The Wind That Shakes The Barley…Directed by Ken Loach.

Image © Terence wiki

Nora Connolly

I first saw this movie in 2006 and recall people leaving the cinema in tears. A powerful film directed by a master of the craft, Ken Loach. The last fifteen minutes deeply moving, as Teddy O’Donovan (Padraic Delaney) fails to persuade his brother and former brother-in-arms Damien (Cillian Murphy) to join the ranks of the pro-Treaty forces and give up his anti-Treaty comrades. Teddy O`Donovan orders Damien`s execution, granting the condemned man time to write a letter to Sinead (Orla Fitzgerald). In the early hours Damien meets his death, Teddy O`Donovan dressed in his Free State uniform, commands the firing squad to kill his brother. A scene of betrayal realistically portrayed. We then see Teddy go to Sinead with the letter; Sinead breaks down (a beautiful performance by Fitzgerald) and orders O`Donovan off her land. Sinead becomes a metaphor for Ireland, the Cathleen ni Houlihan of the film (TWTSTB has more in common with O`Casey than Yeats). It deserved its critical acclaim but as a piece of history it`s flawed. Read more of this post

Happy St Patricks Day and may the road rise with you…

Nora Connolly 

© Image Oxyman

They died in their hundreds with no sign to mark where save the brass in the pocket of the entrepreneur

It`s that time of year again, when the Irish Diaspora, is expected to celebrate the land that made us refugees. St Patrick`s day has always conjured up ambivalent feelings for me, long before it was cynically appropriated by a multinational drinks company. The traditional parading in green, the masquerading in shamrocks and Irish harps unsettles me. Nationalism, regardless of its provenance, always makes me uncomfortable. But, despite the bogus nationalist artefacts and sentiment, it`s an important opportunity to pay due deference to the Irish in Britain, for their distinctive contribution to the economic and cultural life of the nation. It`s also a chance to recognise, as Paul Michael Garret does, that a homogenous view of British society founded on a notion of assimilation by virtue of `whiteness’ `helps to mask the internal ethnic, regional and national differences which characterise the UK. ` The Irish as Garret points out didn’t simply assimilate into British life as `the myth of homogeneity requires the denial of differences`. This is important because when we deny differences, there is a danger of misjudging later migration by people `who possesed a different skin colour`and whose entry to the UK is viewed as problematic, while earlier `white` immigration considered smooth and problem free. Read more of this post

Robert Kee – A Television History of Ireland – Episode 3 `Two Nations 1700-1845`

Nora Connolly 

© Image The Library of Congress photostream

Tis the most distressful country that ever yet was seen (John McCormack)

In a broad sweep Kee examines Irish nationalist development up to the Act of Union (1801) the episode concludes with the famine. The two nations described are identifiable by religious affiliation, the largest Catholic and by virtue of the Penal Laws a discriminated group. While religious observance for Catholics was difficult, it was grudgingly accepted by the authorities (though in reduced circumstances). The quid pro quo at the heart of this tacit arrangement was recognition that Catholic civil rights were completely curtailed. Catholics were not permitted to hold political office, disqualified from voting and as episode three illustrates, severe limitations were imposed on land ownership including the transfer of land through inheritance. The Presbyterian Protestant dissenter`s in the North (not identified as a separate group by Kee), were also penalised, e.g. the requirement of paying tithes to the Anglican Church. These grievances would be a unifying factor, in the formation of an embryonic Irish Republican movement. Read more of this post

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