After Dresden: New Play Explores Inspiration around the Founding of the Corrymeela Community

after dresdenAfter Dresden, a new play written by Philip Orr, explores the tragedy of the Second World War and how that in part inspired the foundation of the Corrymeela Community.

It will be performed by the Belvoir Players, 30 April-2 May at 8 pm (2.00 p.m. matinee on Sat 2nd), at their Studio Theatre, 94 Belvoir Drive.  Tickets are £9 (£7 concession) and can be purchased online at or by ringing 028 9049 1210.  Reduced rates are available for parties of 10 or more.

The play is based on the prisoner of war diaries of Rev Ray Davey, who served as a British Army Chaplain during the war. He was imprisoned near Dresden, where the bombing of the city made a formative impression on him. He drew on that experience when establishing Corrymeela during the time he was a Presbyterian chaplain at Queen’s University Belfast. Orr said:

‘Few people realise that the origins of the Corrymeela Community can be traced not to the start of the Troubles – Corrymeela was actually set up before the Troubles in 1965 – but to Ray Davey’s experiences during the Second World War. The horror and suffering of Dresden impressed upon him the futility of war, violence and division.’

Davey’s wartime experience of helping to establish a YMCA centre in Tobruk, Italy, for all faiths was also important for the foundation of Corrymeela. As Davey wrote in his 1993 book, Channel of Peace (p. 34):

‘The experience of the YMCA Centre in Tobruk has remained with me as a prototype of a meaningful Christian Community. It was located right at the place where life was lived in all its wartime pain, frustration and uncertainty. It was at the point where the need was the greatest, where so many young men from so many different countries were, in their suffering and sacrifice, paying the price that is demanded when the nations can find no other way of settling their conflicts. It seemed to me a blood sacrifice they were asked to pay for all the greed and pride of the most wealthy and cultured nations in the world.’

Davey also was inspired by the ecumenical Agape Community in Italy during the war.

While the play is based on Davey’s diaries, it is a fictionalised account, with Davey’s character going by the name of Tom Moore. It features the war years of 1944-1945, but we also see Tom as an older man, facing an unexpected encounter with a younger woman whose life was damaged by the Troubles and who unfolds her story, looking for his help. Orr said:

‘Together the central characters ask each other the painful questions – Is forgiveness possible? How does reconciliation happen? And can we ever recover the truth about the past? It is more important than ever that we address these themes, in a society that still has not healed.’

Orr is a historian whose books include the acclaimed The Road to the Somme: Men of the Ulster Division Tell Their Story. He was also co-author, with Alan McGuckian, of the play ‘1912: A Hundred Years On,’ commissioned by the Centre for Contemporary Christianity.

The Belvoir players are one of Ireland’s leading amateur theatre companies and operate from their own modern, custom built 200-seat Studio Theatre at Belvoir Estate, Belfast.  The play will be directed by Trevor Gill who recently directed an acclaimed abridged version of ‘Hamlet.’ The production was supported by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘Open Stages’ initiative.  Gill said:

‘We are very pleased to be able to stage a new play by a local author.  Philip Orr has done an excellent job in relating events which happened during WW2 to the challenges faced by Northern Ireland society today.  We feel that audiences will be both challenged and entertained by the production.’


  • Turgon

    Dresden is one of the closest German cities to Auschwitz (less than 500km by road). Whilst those who fought in the Second World War like Davy’s opinions should be respected his is very much a minority view.

    The “futility of war, violence and division.” may well be true but the Red Army liberating Auschwitz was far from futile. By helping fight the Nazis the young men of Bomber Command’s sacrifice was not futile either whatever the revisionists of the 1970s and 1980s might claim. 55,000 of them never came home and they deserve to be remembered with honour.

  • Nevin

    and yet, Turgon, the bombing appears to have contained an anti-USSR message:

    “Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany and not much smaller than Manchester, is also far the largest unbombed built-up the enemy has got. In the midst of winter with refugees pouring westwards and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium. The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most, behind an already partially collapsed front, to prevent the use of the city in the way of further advance, and incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do.”

    RAF January 1945 .. source

    I count it a privilege to have had Ray not only as a friend but also as a source of inspiration; sadly, Northern Ireland has been lacking in such positive role models.

  • Turgon

    Citing a children’s school work website is a bit weak. The Russians wanted the RAF to keep bombing: it reduced their casualties; they were hardly likely to ask the British to stop attacking their mutual enemies. As I said above the 1970s and 1980s apologetic revisionism has itself largely now been revised and indeed discounted.

    Remember the chief cheerleader of the “Dresden was a war crime” lie was Holocaust denier David Irving. Also worth noting that the main proponents of that lie now are German Neo Nazis. The anti Nazi groups all approve of what happened.

