Pleasant Sunday evening at Clonard for the first Lenten Talk. This is a joint project with Fitzroy Presbyterian Church.
The lecturer was Dr Philip Orr, a member of Fitzroy. About 200 folks in attendance, which pleasantly surprised Fr Gerry Reynolds CSsR. The Clonard Church is currently undergoing renovation and the lecture took place in a temporary but large building. Good to see many old friends in attendance.
Orr, who is a historian and dramatist spoke on the “Ulster Covenant”. To be honest most of this was fairly standard fare and rather like the lecture on the Covenant given by Johnson McMaster at a series I attended at Irish Ecumenics School last year.
In common with many Presbyterians, Orr revealed that a grandfather and grandmother had signed the Covenant and that a relative Rev Archibald Warwick (made legend in “The Man From God Knows Where”) had bee hanged for his part in the 1798 Rebellion.
I thought Orr was particuarly strong on the history leading up to the Covenant. He spoke perhaps for just a little too long.
Unfortunately my wife was not feeling too good and we had to leave during the ten minute tea break. The second part of the lecture would in fact have been a discussion on the “centenary” commemorations over the next decade.
My position on the centenaries is clear. Firstly the importance of a decade of 50th anniversary commemorations is being under-stated. The burning of Bombay Street in August 1969 (just over the garden wall from Clonard) is a case in point. It is also possible that various events will overtake centenaries…for example the deaths of well known British and Irish politicians. Also it is clear that the central plank in the commemorations will be the Battle of the Somme Centenary ………when in 2016 we will be asked to believe that Irishmen, north and south………Catholic and Protestant fought side by side against the common German foe.
Alas its faux letsgetalongerism. To Republicans the Germans were in fact allies. And it is a simple fact that the British Government of the day promised different things to unionists and nationalists at the outbreak of World War One (1914). Simply put……one side….or two sides…were being lied to……..
It is of course true to say that Irish historians airbrushed Britishness out of the nation building after independence in 1922. Likewise British historians airbrushed the Irish connection out of their myth making after 1922. Arguably this was for the “common good” in Ireland and Norn Iron. The Truth was secondary to the Common Good.
Now of course the buzz phrase is “shared history” which is of course…..bollox. Historians North and South are now eager to subvert the Historical Truth for another myth….all for the Common Good.
Is it worth it? No.