Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby Jd66 on Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:45 pm

No offence folks, but what does all the above impentrable stuff have to do with the Irish War of Independence?

Take it to a WWI thread.
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:24 pm

Jd66 wrote:No offence folks, but what does all the above impentrable stuff have to do with the Irish War of Independence?

Take it to a WWI thread.


That made me laugh thank you , simple fact is the ordinary man doesn't want to know about all this crap revisionism, historically we stuffed the British empire using guerrilla tactics and won the hearts of the majority of the people who kept our weapons, gave us logistical help and supported the IRA in it's war, who really gives a toss what is written now days as it's only speculation about what some one was thinking 100 years on ward, fact is we started a revolution that fragmented and ended the British Empire and got 26 counties free now that was some feat to do. So what if some Unionist supporters were killed along the way as they supported the enemy and had surpressed the Irish population with tithes and penal laws for almost 200 years and were seen as colonialists which is exactly what they are, Our soldiers fought a war and won it. I rest my case................. fought an enemy who stole our lands murdered our peoples for centuries and engaged them in war fare also took good care of their 5th columnists as well by ethnically cleansing them. This is the nature of war, the nature of most wars in the 20th century from Korea, Vietnam, China, the list goes on.
Na Fianna Éireann Fíor inár gCroíthe Neart inár Láimhe Comhsheasmhacht inár dTeanga.
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby Jd66 on Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:38 pm

Na Fianna Éireann wrote:
Jd66 wrote:No offence folks, but what does all the above impentrable stuff have to do with the Irish War of Independence?

Take it to a WWI thread.


That made me laugh thank you , simple fact is the ordinary man doesn't want to know about all this crap revisionism, historically we stuffed the British empire using guerrilla tactics and won the hearts of the majority of the people who kept our weapons, gave us logistical help and supported the IRA in it's war, who really gives a toss what is written now days as it's only speculation about what some one was thinking 100 years on ward, fact is we started a revolution that fragmented and ended the British Empire and got 26 counties free now that was some feat to do. So what if some Unionist supporters were killed along the way as they supported the enemy and had surpressed the Irish population with tithes and penal laws for almost 200 years and were seen as colonialists which is exactly what they are, Our soldiers fought a war and won it. I rest my case................. fought an enemy who stole our lands murdered our peoples for centuries and engaged them in war fare also took good care of their 5th columnists as well by ethnically cleansing them. This is the nature of war, the nature of most wars in the 20th century from Korea, Vietnam, China, the list goes on.


Ah here... That's not what I was getting at at all! The idea that there was 'ethnic cleansing' is something people will justifiably deny. I mean ethnic cleansing means murdering or dispalcing whole communities of people based on their language/religion etc.

But what I meant was that all the in-talk about the British Army in WWI was in the wrong thread. I do agree with you though that 'revisionism' has had little enough effect on most Irish people's attitudes.
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby michaelcarragher on Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:55 pm

No offence folks, but what does all the above impentrable stuff have to do with the Irish War of Independence?

Fair point, John. If further discussion is necessary I’d be happy to continue it with Mr Putkowski on any other forum of his choice.

To return to the thread: what do people think of Terror in Ireland 1916-1923 (ed. David Fitzpatrick)? Bannerman has a thoughtful and very fair review in the penultimate issue of History Ireland.

The chapters that seem most relevant to recent discussion here are Eve Morrison’s “Kilmichael Revisited: Tom Barry and the ‘False Surrender’” and Thomas Earls FitzGerald’s “The Execution of ‘Spies and Informers’ in West Cork, 1921”.

Ms Morrison’s work is particularly interesting: “oral accounts from other Kilmichael veterans [constitute] an Irish separatist counter-narrative every bit as credible as Barry’s own”. Yet if her contribution bolsters revisionists’ case, Mr FitzGerald’s reinforces the traditional view that sectarianism was a Republican aberration.