    As to Ray Davey he was entirely entitled to his opinions. He was there: but so were lots of people who agreed with what happened. His views on Dresden and indeed Northern Ireland seem honest, decent but fundamentally very simplistic and naive.

  • Nevin

    Turgon, the main theme of the article is the foundation of Corrymeela fifty years ago; Dresden was just one of the influences on those who founded the Corrymeela Community. I’d have thought that the Iona Community was probably the most influential:

    At Queen’s, Davey created a community of Christians, not just Presbyterians, a truly ecumenical community. McCreary writes, “This was a considerable achievement in Northern Ireland which was still suffering deeply from religious and political apartheid. It was no surprise that the seeds of a wider religious community developed from the experience at Queen’s, and that some of the other main Corrymeela visionaries had learned a great deal as undergraduates, and later graduates, of the university.” (p. 19)

    In 1964 two other Presbyterian ministers, Rev. John Morrow (who would succeed Davey as Corrymeela Leader) and Rev. Alex Watson met with Davey. Both men were members of the Iona Community and were deeply influenced by the leadership of Rev. George MacLeod and the practicalities of the Iona Community, combined with its renewed sense of worship and common life. Subsequent to that meeting, another meeting took place with over 50 people from very diverse backgrounds. McCreary writes, “There was an impetus for a Christian Community, but not yet sufficient consensus as to what shape it should take.” (p.21) The group included people who were familiar with Iona, but had also visited Taize in France and Agape in Italy.

    Each of these communities were seen as having strong elements of a desired Christian community – Iona, for its central philosophy that God was concerned about the totality of life, and not just the spiritual side; Taize, for its strong spiritual base, and the Youth Village of Agape, in the Italian Alps, with Pastor Tullio Vinay. Vinay advocated that a Christian community must incarnate the problems, the difficulties of men, be they hunger or unemployment in order to bring them the message of the Kingdom of Christ which is a message of reconciliation, of service and of love. .. source

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘school’s work website’.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    No Turgon, the people of Dresden did not deserve what they got because of their (eh ….apparent?) proximity to Auschwitz/Oswiecim. Whilst it may have made strategic sense in terms of hindering a retreat, many victories in war are dity victories and this was one of them.

  • Turgon

    Yep Neo Nazi propaganda strikes again. As a hint look at the Germans decrying Bomber Command’s victories: neo Nazis. Then look at those saying it was necessary and right: anti Nazis.


  • SeaanUiNeill

    Perhaps citing the Hague Convention might answer the intial weakness of “citing a children’s school work”.

    The Hague Conventions were the foundation upon which the legitimacy of the Nurenburg Trials was based, using the fact that the conventions were “recognised by all civilised nations and were regarded as declaratory of the laws and customs of war.”

    The aerial bombardmnet attack on Dresden, a quintisentially non-military “Cultural” target noted only for its employemnt at this date as a refudge for 300,000 civilian refugees from the Russian advance, seriously controvened the Hague Draft Rules of Air Warfare of 1922–1923 which agreed that only military targets in actual fighting zones should be bombed legitimately. Viewed in this light the entire carpet bombing campaign of civilian targets was a war crime, but within months of an obvious the end of the war in Europe this ariel assault on refugees was a particularly unjustifiable extention of the allies “terror bombing” policy.

    Mentioning David Irving is a red herring. The case against the bombing of Dresden does not rely on Irving’s book, but on Britian’s clear and blatent controvention of international agreemets they would later draw on to punish German war crimes. Serious non-right wingers such as, for example, Gregory Staunton, the founder of “Genocide watch” ( are amongst those with unimpeachable status who have described the bombing as a war crime.

    Of course a lot of people “agreed with what happened”, just as any number of people might have excused the holocaust had Germany won the war. I doubt that many under the bombs, those who were actually “there”, were agreeing with what happened.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Hardly Neo Nazi propaganda to speak for humanity. Surely Ray Davies’ point about the futility of war, violence and division is that much of it can be avoided if we look for the causes of war as opposed to its execution.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Many British officers who respected the Hague Conventions believed that Harris’s carpet bombing campaign was an atrocity. At least one of the officers commanding the ack ack defences of Belfast, my own grandfather, seriously held such views and told me that most of his friends who had survived the Great war, some of whom were also engaged in the defence of Belfast, felt similarly.

    Another unrecognised connection, here. My uncle frequently told me during the troubles that “my father would have traced the IRA’s belief in the legitimacy of bombing civilian targets back to Harris’s Bomber Command policies.” Mind you, he was in Bomber Command and held different views about the policy, I frequently heard father and son argue while I was growing up in the 1950s.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you, Nevin, for such a clear description of the wider background to Corrymeela. My grandfather, a soldier and what used to be called a Christian gentleman, believed that there are many things in which following the war aims of ones country and Christian morality cannot be reconciled by anyone who does not posess a flexible conscience.

