Something’s missing

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Do you have reservations? Do you find yourself waking in the grey 4.00 am light and wondering if there’s something missing? Do you detect an irony going brr-rrrr in your brain like a phone on silent? I do.

Like so many others,  I watched on telly the  Dublin Easter parade. Well, not all of it. There’s only so much parading a person can take. But what I did see left me with reservations, a sense of something missing and a feeling there was a live irony buzzing around inside my skull.

Maybe it was the …finality of it all. The end of history. The commentators and anyone vox-popped invariably sounded pleased as Punch. The heroic sacrifices those men made for us. The touching goodbye scenes between the men to be shot at dawn and their families. The identification of the Easter Rising as the seminal event in ‘our’ achievement of nationhood.

I found myself wishing I could jump in and say “Amen, brother or sister – Alleluiah!” but I couldn’t.  Was there no one in the crowds massed along O’Connell Street, across O’Connell Bridge, round past what was Grattan’s Parliament building and is now ( irony alert) the Bank of Ireland – was there no one to say “Realized nationhood?  Our ‘country’? Enough, already!”

The Proclamation is everywhere these days – on scarves, on towels, on walls – nobody calling themselves Irish can avoid encountering it.  I’ve even got my own copy. Scan it  with a magnifying glass as often as I may, I can’t see the footnote that says none of the above applies to  the six northern counties.  Maybe they used invisible ink in the bit where they say that the best way to build a proper republic is to tax the life out of those with least.  And there’s clearly been a printing error: it has no mention of a requirement for the twenty-six counties to dance to a German tune in order to express Ireland’s nationhood and independence.

Back on the telly, the voice-over kept referring to ‘the Taoiseach’ and ‘the Tanaiste’ , even though both Enda and Joan are now mere caretakers of those titles since the election.

Meanwhile, out in Glasnevin cemetery, there’s a wall. This freshly-erected structure has been created to salute all combatants in 1916. The relatives of those involved in the Rising aren’t one bit happy, and certainly the buzz of irony is clearly detectable.

North of the Black Sow’s Dyke, any attempt to place all dead combatants and their families on a list of victims has been met with dug-in heels and cries of “Outrageous!” South of the border the names of all combatants killed have been put on a wall – both those who fought for independence and those who killed or tried to kill those fighting for independence.

You have to admire the completeness of the irony, don’t you?  Those in the south executed in 1916 were victims of British violence. Yet those who shot them  – the British forces – get equal honour on the Glasnevin wall.

In the North the argument works the other way. Here the complaint is that those who gave their loyalty to Britain should not be degraded by being listed alongside those who fought against Britain.

In all this there are two dangers. One is that we will forget the humanity behind every uniform and label.  In the end we’re talking about the taking of human life. The other danger is that the self-sacrifice of the Easter Rising will be blurred until it turns into a general lament for all who died, regardless of which side they fought on.

Flexibility is a virtue but sometimes it can become a defect. Think Ireland’s Call. 

And let’s remember, in the midst of the happy centenary celebrations, that a hundred years after the Easter Rising we have a  divided Ireland, where the southern part is dominated by bankers and austerity, while the northern part must struggle to avoid being air-brushed out of existence.


23 Responses to Something’s missing

  1. Seán Mór April 3, 2016 at 6:24 am #

    Keep wakening at 4am sir. Excellent article. Tragic tale, mind you. The RTÉ coverage was reminiscent of Basil Fawlty’s “whatever you do, don’t mention the war!”… Only it was “dont mention partition”.

  2. Mark April 3, 2016 at 8:20 am #

    I suppose the year that’s in it, the brit legion will, proudly commemorate the heroic sacraficed of Rupprecht, Fritz and Max, along with their subordinates who died fighting their Kaisers cousin.
    Maybe not but, this shows the lie down and die, used to be ‘croppy lie down’ , approach if the free state government, and, frankly, opposition, to the 1916 enemy.
    The real problem is, what our children are being taught, some old German woman visiting, some eurocrat pulling our economic purse strings, all accepted by our politicians and media, all bought off by a treaty from Portugal, time, and it may be coming, to teach the number of words a farmer must read to sell cabbages, time, perhaps, to stand on the Proclamation and teach our people what it actually meant, equality for all Irish women and men, not democratic unionism.

  3. Sherdy April 3, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    We don’t want the Brits
    Southerners don’t want us
    Anyone for UDI?

