Civil War in Dublin

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Civil War in Dublin

Postby Jd66 on Tue May 25, 2010 1:17 pm

New article up on www.theirishstory.com about the Civil War in Dublin, 1922-1923. "Who shot Frank Lawlor?"

http://www.theirishstory.com/2010/05...ish-civil-war/

About the conflict in Dublin and also on why it's mostly forgotten.

And tomorrow, two audio interviews, one from either side of the civil war divide.
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby Jd66 on Wed May 26, 2010 8:00 pm

These are the two interviews on the context, course and memory of the Irish Civil War.

Declan Power, ex Irish Army officer and historian, and Micheal Mac Donncha, SF counsellor and writer at an Phoblacht.

http://www.theirishstory.com/2010/05/26 ... ve-memory/
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby Jd66 on Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:26 am

Third and final article, on Wellington Barracks, Dublin and the Civil War.
http://www.theirishstory.com/2010/06/09 ... civil-war/
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby mountcashel on Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:34 pm

Hi all,
on the Civil war theme, it seems in popular media, film and other sorts that over the course of the years, those who fought against the treaty seem to have come out as the "good guys" while those who fought for have ended up as the "bad guys", simplisticly speaking, at worst lackeys of Churchil and LLoyd George. In truth the country by and large was sick to the teeth of war. And the activities of the anti treaty forces in commandeering vehicles, possesions and property, while also carrying out a campaign of wholesale destruction against the fledgling states transport infrastructure, roads, bridges etc was, while on one level an attempt to deny the enemy a means of troop transportation, also an act of sabotage against the future development of the country...anyone thoughts?
While the followers of freedom fights in general would side naturally with the "underdog" anti treaty side, it has to be recognised also that those on the other side believed just as much in the cause they were fighting for. And the subsequent degeneration of tactics and methods employed on both sides would definitely have put the antics of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries in the ha'penny place...an uncomfortable fact glossed over by the apologists and zealots.
Just a thought.
Rgds
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby Jd66 on Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:02 pm

Hi Mountcashel,

I wouldn't necessarily agree with you about the bias in popular culture. It seems to me the opposite - that in recent years the trend has been to paint the Free State side as whiter than white and the anti-treaty as viscious anti-democrats or fanatics. The film Michael Collins for example, or Tom Garvin's '1922 - The Birth of Irish Democracy'.

I'm not saying the anti-treaty side were right, I don't think they were, but the reality on the ground was complicated and in the war itself, the government's actions were ruthless.

On your other point, the anti-treaty side's campaign against infrastructure, I completely agree it almost insanely self-defeating - destroying the resources of the country they said they wanted to liberate. And there's no doubt this helped turn popular opinion against them. Nobody really comes out well from the affair.

The other thing that strikes me is how little has ever been written about the war itself and what actually went on. It seemed as if people just tried to forget it altogether.
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby thepremier on Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:11 am

Mountcashel, I'd be interested to know what films etc you're thinking of, because I'm hard pressed to think of any which treated the anti-treaty side sympathetically, aside from The Wind that Shakes the Barley. As for the rights and wrongs, ideologically I think the anti-treaty side were in the right. The treaty was the worst thing to happen to Ireland in centuries, in my opinion. It completely reversed the gains made in the preceding years, leading to entrenchment of the old colonial elites as the elites of the new state, meaning that the status quo pretty much prevailed.

On your other point, the anti-treaty side's campaign against infrastructure, I completely agree it almost insanely self-defeating - destroying the resources of the country they said they wanted to liberate. And there's no doubt this helped turn popular opinion against them.


I could never understand the rationale that led to this, but then they also dug trenches in Stephen's Green in 1916...

Jd66, I meant to thank you for posting the articles and podcasts.
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby mountcashel on Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:51 pm

Hi alll,
I think Rebel Heart portrayed an anti treaty character..mainly though many of the books about the period , down south anyway, tend to be written by or about anti treaty characters...and look at another few factors. while anti treaty monuments are sited throughout the country to various casualties from that side, you will rarely if ever see a site where free state troops were killed commemorated with a roadside monument. It wouldnt have the same respect shown to it as an anti treaty one i suspect..
and to finish, we seem to be all about the christian burial ideal here, however quite a number of abducted and executed adversaries lay stuffed into hidden graves and i suspect a few still do, so if we could accord Irish christians one was it just pure spite that left many english Irish welsh and scottish families wondering for decades where their relatives were buried? I read recently of the teenage bandsmen from the Manchester Regiment, abducted while out walking, tried and executed,and hidden in a farmyard till the 50s, all because no one would do the decent thing and relieve the parents of needless ongoing suffering. Oldest 18 and youngest 16. Or the Staffordshire soldiers executed on the very night of the truce despite locals pleading with the abductors for their release. The war of independencemay be glossed up in some quarters as a glorious struggle of good v evil, however it definitely awakened and nurtured the savage tendancies of some of those on the side of good too.
so much for the words of the proclamation! revolution does indeed devour its own children.
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby thepremier on Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:53 pm

mountcashel wrote:Hi alll,
I think Rebel Heart portrayed an anti treaty character..mainly though many of the books about the period , down south anyway, tend to be written by or about anti treaty characters...and look at another few factors. while anti treaty monuments are sited throughout the country to various casualties from that side, you will rarely if ever see a site where free state troops were killed commemorated with a roadside monument. It wouldnt have the same respect shown to it as an anti treaty one i suspect..


I forgot about Rebel Heart, but as far as I remember it didn't portray the anti-treaty side as intrinsially better than the pro-treaty side. I think it was more along the lines of the tragedy of the split, but I'm open to correction as I spent a long time trying to forget about that series!

