Maria Farrell writes:
The events that precisely triggered the Easter Rising are a little murky. They involve the capture of Roger Casement’s arms shipment, and feature the great hero of the Rising, Padraig Pearse, lying to MacNeill, forging documents and kidnapping and holding his socialist rivals until they acquiesced. Whether the leaders were about to be rounded up and imprisoned is unclear. MacNeill believed it, until he didn’t, but by then it was too late.
How many of you (non-Irish that is, Irish try this) are emotionally stirred by that description, one way or the other? How many of you recall reading about those events at all?
What I find most striking is how little I, as an Irish-American, emotionally identify with any of the sides in this conflict. I recall being asked in New Jersey seventh grade, by another Irish-American, whether my family was Protestant or Catholic in background and I wasn’t even sure (Catholic, it turned out, though my paternal grandparents also had been non-believers).
I was born in Kearny, New Jersey, a working class town full of Irish and Scot atavisms, including bars where they raised money for the IRA, fish and chips, and good soccer teams. My father was more interested in Barry Goldwater, and by the time we moved to the more suburban northern rim of the state all that old country history was forgotten.
On the other side of the water, Ireland is one of the few countries to break through the middle-income trap, and last year it grew at 7.8%, an increasingly embarrassing fact for many “the long run is forever” commentators, not to mention investment up more than 28%.
(Yes, there is fairly rapid post-austerity catch-up growth when institutions are even moderately healthy, and if you are not seeing such growth the economy is probably at its new frontier or structural reforms are required. And to point out that households are not capturing all of those gains — gdp vs. gnp — is to save the pessimistic mood at the expense of the theory. Without a Russian collapse, the Baltics probably would have continued along a similar track.)
Brexit of course would hit both Ireland and Northern Ireland fairly hard; it is strange how the Republic of Ireland has turned out to be the stable political unit in the family.
Here is a BBC piece on how to commemorate 1916. The embarrassing parallel is that the modern IRA cites the 1916 heroes and considers their more recent terror acts to hold comparable status. Somehow the balls must be juggled to avoid this conclusion, especially since there has been a recent uptick in unrest in Northern Ireland.
Various “victim monger” commentators don’t radiate too much sympathy for the Northern Irish republican cause. Is it because the stereotypical representation of the fighters is a little too male, a little too grizzled, too conservative, too white Christian, too chauvinistic, and maybe even too mumbly? I have to listen so closely to those movies to understand at all, and in the end they still bore me. John Lennon’s John Sinclair song never seemed to stick. Yeats too tried his best.
I am struck by how underrepresented this topic is in my Twitter feed.