Why is there so much talk in Ireland about the First World War?


Q: Why are we hearing so much about the First World War at present?
A: That’s easy. It started yesterday.
Q: Whhaaat?
A: I mean yesterday was the hundredth anniversary of the war. Britain declared war on Germany a hundred years ago exactly.
Q: Really? I thought the Germans were the baddies. I assumed they were the ones who’d have launched the war.
A: Nope. Actually the Kaiser was desperately seeking ways of not having a war start. Not many people know that.
Q: You can say that again.
A: Not many people know that.
Q: But why is there so much talk about it here in Ireland? It was England vs Germany, wasn’t it?
A: It was a World War. Lots of other countries were involved.
Q: Did Ireland declare war on Germany, then?
A: No, but thousands of Irishmen joined the British Army to fight in the war.
Q: Because they hated the Germans, right?
A: No, because in many cases they thought it would bring Ireland Home Rule.
Q: Did many Irishmen die in British uniform?
A: Something over 30,000 died.
Q: Mmm. Very sad. Quite a price to pay for Home Rule. Still, untold generations have benefited from their sacrifice.
A: Not really. Ireland didn’t get Home Rule.
Q: What? You mean the British reneged on their promise?
A: Something like that.

Q: And all those men died in vain?

A: Something like that

Q: So how did Ireland win independence?
A: Well the short answer is it didn’t, in that the six northern counties remained within the United Kingdom. But the twenty-six remaining counties won their independence because of the Easter Rising and events that flowed from it.
Q: Ah yes, I’ve heard of that. The GPO and the Proclamation and…It was in 1916, right?
A: Right.
Q: Which means there’ll be an almighty commemoration of that key event, seeing that it led to Irish independence, right?
A: Wait and see.
Q: Eh?
A: There are those who think it’s wrong to commemorate violence – it puts ideas in people’s heads.
Q: But wasn’t the First World War quite violent?
A: That’s different. That was the British Army fighting, not Irish revolutionaries
Q: So back to my early question: why the big fuss in Ireland about the First World War?
A: Two reasons, probably. One, so many Irishmen lost their lives. Two, the more attention is paid to the First World War, the less people will focus on paying homage to the men and women of Easter 1916.
Q: Why would they not want to honour the men and women who were key to the independence of the twenty-six counties?
A: It might start up discussion of other things.

Q: Such as?

A: Such as whether the Proclamation’s goals have been achieved a century later.  Including the fact that six Irish counties remain as part of the United Kingdom.
Q: And we don’t want that, right?
A: Right. But don’t say that out loud, will you? It could get me in bother with the Irish government.
Q: Oh. Right. Mum’s the word. Smother 1916, that’s our watchword. Right?
A: Right.

50 Responses to Why is there so much talk in Ireland about the First World War?

  1. neill August 6, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Could grief for once your blog has almost stunned me into silence almost.

  2. TheHist August 6, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Interesting topic Jude and one that is very devisive on the island. I would like to make a few points.

    As we have all heard before the outbreak of the War came at a very contentious and divided time with Home Rule on the way to becoming law and a potential civil war ensuing, as three militias operated on the island, arming themselves (yip the UVF even went to Germany for their weapons) with a compromise looking unlikely. One thing Home Rule did was increase the prospect of tension – Unionism “bringing the gun back into Irish politics” with the extra parliamentary support from the Conservatives under Bonar Law exasperated the situation.

    As Ireland headed towards internal conflict did the War save Ireland or did it simply delay the inevitable? It certainly took the sting out of the tale regarding the Home Rule crisis. Prior to the War and under the leadership of Redmond, Ireland became a faithful servant of England, quite a few people felt more in common with England than Ireland even though a cultural revolution had been taking place. I have always argued this crisis in Irish politics suited the British government as they were able to use the Home Rule debate as a beating stick of who was going to remain the most loyal. As the war went on this beating stick was limited. Carson fully committed the UVF to the War being rewarded with divisional status. Redmond at Woodenbridge two days after the passing of and suspension of Home Rule telling irish nationalists to “go where the firing line extends” although not being given divisional status. Was Redmond right or did he totally misread the situation? Did Redmond have an option? He certainly created a rift in irish political circles as Republicans now saw an opportunity unfold, to “save the soul of Ireland.” History has illustrated that cosying up to the British is dangerous and in this instance it was – Within a year Carson was in the war time cabinet, the man who brought Ireland close to conflict being simultaneously rewarded as Redmond declined an invite – By 1915 and certainly by 1916 Redmond had admitted the miscalculation as radical elements of nationalism, namely republicans used the war to their advantage as “England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity.” This event namely the Easter Rising and British handling of same resulted in the sea change of public opinion that gave the drive for independence an impetus as well as much needed support – in the context of the War, without it this radicalisation of irish society would not have occurred. As a Republican, I am not one to lambast the war and go on the defensive that it was wrong and anyone who fought on the British side was wrong – I fully realise the war in the context of the time. As like any war, many men go without an understanding of what they are getting themselves involved in. The famous “lions led by donkeys” connotation would be appropriate here. Many Irish went to the War not to put their hand on their sleeve for the British, simply to ensure the Home Rule commitment would become a reality – don’t forget the war was only “supposed” to last around six months – for many this sacrifice would be worthwhile, with the prospect of Redmond soon to be Irish Prime Minister. As usual in the North commemorations have to fall into the religious divide – which is more an indictment of the society we love in. What I find interesting is the lack of knowledge or understanding of this time period by many, but these same people side one way or the other. I found it interesting recently that in Glasnevin Cemetery that a memorial to those who fought in WW1 was erected – 100 year later – is this an illustration of differing Irish attitudes to the War? In the North Sinn Fein Lord Mayors have attended commemorative events related to the Wars – is this an illustration of shifting attitudes in the North towards the War?

