Peter Hart dies…

Just picked up from Garibaldy that the historian Peter Hart has died and the unconscionably early age of 46. Hart’s work featured regularly often in heated internet discussions as he began to lift stones on some of the darker passages of Irish History… He will be a huge and unexpected loss to his profession… Check out Garibaldy’s backlinks at the Cedar Lounge…

  • Sean Og


  • Brasco

    a link from someone on another site who denies the existence of the Official IRA drug dealers!!!!!

    In other words a link from an inane revisionist to a revisionist historian…

  • Cushy Glenn

    great loss to fearless iconoclastic debate

  • Mick Fealty

    Great contribution of it’s [stereo] type:

    Play the ball, not the man!!

  • That link made me laugh out loud Mick. I sometimes think that the only drugs some people should worry about are those given (or that should be given) to them by men in white coats.

    On topic, this is a tragedy for a family. You’d have hoped people could respect that, even if they want to discuss their criticism of Peter Hart’s work, which I have problems with myself. But then again, that would be expecting people to behave like grown ups.

  • Danny

    His book on Michael Collins was thoroughly researched and took a very unromantic view of the man.

    One can’t help but wonder what caused his death at such a young age.


  • Greenflag

    ‘he began to lift stones on some of the darker passages of Irish History…’

    And there are a lot such stones as we have learnt in recent years . In particular those stones holding down the ‘dark passages ‘ of what passed for or passes for ‘religion’ by the RC Church , the Orange Order and the other Churches on this island and our political elites – could do with a lot more stone lifting .

    Peter Hart was Canadian and as such brought an outside perspective into our very narrow island centred debate /slanging match of us and them . If he proved ‘controversial’ with regard to our ‘mythology’ then he at least forced a re examination of some of the so called ‘facts’ of the history of the times .

    Condolences to his family .

  • Brasco

    Mick, not playing the man at all…plainly voicing what that other poster you linked to said on this site last year…

    After the Official IRA shot a man in Downpatrick the other individual said they didn`t exist even after the PSNI had attributed the attack to the said mentioned group..

    Now the relevance, how can we on this site believe anything penned by such an individual and an individual who clearly has an axe to grind against Nationalism…

    A piece by him eulogizing Hart when he himself rewrites history to suite himself.

    So I don`t think I was playing the man, plainly highlighting a revisionary workers party supporter giving his thoughts on Hart the revisionists dream.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im not sure if Mr Fealty should draw attention to the fact that Hart was a controversial historian……”heated internet discussions”, “lift stones on darker passages” when essentially the post should concentrate on the sad fact that a man died.
    The explanations to some extent invite the kind of unfortunate commentary seen above.
    I knew Peter Hart.
    He is dead.
    Condolences to his family.
    My opinion on his work, is not valid at this time. Nor is anyone elses.

  • AlanMaskey

    Obituary columns have become competive grounds, with different papers excelling themselves in wiritng up the lives of the recently departed. The Telegraph and The Economist are particualrly good at it. However, if this is not an obituary notice, surely commenting on Hart’s revolting agenda is fair game. Just lke Britain’s sgents in West Cork were.
    I have no condolences to offer his family. Some of them might even be glad to be shot of him. I wonder how long it wil take his shoddy work to fade into obscurity.

  • I’m not going to get dragged into a row with a troll with some weird obsession that is played out across several sites whose readers have learned to ignore him, but just to clarify some points.

    Brasco is both an admitted Tory supporter and fan of Fine Gael who complains about anti-natonalism. The confusion there is highly entertaining.

    The shooting referred to was carried out by a group based mainly in Newry that has adopted a defunct name – ORM – to cover its activities. It was ascribed to this group by locals and journalists, not by the PSNI. Brasco is aware of this as it has been pointed out to him before.

    It is shameful to see a man’s tragic early death used as an excuse to maintain some fantastical vendetta. I don’t agree with Fitzjameshorse that Mick invited this sort of thing – the citation of my name was enough to provoke this pavlovian and trollish response – but certainly he is correct to say that the main now is human aspect of the untimely death of Peter Hart.

  • Mick Fealty

    Says the man with no ethics…

  • RepublicanStones

    Thoughts go out to his family. But you can’t expect a thread to remain free of criticism of his work when his work is mentioned in the thread itself.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Actually that should be “says the man who says he has no ethics”.
    I dont belong to an alleged profession which states it has ethics. 🙂

  • AlanMaskey

    There is certainly a wide and deep seated antipathy to the OIRA/SFWP. But this does not seem to extend to the Labour Party’s leaders or to Eoghan Harris who also slagged off the Republican people of Cork. Harris actually made the soupers out as the heroes even though the moral high ground was taken by those who “did not sell their souls for penny rolls”.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    To some extent we are all falling into the trap that we keep warning about.
    If Mr Fealty had merely mentioned the death of Peter Hart, it would only have had any meaning to the comparatively few people who have actually heard of him, or his work, etc.

    I suspect the description of Hart was enough to encourage people who had never heard of him to “google” his work and suddenly have an opinion..for or against. To that extent Mr Fealty was at best ill advised. He might have foreseen that.

    As I have emphasised this thread SHOULD have no place discussing Harts work. A man died. Thats enough.
    But theres a certain irony about bringing up the controversial nature of his work…..and then rounding on anyone who criticises it.
    “dont hit me….Im holding the baby”

  • Rory Carr

    I don’t understand Fitzjameshorse’s grouching. If a small description of Peter Harte’s work were to be the motive to drive people to search out more about him on Google then surely a simple unadorned statement of his death would send the curious likewise searching just to find out who the bloody hell this fellow was.

    The difficulties arise not from using the occasion of his death to renew the controversy that surrounded his work, which in itself can be seen as a form of compliment, but rather in the drive to attempt to ascribe Harte’s motivation in his use of research as partisan and even sinister, history as propaganda as it were.

    Such speculation, while not necessarily invalid, without a firm foundation to rest upon, risks being counted petty, mean and spiteful and turns itself back upon its authors. It can certainly be deemed distasteful in the immediate aftermath of Harte’s passing.

  • Mick Fealty

    It is man playing because it has nothing to do with the topic in hand, you are trying to take out a fellow contributor. Just pack it in.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    Condolences to his family. Still, I won’t miss his distorted, revisionist view of Irish history.

  • At an admiitedly quick look at his work I can only find fairly bald ststements of (appatently) facts.

    Could you outline instances where he is factually incorrect.?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Harris actually made the soupers out as the heroes even though the moral high ground was taken by those who “did not sell their souls for penny rolls”.’

    Aha th”oul moral high ground again is it ? What a load of ould cobblers . Kowtowing to paedophile bishops and priests is not the high moral ground it’s wretched subservience underwritten by fear and ignorance .

    The ‘souper ‘ myth is an old one and for the most part mostly a propaganda lie on the part of the RC Church as it did everything it could to retain it’s grip on the ‘sheep’ .

    The total number of so called ‘soupers ‘ was about 5,000 over the period 1700 through 1900 or less than onetwentieth of 1 % of all Irish RCs who lived during those two centuries .
    The many Protestants who helped to alleviate the famine by supplying people with food did not do so in return for ‘conversion’ . There was one parish in the West of Ireland which was Irish speaking and which succumbed to the proselytising efforts of a protestant missionary prior to the famine . The local RC priest was a veritable tyrant and thus probably encouraged the locals to look elsewhere for ‘christianity’. Sadly the village suffered badly during the famine and most either died or emigrated later when the famine had passed . The eh ‘triumphant’ RC establishment post the famine had cathedrals to build and the ‘soupers ‘ myth became a handy foil for the Church to use against anyone who questioned the authority of the RC Church in Ireland .

    Those days have gone and not before time !

    More importantly for todays Ireland what is the term for the millions of Irish Catholics who no longer attend Church and who are RC in nominal terms only ?

  • Framer

    A Maskey says “surely commenting on Hart’s revolting agenda is fair game. Just like Britain’s agents in West Cork were.
    I have no condolences to offer his family. Some of them might even be glad to be shot of him. I wonder how long it will take his shoddy work to fade into obscurity.”

    Sad but inevitable that people like Maskey can write things like the above – not because Peter has only just died but because it is a violent man’s fantasy.

    I doubt he has read any of Hart’s books which, even if you have difficulties with his angle or conclusions, are original, truly academic, masterly, and heartfelt.

    His enemies are reduced to picking out a couple of alleged errors in his detailing, and ignoring the breadth of his evidence and assessments.

    Just read some of the chapters in the ‘IRA at War 1916-23’ and recognise history at its readable best.

  • Alex Higgins has played his last ball; he will not be returning to the table.

  • Condolences to Mr Hart’s family, when someone dies, even if we have differed in life, I see nothing wrong with saying a pray for a man who did his duty as he saw it.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    On this particular occasion I dont think I am grouching. Be that as it may, its counter productive to labour the point as its much more important that a person died and anything else takes away from the magnitude of a comparatively young and productive life cut short.
    But for the record, I DID consider whether a vague notice of Peter Harts death would not also have sent people to a Google search. But I thought and still think that the way he was described encouraged partisanship.

  • RepublicanStones

    Sad to hear the Hurricane has blown from this mortal plain.

  • AlanMaskey

    Hurricane Higgins has also died. Higgins was a smoker and a snooker player.

  • Munsterview

    Just got the news here that Peter Hart had died, RIP.