  • Turgon

    Describing what had become the main command and control, maintenance, transport, supply and even manufacture hub for German Army Group Central (70% of its industry directly war related) as a “cultural” target is standard Neo Nazi stuff: what I would expect from yourself.

  • Turgon

    “the futility of war, violence and division is that much of it can be avoided if we look for the causes of war as opposed to its execution.”

    Yes had Corrymeela been there in 1939 Hitler would not have invaded Poland.

  • Turgon

    “At least one of the officers commanding the ack ack defences of Belfast, my own grandfather, seriously held such views”

    Is there a single member of your family who has not been important, senior etc.? Or is this “Relational Walter Mitty syndrome”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Dresden has been so described (as a Cultural centre) by many liberal sources, and with considerable justification. The notion of a “hub” for what was a collapsing front is both bizarre and if it were not so tragic, laughable. But I seriously ask, do you contend that the bombing of Dresden did not contravene the Hague Conventions? This is the real issue, was Britain guilty of a war crime in the carpet bombing of refugees in order to experiment with the technique of fire-bombing before the opportunity was no longer available?

    Morality cuts both ways, and I do not select which civilian murders might just have been “justified”, I condemn all atrocity by whatever party unreservedly. I cannot even begin to imagine how any moral person might even begin to consider which war crimes they might approve of and which they might condemn.

  • Turgon

    Describing what had become the main command and control, transport and manufacturing centre for Army Group North as “cultural” is a piece of neo Nazi revisionism.

    Army Group North surrendered not long after the Dresden attack. Probably their surrender was in part caused by the destruction of their supply, coordination and manufacturing base. Hence, in reality Dresden probably saved many lives.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Turgon, I repeat what I heard as a child and adolesent. Quite a few readers of Slugger who know me personally could verify the truth of my family and its links. I should add that I met many men who had been in Bomber Command, and while I follow my grandfather’s views on this in my own life-long pacifism, I do not question the sacrifice and courage of these men. While I was in England, living at Old Windsor, I visited their striking memoral on the hill over Runnymede often, finding its great walls with the names of young airmen a profound and moving experience. It is Harris and Churchill I condemn, not those valiant men who were, in my opinion, co-suffers with the German victims.

    But the real issue underneath my own family reminisences is the point that many on the home front were all too aware that Britain was at variance with the Hague Conventions in its bombing campaign, one morality for the Germans, another for ourselves.

    Turning to personal issues without answering these more objective points is simply “man playing.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    One used by most writers on the Dresden bombing, it seems. The town was generally considered as a non target, as Oxford, a similar UK town had been considered, despite the important Cowley works. I would recommend reading Gregory Staunton’s views, I doubt that anyone reasonable would accuse him of being a neo-nazi revisionist.

  • Turgon

    Man playing is something you have frequently done against me. On this site one’s views stand or fall on their own merits. An appeal to distant ancestors (or anyone else) to bolster one’s own opinions on an internet debating site is fundamentally pretty weak. This is especially so when it is an appeal to a disembodied, unchallengable and uncheckable authority. Best to stick to one’s own opinions or published information.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I mention the anecdotal material just in passing, for historical colour, as I usually do in the talks I give elsewhere. I would feel that the simple fact that Dresden was clearly a war crime in its blatent contravention of those very agreements that the Nazis themselves were hanged for contravening is the actual arguement.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Something you have frequently done against me.”

    No, not against you, I do not know you. I argue against points you raise, without any personal rancor.

  • Nevin

    “the origins of the Corrymeela Community can be traced not to the start of the Troubles – Corrymeela was actually set up before the Troubles in 1965 – but to Ray Davey’s experiences during the Second World War.” .. Philip Orr

    Ray Davey in ‘An Unfinished Journey’ [1986] describes the beginnings of Corrymeela:

    There was an awareness of a need that in this deeply polarised society some initiative should be taken to bring people together. That awareness was heightened by seeing how groups of young people in other places were trying to face similar needs and the certainty that something very worthwhile could begin to happen. The early sixties were times of listening and learning ‘to discern the signs of the times’ and the later sixties of commitment to the journey for peace.

    There are several things that I specially remember about those pioneering days. First a vivid sense of the place – Corrymeela. What a delectable setting and already tailor-made for what we proposed to do there. Then all the enthusiasm and energy of those who were prepared to come and give their time and skill to putting it in order. Those early work camps created a dynamic that lives on. Nor will any of us forget Billy McAllister who was surely sent to us for such a time. Finally the visit of Tulio Vinay for the opening somehow articulated and clarified what it all meant.

