Memorial to British in 1916 centenary
The difficult thing about Irish history is memory. Well perhaps memory and the bandwagon. Little know fact but the GPO was like the Tardis; it’s garrison during the 1916 Rising held thousands of men and women! Even quite a few children by all accounts! With everyone’s grandfathers claiming a revolutionary role, it’s amazing the building held them all, let alone they were defeated by the British Army!
So you see the daoistic problems beseting irish historical commemoration. How do you mark an event that was illegal (Home Rule was coming), led to large loss of life (especially civilians and sickeningly, children), pointless (the rebels knew they were doomed) and ultimately could be classed beside the Munich Putsch. And despite all the detractors, support for and remembrance of the Rising has never been higher.
With such revolutionary fervour running rampant, one dares to speak and ask is it right/wrong to speak now about the killing of policemen and soldiers during not only this particular event, but also the larger ‘struggle.’ Hundreds of British soldiers and policemen (regulars and auxiliaries) were killed by the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Army. What do we do with those memories? Those men had families, wives, children and parents.
In my maternal home town of Listowel in North Kerry, two of my great uncles were killed in the Great War: their memories were subsequently excised from memory due to a very real fear of republican reprisals. In that town my grandfather was a political republican, a gentle man by all accounts, but a man who wished Ireland to be the master of its own destiny. Other militant republicans murdered a police inspector, paid by Dublin Castle, while he was holding his six year-old son’s hand whilst walking along the street. What is to become of his (conveniently excised) memory.
The Great Reimagining of the Rising which has been recently announced with great aplomb and fanfare by the Taoiseach may uncover some unsettling truths for the Irish people. It may yet become the Great Revision of the Rising! And one wonders would that be any harm to a nation of children reared on questionable memories and bandwagoneers!