    Related to this and within the context of. Commemoration, I have always been confused by the Irish government and the main southern political parties legitimising, justifying and supporting the Easter Rising and War of Independence yet totally condemning the activities of the PIRA during the troubles – and still do on a regular basis but taking cheap shots at Gerry Adams? Although two different periods of History both had goals of Achieving similar ambitions, namely the establishment of a 32 county Irish Republic devoid of any relationship with the British. It is clear that many in the south are jumping on the Easter Rising band wagon as with elections looming in 2016 this potentially could win them over with some voters.

    This year and the coming years will be exciting as commemorations unfold in such an important and turbulent time in the History of the island.

  3. Perkin Warbeck August 6, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    It is obvious that the celecommemoration of the Great War is beginning to grate on some folks’ nerves, but nonetheless this is no excuse for ‘bad manners’, to quote Charles Flanagan, TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Free Southern Stateen.

    That is the restrained manner in which he described the downright bovver boy behaviour of those Dr. Heckles who shouted abuse through the railings of Glasnevin Cemetery even as those inside were bowing their heads in solemn remembrance as the Cross of Sacrifice was being put down as a marker to remind the generality that there will always be a corner of the Emerald Isle that will be forever ‘Hyde Park’.

    Charles Flanagan could have thrown the Kitchener Sink, as it were, at those noisy ne’er do wells without the walls, but instead chose the civilised route, the route of restraint. ‘The proprieties at all times’, in the immortal words of noted political philosopher, Mickaleen Flynn, aka, Barry Fitzgerald.

    God love poor Charles F and the things he has to put up with. His duties now compel him to be in attendance at more and more celecommemorations at countless cemeteries in front of umpteen Cenotaphs. Little wonder his lovable bloodhound features are becoming more mournful by the very day, more grave, indeed, as if Gravity itself has marked him down for its own. His comical (in the best sense) countenance has become a virtual Theatre of War (one almost wrote ‘of the Absurd) wherein the ‘Battle of the Sombre’ might be daily traced.

    Take this figure of ‘30,000’ which has been loosely bandied about, in the manner slip shod. That is the most blatant example of ‘bad manners’ in today’s blog. The neat figure carelessly tossed out to tell how many gallant Irish soldiers perished in WW!. The actual figure, in fact, is neither neat nor careless;, but 49,400 in fact. As a quick glance at the inscription on the wall in the National War Memorial in Islandbridge, Dublin 14-18 will reveal.

    N.B. 49,400. (NB is No Brainer in Blog Latin).

    We have Major General Myers, former military correspondent of The Unionist Times (TUT). to thank for this factual figure, in fact. Single handedly, after years of digging in his steel capped heels, he came up with this figure to remind us all, as if reminding was needed, that he is Streets ahead of all other miltiary historians. Kevin Streets, in fact..

    An easy way to remember that figure is to think of the capacity of the Aviva Stadium (nee Lansdowne Road): 51,200. For Lansdowne Road stadium is where many if not most of the recruits ‘first tried on their boots’ as they heeded the call to arms and the charms of Lord Kitchener.They knew that their country needed U (for Unionists) or rather them, if you follow the Warbeckian drift. (There are times, I know, even Perkin …..)..

    So, there is a shortfall of 2,300. So? At this moment in time, that is. Fear not, Kev is on the case. Even as we write he is ferreting out the unlikely names of those Irish fallen – from Mancini to Cascarino – to make up the numbers. By 2018 that figure on the wall in Islandbridge will read:51,200. Depend upon it, and upon the John Delaney School of Creative Accountancy.

    In the meanwhile, let us now praise famous women, to wit, to woo, Les Girls of the Oirish Rugby Team for their famous V for Victory in Paris last night by downing the Silver Ferns of New Zealand. The Oirish Rugby Football Union Pollycy of not putting all its eggs in the male basket, as it were, is now beginning to pay dividends. Can the Lionesses be far behind?

    Mais revenons a nos moutons. (Frog for: let us return to the biz in hand).

    It was heart-warming to read of late that 4H as our Minister in charge of the 1916 Thingy is called has invited Kev on to the board of her Project Amnesia. This of course is the Happy Warrior herself, Heather Hello Henrietta Humphreys, she of the Smiley Face never known to have uttered a word of Leprechaun/Sioux in public, even though charged with the responsiibility of bulwarking the language of the Irish-Indian Reservations as the Gaeltacht districts are known. Or, rather Guiletacht areas, so adept indeed have the local tribesmen and squaws become at extracting Deontais which is Leprechaun or Sioux for ‘Hand Outs’..

