Heaney belongs to us all

Long, long ago I shared an army helicopter with Olivia O’Leary and have thought of her affectionately ever since. Here, she pens an Irish journalist’s essay on Seamus Heaney. A tricky assignment this, as Heaney’s use of language is almost unbearably precise to us practitioners of the rougher trade.      

It is in his poems, however, that Heaney has made his most important contribution to our thinking about the North. He has helped to expand our borders and allowed us to roam in an Ireland of the imagination. In my time, our time, Heaney’s time we’ve argued constantly about Irish identity. How does the nation fit with the island, the island with the nation? It always bothered me in those debates that so many people in the Republic who took positions one way or another on Northern Ireland had no knowledge, no concept of the place.

Now that Co Derry countryside is as much part of our national imagination as is Patrick Kavanagh’s Monaghan or Yeats’s Sligo or Kate O’Brien’s Limerick or Frank O’Connor’s Cork.

It is, as it never was before, part of what we are.

“We” here being the Irish of the Republic. But there are others Olivia, northerners and even British who can stake a claim to him before he belongs to the ages. And his south Derry is of course not the only one. (I ‘m waiting for brown tourist “Heaney Country” signs just after Toome on the A6 , if they’re not there already).

For a poet who not only transcended but ducked political commitment (unlike Yeats in his eccentric fashion),  the course of Heaney’s own autobiographical poetic voyage lacked no degree of political awareness or a taste for a jolting  Troubles image right from the off.  In “Digging” “the pen is snug as a gun” before he turns to the spade; bogman remains prefigure the modern dumped body; the wartime nationalist is no mere neutral but “a double agent among the big concepts”.

For this journalist, the vivid colours of dialogue and drama cling to memory more steadfastly than the impressionism of the lyric. The deep shock of  recognition we’d never fully realised before confirmed to us that nobody will ever better capture the complexities of difference and kinship between folk like the Heaneys at home in Anahorish and those  neighbours the B man or the constable, and in Trial Runs, the  serviceman back home from war.

In a khaki shirt and brass buckled belt, a demobbed neighbour leaned against our jamb. My father jingled silver deep in both pockets. And laughed when the big clicking rosary beads were produced.

“Did they make a papish of you over there?”

“Oh damn the fear, I stole them for you Paddy, off the Pope’s dresser when his back was turned”

“You could harness a donkey with them”

Their laugher sailed above my head, a hoarse clamour, two big nervous birds dipping and lifting, making trial runs over a territory.”   

  While at the same time wondering if he was biting the hand that fed him, Heaney wrote : “My passport’s green/No glass of ours was ever raised/to toast the Queen,.” but he can handle transitions with complete ease and put others at ease with them. Only minds “open as a trap” will carp. We rely on him to soar over the cliches. For that reason I’m relieved he won’t be shoe-horned into the presidency, however established above the battle by two first rate holders of the office.  Let Seamus remain famous, but aside from celebrity or office.




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  • Seamus Heaneys name was taken in vain a few times during the “Culture After Conflict” Conference at the Ulster Museum on Wednesday.
    I couldnt help thinking what Seamus Heaney himself would have thought of the interpretation of his poetry by assorted speakers.
    “My passports green……” is one of those sentiments that puffs out the chest of northern nationalists and republicans. And a fairly direct rebuke to those who would try to claim him for God and Ulster or a wishy washy “Norn Iron”-ism.

    I can understand that unionists would hate to see him in Pheonix Park. It would be an unfortable reminder that its the place where northern nationalists look.
    For many…….Its not just about his poetic legacy.
    Most unionists would be just as loathe to see John Hume, Brian Friel, Liam Neeson or Seamus Mallon in the Park.

  • The Word

    Her article only confirms that Olivia O’Leary is a woman who really should have been in politics.

    Yes, she would have been a good woman for Phoenix Park, FJH, too. A female domain these days.

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    I suspect that most unionists don’t give a toss about Heaney, or any other of the namechecked illustrious crew, going to ‘the Park’. And they also get it that Nationalists look to Dublin, I think the ‘nationalist’ thingy might have been the giveaway.

    A Derry Wan squatting in the Vice Regal Lodge will not send us all-aquiver.

    Heaney does not “belong to us all”. He’s a Nationalist and he writes from that viewpoint. Good luck to him on that; although I imagine his motivation is not to “puff out the chest” of anyone.

