I read and enjoyed the Kevin Myers opinion article in today's Irish Times re. 1916 and independence and how we fared before and after.
As usual with Kevin Myers articles there is much to agree with. He offers a good clinical analysis of what was really happening at 1916. I agree that it was all rather misguided and I don't believe it did anything to help independence except for maybe the mistake of executing the leaders. But I do think it is very hard to offer severe black and white judgments on the organizers actions at that time based on today's knowledge. Much was different ninety years ago and considerable frustrations abounded in every way. Be that as it may I'm not in agreement of celebrating the bloody event of 1916. Solemn remembrance yes, but it's not like celebrating independence. I've written on this before and I haven't changed my view.
My main point of contention is with the Kevin Myers logic on what transpired post-independence. He almost reduces the aspirations for freedom at the time to ticking YES/NO boxes on a form called "The List of Public Benefits after Independence" If it were all measured by wealth, radical social change and purity of language, culture etc. then of course it was a mistake. Yes, we would have been better off economically up to recently being part of UK. But this has some vague similarity to saying that hookers in a harem are better off than the purer and poorer girls working in factories. Did we not deserve independence if we aspired to it? How many businesses would ever be born if the founders didn't put up with some form of hardships in the early years. Indeed many folk in smaller businesses formed are happy never being as wealthy as they were in a previous stuffy big corporate entity. Things don't always end up exactly the way we dreamed but often it's just as good and it's certainly no reason to criticise those with the original aspirations.
I've also a problem with the Myers statement of Ireland in 1910 being better off than most in other countries with the brief caveat "emigration notwithstanding". Terrific well researched text book statement. I wonder how that wealth was measured. I'm sure those in rural Ireland at the time suppressed to within an inch of their lives would have welcomed an elaboration. And the "emigration notwithstanding" comment does not do sufficient justice to this massive problem provoked by unbearable poverty and which created layers and layers of further problems, frustrations and depressions for those left behind. Poverty is about much more than what's in your pocket as measured by insensitive economists.
In summary, I'm beginning to see through much of the Kevin Myers view of the World. He is an excellent scholar of history, knows all the facts and in general has a logical interpretation of events and directions. I actually really agree with most of what he writes and I've great respect for his views. But it's sometimes rather robotic, I don't think he always sees into the hearts, fears, dreams and aspirations of humanity in all it's complex diversity.