Wednesday 21 March 2018

Late return of the man Irish history forgot

John Redmond has been airbrushed out of Irish history, but that is finally changing, writes Dermot Meleady

John Redmond MP addressing a public meeting in 1915
John Redmond MP addressing a public meeting in 1915

Dermot Meleady

For most of the century after his death in March 1918, John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party at Westminster from 1900 to 1918, was the forgotten man of Irish history.

The prevailing republican ethos of the Irish State ensured that, when he was remembered at all, it was as "England's recruiting sergeant", a man who had sold out his country by aligning it with Great Britain in the Great War and sending thousands of young Irishmen to die in a cause not their own. An additional charge was that he had capitulated to Ulster unionist threats and thus paved the way for partition.

The decade of centenaries, a number of recent biographies and an increased public interest in the Irish experience of the Great War have brought new understandings of Redmond and his legacy.

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