  • otto

    You read a extract from a poem about the tentative but developing regard between a prod ex-soldier and a catholic nationalist and the first thing you come up with is some spite about how prods might regard a President Heaney.

    Most likely responses are, 1) Indifference (he’s a 70’s poet with a couple of comeback tours), 2) Affectionate pride (he was on the 80’s GCE syllabus for prods as well.

    “Uncomfortable reminder” – you’re kidding yourself that anyone cares where you look.

  • Hes like the Darron Gibson of Poetry.

  • Pete Baker

    ““My passports green……” is one of those sentiments that puffs out the chest of northern nationalists and republicans. And a fairly direct rebuke to those who would try to claim him for God and Ulster or a wishy washy “Norn Iron”-ism.”

    Heaney’s “My passport’s green…” line was in response to his inclusion in a collection of British Poets.

    How you ‘puff out your chest’ in response says more about you than what Heaney was saying.

    As for Olivia O’Leary’s article.

    Heaney’s poetry may have helped inform some in Ireland about his own experience. But, in terms of discussing identity in Ireland, other Northern poets have been much more provocative.

  • Indeed Bakery. Im sure youre right. But Ive always felt he has an insight into life in the North especially in South Derry.
    Sometimes I think that a poet of his stature, up to and including the Nobel Prize should have been awarded some knighthood or whatever……but he has been sadly overlooked. Maybe he just doesnt want one.
    Can you imagine the puffing out of chests of some people here if he was awarded such an honour.
    Id say it would say a lot about them too.

  • Pete Baker

    I’ll add a link to another post on Heaney’s poetry.

    And, as as I noted, Heaney himself has written

    On his refusal to lend his support to any given political cause: “Once a writer is levied or enlisted you have lost your self respect, which is a writer’s only passport to the future”.

    And from another interview with Heaney

    “Let me quote my hero, Milosz: ‘Poetry below a certain level of awareness does not interest me.’ I think there’s a problem with political poetry that is howling that it’s aware.”

    And on Czeslaw Milosz, from one of my earliest posts on Slugger

    Within characteristically dense but measured prose Heaney pays tribute to Milosz and his “wish that poetry in general should be capable of providing an elevated plane of regard” while the poet should seek to imbue the work with “awareness of the triteness and tribulations of other people’s lives [that is] needed to humanise the song”. A duality of being that Heaney identifies in Milosz’s work as “the speech of the whole man.”

    Or as Derek Mahon said

    “There was a time when people – much more English people than Irish – would ask, ‘Why don’t these Ulster poets come out more explicitly and say what they are for?’ But there is all this ambiguity. That is poetry. It is the other thing that is the other thing.”

    But I suspect much of that will be lost on many too..

    If it is lost, consider this instead – “the first step is to act with good authority by telling the truth to your own tribe”

  • granni trixie

    Like most people I greatly admire Heaney and agreed with many of the points made by Olivia O’Leary in Irish Times but surely she was OTT (sentiments with which I feel sure Heaney would agree). Lost the run of herself?

  • Pigeon Toes

    Mr Baker,
    Thank you for the link.

  • George

    Sometimes I think that a poet of his stature, up to and including the Nobel Prize should have been awarded some knighthood or whatever……but he has been sadly overlooked. Maybe he just doesnt want one.

    Sadly? But if he doesn’t want one, he can’t be awarded one and therefore can’t be overlooked.

    It’s quite funny that while you use “sadly” I’m sure there is a host of others who would happily use the word “happily” that he hasn’t been awarded a knighthood or whatever as, for them, this signifies that perhaps like the overwhelming majority of Irish citizens, Mr Heaney believes he can’t be awarded one.

    Oh the joys of the British, Irish or both enigma.

  • Well actually I was being ironic.
    Id fully expect a man of his stature to have been sounded out offered one. Or some such OBE, MBE or trinket. So the most likely scenario is that he doesnt want one.
    But actually I was wrong as was pointed out by an eagle-eyed reader. Im reliably informed that he is a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters….an honour awarded by the Republic of France.

  • juggernaut

    His passports Green?

    Just as well. shakespeare he aint.

    He got fame by being from the north during the troubles and maintained/financed it by doing Beowulf, typical. Well done him.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Heaney belongs to his home island of Ireland and only Ireland. He never made any bones about his identity.
    The GFA clarified these issues. You can be Irish, British or both if born in NI.

    Heaney has long made it clear he is Irish, full stop.

