Old Empire Allies


David McCann today informed via twitter that yesterday was “Proclamation day”, and the Irish government invited students at schools and universities around the Republic of Ireland to read the 1916 post-office rebels manifesto, and reflect on what it means to be Irish and pen their own ‘Proclamation for a New Generation’.

The 1916 rising’s figurehead Patrick Pearse was a talented writer, but not a military tactician, hence the the rising’ successes were not military but rather rather in the communication of ideals. The one page proclamation remains one of the most enduring symbols of the that week’s dramatic events. It’s poetic tones are a triumph of compromise, meaning to placate the traditionalist ultra-nationalists and radical workers of the Citizen’s Army. It’s bold exhortations and lofty ideals are remembered and recited more often, than anything in the republic of Ireland’s constitution or indeed just about every official legal document in Ireland. Though of scant comfort to unionists, many in the republic of Ireland who have little or anything to do with physical force republicanism can still fondly recall its warm words on, in particular it’s desire for:

“Cherishing all the children of the nation equally”

One phrase always left me particularly cold and one which I didn’t expect to hear being repeated much this year is the line that describes the rebels as being:

“Supported by…gallant allies in Europe”

These gallant allies, of course refers to the German empire, who, having previously supplied Ulster’s rebellious volunteers, sent thousands of rifles and weapons ahead the rising. The rebels’ support for the Kaiser and his invading legions is often forgotten, not least by a Sinn Fein keen to portray itself an intrinsically ‘anti-imperialist’ movement. So it was a surprise to hear that a Sinn Fein MEP is hosting an event in the European Parliament next week with that very title.

The crimes of the German empire in Africa and elsewhere equal any of those of the British in their colonial adventures and then some. Even before the onset of World War I there was outcry in Berlin at reports of near genocide in the East Africa colony. But the fact that next week’s event is due to take place in Brussels is perhaps the most disturbing. The Belgian capital was occupied during almost all of the First World War and the sufferings of ordinary Belgians at the hands of these “gallant” troops were hideous by any standards. Overall, the Germans killed 23,700 Belgian civilians and caused the deaths of an additional 62,000 via deprivation of food and shelter during the war. The burning of the University city of Leuven (Louvain) in 1914 ranks alongside the so-called Islamic State’s recent destruction of ancient artifacts in league tables of war-time barbarism. In all 1 in 7 Belgians became a refugee during the war (since 2011 the ratio in Syria is around 1 in 10). This is before one remembers the deliberate sinking of the passenger ship Lusitana, off Kinsale by German U-boats in 1915 taking over 1,100 civilian lives with it. None of these incidents seems to have much bothered Pearse and his band of rebels or those organising next week’s events.

The statement accompanying Sinn Fein’s event next week reads:
“The proclamation, being as relevant today as it was 100 years ago, referred to ‘our gallant’ allies in Europe’. This commemoration will not only celebrate the centenary it will celebrate the role of he friends of Irish Freedom right right across Europe during and since the rising”.

I don’t Kaiser Wilhelm will be present next week in Brussels and I certainly hope he’ll be left-out of the school kids’ new proclamation.

  • Muiris

    Your enemy’s enemy is your friend. You don’t have to approve of all such friends, for e.g. Churchill/Stalin.

  • Gopher

    Radicalising school children. Friends “before and since” NSDAP getting an invite?

  • Gopher

    You don’t but when Republican friends “during and since” are waging an unprovoked war of extermination against you, you can get along.I wonder what letter the “friends of Irish Freedom right right across Europe” would have designated their Einsatzkommando for Ireland? Or would they just have brought an existing one back from Russia? Nothing like cherishing all the children of Ireland. Are you still a “Republic” if you are a duchy of the Hohenzollern dynasty or have a Reichsprotektor?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Some Belgian refugees made it to Ireland – Belgium Park in Monaghan is named after them. However, the flip side is that the Belgians in the Congo probably outdone even the British and the Germans in their colonial despotism.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Have you encountered Rotha Lintorn-Orman, Gopher? She was the first person to establish a very King and Empire tribute band to Benito in Britian. One of her early branches was set up by a strongly feminist band of Unionist Ladies in the Kilkeel area in the early 1920s.

    Pot….kettle…..black, perhaps?

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: Have you encountered Rotha Lintorn-Orman, Gopher?
    Maybe you can get SF to put in a good word for her in their speech? No-one else ever will.

  • the rich get richer

    I am sure the British often have had dodgy Friends !

    They were also very Often “The Dodgy Friends !

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I find all this Easter Rising stuff so weird – that this proclamation by a marginal group of violent fanatics has become so embraced by mainstream Ireland. Just shows the gulf culturally that nationalism opened up with unionists after 1916 when it took that turn. Killed off any realistic chance of ever actually uniting people on the island, ironically.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    SF to my mind are as useful to a UI as the current unionist parties are to maintaining the union (i.e. ‘NOT very) so don’t be surprised when they come out with nonsense like this, if anything (if you’re a unionist) be relieved.

    From a political (NOT physical, pedants!) point of view one of the most damaging things the Provos did was to cease their campaign, unionism still hasn’t adjusted to the absence of the bogeyman.

    The most damaging thing SF could do to unionism is to cease all this nonsense that they come up with now and again (like gurning about not being able to order a Big Mac in Irish, what is the Irish translation of Big Mac anyway?).

    So, let them tear away. Unionism NEEDS them to act like this otherwise they might come up with a sensible plan for a UI.

    With regards to the Proclamation Day down south;

    First of all the Easter rising is a wonderful example of terrorists vs revolutionaries debate, in a very short space of time an unpopular outfit committed acts of outrage during a time of war while their countrymen were being put though the meat-grinder in Flanders and the like.

    So yes, ‘terrorism’.

    Then enters stage left General Maxwell, some stupid sentences and punishments and then the right buttons were pressed in the Irish psyche to rally behind these lads.

    So, in a very short time we see the apotheosis from terrorists to martyrs/freedom fighters.

    It happens. That’s that. Don’t begrudge the people of the republic their modern perspective of the event.

    Anyway, from a MISSION: UNITED IRELAND point of view is this a good thing?

    Well, from my point of view IF such a thing is to be annual (is it?) then that’s me done and dusted with the idea of a united Ireland.

    The thought of my kids (if I ever have any) coming home from school after a day of listening about ‘brave sacrifices against colonial oppression’ and then drawing tricolours makes me shudder.

