Kevin Myers: Before one is entitled to have a strong opinion on historical matters, one must at least learn them
Published 17/05/2011 | 05:00
It's more than possible that Queen Elizabeth will make an apology for what happened in Croke Park in November 1920, as desired by many people. But before one is entitled to have strong opinions on historical matters, one must at least go to some trouble to learn about them.
Otherwise, one is responding merely to historical mythology, of which the Irish have far too much, and the English (and I do mean English) have almost none at all. This imbalance is one of the many permanently destabilising factors in the relations between the two peoples: one has an energetic narrative, rich in dramatic (and usually inaccurately-recollected) events, and the other has almost a completely blank-sheet about even their own history, never mind Ireland's.
In my childhood in Leicester, whereas the Irish Myers family were all fascinated by the history of the town -- supposedly named after the local king named Lear (yes, the Shakespearian chap), it was where Richard III and Cardinal Wolsey spent their last nights on this earth -- none of the local children appeared to have any interest whatever.