  • Brian Walker

    Seamus who is undoubtedly Irish doesn’t play the zero sum game, like some of the above. Poetry transcends, cuts across these boundaries without necessarily rejecting them – that’s what poetry does. Most commenters recognise that “poetry is indeed the “other thing”. Those who insist that an expression of identity is paramount are the losers. I’m quite sure he will be anthologised in a future edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse – “English” not being an eptithet solely related to passport holding.

  • JAH

    That Heaney is a nationalist at heart and looks to Dublin must be as shocking as Paisley being a Unionist and looking to London. The progress especially especially in the last decade is that both ideals can coexist together.

    In his Nobel speech Heaney said that the future of Ireland lay, not in the gunfire, but the hand-squeeze. Who can honestly disagree with that.

  • granni trixie

    Heaney is to be admired for showing leadership early on, articulating a Nationalist’s perspecitve whilst at the same time resisting calls to take up certain views or cause. He also conveys more nuanced understandings of ‘the situation’ here than he is often credited.

    As for Honours, my understanding is that he does not consider it appropriate to accept honours from the Queen (me too as resistence to the system). This contrasts to say Michael Longley who accepted the MBE last year.

  • Munsterview

    The closet mentality of some of the foregoing posts in regard to Heany just go to show the unchanged and unchanging mindsets in some quarters, if somebody or something has a native Irish source it is Wood Kern Culture and consequently Native and of no merit to the ‘superior planter stock’

    This attitude is prevalent from the writings of Geraldis Cambrindis on, it is to be found in Elizabethan times in Spencer’s reflections on Gaelic poetry and literature arising from his limited exploration of the subject and through the nineteenth and twentieth century in mainstream English literary criticism.

    That this Colonial Closet superior and and supercilious attitude is still common place in the Six Counties, as amply demonstrated by the limited literary efforts of wall sloganeering as frequently captured by ‘Moochin’ at the bottom end of the scale as it also is by certain posters who pride themselves in using ‘perfect Queens English’ metaphor, simile and other elegant literary devices to express what is never the less the same dismissive attitude to anything that is or can be seen as arising from Gaelic Culture.

    In relatively recent posts some energy was expended arguing over the significance of ‘St Particks Cross’ as a symbol. This same ‘St Patricks Cross’ can be found on gold disks dating from over 2,000 BC, in the National Museum. It is not as if these things were not known, over the years I have had several inept discussions with senior Free Masons on the significance of these things and where they fitted in not alone in the history of these Islands, but also into the Indo-European culture as a whole.

    I have just got off the phone with someone who read me an introduction on a proposed Doctorate thesis on the Breton Laws. These laws once recorded and reconciled to the Christian Tradition, were the regulatory mechanisms for the majority of the peoples on this Island for the next 1,100 years until Spenser, Raleigh and the rest of the so called English culture heros finally destroyed this civilization as an organized official regulatory force.

    Just as Heany, Montague and other Ulster Nationalist poets would see themselves as the proud heirs of these Ancient laws and the culture they codified, so also their dismissive detractors would see their heritage in clean lines back to those who imposed the counter Penal Laws in one last Planter effort to eradicate all visages of Gaelic culture and people from this Island.

    Thankfully, like the Spartans of old, this planter culture no longer feel it necessary ever so often ( at the current time anyway) to kill a few of what they consider the inferior underclass to keep the others of the same kind in their place, the attitudes behind this activity however ‘have not gone away you know’, or I doubt if they ever will while a minority of people on this island are given a veto over the politics and cultural expression of the majority.

    To this mentality, is not about parity of esteem. Heany may be lauded world wide as the most important poet to come out of Ireland since WB Yeats, but to this mindset he is and always will be ‘a bog poet from a bog culture’, Whether contempt is expressed with a crude, stark wall slogan or in elegant, clever English replete with simile and metaphor, the intent is the same, denigration and dismissal of the longest survival cultural continuity and civilization in Northern Europe!

  • Brian Walker

    Splendid ramble there, Munster, but don’t you neglect the startling modernity in Heaney’s bog themes?

    I should have added above, thanks Pete for your encyclopaedic contribution.

    Others, for Heaney background is a huge part of him, more so than most and so therefore is membership of a community that’ is nationalist. But he’s in no way ruled by the narrow political definition and as Pete showed,
    He abominates the zero sum game beloved of many in Slugger.

    How could it be otherwise?

