1916

Published in Issue 1 (January/February 2015), Letters, Volume 23

Sir,—With the centenary of the 1916 Rising due in April 2016 and less than three months later that of the Battle of the Somme, now is the time to decide on a respectful and appropriate remembrance. Both battles were a wellspring of heroic sacrifice and both went on to have a formative influence on Ireland for generations. Whether it was in the trenches of Picardy or in the ruins of the GPO, soldier patriots died for Ireland. Rather than remembering the Somme and the Rising separately—in a politically correct and watered-down way—why not honour both conflicts side by side, as part of a series of combined, parallel and interconnected events? This would create a celebration of remembrance acknowledging the sacrifices of soldiers and their families from all sections of the community and open the door to a discussion on the complexity and range of Irish identity. Patriotism in Ireland is not the preserve of republicans and, alternatively, the idealism and self-sacrifice of the rebels of 1916 does not deserve to be belittled. Aside from being a historically exciting event, a shared remembrance could help to promote a lively and constructive debate about identity, patriotism and diversity in Ireland, a debate that is as relevant today as ever.—Yours etc.,

TOM MAHON

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