    Sincere condolences to his family and friends. He may have been a controversial figure as far as some of his views and conclusions were concerned but among historians he was also a respected figure. I did not agree with a lot of his views but they were sincerely held and not lightly reached, he went where his researches took him and presented what he found.

    Peter did perform one very useful function in the field of Irish History in that he inadvertently played devil’s advocate and arising from this regularly send scores of people delving into libraries and other collections records to prove him wrong. Consequent to this much useful historical material is now readily accessible in the public arena and that otherwise would still be buried, unknown in archives, regarding the events that were in the eye of the storm.

    At forty six years, Peter Hart was far too young to die. We in the history community, irrespective of our views, will regret his passing and the curtailing of a fine academic record. Siochan De ar a hAnam uasal!

  • Munsterview

    Those days are long gone……?

    Earlier this year as I went through a certain University campus I see a poster up on the door of the Church Of Ireland chaplain inviting students to come in for a chat and offering a free bowl of soup to visitors!

    Here was one chaplain who obviously knew more about theology than history. I was tempted to take a some photos but behaved myself !

    Out of curiosity however I watched the reaction for about fifteen minutes or so of the passing students, about one in ten did a double take and see the funny side of it. The folk memory is still there! The incident did however give more than a few, my self included, a good laugh on a miserable day!

  • Greenflag

    Nothing like a bowl of hot soup on a miserable day 🙂 Probably one of the few practical ways left of getting young people to eh cross the threshold .It’ll take more than a bowl of soup to get many of the young people of Ireland to cross the threshold of their local RC Church . A free offering of ‘filet mignon’ or a chateaubriand might tempt some .

    Good you could laugh though – The fact that only one in ten did a double take just means that while folk memory or mythology remains it won’t stop some RC lapsed students from partaking of hot protestant soup and conviviality on a cowld winter’s day . Shure I’d have done the same meself and me with nary a religion at all at all 😉

  • Munsterview – remind me of the history of giving out soup that I’ve overlooked/forgotten? D’oh! Just read the comment before yours. Will pass the history on to the chaplains in question!

  • AlanMaskey

    Munsterview: Hart was a Stick, not a female so Siochan De ar a hAnam uasal! is not correct for at least one reason.

  • Granni Trixie

    I do not know Peter Hart or his work but agree in general that when someone dies (and in this case so relatively young) people ought to discipline themselves here and stick to the usual condolences.

    Having said this I must add that “we in the history community” concept leaves me speechless.

  • Munsterview


    You of all people speechless?

    When I take part in a history seminar or colloquium and sit around a table with twenty or twenty five others, I am regarded as just another historian and as a researcher and post Grad. In that situation I am shown the same respect as anyone else around the table as politics are secondary to our research per se, by convention the personal, political and polemic arguments are deferred for the few drinks period afterwards.

    I was one of the first in the South to leave the Sticks and left a lot of good friends behind that were much closer in politics to me than the new circles I then moved in. I have still held my friendships with my former comrades of this period as I have those in RSF since the 86 split,and republicans of all shades since the ceasfire.

    IRB rebublicanism was always about outreach and inclusion, not exclusion. That is why Childers, Casement and their kind were able to find a place in it. The fact that I have to advocate and argue such things here illustrates how far certain Rebuplican trains have run off the track!

    I equally have several personal friendships going back long years with TD,s and people in FF,FG, and Labor, as indeed I have with church people and with some guards that acted as decent human beings when our trails crossed.

    I have spend a lifetime putting a political boot into Eoghain Harris when the opportunity offered but I never once met the man over the years where we were not still able to have a good exchange and a laugh, if fact I can think of few more interesting people to pass an entertaining evening with.

    To return to the thread subject : the late Peter Hart, the academic historian had his work evaluated, peer reviewed and commented on within the same parameters that the rest of his professionals colleagues operate. In the public forum he held certain views and had reached certain conclusions that I as a Republican by personal conviction and IRB family tradition could not agree with. I have no problem what so ever, forcefully challenging these ideas and conclusions in public debate, no more than I would, and indeed have within the framework of history seminar exchanges!

    However I was always equally interested in joining people like Peter for a chat over a meal to find where their mindsets came from and as result of this I was often able to leave a far different impression of the Provos behind to that previously held. I did not know Peter personally but had I met him I would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss some of his conclusions and attitudes.

    In some of the foregoing threads postings I am reminded of Yeath’s pity comment of “much hatred, little room” and indeed his famous “you have disgraced yourselves again!” also come to mind. I will readily admit that this tolerance was not widespread in the movement during much of the current troubles, if it was perhaps things would be far different.

    I will also readily admit calling a spade a spade here on occasion and to being bluntly polemic when the argument required it. It is indeed ironic that I am now apparently castigated for advocating academic tolerance.

