I’ll plead old age and the loss of short term memory and pretend I don’t know the name of the pundit who recently wrote –
“Nationalists who had sought from 1870 to have a measure of Home Rule for Ireland, rejected the 1920 Act. The cheering crowds which had filled O’Connell Street in 1912 in welcome to the third Home Rule Bill, had been replaced by a sullen determination to break the link with Britain once and for all.”
On April 1st 1912 THE TIMES carried a report of a Home Rule meeting at which 100,000 people had been present the previous day in Dubiin –
“A good-humoured, pleasant, holiday gathering simply proving that the Irish are a gregarious people and like excitement, especially on Sundays.There was nothing about this meeting of the fierce and stolid resolution which made such an impression on English visitors to recent Unionist meetings at Belfast.”
Ten days later, on April 11th 1912 THE TIMES led with an Editorial “SOLDIERS AND CITIZENS” –
“Mr Keir Hardie made the truly absurd proposal that men joining the Army should be given the option as to whether or not they shall be liable to take duty in aid of the civil power. The notion is that we shall have two kinds of soldiers side by side, one of them absolved from a duty incumbent on all citizens, and the other ready to discharge that duty, was too much for the common sense of Mr Keir Hardie’s political friends.”
Keir Hardie was trying to save soldiers from strike-breaking tasks and the bashing of Trade Unionists. Less than two years later the Liberal Secretary of State for War, a General of the Army and many Officers proved themselves supportive of Keir Hardie’s notion, kow-towing to the Officers’ Mutiny at the Curragh. The Officers would not move North where they might be required to repel the attacks of Ulster Unionists…
It was an Upstairs – Downstairs Era, even an OVER-THE-WATER/UNDER-THE-WATER Era, as pipers played ERIN’S LAMENT on 11th April 1912, as RMS TITANIC sailed out of Queenstown. The ship had left Southampton and called at Cherbourg before calling at Queenstown.
Her lifeboats were never intended to be sufficient to accommodate all passengers and crew in case of an emergency and neither the steerage passengers’ nor crew’s lives were considered a priority. Speed was considered essential and the ship was the obsession of Joseph Bruce Ismay, Chairman and Managing Director of the White Star Line.
Some wealthy passengers gallantly following the “women and children first” code saved the lives of others by refusing to take places in the lifeboats. Bruce Ismay was not amongst them. While most steerage passengers and most of the crew persished Ismay nimbly got on a lifeboat and survived for another 25 years. He died in Connemara in 1937.
THE TIMES carried an Obituary recording his philanthropic activities. But it did not mention of RMS TITANIC nor THE WHITE STAR LINE.
Anyway if we are to start to understand the difference between the World of April 1912 and December 1920 it’s no harm to see the world of the first fortnight of April 1912 through eyes other than those of THE TIMES.
I may be mistaken, but I could have sworn that I started this blog with a quotation from Ronan McGreevy.