    I want nothing to do with it and all previous conversations where I was prepared to discuss the idea of how a united Ireland could come to be and how the small but vital group of ‘sort-of-unionists-but-not-really-well-maybe-I-am-but-lets-see-what-happens-how-about-a-quick-latte-first-eh?’-unionists are now in the digital bin as I won’t be party to this.

    Sorry, but it’s the Ulster Ying Yang; Inside every Flegger there’s a small bit of reason, inside every reasonable person there’s a small bit of Fleggerness and this Proclamation Day is enough to trigger my Flegger-logic and no doubt the flegger buttons of many other seemingly reasonable people

    It’s fine in the Republic. Fill yer boots.

    BUT if nationalist schools wish to imitate it, well, think of OPERATION: UNITED IRELAND and then draw two boxes:

    one labelled;



    With regards to unionist gurning and disgust you really have to learn what is a gift and what’s not.

    This is a gift to unionism (for reasons demonstrated above).

    Likewise, learn what is a gift for nationalism and what would facilitate the apotheosis of the Provos from terrorists to the comic book heroes of the future (or indeed the present).

    Given that heroes and freedom fighters are often defined in comparison to their enemies then it becomes imperative that ‘the bad guys’ (i.e. us, unionists) level the playing field a bit.

    So, like above, write down the main things that unionism is well known for such as:

    *Not applying code & conduct standards to parades

    *Bedecking the place in cheap flags

    *Paramilitary murals


    *Not respecting places of worship in all parades

    *Treating ‘Irish’ as a foreign and alien concept http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.hr/2013/12/foreigners-lundys-and-irish-language.html


    *Opposing a Northern Irish flag

    *Opposing a Northern Irish anthem


    *Denying their Gaelic heritage and history

    *Not getting involved in things like St Patrick’s day

    *Not reciprocating in (hollow) gestures when the cameras are around

    *Automatically supporting the security forces regardless of the evidence of wrong doing

    And again draw a box beside each topic:



    The unionist attitude when on the defensive is to be derisive, sneering and avoid the actual points of the conversation preferring instead to meander down a path of whataboutery or look for an excuse to disenfranchise a person’s opinion “you don’t count you’re a progressive/liberal/half-Catholic/foreign/etc/”

    If unionism and traditional unionists are so concerned about another SF or IRA propaganda victory then they should concentrate on pulling the rug from under their feet rather than handing them PR victories on a plate.

    Here’s an example of how to do it:

    Brian is articulate, reasonable and comes across without the traditional condescending tone that so many unionist politicians have.

    If unionism were to wheel out a dozen of people like him every year to present to Americans, on-lookers and king-makers and the like then world wide sympathy or indeed the sympathy of the history books might be less likely to smile upon the PIRA which is what it seems so many unionists are scared of.

    Do something about it or quit gurning.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh you’d be surprised! And it’s important to know your roots, I always feel. There were a number of quite interesting positive reports in our local press right up to Munich about meetings here to establish various similar organisations as branches of pro-Fascist parties in England. Mosley’s problem was that he was a known supporter of a United Ireland, (within the Empire of course) and William Joyce (for one) split with him on this issue in part, but there was a considerable interest up in the wee six in Unionist circles in that plethora of organisations supporting Italy and Germany”over the water.” I can highly recommend the following article for any who are unfamiliar with all of this:

    Loughlin, James (1995) “Northern Ireland and British Fascism in the Inter-war Years.” Irish Historical Studies, 29 (116). pp. 537-552.

    I suppose the Loyalist flirtation with the National Front and similar organisations doesn’t really count either. Rotha’s lesbianism (she was the original for “Fairy” Hardcastle in C.S.Lewis’s novel “That Hideous Strength”) might perhaps have alienated the more evangelical of modern Loyalists where simple violence did not. The serious point I’m trying to make is that neither camp here politically has any high ground on flirtation with Germany in support of their own ends. Even back before 1914 Unionists were talking of turning to a modern William (the Kaiser) in the event of Home Rule being passed in Parliament to deliver them from “Rome Rule”, and so Gopher’s gibe about “a duchy of the Hohenzollern dynasty” rather cuts both ways. “It’s what you don’t know,” as the old saw puts it, “that hurts you…….”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Mainland Ulsterman :

    “In an article entitled ‘The North began’ in the paper An Claidheamh Soluis (November 1913), McNeill advocated the formation of a national volunteer force on the lines of the Ulster Volunteer Force.”


    Credit where credit’s due, Pearse and his small group of supporters were simply “emulating the actions of their betters”…………

    While I follow Tim Bowman and a few others who have actually researched “Carson’s Army” in believing that the collapse of active revolt at Easter Week would have had its Northern equivalent in 1914/15 if the UVF had been put to the test, the inducement to violence by a non-marginal “group of violent fanatics” was in its inception a purely Northern phenomena.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Pearse had a screw loose though Seaan

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Brian’s blog is great and I completely agree with your post too.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    If you really look at the historical record, many of the people around Jimmie Craig and his friends were none too sane themselves, MU. And certainly none of them wrote with such eloquence and insight regarding the advanced theories of “Child Centred Education”…..

    Ó Buachalla’s excellent edit of Pearse’s educational writings is rather hard to come by, but opens up these canonical interpretations of the poor man to serious question:


    I’m on record many times on Slugger for saying that Pearse the Revolutionary was a rotten waste of Pearse the Educationalist, a comment I find offends everyone…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Genuinely delighted to find a point of total agreement, MU.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think the last place Pearse should have been was anywhere near a school, for many reasons

  • SeaanUiNeill

    That’s because you have perhaps only read the second hand impressions, thick with innuendo, and with an utter misrepresentation of Pearse through what is in reality the last months of his life. At St Endas Pearse was not in any way producing robots, but applying some of the most advanced theories of child development to encourage genuine freedom of thought and creative development, whose product would be an attitude that would analytically question all shibboleths ( including the state). Actually read Ó Buachalla’s edit and come back to me with anything so simplistically dismissive, something I’d not have thought worthy of you. This is not a game, a matter of picking football teams (nationalist or revisionist) and cheering on a partisan side, but of actually respecting the history and what it may tell us about who we really are, letting it inform us about our mistakes past and present. St Endas was not one of these mistakes, even if the Irish states that came into being both failed to learn from its advanced theories centring on respect for the free personal development of the child.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    sorry I got that second hand from my historian wife. She’s generally a stickler and has no axe to grind. But must admit I’m no expert myself. But I don’t think it’s just her that has come to some rather dark findings about Pearse. But look, I’m sure he had some good ideas too. Even Jimmy Savile genuinely raised money for charity, even violent offenders are never black and white. Clive James writes of how Stalin and Beria both had great senses of humour.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m glad, when I saw your name flash up on discus I thought “bugger, this’ll be painful…”
    BTW,do you find as an ex-pat/exile that your opinions are discounted somewhat back home? I’m just trying to account for the (very general) idea that unionists from NI who no longer live there start to see things differently.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Your last sentence reminded me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqJ99nj12OI
    (22:00 min to 23:11min) 🙂

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Irish history is like Chinese Ivory balls (an image from Yeats’) with one opening up inside another. Without serious primary research of our own, we are trapped in the opinions of others, with our critical faculty indeed, but with only their selection of “facts” to guide it.

