Commemoration and Memory in Public History

All countries need heroes. As Ireland re-examines its history during its centenary decade, there have been several debates about how to make the memorials more expansive, more inclusive. Should the Irish Catholic RIC officers be remembered? What was the role of women in the fight? How do we commemorate partition – and should we, given the current Brexit tension? Historians and others have argued that strong ties to favored heroes need not be severed, but other men and women equally committed to a free Ireland but with a differing vision must also be honored. So too must understanding, whenever justly deserved, be practiced when remembering those who stood in the way of Irish independence. The American experience and debate about Confederate statues and past slave-owning Presidents can help inform this discussion. Public history is important and deciding who is honored and commemorated is a complicated and nuanced affair.

Dr. Peter Moloney and Dr. Elizabeth Stack  discuss the decade of commemorations in Ireland as the anniversary of the partition of Ireland and the Civil War approach.