Friday 30 September 2016

How will history see Easter 2016?

Published 13/03/2016 | 02:30

'The sacrifice of Gerry Adams was far from heroic' Photo: AFP/Getty
'The sacrifice of Gerry Adams was far from heroic' Photo: AFP/Getty

As this newspaper publishes this weekend - and over the following two weeks - extracts of the newspapers which informed a nation struggling to be born 100 years ago, it is tempting to ruminate on what our grandchildren's grandchildren will make of current events a century hence, surrounding what we might romantically refer to as the rebirth of the nation.

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To inform that view, historians yet to be born may also look back to 1916 as we now look back on the rebellion of 1798 and eulogise the father of Irish republicanism, Wolfe Tone, and in doing so these historians may revise again, as is their entitlement, the heroism, myths and bloody sacrifice that led to the foundation of the State.

In our ruminations today, we may also ask how our grandchildren's grandchildren will view Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin as they come to deliberate upon the moment in history that has been thrust upon them and, as time passes, Gerry Adams too.

If this editorial is to make a footnote in the footnotes of a history student's thesis, it should inform them, as the Irish people have just said, that the sacrifice of Gerry Adams was far from heroic, and, at time of writing, was a myth of his own creation but almost wholly unaccepted by the people of his time.

The historians to come may follow the twisted contours to a still unfulfilled nation in 2016 from the poet laureate, WB Yeats, in his searing denunciation, September 1913, of those who fumbled in the greasy till, to add halfpence to the pence, prayer to shivering prayer, down through the century to this day, in this country, as we strive to revive from the grave the decent, if not romantic, Ireland he believed to be dead and gone.

When they do so, they will come to regard Enda Kenny as the right man in the right place at the right time - perhaps no more than that, but a fitting epitaph all the same for a man who is not, and never will be, another cadaver to be thrown upon the heap, but someone the historians will decide was deserving of at least a modicum of dignity and respect.

The history of Micheal Martin is still being written, but it will be one of remarkable fortitude, no little skill, an empathy borne of personal circumstance and also a measure of good luck to have struck upon the requirement, nay the insistence, the demand for a decency which was lost to the greasy till and should never have been interred alongside the patriot fools and heroes the country will celebrate, as it celebrates a sovereignty reclaimed, in this, the month of our rebirth.

In the end, it is to be hoped that the historians will see Easter 2016 as the poet laureate, in Easter 1916, retracted his more cynical views of Irish public life, aware that in this era of Ireland's Second Coming, things did not fall apart, that the centre did hold, and in the hope that the contour from here until then, 100 years hence, will at last fulfil the yearning of a people, in this period of celebration, for a decency made good.

Sunday Independent

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