The reason that pro-treaty casualties generally aren't commemorated is simply that no-one on the pro-treaty side was motivated enough to do so, whereas the National Graves Association, which has erected or maintains many of the anti-treaty monuments, only commemorates republican dead. Also, republicans of every variety through the years have always sought to associate themselves with the memories of Lynch, O'Connor et al, so the anti-treaty, as opposed to the pro-treaty, mythos is kept alive. I suppose it's tempting to see this attitude as prevalent because of the media presence of republicans, but the vast majority of historians take the view that the pro-treaty position was the correct one and popular media tends to reflect that. I would say that there has been a slight shift in the past few years, though.
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby michaelcarragher on Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:34 pm

Mountcashel:

Your remark, “The war of independence may be glossed up in some quarters as a glorious struggle of good v evil, however it definitely awakened and nurtured the savage tendencies of some of those on the side of good too”, just about summarises the reality of revolution. War, to which revolution leads, may bring out the best in people, but it certainly brings out the worst. It does, after all, set out to sanction the breaking of the ultimate taboo—taking of human life—and afterward lionizes, or at least commemorates, those who do.

This is not necessarily to take issue with those who wage war—the two world wars had to be fought to stop German aggression, for instance, and Father Murphy was left with no choice but to take up the pike—far less with the foot soldiers who fight it, or to say that those who died, on whatever side, should not be commemorated. But the breaking of the taboo, as well as the terror all combatants have to face, has its psychological effects. There’s nothing the worst offender has done that almost anyone couldn’t do, even in normal life—Stanley Milgram’s experiments, and Philip Zimbardo’s, proved that—so factor in psychological trauma and anything’s possible.

Also, war not merely coarsens people, it polarises them—creates an us-and-them mentality. Anyone who lived in Belfast through the hunger strikes will recall how narrow was the middle ground then, so how much narrower must it have been in the “old” Troubles? To each side the other was “them”, however they had been “us” a few months before. And not only were they “them”, they were traitors—hence the savagery and bitterness that was far greater in the Civil- than in the Tan War.

This is always the problem with revolution. You start off with Kropotkin and Kerensky, or with Pearse and McDonagh, and you end up with Stalin and Stakeknife. As you say, Mountcashel, revolution devours its own children.

Yet we must be careful not to judge people of the past by the standards of our own time. Pearse, Connolly et al were anti-democratic certainly—but democracy did not then have the cachet that it does now. Democracy had been condemned by the pope, and most of our revolutionaries were devout Catholics, so they would have been able to take this as some sort of religious endorsement for their actions. Besides, though the Parliamentary Party comprised decent men for the most part, the party itself was marked by corruption, complacency and arrogance. Young idealists could understandably scorn it, as well as its offering, Home Rule. The fact that revolution proved disastrous for the country is something no one could have foreseen. Had they been able to, the men of 1916, like Dan Breen later, “wouldn’t have fired a shot” (at least, one hopes not).

The fact that the rebels allied themselves with the odious Second Reich is of course appalling, given the well-documented atrocities that had been carried out in Belgium; besides which, Casement at any rate could not have been unaware of the genocidal campaigns against the Herero and the Maji-Maji, the deliberately induced famine in German East Africa, and perhaps even the medical experiments carried out on Africans by Dr Eugen Fischer (mentor to Josef Mengele). Furthermore, the “gallant allies” had armed the rebels’ enemies, the UVF, as well, according to Baron Holstein’s dictum: the more waters Germany stirs up, the more fish she might catch.

But revolutionaries can be so engaged with their ideology that it may be unfair to expect them to do reality very well, for ideology imparts a remarkable capacity for self-deception, as Mabel Fitzgerald shows: “Prussian militarism … isn’t half so galling I am sure as that [which] we endure in the south of Ireland under the iron heel of the RIC.” It’s grotesque to compare the Butchers of Belgium to Irish policemen, but grotesquery is the least of what a country may have to suffer when enough of its people think with their ideology rather than their critical faculties.

Of course, “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”, and folk memories of British oppression here in previous centuries made such self-deception easy. And it must not be forgotten that it was Unionists who introduced the gun into 20th century Irish politics. Also, acceptance of German help needs to be seen in the context that revolutions, like nations, have interests, not friends, and Germany looked to be the horse to back in 1916.

Regarding film, don’t forget Guests of the Nation and The Informer. Frank O’Connor and Liam O’Flaherty, like Sean O’Casey, had seen revolution at first hand, and knew the reality that underlies such lofty cant as the holiness of blood sacrifice. Victor McLagen, as John Ford’s eponymous informer, well portrays the greed, lies, squalor and horror in the lives of many revolutionaries. Years before, Inspector Mallon of the DMP had remarked, “The patriotism of that sort of scoundrel may be purchased for a five pound note.” Denis Donaldson and Stakeknife prove that, adjusted for inflation, the same applies to revolutionaries today.

As for “the disappeared” of the revolutionary period, I suspect they disappeared for the same reasons as victims of the more recent Troubles. The murder of some, like that of Jean McConville in 1972, could not be admitted to for fear of arousing popular revulsion, so their remains had to be hidden. Some victims may have been literally destroyed, as is rumoured to have happened to Robert Nairac’s body in 1977. Remains were lost sight of, in some instances, simply because the murderers forgot exactly where they had been buried, or maybe were killed themselves.

Though it’s possible that spite did play a part—war does tend to bring out the worst in people.

There’s much more we could say about revolution, but Desmond Egan seems to sum it up in four lines: “two wee girls / were playing tig near a car… / how many counties would you say / were worth their scattered fingers?”
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Re: Civil War in Dublin

Postby Jd66 on Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:09 pm

Book review here of Liz Gillis's 'Fall of Dublin' on the fighting of July 1922.

http://www.theirishstory.com/2011/07/28 ... iz-gillis/
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