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Title: Commemorating the Irish Civil War, 1923-2000
Author: Dolan, A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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To say what this thesis is is to say what it is not. It is not a history of the Irish Civil War. War is a past thing, a remembered or forgotten thing. The whys and the wherefores are taken for granted. It begins instead at the end of civil war. Secondly, it is not a study of republican memory. Republicanism has quite a singular approach to its dead. Death, there, is a simpler thing. Men die for Ireland; death is an inspiration complete the republican task. That is not to diminish its experience of civil war. It is instead to focus on the more troubled experience of remembering the Free State dead. The emphasis is not part of any elaborate exercise in rehabilitation. The question of what was and was not done in the woods in Kerry is not at issue here. The dead, or rather their commemoration, is the prime concern of this thesis; how the winners of a war no one wished to fight express whether there is of pride, sorrow, bitterness, triumphalism, shame. The Free State dead are merely the more evocative examples of this dilemma. After civil war can the winners honour their victory; can they commemorate it, can they hail their conquering heroes with the blood of their comrades still fresh on their boots? Or does civil war, by its very nature, demand silence? Should the winners cover themselves in shame, bow their heads and hope that the nation forgets 'our lamentable spasm of national madness'? What is a poor victorious state to do; all the time watched by a vigilant empire, all the time wary of an enemy which only stopped fighting but never surrounded its arms? It is this conflict of impulses, the tussle of memory and forgetting that is imperative here. Hence it is addressed at its most public point, at the very point at which it becomes part of the landscape, at the statutes and crosses, in the ritual and rhetoric of commemoration. Indeed it is at the foot of these cenotaphs and crosses that this thesis poses its central questions. What is particular about the memory of civil war? What is particular to the Irish example when Europe has inscribed its grief in lieux de mémoire? What is its legacy? Was the bitterness as deep as the silence would suggest or was it convenient, merely the means to more superficial party political ends?
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available