Category Archives: Culture

Red nationalism of the blood or cultural gesture?

by Liam Ó Ruairc 

The issue of support for Germany indicates some of the divergences between Connolly and Lenin. A major study written by a follower of Greaves was forced to conclude that Connolly “underestimated considerably the role of German imperialism. While understanding the roots of the war to be economic… he nevertheless overlooked the aggressive nature of German imperialism…Undoubtedly much of what Connolly wrote during this period was directly propagandistic…but his arguments concerning the imperialistic nature of the war lack the perspicacity and directness which are evident in Lenin’s articles of the same period” (Metscher, 1986).

Support for Germany aside, another problem indicating a divergence with Lenin is that a careful reading of Connolly’s articles in the Workers’ Republic newspaper reveals quite clearly the extent to which he had been influenced by what could be called a ‘red nationalism of the blood’. Shortly before the Rising, in an article entitled ‘The ties that bind’, Connolly wrote in the 5 February 1916 edition of the Workers’ Republic:

“Deep in the heart of Ireland has sunk the sense of the degradation wrought upon its people – our lost brothers and sisters – so deep and humiliating that no agency less potent than the red tide of war on Irish soil will ever be able to enable the Irish race to recover its self-respect or re-establish its national dignity in the face of a world horrified and scandalised by what must seem to them our national apostacy. Without the slightest trace of irreverence but in all due humility, and awe we recognise that of us, as of mankind before Calvary, it may truly be said: ‘Without the shedding of Blood, there is no Redemption'” (Yeates, 2015, 319).

Earlier, in the Workers’ Republic of 7 August 1915, Connolly had written an extraordinary article entitled Read the rest of this entry

The Cupar Way ‘Peace Wall’ – the fairness of British justice?

by Irvine Forgan

“He was a bad scribe because in reality he was ‘remaking’ the text” — Antonio Gramsci

This discussion focuses the signifying and ideological values articulated in the contrasting instances of the euphemistically named ‘peace walls’ and modes of mural expression. Although each instance is distinct from the other they contain mutually affecting variables.

With their arrival in the north of Ireland in 1969 the British army constructed sand banks along lines separating Catholic and Protestant residential areas in west Belfast and areas of Derry. [1]  These frontiers have in the present time reconfigured as invitations for the communities’ to cooperate in building hegemonic legitimacy of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.  However a code precluding the formation of a collective identity between nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods and loyalist Protestant ones is written into the peace wall discourse inasmuch as its conflictual structure invites the community on either side to contest the other through asserting its own narrative. This becomes evident in the discord between the postmodern rhetoric of diversity, inclusiveness, and liberation of personal taste attributed to the cultural discourse in the new Northern Ireland, and the prescriptive policies and programmatic strategies prescribed by the new law of the Belfast Agreement. One such programme strategy inures the discourse through the aesthetic themetization of the peace walls with state sponsored imagery. The return to popular taste strategized in the imagery produced on these walls is in fact a state sponsored mise-en scene.

On the Bombay Street side of the Cupar Way wall, many Catholic houses and businesses back directly on to the wall. Metal grids provide limited protection to these homes and businesses. The site of the Clonard Memorial and Bombay Street mural which engages with the violent events of August 1969 that occurred in the street and elsewhere in Belfast is located against the wall on this side. The mural, painted on the gable end of the rebuilt terraced estate in Bombay Street, prior to the introduction of the re-imaging programme explores the violence that occurred in the street and surrounding areas during August 1969. Angry red flames leap from burning homes; a woman holds a child to her bosom; figures are shown in silhouette. A photograph of the innocent face of a young boy Gerald McCauley is shown in an oval frame with the writing alongside—Dedicated to the memory of Fianna Gerald McCauley. Below, in the format of a film strip, reproduced photographs show burned out homes, grey building rubble and a deserted street. These images contrast sharply with the red and orange flames and provide narrativized access to the aftermath of the violence. Above the scene are the words in bold—Bombay Street Never Again.

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Fig. 70 Bombay Street mural

 

On Belfast’s map, Bombay Street is a site of particular significance, recognized as a Read the rest of this entry

Cork Volunteers’ Pipe Band: supplementary editions (#5)

Supplementary Edition (No. 5) of the Cork Volunteer’s Pipe Band Centenary Year Project 1914-2014.

by Jim Lane

Capture the band

Funeral of James Crossan the last IRA Vol to be killed in Operation Harvest.The cortege was led by Jim Lane , piper of the Cork Volunteer’s Pipe Band. At the graveside Eoin O'Connell, Fiianna Eireann bugler from Cork sounded the Last Post and Reville. The oration at the graveside was delivered by T.ÓhUiginn.