    Much of his poetry is autobiographical,, intimate and universal. He’s been around a bit beyond Anahorish
    He would wince at the description but he is also a key arbiter in the Anglo-American literary estbalishment. In his writing,his world is not an Irish nationalist vision but a personal one. That’s what poets are about.

  • Brian Walker

    ..oh and I should have added, Heaney is big hearted and generous, the most immediately attractive thing about him..

    He puts most of us to shame.

  • Theres a genuine debate to be had on whether there is a loyalist culture, a nationalist culture or a genuinely “Northern Ireland” culture belonging to us all. And which one or two or any that Seamus Heaney fits. Maybe the choice is his to make for himself rather than ours to make for him.
    Philip Orr, the playwright touched on this at the Ulster Museum Conference the other day. That “loyalist culture” is sneered at as an oxymoran or perceived as “angry, marginal and embarrassing” (as he put it).
    Theres a perception that nationalists have a monopoly on Culture.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Seamus Heaney’s English teacher at St. Columb’s college said the one thing he was proud to remember was that he uniquely only ever a 100% mark to anyone in an English exam – and that was to Seamus Heaney. He did go on to say that he considered John Hume to be the best all round student he ever taught.

    When it comes to describing simple country experiences, Heaney does it better than Shakespeare. For instance when he wrote of the simple task of kneeling on the head rig of a field to cut seed potatoes in half, those of us who did the same appreciate how accurately Heaney describes the feel, texture, scent etc – in few well chosen words.

    When Shakespeare wrote: ‘There is a destiny that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we may’, apparently he was referring to the country practice of layering thorn hedges. Had Heaney written of that, he would unmistakably have described even the smell and taste of the freshly cut hawthorn.

    Ps. Much of Heaney’s later work is beyond me – but from his point of view, not too many now appreciate a poetic description of the job of taking retted flax out of a lint hole.

  • Republic of Connaught

    You’ll have to forgive me being from the west of Ireland, Mr Walker, but I don’t know what the zero sum game is. I have never met an Irish nationalist from any of the 32 counties who thinks he/she is Irish and British. Though if any Irishman lived in Britain for much of his life and felt both, like Terry Wogan, I could understand it.

    But only Unionists on this island seek to be comfortable with the dual identity, which is of course their right. But Heaney is, you’ll agree, no Unionist.

  • Brian Walker

    Connaught,The zero sum game is that my gain ( as a unionist or a nationalist) is at your expense ( as a nationalist or unionist), the game played in NI for about a century – rather than win:win, whuch is usally a compromise. The choice ought not to be “either or ” but “both” or ” as well as”, in whatever ratio you please.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Yes I understand the concept of it, Mr Walker, in relation to finding common ground in Northern Ireland but as someone from the west of Ireland I don’t agree it can apply to any Irishman except those of an Ulster Unionist background or someone with parents etc. from Britain or an Irish person that lived there for a long time.

    The Irish nation is separate to the British nation. Northern Ireland, at the moment, is indeed betwixt and between both. But if someone from Belfast chooses the British Olympic team over the Irish team then you can’t expect Irish people to regard that person as being Irish like the rest of us. Because for the vast majority of Irish people, loyalty to our own island first and foremost is paramount to our identity. Whatever loyalties people have after that, whether it be to Britain, America or indeed Israel is their own business.

  • Tweedybird

    When I read Seamus Heaney’s poetry the last thing in my mind is pigeon holing him as a nationalist or a Unionist, it is as a poet who puts so eloquently into words the memories I have of digging spuds with my dad when I was a boy, and of dad describing how he dug turf (before he went to school in the morning), in his homeland in the Sperrin mountains.

  • andnowwhat

  • andnowwhat

    Oops, I meant to add comment.

    The days when being openly nationalist are long gone. There is no contraversy in it.

  • Brian Walker

    Connaught, there are of course different sort of Irish and Heaney gets under the skin of them all through experience, observation and imagination. Inevitably he celebrates his own roots. The Belfastman Michael Longley is pretty good on the west without worrying overmuch about a neat national identity. It’s a good option for northerners with all our raw experience to reject the zero sum game and appreciate the lot, without being defined by any.

  • Turgon

    I am not especially into Heaney: I prefer Ted Hughes and others as poets – though I do like the Beowulf translation. However, surely Heaney “belongs” to no one save himself. There is a particular arrogance in saying that he is “ours” whoever “we” are. Heaney like any writer has things to say to various people.