    This is followed by a contribution from John Morrow about the influence of Iona and one by Ray about his 1952 visit to Agape in Italy:

    A new approach emerged in the post-war generation. It was not enough to discuss social and political issues, there had to be involvement and action. .. You can imagine what a challenge this experience was to us from Northern Ireland. It forced us to begin to look at our own situation in a new light and also begin to ask questions about so much we had accepted without hesitation. There was also the other question. Could we not initiate an Irish Agape?

    Orr’s title begins ‘After Dresden’ but this has led to a focus on Dresden – a place not mentioned by Ray in the opening chapters of this 1986 book about the formation of Corrymeela.

  • Turgon

    Nonsense. You frequently speculate on my motivations, my background, why I say things etc. rather than what I say: despite indeed not knowing me.

    I am afraid suggesting that you do not hold personal rancour towards me is somewhat difficult to believe in view of some of your comments.

    To be honest it might be best if you avoid answering my comments and in turn I would avoid answering yours. They add little to the debate. That would also avoid any problem with rancour. Studied avoidance and disinterest might be an honourable compromise: What say ye?

  • Nevin

    “It is more important than ever that we address these themes, in a society that still has not healed” .. Philip Orr

    Story-telling has been part of the Corrymeela experience but it’s probably been at its most effective in informal settings such as work-camps and washing dishes rather than in structured discussion groups.

    The continuing constitutional tussle pretty well nullifies the best efforts of those who promote co-operative enterprise as experienced by those who’ve been through a range of Corrymeela programmes or who’d taken part in JCSS projects.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Interesting take from Richard Overy on the bombing campaign in this book review:
    It was horrific and quite possibly over the top; but there’s a real danger in trying to isolate the bombing of Dresden, or indeed the bombing campaign in general, from the war of which it was a part.

    Around 60 million people were killed globally in a war driven by German and Japanese expansionism. By 1942 you had two military superpowers led by fanatics in seemingly impregnable positions, who were not going to stop until utterly defeated. For Britain and many other countries, this was a war of national survival and we came very close to going under. The argument goes that by the time of early 1945 Germany (and Japan) were finished. But the speed with which they could be brought to surrender mattered greatly, brutal though the maths are, in terms of how many people would die in the war. Finishing the war quickly was a legitimate war aim, the cold logic being that mass killing in one place would prevent mass killing to the power of 3 in other places.

    Indiscriminate civilian bombing though was wrong and it’s not how we should ever do war again. But let’s judge the bombings in their historical context. There were some grotesque choices forced upon the Allies by the nature of the Nazi tyranny in Europe. Perhaps we are unrealistic if we imagine it could have been ended more cleanly.

  • Nevin

    The website is merely the location of the RAF quote, Turgon.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    After Mick’s comments about man playing on a recent thread I have been scrupulously vetting my comments for any such trends, particularly in any thread where we are both present. I genuinely believe that I do not hold any rancour against you, but have robustly argued against views I feel require answering. After all, it is attitudes and ideas that are being discussed!

    Speaking of our exchanges, you say “They add little to the debate”. On the contrary, in this debate, at any rate, the issue of Britain’s culpability for war crimes was not raised in any serious detail by any other party, and I feel that raising this matter is a most serious issue in the debate. Certianly silencing this, the true meat of the issue discussed, would be unforgivable. I feel that points I may have raised in some of your postings, such as the inside back-story for tragic Sir Norman Stronge’s brutal murder, open up areas that no one else on Slugger would perhaps even know of. To expect that “first into a thread” excludes comments by another on issues where they have important things to say is rather unrealistic, I feel.

    As a counter-proposal to the self-denying ordinance you suggest, I’d recommend that perhaps we both simply start again from a position of mutual respect. In future we should answer one another as carefully and objectively, and as respectfully as we may endeavour . I genuinely value both your large and smaller postings, just as I would value Nevin’s excellent and informative work. And he is someone I’ve perhaps been too hot with in debate at some points while at other times I have unreservedly praised him.

    I have close family who would agree with you on many things, people I love and respect, and whose sincere opinions I highly value. I am genuinely and honestly concerned that the case for the Union is strongly and fairly presented on these threads, and your contributions over some time have been a strong backbone in this very important work. But just as I would not wish those commending any perhaps faulted Nationalist case should go unanswered, so I would wish that the strongest arguments should be made “at the ball” on all themes by anyone, anywhere on Slugger who should have intelligent comment to make. I am genuinely interested in much of what you say, both pro and contra, but unfortunately suffer from what Pope’s line describes:

    “Unhappy I, who can’t be silent and who will not lie.”

    My broad and occasionally bizarre life experiences, and those of my extended family, have brought me into contact with any number of things that I feel add to general information on quite a few Slugger threads, it is a pity that, in past exchanges, I may have been a little too joshing in my comments, it is a big fault of my “privileged” and rather brutalised class, alas! And where we are discussing issues over an anonymous medium, speculating on one another’s unmentioned thoughts and motives is all too easily something we fall into. In this I’m attempting to be as rigorous as I may in excluding all such speculations.