    This is reminiscent of the appointment of another such Minister during the Fine Gael government of William ‘LIam’ Cosgrave, so called because the Desert Mongrel Fox (as he was affectionately known) was prone to putting his foot into not only into fox holes but sandy graves themselves. That was the time LC (or Elsie, if one prefers) appointed an unfortunate FG backbencher to the post even though he too hadn’t a word of Lephrechaun in his mouth. The u. backbencher, however, did suffer from a congenital cleft palate and LC/Elsie was under the impression he was…..speaking fluent Leprechaun/Sioux.

    Wot larks are promised when Kev and 4H get together. First item as 1916 looms on the horizon (one almost wrote Howitzer) will in all p. be to flood the Constituency of Cavan-Monaghan with SF stickers and posters. SF to signify Smiley Face. Now that Ho Chi Quinn will not be on hand to brighten up the Ho Chi Monaghan Trail.

    Second item will be to teach all the schoolchilders of the nation/country/long a province/Free Southern Stateen the words of the new nat ant: ‘A Boy named Sioux’. This will be sung to the air of ‘Somme Enchanted Evening’ and will retain that great Great War line which never grates on the ear of Eireland even at the g. down of the sun and at the r. of the moon:

    ‘Kicking and gouging in the mud and blood and the beer’.

    (Heineken are on board as sponsors).

    NB. Jude, do please make an effort to be more outreachful and do try to bring the Two Great Traditions together: The Trench Coat and the Trench Foot’.

    Lest one forgets: the proprieties at all times.


    Moine’s a Hoino.

    In the meanwhile,

    • Jude Collins August 6, 2014 at 11:31 am #

      In top form this morning, I note, Perkin. My lower figure for the Irish fallen was those who died in British army uniform; I realise that other Irishmen died fighting Germany under other flags, but they don’t really count, do they? It’s the ones who fought in the British Army that are really important for showing intelligent catholic empathy (small ‘c’ there). Btw – top phrase of the day re Charlie : ‘battle of the sombre’…

      • Am Ghobsmacht August 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

        Dr C

        I (think) I agree with Perkin figures wise, when I went to glance at ‘The Books of the Dead’ in St Anne’s I recall a figure of 40-50k dead paddies. (No disrespect to Perkin, I just feel so awfully ignorant and ill educated after reading his posts, I wonder if I had ever went to school at all? Dammit! Now I’m worrying about conditional vs subjunctive, not something I normally do…)

        • Jude Collins August 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

          I’m not going to pretend to be mathematically literate in terms of counting corpses. There were too many, let’s just agree on that.

    • Baldybapthebarber August 6, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      Perkin you are as mad as a bucket of spiders!!! I’ve been following your posts since you started posting several weeks ago? Absolutely fantastic stuff old bean! I must admit I find it hard to follow at times but love it all the same.

      I check Jude’s blog daily but recently as I’ve been checking I’ve been thinking “I wonder how Perkin will approach this one?”.

      By the way you’ve got the accent down to a literary tee. “Moine’s a Hoino” magic!!

  4. Micheal August 6, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Absolutely brilliant Jude, a great way to easily tell two sides of a story.

  5. philip kelly August 6, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    its all very simple really , i wonder where john bruton was taught history most likely some west brit boarding school , o by the way he is not to shy about taking his pension when the country is in trouble just like mr cosgrave, the son of the free state butcher and the rest of the spongers but then again what would you expect from a man who spent his time in government licking the you know what of prince charles, the british, and northern irish unionist, which almost derailed the peace process,

    • paul August 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      GRMA philip for that great post. So so true

    • RJC August 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Bruton was educated at Clongowes, so your guess was spot on. ‘The cream of the country – rich and thick’ is what my mother used to say of its pupils.

      • Mick Early August 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

        Love it! Rich and Thick, Bruton certain is that!!

  6. Am Ghobsmacht August 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    WRT the War

    Imperial warfare was the order of the day, rebellious shenanigans was not. Otherwise there may have been no WWI courtesy of Sarajevo’s very own Pearse wannabes.

    Irishmen fighting for ‘the Crown’ is nothing new. Has been going on since the time of Robert the Bruce (if not before). The circumstances just change. For example, the most ‘loyal’ country in the realm to the Stuart line was Ireland (and I think that the Stuart bloodline has the greatest claim to the throne; William was an invader, sponsored by moneylenders and business men)

    The Easter Rising pretty much guaranteed partition. It baffles me when people suggest otherwise. The men of Ulster saw this as the last treacherous straw, there could be no going back after that.

    Many people in the British establishment saw the advantage of a semi independent ‘loyal’ Ireland, including Churchill. Do you remember he was so annoyed with the unionists that he dispatched a warship (recalled by the government) in the hope of making them wise the bap? He vexed unionists so much that his car was nearly rolled by an angry loyalist mob in Belfast.

    We like to simplify history in Ireland too much: We regard the British army as a ‘foreign’ army, the monarchy as a ‘foreign’ monarchy. We don’t like it when the complexities of history are highlighted. But that unfortunately is the very nature of the relationship of the two islands.