    Anyone can be forgiven for seeing Pearse entirely in the actions of his last 20 or so months. This is what the nationalist historians found useful for the political ends of the new state, and it has set the parameters on which the revisionist versions answer the skewered conclusions of what were in effect propagandists. But for anyone with a genuine passion for truth (whatever that misused word may mean to any of us) there is far, far more to the man. I’ve met a few of the children of those who went to St Endas, and what was given to their parents was in their opinion far from the indoctrination that is popularly supposed. It is of interest that those who withdrew their children from the school did so on grounds of affront that the conservative nationalist education they expected was not forthcoming! The Ó Buachalla book is a good starting point for making ones own mind up, should you be interested in looking beyond those interpretations that have proved useful to the political agendas of others.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes I’ve had that experience. Of course the more people disagree with you, the more they’ll cling to ad hominem stuff like that as a way out of a point you’re making.

    I think distance does bring a different perspective. On the one hand you’re a bit of out of it because you’re not in the middle of daily self-reinforcing discourses with your (same ethnicity, generally) peer group; on the other hand, your thoughts going unchecked by that peer pressure, you are more at liberty to take an angular stance, without fear of falling out with people. It’s easier to be principled and it’s easier to be consistent. It’s a mistake though to leave NI and look back on its arguments and debates as somehow Lilliputian, I think quite the opposite. In NI, arguments are about real fundamentals of what makes a state, what is the duty to obey the law, how do we live with other ethnic groups who (in some instances at least) have it in for us, these are big and interesting questions. And you live them in Northern Ireland in a way that you don’t in many other places. At the same time, having the option not to live them for a time is liberating and can open your mind perhaps to alternatives that are harder to see in the fog of the daily ethnic grind. It’s not a better perspective but it is a valid and I think useful one to bring to the party.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    All of which is also possible in wee NI whither I moved back after a 20 year absence. The return makes it appear more Liliputian than before departure but resistance to personal instincts stimulates rather than ingrains.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    to be quite honest I’m not that interested in Pearse – he just doesn’t feel like someone relevant to my life. Life is too short and there are so many other interesting people in the world to read about.

    I find Irish nationalist writings about nationalism generally not that interesting to be honest. If anything, the frequent stereotyping of Ulster Protestants one encounters, when we get mentioned at all, is the opposite of enlightening. I enjoy reading your stuff, more for the artistic and literary references though than the history of nationalism stuff really. I enjoy the occasional little historical debate but I’m painfully aware being married to a historian that I’m not one, so I don’t really commit to them in the way I do to more ideas-based debates on here. That said, I reserve the right to correct obvious factual inaccuracies. Those I can spot anyway – on the basis that if I can spot them they must be quite glaring. There are a surprising number on Slugger 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    seriously though read Clive James’s “Cultural Amnesia” on how humour isn’t somehow a force on the side only of the good-guy satirists … He is typically acerbic about the idea that humour ultimately saves the world.
    Goodfellas makes the point better than I ever could. It strikes me our paramilitaries had/have an awful lot of the Goodfellas mentality about them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    indeed it is

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Sounds like you’re creating obstacles in your mind. What Seaan is clearly trying to communicate is that Pearse can be lifted out of his “Republican/Nationalist/Patriotic” confines and can be seen in entirely different light simultaneous to your received reading of him.
    Was Pearse mad? In my opinion, yes.
    Was Pearse fascinating? In my opinion, yes.
    Was Pearse an intriguing historical figure? In my opinion yes.
    Was Pearse as powerful in his lifetime as after his death? Yes but in different ways.
    Would Pearse be someone whose company I would enjoy? Definitely not.
    If the non-hagiography I’ve just written makes me an enemy of Ulster Unionism I’d like you to tell me how. Leading a horse to water is the easy part.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    On the side of the good guys? Serious?
    The only side that humour (particularly satire) is on is that of sanity. You can’t get more non-partial than that.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Ah, complexity eh Seaan! I for one love nuance and endless kaleidoscopic ambiguity. It must be da Oirish in me. Or maybe some other influences????

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    If patriotism is a form of necrophilia then the analogy with Saville ends quite abruptly. Like Pearse, Stalin was also good with kids. So what!

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Didn’t we all correctly guess that you’re being ironic, AM?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No easy answers, its the boys who think the’ve found an easy answer (like an ideology) who have got us into this mess every time!

    About me and digression, my Stalanist (really!) uncle, who ended up a conservative Unionist in his last years, once lost it with me. Punching me on the upper arm he shouted “Stop being sooooo verrry Orish….” when I started yet another digression, on top of the second digression that had grown out of the first, that had come from the original train of thought.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No I agree with what you write, except the bits where you seem to assume I wouldn’t agree … you might need to explain …

    I suppose where we disagree – and it’s not really a disagreement, just a difference in tastes – is that I’m not especially interested in him, though I accept he’s an important figure in Irish nationalism. For an Irish nationalist political figure he is quite interesting, but it’s in the context of Irish nationalist political figures generally being a boring irrelevance to me personally. That is just me though, being honest here. It doesn’t mean figures like Pearse are not important more generally, far from it. It’s just my brain doesn’t leap for joy when the topic moves onto the nooks and crannies of Irish nationalist history. It’s like getting into Aristotelian medicine – I’ll enjoy 45 minutes of In Our Time on it, and there’s some juicy stuff in there, but ultimately going into the nth degree of detail on ultimately wrong, superseded ideas isn’t for me. My wife sometimes says I should have been an academic – she’s wrong – I’m so easily bored. I’m almost equally bored by the ground level detail of unionism by the way – I really couldn’t give a f*** what Harry West said to Jim Kilfedder over chicken in a basket at the Skandia on Howard Street in 1978. Though actually I’m starting to find that intriguing now …

