By Anthony Sheridan
Marian Finucane does not know the difference between the following sentences.
The Great War
We had a great time on holiday.
In fairness, people do sometimes get confused between these two meanings of the word ‘great’ but if you’re chairing a discussion on one of the most important events in world history the very least listeners can expect is that you understand the basics.
Here’s Finucane introducing a discussion on Armistice Day, the day that marked the end of the First World War:
So Myles, tell us how the First World War ended. I, as you know, hate [with strong emphasis] when it’s called the great war. I think it was just the annihilation of millions of young boys and men and I can’t see the glory in it.
Clearly, Finucane mistakenly thinks that the ‘great’ in the Great War means great as in – ‘We had a great time on holidays’ or, ‘wasn’t it a great war, such fun and glory’. She’s outraged and puzzled as to why anybody would refer to the brutal death of millions as ‘great’.
She seems to be completely ignorant of the fact that the ‘great’ in the Great War means that the war was one of the largest, most brutal conflicts, up to that point, in world history. A conflict that witnessed the introduction of new forms of war technology such as chemical, air and tank warfare. A war that changed the course of history, that led to the collapse of empires, triggered a series of revolutions and led to the emergence of several new countries such as Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Finucane was addressing her question to Myles Dungan who, in addition to being an RTE broadcaster, is also an historian.
He didn’t seem to notice Finucane’s confused thinking but, really, he should have a quiet word in her ear. Her ignorance is not very professional.