    It is a fact of geography. To be situated beside a place or people in Europe is to be heavily involved in its development, hence Ukraine and Poland are not where they where 100/500 years ago.

    Hence Scotland has a part Anglo past and hence a fair whack of Ireland has British (or Norman, no has ever worked out if the Normans are ‘British’ or not’) surnames.

    You talk about ‘Ireland’ fighting for Britain 100 years ago, but, the truth of the matter is Ireland 100 years ago WAS Britain.

    • Jude Collins August 6, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      That’s true, AG – but it was also (gasp) Ireland. Very much so, as they say…

    • TheHist August 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      AG – I agree with most of your comment although I would like you take up on your point “The Easter Rising pretty much guaranteed partition.” I believe it was pretty much guaranteed a long time before the Easter Rising. Here’s why and hopefully I don’t baffle you:

      From 1913 on the British government under Asquith with cabinet colleagues Lloyd George and Winston Churchill started looking into proposals of compromise to the Irish question, namely some form of partition (George and Law had been converts previously – particularly George after his Belfast visit which you refer to where “he left Ireland like a thief in the night”) As usual, the untrustworthy nature of the British, constructed negotiations with Bonar Law, Carson et al behind Redmond’s back. He knew nothing of this until Feb / March 1914 where according to Asquith he “shook visibly and was a great deal perturbed.” The British government from mid 1913 on were always heading for a partitionist settlement on the Home Rule crisis. As far back as 1912, shortly after the 3rd HR Bill was introduced many Liberals including Agar Roberts were proposing a form of partition – the timing was simply to prevent Unionism growing against it – which it inevitable did. Asquith was against this as he needed Redmond’s support to remain in power. Asquith grew to the notion because he had no choice. The growth and threat of Unionism caused him grave concern. In subsequent months we see after Redmond heard about the British government negotiating, unionists upping the ante (Curragh Mutiny, Larne Gun running) with Redmond agreeing to some form of partition which he also did during the Lloyd George negotiations after the Rising and during the 1917 Irish Convention. This move by Redmond to compromise on Home Rule weakened his position and there was no going back on that.

      Don’t forget on 18th Sept 1914 – a good year and a half before the Easter Rising, the now lawful Government of Ireland Act that was suspended, stipulated that Home Rule (whatever that meant) would not be introduced until after the war (whenever that was) and secondly Ulster had to be sorted out first. This to me guaranteed partition – Carson as a Southern unionist had even brought himself to the reality that a partitionist settlement was the only way to prevent All-Ireland Home Rule. Carson considered 6 and 9 counties in what effect became the 1920 Government of Ireland Act.

      In my opinion the Easter Rising most certainly did not “pretty much guarantee partition” – what it did was provided a catalyst for Irish people to push for more than Home Rule, namely a Republic. We must remember Home Rule was minimal power under the auspices of the British Government – it was merely a bribe and gesture from Asquith for Redmond bringing the Liberals back into power in 1910. The Easter Rising transformed a sleeping pro British people to call for greater independence and without this event I believe Partition would have happened, with the south getting Home Rule powers as opposed to dominion status which it eventually got.

      You also state “the men of Ulster saw this (Easter Rising) as the last treacherous straw.” Long before the Easter Rising the men of Ulster you referred too had shown their outright opposition to nationalism and anything that weakened “their cherished position” within the UK. The Ulster Covenant stipulates that they would use as “means necessary” to destroy any attempt at a devolved government. Ulster Unionists had
      long promoted setting up their own provisional government from late 1912 on to look after the Protestant province of Ulster, an illustration of their partitionist mentality. To me the Easter Rising summed up Unionists already derogatory opinions of Nationalism and cemented their vision strongly advocated in 1912 that they did not want anything to do with an Irish Parliament. Just a few points for thought. Slan

      • Am Ghobsmacht August 6, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

        Cheers Heist

        I’m still not convinced that the Uprising wasn’t the final nail in the coffin so to speak.

        Indeed, I’d go further and say that the uprising from a Republican point of view was only salvaged by Gen Maxwell, them chaps weren’t too popular until he had them shot.

        But, counter-factual aside, what happened happened.

        I thought this to be an interesting article over on Slugger:


        And as for unionist hypocrisy on the matter (and this goes for everyone for future reference) “I. KNOW”. Highlighting their hypocrisy in no way detracts from any of my points.

        If the Ulstermen in the trenches felt it was a final act of treachery then they felt it was an act of treachery, adding the adverb ‘hypocritically’ to the sentence still doesn’t undo their way of thinking and the conclusions they reached.

        If we discounted the opinions or thoughts of everyone who was/is a hypocrite in Ireland then the political blogs would be very empty (my own included).

      • Am Ghobsmacht August 7, 2014 at 2:59 am #

        Apologies, that should read ‘hist’ not ‘heist’, I wasn’t intending to be a smarty pants.