    If you feel that this objectivity and respect is something we will not achieve, I’ll willingly review all of this. Certainly, if you wish me to avoid comment where you have made a lead posting, I can just about see your sensitivity issues, perhaps. But please, in the interests of those who may be helped by those points each of us may raise in honest debate, rather than a sterile avoidance let us make a new and highly respectful start.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The problem was the “pick and mix” nature of Britain’s use of the Haig Conventions. If German atrocity in contravention of the Hague agreements was as culpable as the Nurenberg Trials showed, and I think any decent person thinks it was, then the systematic terror bombing of civilians was just as culpable, for the very same reasons. Once you begin to speak of the need to drop morality to beat the Nazi beast, then you open the door to similar argument by the Germans, and incidentally, by PIRA and their own “terror bombing” campaign.

    If it is only relative values we are employing, then sophistry can twist justification to fit any case. My own feelings are that the amoralism engendered by a post WWI “need” to not be outdone by Felix Dzerzhinsky and the BolsheviKs has debauched much of the political morality of every polity since that date. Simply because they are effective, this does not make these arguments of expediency in any way morally right.

  • Turgon

    I had hoped you would simply stop replying to my comments not avoid commenting on a thread I was on. That was as long a No as I have read in a while and there was a remarkable amount of man playing of me in it. I guess it is business as usual.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, Turgon, all I’m attempting to explain is that as long as we both attempt to behave as adults, we should be able to debate points. Surely you cannot be saying that when you present a point, it may not be discussed in a respectful and honest manner?

    Seemingly, you appear to be asking me to simply give your opinions on every thread on Slugger an open, unopposed field of play. I’d always assumed that the entire point of Slugger was to debate, “a la outrance”, but respectfully those points of contention between the differing opinions in the province. The entire point of the site would be lost if proper debate is discouraged and if important issues are entirely obscured by self-censorship.

    However, I will do my utmost in future postings to respectfully continue avoid anything that may be construed as speculative regarding your personal opinions or motives.

  • Turgon

    You comment on a very large number of the comments I make: always to disparage frequently in an insulting and man playing fashion. I simply do not see you as respectful or honest.

    Very rarely do I spontaneously reply to you. Indeed I can happily agree never to reply to a comment from yourself which was not initially directed at me. Unfortunately you cannot agree to such simple courtesy.

    I see no point in continuing this appeal to your better nature. I can assure you I will endeavour not to initiate discussion with you. That you insist on stalking me is a matter for yourself (and where necessary the moderators).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Turgon, I’ve just checked my disqus cache and find that I have not replied to your comments to any greater extent to my responses to, say, Morpheus, Robin Keogh or Am Ghobsmacht.

    This is the very first time any poster on Slugger, or any other site for that matter, has at any time accused me of “Stalking” or “Trolling” them. I am entirely at a loss to see how what I am doing differs from what everyone else on the threads do in discussions with one another, except perhaps that I may at times be raising issues you do not wish to argue, or may not be able to answer. That and perhaps my habits of flippancy, a hangover of a career in media, where joshing and levity is pretty much a norm.

    I will endeavour to avoid direct comments on your postings in future.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It is a genuinely difficult one morally – similar to Hiroshima – is it right to take 100,000 lives to save a million? We’re back to the “trolley problem” here ( and it’s at least arguable on a utilitarian basis it’s right to take life in that kind of situation. The problem for the bombing of Dresden is that there may well have been another choice. However, the problem for those advocating not bombing German cities for fear of civilian casualties could have been the lengthening of a war in which even more civilians would have been killed (the Nazis were of course killing tens of thousands per day in Auschwitz, Sobibor etc). Who knows what was the right thing to do in the circumstances – an almost impossible judgment. But for sure there must have been ways of reducing civilian casualties that were not taken in the fog of war (and out of misplaced vengeance).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    BETF, some of us have had a life! And have known people who played some part in the history of this place, and are writing it today. Would it not be better for everyone if you might find it in you to actually comment on the serious points I’m raising rather than simply attempting to diss comments made entirely in good faith? Nothing I’m saying is in any way shooting a line, simply an interesting family background and some time out there in the big real world, after being warned to get well out of the country (warned oh so politely!) by “friends” of my grandfather’s old army chum Ronnie Bunting Senior. Perhaps without that I’d never have ended up in film! But I see that the attempts at silencing opposition and the low level intimidation never ends.

    My only concern here is that serious issues are seriously and honestly aired, with a little personal historical detail thrown in for “colour”. Sure, I get anecdotal, but it all checks out.

