Posts Tagged ‘Irish Civil War’

Review: Conor Kostick – Revolution in Ireland: popular militancy, 1917-1923

11 December 2009

Contributed by Justin Dolan Stover

Conor Kostick, Revolution in Ireland:  popular militancy, 1917-1923 (2nd edition, Cork: Cork University Press, 2009)

Conor Kostick’s revised second edition is a timely release.  The author is up front about his sympathy and identification with the working-class movement in Ireland, and the current adversity that they face.  In his own words, additional research for the book was undertaken ‘with the intensity of enthusiasm that an active socialist brings to a subject of this nature.’

The book confronts traditional historical narratives that the IRA and Dáil Éireann alone forced the British administration toward compromise.  Instead, Kostick elevates the efforts of the Irish working class and its organisers.  For instance, he presents the Belfast general strike of 1919 as a defining moment of the Irish revolution – one which redefined conceptions of nationality and identity, and would contribute to the partition of Ireland.  Kostick explains how strikes of the revolutionary period, not only in Belfast, produced social upheaval and were of much greater concern to the British cabinet than the assembly of Dáil Éireann, or the murder of a few policemen.

Other episodes expose what many would come to label products of the conservative revolution. Read More

The Cult of Collins

21 August 2009

Contributed by Justin Dolan Stover

JDS and Collins

You have seen him around.  His portraits line the walls of the Military Archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks; his imposing civilian bust barks at you from Archbishop Ryan Park; his disciplined torso overlooks your pint at The Bank on College Green.  He is remembered and celebrated (and commercialised) to an extent unequivocal of modern Irish historical figures.  His death mask resides within the Museum Barracks which bares his name; fresh flowers line his grave at Glasnevin year-round, accompanied occasionally by elderly women praying the rosary; idols bearing his likeness are peddled at nearly every heraldic shop in town; and the annual pilgrimage to the place of his death that will take place this Saturday to Béal na mBláth in Cork, draws thousands. He has transcended the traditional form of historical conveyance to grace both screen and stage.  The musical portrayal of his life c.1916-1922, initiated in 2005 by the Cork Opera House, has launched in Cork, Waterford and Dublin.  The film, in which Liam Neeson portrays him as the tragic hero opposite Alan Rickman’s sinister interpretation of Eamon de Valera, is currently on the four for €22 shelf at HMV.

On the anniversary of this death it seems like a good time to ask why are we as historians, and to a larger extent as a nation, so interested in Michael Collins? Read More