Tuesday, April 04, 2006

1916: English mothers wept too

Amid all the hoo-ha about right and wrong ways to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising, it's easy to let a temptation to MOPEry cloud the fact that, while 80 rebels died (64 killed at arms and 16 executed afterwards) 220 innocent Irish civilians were also killed. I hope they get remembered honorably by everyone.
 
140 British soldiers were also killed in the insurgency. Traditionally seen as the enemy, the British have never been big beneficiaries of Irish compassion, especially when national independence is being celebrated.
 
Ninety years on, the English are welcome visitors in Dublin and - as United Irelander pointed out a while back - treasure the Irish culture and way of life. Relations are good. It would be thoughtful and a big step of reconciliation to the British-Irish in Ulster if Irish Nationalists would also commemorate the British who died in the Easter Rising.

11 Comments:

At 11:36 a.m., Anonymous Lorcan said...

I can't help but agree with you, BU. Whether or not the 1916 rising was a good thing or not has little to do with this. People died, their families suffered. This was not good. Remembering all of those who suffered and their surviving families is only fair.

 
At 12:59 p.m., Anonymous levee said...

Although I don't know enough about the history of Ireland in general, I'll admit to having never looked at the Easter Rising this way before.

I think you've raised (yet again) the need to look at situations like the Easter Rising from both sides.

 
At 7:10 p.m., Blogger EWI said...

Amid all the hoo-ha about right and wrong ways to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising, it's easy to let a temptation to MOPEry cloud the fact that, while 80 rebels died (64 killed at arms and 16 executed afterwards) 220 innocent Irish civilians were also killed. I hope they get remembered honorably by everyone.

Civilians die in every war. It's a horrible reality (and glossed over by propaganda in recent years) but it inevitably happens. How many of those civilians died from British bullets? There are accounts of British soldiers running amok and executing innocent Dubliners.

140 British soldiers were also killed in the insurgency. Traditionally seen as the enemy, the British have never been big beneficiaries of Irish compassion, especially when national independence is being celebrated.

Why should they expect to be, realistically? We are not "values neutral" over (largely) winning independence from a British rule which had a long history of conquest and tyranny. Tthis is not what's meant by tolerance.

Ninety years on, the English are welcome visitors in Dublin and - as United Irelander pointed out a while back - treasure the Irish culture and way of life.

I'll say they do. Have you ever been in Temple Bar at night?

Relations are good. It would be thoughtful and a big step of reconciliation to the British-Irish in Ulster if Irish Nationalists would also commemorate the British who died in the Easter Rising.

They are. The British ambassador is there by invitation.

 
At 10:05 p.m., Anonymous BLUEY said...

New book out - Easter Rising 1916 by Charles Townsend. He's doing a reading at Cresent Arts centre (£6)on Thurs 6th April.

 
At 10:51 p.m., Anonymous beaugeste said...

Actually a large portion of the "British" soldiers killed in the 1916 rebellion were "Irish". The regiments that put the rebellion down were mostly Irish regiments, and the rebels did some glorious acts against their fellow Irishmen during the rising, for example ambushing and killing some unarmed "home guard" Irish Volunteer defence corps. IN addition 35 Irish officers and men were killed as well as 17 RIC officers. This was at a time when thousands and thousands of Irishmen were also fighting and dying in the trenches. Unfortunately in Nationalist eyes if an Irishman dies in a British uniform then he isn;t an Irishman and doesn't count...

 
At 10:58 p.m., Blogger EWI said...

This was at a time when thousands and thousands of Irishmen were also fighting and dying in the trenches. Unfortunately in Nationalist eyes if an Irishman dies in a British uniform then he isn;t an Irishman and doesn't count...

I'd like to introduce you to a few hundred thousand Irishmen who fought abroad as the Wild Geese after the English consolidated their conquest in the 17th century. Would you care to commemorate those too as being Irishmen?

(Remember Fontenoy!)

 
At 7:17 p.m., Anonymous Jen Erik said...

My great uncle was in Dublin during the Easter Rising - how do you decide whether to label him as 'British' or 'Irish' - wasn't he both?
I never met him, or any of his generation, so I don't know - but in 1916 were the two labels mutually exclusive?
My grandfather was in the trenches at the time - so he was a British soldier - but he told his son (in 1939) not to join an Irish regiment because they were treated as cannon fodder by the English, so maybe he regarded himself as an Irish soldier - I'm just wondering how clear cut issues of national identity were in 1916.

 
At 4:09 p.m., Blogger Jo said...

It is to my mind extremely regrettable that at least one blog has assailed the blogospshere with an apparently endless series of "Brits Bad Brave Irish Good" and invocations to pay homage to the sacrifice and bravery of 1916.

Such invocations push back the possibility of ANY rapproachment by the centenary as well as demonstrating a quite appalling gap in comprehension and understanding as well as bordering on the blasphemous. I pay homage to no-one but a God and last time there was only Her.

OK, so that last bit might be blasphemy too, in a way.

But we dont worship men, especially not dead ones.

 
At 8:36 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

I pay homage to no-one but a God and last time there was only Her.
Like your style, Jo. BU.

 
At 11:15 p.m., Anonymous beaugeste said...

ewi..sorry your point is?? Your last statement is a non sequitur... and also you might want to double check your stats there. I think you are, to say the least, pushing it to say that "hundreds of thousands of Irish" fought in the wild geese.

You might be interested to know that in 1916, just before the rebellion, the IRB tried to form an Irish Brigade from Irish POWs held by the Germans. They managed to get 56 men to join up... far cry from your hundreds of thousands fighting for Ireland in the wild geese...no repeat there.

Still why bother with history or facts when you can make stuff up. Seems to be the generic trait of Irish nationalism...keep saying the lie often enough, ignore the truth and one day all the little gullible people believe you...

My point is that it is possible to call yourself Irish, be proud of the name (as I am)and also have a loyalty to the British state. Unfortunately Irish nationalism only allows you to be Irish if that also includes a "gaelic"/"catholic"/"anti british" label. I for one am really sorry that the Irish label caries these connotations...many other great Irish men (Wolfe Tone, Parnell, Isaac Butt and Daniel O'Connell) must be turning in their graves.

And by the way your heroes from 1916...many of them were alot less Irish than the troops fighting them: Pearse (half English), de valera (born in USA, to a Spanish father), Connolly (er.. born in Scotland), Countess Markievicz (thats a good Irish name...)

 
At 11:14 p.m., Blogger Úna said...

Actually Countess Markievicz, née Constance Gore-Booth was born in Sligo, where her family had lived there for about two hundred years previous to that.

 

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