    Oh, for the record, quite a few people, even those without Irish ancestry learn Irish in California, even in the film world. The local term (gleaned from Anthropology) is “Cardiacal Celts”, those who are Celts not in the blood but in their hearts. I think it’s all rather sweet !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed it is, Morpheus! My worry is that instead of getting answers on the point about the culpability of Britain under the Hague Convention for war crimes regarding Dresden, I’m met with requests to effectivly shut up.

    The problem is that over on the “Natalie Bennett” thread a fortnight back comments of mine were removed where I’d remarked on (possibly) being blanked rather than answered, so I have concerns about where this may all lead. You may say “it’s there to be dissected in any way you see fit” but when what look to me to be quite innocuous comments (they mentioned respect for his work, yes, but were not abusive in any way to my eye) are successfully pulled I begin to wonder just how long will it be before there is a request made to adjudication to simply have me banned over these “stalking” claims. I’m heartily sick of the whole thing, and where it not for the outragious claims being made about something I passionately believe to be a war crime, I’d very willingly bow out of this.

    For my own part I’ve been reluctant to do more than just answer what I’ve felt have been abusive responses and clear “man playing ” against my own comments by a range of other posters disagreeing with me, believing that such comments simply require clear organised answers. But I can see that others may be far less concerned to provide answers and may desire to make their points without challenge.

    Are you suggesting I should continue responding to these points? It would have been my own instinct, and as after checking back I note that no one else seems to be bringing up those points I’ve been highlighting in reply to such postings, so I am concerned about the possible recourse to these terms “troll” and “man playing” to simply censor unanswerable points raised. Do you think that perhaps I’m simply being frog marched away from commenting in this instance? I’d really value serious feedback……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As Yeats said, the individuals involved do not think in numbers, or would understand the utilitarian arguement. And I simply cannot see that trading German lives for Jewish lives or British lives makes the atrocity of Dresden any less culpable.

    A very simple way of reducing civilian casulties, or at any rate not contravening the Hague Conventions would have been to undertake daylight bombing of genuine military and industrial targets with precission bombing. This was entirely permissable within the terms of the conventions and as the Americans showed in 1944 it was actually far, far more effective in crippling the German war effort. The night Bombing of civilians has been eloquently argued to have been as ineffective in shortening the war as it was immoral in practice.

  • Nevin

    “His views on Dresden and indeed Northern Ireland seem honest, decent but fundamentally very simplistic and naive.”

    Turgon, as I understood them, Ray’s views were indeed simple, though not naive; he preferred co-operation to confrontation and he was well able to defuse heated exchanges between those who’d adopted narrow and opposing positions. If anything, his opponents were strangled by their simplistic ourselves alone/we are the chosen stances.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As a life long pacifist myself, Nevin, and a long term devotee of Kropotkin’s “Mutual Aid” I readily recognise this method of silencing uncomfortable ideas that will always show up any moral ambivelence in their opponents. As long as such ideas are glibly dismissed as “naive” and “unworldly” evil will continue to florish in the world masking itself as cold realism.

  • mac tire

    Turgon justifying bombers and the slaughter of civilians? Who would have thought?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you for your support Morpheus. My concern is that the high standard of rich debate on the site continues. I’ve linked a number of friends across the U.S. to the site as the very best showcase about what is really happening here, and what is being thought on serious political and cultural issues. I’d have found it very disturbing to find that anyone outside the adjudication team was able to “manage” responses on issues other than the kind of seriously unacceptable abuse that mars comments on some of the broadsheets in the UK.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Certainly I’ve had one or two comments deleted in the distant past, Morpheus, when I’d not got a grip on the parameters of discussion on the site.

    Recently in an interchange with Turgon over on his “Natalie Bennett” thread a number of comments of mine were deleted from a hot exchange where I was answering earlier accusations of “man playing”, but nothing that was pertinent to the points I was making was cut, and the edit certainly tightened up the thread in my opinion. I was also gratified to see my key posting featured by Disqus at the foot of the page for a few days as it contained the all important point about Bennett’s “liberal” consistency in her two comments, the thing I felt was most important.

    No, its the threat of the possible pressing of these trolling and man playing claims I’m concerned about in the place of serious well argued responses. I genuinely have no wish to offend, simply to interrogate opinions where they may be inconstant, contradictory or misleading. Despite what others are saying, my regard for the truth is what guides me!

  • Tochais Siorai

    This particular contributor has a regular tendency to describe people who offer an alternate POV as liars. He’s moved onto new ground here by essentially describing someone as neo-Nazi as in ‘…..standard neo-Nazi stuff: what I would expect from yourself’.
    I’d say an apology is in order here but we could be waiting.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As Saladin says in Kingdom of Heaven, BETF, “Thank you for your visit.”

