“THERE HAS been much quiet paranoia among the political and arts establishments on the subject of how to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. The difficulty is the Rising was a revolutionary event to which most of our political class, and your average arts sector salary drawer, are spiritually opposed.
Their objection is not tactical, like that of Sean O’Casey, who has a poem in this new collection of A Terrible Beauty: Poetry of 1916, edited by Mairéad Ashe Fitzgerald, and published by The O’Brien Press, despite the fact he thought the Rising a mistake, resigned from Connolly’s Citizen Army, and sat the match out on the side-line. No, these are people instinctively opposed to anything which steps beyond worthy expressions of parliamentary concern.
Ten years ago it would have been easy; we could have all gathered together, in the presence of Seamus Heaney, to celebrate our ever growing prosperity and the outbreak of something approaching peace in the North. But Seamus is gone, and Irish poetry has no single figure who can paper over the politics in quite the way he could. The issue of our sovereignty is once again alive.
Back then John Redmond told our great-grand-parents that, if they were good, and enough of them went happily off to be extinguished in the British ruling elite’s scrap with their German cousins in WWI, Ireland would be rewarded with Home Rule. Today we are assured that, if we do everything Herr Schauble tells us, those nice people at the ECB won’t strangle us the way they tried to strangle Greece last month…”