    • Ruaidri Ua Conchobai August 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

      Am Ghobsmacht
      Phew!!! Say what ‘… The men of Ulster [after their armed, threatened insurrection of 1912] saw this [the 1916 Rising] as the last treacherous straw…’ really? How dare the pesky majority Irish native population seek self-determination.

      Northern Unionists (plus a miniscule west-Brit faction in the South) must confront the fact, the majority of the Irish nation succeeded in their quest to escape the clutches of the British Empire and no-longer have any real affinity with that entity – nowadays Britain is just a friendly neighbour.

      • Am Ghobsmacht August 6, 2014 at 9:22 pm #


        Well, did they or didn’t they see it as a ‘treacherous act’?

        Regardless of the hypocrisy of their position (of which I need no reminding, it does not change anything) they still saw it in this manner.

        If you have a greater insight to the thinking of the men of the Ulster 36th as the news filtered through to them in the Western Front than myself then I for one would be most grateful to hear it.

        • Ruaidri Ua Conchobai August 7, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

          Am Ghobmacht,
          You plainly sought to condemn Republicans whilst excusing Unionists when you contended:

          “The Easter Rising pretty much guaranteed partition. It baffles me when people suggest otherwise.”

          Get out the cat-o’-nine-tails!!! The poor, poor imperial, supremacist Unionist planter mind-set made to feel horrible by the uppity native Irish majority seeking to break-free from an occupying British empire.

          • Am Ghobsmacht August 7, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

            No I did not.

            ‘Excusing’ unionists is not what I do. On the contrary, I’m rather unpopular for my dim view of things like the Siege of Derry, the Battle of the Boyne, and the anti-Home Rule movement and indeed partition itself.

            When I accuse someone of making a mistake it is because I think that THEY made a mistake, it is not to safeguard someone else’s mistake.

            We are told constantly how the Easter Rising was necessary or Ireland would never be free. IF the following countries weren’t given their ‘freedom’ then I’d be tempted to agree with that argument: India, Malaya, Myanamar, the Gold Coast, Egypt, Anglo-Egytian Sudan, South Africa, the Gold Coast, Nigeria, British Honduras, Rhodesia…..

            But they were. Mainly without violence too.

            If Ireland truly wanted/wants violence then it (going by the list of other countries that managed to shake off British rule) is not a stretch to say that Ireland could have too.

            Without the mess that followed.

            “Get out the cat-o’-nine-tails!!! The poor, poor imperial, supremacist Unionist planter mind-set made to feel horrible by the uppity native Irish majority seeking to break-free from an occupying British empire.”

            You see Ruaidri, this style of point dodging and emotion displays the failure of nationalist mindsets (and I include hardline unionists and ‘fleggers’ as nationalists too, only obviously they’re nationalistic about a different national idea) to fathom any logic and to opt for the path of hysteria over reason.

            My point about the Easter Rising and it being a final nail in the coffin in the eyes of Northerners is based more on logic:

            1/ Are the northerners quite untrusting of us down here and our intentions? Yes

            2/ Is there a faint possibility that when they come out of the other end of the slaughter in europe they’ll still be so full of puff? Unknown

            3/ If we do something now will point no.2 be still be an unknown or will it become something more damaging to our cause? Damaging to our cause

            4/ Will we run the risk of losing the north altogether if we force the imperial hand? Yes

            “F**k it! Let’s seize the GPO!!!”

            This is ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ stuff. Brave, the stuff of songs etc

            Was it logical? I don’t think so. Hence why so many republicans and nationalists were opposed to the idea.

            Like I say, Maxwell bailed them out,

            So, please stop interpreting everything I say as ‘pro-union’ it simply makes you sound slightly unstable.

            I just feel that everyone up north believes their own stories, whether it be the significance of the battle of the Boyne or the necessity of the Easter Rising.

            I could get a right good kicking on account of my opinions on the above two watershed moments but I am simply unconvinced by the arguments laid out.

            And, as demonstrated by yourself, most people opt for the path of emotion rather than reason & logic.
            Which is probably how the Easter Rising came about.

            BTW, do you see Eamonn De Valera and Countess Markievicz as ‘native’ Irish and the Irish speakers of the Ulster 36th as ‘not’?

            Just curious.

          • Am Ghobsmacht August 7, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

            “If Ireland truly wanted/wants violence then it (going by the list of other countries that managed to shake off British rule) is not a stretch to say that Ireland could have too.”

            Should read:

            “If Ireland truly wanted/wants freedom then going by the list of other countries that managed to shake off British rule is is not a stretch to say that Ireland could have it too.”

          • Ruaidri Ua Conchobai August 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

            Am Ghobsmacht,
            We’re now at the circular argument stage, so let me conclude by succinctly saying:

            Irish nationhood
            My view of ‘Irish natives’ is not based on religion or politics per se but rather on possessing allegiance to the Irish nation – and the Irish nation alone – and its inalienable right to self-rule.

            Foreign colonial mind-set
            British Unionists were wedded to forming their own wee apartheid Protestant statelet after the pesky nature Irish majority refused to be converted to Protestantism and sought Home Rule – if you imagine the non-occurrence of the 1916 rebellion would’ve made any difference I recommend you study their 1912 Ulster Covenant.

