More on the trend of reconciliation in the decade of commemoration


Stephen Collins writes in the Irish Times:


So far the decade of commemoration for the great events spanning the 1912 to 1922 period that led to Irish independence has been marked in a similar spirit or reconciliation and compromise.

The tens of thousands of Irish men who fought in the first World War have finally received due recognition and the State has even given formal recognition to the Ulster Volunteers, whose entire purpose was to block independence.

However, there is one hurdle that official Ireland still has to cross. That is some form of acknowledgement for the policemen of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police who guarded the people of this island for almost a century

Not that decisions about commemorations are always easy.   A planning decision on how better to mark the site of the Kilmichael ambush prompted  the latest contribution  by Michael Clifford in the Examiner.

An architect employed by the West Cork Development Project did suggest that a replica of the 1920 Crossley Tender vehicle be included at the site to reference the British troops, but both us and the Kilmichael and Crossbarry Committee met and both said that we would not accept it

History records that violence was ultimately required to break free from the colonial power. But there is a big difference in commemorating the sacrifices, and glorifying military victories.

Ah but was violence really necessary?   This might be the next bridge to cross  – but  a bridge too far perhaps?

An interesting  comment  on the piece posted by Mick Dolan.

  • The site of the Kilmichael ambush is already well marked with a monument to the dead IRA men and a stone referring the dead British as “terrorists”. I was there recently and the planning application indicated the building of walkways, which would be no bad thing as this would allow people access to the positions occupied by the IRA ambushers. It’s a pity that the developers aren’t mature enough to commemorate the dead Auxiliaries on the site. I believe there is a commemorative plaque to them in a church in Macroom. One of them who survived the ambush but was subsequently captured and killed by the IRA is buried in Inchigeela. Commemorating the dead enemies of the IRA might be a good idea, country wide but in a country which refused to honour the National Army dead of the Civil war, it seems unlikely to happen. Identifying the opposition in the War of Independence might also highlight the embarrassing fact that a sizeable proportion were Irish.


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  • socaire

    News to me! I thought that only 26 counties gained their ‘independence’? …………….” that led to Irish independence”

  • Rory Carr

    We should, of course always pray for our enemies, but that is not to say that we should pray for the success of their intentions, a course which in many cases would prove to be quite suicidal. The problem with raising commemorative emblems to the DMP and the RIC is that the reality of these forces was not that they “ guarded the people of this island for almost a century,.” but rather that they guarded against the people of this island for that same period.

    Their function was to further and protect the intersts and property of the English occupiers of Irish land and the interests of capital (of whatever source) against the intersts of the Irish peasantry and working class. Let those whom they served remember and honour the performance of their tasks but, please, do not ask those they helped keep in misery to do the same.

  • FDM

    Oh but the IRA were different back then…

  • antamadan

    I’m all for inclusiveness, but if southerners are honouring those that joined the British army, and those that guarded Ireland from revolt, then I think we would have to go one step further.

    I would like to commemorate all those RIC men that left the force after the 1919 election was won by Sinn Féin and the first Dáil was founded, and Collins told them to leave. A lot more left in disgust at British actions during the War of Indepence also.

    In addition, I would like to commemorate all those who went hungry rather than join the British Army to keep down the Africans and the Asians in the British Empire.

  • Gopher

    It is with a certain degree of incredulity that I read editorials and columns pondering how to celebrate centenary events in 2013. Not mentioning the rich tapestry of events that have already past us by in the story of our people that should have woven into the upcoming events because we are rabbits caught in century old headlights by the historically subjective, we can only look on with a selective voyeurism at Kilmainham jail and the Somme. We certainly missed a collective trick there airbrushing titans and small folk out of history here and there because they can’t be crowbarred into our a la cartre celebrations and commemorations.

    It alway struck me that the most visited grave by Allied ex Servicemen during the 50 year Normandy commemorations was that of an SS officer. Go figure. I am positive that the RN and German Navy will collectively lay wreaths over Dogger Bank and Jutland waters despite indiscriminate shore bombardments of coastal towns in North east England and the starvation of Germany out WWI by the RN. I am also sure UK, Irish, Australian New Zealand tourists will be welcomed with open arms in Turkey in 2015. Outside of Ireland I kinda think every one gets the point of laying wreaths on the Somme, I don’t think any editorials will be required.

  • Reader

    Rory Carr: Their function was to further and protect the intersts and property of the English occupiers of Irish land
    Do you expect the police in London to protect the interests and property of Irish occupiers of English land? If you get robbed, who are you going to call?

  • Rory Carr

    I think, Reader, you will find that the Irish in England purchased any land they hold whereas Irish land was simply stolen by English invaders.