FEET OF CLAY Do we need to erect monuments or playparks  to our heroes? by Harry McAvinchey


craig what we have we hold

Do we need to rethink our ideas about heroes in Norneverland ? It’s a question that has recently exercised my mind  and has become something of  a very emotive and divisive rallying call here. It’s already affecting our social relationships, in this still  very divided society.You’d think we could see this through new eyes.

Yes , I know people love their heroes. There are sports stars that children will want to emulate.That sportsman might be the man or woman who  will set someone on a quest for their own sporting destiny. It may be the spur that makes someone a future champion runner or ice-skater. There are writers who inspire with their eloquent descriptions and poets who tease out the lessons of love,loss and place, and in doing so,  allow their readers to dream anew.. Who hasn’t wanted to be a guitar player after experiencing the beauty of a Django ,a Jansch or a Jimi. Heroes are inspirational figures who allow another generation to dream newer dreams. They are our giants ,upon whose shoulders,  new inspirations are built. In short order  I wanted to be some sort of a writer , musician or an artist  when I was a teenager . I say …”some sort”. It didn’t necessarily follow that I’d be famous on a world scale or  want to be …or be  especially very good. Those kind of aspirations  only reach fruition  and blossom in  the very few . For the most part ,all that hard work and talent, might result in very little, unless a lot of luck, help ,promotion or assistance is also involved.

Most people continue to take their talent or hard work…and pursue that dream in a more modest pool. Others’ reveries  may include a  Muhammed Ali or  a Georgie Best.  They maybe fantasise  of actually  “being” their heroes in their slumber….scoring that phantom winning  goal and basking in the adulation of of a yipping , adoring crowd. It’s the way we are made.There are quieter heroes , of course, like the local barber who puts all his effort into charity work.He will be appreciated , but few will erect a statue  in his memory .He might be lucky to get his photograph in the local paper.

We also like to put our heroes on pedestals too . Bearing in mind that all of our heroes are mere mortals and mostly have human failings and certainly feet of earth- bound clay, this can sometimes be a very divisive idea. It’s one of the curious facts of life that you are more likely to be immortalised nationally for doing some warlike endeavour rather than for curing cancer or for discovering the DNA helix. Sometimes  someone as divisive  as  a politician , a gunrunner ,or some  soldier  can be elevated  to esteemed heights of glory.

Recently there has been quite a furore about a childrens’ playpark being named after  a Republican Hunger Striker .This did not sit well with many Unionists and many non-Republican Nationalists , alike.Some nationalists and probably some far -thinking republicans might find an action like that counter-productive for their future dreams of a  truly united Ireland. It was very obviously going to be seen as divisive in such a polarised society. Put plainly, it was going to be a playpark for only republican children and everyone else could take a hop, step and jump. That is hardly fair and equitable behaviour, is it? Of course it’s been pointed out that towns , cities and streets have been named after specific heroes or ancient battles harking back to Britain’s days of Empire  and were seen by  a great many of the population  as utterly one-sided and divisive, too . There are plenty of statues that reflect on a pro-British outlook alone.

In 1965 ,a few mere  years before the first Civil Rights March in Norneverland , a proposed “New City “was named after James Craig , Norneverland’s first Prime Minister .It was called Craigavon. Craig , the scion of distillers  known for their brewing of the Devil’s Buttermilk , became a  Whiskey Millionaire .He had a chequered history which included rallying the Ulster Unionist opposition ,prior to World War One to oppose  Home Rule in Ulster. He organised an illegal paramilitary unit called the Ulster Volunteer Force {UVF} and bought and smuggled  arms from Germany, Britain’s future enemy in the war. These arms were to fight against Britain if the unionists didn’t get what they wanted politically. They were quite prepared to fight against the King and His Government.. The guns were eventually used against their German suppliers in the Great War shortly thereafter .  You might say that the birth of Norneverland was the prize for once again playing the turncoat and supporting Britain’s war effort.To many in Ireland this man was anything but a hero and so it still remains ,one hundred years later. The “New City” , which never really fully developed ,was still named after him…a Whiskey Terrorist.

So much for heroes and  heroics.