    The real trouble is, I deconstruct everything. Started with having to build film production structures that would fit timetables and has run into my historical research, where nothing I see in print is left anywhere unquestioned. But sure, perhaps you’re simply “joshing” rather than demanding that I desist from comment, similar enough to my own rough habits of posting, certainly over on the “Kim Jong Paisley” Art thread. Apologies if I over-reacted, sincerely. Last night I was feeling that I’d just been told to shut it and get of the thread (or else) in a previous post, and my mind was probably still hot wired into that. Although I’d still feel that a decent apology from yourself for the “his trolling” comment is rather in order, unless, that is you genuinely think I’m trolling Turgon rather than interogating his opinions and feel that I should “shut it”? Do you not think that such claims of trolling are rather more than ” literary criticism of your posting style”?

    The fact remains, however, there are serious issues under all of this. We all write from our life experiences and from what we’ve heard told us. These narratives are who we are, even if we dress them up and frame our opinions as objectivity. For me the concept of “hard objectivity” is a power discourse, as any total escape from our subjectivity is pretty impossible (my Jungian training with James Hillman coming into play). So outside physics and mathematics, the grey areas shade in. And I can see that a critique of any statement that a commentator takes seriously can all too easily be seen as a personal attack, so again if I’ve been guilty of this, mea culpa!

    Now I know I use family stories, but where do you think written history comes from? It’s all from someone telling someone else something they heard or that happened to them, face to face or in print. When I was researching Walter Harris’ eighteenth century text on the Prince of Orange in my own work on 1688, I was aware that Harris’s informants for the period were talking fifty years after the Williamite War, but frequently what they were saying fitted into those news-sheet accounts of the year I had been reading, and that their accounts filled in some important detail. I’d used a story of my grandfather’s over on another thread, one I’d heard fifty years back about the loss of the Swabian Redoubt, an old soldier’s story with just a fine thread of old soldier’s malice in it against the 108th Trench Mortar battery. But recently I was given a source where some of the details were entirely supported by a recently published account from the war diary of the opposing Bavarian Regiment. Actually it was Philip Orr who drew my attention to the text. So “hard evidence” in print, but for me, the word of men who were there at the time has been hard evidence for fifty years. Would you rather I should leave such stories out of my postings, simply because another historian has not yet published the information? Serious feedback appreciated.

    And just in passing, how do you feel about the carpet bombing of Dresden blatently contravening the Hague Conventions at a time when the RAF could quite easily have gone over to targeted bombing of purely military and war work sites? I’d value your opinion.

  • Having attended a public read through of the play on Shrove Tuesday back in 2011, I’m looking forward the production after Easter this year. It’s a play that asks lots of questions … as it should!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My smidgen of Jewish blood argues against the validity of the Neo-Nazi claim I think, Tochais Siorai. I’m concerned that this might simply be an inability of the contributer to distinguish between a questioning of his ideas and a personal attack. And when someone tells me what I might be thinking, such as this Neo-Nazi label, then I tend to simply try and correct them in all sincerity. If they persist I simply continue to discuss the matter in order to discover what may be misdirecting them. I’d like to think that I am simply attempting to discuss ideas, and no personal rancour is ever intended, but I do realise that for some of us any such questioning of ideas must appear personal.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Alan, I’m looking forward to the play too, as I look forward to all of Philip’s work. He is one of our most thoughtful commentators on these things, a man who uses both heart and mind to the full.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Morpheus, you do realise you upvoted BronzeEchoTwoFives claim I was trolling turgon? Just mentioning it inn case.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gone already! Again thanks for the support, Morpheus.

    I usually use a lap top or desk top but have (literally) “hit” the same problem when I’ve tried to use my phone. I’ve noticed, though, that an iPad or phone compel me to be brief, unlike my usual effusions.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Allow me to step onto this platform for what is guaranteed the very last time, ever. 🙂

    As someone who crossed keyboards with SeaanUiNeill a number of times back in the day he is about as far from an Internet troll as it is probably possible to get. More of an Internet scribe of the old school, if possible I expect his posts would be illuminated with marginalia of wonderful beasts and saints.

    His family anecdotes, alongside his referencing of material garnered in “damp big house libraries”, may be a little overdone at times (as I may myself have noted in the past :-/ ) but I do feel they are always introduced with the best of intentions.

    So I, as an occasional reading visitor only now, say ‘keep calm and carry on posting’.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Bless you, Son of Strongbow, for your endorsement of my eccentricities and hyperbolic tendencies. I sincerely miss your stimulating and dry comments and our exchanges! Do you post elsewhere?

    Recently I’ve been thinking of putting up the odd drawing so keep watching for possible marginalia! And yes, I do see myself as rather more “School of George Petrie” (musician, antiquarian, watercolorist, all rounder) or even of hs relative Sir Charles, whom my grandfather knew through the MHSI! Have you read Sir Charles Petrie’s autobiography? Some of the sanest comments about Ireland that I’ve found anywhere!