    • jessica April 3, 2016 at 3:29 pm #

      The brits dont want the north
      The south doesnt want the north
      The brits want dublin
      Dublin wants the brits

      So what’s this UDI sherdy?

      It certainly looks like a plan b is in order.

      • Sherdy April 3, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

        Nobody else wants us so we may as well declare UDI (unilateral declaration of independence)!

        • jessica April 3, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

          “Nobody else wants us so we may as well declare UDI (unilateral declaration of independence)!”

          We need to look after ourselves, take control of our own destiny and not what either state tells us we can or cannot do.

          Ourselves alone and all that.

          Perhaps a second rise of Sinn Fein, focussing on the constitutional matter not purely on austerity will set things right again.

          Mark seems to believe there is still hope.

          It is time everyone put their cards on the table so we know what hand we have to play with.

          If no one wants us so be it but I would rather know the truth.

  4. Perkin Warbeck April 3, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    There is something very Schubertian, Esteemed Blogmeister, about your eagle putt of a posting today.

    Quite coincidentally, one has been on a Bert Ahern, oops, Franz Schubert binge of late: could one imagine a bigger contrast between an bheirt Bert seo / these two Berts? One is all hummable harmonies, the other is all hum and haw.

    Courtesy of youtube (Here’s to you, Mrs Youtube !) one indeed has recently been on a wider symphonic journey through the Austro-Germanic musical soundscape of the late 18th century / early 19th century, starting with Papa Haydn (all 104) , and making delightful detours through Mozart (42) and then Beethoven (9) before finally arriving at Schubert.

    Now, for a longer time than one cares to admit, this particular fan of Franz was of the mistaken opinion that Schubert had composed but eight symphonies, and that it was the cloth-eared Grim Reaper who had rendered the last one unfinished.

    Now, while the composer scored his symphonies for woodwind, brass, percussion (Including a glockenspiel on one occasion, if one’s memory is not playing a Paul Daniels),keyboard and strings, there is no record of his ever having included the scythe among this instrumentation. No more than he did with the Lurgan spade.

    In fact it wasn’t the Grim Reaper who saw to it that Schubert’s eight, aka the Unfinished Symphony, never got beyond the second movement. Rather was it the divine dissatisfaction of the composer himself who brought down the, erm, guillotine (another unscored instrument ).

    In fact Franz Schubert composed twelve symphonies in all, six complete, and six unfinished.

    So ?

    The hint lies in the number 6. As in symphonies, as in counties.

    The self-congratulatory Free Southern Stateen , whether under Fianna Failure or Fine Ghoul , whether under the baton of Bertie Barbirolli or the baton of Kenny von Karajan, has conducted itself in such an abominable way that would make even a snowman melt in his pelt with embarrassment. Shame just doesn’t begin to enter into the equation, where the FSS is concerned.

    You up there, on the other, erm, scythe of the Black Sow’s Dyke can play whatever tune you like (probably The Four Green Fields) on your Lurgan spades where ever you like (possible on the Falls Road) . Nothing to do with us

    We’re too busy getting our gladrags on for a gala performance of a ballet ‘The Three Cornered Hat’ by (gulp) Manuel de Falla in the (gasp) 3 Arena in Dublin, the only thing remotely Nordie about which is its location (sigh) the North Wall Quay. (That would be the Quay of E sharp, E for Exclusion).

    It’s curtains up for us, it’s curtains for you.

  5. Iolar April 3, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    “Ireland’s call, an irony alert and pleased as Punch,” one would pay good money for a book with such gems. Just before the “armoured cars and tanks and guns…” rolled past the GPO, drunken uncles singing Danny Boy was the fare of the day from RTÉ last Sunday.

    The fare today, courtesy of Sir Bob, is the “McDonalds of Terrorism,” complete with expletives. I guess the linguistically challenged knight might not reflect the menu of the franchise should he gaze into his crystal ball and then write of the experiences of those on the other side who were blown out of the Middle East courtesy of armed planes, ships and guns.

    Machiavelli is alive and well in Dublin, much to the chagrin of the the acting Taoiseach and Tánaiste. Millward Brown proclaim,

    “The people overwhelmingly want Micheál Martin elected Taoiseach…”

    Based on a “significant opinion poll” twice as many voters prefer Mr Martin (39%) over Mr Kenny (17%) to be the next Taoiseach, according to this “potentially influential poll.” Something is missing. Just how many “voters” participated in the poll? Well we can dispense with the crystal ball as we have a reliable response from Machiavelli,

    “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.”

