Thursday 22 February 2018

Eoghan Harris: Canon George Salter's story breaks the long silence

RTE is rightly getting stick for its rough treatment of Fr Kevin Reynolds. But it balances the books a bit tomorrow night on behalf of another clergyman, Canon George Salter of Cork. An Tost Fada (The Long Silence) tells the redemptive story of Salter's journey home to the Dunmanway farm from which his father was driven 90 years ago, in April 1922.

The controversy that followed the film Cork's Bloody Secret showed that any challenge to the received narrative of an incredibly noble Old IRA provokes strong reactions. But real republicans will be moved by Salter's tale, told in his fluent Irish, which the English subtitles strip down to a stark story.

George's father Bill farmed at Kilronan outside Dunmanway. He bought cattle at marts all over Cork and Kerry, fattened them on his land, and sold them on to England. But in the fevered Civil War climate of April 1922 this English connection aroused the suspicion of the local IRA.

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