Diarmaid Ferriter: Irish Civil War has its own contentious monuments

Conflict constructs societies and we must respect statues that articulate history

Ben Brosnan beside the smashed Civil War Monument at Talbot’s Bridge in Knocknagoshel: such actions invite a simplistic, polarised narrative of conflicts and aftermaths, and create amnesia about how myths were fashioned.   Photograph: John Reidy

Ben Brosnan beside the smashed Civil War Monument at Talbot’s Bridge in Knocknagoshel: such actions invite a simplistic, polarised narrative of conflicts and aftermaths, and create amnesia about how myths were fashioned. Photograph: John Reidy

In the midst of controversies over the legacy of the American civil war and the fate of monuments to that conflict, it was reported last week that the memorial to five members of the National Army blown up in the booby-trap explosion at Knocknagoshel in Kerry in March 1923 was attacked earlier this month and badly damaged. It was the second assault on it in three years.

The day after the Knocknagoshel outrage, nine IRA prisoners were chained to a landmine at Ballyseedy where all but one, Stephen Fuller, were blown up. And on it went, during the last throes of the Civil War, demonstrating that hearts had turned to stone. There is also a memorial in Ballyseedy and the memory of it lived on in politics; the sole word “Ballyseedy” was still being flung across the Dáil chamber in the late 1960s as a taunt and an admonishment.

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