  • mac tire

    MU was being mischievous – and that’s being kind to him.
    Childish but sure, after all, his wife is a historian. But then again, Nelson Mccausland claims to be one also. And David Irving. So what.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    but I’m not so sure it is on the side of sanity even … that was my point. I don’t think it’s on any side. I should have put ‘good guy’ in inverted commas perhaps, sorry if I wasn’t clear: Clive James was *criticising* the idea that humour is on the side of the angels and I was agreeing with him.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    While humour may not save the world, MU, its one of the more interesting ways of trying and endure all those serious ideologists who see everything entirely in black and white. One of my very favourite book openings is the first chapter of Robert Graves’ “King Jesus” where a Nazerene Christian who “was there” is trying to “survive” a Church in Asia Minor where the devout know what really happened, alas, if only at second hand.


    When I met Graves he was just entering dementia, but was still a brilliant spoofer, who reminded me of some of the older, pre-1914 generation here that I’d known. But then Graves considered himself an Irishman, in part from his father having penned “Father O’Flynn”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, the Clive I knew in the 1980s was frequently rather tongue in cheek himself. It would be just like him……

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well amen to that. “What is life without music and comedy?” as Mark E Smith said, the pomposity of some satirists notwithstanding.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    is this name-dropping hour … !
    No, he was deadly serious on this at least; “Cultural Amnesia” was a deeply serious project for him. He meant it alright.
    His chapter on Rognoni in that book, where he muses on the nature of terrorism, is of course better than anything we’re writing now 🙂 We should probably abandon this thread and just read that.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I was away at School when “That was the Week” was running but caught it during holidays and weekends when I could escape to the home of a local day boy. Later I worked for Ned Sherrin as his “boy friday” during my holidays from Art College.

    Looking back, as something of a fan of Harold Macmillan (as a liberal “One Nation” Tory), I find a lot of TWTWTW heavy on the satire despite finding almost everyone who had worked in it brilliant company, oh, except David Frost!

    Yeah, pomposity…….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yeesss, MU, this is name dropping hour, darling!!!! Oh, please don’t tell me you are one of those po-faced puritans who loathe humour and feel that no-one has ever had an experience out of the ordinary run of boring old life, like so many of the old “flegger” Unionist posters on Slugger who answer me, I’d really thought a great deal better of you. I’d feel so very let down….

    It was always very difficult to get past Clive’s poker face, but he’d open those inset eyes a little to underline humour when he was “playing” anyone. I have a great Peter Ustinov “playing” a wine expert story, but I’d have to name names to get the real subilties…….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A friend of Nelson’s has told me that the Dannite “Lost tribe of Israel” landed at Carrickfergus, and were the seed from which the Ulster Protestants have sprung. There are certainly historians and then there are……historians……….

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Like most Ulster Prods I know, comedy is kind of the thing, what it’s all about. Not that you’d get that from the ethnic stereotyping we have to endure. And tbh Slugger doesn’t bring out my comedy side much so I’m probably adding to that impression.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, I apologise MU if I’m harping on about the history, I enjoy our exchanges, and I’d certainly not challenge you on statistical issues, after an early exchange, respect where it is due. But for me its the utter misunderstanding of our history that tends to fuel ignorant rancour where no rancour need exist in our community. I’d need to write a small thesis to properly unpack my thinking on this issue, but I compare getting the history “clearer” to getting a personal history clearer in psychoanalysis. Its an attempt to clean out ingrained pathologies. Pearse is a most interesting man whose influence for good in Ireland could have been tremendous, but not at all for the reasons everyone remembers him, to my mind. He deserves to be better known for what he really achieved.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you may be right, write the thesis. Then do me a potted version 🙂

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As Luther (not the best example of Stand-up) said, “I can do no other”……..

    The name dropping is genuine enough, not that I’ve come out of years in the media with much else to my credit, so perhaps I should have taken on a real job like my serious London cousins in banking and the market.

    My wife’s mother and father were mentioning some people they knew at a dinner party, when in exasperation she called them on it, “Why do you have to name drop all the time?”

    “But these people are our friends” came the hurt reply. Me too…….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    An editor once told me to reduce a 200,000 word book to under 90,000 words. Like some kind of Sibyllene Oracle in reverse, I managed to add to the number of words by a more careful explanation of things I felt were inadequately covered.

    I did get it down eventually, but my problem is that I see too much that needs unpacking all the time. A “potted version” is not really my bag…..

  • John Collins

    Well in all fairness Belgium had a great record in civil rights- Ask any of the native people from the Belgian Congo. ‘Aul’ Leopald was a right one for the old civil rights allright.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Ironic? I’ll run with that, it’s so much better than ‘Lundy’.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I can’t escape the image of Uncle Andy from the Hole in the Wall Gang as Ray Liota’s character…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’ve had it highly recommended to me.

    On that note, a friend of mine took the topic one step further and wrote a thesis on retrospective cultural memory a topic which I feel has great comparisons with NI.

    In his case his formerly strongly ‘Partisan’ area of Croatia is now a strong ground for retrospective support of ‘Ustashe’ (Croatian psycho Quisling Nazi government) on account of the idea of Partisans being a Commie-ergo-Serb-ergo-themuns thing so the natural order of things is to do the opposite.

    I find such a thing applies very well to NI in terms of the unionist attitude to Gaelic culture (most DUP people would faint if they knew that the most popular sport of Protestant 19th century Co Down was a form of Shinty/Hurling-lite or the nationalist attitude to British Army involvement (though they are streets ahead in this aspect imho)).

  • Greenflag 2

    Ah Graves- Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus -or Claudius to his embarrassed family 😉 and Goodbye to all That . Derek Jacoby’s role as Claudius in the TV series was riveting and his stuttering was so good that I believed he Jacoby actually had a real stutter , Brian Blessed as Augustus was another brilliant performance .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I remember the first TV run of “I, Claudius” (showing my age again) and entirely agree! I was lucky enough when in London to catch the end of that period when you could see theatre without going to the bank to ask for a five year term loanfor a seat even when you were going on your own (I blame “Cats” myself). And I saw Sir Derek in Peter Luke’s working up of “Hadrian VII” during the 1990s. The best “Hadrian” ever in my opinion, and a performance that would have made the Baron, one of the most critical and most fastidious of men, beam with malicious delight.