    Although not a poet my favourite writer would probably be Samuel Beckett: a noble prize winner (like Heaney) but also a first class cricket player (mentioned in Wisden) and holder of the Croix de guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance from the French government for his work for the resistance; yet he called his involvement “Boy Scout stuff.” A man who wrote in French; was at school at Portora; taught at Campbell (calling his charges the cream of Ulster: rich and thick).

    For anyone to claim that Beckett belonged to them would be the height of folly and arrogance. Equally to claim some sort of ownership of Heaney betrays the arrogance and small minded parochialism of the one making the claim.

  • Munsterview

    Brian : ” Splendid ramble there, Munster, but don’t you neglect the startling modernity in Heaney’s bog themes? ”

    No ! I have spend many a happy day in the bog in the mid fifties when life had a more leisurely pace and it is not surprising that the bog as a place and indeed also a place apart should figure in other poets and playwrights such as Kavanagh and John B Keane as well.

    This is probably the main difference between Seamus and the late Ted Hughes who I also had the privilege of meeting a few times, there is nothing strained or awkward about the bog metaphors or description of turf cutting or other farming related activity in Heaney’s poetry, it is a natural part of what he is. Indeed he would readily take it as a complement if somebody from Gaelic culture referred to him affictionately as a ‘bog poet’

    I do not decry Ted’s sincerity about basing himself in a farming environment and engaging in farming activity for a more ‘real’ life, but unlike Heaney, it was not a natural part of what he was.

    I have crossed trails with Seamus at literary festivals down the years and like the rest of us what Seamus will say to a Gaelic culture audience, a ‘mixed’ Six County audience, to an English audience and to an International audience, is in important aspects, tailored to that audience.

    I often quote Alande of Chile when he said that ” there is no universal ideal worthy of the name that cannot be translated through the National and regional scale right down to the laving conditions of each family unit”. Many of these, what the late Peter Russell ( another claimed English Poet who had roots in Glanmire Co Cork ) once referred to in a letter to me “as those universal norms without which we cannot really live”.

    Heany has an uncanny ability to delineate the local and parochial in a way that can invoke a universal resonance. Paddy Kavanagh in his poem about a localized parochial land dispute in his last lines of this poem reminds readers that from just a local fight the Iliad was made by Homer.

    In my earlier post I referred to the Breton Laws : the debt of gratitude that we owe to Protestants such as Bishop Graves and his son Alfred for the work that they did in preserving and opening up a re-appreciation of this and other aspects of Irish culture, is incalculable. As I have posted and indeed lectured elsewhere, until there is a reclaiming of these people by their own culture and an a new appreciation of what they were about, our perception of what is ‘native’ culture will remain lopsided.

    It is ironic that some of the scholarship and literature rejected by elements of Unionism is in fact a rightful part o this Protestant Cultural tradition. Protestants and Planter Stock do not have to invent a cultural place for themselves in this island as is often suggested, all they have to do is reclaim that of their own appropriated by an exclusive and excluding narrow Roman Catholic tradition.

  • granni trixie

    Becket is a favourite of mine too – mainly because of his mastery of the absurd. I feel sure that living in NI has given me an intensified appreciation of the absurd (‘you couldn’t make it up’ so often come to mind’).

  • Skinner

    Excellent thread, this. At my ‘prod’ grammar we studied Heaney and I never felt any strong political direction from it. I found common ground with him in his protrayal of rural life and being of and from the land. It’s something many rural unionists can identify with – the slight tension between the townies and the culchies is sometimes as strong as the broader national idenitity. But sometimes I feel there is a perception that unionists somehow don’t have an affection for the land on which they live; that they are unsettled, having blew-in. I think the perception may have its roots in a nationalist view that unionists do not respect the land since they have crudely appropriated it. Well the affiliation that the rural unionists at my school had with Heaney dispells that notion. It is a love of Ireland – and the bog – that keeps the unionist pilot light lit. Heaney articulates a passion inherent in unionism as much as nationalism.

  • Munsterview

    Skinner : ” But sometimes I feel there is a perception that unionists somehow don’t have an affection for the land on which they live; that they are unsettled, having blew-in…..”

    One of the problems of the turmoil of the War of Independence and the preceding Land War is that not just physical bridges were destroyed but cultural,historical and other bridges also. Any true scholar or student of Irish history will know, while some of the landed gentry did regard their estates as just an exploitable resource, their Protestant tenants and those of the support infrastructure were a different proposition. In face the whole popular Antiquarian Movement that began the recovery process of Ireland’s historic past came almost exclusively from this background.