  6. TheHist April 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    Jude, you summed up last weeks commemorations quite well – there definitely wasn’t something quite right with it. I struggled through it myself asking a lot of questions. What will be interesting, will be how the government commemorate future events in this “decade of centenaries” – Rise of SF, Rise of the IRA, the War of Independence, the Treaty, creation of the new statelet, partition and the Civil War. Perhaps Enda will be secretly glad to hand the baton over to Michael Martin … Time will tell. Perhaps Unionist will delve further into their shells (if that’s possibly).

    On another note, I read an interesting article that illustrates quite clearly the partitionist mindset is very healthy in the South. St Mary’s Grammar, Belfast were playing Doon CBS from Limerick in the All Ireland semi final a number of weeks back. After the game a Doon player told a parent of one of the St Mary’s players, “go back to Britain and play your fucking games up there.” Quite an interesting take on it from the youth of the South – As an avid GAA follower, I have often bore testament to the North South divide. The same article cites a Laois player calling Armagh’s John Rafferty an “orange bastard.” I’m assuming he wasn’t referring to the colour of his jersey, but perhaps something more political? is this the mindset of the South towards the North? Is this how they feel? With this type of mindset prevailing lent and being exposed on a sporting pitch – is there any change of unity in the future?

    • jessica April 3, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      “I read an interesting article that illustrates quite clearly the partitionist mindset is very healthy in the South. St Mary’s Grammar, Belfast were playing Doon CBS from Limerick in the All Ireland semi final a number of weeks back. After the game a Doon player told a parent of one of the St Mary’s players, “go back to Britain and play your fucking games up there.”

      Mick Quigley who made similar comments on the Irish Times facebook age was also from Limerick.

      Shame on Limerick

  7. billy April 3, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    sure we have our own wall on the falls rd complete with a mural of lord carson looking down on the locals an insult of the highest order.garda beating protesters the day in dublin as the establishment honoured the brits who were doing the murdering.only in ireland eh.

    • Ryan April 3, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

      I seen that myself Billy.

      I spoke to one Sinn Fein member about it and he said “Its there for education and will only be there for a short while”.

      A few things puzzled me about that statement. Since when is a mural required for “education”? I have never considered murals to be “educational”. I always considered them, especially in recent years, to be there for tourists, who flock around them. But tourists don’t come here in there bulk until the Summer months and I know this because you cant get moving on the Falls Road because of them. But in the month of March there is virtually no Tourists on the Falls and as the Shinner said its only going to be there for a short time.

      So what’s the point of the mural? I honestly don’t know but I can speculate. Something tells me this is part of Sinn Fein’s doomed outreach to Unionism. Don’t get me wrong I support that outreach for numerous reasons but the timing of this mural and the area its placed in couldn’t be more wrong. On the Falls Road on the week leading up to the 100th Commemoration of 1916? Bloody hell……

      As for “education”? The majority on the Falls knows all about Edward Carson, everyone in the North has lived with this man’s terrible legacy for the past 100 years. Indeed Ian Paisley was a great replacement for Edward, he loved working up the Loyalist mob and creating a wild fear and hatred of “themm’uns” too. (Read yesterday about how Paisley told a crowd on the 12th July that 80% of Protestants in the South had been “eliminated”, aka murdered/genocide and that stopping parades in the North was a preclude to the extermination of Protestants in the North……)

      Indeed I was reading Edward Carson’s maiden speech to the House of Lords just last night. Author and poet called “Paulin” described it as “a spectacular example of the contradictory, self pitying, childish, festering sense of grievance which is at the heart of the Loyalist mentality”. Nothing has changed much in the past 100 years then……

      Paulin, btw, was a Protestant Unionist born in Belfast but lived his whole life in England but was always very interested in Northern affairs.

      • TheHist April 3, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

        “I spoke to one Sinn Fein member about it and he said “Its there for education and will only be there for a short while”.

        Out of interest Ryan, did that SF member state why the mural of Kieran Nugent was chosen to be temporarily replaced? That’s quite a big wall and to replace that one was an insult to many. Why not one of the others?