In the number four edition of the Cork Volunteer’s Pipe Band on December 2014, Jim Lane promised viewers that” if anything further comes to hand of importance, he will request the relevant websites to make available space put it up online”. With this Supplementary Edition,  published in October 2015, we fulfill that comment.

This is a series of five articles on the centenary year 1914-2014 of the Cork Volunteer’s Pipe Band that was founded by Tomas MacCurtain . With the help of some old band members, we tried our best to bring together what information and photos we could fined.

 1

In review: Maurice Coakley on how Britain under-developed Ireland

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Maurice Coakley, Ireland in the World Order: a history of uneven development, London, Pluto Press, 2012

I read this book a couple of years ago and meant to review it then, but other things got in the way.  To make up for the delay, I’ve done something bigger – basically a mix of summary and review:

Coakley begins with a brief survey of bourgeois and anti-capitalist attempts to explain uneven development, from Weber and Durkheim to Gramsci, Jack goody, Immanuel Wallerstein and Robert Brenner. Coakley is concerend, in particular, with the different patterns of growth exhibited in Britain (especially England but also Scotland and Wales) and does so by exploring the unequal relations between them from the medieval era onwards.

Imposition of feudalism

He notes that the Anglo-Norman conquest resulted in the division of Ireland into Gaelic and Anglo-Norman regions. While the boundaries and interactions were fluid, they possessed different social structures. In the Anglo-Norman areas, a manorial/feudal economy was developed, with the local nobility owing allegiance to the English monarch. The peasantry which worked the land for the new elite included a layer of free peasants (largely transplanted from England) and a larger layer of unfree peasants (serfs) of Irish stock. This latter group was less free than the unfree peasants (villeins) in England itself. For instance, they had no legal rights at all.

The crisis of feudalism throughout the 1300s in Europe, including Ireland, explains the decline of Anglo-Norman power and the English language. It also reduced free tenants to labourers. This produced a significant return to England by peasants wishing to avoid greater subjection. The lords in Ireland were then forced to make concessions to Irish peasants. This combined with the impact of the plague largely finished off serfdom by about 1500.

The economy, moreover, had shifted in the 1300s back largely to pasture. This meant a different form of social organisation to tillage, where peasants laboured for a lord. Pasture involved a more kindred pattern of social organisation. The Anglo-Normans were also becoming Gaelicised. But Anglo-Norman-Gaelic Ireland was a hybrid social formation because as well as the kindred social organisation the major feudal lords were more powerful than their counterparts in England who were checked by the king from above and a large lower aristocratic layer and yeomanry below. Even in the Pale there was no yeomanry.

In the distinctly Gaelic and predominantly pastoral areas of Ireland, land and cattle denoted power. Access to land was dependent on kinship, with collective inheritance. While cattle were individually owned they were also dispersed; for instance, through being loaned to poor members of a clan. There was no significant surplus product which might create and sustain a Gaelic ruling class and state comprised of bodies of armed men; rather, “the principle of reciprocity permeated every aspect of Gaelic society”, although this did not mean equality. Read the rest of this entry

Come Here to Me and The Sugar Club: Pieta House benefit, Thursday, June 4

Come Here to Me blog and The Sugar Club have a benefit on this coming week, Thursday, June 4, for Pieta House.

For details, see: http://comeheretome.com/2015/05/22/come-here-to-me-and-the-sugar-club-present-dublin-songs-stories-june-4th/

Gay marriage referendum

I’ve written a feature-length article about this for another blog.  Because it’s written for a mainly non-Irish audience, it explains things that wouldn’t need explaining to Irish readers, but hopefully is still well worth a read by this blog’s readership.

You can find it at: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/irish-society-and-politics-and-the-referendum-on-gay-marriage/

 

 

Censored – the lecture series

The ‘Censored’ public lecture series has returned to the National Print Museum/Músaem Náisiúnta Cló.  It actually began on January 15, so I have been somewhat remiss in advertising it.

This part of the series will focus on censorship in Ireland, 1700-2000. The speakers are looking at a range of topics relevant to the history of censorship in Ireland, including the impact of major developments in printing technology. Individual writers like Jonathan Swift and Kate O’Brien, whose works prompted controversies that resulted in works by them being banned, will also receive attention. The lectures are free to attend with each paper lasting an hour, including question time.  Admission is free but, because there is a limited number of seats, it’s best to book in advance.

