A Decade of Centenaries

A brief word about myself…to put this post in context.

I am a History and Politics graduate. I write a very successful Blog on the History and Politics of “Northern Ireland” and in retirement now, I occasionally lecture and take part on the subject of CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

What is Conflict Resolution? Well, I myself am extremely skeptical about the concept. But it maybe best described as the study of “conflict” and applying the lessons learned to build on “peace”. I have lived in or close to Belfast, all of my life and lived thru the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s and saw the civil war end with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The Peace Process has brought many academics to Norn Iron to cover our “success story”. For reasons not important in the context of Stamp Collecting, I am extremely cynical about the intentions and potential results.

Ireland has been issuing stamps since 1922. There has always been a propaganda element. The first definitives pointedly featured a map of the entire island of Ireland. And as the “Republic of Ireland” and “Northern Ireland” pursued their own historical narrative, there was very little official contact between the Irjsh State and the northern statelet.

For over sixty years, the issue of Irish stamps was in the hands of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, headed by a politician …either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. these rivals have their roots in the Civil War of the 1920s. FF were opposed to the Treaty with the British (the Treaty set up Northern Ireland) and FG supported it.

This means that the issue of Irish stamps has often avoided sensitive issues or was partisan. Perhaps the most obvious example of partisanship was that the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Michael Collins was not commemorated. Collins had signed the Treaty.

Of course Irish stamps depict the History, Folklore, Culture, Music, Sport, Literature, Spirituality and ETHOS of the Irish Nation. But just as important as the events depicted, we can see that the way those events are seen (at the time of issue) is just as important.

And this is particuarly true as Ireland matures and events depicted originally as a fiftieth anniversary are now approaching centenary status and some of these events are potentially divisive.

Conflict Resolutionists agonise that the divisive commemorations might divide people further …and with the Good Friday Agreement (never fully embedded or implemented) the Peace Process in the North could unravel. More cynically Confkict Resolutionists wish to manipulate the commemorations to produce a very different future. I am wary of this.

The Decade of Centenaries is already under way and there is a lot of sensitivity (or pussy-footing) around. The Peace Process was built on Creative Ambiguity (deliberate confusion) and this continues.

To some extent we have already seen this happen with stamp issues.

When the Easter Rising is commemorated in 2016, it will be the fifth time that it is represented on Irish stamps.


About John

Dia Duit! Hello. My name is John. I am retired. I live in Ireland. I am on a five year mission to visit every city, town, village and place of historic and scenic interest in Ireland.
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