A thought-provoking post for July 4th., highlighting that the Irish contribution to the American Civil War by many Famine emigrants is largely ignored in Ireland. These men had to flee the hunger and sickness in this famine stricken country, but did we forget them as soon as they sailed away? At a recent Conference in Ballinasloe Co. Galway on ‘Understanding Ireland’s Great famine: New Perspectives’, a contributor made a strong point to the effect that it was not only Kennedy’s who left these shores and helped shape the USA, but that untold numbers Irish men and women played a pivotal role in shaping that nation, yet they have disappeared from Irish memory.
Today is the 4th July, Independence Day in the United States. Throughout the day there will undoubtedly be a number of Irish-American themed stories and soundbytes in Ireland, as is appropriate given our historic links with the United States. From my own perspective, it is also a day to reflect on just how much Ireland as a nation chooses to neglect that relationship with her diaspora in America. This neglect in memory is becoming starker and starker when remembrance of the American Civil War is measured against the efforts being poured into our only other comparable experience of conflict- World War One. A mere 49 years separate these two events, the only in Irish history where 200,000 + Irishmen marched off to war.
With the 100th anniversary of the Great War on the horizon in August, many impressive new…
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