Professor Roy Foster FBA, Carroll Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford
‘Ireland: Memory, Commemoration and Revolution 1916-2016’
Recorded at the British Academy Soirée, Tuesday 28 June 2016
In Ireland, history, memory and various forms of deliberate amnesia are inextricably intertwined. The revolutionary decade of 1912-22 opened with the passing of a Home Rule Act and the ensuing paramilitary resistance from Ulster Unionists, and closed with the creation of two new Irish states, the twenty-six county Free State, self-governed within the Commonwealth (from which it would secede in 1948) and the six-county ‘province’ of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. The years in between encompassed the First World War, the 1916 Easter Rising, a guerrilla war waged by the IRA, and the controversial Anglo-Irish Treaty, followed by a brief but traumatic civil war. Ireland is now half-way through a so-called ‘decade of centenaries’, in which these seismic events are being invoked and re-examined – in a notably more nuanced and less triumphalist manner than used to be the case. Roy Foster’s talk traces the reasons for this, both in past history and contemporary consciousness.