            British occupation
            Ireland was significantly different to those other British colonies you cite. Unlike Ireland, not one of those colonies were regarded as a “backdoor” enemies could use to threaten and invade the motherland of the British empire.

            Moderate Unionists
            I don’t believe the odd moderate Unionist voice is representative of the wider Unionist community in the north. The moderate Alliance and SDLP parties formed in the early 1970’s and still there’s no electoral or civic evidence of a rumored mass of Unionist moderates… no surrender! Never! Never! Never! We Are The People!!!

          • Am Ghobsmacht August 8, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

            By your logic anyone who votes pro-union in the Scottish referendum is not Scottish. Tosh. Complete tosh.
            Edward Carson was an Irishman, we all know that, his pro-UK stance does not alter that.
            It’s like saying any Australian who doesn’t vote for a Republic is not proper Australian.
            Your statement just reeks of the Sinn Fein Borg-collective propaganda.

            Studying the 1912 covenant would only make me reconsider the idea of doing anything drastic (hence the amount of opposition to the rebellion by other republicans)

            By your ‘backdoor’ logic then Scotland will never be allowed independence. Yet she’s going to the polls in a matter of weeks. I hope she votes yes and gets independence just to blow your argument out of the water.

            As for moderate unionists, unfortunately I think you have a point there.

          • giordanobruno August 9, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

            Charles Townsend on Easter 1916 is a good read. He suggests that the conscription crisis ran “like a dark thread through the whole history of Ireland’s war experience”.
            He contends that Hobson and MacNeill may have been right to believe that “English necessity” would have sufficiently alienated Irish opinion by the threat of conscription without the need for the violence of 1916.
            Of course we can never know but he makes a good case.

      • Virginia August 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

        Referring to “Native Irish” in 2014 is interesting. The term native and Irish crop up in almost every comments section of this very fine and addicting blog. So I must ask, why? In 2014 when both the Republic of Ireland and the UK have large numbers of persons who have few to no “Celtic” antecedents, what is “native”? Will there be DNA tests at polling booths to assure that the Irish rule Ireland? Is wording such as native not a wee bit creepy to anyone else?

        • Am Ghobsmacht August 7, 2014 at 3:16 am #

          It’s the neurosis on the nationalist side of the fence (not enough time to list the various neuroses on the unionist side).

          In Scotland, the Anglo-Norman-Frenchy types who made their way to the top of Scottish society through murder and skullduggery such as the De Brus (Bruce), Stewart, Chisholm, Fraser etc are regarded without doubt as Scottish.

          In Ireland, there’s a series of hoops to jump through.

          Even though these French speakers became Gaelic speakers very quickly they are still ‘suspect’ as even though many of them led rebellions against the Crown (as early as the early 1200’s and right up until the 1690’s or even 1790’s if you include the Fitzgeralds) there are those who are willing to discount their identity for them either being Protestant or pro-union.

          In Scotland one can be of the landed gentry with Norman roots and still a supporter of the union and still be classified as Scottish. No questions asked.

          In Ireland, one may be a landed O’Neill or a Fitzgerald or whatever BUT if you don’t support the right team then you run the risk of being a foreigner.

          I’m pro-Brussels. Doesn’t make me Belgian.

          Hence, in Ruaidri Ua Conchobai’s post of referring to the ‘native Irish’ he was insinuating that the Ulster 36th (with their Irish symbols and banners) and their native Irish speakers (of whom there were more than we are led to believe) were not Irish, or, in other words ‘foreign’.

          I see this batsh*t-crazy mindset as detrimental to the goal of a united Ireland. If it is even still a goal these days….

        • Ruaidri Ua Conchobai August 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

          Tut, tut, I was here in ‘2014’ [sic] referring to a by-gone era and solely to the island of Ireland, not the British in Great Britain.

          If you want to understand my view of the Unionists inhabiting the north-east corner of this the island of Ireland, I recommend you read my blog post: A Lost Tribe – the “British” in a corner of Ireland http://belfast-child.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/ALostTribetheBritishinIreland.html

          Am Ghobsmacht
          Next, you’ll be telling us there were no Unionists planted in Ireland to aid the British empires evil against the native Irish, and that all Ulster Unionists are either converted Catholics or descendants of poor Protestant Huguenots fleeing persecution… y-a-w-n!!!

          • Am Ghobsmacht August 7, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

            I see. Because I don’t mention the plantation (i.e. something obvious) then it means I think it didn’t happen?

            Is that how your brain works.

            As highlighted by one of the more formidable commentators on So’T (till mick barred him) the number of planters ranged in the thousands. The number of Protestants today number in hundreds of thousands.

            That would imply that a decent whack of inter-marrying with ‘the natives’ went on.

    • Mick Early August 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

      Normans are most definitely French!

  7. Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr August 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    I have been enjoying this blog for sometime. I thought I would at least engage…….

    The problem here is that far too many people (including those who would declare themselves nationalist) have for want of a better word a “West-Brit” analysis of commemorating the past. What can you expect after 90 years of brainwashing and relentless British media invasion of our island nation. Why are we even discussing a ‘grubby war in a foreign land’? (Thanks Jimbo for that)

    Countless Irish died participating in that war, many for selfish reasons, many who were actually against home rule. Those who where for home rule and fought were sadly to blind and trusting of their English landlords….

