resistance fighters on operative duty and were in turn seriously wounded in a botched execution attempt. Would there now be mendaciously self-flagellatory documentaries on French TV. Je crois que non.
    BTW I have zero sympathy with any post-1921 IRA incarnation.

  • The Penguin

    Ah yes, Dr. Muldowney the maths lecture. The selective quoter and selective purveyor of information. Such a reliable source.

    You may not like it, but sectarian murder and driving people off their land is no more acceptable if sanctioned by the government of the day than if it isn’t. Mugabe, Stalin and Herr Hitler, to name but a few, relied on the immoral nonsense you are arguing.

    “BTW I have zero sympathy with any post-1921 IRA incarnation.”
    I’m glad to hear it, but you must learn to accept that some sectarian, criminal elements attached themselves and were at work in the IRA of the 20s. Coolacrease was one example of the actions of that sort.

    Ulster McNulty
    Give it up, you’re just plain wrong. Plainly, you know nothing of the 1798 rebellion in the north.

  • andy

    Penguin
    You didnt engage with any of the points raised on indymedia – you just slagged off the authors – like you have done with Dr Muldowney. You were refering to Kevin Myers earlier in a positive way – are you seriously saying he is impartial.
    Others:
    Does Stanley say that the Pearsons shot at the IRA? – can we have the quote?
    Also he seems to admit helping the crown forces? You dont seem to have any counter-argument but to say he MAY have exagerated.

    Also regards your comments about Offaly IRA – if they were so ill-disciplined were there any (other)sectarian killings which can be attributed to them – does it follow a pattern?

    I am comign late to this subject but it doesnt seem an open and shut case.

  • The Penguin

    Here is just one example of the sort of basic error that the good Dr is prone to.

    Talking about Coolacrease on the Joe Duffy show the other day, Pat Muldowney mentioned a report from an RIC “Chief Inspector”.
    From its creation in 1836 until its disbandment in 1922 the RIC never had any such rank.
    It only came into the RUC in 1970 when they adopted British Officer ranks in place of their original RIC ones.

    I checked Muldowney’s work on-line and the same error is repeated there. So it was not just some slip of the tongue while live on air.
    The commander of the RIC in Offaly was the COUNTY Inspector, the equivalent of a Garda Chief Supt.

    Not very reassuring from one who professes to be such an expert in history – but then he is a lecturer in maths, not history.

  • The Penguin

    andy
    Go away.
    If you haven’t read everything I’ve already said, then tough. If you have and still aren’t happy, then you must be stupid or very biased, or both.

    In fact you’re probably just that other clown coming in under another name.

    Whatever it is, don’t expect me to engage with your sectarian little mind.

  • andy

    Penguin

    “andy
    go away”
    That is a fantastic argument – well marshalled and to the point. You’re really showing off your vast encyclopaedic knowledge there.

    Where was the evidence of my sectarianism? You don’t know what religion, if any, I am.

    You also failed to notice i asked the “others” ie your opponents here to produce the actual quote showing that stanley admitted to the shooting of the IRA men – I was hardly being one sided was I?

    Also you completely failed to answer the specific question I asked – how can you rule as irrelevant, essentially, the fact there was an admission to helping the crown forces?

    Also still waiting to hear any kind of evidence about the patterns of sectarianism/ ill discipline etc of the Offally IRA.

    My questions were genuine.

  • Richard James

    “Britain did gas the Kurds. The RAF bombed them with mustard gas on Churchill’s orders.”

    Even the article you cite claims it was only considered, although the author presents it in a dishonest fashion as to imply Churchill wasn’t talking about tear gas.

    Barney, the first gas bombs dropped by aircraft was done so by the Italians against the Abyssinians.

  • Objectivist

    Penguin,
    This is just splitting hairs. He was a senior ranking RIC officer.His actual title is neither here nor there.
    Mathematicians tend to have a precise logical view of things and will continue to insist that 2 and 2 = 4 irrespective of a cacaphony of noise from those insisting it is 5. No better man than Pat Muldowney.
    ‘but you must learn to accept that some sectarian, criminal elements attached themselves and were at work in the IRA of the 20s’
    I already do – in relation to Armagh. The WOI IRA numbered some 2-3 thousand so on the law of averages there must have been some criminals and psychopaths in their ranks. But by the standard of underground movements of that sort and by the accepted rules of war their record was remarkably clean.

