Fintan O'Toole: Why do we fear the ghosts of dead policemen?

Are Ireland’s wars truly over? For some people, there is still a hierarchy of victims

Sir Hamer Greenwood, chief secretary for Ireland, inspecting the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC)

Sir Hamer Greenwood, chief secretary for Ireland, inspecting the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC)

What is the greatest single performance in the Irish theatre in the last 25 years? A silly question, perhaps. But if I had to answer it, I would say it was Donal McCann playing Thomas Dunne in Sebastian Barry’s tragedy The Steward of Christendom at the Gate Theatre in Dublin in 1995.

And I would not be alone in that: McCann’s infinitely poignant embodiment of an old man in an asylum, haunted by the memory of his dead son, was one of those events that leave a permanent mark on the minds of most of those who encounter it.

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