Myth and the Irish State
When we read a history, we believe ourselves to be reading cold hard facts about the events that took place and how they occurred. Yet, there is no real truthful way to know the approach that the historian has taken with the historical sources. This book deals with the uncertainty in writing history, in the context of Irish history in particular. Author John M. Regan argues that the notion of elision - simply ignoring unhelpful evidence - threatens Irish history today. Regan believes that some historians have ignored unhelpful facts that perhaps do not further their point, or perhaps contradict them altogether. Each chapter of the book focuses on a period of Irish history that Regan believes to be inconsistent or incomplete in its facts. He asks the controversial questions about the period of history, such as: Why do some historians deny or marginalize the British threat of war and re-conquest in 1922? Why do so many Irish historians describe Michael Collins as a 'constitutionalist' or a 'democrat' when the evidence argues otherwise? Was the Irish Civil War really fought between 'democrats' defending the state against 'dictators' attempting its overthrow? Did the new state briefly experience a military-dictatorship under Collins in 1922? 'Thinking historically' is not about learning history or accepting the past as it is presented to us. It is, as Regan argues in this thought-provoking book, about developing the critical skills to interpret history for ourselves. As commemorations approach, this is a timely and provocative debate, discussing the uses and abuses of public history and the role of the historian in interpreting controversial histories.
Publication Date: 12/31/2013