    My family had bought Graves’ books as the appeared, something I’d continued after the origional collectors death, so I have some interesting 1920s first editions, and of course, both “Claudius” books although the dust covers had disopeared in the course of re-reading by older family members. I’m furious with myself that I did not carry a few of the earliest books over to Deià to get him to sign them on those few occasions I met Graves, travelling over with a friend who knew him well. Oh dear, name dropping again…..

  • Gopher

    I not sure it does Seaan. Peace and War are two different things. A very famous person was “used” by the Germans to bring about the collapse of Russia when he went to negoiate peace he realiazed he was a “tool”. In 2016 we know Republicans were “tools” of their friends (sic) the Kaiser and Hitler by the sterling example of Lenin

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, dear fellow, I’m having a little trouble with that gnomic: “I not sure it does Seaan.” Are you responding to my “It’s what you don’t know,” as the old saw puts it, “that hurts you…….” and suggesting that ignorance, as the other old saw puts it “is bliss” and that not knowing these things is in some way an advantage to us all? I’m genuinely confused at what your response is trying to say!

    Oh we all know that German support for the would be insurgents in the north was cruel mischief making, and that the British Army would have easily imposed the rule of law in Ulster had push actually come to shove, so the likelihood that either the wee six or the larger thirty-two, two years after, would have had the Kaiser’s governor general in either Dublin or Hillsborough Castle was completely negligible. The real issue I’m interested in is that this talk of “a second William” was current amongst even a small portion of those who were claiming that their crime was “Loyalty”, that and Sir Charles Petrie’s well attested story of the jocular suggestion that the opponents of an earlier Home Rule Bill were just as willing to “Kick Vctoria’s crown into the Boyne” as their sons were to betray her grandson’s ministers by (with threat of violence) refusing to countenance a legitimate act of parliament. You may remember my mention of this here some time ago:


  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    As Edna Longley said (and I paraphrase): We (the Irish or Norn Irish) need to build a monument to amnesia and then forget where we put it. Whose side might Edna be on?
    Surely the point of much humour is that it enables us to laugh at our own folly (including rigidly sticking to our own side). The ‘human condition’ is hardly a perfect one no matter whose side we foolishly need to cling to.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    She is great – they should build a monument to her.

    And we’re at our best when we cling to no one but stand on our own two feet. But I think that’s a cultural strength of both traditions in N Ireland – for all our talk of the importance of our relationships with peoples elsewhere, we are actually both fiercely independent. It always amuses me that outsiders often assume NI people from a unionist background somehow subordinate ourselves to the English … a misperception that would not survive 5 minutes of actual conversation with one of us.

  • Greenflag 2

    Lucky you. Alas I’ve only seen the series on disc and still have the set . Graves was an acute observer of the human condition in all it’s foibles and everything else as well .

  • Jollyraj

    “SF to my mind are as useful to a UI as the current unionist parties are to maintaining the union (i.e. ‘NOT very)”

    It certainly is a strange irony of current NI politics that the DUP desperately need to perpetuate the perceived danger of us being dragged into a United Ireland for their growth and even long term existence. John as Sinn Fein depend desperately for their electoral lives, and continued financial prosperity, on their being no realistic chance of it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Graves was an acute observer of the human condition in all it’s foibles and everything else as well.” And a most amused observer of the Irish cultural scene. His father had been a major figure in the third revival, a friend of my grandfather’s patron F.J. Bigger. The gate posts of A.P. Graves’ house on Wimbledon common still bear their name inscription “Craobh Ruah”[sic] suggesting a rather rustier red for the branch than crimson in which the hand is usually coloured.

  • kensei

    Pearse was also a constitutionalist, and mistrusted by the IRB inner council until surprisingly late. Like much of Nationalist Ireland, it was the impact of the formation of the UVF and the subsequent suspension of home rule that eroded faith in parliamentary processes (“democratic” being somewhat of a push in that period) and towards more extreme measures. IN general the leaders of the 1916 rising are a more varied and interesting bunch than made out – Eoin MacNeill issued an order to suspend the Rising, after all.

    People are also guilty of applying modern standards to historical figures. Pearce’s more extreme writings are no more than the prevailing attitudes to nationality and war the time, amplified by his gift for oratory. When it came to it, he surrendered to prevent further loss of life – there was more time in the Rising, had the rebels pushed it to the very bitter end.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, I’m perfectly aware of that, Kensai. As I’ve been saying on another thread recently, Pearse is a much, much more complex figure than the simplified histories most people rely on ever allow. Ireland had become almost entirely constitutionalist until Carson and his friends up north brought the gun back into the equation.

    And where opposition could not find a home in constitutionalism, the impetus of “Irish-Ireland” thought was entirely towards peaceful civil disobedience and non-co-operation. Gandhi first encountered non-co-operation through the Irish Ireland theory brought to India by James and Margaret Cousins, two Antrim Road Theosophists and Irish-Irelanders who had moved to Dublin and from there to India to take up their posts as secretaries for the TS in 1915. Gandhi shortly became part of their circle.

    I’ve been researching both St Endas and Craobh an Chéitinnigh (the “Keating Branch”) of Conradh na Gaelige where the rising actually gestated, and entirely agree that the “leaders of the 1916 rising are a more varied and interesting bunch than made out”, certainly one of the most culturally articulate group of political thinkers we’ve probably ever produced in Ireland. My grandfather (who was in France training for the “Big Push” at Easter 1916, but who had met some of these men in language circles), use to say “you probably could not move in the GPO without treading on a poet’s toes”.

  • Gopher

    Seaan you always get eejits, History is littered with them. Living in 2016 it is quite easy to identify them. Some people have more trouble letting go of them than others. The best historians like Gibbon and Hume teach us we can extrapolate from certain facts. When we have facts like Lenin was suckered, Stalin was suckered we can extrapolate “supported by…gallant allies in Europe” to its logical conclusion that we are dealing with eejits even before we get into the morality as recounted in the opening post.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear Gopher, the problem arises when the eejits win andcontrol the agendas from which the history will be written, as has so patently been the case with the success of the violent challenge Unionism posed to the Third Home Rule Bill. The boyos who were for calling in William the Prussian as their sires had called in the Dutch Usurper in 1688, and for (“Loyally”) kicking the Queen’s crown in the Boyne a few decades earlier were simply the more hyperbolic end of those hard faced Unionist grandees “without principle” (interestingly how Dr Johnston described Hume “the historian”) who dragged the gun back into Irish politics for ends of their own. Rather than simply pick a few scapegoats here, I’m inclined to see a whole run of relitivities in this myself.

