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PostMonument Controversy in Ireland (Patrick Mears, Germany, 09/04/17 2:00 pm)
It has been a very rich and rewarding experience for me reading the various comments and analyses sent in by WAISers recently about political and military monuments in the United States, Spain and elsewhere.
Within the last week and in the same vein, there have been two articles in The Irish Times, pointing out that these same issues have recently arisen in Ireland, and one of these has a strong connection to the American "War Between the States." The first article appeared on August 26, 2017, and is entitled "The Irish Civil War has its own contentious monuments." The piece describes the recent destruction of a monument in County Kerry to the memory of five members of the Irish Free State's National Army, who were killed by a booby trap set by Anti-Treaty forces in the village of Knocknagoshel in March, 1923. In retaliation, the Free State Army chained nine captured Anti-Treaty fighters to a land mine and set it off, killing eight of these prisoners.
Although the persons who severely damaged this monument last month in Knocknagoshel have not yet been identified or caught, they are likely of the DeValera "Anti-Treaty" camp that rejected the proposed Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiated by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith in London in December, 1921. This rejection triggered the Irish Civil War that lasted from June 1922 to May 1923 and ended with the Free Staters in possession of the field. Here is the link to this article, in case you are interested: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/diarmaid-ferriter-irish-civil-war-has-its-own-contentious-monuments-1.3198279 . If you are interested in the Irish Civil War, you might consider reading two books by Ernie O'Malley, who was a participant in that conflict: On Another Man's Wound and The Singing Flame. O'Malley later served as an assistant to the American film director, John Ford, when he shot in and around the Connacht village of Cong his famous film The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Barry Fitzgerald. https://www.facebook.com/quietmancottage/posts/131569213698444 .
A more intriguing and complex issue arises from an article that appeared in today's edition of The Irish Times raising the question of whether a statue of John Mitchel, a member of the Young Ireland Movement seeking Ireland's independence from Great Britain in the 1840s, which statute was erected to his memory in Newry, County Down, should be torn down and whether Fort Mitchel on Spike Island in Cobh Harbor should be renamed. Here is the link to this article: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/patsy-mcgarry-are-we-right-to-honour-john-mitchel-1.3208065 . In 1848, a year of revolution throughout Europe and the year in which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published "The Communist Manifesto," the Young Irelanders attempted an ultimately unsuccessful uprising in southern County Tipperary. Most of the movement's leadership was captured in Ballingarry, a small Tipperary village, on July 29, 1848, after a firefight with the Irish Constabulary. Mitchel had been arrested a few months earlier for authoring allegedly seditious articles against British rule in Ireland, was convicted of "treason felony," and was ultimately transported to Australia to serve out his sentence. In 1853, Mitchel escaped to the United States and there resumed his previous occupation of publishing newspapers. Along the way, he also became an staunch advocate for slavery and supported the Confederate States of America against the Union in the War Between the States, as described in the article linked above. The author of the piece raises the question at its conclusion, "Is it right that (John Mitchel) is remembered so generously? In club or square or place?"
JE comments: Overlapping Civil Wars! This is a fascinating sidebar to the Confederate controversies.