        When he said “education” – I’m assuming he is referring to educating the community of the Falls Road (Nationalist community), not necessarily tourists! I am all for education but perhaps, there are ways and means of educating, but the mural in its current state isn’t very educational – if anything it has been deemed quite divisive and obviously a picture without words can be interpreted and misinterpreted in various forms. I feel also no matter how much you explain the context of a mural like this some people won’t get it.

        I, like you, support outreach – it’s important and integral to a society emerging from conflict – I am an advocate of shared History – I am of the opinion, the Easter Rising and Edward Carson are integral and this must be known – most people i speak with see the Easter Rising in a vacuum and don’t understand the wider context. This wider context is fundamental – Carson’s militancy and his rhetoric during the Home Rule period was instrumental to plans for the Rising progressing, amongst other factors of course – in effect Carson was the IRB’s greatest weapon – without the UVF and IVF may never have existed, the IVF emerging as the front for a reinvigorated IRB. The mural alludes to this (wonder how many don’t know this) but perhaps could rationalise this further – no links on the mural to the Rising are made – there is a major overlap of history here and I feel it’s been a missed opportunity. History is often confused and misinterpreted. The mural in its current form, I feel has succeeded in doing that and could have been contextualised more appropriately.

        I’ve seen two murals where the newspaper has been changed from “Volunteers” to “Irish Volunteers”. The newspaper shown on the mural is also historically inaccurate – maybe I’m being pedantic but at the Rotunda Rally, where the Irish Volunteers were launched, 180,000 did not join up. The recruitment drive was slow and slower than the Ulster Volunteers. The movement didn’t reach near 180,000 until near the outbreak of WW1. If anything the Curragh Incident and the Larne Gunrunning only served to enhance the ranks of the movement – maybe the mural is alluding to that – but it isn’t clear.

        A friend told me that SF stated the mural was put up with the consent of the majority of people in the area – I have no idea where this information came from or if it’s true – but if it is, would the majority of people in that community support this mural? Did the SF member state if any funding was made available to replace the mural?

        • TheHist April 3, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

          Ryan, just seeing this in relation to the mural:

          “Sinn Fein said that those criticising the mural were “out of touch with the views of the local community”.

          “West Belfast MLA Fra McCann said: “The shortsightedness of the handful of protestors in opposing this mural shows how out of touch they are with the views of the vast majority of local people who support the mural and the wider commemorations.”

          Be interesting to know where Fra McCann got the stats from, that the vast majority of people supported the mural.

          • giordanobruno April 3, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

            Any idea what the process is for these murals?
            The spokesman for the protesting group The Belfast 32 County Sovereignty Movement said their mural (the Kieran Nugent one I presume) had been paid for by its members.
            Who is paid and who gives it the nod?

      • jessica April 3, 2016 at 8:49 pm #

        “Since when is a mural required for “education”? I have never considered murals to be “educational”. I always considered them, especially in recent years, to be there for tourists, who flock around them.”

        I work with people in the tourism industry among others and the season only starts to pick up in March and is currently seasonal.

        The tourism industry has the greatest potential for economic growth on this island and businesses will cash in on it, and neither politician nor state will deny it.

        The opportunity at the Maze has the potential to be the biggest grossing tourist attraction on this island, far outweighing any single thing that Dublin has to offer.

        When the unionist veto is broken by sheer weight of numbers, the handbrake preventing economic growth will have been released and the north will finally have the opportunity to turn its economic fortunes around and take the lead in shaping the future of our nation. The people who will lead this growth will be from both traditions and will work together, the process has already begun. Profit honours no allegiance in business.

        Perhaps the education being referred to might be that there is more than one narrative to our shared history, and if we are to truly build a future for this nation, it has to be fully inclusive and incorporate the narratives of both traditions on this island. For that is all we have at present, an island. We have no country but the potential to build a country, the blueprint of which having been handed down from the rebels of 1916, signed by their hand and paid for in their blood.

        Their dream was a Republic that guaranteed religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, that resolved to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

        The first step is educating the people just what that nation is and offering everyone the opportunity to be an equal part of it.

        I have read the biggest load of bullshit I have ever seen in my life on this very site over what is the Irish nation.

        The reasoning that Carson is on the mural for educational purposes sounds perfectly reasonable to me, it may also be a test of maturity for Sinn Fein to decide what the people are ready for on the road to nation building. That it might not be there for long is not a good omen.

