How and why did Irish nationalists strive to ‘establish continuity with a suitable

Topics: Ireland, Northern Ireland, Irish people Pages: 4 (1235 words) Published: February 16, 2014
The concept of tradition is the passing down from one generation to another of certain actions and beliefs; a valuable connection with the past which forms an identity. Therefore the idea that it can be reinvented by certain groups to ‘establish continuity with a suitable historic past’ suggests that traditions handed down depend on the perspective of the people at the time and consequently: which aspects they wish to remember and equally, those they choose to forget in order to preserve a history that suits their cause. Through repetition, certain practices, customs, rules and rituals, often of a symbolic nature, which endeavour to indoctrinate specific beliefs ‘automatically implies continuity with the past.’ (Hobsbawm, p. 176). This cycle of cause and effect is clearly apparent in Irish history, both preceding and following independence in 1922, indicating their tradition is carefully crafted, as a result of radical change, to acknowledge only the past they wish to align themselves with.

Incensed at hundreds of years of oppressive English rule (an unsuitable past they chose to forget), Irish nationalists sought to reinvent the past to suit the needs of the present and ‘a potent set of sentiments and symbols surfaced.’ (12:10, Ireland, 2008). Long before the Easter Rising, ‘nationalists shared one common goal: to establish that the peoples of Ireland had a rich and ancient culture which justified their sense of nationhood.’ (Laurence, 2008, p. 160). Long forgotten visual symbols from ancient Ireland were celebrated as national emblems; the shamrock, harp, Irish wolf hound and the round tower, which ‘represented a brand of Irish Christianity that predated the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century.’ (17:13, Ireland, 2008). These old images incited nostalgia for a romantic Ireland before the British occupation, unifying the attitude of the nationalists during the 17th century who wanted to stir their fellow countrymen to embrace an Ireland rich in...
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