  • Son of Strongbow

    Seaan you have, not for the first time, tempted a response from me, and caused me to break my ‘guarantee’ not to post again. Although my integrity is now tainted, this will be my last post.

    I do not post anywhere else.

    It was the reference to Petrie that did it. I have read Sir Charles’ autobiography, and I have an original copy of George’s book on the Ecclesiastical Archtecture of Ireland with the essay on round towers.

    Who would have though that you and I should share an interest?

    Well Morph, what can I say? Probably something you’re not expecting. “How the devil are you….?” you ask. Well soon to meet that particular chap, despite the Anglicans trying to down play him 😉

    I’m not long for this world, but it’s all good. I’m more than reconciled to the situation. Indeed I’m rather enjoying deconstructing my estate, a cathartic exercise I’d recommend to anyone. Although not with the same catalyst as a driver obviously.

    In keeping with my antediluvian take I’ve booked my place in a columbarium, the first long barrow built in 5000 years.

    Given my political views checking out before a ‘United Ireland in 2016’ is pretty neat. My dust will be over on the Mainland (just put that in to annoy you) blissfully unaware of it all.

    Slán leat.

  • Nevin

    Alan, the excerpts on Vimeo as far as I can see shed very little light on the founding and operation of Corrymeela. The two settings are ‘us and them’ ones whereas Corrymeela’s founders and programme was more about community and inclusivity, irrespective of creed, class, roots or political affiliation. From my Ray Davey obituary:

    1. For me, Corrymeela was a place that was open to all, rather than an encounter between two traditions.

    2. Ray: “We hope that Corrymeela will come to be known as ‘the Open Village’, open to all people of good will who are willing to meet each other, to learn from each other and work together for the good of all.”

    Some of the activities were indeed ‘us and them’ but these may well have been as a consequence of external funding. The very idea of folks being channeled through two different doors to be ‘reconciled’ had no appeal for me.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m sincerely grieved to hear about your situation SoS. I’ve had a few cancer scares recently, but watching the humour and courage with which the grandfather I’ve so often mentioned met his own end (refusing morphine, he wanted to be as clear in mind as he could) has steeled me to anything that may come, I hope. But I’d expect “the ox to tread on my own tounge” within not to long a time.

    Ironically we will be spending eternity together. I’ve booked a ten urn place in the same borrow. Nothing here to compare, and most of my children have given up on this terrible place, even if I love it. The few family plots I’d wish to lie in in Down and Fermanagh are now pretty full, so North Wiltshire makes as much sense as anything. Although I’d still hope that some of my ashes would be scattered at my namesake’s Cairn above Cushendun.

    I imagine that there are quite a few other interests we might share. My grandfather thought of Sir Charles as one of the most brilliant men he’d met (and he’d met Roger Casement and T.E. Lawrence just for starters). Many members of the Military History Society of Ireland still remember their father or grandfather’s friendship with Sir Charles, and this one society where rancour is entirely absent in civilised debates between soldiers from both north and south is a most fitting memorial to that wise and tolerant man once described to me as “five points to the right of Attilla the Hun”.

    I do not know if such things are of value to you, but I too, in addition to Morpheus, will remember you from now on in my prayers and with the odd candle when I use churches for meditation and prayer. Looking forward to seeing you in our next life, if there actually is one.

    Beannacht Dé leat

  • sk

    I’m sorry to read this SoS, and I hope you’ll allow me to extend my best wishes.

    I have on more than one occasion found myself stupefied by the eloquence with which you put forward your point of view- that is to say, you ran rings around me.

    All the best.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    I have to say I’m sorry to hear that too.

    Regrettably though, I’m afraid I won’t be offering you prayers or the like as I’m afraid that I am running low on celestial credit and have no one upstairs who is likely to listen.

    On the other hand, I’ve spent the first half of my life in churches and the latter half in dens of inequity and I know which I’d prefer wish upon people…

    I’m sure the Devil is a mighty fine bar tender.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    For the benefit of the rest of us and indeed your own sensibilities could you please furnish us with examples of Seaan’s examples of man-playing against you?

    Perhaps they are too subtle for the likes of me to catch in which case I doubt if I’m the only one.

    It could be beneficial to us all to see how you interpret things, that way we know how to avoid the pitfalls that lead to you avoiding questions posed to you.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well, seeing that Turgon seldom answers questions nor argues the points at hand when he’s in a tight spot then a spot of anecdote dropping might be a strategy worth adopting to try and coax him out of his set.

    Evidently not, but now we know.

    If you have any ideas regarding how we can get him to answer/engage without crying ‘wolf’ then please suggest it, we’re all ears.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Honoured to have made your acquaintance in these parts, SoS. All the very best to you and yours.