    The logic of some of the views expressed taken to their logical conclusion, is to pull all of Peter’s work off the shelfs and have a Hitler style book burning in Trinity front lawn. Indeed there are no doubt a few that would advocate doing it while the books are still on the shelves!

  • Granni Trixie

    I found your perspective and account of experience very illuminating. I was reminded of the validity of Benedict Andersons defination of ‘community’ as ‘a community of interests’ (ie not territory).

    In passing, ‘speechless’ was meant to be self-ironic, would be disappointed if someone didnt pick up on it.

  • Framer

    “IRB republicanism was always about outreach and inclusion, not exclusion. That is why Childers, Casement and their kind were able to find a place in it.”

    Is that why those opposed to an Easter Rising that April like Bulmer Hobson were arrested and excluded from the IRB? It did not happen to Casement who characteristically tried to get the Rising called off while bringing in arms from Germany, because he was executed first.

    Not that any of them were the slightest bit interested in accommodating or including the Unionist majority up north except by force majeure.

  • Munsterview

    Sorry, given the content of some of the postings and the fact that I was a little annoyed at not alone the ungraciousness, but downright pig ignorant of some of the contributions to Peter Hart’s passing I did not pick up ! It never ceases to surprise me that those who throw the most shapes about demanding respect from others are sometimes last to give it themselves.

    These people, thankfully a minority, are to be found in Republican circles just the same as in the OO, it is an unfortunate and unattractive human trait, unacceptable and seen for what it is unless packaged in politics or promoted under some other flag of convenience.

    Do you think that the irony of my situation do not occur to me? Inside history circles my views are known and I defend republican perspectives, yet to some republican purists I have sold out and become part of the establishment!

    The double irony in this is that most of those of my vintage that are now accusing betrayal the loudest are the same individuals that did the least, in term of promoting the republican ideal, all their lives. As one IRB American civil war veteran remarked when he returned to the US after the abortive rising, if Ireland’s cause could be fought in pubs then she had a thousand waiting battlefields!

    I guess the same guy, if around in current times, would say likewise about internet postings.

  • Munsterview

    The IRB agenda, it’s Irish operations, strategy and tactics are far too complex to try and deal with in a bland reply.

    To take the military aspect for example; at the end of the US civil war the IRB had within it’s ranks hundreds of battlefield seasoned high ranking officers, including Generals who had proven their worth. General ‘Fighting Tom’ McSweeney at one of the pivotal battles of the Civil War acted and held off a surprise rebel attack that had fallen on Shermans camp and taken the unprotected rear.

    There was only minutes to act, Sweeney did, mustered a line and held the rebels off and gave Bluel’s relief colm time to muster and halt the Southern onslaught that was depending on the element of surprise to achieve it’s objectives. Lincoln singled out this battle as one of the most crucial of the whole war.

    These men were not playing soldiers, they were soldiers, as good as Sarsfield staff or Lord Clares that carried the Fontenoy assault and decimated the crack British Column, the finest soldiers of their day…… bar the Irish Regiment that swept them off the field of course!

    Their battle plan for Ireland had every cross road, canal, bridge, river crossing etc mapped and provided for in minute detail for the Fenian Rising, that plan updated was the one for 10,000 rifles had the guns arrived. There will be some surprise when and if the IRB ever opens its archives to historians and the public.

    Like wise there was detailed cultural, social and economic plan for the country that was to drop in to place once conditions were right on the ground; the so called bungled rising was in 1916. by 1918 the IRB were able to win an election, by 1919 they had a framework governmental organization up and running under the noses of one of the most heavily policed and militarized countries in the Western World.

    By 1920 a fully operating courts system was operating…… all of these things did not just happen or fall out or the air, they were generations in the making…. by geniuses, or rather by men and women that appreciated what the Irish genius could do if it was untrammeled!

    All of this planning was concealed and implemented on a need to know basis. Once the big picture began to unfold, and in particular the International dimensions, some people either refused to go along or for other reasons were sidelined. Blumer Hobson was one such high ranking person and the reasons for his situation are far more complex than simply’ not going along with the rising’. The reasons are for another time and place.

    However in regard to Blumer Hobson do not be at all surprised if he is not again rehabilitated and given his full patriotic credit due in the not too distant future, I am aware of moves along these lines and discussions with certain sources regarding making material available to help do this.

  • Alex Greer

    I knew Peter Hart many years ago as an undergraduate at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. We were in a few history classes together. We had some heated discussions but we respected each other. His passing at a tender age of 46 shows how fragile our mortal existance. May Peter rest in peace, may his family be consoled.

  • Munsterview

    Interesting to know that Peter RIP was combative back then and that is was not the Irish environs made him so!

    Peter was too young to die, may be like John A Murphy he would have mellowed with age and he did have some intresting insights as well as perspectives.