        If Carson cannot be included on a mural showing our history, how on earth can we claim to be ready to build a nation, let alone out of such divided communities north and south? An believe me, it will up to northern Irish people to build this nation for the south and elements within unionism will do all they can to wreck it, if for differing reasons.

        How can we build a history museum reflecting all narratives favouring no one side, something the south need to learn about quick sharp, and providing educational and conflict resolution centres where Irelands experiences can help educate other conflicted nations as well as offer tourist potential?

        The museums in Auchwitz hold much darker pasts yet are proudly marketed as tourist attractions.

        Many nations celebrate independence which was born out of conflict against empires without glorifying or supporting present day violence.

        Another reason you can give these non Sinn Fein republicans as to how they are preventing the birth of a free Irish nation and the prosperity of our people for that is all that they are doing.

  8. jessica April 3, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    I just got my first 1916 commemorative collection medal featuring Michael Collins.

    It has the words, “give us back our country, to live in, to grow in, to love”

    • Ryan April 3, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

      And Fine Gael actually have the cheek to say they descend from Michael Collin’s, Jessica….

      I know Collin’s was Pro-Treaty but I always thought, and there’s evidence to suggest, that Collin’s was planning some other tactic of securing the North. The man had his faults but he was a genius. Indeed if we had more Michael Collin’s type people then we would’ve had Irish freedom a long time ago.

      Indeed Michael Collin’s was voted 2nd in a survey of “Britain’s greatest foes”. He came 2nd to George Washington (another “terrorist”, if we applied Arlene Fosters logic). The son of a West Cork Farmer, leading no more than 3,000 IRA men at any given time and beat the British Empire to a stalemate, aged just 32 with no Professional Military tactical training, was voted ahead of huge historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Erwin Rommel (Genius WW2 German tank commander), Ataturk (founder of modern Turkey), Andrew Jackson (President of the USA after Washington) and many others.

      I may be wrong but I think only Historians could vote on this poll which closed in 2011.

      • jessica April 3, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

        I am a collins fan also Ryan.

        I would say if around today, he would not have much time for Fine Gael, (to be polite about it).

        I also wouldn’t say he was Pro-Treaty. He was more a military man and knew the treaty would allow him to build the army and the military strength that would be required to take back the north through force of arms, and I believe he would have saw it through to the end.

        De Valera on the other hand, would sell his mother than be seen to break his word on a state matter.

        He knew Michael Collins would scupper his political pursuits overshadowing his relevance and he chose to cash in instead ordering the murder of Michael Collins.

        He acknowledged that with time, the greatness of Michael Collins would be at his expense.

        His stubbornness created the real division over the treaty and instilled the partitionist thinking that persists to this day.

        It was not the British that created the divisions in Ireland, but Eamon DeValera, from a certain point of view.

        Wonder what the TheHist will make of that?

  9. MT April 3, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

    “In the North the argument works the other way. Here the complaint is that those who gave their loyalty to Britain should not be degraded by being listed alongside those who fought against Britain.”

    Yes, Jude those honourable men who “fought against Britain” by shooting policemen in the back, planting bombs under part-time soldiers’ cars, bombing pubs, bombing local businesses and so on. We should honour them.

    • jessica April 3, 2016 at 9:25 pm #

      “Yes, Jude those honourable men who “fought against Britain” by shooting policemen in the back, planting bombs under part-time soldiers’ cars, bombing pubs, bombing local businesses and so on. We should honour them”

      Yes we should, as well as the loyalists who also gave their lives for what they saw was a just cause, instilled into them by mainstream unionism and the British intelligence services.

      This nation will be better when the sickness of denial of what went on here is finally removed.

      I would rather share this country with such loyalists and republicans who had the courage to fight for what they believed in than the armchair detractors who can do no more than vilify the product of political corruption and colonial occupation.

  10. fiosrach April 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    Jessica, are you sure that you know the difference between a republican and a free stater or between a pro and anti Treaty insurgent?

    • jessica April 4, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

      “Jessica, are you sure that you know the difference between a republican and a free stater or between a pro and anti Treaty insurgent?”

      I am sure there is a point you are making fiosrach but afraid I am missing it.

      If there is an opinion I have expressed that you disagree with then why not just spit it out, there are very few right and wrong answers here.