Questionable Memories and Bandwagoneers

Memorial to British in 1916 centenary


Scene from 'Blood Upon the Rose' written and illustrated by Gerry Hunt

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!

About eamonntgardiner

I am a PhD Student at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I am conducting research into links between wartime traumatic-neurosis and evidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst British First World War veterans serving as Auxiliary Policemen in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish War 1919-1921. I have previously conducted research into local Irish Volunteer/Old IRA units in Munster as well as British responses to popular insurgencies in areas they administered. I have previously published a book on the British Counterinsurgency responses to the IV/IRA conflict in Ireland, 1919-1921, entitled 'Dublin Castle and the Anglo-Irish War: Counter Insurgency and Conflict.' I have also published papers on various aspects of that war and also on other insurgencies. I write a regular blog on those and other related matters, which can be read at My research interests include Feminism and De-Colonialisation/Post-Colonialism, Insurgency, Police and Military Histories, Institutional Histories. Subaltern Studies, International History of the 20th Century, Modern Irish History, Historiography, History of Conflict, Peace Keeping/Enforcement/Protectorates, Spheres of Influence, Hegemonic Theories, Old and New Terrorism.
This entry was posted in 1916, 20th century, Anglo-Irish War, Auxiliary Division, Britain, Commemoration, Conflict, decolonisation, Empire, First World War, Historiography, Ireland, Memory, Oglaigh na hEireann, Revisionism, revolutionary, Royal Irish Constabulary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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