    The extraordinary thing about history is that like scientific experiment, entirely new possibilities can always be discovered by any half talented researcher. The history is not some fixed body of “sacred law”, but is subject to enormious variations as to how “facts” may be interpreted, and to take just one example, Hume himself was writing his history with a number of agendas that would ensured that the models he employed would exclude certain interpretive possibilities. While I am delighted that Hume expressed a strong anti-Whig bias, and that he felt that the Puritan and Presbyterian revolutionaries of the seventeenth century were in essence the Taliban (something he is perfectly polite about, but its still there), this is because he conforms to my own feelings in this matter, not because I cannot see many other interpretations.

    My own research, and that of Tim Bowman into “Carson’s Army” would probably not let the Unionist Junta off the hook of gross irresponsibility from 1912 onwards in any way, so on this issue of eejits you could slightly reconfigure the old saw about Treason never prospering into “Eejits never prosper, what’s the reason, for if they prosper, the’re no longer eejits” but the fathers of new polities. The sagasity and moral probity of all the men who turned to the gun from 1914 is “clearly evident” as the states they engendered are still with us, but I would still argue that their decisions were utterly wrong headed, something obvious to me from those murderious political polarities that are also still with us. And having as a pacifist faced Ronnie Bunting Sr’s own would be “Einsatzkommando ” during my PD days I’m rather less inclined to valorise the first UVF in any way. Perhaps this is also because I’ve heard “the stories” as a child from family members still living then who signed the Covenant back at the time, joined the UVF, drove cars from Larne, and their honesty about intent was an eye opener against the euphemised versions one reads. What I say here is intended as a corrective, not an offering of any sort of moral equation of values that lets any side off. As far as I’m, concerned it is the violence that is the problem, and this is not qualified by which team shirt it wears. And, come on, I really don’t think that the “duchy of the Hohenzollern dynasty” can stand as any slight on poor Pearse and his friends without mentioning that that aspiration was something both camps seriously indulged. It wasn’t just Roger Casement who sounded out the Germans after all. One body of those who did were hanged, the others loaded with honours.

  • terence patrick hewett

    I remember “jack” Keating of the Falls road: a lovely, lovely man.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The Keating Branch of Conradh na Gaelige was named for Seathrún Céitinn the seventeenth century author of a History of Ireland and of “Trí bior-ghaoithe an bháis: The three shafts of death”. It was made up of Kerry born people living in Dublin primarily and regarded its focus as the intellectual core of Conradh na Gaelige. Thomas Ashe was a member. From my family’s association with Frank Bigger (Turgon!) I’ve inherited Ashe’s copy of William Bulfin’s “Rambles in Eirinn”. Bulfin was another revival figure who supported the work of the Keating Branch!

    I’d not encountered Jack myself, I’ll ask about him amongst some of my friends from the Falls!

  • terence patrick hewett

    Ah Seaan: Jack has joined the great majority along time ago. I met him when I was in my early 20’s and he was in his late 60’s and when we were in our cups he used to sing me “Terence O’Neill.” Both he and his wife showed me what true charity really was all about. Yr a great historian Seaan: a better man than I am Gunger Din: Jack said that only princes and poets ever get remembered: a great man.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m all for the unsung, for those who in their individual networks actually bring the thing people reify as “culture” into actually being a living thing in our lives. Belfast is full of people who have been forgotten, but who are the real names and faces who had not lost that tiny thread that links us to the time when we could honestly be called “the Athens of the North”. Far more of these links would pass through wee front rooms than through through Public Culture Spaces in my opinion. Sounds like a man whose memory should certainly not be lost.

  • terence patrick hewett

    A song from a forgotten culture:

    It was Christmas Day in the workhouse
    The snow white walls were black
    Along came the Workhouse Master
    With his suit cut out of a sack.

    In came the Christmas pudding
    When a voice that shattered glass
    Said: “We don’t want your Christmas pudding
    You can stick it with the rest of the unwanted presents”

    The workhouse master then arose
    And prepared to carve the duck
    He said: “Who wants the parson’s nose?”
    And the prisoners shouted: “You have it yourself sir.”

    The vicar brought his bible
    And read out little bits
    Said one old crone at the back of the hall
    “This man gets on very well with everybody”

    The workhouse mistress then began
    To hand out Christmas parcels
    The paupers tore the wrappers off
    And began to wipe their eyes; which were full of tears.

    The master rose to make a speech
    But just before he started
    The mistress, who was fifteen stone,
    Gave three loud cheers and nearly choked herself

    And all the paupers then began
    To pull their Christmas crackers
    One pauper held his too low down
    And blew off both his paper hat; and the man’s next to him.

    A steaming bowl of white bread sauce
    Was handed round to some
    An aged gourmet called aloud
    “This bread sauce tastes like it was made by amcontinental chef”

    Mince pie with custard was the next
    And each received a bit
    One pauper said: “This mince pie’s nice
    “But the custard tastes like the bread sauce we had in the last verse!”

    The mistress dishing out the food
    Dropped custard down her front
    She cried: “Aren’t I a silly girl?”
    And the inmates answered: “You’re a perfect picture as always Ma’am!”

    “This pudding,” said the master
    “Is solid, hard and thick
    “How am I going to cut it?”
    And a man cried: “Use your penknife sir; the one with the pearl handle”

    The mistress asked the vicar
    To entertain his flock
    He said: “What would you like to see?”
    And they cried: “Let’s see your conjuring tricks, they’re always worth watching”.

    “Your reverence may I be excused?”
    Said one benign old chap
    “I don’t like conjuring tricks
    I’d sooner have a carol or two around the fire”

    So then they all began to sing
    Which shook the workhouse walls.
    “Merry Christmas!” cried the Master
    And the inmates shouted: “Best of luck to you as well sir!”

    As good as Seamus Heaney, Hugh Leonard and Chaucer.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, have you encountered “Pearse’s Patriots – St Enda’s and The Cult of Boyhood” by Elaine Sisson (Cork University Press)?

