Remember the Somme (but forget the GPO): Myers and Memory

As I was saying, the whole obsession with the poppy and the uncritical celebration of imperialist war around Remembrance Day drives me up the wall. Imagine then how delighted I was to see Kevin Myers demand we all remember those from Ireland who died serving in the British Army during the two world wars (though he ignores the fact the money from the poppy goes to the veterans of other, often nakedly colonial, conflicts). Myers cleverly picks people who died during World War II, and tells their stories. No-one in their right mind can deny the Second World War was a just one, so anyone who rejects his argument can be easily smeared. Utterly, utterly cynical. I’ll skip the extended rant this deserves, instead I will just say that I’ve never noticed Myers extend the same courtesy to those during the period 1916-23 who died in pursuit of recognition of the democratically-expressed wish of the Irish people for greater independence from Britain. I do wonder about some people some times.



13 Responses to “Remember the Somme (but forget the GPO): Myers and Memory”

  1. WorldbyStorm Says:

    He’s so partisan it’s almost like he’s trying it on a lot of the time.

  2. Garibaldy Says:

    Fair point. I’ll remember that the next time my blood starts to boil.

  3. WorldbyStorm Says:

    It doesn’t work 🙂

  4. Starkadder Says:

    There was an IRA man, Kevin Neville, who also served in the RAF during the
    Second World War (I read about him in one of Jim Lane’s books on the Left in Cork-I think Neville was motivated to join the RAF because of his
    anti-fascism). I doubt Myers will mention him.

    Out of curiosity, I wonder how many Irishmen served in the US Army or
    other forces during WW2? We know Beckett, for instance,was in the French

  5. Garibaldy Says:

    I haven’t been able to find any figures for that Starkadder, though undoubtedly it’s a good question. I hadn’t heard of Neville, so thanks for that.

  6. ronanlyons Says:

    Presumably you’d agree, though, that the people who were fighting from 1916 until the election in 1918 were hardly representing some democratically-expressed wish!

    On a tangent, the sacrifice of 400,000 Irishmen serving in the Great War, and what their families went through is on a completely different level to the actions of the handful who fought in 1916, which brought disgust and revulsion from Dubliners at the time.

  7. Garibaldy Says:

    Hi Ronan,

    The people who fought in 1916 were not responding to a democratic mandate the way the people in 1919-21 were, though at the same time for four or five decades, Ireland had been sending a majority of MPs in favour of Home Rule, and that mandate had been ignored time after time, after time. So the government in Dublin had no real democratic mandate either – quite the opposite – so the situation is not as clear cut as Myers would like to think.

    I agree with you on the sacrifice in WWI being the greater, but I still think that that was in the cause of imperialism, of the exploitation of peoples in Africa and Asia, as well as certain classes at home.

  8. ronanlyons Says:

    Hi Garibaldy,

    Thanks for replying – and for replying courteously! (Often these debates risk achieving very little as people dig in on all sides!)

    I guess my worry is that while I understand the objections to the poppy, I really worry that we’re not able to draw the line and in throwing out the poppy, we also throw out the Remembrance Gardens, the efforts and sacrifices Irish soldiers made (regardless of the cause), etc. I think of the Great War veterans who – rightly or wrongly – believed they were fighting for freedom and for Ireland out there on the Front, and who died in the 1960s or 1970s thinking that their country had effectively written all that they had done out of the history books forever.

    I guess it’s about striking a balance and punters like myself probably see the current remains of an Irish imbalance that dates from the 1930s and react against that.

  9. ronanlyons Says:

    (Either that or we just like being contrary – with the Irish accent on the second syllable!!)

  10. Garibaldy Says:

    Contrariness is certainly a possibility Ronan, though I wonder if now opposition to the poppy hasn’t become the contary position.

    I have to say I don’t believe in celebrating or commemorating sacrifice for the sake of it. We can see lots of instances of bravery in bad causes. Were those men you speak about dupes? Perhaps so. But there were other men exactly like them who did not go. Some responsibility must be taken. And I find it difficult to overlook Redmond and other IPP people’s positive attitude to the Empire when I consider this issue.

  11. Irish Defence Forces Say No to British Army War Memorials in Barracks « Garibaldy Blog Says:

    […] Irish Defence Forces Say No to British Army War Memorials in Barracks By Garibaldy As any long-time readers (and all the people who get here by searching for images of Nadine Coyle) will know, one of my favourite hobby horses is the poppy. More specifically, the way that the wearing of the poppy has been promoted in Ireland as some act of reconciliation. Here is some of what I had to say on the issue previously (previous posts here and here): […]

  12. The Wood for the Trees. Another Massive Leap for Progress. Or, More Ignoring of Imperialism. « The Cedar Lounge Revolution Says:

    […] Nationalists both fought in it is something that drives me absolutely nuts (previous rants include this against Myers, this in praise of Nadine Coyle, and this. Usually we are spared this rubbish apart from the run-up […]

  13. blogger Says:

    I guess I’m a lifestyle blogger immediately after all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: