On 12th February 2011 I read an article in THE IRISH TIMES which I believed needed challenging and on the same day I emailed the following to that paper. My letter was not published, nor was any other challenging that article.Here’s my letter-


Harman Murtagh (Weekend Review 12 Feb) ends his critique of Peter Hart’s ‘Gallipoli’, with the assertion that the 4,000 Irish dead were ‘for too long airbrushed from the Irish historical narrative.’

I’m long enough in the tooth, having been at school in the 1940s and 1950s, to challenge that claim. Carty’s History of Ireland was a narrative popular in the schools. It carried a quotation from the German General Von Sanders, who directed the defence of Gallipoli, which attested to the courage of the Irishmen who fought there.

In the 1950s THE UNITED IRISHMAN, organ of anti-establishment Republicans, ran a piece on the Irish at Gallipoli. It quoted a British Officer, surveying through binoculars, from a ship, fallen Irishmen on the beaches and asking ‘Why are our men resting?’

I can also remember neighbours, and two of my uncles who fought and were wounded serving with the British forces in the First World War.

Those written records and the walking reminders of the First World War should not be airbrushed out of history by glib commentators, whether or not they have their own historical agendas.

Yours faithfully,
Donal Kennedy.”

After writing the letter I GOOGLED Harman Murtagh and found out that he was President of The Military History Society of Ireland. Five years later he’s still in post. A former classmate of mine, an ex-Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, is a Vice President of the Military History Society of Ireland. And the son of James Carty, the Historian quoted was a classmate of both of us.

THE IRISH TIMES has another Editor these days but the paper appears to be following his predecessor’s, and indeed many predecessors’ practice of publishing indefensible assertions and refusing to publish challenges to them if they clash with the paper’s agenda.

I can give other examples if required.


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