I was sorry to see no mention in Mr FitzGerald’s account (not that this was out of neglect; merely outside his time-frame) of what Dr John Regan has recently highlighted: the relevance to the Bandon Valley murders of the IRA’s capture of three British undercover agents. Elsewhere (History Ireland, May/June) David Fitzpatrick discounts the significance of this, claiming:

The intelligence officers were probably “on a spree rather than on official business”; they were shot almost instantaneously, allowing no opportunity for interrogation; and the senior officer was targeted out of revenge for the killing of [Frank] Busteed’s mother, not to extort information.


Dr Fitzpatrick may be right, but I would need to see more evidence to be convinced.

In the most recent issue of HI Dr Regan responds to Dr Fitzpatrick. As always, he makes for thoughtful reading, and any “manufacture of consensus among Irish historians on contentious issues”, if such there be, is a cause of deep concern—though Dr Fitzpatrick robustly denies that there is any such manufacturing.

Where I quibble with Dr Regan is his insistence on “the impossibility of attributing motive where the perpetrators of a massacre go unknown”. This claim makes sense on the face of it—but in fact we may impute motive to an unknown perpetrator on circumstantial evidence, if always cautiously and provisionally. For instance, we don’t know the identity of Jack the Ripper, but nevertheless we can say that his crimes were motivated by misogyny.

For Dr Regan to build his thesis that Peter Hart was guilty of “academic fraud” in part upon the “the impossibility of attributing motive where the perpetrators of a massacre go unknown” seems strained. As Dr Fitzpatrick points out,

For Hart, the Dunmanway “massacre” was a relatively rare eruption of endemic sectarian antipathy into lethal violence. He accepted that the unnamed perpetrators were probably influenced by a medley of suppositions, mistaken or otherwise, about their targets.... Nowhere did Hart claim that most republican violence was directed against Protestants, that sectarianism was the dominant strand in republican mentality...


It will be interesting to follow what looks to become another fascinating exchange of views on this contentious issue.
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby Jd66 on Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:27 pm

A few links from The Irish Story on recent debates.

Review of Terror in Ireland here http://www.theirishstory.com/2012/05/03/book-review-terror-in-ireland-1916-1923/

Interview with David Ftizpatrick here http://www.theirishstory.com/2012/05/17/david-fitzpatrick-on-terror-in-ireland/

And last but not least, interview with John Regan here http://www.theirishstory.com/2012/06/25/history-wars-interview-with-john-regan/
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby DrNightdub on Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:24 am

michaelcarragher wrote:To return to the thread: what do people think of Terror in Ireland 1916-1923 (ed. David Fitzpatrick)? Bannerman has a thoughtful and very fair review in the penultimate issue of History Ireland.

What struck me most about the book was what's NOT in it: there's no mention, other than in Brian Hanley's introductory overview, of what happened in the north and in particular, in Belfast, from 1920 to 1922. To ignore the period and place when terror was at its most intense and deadly seems a glaring omission. Perhaps it reflects a definition of "Ireland" by David Fitzpatrick that stops at the border, a frame of analysis that he used previously for "The Two Irelands". If that's the case, then that's instructive in itself.

In terms of what IS in the book, Eve Morrison's piece on Kilmichael is probably the headline chapter, given that the book is dedicated to Peter Hart and also given the controversy generated by his work on that ambush. I think she brings that discussion forward by bringing the Chisholm tapes into the public domain, and probably more tellingly (for me, at least), highlighting the inquest testimony regarding bullet wounds to the armpits of two of the dead Auxies. On the other hand, referring to a phone call she had with Chisholm in which he recalled an undocumented conversation 40 years ago, is a bit flimsy in terms of evidence.

My problem with the whole Kilmichael debate - and I admit I don't have a forensic knowledge of the evidence - is that the "false surrender" / "real surrender" controversy has almost become the shorthand encapsulation for the entire ambush, to the point where it obscures the bigger picture. There were eighteen Auxies in the two Crossleys: Morrison says eleven bodies were found near the first lorry and of the seven in the second one, one survived and one was killed after being captured in a nearby farmhouse, which nobody on either side of the debate seems terribly exercised about. So the whole "false surrender" controversy only involves five Auxies from the second Crossley, less than a third of the total contingent - yet the whole narrative of Kilmichael revolves around this minority? To then move from that to using those five deaths to characterise the conduct of the entire War of Independence really is generalising from the particular to a ridiculous degree.

michaelcarragher wrote:It will be interesting to follow what looks to become another fascinating exchange of views on this contentious issue.

