Days of Hope (1916: Joining Up – Episode 1): Directed by Ken Loach (1975)

LeftCentral Review 

This outstanding four part drama begins in 1916; it initially concentrates on Phillip Hargreaves (Nikolas Simmonds) and his wife Sarah Hargreaves (Pamela Brighton).  The opening scene takes us to the Matthews homestead, where Ben Matthews (Paul Copley) meets a soldier and neighbour (Peter Russell) on leave from Flanders; he is carrying a gun and wearing khaki. The soldier in a passing reference to the Matthews family points out “bet their making a right packet, what with the war and the price of beef and all”.  Thus the stage is set for the paradox of the Great War on the home front, as Ben warns his sister that the Police have arrived on the farm to arrest Philip, a socialist and conscientious objector. This prompts Philip and Sarah to organise their departure, while Tom Matthews (Cliff Kershaw) provides the couple with money to make good their escape to London. Sarah’s father does this, even though he is an advocate of war (later attending a pro-war meeting).  Prior to leaving Phillip and Tom debate the issue around the dinner table, allowing Philip to forward a developing socialist analysis.  Despite the views articulated by Tom in opposition, his position is clearly an ambiguous one; he is reluctant to sanction his son’s premature army call up and refuses to view his son-in-law as a coward.  Read more of this post

September 1913

Resolute Hero

Image © Manfred Wassman, alias BerlinSight

And what, God help us, could they save?

Romantic Ireland`s dead and gone.

It`s with O`Leary in the grave. W.B. Yeats September 1913

Ireland 100 years ago was deep in nationalist ferment drawing Britain towards civil war. The Liberals led by Asquith, reinforced by a substantial Irish Parliamentary Party in Westminster. Home Rule was the quid pro quo at the heart of this arrangement, its implementation achievable after the introduction of the Parliament Act 1911. The Loyalists in the North led by the formidable Dublin Barrister, Edward Carson, who on September 28, 1912 was the first to sign the Solemn League and Covenant. Carson was eventually followed by half a million others, many famously signing the petition in their own blood. This bizarre manifestation of loyalty to the Crown was sanctioned by the Conservative Party leader Andrew Bonar Law. The British establishment played the Orange card and the danger of granting unequivocal opposition to Home Rule evident when the UVF began gun running in April 1914. In the South the Volunteers (formed in November 1913) would begin (with less success) to get hold of arms, preparing to defend with physical force the execution of a British government mandate. Read more of this post

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

Robert Kee: History of Ireland Episode 4 FAMINE

Nora Connolly 

Image© illustrated London News, December 22, 1849

 It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry…

Robert Kee focuses on the emotive issue of the Irish Potato Famine from 1845 to 1849. Explaining why the population in the West and South West depended on this food for nutrition, outlining the organisation of land and tenancy arrangement`s. Other crops abundantly produced sold to pay rent, encapsulated by the following contemporaneous observation reported in Hansard, `not a bit of bread have I eaten since I was born, nor a bit of butter. We sell all the corn and the butter to give to the landlords [for rent] yet I have the largest farm in the district and am as well off as any man in the county`. The population which increased to eight million was linked to the peculiar organisation of land tenure in Ireland, `land was divided into smaller and smaller plots – the number of those depending on the potato grew larger and larger`. In Kee`s written history he demonstrates an in-depth understanding of issues i.e. the impact on agriculture post Napoleonic Wars such an analysis not always possible in a fifty minute television overview. Read more of this post

The British Gunner and the Irish Civil War

Nora Connolly

Michael Collins

Copyright drick

The BBC Radio 4`s investigative history series (Document) has unearthed evidence concerning a sensitive period in Anglo-Irish relations, the programme focuses on a primary source written by a British soldier, Percy Creek which undermines the nationalist foundations underpinning the establishment of the Irish state and potentially damages the heroic status of Michael Collins.

On the 6 December 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed and ratified in Dail Eireann January 1922. This granted dominion status or partial sovereignty to the twenty-six counties, amongst other things the British held various sea-ports in the South and significantly the island was partitioned with the North remaining within the United Kingdom.

As the broadcast explains the Anglo-Irish Agreement led to a split in the Irish Republican movement, into pro and anti-Treaty camps. In April 1922 anti-Treaty forces took control of Dublin`s Four-Courts, while a general election was underway in the South, resulting in the pro-Treaty forces gaining power. Those supporting the agreement included Michael Collins, Richard Mulcahy and Arthur Griffiths and on the anti-Treaty side De Valera and Rory O`Connor. A political split eventually led to armed insurrection and Civil War, a bitter struggle the first shot fired on the 28 June 1922, when the Provisional Government led by Collins attacked the Four-Courts – then under the control of Rory O`Connor – attempting a re-run of the 1916 Easter Uprising – he was executed in December 1922. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,341 other followers