    Up to 1918 /19, it was quite common for Southern Unionists who had sons and relatives in the First WW to entertain officers and NCO to their homes : following the excesses of the Auxies and Tans since these same sources regarded these people as ‘ Our Army’ they became some of the most strident critics of British Army behavior and government policy, as a perusal of the letter pages of the newspapers of the day will show.

    Most people from this background did not just cease to support the Crown Forces, they also fully embraced Independence and all it entailed. Save for Church of Ireland related activities, they were careful of cultural expression, not out of fear but out of shame as expressions of cultural identity resonated with recent British Army activity and consequently the misdeeds of Plantations.

    In the North this was compounded in the Unionist side by the few thousand that went North as they could not get their heads around any part of Ireland without a Crown. Some of our generation from this background have surfaced here in Slugger still embittered against the ‘Free State’ Their bitter input contributed a further sour note to Northern Unionism.

    I welcome all these commemorations coming up, it will be, if properly availed of, an opportunity for an honest reassessment of our historical past and leave the cards fall where they will. The IRB have records from it’s foundation and if these are made available to scholars it will be quickly seen that one of the driving forces of revolution was a protestant / planter stock influence.

    Unfortunately history belongs to the victor and the victor will never be asked if they told the truth. After every Rebellion and uprising the insurrection survivors were driven out, hence this radical Protestant Republican voice, such as that of Robert Emmett’s relatives from 98, 47, 67 is mainly to be found in the US and to a lesser extent in the Continent where they have become fully assimilated.

    Tho the student of history also, there is no surprise in the fact that Heaney’s poetry should resonate outside his own community as the values espoused are universal. However just as Heany has in some respects held up an unflattering mirror to his own community, Northern Protestants will also find some disquieting things there.

    It is good that this should be so, this is one of the functions of a true poet, to leave unsettlement and disruption in his or her wake !

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    For however long I live I believe I will never cease being amazed at the delusions that feed the Irish Republican psyche. For any rational (aye, there’s the rub) individual to claim that southern Protestants were “careful of cultural expression, not out of fear but out of shame as expressions of cultural identity resonated with recent British Army activity and consequently the misdeeds of Plantations” is worthy of being engraved in stone in some public space for future generations to marvel at.

    It is interesting to note that this preposterous view emanates from Munster. The open murder of Protestants in Bandon, Dunmanway, Clonakilty amongst many other places that resulted in Protestants evacuating to safety in Northern Ireland and beyond must seem a strange reward for “embracing” Independence to saner folk. And a pretty clear indication of “fear”, and rightly so.

    Nor were such ‘rewards’ confined to Cork and the West. My own relative, a retired CofI clergyman was ‘visited’ by Irish Republicans masquerading as British soldiers at his home in Cavan. He provided them with food and was then taken from the house and knifed to death in the garden.

    If men are from Mars and women from Venus Irish Republicans must truly be from a galaxy far, far away.

  • Munsterview

    Too late to-night to go into this subject in detail, just in from a 440 mile return trip to the North!

    I have gone into some of the specifics of this on previous posts and as my comment was in general I do not want to go off thread. However consider this, while some protestants closely associated with Crown Forces left or were intimidated from the Free State, during and post the Second Defense of the Republic thousands of Republican activists were also driven from their own country, some ironically to England and most to America.

    This practice of Free State oppression of Republicans continued right up to Devs accession to power in 1932, while the intimidation of former Crown forces and supporters started and ended within a six to eight week period.

    Given the traditional historical attitude of these Crown supporters to and their treatment of the dispossessed Irish and their continuing actions against those seeking Independence right through the war, the killings and intimidateions that followed were very low numbers indeed compare to say the score settling that went on in France post liberation twenty five years later.

    Hopefully in the more detached attitudes of the commemorations coming up there can be a more rational examination of these events and true facts established in academic circles whatever of popular opinion and street culture.

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    From boy scouts to pensioners they deserved it. Nice. No surprise there then. Irish Republicans really are a breed apart.

  • Munsterview

    And the minority segment of the Irish population that acted as enforcers for whatever misery and oppression Dublin Castle see fit to dish out to the Majority of the Irish people generation after generation should have completely escaped retribution ? Burntollet bridge is a fine example of how this mentality was still prevalent as far as [peaceful protest went as late as 1969 !