The editorial for a recent publication from the Aspects team @ The Old Drogheda Society: Reflections On The !916 Rising: Aspects Of Drogheda History. edited by Anthony McIntyre.
The year 1916 has a very strong resonance in Irish political and cultural life. Its symbolism has been omnipresent in our media, both mainstream and social.
The Easter Rising is considered the primary event in an irreversible process whereby the country would divest itself of British rule and in its place construct its own nation state even though the state that was created has never in its history managed to be conterminous with the nation. Many Irish people who might not wish to commemorate the institutional onset of partition that was occasioned by state formation can still rally to honour the republican separatist ideals upon which the Rising was predicated.
While the ownership of the Easter 1916 Rising might be claimed by many different people for as many different reasons, no one can claim a monopoly over how the Rising is reflected on by individuals. The Dublin government’s almost schizophrenic approach to the Rising has given rise to the approved public discourse of inclusiveness. The result has been a centenary that can cause the Rising to be commemorated by all despite the fact that the Rising was an exclusivist rather than an inclusive act. What we are left with is an official memory of the Rising that is as inoffensive as the government can possibly make it. This throws up the image Erna Paris conjured in her study of memory, Long Shadows: Truth, Lies And History: “how countries manipulate historical memory is one of the most urgent issues facing the world today.” We might not wish to go that far in terms of urgency but the point is duly noted.
In this work the Aspects editorial team have opted to be more faithful to the concept of inclusivity by not reducing it to the anodyne through the use of some asinine formula of words. Inclusivity in this publication allows for a wide range of people with a Drogheda connection to remember the Rising - or even to forget it - in whatever way they see fit. Inclusivity in this sense means including present and former Drogheda denizens in a work of exploration.
Reflections On The 1916 Rising studiously avoids making any inflated claim to constitute a definitive account of Drogheda’s limited role in the 1916 Rising. That was never the vision of the editorial team. How the Rising of 1916 and the accompanying Proclamation is thought about and reflected upon in 2016 is very much something that affects Drogheda as it does other parts of the country. It is those reflections that we have sought to pull together. Some of our contributors have opted to reflect through the medium of poetry, others through their own narratorial reconstruction of specific histories of the time. A number have reflected through focussed academic lenses, even more via their own personal experience.
Doubtless, there are contributions that will rankle with some. But this is not a people pleasing endeavour. There is no editorial line weaving its way through the articles that follow. The freedom to express an opinion on the Rising is what has guided our management of the current Aspects. This is a proclamation by people about what they think. That is the spirit in which we invite you to read it.