The dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone forever and ever and ever…

RTEs obsession with all things Northern Ireland continues apace.

Apparently, we’re coming up to the 40th anniversary of the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement that ignited all the ‘recent’ troubles. RTE is marking the event with a new website which, we are told, gives fascinating reports from the station’s archives – I’m overwhelmed with the excitement of it all.

On Today with Pat Kenny (Friday) we heard four veterans of the movement endlessly relate their experiences. I suppose there’s some small justification for this but what are we to make of the long and very boring interview with author Brian Rowan (Today with Pat Kenny, Thursday) who has just written a book entitled How the Peace was Won.

Rowan is a former security editor for the BBC in Belfast and this is his 4th book on the Peace Process – yes, his 4th book on the same subject.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was his 4th book on world history or Irish history or the history of Northern Ireland or even the history of the recent troubles but no – this his 4th book on the god damned Peace Process.

Does the man have no other life, no other interests, does he have a woman, a family, does he drink a pint, does he collect bird’s eggs; is there anything else he can do? Surely the man is in need of some serious counselling.

And what about those who read these books, I mean, is there really anybody out there who has actually read all four books. Is there some lunatic out there who, having just put down book three is thinking, I just can’t wait to get stuck into book four.

Surely Rowan and his readers, not to mention certain RTE staff are all victims of the conflict, all obsessed with a piddley little part of the world that has imposed its piddley little squabbles on the rest of civilisation for centuries.

And there’s no end in sight, it’s going to go on forever. RTE has miles upon miles of archives in the cellars of Montrose. And when all the countless events that occurred in the 30 years of their piddley little war are commemorated the whole ritual will start all over again.

Churchill, that great man of history, a man who knew the difference between great events and the mundane got it right when he said the following about Northern Ireland during the House of Commons debate in 1922 on the Irish Free State Bill.

“Then came the Great War: every institution, almost, in the world was strained. Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed. The position of countries has been violently altered. The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world.

But as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world.”

And so it remains today – May Zeus save us all.

Now – I feel a lot better for getting all that off my chest.

Copy to:
RTE News
Pat Kenny Show

2 thoughts on “The dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone forever and ever and ever…”

  1. Ye, on the face of it the book looks to be another pile of shite.

    On tthe other hand, to call a conflict in which over 3500 died and countless more were injured and or had their lives ruined a “piddley little war” is dispicable. Are the lives lost in Ireland less important than those lost in the 1st world war ? Or any war for that matter ! There is no such thing as a “piddley little war” If people die or suffer then it is something which should be both regretted and lessons should be learned from it. Please don’t belittle the suffering in Ireland/Northern Ireland to make a cheap point.


  2. You completely miss the point Peader.

    I’m not belittling or denying the pain and suffering of the victims of the NI conflict.

    What I am saying is that it is not healthy for an individual or a community to endlessly relive their horrendous experiences year after year. It’s like somebody who lost a loved in, say an air crash, forcing friends and family to watch film footage and news reports of all the details on every anniversary.

    The recent 10th anniversary of the Omagh bombing is a case in point. Yes, by all means mark the tragedy but in an appropriate and sensitive manner, not as RTE did, with wall to wall reliving of all the gory details.

    Ryan Tubridy, for example, interviewed one of the victims at length and ended by telling her that her suffering and bravery was of a higher quality than that of many victims of tragedy who complain all the time.

    As for the ‘piddley little war’ point – It was a piddley little war. Up to 20 million died in WW1 and over 50 million in WW2. We have an ‘Omagh’ every other week in Iraq, 800,000 murdered in Rwanda etc, etc. We regularly see commemorations and documentaries about these conflicts but, even though they are among the most horrendous conflicts in history, we are not subjected to endless self pity and wall to wall coverage on every anniversary.

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