    The narrative in the O6C is one of a strongly uber-British past, one where they gave the nasty “ole bosch a dam good thrashing, six of the best, trousers down”. So much so that our own history has been largely censored. How dare we celebrate the 1916 Rising, only our Unionist folk, who are clearly more superior should be allowed to celebrate, after all isn’t their ‘Kulchar’ built upon celebrating past battles!

    A lot of people seem to think that we are in a ‘post-history’ period, that everything has been settled. Its far from settled, thankfully I will be young enough to enjoy reading the final chapter of Britain’s exit from its closest colony. This state-let was created by a sectarian head count and will end with one. He who lives by the sword and all that……… !

  8. ANOTHER JUDE August 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Brilliant piece Jude, the nonsense being spouted about WWI is nauseating, the sight of the Archbishop of Canterbury (a man of peace) giving his blessing to a group of chinless wonders covered in medals and being escorted by the woman who married into them, reinforcing the whole rotten edifice of English class rule a full century after the slaughter, shows absolutely nothing has changed.Those soldiers who died gave their lives so Kate Middleton would have fresh strawberries at Wimbledon. As for the Unionists standing grim faced at these silly memorials, they have brass necks seeing as their forefathers (I had to use that word, I know how much they love it) were importing weapons from…..Germany.

    • Jude Collins August 6, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Grma, AJ. Your comment shines a light too…

  9. michael c August 6, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    A fact that is often overlooked is that many joined the British army to fight in it’s imperial wars simply because they relished the idea of killing.They would be able to kill people without any fear of sanction or legal consequences.

  10. Iolar August 6, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Why is there so much talk in Ireland about the onset of the first Global Inter-Imperialist War? Niall Meehan posed much food for thought in ‘Distorting Irish History, the stubborn facts of Kilmichael: Peter Hart and Irish Historiography’, in Spinwatch, Public Interest Investigations (October 2010).
    The author suggests “Murdoch rather than Marx beckoned…historical revisionism appears to be an intellectual and career building wave of the future. Viewing the past in light of present centred concerns of the elite produced a concept of nationalist narrow mindedness and sectarianism having its roots in the revolutionary period”. Nationalist irrationality was based on the unchallenged assumptions about the concept of British rationality and paved the way for unprecedented censorship in the media between 1973 and 1977. Mind you it was a lucrative time for resting actors.
    Why is there so much talk about events between 1914 – 1918 at present? Possibly because there is tunnel vision journalism which leaves many issues unchallenged on a daily basis. The American Constitution protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. Ireland abstained on a recent vote to establish a commission of inquiry on Human Rights issues in Gaza (23 July 2014) at the U.N. Media reports affirmed the right of Israel to defend its undemarcated boundaries. Self defense for one group of individuals suddenly becomes ‘terrorism’ when vested interests and profits are at risk, so let’s talk about World War I.

    • giordanobruno August 7, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Yes, the centenary of one of the most significant events in modern history has been cunningly arranged to prevent discussion of the situation in Gaza.
      How did they manage that?

  11. paddykool August 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Hi Jude . My day has been too busy to get involved until now .I ‘d just like to say there is a three part series called “37” days which was filmed entirely in Northern Ireland that really made a good stab at visualising the intrigue leading up to the outbreak of WW1. it was broadcast over three hours back in March and is worth a look. Of course it is a dramatization of the events but none the worse for that . It does skimp a bit on the Irish question but it certainly works as a complex narrative …an explanation , if you like , of the backroom shenanigans between nations that can lead to unstoppable conflict. The kind of thing that the poor unfortunate uneducated cannon fodder are fed to…If you haven’t seen it , it’s worth a rattle.Good to see Perkins and Am ghob and the rest wre still batting that ball back and forth.!!!

  12. Wolfe tone August 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Whatever the excuses put forward to defend the participation by irish folk in ww1, be that poverty,promises of home rule, the ‘murder machine’,etc etc……..there can be no justification for any irish person in this day and age to be dying in a Brit uniform.

    • Am Ghobsmacht August 7, 2014 at 3:25 am #

      I don’t think you have the right to unilaterally declare that.

      If someone wants to join an army, meet interesting people and then kill them (or be killed by them) then that is not your concern, it is entirely their beeswax.

      The British army is open to many former colonies, dominions and dependencies hence the number of Pacific Islanders in the army.

      Ireland is not special.

      The British Army has a couple of Irish regiments and will gladly receive them.

      I know it irks some nationalists and unionists to think of the tricolour being respected within the confines of 1st Batt RIR but it is.


      Never worry though, it offers ample opportunity for whataboutery and to list the nefarious deeds of the British Army. Here we go….

  13. giordanobruno August 6, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Do you think there should be no commemoration of the men who died?
    Or perhaps it should be shifted so that it doesn’t come so close to the glorious and no doubt dignified 2016 events?