    I’d disagree with the writer on what I’d find a superficial treatment of certain key points, but she has pretty much covered what is now understood about Pearse’s sexuality, finding that while he evidently had an interest in young boys it is very clear that evidence does “not indicate any sexual activity between him and his pupils.”

    Jimmy Saville? really? Not a “like to like” comparison for anyone who is interested in accurate history.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Umbriago! Umbriago! Schnozzle Durante!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I didn’t actually suggest he was the same as Jimmy Savile, I cited him while making the point that even the most flawed and damaged people aren’t wholly bad – I was making a point in favour of Pearse there.

  • Gopher

    I see eejits attacked Cosgrave’s grave, there does seem like there is an allergy to history in some people especially those high on 1916.

  • Anglo-Irish

    And as fine an example of Bowdlerisation as you’ll find anywhere, well done that man. : )

  • Hugh Davison

    Are you getting your wars mixed up?
    I see you haven’t been exterminated yet by your Republican friends. Maybe tinfoil works, after all.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I agree entirely with you about this “allergy to history”, but not only amongst those of both camps currently very “high on 1916”. When I’ve given talks about the early modern period I frequently lament the impression I always get that one camp believes that history began (and pretty much ended) in 1690 (the civil war in Ireland of the previous year is actually far, far more interesting) and the other camp, that history began in 1798. Even here the interpretation, sometimes even by those who graduated in scalet, has strong hints of a DC Comics approach painfully all too often.

    For me, general rules snd the broad inferences we are obliged to make from these rules are always trumped by the “particular” (such as the heavy flirtation of both camps with Wilhelm II). Much of the real history is in such detail, as it undermines the certainties of the highly homogenised “Our Island Story” fairytales.

    The allergy is far from new. It’s a side effect of seeing history as something other than history (ie: politics or even Eng Lit) and even in the period most people believe to have been a great renaissance of interest in our history and culture Alice Stopford Green could say (in a 1927 obituary of Frank Bigger):

    “He had what is far from common, a vivid sense of the dignity, the value, and the wide range of the history that lies behind the people of Ireland… In this generation, which lives practically without any historical background, we miss an Irishman whose range, if not scientific, was large and true. We do not yet realise how original was his life’s work…”

    Even back then genuine historians were identifying the utter lack of interest in real history that those who only want to use history to fight a political corner always encourage.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As an old movie man in my longest career, I get the allusion! Yeah……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, but it’s an old advertising trick that Edward Bernays used for “selling” ideas in politics to place a sentence mentioning someone on whom social opprobrium rightly has been placed JUST AFTER the mention of a person upon whom you wish to imply something similar. You might have been entirely unconscious that this was a technique of directive marketing, it has after all become something many of those people who follow the media simply pick up in their own work from its constant public use, but that was certainly its effect.

    As this response is frequently seperated from your original comment by disqus I’ll quote a fragment:

    “……..some rather dark findings about Pearse. But look, I’m sure he had some good ideas too. Even Jimmy Savile……..”

    That encapsulates the important juxtaposition of “cues”, where at a glance “Pearse” and “Jimmy Saville” jump out, with “dark findings” being the last thing noted by the unconscious before the mind actually organises the overt meaning of sentence.

    Before the inevitable mention of Tin Foil Hats begins I fully recognise that such intentional “interference” appears to people who have not actually “been at the meetings” so utterly contrived, that if I had not worked in advertising at one point, where such things are discussed and analysed to death, I’d find it all rather far fetched myself! Oh, and my analysis of the “immediate impression” of the comment above comes from what I’d learnt from the analysis of copy for “flash impressions” in advertising!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I work in marketing research so I test the meaning of language all the time, I’m not naive about such things. And yes I was being a bit mischievous by using Savile as a reference point; but at the same time, why not?

    If it gave the impression of *bracketing* Pearse with other bizarre, dodgy, once-admired-now-reviled public figures, that’s OK isn’t it? I certainly was not actually suggesting he was the same as Savile in terms of specific child abuse offences, which in Pearse’s case remain only a “probable” rather than a definite. Your comment I was responding to was suggesting I was making a “like to like” i.e. direct comparison, which I was not doing. And once again, the example of Savile was cited to make the point that even if the assumptions of Pearse’s paedophilia are true, it’s not the final word on the man. If nationalism holds him dear, perhaps it is for other aspects of his life and whatever his activities with children were, perhaps it is OK for nationalism to overlook those, given his central importance to nationalist ideology and thought.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you for the honesty of pretty much admitting what I’d said was true. But how does this make such a calculated misdirection in any way acceptable, even if you attempt to laugh it off. It’s saying (to slightly reconfigure what AG said on another thread) “I’m not saying Pearse was Hitler, but I have not seen him and Hitler in the same room.” “Assumptions…” Ho, hummm…….

    Pearse a paedophile? Really? Where is the solid proof, man, that he abused children sexually, which is what using “paedophilia” in this context actually says? There is great deal of conjecture, certainly, about Pearse’s possible sexuality but paedophilia and what Pearse was actually quite clearly doing are simply not the same thing when one honestly looks underneath the innuendo. As you said to me on another thread “I haven’t been enjoying your tone in places,” with this underlying theme of presenting a version of Pearse that is to say the very least still controversial as simple fact.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    ah the art of rhetoric is lost … I don’t feel some duty to Pearse to only mention good people when talking about him, put it that way. While I was being mischievous putting Jimmy Savile in the same paragraph as Pearse, I was not saying he was the same as Jimmy Savile or even implying it – I was saying even Jimmy Savile, whose guilt on this issue is beyond doubt, did good work for charity as well. The point was, if indeed Pearse was a paedophile, that’s not to say his work for nationalism didn’t happen also – I was arguing against seeing people in black and white terms. Sorry, but I see nothing wrong with making that point and I’m especially not worried about impugning the reputation of someone with Pearse’s self-regarding bloodlust, whether he was a also a paedophile for good measure or not. I think you’re over-protecting the reputation of someone who does not deserve such veneration.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    so we should be grateful to the leaders of the Rising for not killing even more people? Heard that before somewhere, more recently and closer to home …

  • kensei

    Do what you like. We were discussing whether Pearse was some sort of unique and bloody thirsty mad man, not the ultimate morality of the Rising.

