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Remembering Ireland's Easter Rising is pointless

The 100th anniversary celebrations of Ireland’s failed Easter Rising will be about dead people. I’m a lot sadder about the dead spirits.


As a committed nationalist I have nothing but contempt for the upcoming celebrations. The heroes who laid down their lives for revolution doomed to failure did not deserve to have their sacrifice desecrated for a photo-op. The delirium of the brave never referred to pride parades.


The general tone of the "commemoration" will be avoidance: "not militaristic", "not nationalistic", "not anti-imperialist", not "remembering", but really an array of events designed to fill time without saying anything that might get politicians into trouble on twitter. The net outcome would be a carnival of avoidance, amnesia, and self-hatred.


In present circumstances, any commemoration of 1916 we might attempt is bound to be a mockery of what the Rising meant and what the revolutionaries intended. The difficulty lies not so much with formulating a mode of celebration as in identifying something to celebrate about a country as close to the opposite of what the revolutionaries imagined as can be imagined.


We can evince a superficial admiration for "our patriot dead", whom we may consider courageous or principled or idealistic, but we cannot today access the inner lives and loves of such men, because the self-centred obsessions of our culture render them foreign. Our collective post-rationalised thought-processes lead us to assume that such perspectives as theirs were freakish by definition, having now being rendered quaint or ludicrous by some process of cultural "evolution". We are too "clever" to love our country.


One look at the political elite of Ireland will show you why. Balls of lard, or flat chests with protruding ribs who got a career in politics from their student societies. As Mishima said “The cynicism that regards all hero worship as comical is always shadowed by a sense of physical inferiority.”


We are haunted by the ghosts of 1916, by the idea that what happened then might have some meaning for us that we cannot find in ourselves. Our sense, though, is that nothing remains. We secretly suspect that, if we set about "remembering" from our present condition, nothing can result but blasphemy and betrayal, and we will do as much harm to ourselves as we will to the memory of our patriot dead. This is why we cannot find a way to commemorate. We foresee that, rooting amidst the bunting and empty beer cans, we will afterwards come to hate ourselves even more than we do already.


But hey, at least I can buy a chocolate bar with the Proclamation written on it.

About the Author

Patrick Flanagan


Irish Burkean Conservative. Roman Catholic. LĂ­ofa i nGaeilge.

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