I write this post as a kind of Easter Rising therapy.
Why? You may ask. My other website The Irish Story today, Easter Sunday has got around 10,000 hits, by far its best ever. I was on national television, commentating (intermittently) on the state’s 1916 commemorations. I’ve had a series of articles in the national press (ok online only, but still)
I organised a series of talks on the Rising for the People’s College and am down to give two more talks this spring on 1916. All good, no? This is what you wanted isn’t it?
Interest in early 20th century Irish has never and probably never will be greater than now on the centenary of the 1916 insurrection.
So what’s wrong with me? One problem is that I very foolishly decided to write a book on an unrelated subject at he same time. Another problem with trying to get swept along by the tide of Rising mania is that you get sucked into to its poisonous debates. One of the article I wrote for the newspaper featured comment calling me a ‘mendacious revisionist’.
The problem with national myths is that you’re not supposed to question them. Or if you want to question them at least align yourself with a substantial other faction. I’ve never been very good at this. With the result that my every utterance on the Rising is accompanied by a sense of dread. I have not actually been very controversial nor received much abuse. And yet I find myself worrying about this every time I type a sentence on the Rising or open my mouth on it in public.
The 2016 commemorations are a good thing if you’re interested in Irish history. Not for the great new insights, centenaries are not great for that, but for the public interest which allows those of us who do care to get our research and our thoughts across.
But right now I just feel tired. I feel stressed with having to mediate the public’s mood and put across the right messages. And I want to sleep.