In 1966, we did not understand. Now, we can handle the truth of the Rising
The 1916 celebrations this time around demand something more nuanced than history as pageant; it's time to insist on being treated as adults who can cope with the facts
Published 19/04/2015 | 02:30
I have only the sketchiest memories but marching men are there, soldiers of the Republic on O'Connell Street on a spring day in 1966. I was five years old and the son of a devout romantic. My father brought me into town to view the parade. He was a gifted storyteller and his stories brought the dead of the Rising back to life. Dev came to our school, a titan shuffling towards immortality, but without the hero glow of the executed and the assassinated.
I was a child of the cult of Pearse. I worshipped our heroes as I imagine English children were taught to see the glory of the lost of the Somme.
It was easier then, three years before the North erupted. Paisley was a vague noise, discordant and menacing, the powerful militarist cult of the Provos unimagined and unimaginable; a Catholic barman was among three people murdered by a re-emergent UVF. Leading UVF figures would later say the group's revival was in part motivated by the rise in nationalist spirit around the 50th anniversary of 1916.