Censorship and deception in the printing of Swift’s works 1690-1758

Prof Andrew Carpenter (UCD)
Thursday 15 January, 18.30

‘Controlling the Message’: Irish newspapers and press censorship 1881-91

Dr Myles Dungan (RTE)
Thursday 5 February, 18.30

Censorship and Irish writing in the twentieth century

Dr Eoghan Smith (Carlow College) 
Thursday 2 April, 18.30

‘The Embrace of Love’: the censoring of Kate O’Brien

Dr Eibhear Walshe (UCC)
Thursday 7 May, 18.30

National Print Museum/Músaem Náisiúnta Cló
Garrison Chapel, Beggars Bush,
Haddington Road, Dublin 4
Tel: 01 660 3770
Fax: 01 667 3545
Email: info@nationalprintmuseum.ie
Website: www.nationalprintmuseum.ie

PSF Paint Over the Miriam Daly Mural Yet Eulogise Arch Bigot Paisley

0cadcf36-4d2e-4b83-adb9-3fae155aae01_zps9d361eb3The piece below is reprinted from The Plough and the Stars blog, here; all I can add is my disgust that the Miriam Daly mural has been painted out of existence

No doubt the anti-revisionist message of the iconic Vol Miriam Daly memorial mural now painted over on Oakman Street, West Belfast today was lost on Provisional Sinn Fein on the very day they publicly eulogised arch-bigot Paisley, yet appear to be attempting to revise out the the role and memory of British death-squad victim, Irish Republican Socialist activist, Miriam Daly.

A local IRSP member approached those responsible asking why they were painting over the mural and was given the rather spurious excuse that there was ‘graffiti’ at the street level area of the mural.  The IRSP member stated that this hardly warranted the total erasing of the entire mural!

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The eyesore that has hastily replaced the Miriam Daly memorial mural. Not surprisingly, its message seems to reinforce individualism, alienation and powerlessness.

Miriam Daly, a respected academic, a leading co-founder of the then nascent RACs/H-Block/Armagh Committees was slain by an undercover British death-squad on the 26th June 1980, in the most horrific of circumstances.  The death-squad gunmen who callously murdered Miriam Daly, bound the mother of 3 and then waited at her home in Andersonstown, hoping to also murder her fellow IRSP and H-Blocks’ activist husband, Jim, who they were expecting to return from work. However, on that tragic day, June 26th 1980, Jim was in Dublin attending a German language course and it is assumed that when the British death-squad realised that he would not be returning, they shot Miriam dead before making good their escape.  The Daly children discovered their murdered mother when they Read the rest of this entry

Cork Volunteers Pipe Band, part two

This came from veteran socialist-republican Jim Lane in Cork, and is part two in his centenary year series on the history of the Cork Volunteers Pipe Band

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Read the rest of this entry

The Political Sublime and the bin Laden discourse – A Regime of Image Production and Distribution as it takes place in the Contemporary Media

by Irvine Forgan

The rebranding of political activism from protest to either acts of criminality or terrorism has slipped into the contemporary discourse almost without notice. Bobby Sands who, with other comrades fasted to death for the sake of the distinction stated in Writings from Prison:

“I am a political prisoner. I am a political prisoner because I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien, oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.”

At one stage the torture and murder of political activists in police custody was cause for outrage. Steve Biko’s murder in police custody is but one example. But in our time the torture and death, whether of terrorists so named or innocents and whether in custody or by drone is an image of ugliness that the state actively projects. This image production can be traced to the condition of the political sublime.

The notion of the sublime has its origins in the writings of the anonymous author Longinus, who was a Greek teacher of rhetoric and literary critic who lived somewhere between the First and Third Century AD. In his treatise On the Sublime Longinus broadly argued that the sublime is an overwhelming energy source of power and strength. Since the 18th century the notion of the sublime is often associated for us in the first place with its analysis by Immanuel Kant who in his Critique of Judgement used as examples of the sublime images of the Swiss mountains and sea tempests. For Kant the sublime may be terrifying and perilous or it may be something so complex that an inability to form a clear concept leads to an imbalance between thought and experience. As a result the self is made aware of indeterminacy. These perilous and traumatic catastrophes slacken off the grasp of reason, or at any rate they are incompatible with rational knowledge. At one and the same time both enrapturing as well as devastating it is not hard to detect in the sublime the presence of the death drive and to vicariously indulge our fantasies of immortality. Standing before a painting, confronted with the vista of raging oceans which cannot drown us or mountains from which we cannot plummet down because they are no more than pigment on canvas, we can know the pleasure of defeating death. Simultaneously we are able to live out a kind of virtual death by experiencing our destruction rather than its real destructible end. In this way the sublime is both self affirmative and self destructive.

But actually the notion of the sublime has its origin in the Read the rest of this entry