    Playing Calvinball with the discussion is fun, but isnt exactly coherent or constructive.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t think anything I’ve said could be misconstrued as presenting the question of Pearse’s paedophilia as simple fact. He may well not have acted on his urges; but Prof English for example in one article refers to feeling distinct discomfort at Pearse’s “naively erotic celebration of young boys’ bodies.” It was more than just a bit of eccentricity, it was deeply inappropriate. Put it this way – I wouldn’t send my child to a school run by a man like that. There was such a teacher in my primary school and I shudder now to think what we put up with. The fact that Pearse was also an educational innovator is fine – like I say, there’s good and bad in everyone. Though I’d have thought setting up a school to teach people exclusively Irish nationalist perspectives isn’t such a great project; and the fact that many pupils and former pupils died by his side in his Easter Goetterdaemmerung doesn’t make me think any more highly of the enterprise.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Calvin ball’s a new one on me! Just looked it up. Isn’t that just a discussion developing though?
    This sub-thread goes back to a comment I made on the original post, to the effect I found the nationalist fetishisation of the Rising weird and irrelevant to me personally. So we were on the topic of the point of the Rising (and morality is an implicit part of any discussion).
    Seaan mentioned Pearse and I responded that Pearse having a screw loose (not my opinion alone, not a few historians have found that) is perhaps germane to any discussion about his role in the Rising, notwithstanding his subsequent canonisation by Irish nationalism. A wrong turn for nationalism, I strongly feel – and there’s no shortage of evidence to show Pearse’s legacy has not been as a uniting figure, bringing the two peoples of the island together as one, as nationalism would wish – quite the opposite.
    I think what I’ve said is quite coherent – if it’s not, you need to quote where I’ve contradicted myself.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As I said above, “innuendo”, even if this is suggested in an academic article! Prof English might feel “discomfort”, but where is his actual proof of active sexual attraction that can be honestly classed as paedophilia evident outside of the practice of substituting political motivated impressions in place of fact.

    And I’d thought we’d covered that old canard about “a school to teach people exclusively Irish nationalist perspectives”, but I see from the comment you have not had the time to read any of Pearse’s own educational writings yet. Don’t trust secondary sources, go to source if you are honestly concerned to speak a with any authority on such matters. I had the luck to meet some of those who actually went to St Endas when I was a child. It makes a difference .

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no I don’t have the time, frankly – most people don’t, that’s why secondary sources are what most of us read. Happy for the professionals to dig into the primary sources, that’s their job. Save the primary sources debates for fellow academics in your area, you can’t expect lay people to spend their days buried in primary source material. I’m not equipped to read Stalin’s teenage Georgian writings or the Beowulf in the original – the work of the better historians, academics and popularisers will have to do for me. I don’t pretend to have Gospel truth on these matters, I’m just drawing conclusions on what I’ve read. I’d have thought it was taken as read this isn’t an academic debate we’re having – I’m more than aware of that. As I’ve mentioned, I am married to a historian so I could hardly be unaware of the difference between my comments and an academic piece of work on the topic. Nevertheless, we are all entitled to read what the historians write and debate what it means – indeed you could say we have a duty to, in any informed society. I tend not to challenge historians on pure facts – what happened when, who said what etc – but on interpretation there is always room for discussion that lay people can weigh into. I was doing so in that spirit.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    hmm, I’m not sure poetry absolves people of moral responsibility any more than humour does, sadly.

    Look at this from The Grauniad about the role of poetry in violent jihad:

    The academic Elizabeth Kendall notes:
    “The power of poetry to move Arab listeners and readers emotionally, to infiltrate the psyche and to create an aura of tradition, authenticity and legitimacy around the ideologies it enshrines make it a perfect weapon for militant jihadist causes.”
    It’s had a similar role for Irish Republicanism.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, poetry and propaganda are quite different things, and many of those in the Post Office had contributed importantly to a great cultural revival. The violence was a profound misdirect the unnecessary belligerence of the North’s recourse to arms had drawn them into. Sadly as McDonagh for one was someone Yeats could speak of with some professional admiration, and even a bare twelve months before what would happen in the Post Office would have been unimaginable in his life, as a familiarity with the real life story interestingly reveals.

    A greater familiarity with the actual facts would have shown your comparison with the Jihadi “poets” is very far from comparing like with like. Even Pearse is something very different. Perhaps looking at this without the need to interpret it entirely against Orange tropes might reveal something genuinely unexpected.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, the point I’m attempting to make about Pearse and about many of the others around him, is that in the selection of facts (well salted by a plethora of non-facts dropped in, as with the

    This is not about “veneration”, I am not encouraging Hagiography, quite the opposite. The old nationalist histories created an impossible plaster saint and the “revisionist” response crudely reversed this, every interpretation simply turned around as in a mirror. When anyone draws on this body of interpretation from either camp, this distorted picture, the product of proselytising hagiography and anti-hagiography is what they encounter, not Pearse and certainly not dispassionate history.

    Quite a bit of research has been undertaken into St Endas which reveals some interesting counter-factual possibilities for a very, very different Ireland to the dumbed down conformist mess that we inherited both north and south. I have family who went to English “Child Centred” public schools such as Millfield so what Pearse is actually writing about I’ve encountered in practice. Our current system which, while making a nod at Child centred methodology since the 1960s, still specialises in cramming for exams and inevitably prepares people for work most have little interest in to service an inevitable life spent paying off debt and so commit to a “death in lIfe”. In contrast some private schools actually employ genuine child centred methods to stimulate and develop free thinking and creativity intertwined with critical analytic intelligence. In my film career I was always astonished that C.P. Snow’s “two cultures” were so utterly separate in those whom I encountered that they were either analytic or creative but seldom actually both! From what I’ve read, supported by some people who I’d met who had links to St Endas, I can recognise this utter difference to approach, and the intellectual vitality it inspires. This work is what I’m interested in, and I’m on record as saying that Pearse the revolutionary was an utter waste of the valuable work of Pearse the educationalist, something that he deserves genuine credit for.

    This is not an attempt to build myth around Pearse but to disperse all such myth with a sincere commitment to plain fact. Simply playing the old “revisionist” tropes (Roy Foster for one winces at the inaccuracy of the term) adds nothing valuable to our genuine understanding of either the man or the history. In my opinion simple debunking for political purposes is as utterly sterile as embracing the dreary nationalist hagiography that such an approach negatively echoes. With Goethe I’d demand “Mehr Licht”, certainly not more indulgent slurs which are simply politically motivated obscuration of the realities.