A Couple of Essay by Niall Meehan

Here’s a post from Niall Meehan with links to a couple of essays, The Embers of Revisions (by Niall) and The Wind That Shakes The Barley (by Brian Murphy):

For those interested in politics and history in Ireland from a left-wing perspective, please find attached a recently published pamphlet on Irish history and politics with two essays (see here).

The first is a critique of Irish revisionist historiography that begins by reviewing the turn to the right of Irish politician/thinker Conor Cruise O’Brien in the early 1970s. He had been an anti-Vietnam War and anti-racist academic and political activist in the US in the mid to late 1960s (based in NYU).

The turn began in concert with an emerging negative reaction to the increasingly violent civil rights revolt in northern Ireland.

This first essay critiques the tendency, inherited from O’Brien, to portray Irish republicanism as an irrational ‘Catholic-nationalist’ formation.

It then looks at countervailing aspects of southern Irish society (the Republic of Ireland) that were not quite as ‘Catholic’ as is often complacently portrayed, and the application of O’Brien’s ‘revisionist’ methodology to the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence.

O’Brien used insights gleaned from those impressions to justify censorship of Irish broadcasting, over which he had ministerial responsibility from 1973-77. The essay details the effect of censorship on the careers of two individuals who, starting from a left or republican position, eventually became champions of O’Brien’s methods and ideas.

The essay surveys revisionist attempts to generate liberal sympathy for anti-(Irish) republican views by, for example, insinuating anti-semitism on the part of republican leaders (such as Michael Collins). The essay points out a reliance by the same authors, for instance former left (now right) leaning political scientist Paul (‘Lord’) Bew, on pro-British anti-semites during the 1919-23 period.

It then explains the consequential celebration of a history of the War of Independence in Cork by the late Professor Peter Hart, as a logical outcome of the history originally foretold by Conor Cruise O’Brien.

The second essay critiques attempts by historians such as Roy Foster to undermine Ken Loach’s 2006 film The Wind that Shakes the Barley. It demonstrates that Loach’s film contained a more accurate history of the period than Foster’s essay based historical scenario.

(This is a second edition, produced for a Conor Cruise O’Brien symposium in Trinity College. First edition cover and back page – the only difference – at http://www.academia.edu/34075119/.)

Also attached, a subsequently published one page article on the O’Brien symposium.

You can also read about press coverage of O’Brien’s sacking of the (London) Observer’s Mary Holland in 1979, while he was Ed in Chief, at http://www.academia.edu/35030894/.

 

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