  • devaney

    Penguin,

    Are you not Jack Carter, the self styled “historian” who penned the foreword to Stanley’s dreadful book? You are known as the village idiot in certain part of Laois, are you not?

  • Ulster McNulty

    The Penguin

    “Ulster McNulty
    Give it up, you’re just plain wrong. Plainly, you know nothing of the 1798 rebellion in the north.”

    Your claim that sectarian violence didn’t occur in the north around the time of the United irishmen and the rebellion is simply preposterous – discussion with yourself is plainly a waste of time.

  • devaney

    Ulster McNulty,

    Do not give up so easily on The Penguin, he is inching towards his favourite hobby horse: What The Landlords Did For Us. For “Us” read “You Ungrateful Paddys”. It’s always good for a laugh, you won’t be disapointed.

  • Aquifer

    ‘The IRA *of the time* were then acting under the authority of the democratically elected first Dail’

    The majority of votes cast in the 1919 election, despite a campaign of IRA intimidation, were for parties that did not stand for a separate and sovereign irish nation. Independence should have had majority support, with other options exhausted, before a campaign of murder and mayhem was launched to secure it. Eamonn Devalera’s vainglorious ranting was a divisive cruel fraud and the civil war a squalid indulgence.

    Sinn Fein and the IRA were engaged in an illegal and violent putsch, guided by luminaries such as Devalera, who rejected the constitutional route to independence taken by statelets such as Canada, and thereby fractured the nation on a sectarian basis.

    Any citizen witnessing these insurrectionists in action had a duty to hinder them. Their subversion of democracy, their treaty breaking, their economic self-harm, and above all their murderous self-regard, should have been quietly dropped and secretly buried long ago.

    Instead we had Charley Haughey Omar Gadaffi Ian Paisley and a cast of extras help conjure the ghouls to life again.

    Night of the living dead, on a street near you.

  • Garibaldy

    Aquifer,

    SF walked the 1918 election. The only reason there was no majority of votes was because so overwhelming was opinion in nearly one in four seats that no rivals bothered to stand against them. This minority of votes argument is the biggest proof of lies, damned lies and statistics ever.

    40 years of massive Home Rule majorities had acheived precisely nothing concrete. A promise of home rule after the end of the war, which was swiftly broken with promises to unionism to exclude certain counties.

    After the 1918 election, what arrangements did the London government make to leave as the British electoral system had given SF a massive majority? None.

    Perhaps when we discuss the the 19160-21 period we might take account of such factors.

    As for 1798 in the north, there was a great deal of brutal suppression of suspected rebels. Many of these were Presbyterian. Many were not. Whether the repression was carried out with sectarian motives or not depended to a great extent as to who was doing the repressing and who to.

  • Brian Boru

    My understanding is that their father admitted in 1927, when applying for compensation from the British govt, that he had always ‘assisted the forces of the Crown in Ireland’. I wonder what that could mean? The reality is this: during the US War of Independence, American Loyalists collaborating with the enemy were executed and had their property seized. I am opposed to the death-penalty – even in war. But back then people favoured it. The reality is that according to the Old IRA in the area at the time, these men had opened fire on the local IRA. In that context they committed treason against the govt elected in 1918 which the British govt was trying to suppress. SF won 73 out of 108 seats in Ireland in the Westminster elections of 1918. The British refusal to accept this, including banning the party and arresting most of their MPs, was the trigger that started the IRA campaign. That is the inescapable reality and the context in which what happened afterwards must be judged. The people had elected SF on a mandate to abstain from Westminster and form an independent govt. It was the British who brought violence into the equation, and therefore it is largely their moral responsibility for what happened later. I have contempt for those who flaunted their allegiance to the British army to the extent of joining in attacks on the army of the elected Irish SF govt. I can accept neutrality, but not collaboration.