Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great European war of 1914.
It is right and proper that those who died during that conflict are remembered and their sacrifice recognised. Few families in Britain or Ireland emerged at the conclusion of hostilities four years later quite the same. For families in Germany, France, Belgium and many other countries around the World it was a similar experience. Families are similar the world over, they grieve and worry in just the same way. That war was possibly the last in which armies fought armies. Since 1918 civilian populations seem to have become part of the battlefield. Current events in Gaza are testament enough to that.
In Ireland, at the time, there were two distinct lines of thought regarding the outbreak of War. There still are, more of that later.
Under the leadership of the Wexfordman John Redmond, the Irish Parliamentary Party encouraged Irishmen to join up on the premise that a home rule bill would follow as a “reward”. I have a one word response to that which I’ll not publish here. Strangely and conversely, the Dubliner, Edward Carson was encouraging Unionists across the country to do the same on the basis that, guess what, home rule would be prevented on that basis. (There’s a thesis there on the duplicity of the “Welsh Wizard”- Lloyd George)
Anyhow, as I am in danger of embarking upon an historical magical mystery tour, let’s fast forward to today.
Former Taoiseach, John Bruton (Or John Brutal as he was known in past days- Brutal being Dublin slang for useless) had this masterpiece in todays Irish Times. Meanwhile, our President was attending this event in France. In Dublin meanwhile, yesterday, there was this ceremony in Glasnevin cemetary of all places. As my Dad would have said, graves (nearby) must have been spinning at a rate of knots.
I sense an attempt at rewriting history. A revisionism and redrawing of the maps of history. Much of it is writ large on the pages of William Martin Murphys old propoganda organ, the infamous “Indo” or Irish Independent. It would be more properly titled the “Anglo Unionist” but there’s another blog in that argument.
Meanwhile other Irishmen were planning to fight for their own small nation against a neighbouring aggressor. Events that would culminate in the beginnings of the fall of an empire.
My own view is that the only use of a war is to learn the lessons of it’s causes and effects and to apply those lessons for the sake of our children. It appears not everyone shares that view.