Of course none of this excuses the tit -for -tat naming of streets , parks and the like after dubious “heroes” of either stripe. It could be imagined though that the old saw “Two wrongs Don’t Make A Right”  could have been studied a little more carefully if we are ever to have a civilised “united” country. If republicans really wanted to prepare the ground for a  viable  future republic of equals , you’d imagine they’d not want to repeat the mistakes of their foolish pro- British unionist   predecessors and would  call their plays parks after something innocuous like  a Nursery Rhyme character….something that nobody could complain about.

Of course , even innocuous Nursery Rhymes have their origins in ancient tales of horror  or politics,in many cases….but that’s for another story…

Let’s not go there right now…..I’ll talk about it presently….

5 Responses to FEET OF CLAY Do we need to erect monuments or playparks  to our heroes? by Harry McAvinchey

  1. Francis March 4, 2015 at 1:06 am #

    Dubious Heroes of whatever Stripe?….I think we need a root and branch refreshment of our values which encompasses a wider girth of what may seem ‘dubious’ perhaps? Bomber Harris, or the War Criminal Horatio Nelson et al may fit cosily into the script at lol commemorations, but the Anglican Radical Robert Emmet was the greater man without doubt. We become so passively programmed to acquiesce in the so called ‘moderate’ script that we forget RAYTHEON and BOMBARDIER here in the north of Ireland, are making components for Predator Drones which can blow three generations of a family to smithereens, bypassing any judicial process(again the British State acquiescing in a wider project of hegemony,-divide, destroy then control..Naturally we are dampened to the extremity of these extra judicial assassinations given our remoteness to the end ‘result’…Noam Chomsky summed it up well when he assessed that the main stream media coral real liberals from examining their governments by fomenting a distracting frenzy of discussion among people to divert from the excesses of their states(not ver batum) but Eamon Mc Cann and other so called leftists to my shame in not helping them wreck Raytheon’s offices in Derry which the SDLP gave quiet, tacit support for,-Look it up…we stand by and allow the so called middle ground to set the tempo…? Maybe we need change tack and ask the SDLP, SF or anyone why the apparatus of Terrorism is allowed to function in Irelands’ forth largest City while we remain addicted to distractions about sectarian division we did not foster, nor do not espouse. Ireland, a land of conflicts and divides…my allegiance lies with the dispossessed of the Shankhill ,Newlodge, Ardoyne, Ballysally or Ballymun, not the prophiteers who try to distract anti-Republicans from the real goal of emancipation in a Realisable strivance which is arguably not a Utopian vision for fools but an acceptance of the cozy insular ‘middle ground’ while 50,000+souls evaporate from this planet daily and we haggle over stones in a land that has seethed in the aftermath of such like with (an gort mor)….There Is No Famine….lets change our agendas. Robert Emmet, Joe Mc Cann, James Connolly, Michael Collins, Costello, Ronald Bunting, Mc Creesh……..The tail should not ever wag the dog and the ‘mind forged manacles’ William Blake cited pre Marx False Consciousness ideas it is incumbent upon us all to examine, whatever our heritage or lineage in Ireland is, and invariably, planter and gael we are entwined, and individually we as persons would not exist now had our history’s and blood not so now entwined,-lets leave the pure blood ideas to the Nazis where they belong in the shadows and move steadily on and let us not solidify apathy by continual reversion to the middle ground of the power brokers making. We can think, let us move forward and leave dogma, Empires, flags, greed and its avoidably horrible consequences for humanity, leave these for our Children to examine in museums, and laugh out loud that they bested us in our tired graves.

  2. paddykool March 4, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    I’ll have a pint of whatever it is you’re having , Francis!!!

  3. michael c March 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    I see the owner of the anti SF website,Mick Fawlty has now produced an e mail from a “concerned mother” who is in a shocking quandry when she takes her child to play on the swings in McCreesh park.Apparently she does not want to have to explain “shite” to her child.I would state that this “e mail” is as genuine as the letters from “catholic mother of ten that used to appear in the Irish News in the early days of the troubles and we all know where they emanated from!

    • ANOTHER JUDE March 4, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

      True, Colin Wallace was a prolific letter writer back then!

  4. michael c March 4, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    In case anyone does’nt know, Mr Fawlty’s website is called Slugger Otool and the relevant e mail can be viewed in all its glory there.