  14. Norma wilson August 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    Hallo Boys,
    I really have enjoyed reading all these blogs, it’s nice to change the topic from Israel?
    Now, whilst reading, my mind has drifted to my late GrandMother, who really was the Star of the County Down, she was the most beautiful girl, red hair green eyes, she looked every inch of an Irish colleen!
    She was born in Newry around 1890, so by all accounts she was Irish from a whole Ireland.
    She died in 1976, two phrases I always recall her saying was “to hell with poverty God bless the Pope”, and the other was “Ireland was the land of Saints and Scholars”!
    When the bombs were going off in Belfast toward the end of her life, she used the word Jeopardy frequently, I off wonder what she would make of all this carry on today.
    As a young child, I can vividly remember being on the parade ground of Victoria Barracks, were the New Lodge high rise flats are? In the summer we would go to Magillgan, or else Hollywood Barracks, I was spoon fed on the Edinburgh Tattoo, Trooping of the colour, standing for the Queen, when there only was BBC, just one station.
    My Father was in the R.A.C.C. For those who are filled with such hate, and anti Britishness that’s catering corp. He was a W.o.2 that’s Warrent Officer two.
    Now the jist of my story is this, I had truffles, and Cavour fifty years ago, all thanks to the B.A.
    Even during the darkest days here my Father was stationed on the Antrim Rd Firmount.
    He earned a fortune, as it was his second job, the TA, whilst his first was, you have guessed it, Thievephal in Lisburn.
    So you see guys, the BA put three through university, and my family lived off the fat of the land.
    So do forgive me, if I should see things slightly different from you’s.
    I won’t bore you’s with two uncles torpedoed with Mountbatton in submarines, we have a long history with the forces of which I am proud, and I am very proud of all those Irish men who gave their lives!
    As my late Father would have said “Different horses, for different courses”, you could all easily been born on the other side of the divide.

  15. Norma wilson August 6, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    That should read caviour

    • Norma wilson August 6, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      Caviar, sorry

      • Ceannaire August 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

        Norma, great to hear that your Grandmother was a Newry woman. (I’m a very proud Newry man). And I’m sure she was a fine cailín – especially with her believing that Ireland was the land of Saints and Scholars. My own Grandmother often told me that herself.

        Your own story is interesting but you have had a privileged upbringing – courtesy of your parents, and the BA, it seems.

        To many others, that same BA meant a very different thing. A side you either did not see or did not care to see. I accept your narrative. Though I fear you will not accept mine.

        You are incorrect about the “such hate, and anti Britishness [of posters here].” If only you realised how wrong those words are. Norma, we are all on the same ship – just on different decks.

        I’m sure I would have good craic with your Grandmother – though I would tell her “to hell with poverty and never mind the pope.”

      • Billy Pilgrim August 6, 2014 at 11:43 pm #


        Whither right and wrong, or good and evil, in your tale of your own family’s personal profit?

  16. Gary McBride August 7, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    Lots of bones to pick with you Jude, firstly the bravery shown in Dublin at Easter 1916, is on par with any bravery shown in the Somme, Passchendale or any other Battlefield were Irish men died in WW1. Only in Ireland, with free state revisionists like yourself would we try to sweep away the deeds of fallen heroes. I was in Budapest recently, and visited the massive and hugely impressive Heroes Square, which honours the Hungarian rebels who fell in an uprising against Soviet Union. A blood sacrifice with no chance of success but these people gave their lives fighting for their country’s liberty. They are celebrated, not brushed under the carpet.

    Historians like yourself do the deeds of these brave men zero justice.In Ireland the many modern day gombeen politicians and revisionist historians are to blame for trying belittle the efforts of our fallen heroes. It is seen as anti-English, or doesn’t fit in with our tourist experience in Dublin.

    I for one will be returning home for the one hundred anniversary of the 1916 rising, I shall celebrate it with people who will truly commemorate Ireland’s heroes as we always have done, and I will be doing this with friends from Britain and Germany.

    Maidin a mhaith

    Gary McBride

    • Pointis August 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      Gary, read Jude’s article again. Slower this time. Anyone can make a mistake, nobody will think any less of you for making it, but it takes a big man to apologise for it!

  17. Billy Pilgrim August 7, 2014 at 8:31 am #


    ‘…the bravery shown in Dublin at Easter 1916, is on par with any bravery shown in the Somme, Passchendale or any other Battlefield were Irish men died in WW1.’

    I disagree. The courage of the men and women of Easter Week was far, far greater than that of the Irish tommies. Because while their physical courage might have been equal, those who rose up in 1916 were demonstrating tremendous moral courage,

    In sharp contrast, many others took a uniform and a bayonet for the salary, or because John Redmond told them to. This was not the morally courageous thing to do.

    I think you have badly misjudged Dr Collins, by the way…

    • paul August 7, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      Dead straight Billy P. Brave men took on the might of the British Empire, “not for glory or for greed” as the song goes. It takes a special bravery to do that. It both astonishes and saddens men how so many of those in govt in the South feel the need to mute the deeds of these men so as not to offend the British. When has Britain ever worried about offending the people of Ireland?

    • neill August 8, 2014 at 7:24 am #

      If I agreed with you we would both be wrong wouldnt we?