Coolacrease: the true story of the Pearson executions – an incident in the Irish War of Independence, by Paddy Heaney et al Aubane Historical Society, 470 pp, €20.00, ISBN: 978-1903497487 Since the publication in 1998 of Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923, the experience of the Protestant community […]
The stereotype of the Irish cop was born in Boston, where being on the force in the latter half of the nineteenth century meant you were mostly concerned with protecting Brahmin property and cracking immigrant heads, a good portion of them bearing familiar accents. Consequently, Boston policemen enjoyed little more status than the riff-raff they threw into paddywagons from Scollay Square to the South End.
For centuries the climate dictated the way we made our living, the way we lived our lives. We are an indoor people. For centuries we made sense of ourselves and our lives by sitting around the fire telling stories. This way of being, of not talking about oneself, but rather telling stories about other people and events, made its way into the pub, that essentially male space which, with the development of Catholic capitalism, grew and multiplied.
Here is Dowden’s description of Angola at the height of the civil war, in the 1980s: “a marxist regime armed by the Soviet Union and protected by Cuban troops is kept going by revenues from oil extracted by American oil companies whose operations are being attacked by American-backed socialist rebels”. This was history as tragedy and farce at the same time.
However what was required was not direct political action so much as a change of consciousness in the minds of Italians. As such, Gobetti’s project was to be a long-term, gradual one which aimed to defeat fascism not for his own generation but for the following one. He cast himself as a modern-day heretic, revealing unpleasant truths about their history to a closed-minded, reactionary people who did not want to hear them.
Haven’t all local places got uniqueness, by definition, and hasn’t the whole island got “history”, sharing as the western seaboard does, for instance, the Famine? But then Wexford, Drogheda and Co Antrim could be said to have plenty of history too. As for “tribe” or “people”, well, that’s noble, but is this saying that all others need not apply?
Leitrim was fond of money: in his office at Lough Rynn he was Midas in his counting house … He took over an encumbered estate and debts of about £55,000. At his death his gross rental income was about £30,000 and he had accumulated capital of £180,000 in bonds and cash. In today’s terms that is roughly €20 to €25 million. Most of this fortune he had extracted from an impoverished tenantry.
O’Driscoll raises the matter of the many conferences, launches, conferrings and other public events in which Heaney participates. “Ongoing civic service, I suppose,” Heaney responds … Life has been good to him in many ways; poetry has enriched his existence both privately and in the social and intellectual worlds it has opened up to him. In return, though under no obligation to roll up his shirtsleeves and take part in the meitheal, Heaney performs his neighbourly duty as few in his position would.
Social partnership has been the only real government achievement of recent times and even this can be read – particularly under Ahern – as an expression of the pervasive electorally-oriented politics of emollience. In general, Irish politicians have declined the exercise of power in order to concentrate on re-election. If it were not for a skilled and professional public service willing to catch the ball Ireland Inc would have ended in tears earlier.