Seconds out, ding-dong, round whatever number it is...

http://www.drb.ie/more_details/12-06-22/The_History_of_the_Last_Atrocity.aspx
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby michaelcarragher on Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:27 am

Lot of good links there, lads—many thanks for it all.

Particularly interesting was Dr Regan’s discussion of the use of induction and deduction in historical argument (something that is relevant to my own remark that “we may impute motive to an unknown perpetrator on circumstantial evidence, if always cautiously and provisionally”).

My problem with the whole Kilmichael debate … is that the "false surrender" / "real surrender" controversy has almost become the shorthand encapsulation for the entire ambush, to the point where it obscures the bigger picture…. using [Kilmichael] to characterise the conduct of the entire War of Independence really is generalising from the particular to a ridiculous degree.


This is close to my own position, Kieran. I have long been sceptical of Barry’s account, for various reasons. Eve Morrison cites the view that “People want heroes, not human beings”, and we Irish, brought up on impossible tales of Cuchullain and the Fianna, are probably worse than most in this regard. In the narrative of more recent times, all of the British were bastards, all of the Irish saints as well as heroes—above reproach.

The more human reality is that everyone at Kilmichael was terrified and confused, pumped full of adrenaline and in full fight-or-flight mode. To expect them to snap from this state of mind into a normal humane one is unrealistic. In every war prisoners and surrendering men are killed, in hot or cold blood. As early as 1 September 1914 a German general and some of his staff were captured by the British, then in rampant retreat from Mons:

The prisoners were remorsefully shot, as it would have been impossible to bring them away under the heavy fire.

However “remorsefully” it may have been done, such killing is no less troubling than any hot-blooded killing that took place at Kilmichael. It was hardly Katyn or My Lai, after all. All combatants were hard men who knew what they were getting into; death in war is as inevitable as it’s regrettable.

Part of Ms Morrison’s thesis is that Barry circulated the false surrender account to camouflage his own mistake in exposing his men to Auxie fire. Her account is very persuasive. Yet this conclusion is more relevant to biography than history.
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby Jd66 on Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:57 pm

michaelcarragher wrote:

The more human reality is that everyone at Kilmichael was terrified and confused, pumped full of adrenaline and in full fight-or-flight mode. To expect them to snap from this state of mind into a normal humane one is unrealistic. In every war prisoners and surrendering men are killed, in hot or cold blood. As early as 1 September 1914 a German general and some of his staff were captured by the British, then in rampant retreat from Mons:

The prisoners were remorsefully shot, as it would have been impossible to bring them away under the heavy fire.

However “remorsefully” it may have been done, such killing is no less troubling than any hot-blooded killing that took place at Kilmichael. It was hardly Katyn or My Lai, after all. All combatants were hard men who knew what they were getting into; death in war is as inevitable as it’s regrettable.

Part of Ms Morrison’s thesis is that Barry circulated the false surrender account to camouflage his own mistake in exposing his men to Auxie fire. Her account is very persuasive. Yet this conclusion is more relevant to biography than history.


Good post. More sanity like this pease!
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby michaelcarragher on Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:31 pm

Thanks, John.

This might seem slightly off topic, yet it’s relevant to anybody interested in the War of Independence or any other war, and certainly to the Kilmichael controversy:

Let me recommend to all on the forum What it is like to go to War by Karl Marlantes. It’s one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read. The nearest to it might be Jűnger’s Storm of Steel or Samuel Hynes’ The Soldier’s Story; but really it is unique.

Apart from the insights it gives into the minds of combatants—Marines or NVA, Auxies or IRA—it’s impressively well written. Marlantes is a wise and humane man, and it’s largely combat and coming to terms with his survival of that which seems to have made him so. There’s not a scintilla of sentimentality in his entire book, but damn near every other page will bring to your throat a lump the size of a Mills bomb.
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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

Postby thepremier on Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:41 pm

Review by Niall Meehan of Terror in Ireland edited by David Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick and Eve Morrison respond.
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